Kerry harshly condemns Israeli settler activity as an obstacle to peace

Secretary of State John F. Kerry speaks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the U.S. decision to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settler activity in the West Bank. (Andrew Harnik-Associated Press)

Carol Morello, The Washington Post, December 28, 2016

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Wednesday offered a harsh and detailed assessment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying their growth threatens to destroy the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the United States was obliged to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the activity in order to preserve the possibility of peace.

Kerry noted that the number of Israelis living in settlements has grown significantly and that their outposts are extending farther into the West Bank — “in the middle of what by any reasonable definition would be the future Palestinian state.”

“No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of the threat settlements pose to peace,” he said.

Kerry, in the hour-long speech delivered at the State Department, also condemned Palestinian incitement to violence as a barrier to direct negotiations. But his focus was on defending the Obama administration’s policies and highlighting Israel’s actions at a moment of high tension between the two governments, following the passage of the U.N. resolution.

U.S. Department of State

“Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles — even after urging again and again that the policy must change,” he said. “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”

He said the vote at the United Nations was about “Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve, for our sake and for theirs.”

Although he did not mention Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by name, he addressed head-on the Israeli leader’s assertions that the United States had “colluded” and “orchestrated” last week’s U.N. resolution affirming that settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution.”

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Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project!

Find out what happened at last night's hearing . . . and join us for a holiday celebration

Become a Member * Website * LIKE US ON Facebook  *  FOLLOW BNSCP ON Twitter

Last Night, Council Approved NABLUS As Boulder’s 8th Sister City . . .

We knew you’d want to know immediately, and we’ll send all the details later! We heard incredibly inspiring and heartfelt testimony last night. You guys are AMAZING! We are deeply grateful to each and every one of you who came out to support this effort. And for all the emails and letters that were sent in over the past weeks and days – all of these contributed in big and small ways!

There is no way we could have been successful without all the hard work and effort that YOU put into this. Together we ARE creating the world that we want to live in!

. . . Just in Time for Us to Celebrate At the Boulder- Nablus Sister City Holiday Party:

What: BNSCP holiday celebration
When: Tomorrow! Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 6 PM
Where: 2430 Vassar Dr., Boulder

Please Join Us!*

*& take this opportunity to holiday shop our fair trade goods from Nablus!


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Reversing 2013 decision, Boulder makes Nablus a sister city

Boulder City Council members vote 7-2 in favor of sister city proposal

Alex Burness, DailyCamera Boulder News, 12/13/2016

Tom Hovestol, right, and Sid Fox listen to a speaker during a Boulder City Council meeting regarding the proposed sister city of Nablus, Palestine, onTom Hovestol, right, and Sid Fox listen to a speaker during a Boulder City Council meeting regarding the proposed sister city of Nablus, Palestine, on Tuesday at the Boulder Municipal Building. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

The West Bank city of Nablus in Palestine will become Boulder’s eighth international sister city, following a 7-2 City Council vote that reversed a previous council decision and capped a multi-year drama that was one of the city’s most heated in recent memory.

The action came more than three years after Boulder first denied the controversial proposal, by a 6-3 vote.

It also followed a 78-person public hearing Tuesday night on the sister city project, which followed a deluge of nearly 1,000 emails from the public to the council since May. That followed a 70-person public hearing in 2013.

Even by Boulder’s standards, this was a contentious matter.

Supporters maintained that making Nablus a sister city would create a non-partisan, enriching cultural exchange with a city not unlike Boulder in many ways.

“I think we are best choosing friendship over fear every time,” Drew Kelner said during the public-comment segment.

“It’s a time now when we need not to build walls separating communities, but to build bridges,” David Barsamian added.

Of course, making a Palestinian town in the West Bank a sister city is political, opponents argued. Approval will fuel anti-Israeli sentiment and present just one narrative of the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, they said.

“Who gets to decide what’s political? And how is it decided?” Mimi Ito said.


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Update October 22, 2016
Wisconsin Book Festival: The Way to the Spring

C-SPAN video link: c-span.org/video/?416995-3/ben-ehrenreich-discusses-way-spring

Wisconsin Book Festival

The Way to the Spring - Ben Ehrenreich - <span class="date-display-single">10/22/2016 - 12:00pm</span>

The Way to the Spring
Ben Ehrenreich
10/22/2016 – 12:00pm
Central Library – Community Rooms 301 & 302

Ben Ehrenreich first started reporting from the West Bank in 2011, on an assignment for Harper’s Magazine. He went back again for the New York Times the following year, which resulted in a powerful, much talked-about cover-story for the magazine. Palestine, it seemed, had gotten under Ehrenreich’s skin.

Eventually he moved to Ramallah, and started writing what would become The Way to The Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. Ehrenreich was moved by the injustices that he witnessed, and by the general silence about them in most U.S. media. As well informed as he was on the Arab-Israeli conflict, he nonetheless was consistently shocked by what he saw, and by how little the vast majority of people in the U.S. (and even in Israel, just few miles away) understood about the lived realities of the occupation. He felt strongly that he wanted to write to break through those silences.

In cities and small villages alike, men and women, young and old, a group of unforgettable characters shared their lives with Ehrenreich and made their own case for resistance and resilience in the face of life under occupation. Blending political and historical context with deeply human stories, The Way to the Spring makes clear that conditions on the ground are changing–and getting worse, in an accelerating dynamic that should provoke the conscience of us all. In a great act of bravery, empathy and understanding, Ben Ehrenreich, by placing us in the footsteps of ordinary Palestinians and telling their story with surpassing literary power and grace, makes it impossible for us to turn away.

Presented in partnership with the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

Ben EhrenreichAbout Presenter Ben Ehrenreich

Ben Ehrenreich is the author of two novels, Ether and The Suitors. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, and the London Review of Books, among others. A recipient of the National Magazine Award, Ehrenreich lives in Los Angeles.

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October 20, 2016
Novelist Ben Ehrenreich on WORT


Thursday, October 20
“A Public Affair”
12:00 – 1:00 pm

Allen Ruff’s Thursday guest will be freelance journalist and novelist Ben Ehrenreich, author of “The Way to the Spring – Life and Death in Palestine,” which describes life in the Palestinian village of Nabi Salih and the villagers’ struggles against settler encroachments and state harassment and violence.

Call in at 256-2001. Listen online, live or archived at WORT 89.9 FM.

Ehrenreich will also appear at the Wisconsin Book Festival on October 22.

Fall fundraising appeal from MRSCP

Luci Lights for Rafah and Playground finish for Hebron

Dear Members and Friends of MRSCP,

We would like to ask your support for two modest but important projects this fall.

The first is to help MRSCP and the Rebuilding Alliance send a shipment of solar-powered, inflatable Luci Lights to a classroom of Rafah Children. $400 will send 40 lights that children can use to study, play or just walk outside in the night time in Gaza, where electrical power is sporadic at best. We have already raised over $260 of the needed funds, and would like to raise the remaining amount quickly so we can get the lights on the way.

You can watch a short video about this project here: Luci Lights reach Gaza Families during Ramadan!

The second is to help MRSCP and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison complete the landscaping and site remediation at the playground that we helped install in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, in the West Bank. $800 will level the site, remove dangerous debris and rubble, and install a safety railing. Again, we want to move quickly as the children are anxious to be able to fully use the playground (and settlers are eager to prevent it!).



Please send checks made out to MRSCP marked “fall humanitarian projects’. If you wish, you may specify either “Luci Lights” or “Playground Finish”. Send to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

One hundred percent of your donation will go to these projects. (If we raise more, then we’ll put it into the humanitarian projects account for the next project!) Your contributions are fully tax deductible.

More details on each project are below. As always, thanks for your support!

Barb O.
Coordinator

NOTE: We have a limited number of Luci Lights for sale here in Madison; $25 buys a light for you, and a light for a child in Rafah. If you are interested in a purchase, please e-mail Donna at dwallbaum at gmail.com.
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Update: August 23, 2016
Discussion with U.S. Representative Mark Pocan

Following his recent trip to Israel and Palestine

Fellowship Hall, First United Methodist Church
203 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison
(Dayton St and Wisconsin Ave) [Map]
11:30 am (Doors open at 11:00 am due to the large number of RSVPs)

Earlier this summer Rep. Mark Pocan went on a delegation trip to Israel/Palestine with several other members of Congress. Come spend your lunch hour with Mark and find out what he saw, heard, and learned on this historic fact-finding mission.

  • Middle Eastern refreshments provided by Chef Sabi Atteyih
  • Coffee and other beverages provided by FUM Church

This event is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, the American Friends Service Committee of the Madison Friends’ Meeting, Bright Stars of Bethlehem, and Pilgrims of Ibillin. Free and open to the public.

Info? E-mail madison at jewishvoiceforpeace.org, or Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison on Facebook.

Please RSVP to Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum at gmail.com by Friday, August 19 to help with our planning.

Please mark your calendars for this important event. Even though its over the lunch hour (and there’s food!), we realize a daytime event is obviously not good for many folks. We were fortunate to get this time given Rep. Pocan’s busy schedule, and we really hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Space and parking are limited, so please arrive early. If the parking lot is full, there are two city ramps nearby. [Map]

Thanks,
Barb O.


Gaza’s plight matters to the world

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