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Now it is time for action: A young Jewish activist reflects on the Presbyterian General Assembly

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Becca Hanna

Becca Hanna

This week, at the Presbyterian General Assembly, I discovered Twitter. Despite receiving a degree in communication and existing as a young person in the world, I have managed to largely avoid the world of hashtags and Twitter wars. Until now.
As human beings, we distance ourselves from things that are hard to look at. Not wanting to endure the heartbreak of a murdered child, of a ravaged home, of hundreds of prisoners, we put the occupation on mute.

I am guilty. We are all guilty. Palestinians living in the occupied territories do not get to ignore the daily violence and atrocities carried out against their people and on their land. Refugees living abroad do not get to sleep without worrying that in the morning they will hear of the death of a friend or relative, or the destruction of their former home.

Sitting in the committee meeting, refreshing the Twitter feed over and over, I watched the first raid on Ramallah happen virtually, in real time. I saw pictures of wounded Palestinians and trashed kitchens. I saw IDF soldiers standing guard outside of homes, schools, places of worship. I saw militarized trucks and construction vehicles rolling into the streets of Ramallah. I read the words of worry and fear attached to each photo.

The pictures on my Twitter feed were not hand-picked for me by news outlets. They were not accompanied with messages about the situation being “complicated” or calling for more “dialogue.” They did not speak of peace talks, closed-door meetings, or “giving it time.” They begged for a voice. They asked the world to notice. They called for change.

The significance of the timing of the raids relevant to my life hit me full force. Here I was, sitting in a committee meeting, listening to debate about divesting from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard. The debate, of course, was heated. Emotions flared in the room, arguments got more pointed on each side. It took hours for the committee to debate the various complicated pieces of divestment. Meanwhile, Ramallah was under attack. It took everything in me not to jump up and yell out, “don’t you know people are dying?!”

It occurred to me then, why divestment needed to happen right then and there. We simply do not have the time to wait anymore. Peace talks have failed. Closed door meetings are not yielding results. Economic pressure, like that put on by divesting in the companies that are used to continue the occupation, is our best hope for change. So far the only tactic of those opposing divestment has been talk. We have run out of time to talk. Now it is time for action.

During my time in Detroit, I was fortunate enough to participate in many prayer services with Presbyterians and other allies. The morning before the vote on divestment, a young Presby seminarian led us in a song. “We are waiting,” it ended, “oh, we are waiting.” The people of Palestine have waited long enough. Justice has waited long enough. The photographs and firsthand accounts from the ground are proof. They are waiting. And the time to act is now.

Detroit June, 2014

Detroit June, 2014

Becca Hanna
About Becca Hanna

Becca Hanna is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and a law student at Villanova Law. Follow her on twitter at @rebeccalhanna.

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14 Responses

  1. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    June 27, 2014, 12:12 pm

    Got nothing to say more than I support your courageous cause Hanna!
    Christians, muslims, jews working together against the occupation, exactly as it should be.

  2. ritzl
    ritzl
    June 27, 2014, 12:15 pm

    Good article. I’m so glad she’s doing the right thing.

    This isn’t intended to be harsh, but I hope Ms. Hanna will take this sentiment, gained at an event where people were actually debating and deciding to take action:

    It took everything in me not to jump up and yell out, “don’t you know people are dying?!”

    and apply it to fora within the Jewish community where debate and action on this are absolutely forbidden. Maybe she does already. I don’t know.

    This is another example of how profound the Presby move was. It enables and encourages more and more people to form these ideas, perchance to act. Leadership.

    Thanks for telling your story.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      June 27, 2014, 12:23 pm

      Let us see what now happens in the parent Presbyterian body, the Church of Scotland. Further down the line even the torpid Church of England might stir itself. I was at a meeting of a committee of the Oxford Diocese the other day and Christian-Muslim relations were on the agenda. I asked whether they were being harmed by events in the ME and it seemed to be the general opinion that they were but the discussion then came rather quickly to an end, which was partly my responsibility since I wasn’t ready with a follow-up question or remark.

      • Walid
        Walid
        June 27, 2014, 12:39 pm

        MHughes, you left out the good guys in Canada, the United Church of Canada that is a union of Canadian Methodists, Congregationalists, and 70% of Canadian Presbyterians with a total membership of just under half a million. From their publication released last December just before Christmas telling everyone to boycott settlement products:

        United Church of Canada Members Launch Campaign to Boycott Israeli Settlement Products

        For Immediate Release December 2, 2013, Toronto, Ontario

        On December 3rd, the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), a network of United Church of Canada members and supporters, is launching a campaign in cities across Canada to boycott products made in illegal Israeli settlements.

        The December 3rd initiative of UNJPPI will involve news conferences and acts of public witness at retail stores such as Canadian Tire, Walmart, Home Depot and the Bay that sell settlement products. Christmas shoppers will be made aware of Israeli settlement products and encouraged to refrain from buying these items.

        Events in Toronto are as follows:
        News Conference at 11:30 am Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East, Toronto (2 blocks east of Yonge St.) followed by

        Public witness from 12:30 to 1:30 pm at the Canadian Tire the south-east corner of Dundas and Bay Streets

        The initiatives by UNJPPI are in response to, and support of, the United Church of Canada’s Unsettling Goods Campaign to promote a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This campaign is the result of an August, 2012 decision by the General Council of the United Church of Canada that encouraged its members to “avoid any and all products produced in the settlements.” The campaign targets settlement products such as Sodastream home carbonation drink machines, Keter household items, and Ahava beauty products.

        “We know Canadian consumers want to make ethical choices. Settlement products are unethical because they perpetuate illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. We want to help shoppers make informed choices this holiday season,” says McIntosh.

        http://www.caiaweb.org/united-church-of-canada-members-launch-campaign-to-boycott-israeli-settlement-products/

      • Walid
        Walid
        June 27, 2014, 12:52 pm

        BTW, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) with 50,000 members has been boycotting Israeli apartheid and campaigning against it since 2008.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        June 27, 2014, 3:28 pm

        Thanks for info! – Martin

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        June 27, 2014, 4:42 pm

        I think to stand up to your own people, when you know they are doing a horribly wrong thing, is brave. There are many like Beca Hanna, who has a conscience, and want to do right by victims of this endless occupation.
        Good luck to her and all those fighting for justice.

        There is some hope now, with boycotts and sanctions becoming a regular feature. As usual the US is predictably silent.

        BDS Scores Another Victory with Italy and Spain Warning Against Business in Israeli Settlements

        http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/bds-scores-another-victory-italy-spain-warning-against-business-israeli-settlements-1454446

    • Pixel
      Pixel
      June 28, 2014, 12:49 am

      .
      Courage is contagious.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    June 27, 2014, 12:46 pm

    The bots are really afraid of the word apartheid.
    Here is another crap video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3Qirao-NK8

    They just can’t admit it.

  4. Pixel
    Pixel
    June 28, 2014, 12:56 am

    Becca, thanks for ALL you do!

  5. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    June 28, 2014, 1:29 am

    RE: “As human beings, we distance ourselves from things that are hard to look at. Not wanting to endure the heartbreak of a murdered child, of a ravaged home, of hundreds of prisoners, we put the occupation on mute. I am guilty. We are all guilty.” ~ Becca Hanna

    TO THE THE TUNE AND VOCALIZATION OF FRANK SINATRA’S “My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is)”:

    Now this could only happen to a guy like me
    And only happen in a town on a website like this
    So may I say to each of you most gratef’lly
    As I throw blow each one of you a [big Chuck Woolery “Dating Game”-type] kiss

    Chicago Becca Hanna is my kind of town Jew, Chicago Becca is
    My kind of town enlightened human being, Chicago Becca is
    My kind of people, too
    People who smile at you [and not just in the relatively mundane literal sense, but also in the far more important metaphorical sense of “smiling”]

    And each time I roam [i.e. start my stinkin’ thinkin’ where I completely give up on humanity (meaning myself)], Chicago Becca is
    Calling me home, Chicago Becca is
    Why I just grin like a clown I’ve found (with or without sundry libations/intoxicants*) the really sweet spot in some very special place (like perhaps on the Dark Side of the Moon)
    It’s She’s my kind of town Jewish American

    [brief instrumental]

    My kind of town woman, Chicago Becca is
    My kind of town dame, Chicago Becca is
    My kind of razzmatazz
    And it she has all that jazz

    And each time I leave [i.e. succumb to Weltschmerz], Chicago Becca is
    Tuggin’ my sleeve, Chicago Becca is
    The Wrigley Building Tikkun Olam comin’ out the wazoo, Chicago Becca is
    The Union Stockyard A steadfast commitment to universal human rights, Chicago Becca is
    One town human being that won’t let you down
    It’s She’s my kind of town gal

    * Always use libations/intoxicants responsibly! ! !

    MUSICAL RESOURCES:
    My Kind Of Town – Karaoke [VIDEO, 02:43] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QwNn7sifDQ
    My Kind Of Town [VIDEO, 02:12] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMX4e9vCNLU
    My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is) Frank Sinatra karaoke cover [VIDEO, 03:09] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl91vGBxI9Q
    Frank Sinatra – My kind of town (Concert) [VIDEO, 03:32] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exohKzA–X0
    Frank Sinatra – My Kind Of Town [from Sinatra Vegas] [VIDEO, 03:00] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vE2FmiBHCg

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      June 28, 2014, 1:56 am

      P.S. RE: “And each time I leave [i.e. succumb to <a href="Weltschmerz]

      MY ADMISSION: I hate it when I screw up a hyperlink!
      It should have been like this: And each time I leave [i.e. succumb to Weltschmerz ]
      But alas, I’ll never learn.
      Never.
      Ever.
      I’ll always make mistakes.
      I’ll always have to live with them.
      Always.
      For ever and ever.
      Till death do us finally part.

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      June 28, 2014, 10:59 am

      P.P.S. MY HOMAGE TO BECCA HANNA (AND TZVIA THIER AS WELL) STRIPPED OF MOST OF THE EXTRANEOUS CLUTTER BUT STILL TO THE THE TUNE AND VOCALIZATION OF FRANK SINATRA’S “My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is)”:

      Now this could only happen to a guy like me
      And only happen on a website like this
      So may I say to each of you most gratef’lly
      As I blow each one of you a big “Dating Game” [VIDEO, 01:53] kiss*
      Becca Hanna and Tzvia Thier are my kind of Jews, Becca and Tzvia are
      My kind of enlightened human beings, Becca and Tzvia are
      My kind of people, too
      People who smile at you

      And each time I roam [i.e. start my stinkin’ thinkin’], Becca and Tzvia are
      Calling me home, Becca and Tzvia are
      Why I just grin like I’ve found the really sweet spot in a very special place
      They’re my kind of Jewish Americans

      [brief instrumental]

      My kind of women, Becca and Tzvia are
      My kind of dames, Becca and Tzvia are
      My kind of razzmatazz
      And they have all that jazz

      And each time I leave [i.e. succumb to Weltschmerz ], Becca and Tzvia are
      Tuggin’ my sleeve, Becca and Tzvia are
      tikkun olam comin’ out the wazoo, Becca and Tzvia are
      Steadfast commitment(s) to universal human rights, Becca and Tzvia are
      Two human beings who won’t let you down
      They’re my kind of gals

      * Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_a_Dangerous_Mind
      Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (3/10) Movie CLIP – The Dating Game (2002) HD [VIDEO, 02:36] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-VqYtkvmzw

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    June 28, 2014, 4:35 am

    RE: “As human beings, we distance ourselves from things that are hard to look at. Not wanting to endure the heartbreak of a murdered child, of a ravaged home, of hundreds of prisoners, we put the occupation on mute. I am guilty. We are all guilty.” ~ Becca Hanna

    A COGNITIVE DISSONANCE REFRESHER: “As human beings”, we use defence/defense mechanisms to “distance ourselves from things that are hard to look at”. Not wanting to endure the cognitive dissonance* concomitant with becoming cognizant of “the heartbreak of a murdered child, of a ravaged home, of hundreds of prisoners”; we use defence/defense mechanisms** to “put the occupation on mute” so as avoid the discomfort that would be caused by the cognitive dissonance it would arouse in us. Otherwise, if we allowed it into our cognition (i.e. our cognitive mental processes), the “heartbreak of a murdered child, of a ravaged home, of hundreds of prisoners” would constitute new information contradicting our closely-held beliefs or assumptions (i.e., Israel as “a light unto the nations” with absolutely no choice but to continue its “strictly temporary and benign occupation” because although Israel is truly willing to make “painful concessions” to reach a settlement ending the occupation, the hopelessly Luddite-like, stubborn, Palestinians Arabs only care about literally driving the Jews/Israelis into the sea***) , thereby causing us discomfort due to the cognitive dissonance resulting from the mental conflict between our closely-held beliefs/assumptions and the new information which contradicts those closely-held beliefs/assumptions.
    Ergo: “I am guilty. We are all guilty.”
    We are “guilty” of being human.
    We are “guilty” of subconsciously (for the most part) using defence/defense mechanisms to avoid the discomfort that would otherwise be caused by cognitive dissonance!

    * FROM BRITANNICA.COM [cognitive dissonance]

    cognitive dissonance – the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in a person is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: the person rejects, explains away, or avoids the new information, persuades himself that no conflict really exists, reconciles the differences, or resorts to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in his conception of the world and of himself. The concept, first introduced in the 1950s, has become a major point of discussion and research.

    SOURCE – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/124498/cognitive-dissonance

    ** FROM WIKIPEDIA AS OF 1/28/14 [Defence mechanisms]:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms are psychological strategies brought into play [primarily ~ J.L.D.] by the unconscious mind[4] to manipulate, deny, or distort reality in order to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses to maintain one’s self schema [and to minimize cognitive dissonance – J.L.D.].[5]
    These processes that manipulate, deny, or distort reality may include the following: repression, or the burying of a painful feeling or thought from one’s awareness even though it may resurface in a symbolic form;[3] identification, incorporating an object or thought into oneself;[6] and rationalization, the justification of one’s behavior and motivations by substituting “good” acceptable reasons for the motivations.[3][7] Generally, repression is considered the basis for other defense mechanisms.[3]
    Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behaviour such that the physical or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety and/or social sanctions and/or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.[8]
    Defence mechanisms are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses[i.e., a refuge from cognitive dissonance – J.L.D.]..[9]
    Defence mechanisms are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses.[9] . . .
    . . . The list of defence mechanisms is huge and there is no theoretical consensus on the number of defence mechanisms. . .

    Vaillant’s categorization of defence mechanisms

    Level 1: Pathological

    Level 2: Immature

    Level 3: Neurotic

    Level 4: Mature
    These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered mature . . .
    • Thought suppression: The conscious process of pushing thoughts into the preconscious; the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; making it possible to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions whilst accepting them. . .

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms

    *** SEE: “Those People in Gaza: Where Do They Come From, And Why Are They So Mad? ~ LawrenceOfCyberia.blogs.com, 01/30/09
    Scroll to the bottom of the page and see Zionists literally driving Palestinians into the sea in 1948 in Jaffa Harbour, and marvel at the astounding hypocrisy of Israeli hasbara. [h/t Sumud ]
    LINK – http://lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/news/2009/01/a-land-without-a-people.html

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