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Report from Bethlehem: An American moment

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“Many of us worked for so many years for a two-state solution.  But the two-state solution is dead, completely dead, and the Israelis have killed it.  Our message — especially in the West — must speak this word clearly.”

These are the words of Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, to my colleague Michael Spath earlier this month in Jerusalem.  Michael and I were in the West Bank to attend the international conference to mark the fifth anniversary of the Kairos document, “Moment of Truth: a cry of faith, love and hope from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” Michael and I had both arrived at this same conclusion from our time at the gathering. There was clear consensus that there is no two-state solution on the table, that we have arrived at one state, and it is called Israel, and it is a state that in its policies and actions practices a form of apartheid that visiting South Africans declare is worse than the system that prevailed in their country before it was brought down by the coordinated and persistent action of the global community.

I agree with Halper that we must speak this clearly:  that the two-state remedy that is being peddled is a dangerous illusion, and that the reality that we now confront is unacceptable to us, as U.S. citizens, as members of faith communities, as secular people committed to justice.  What then remains is the issue of how, and when, the right to live with dignity and with the rights that are guaranteed under international law will be restored to Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.  This is important not only for the sake of the oppressed Palestinians, but – and I know this is true for Israeli Jeff Halper – out of love for the citizens of Israel, Jewish and non-Jewish, who deserve to be liberated from a system that sickens their society and steals from their children the chance for a decent future.

So what can we do? In the Kairos Palestine “Moment of Truth,” Palestinians have provided a clear and direct answer to this question in calling for “peaceful resistance.” The occupation of Palestinian lands and the land theft and human rights violations that have accompanied it “is an evil that must be resisted,” maintains the document, because “[r]esistance is a right and a duty for the Christian. But it is resistance with love as its logic.”  This means that it is active but nonviolent. “The aim is to free both peoples from extremist positions of the different Israeli governments, bringing both to justice and reconciliation.”

Bringing the Debate to YouKairos Palestine specifically references boycott as one form of this resistance. The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement received significant attention at the Bethlehem conference. International delegates joined Palestinians in two days of meetings following the event to discuss how to coordinate their activities in support of Palestinian liberation, with an entire day devoted to BDS.

The Kairos USA “Call to Action: A word of confession and faith from Christians in the United States” is a confession of responsibility and acknowledgement of obligation to act.:

As the body of Christ in the United States, we confess that by not speaking truth to power we have failed to follow the call of Jesus to serve God with love and compassion for all people. We have failed to challenge our government’s policies. Rather than acting as an honest broker in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, our government has consistently supported, both financially and diplomatically, the actions of Israel that have brought suffering to Palestinians, continuing insecurity to Israelis and the declining prospect of a just peace. As individuals and as church institutions, we have supported a system of control, inequality and oppression through misreading of our Holy Scriptures, flawed theology and distortions of history. We have allowed to go unchallenged theological and political ideas that have made us complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. Instead of speaking and acting boldly, we have chosen to offer careful statements designed to avoid controversy and leave cherished relationships undisturbed.

Fundamental principles that support both Christian and American values come together in this statement.  Last week, as part of NPR’s coverage of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogation practices, Palestinian-American Rami Khoury offered these thoughts:

The whole historical contribution of the concept of the United States of America was citizenship based on the consent of the governed…Therefore the people need to know what is being done in their name so that the people, the citizens, can maintain a certain value system in public life that reflects what is written in their Declaration of Independence. So it’s a very difficult but very important moment for the United States. This is a very American moment.

As I listened to Khoury, I agreed that what were we seeing in the release of this report was the worst of America but also the best of our country in our willingness to call ourselves to account. I found myself thinking back to October 5, 2012, when 15 leaders of U.S. Protestant denominations and several Roman Catholic orders published an open letter to the members of the US Congress. The letter includes this statement:

As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued US military assistance to Israel — offered without conditions or accountability — will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The letter also urged Congress to conduct “an immediate investigation into possible violations the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act that respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations.”

Can we envision another “American moment” like the one we have just experienced? Can we dare to imagine, that, through the exercise of creative resistance, we can bring our nation in similar fashion to question the legality and rightness of our financial and diplomatic support for Israel’s illegal activities, activities that include not only land taking and colonization, but systematic denial of human rights, including imprisonment and torture? It has never been more clear that our response to the call of our Palestinian sisters in brothers in distress calls us to a witness that reaches beyond  Palestine, as we consider our nation’s record  of systematic economic, judicial and law enforcement violence against African Americans, our torture of prisoners, and abrogation of immigrant rights. The voice of the Palestinians is the voice of our own consciences, because it is a voice that calls us to be true to foundational values of our society. And it calls us to action, as expressed in the Kairos USA document:

“We appeal to our government to be faithful to the principles of universal human rights, equality and justice articulated in its foundational documents, enshrined in international law and expressed in the resolutions of the United Nations. We call to mind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s charge in his historic speech on the Vietnam War at Riverside Church in 1967. “These are the times,” Dr. King told us, “for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every [person] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”

U.S. Lutheran theologian Robert Smith expresses this clearly in his remarks that opened the Bethlehem conference:

“How can those of us who are not Palestinian weave resistance into the fabric of our lives? One way is to identify how the structures perpetuating the sin of occupation inform injustices in our home contexts. This is what is intended as the message of Kairos for Global Justice. How do we participate in struggles against those injustices in our local contexts, consciously linking them to the quest for justice in Palestine? How do the theologies identified as harmful in Kairos Palestine harm others as well; how do those imperial theologies benefit not just Israeli power but power and privilege in many other places as well?”

Smith’s reference to theology reminds us that the role of our faith leaders and faith communities is critical. “The Kairos call for creative resistance,” Smith continued, “is not about addressing economic structures alone. Support for the matrix of Israeli occupation challenges the very nature of how we interpret the Bible and how Christian communities engage and challenge political powers and principalities.” As was true for the South African and the black liberation struggle in this country, the church is called to lead.  For the church in the U.S.,  the challenge presented by the Palestinian call is the same as that expressed by the church leaders in South Africa in their 1985 Kairos document “Challenge to the church:”

“It is serious, very serious. For very many Christians in South Africa this is the KAIROS, the moment of grace and opportunity, the favorable time in which God issues a challenge to decisive action. It is a dangerous time because, if this opportunity is missed, and allowed to pass by, the loss for the Church, for the Gospel and for all the people of South Africa will be immeasurable…A crisis is a moment of truth that shows us up for what we really are. There will be no place to hide and no way of pretending to be what we are not in fact. At this moment in South Africa the Church is about to be shown up for what it really is and no cover-up will be possible.”

The example of South Africa becomes increasingly compelling as the Israeli project to create one state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan moves toward completion. We made our government say “no” to apartheid then, and it was not easy, and we persevered, and we prevailed.

Mark Braverman is the Executive Director of Kairos USA. This post first appeared on the Kairos USA website

Mark Braverman
About Mark Braverman

Mark Braverman serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Sabeel North America and is National Program Director for Kairos USA. He is the author of A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine, Jericho Books, 2013.

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30 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay on December 21, 2014, 12:18 pm

    “Many of us worked for so many years for a two-state solution. But the two-state solution is dead, completely dead, and the Israelis have killed it. … “

    Zionists could have had a secular and democratic but “culturally Jewish” Israel. They chose instead to establish an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel. Their hatefulness, immorality and insatiable greed will ultimately be their undoing.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones on December 21, 2014, 5:00 pm

      Zionists could have had a secular and democratic but “culturally Jewish” Israel.
      I think such an outcome would be fine, but I question whether local Arabs living in it would have resisted even that. Imagine if Native Americans in part of the Midwest decided to make the regions that they make up a majority into a culturally Indian democratic state. I think that the local non-Native Americans might resist creating such a state, because they would not want to suddenly live as a minority in a new state dedicated to a different culture. A more feasible option would have been something like Lebanon, Canada, or other binational states.

      Nonetheless, I do think that what you are proposing would be more realistic and would get along better with its neighbors than what we have now.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on December 22, 2014, 11:00 am

        , “but I question whether local Arabs living”

        I’m sorry, did you mean “Palestinians”? You want to stick with “local Arabs”?

  2. just
    just on December 21, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Thanks, Mark.

    The intransigence of Israel on full display:

    “Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Jerusalem will always remain under Israeli sovereignty during a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall on Sunday, which she held together with Labor head Isaac Herzog.

    “Israeli sovereignty here, in this place, in Jerusalem, is the expression of “the historic link between a people and its land” Livni said during the ceremony.”This holy place, this historical place, this place to which our deepest recesses are tied, will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.”

    The issue of the sovereignty over Jerusalem is one of the most contested core issues between Israel and the Palestinians. After the 1967 war, Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem, an act which was never internationally recognized. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the seat of a future Palestinian state.

    PM: Israel won’t abide to outside dictates

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would oppose the Palestinian resolution in the UN Security Council setting a deadline for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

    “We expect responsible elements in the international community to reject this proposal, but in any case we’ll oppose it determinedly and of course, would not abide by any dictates,” Netanyahu said at a Hanukkah ceremony he held will IDF troops at a base near Jerusalem.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-election-2015/.premium-1.633037?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    How the US/ world can support this is really and truly unfathomable.

    • catporn
      catporn on December 23, 2014, 8:34 am

      “Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Jerusalem will always remain under Israeli sovereignty during a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall on Sunday, which she held together with Labor head Isaac Herzog.”

      There’s Israel’s liberal left, the saviors that will replace Netanyahu’s extremism with a more gentle occupation/apartheid just like in the good old days when Palestinians knew their place.

      • just
        just on December 23, 2014, 8:45 am

        Haaretz changed the article since I posted that, catporn.

        It now reads that she only claimed sovereignty over the WW.

        And, yes they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Never mind that Cast Lead Livni had an arrest warrant once in the UK… for war crimes.

      • eljay
        eljay on December 23, 2014, 8:50 am

        >> catporn: There’s Israel’s liberal left, the saviors that will replace Netanyahu’s extremism with a more gentle occupation/apartheid …

        “Liberal Zionism” is the vicious wife-beater who considers himself much more reasonable than the serial rapist.

        “Liberal Zionism” says:

        “I cannot consistently say that ‘ethnic cleansing is never necessary’.”

        ” … I feel that the nakba was a necessary wrong … ”

        “If I was an adult in 1948, I probably would have supported whatever it took to create the state of Israel, and held my nose at actions that I could not possibly do myself.”

        “The nakba that occurred in 1948 was accompanied by the independence, the liberation, of the Jewish community. So, I primarily celebrate … “

      • catporn
        catporn on December 23, 2014, 4:31 pm

        Yes it’s a total disgrace, the UK govt have bent over backwards twice so far to give diplomatic immunity to war criminal Livni, in the first instance going so far as changing British law to accommodate her. She’s not alone, Benny Gantz and Doron Almog were given the red carpet at the expense of abiding by international law too.
        They say actions speak loader than words, and ain’t that the truth, the Bolivian President can have his plane plucked from the air and randomly searched by the Austrian govt at the behest of the US, while Israeli war criminals can jet in and out of London without fear of outstanding warrants.
        Still, time moves on, opinions harden and MP’s need votes, and she’ll always be a wanted war criminal.

      • catporn
        catporn on December 23, 2014, 4:51 pm

        @eljay
        It’s difficult to imagine where the cut off point is for liberal Zionism, what more would it take for them to totally disown Israel.. The mind boggles.

  3. Mooser
    Mooser on December 21, 2014, 1:04 pm

    http://original.antiwar.com/avnery/2014/12/19/splendid-isolation/

    Uri Avnery on the US veto and the Israel election.

    • just
      just on December 21, 2014, 1:39 pm

      Thanks for the link, Mooser.

      From the link:

      “This week, Obama threw an international bomb: after 56 years of burning enmity between the US and Cuba, he announced the resumption of diplomatic relations. This shows that he has decided to use the two years left to him in power, without the possibility of being re-elected, in order to do what he reality wanted to so all the time, but was afraid to do. He can spite the Congress and do what his soul desires.

      He can decide to act now decisively to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

      Let’s hope he does.”

      This is what I’m hoping for, wishing for, praying for and what I believe about this President.

    • Boomer
      Boomer on December 21, 2014, 2:38 pm

      Avnery says that the U.S. has hinted that it may not use its veto. I missed that. Can someone specify where this hint was given, by whom, when?

      • just
        just on December 21, 2014, 3:01 pm

        I think Avnery is being cautiously optimistic that the US might just change their tune… could it be that the US is ‘wearing” a poker face?

        (Hope so, anyway.)

  4. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw on December 21, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Thanks for that link Mooser, Uri Avnery spells it out correctly…
    These, then, are the battle lines:

    A Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital, an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, the end of the occupation, peace between Israel and the entire Arab and Muslim world, or a Greater Israel, continuous occupation or annexation, more settlements and ethnic cleansing, permanent war.

    Israel has to choose.

    So has the world.

    • Walid
      Walid on December 21, 2014, 7:46 pm

      “For more than 40 years now, this contempt has never been shaken. Israeli leaders relied on the US to block each and every Security Council resolution that the Israeli government disapproved of, irrespective of its content. “(Avnery)

      Close, but not accurate, the US voted against Israel on March 18, 1978 on UNSC Res 425 to get out of Lebanon 5 days after it invaded it. On the other hand, the US did absolutely nothing to enforce this resolution during the following 22 years while Israel maintained its occupation. Had it not been for Hizbullah’s armed resistance that succeeded in kicking Israel out in May 2000, today Israel would have polluted South Lebanon with squatter red tile-roofed row settlements like those on the WB.

      Getting back to Avnery, I wouldn’t lose track of the historic fact that he’s an ardent Zionist like the other Zionists he names in his article Oz, Grossman and Yehoshua that with him and others signed a plea to the Europeans to supposedly help the Palestinians. These people aren’t Zionists of the same streak as Netanyahu, but they are Zionists nonetheless. I don’t believe they are driven by a great love for justice for the Palestinians as much as by their fear of losing their comfortable lifestyle in a Zionist-controlled Israel because of where crazies like Netanyahu are taking it. Avnery, of his own admission, began as an ethnic cleansing Zionist in 48. He switched gears once Israel was firmly established. If by December 20 of this year in his article he is still pushing for a 2-state, he’s still living in fear of losing what he has. Just about the only Israeli that doesn’t leave me doubting his true motives is Jeff Halper that’s toiling to bring justice to the Palestinians and contrary to Avnery & Friends that still dream of saving their Israel by throwing a few crumbs to the Palestinians in the form of a small Palestinian state.

      Halper said, “Many of us worked for so many years for a two-state solution. But the two-state solution is dead, completely dead, and the Israelis have killed it. Our message — especially in the West — must speak this word clearly.”

      Anyone that’s still talking about 2 states is clearly but vainly looking out for Israel’s interest, and this includes some of the Palestinians’ current leaders.

  5. just
    just on December 21, 2014, 1:51 pm

    I read this telling tidbit today wrt “interfering in elections”:

    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far raised nearly 539,000 shekels ($137,000) in his bid to retain his position at the head of Likud. The sum came from 15 donors, all of whom are from overseas. Fourteen are from the United States, while one is from Spain.

    At this point, Netanyahu’s only challenger is Danny Danon, who has raised a total of 261,000 shekels from 11 donors – 10 of whom reside in the United States.

    Among the U.S. donors to Netanyahu’s campaign is Kenneth Abramowitz, who heads the American Friends of Likud and contributed about 40,000 shekels. The donors also included four members of the Miami-based Falic family, which owns the largest duty-free retail firm in the United States. The four each gave the maximum permitted.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.632896?v=FEDC3919CB43C8D31A2B4949C653A0CD

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich on December 21, 2014, 7:06 pm

      @ just,

      You must have missed the silver lining [33 sekhells] donated by Jon Uri Das, from Backwater, USA, to every single candidate.

      The picture of [mostly] Jewish men bankrolling politicians on either side of the pond is a very bleak one, to say the least.

      I tried to buy an ounce of truth yesterday [on a white market], but it turned out to be priceless.

      • just
        just on December 22, 2014, 10:49 am

        Thanks for that comment, Daniel.

    • Marnie
      Marnie on December 22, 2014, 3:03 am

      American Friends of Likud – gag. Get out of america then and really join Likud, but the truth is, the GoI isn’t interested in your physical presence, just material. Keep supporting apartheid “Friends”.

  6. Citizen
    Citizen on December 21, 2014, 3:22 pm

    @BlacklistedNews All for Israel: $1.6T, now, how about a new Israeli state in Germany? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOP7h7C8j_0

  7. Boomer
    Boomer on December 21, 2014, 7:15 pm

    Thanks to Mark for a powerful statement. I don’t know whether 1 state or 2 is the better way forward, but he obviously understands the problem. Oddly enough, NPR had a good story (good for NPR, that is) tonight on the situation in the West Bank. It was told from a Jewish perspective, of course:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/12/21/371247599/celebrating-hanukkah-in-a-palestinian-city

  8. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson on December 21, 2014, 11:48 pm

    RE: “There was clear consensus that there is no two-state solution on the table, that we have arrived at one state, and it is called Israel, and it is a state that in its policies and actions practices a form of apartheid that visiting South Africans declare is worse than the system that prevailed in their country . . .” ~ Braverman

    ANDRE VLTCHEK: “Are some believers going to be offended? But of course! Their faith can murder the world, but others, even the victims, have to be ‘sensitive’ (e.g., they must adhere to “civility”, as demanded of Steven Salaita ~ J.L.D.)! But should some ‘sensitivities’ of those who believe in fairytales, and are willing to sacrifice hundreds of millions of human lives on the altar of irrational invents, be put above survival of humanity? By no means!”*

    * SEE: “Christian Dogma Should be Questioned”, by André Vltchek, counterpunch.org, December 19-21, 2014

    [EXCERPTS] This year as in every other year, Christianity and fundamentalist capitalism, two great allies, are joining their forces to extract billions of dollars, all over the world, mainly from the poor.

    As money flies towards the coffers of the church and into corporate accounts, over-sugary, kitschy Christmas carols and gospels are soaring out from the audio systems of department stores and malls all over the Empire and in almost all of its colonies (Saudi Arabia being an exception).

    ‘White Christmas’ is re-enacted and faked in the steaming-hot tropical ‘client states’, into where Christianity with all its nomenclature was forcefully injected decades and centuries ago. . .

    . . . Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, a giant in psychology and psychotherapy, declared in 1942:

    “The Christian Church should put ashes on her head and rend her garments on account of the guilt of her children. The shadow of their guilt has fallen on her as much as upon Europe, the mother of monsters.”

    But was Jung only referring to the horrors of WWII? Definitely not! He viewed Christian dogma and especially its practices, as racist, intolerant, dictatorial and imperialist, and his conclusion and suggestion for treatment was clear:

    “We are therefore forced to go back to pre-Christian and non-Christian conceptions and to conclude that Western man does not possess the monopoly of human wisdom and that the white race is not a species of ‘Homo sapiens’ specially favored by God…”

    But is the world really moving to embrace what Jung used to call pre-Christian and non-Christian conceptions?

    The Empire itself is constructed on Christian dogmas, symbolism and practices. All of its leaders are Christians, almost all – Protestant. Every time they drag the world into war, their mouths are full of religious rhetoric and ‘mysticism’. We are not supposed to question the logic of bombing some poor countries, into the ground. We are not supposed to question the morality of the societies that are abandoning the fate of people to private and voluntary charities, instead of giving rights to all citizens. We are supposed to ‘believe’, to ‘trust’! And if we can’t believe in such idiocy, then at least we are forced to be scared.

    The dogmas of Christianity, of Western imperialism, capitalism, together with their brainwashing propaganda and ‘education’, have created one powerful entity. It fully controls the planet, allows no intellectual dissent, and destroys everything that dares to stand on its way.

    By now, our minds are fully ‘colonized’, our morality twisted, our logic corrupted.

    Only those who are by some ‘miracle’ spared formal education (read: propaganda) can see clearly.

    Christian crusades and colonialist expeditions did not end with the military terror, with rapes, plunder and physical enslavement of the planet. They have been continuing with spreading the most complete and complex net of indoctrination, aiming at ending intellectual diversity. . .

    . . . Syria was destroyed by the modern-day crusades propelled by the neo-con clique, which consists mainly of the conservative Protestant fundamentalists. . .

    . . . How is Christianity, which directly participated in colonialism, crusades, and extermination of entire nations, in Nazism… how is it still, now, shaping those brains of the neo-cons, of mass murderers who are leveling entire nations into the ground, at this very moment, as these words are being written. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/19/christian-dogma-should-be-questioned/

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson on December 24, 2014, 11:04 pm

      P.S. ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM “Christian Dogma Should be Questioned”:

      . . . I am extremely interested in the Pentecostal Protestant sects in Africa, Oceania, Indonesia and elsewhere.

      I was recently told and explained to, about that grand design of Pentecostal churches, backed by the Empire, which is trying to destabilize many countries that are seen as adversaries of the West, from Eritrea to China.

      In several old pro-Western fascist regimes, like those of Indonesia, Pentecostal religions thrive, are groomed and then exported to China and elsewhere, with a single goal – to destabilize and to brainwash the nations.

      I want to know about those Pentecostal and other Protestant fundamentalist churches, all over Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. I lived in Samoa and I know all about the extortion, corruption and ignorance, which they are spreading there. I know about child molestation and abuse committed by preachers and priests, with total impunity.

      The poorer and more uneducated people are, the more they flock into the new Protestant Pentecostal churches, where the “Prosperity Gospel” is quickly becoming the most preached one, in the cities like Kampala in Uganda, or Surabaya in Indonesia.

      It is not just some religious fundamentalism, but it is also the market fundamentalism and the right-wing individualism: all walking hand in hand with those new pop, anti-humanist religious implants.

      The new toxic, fluorescent wave of Christianity mostly comes from the United States, but also from Australia: prefabricated, shiny, ready to go directly into action, brainwashing people, and keeping societies stagnant.

      In such churches, what is white and Western is fully and unquestionably admired. And there are even some Western preachers who are ‘imported’.

      Listening to their preaching, one really wonders whether they are working for God or for the intelligence agencies, or for both.

      But that is no surprise. Christianity has always collaborated with oppressive right-wing powers: kings, aristocracy, banks, business interests, Nazis, slave owners, fascist dictators…

  9. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr on December 21, 2014, 11:58 pm

    Much as I appreciate the main points of this post, I have to challenge one assertion:

    Mark Braverman wrote: “As I listened to Khoury, I agreed that what were we seeing in the release of this report was the worst of America but also the best of our country in our willingness to call ourselves to account.”

    In fact, the Senate report is a classic case of a “modified limited hang-out,” in the immortal words of Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Clearly, the CIA at some point crossed Feinstein and its other friends in the Senate, and they decided to get back at the agency by releasing some info the essence of which they had and could and should have made public more than a decade ago. But we’re getting only a highly redacted version of the executive summary of the report, by no means the whole story. And note that even the report deals only with the CIA’s interrogation program, not at all with the US military’s torture programs, nor with the “extraordinary rendition” program that sent hundreds of people to other countries’ torture chambers around the world.

    And, of course, Obama and friends want to “look forward, not backward,” so no matter what atrocities were committed, there are no consequences for any of the perpetrators. (Here in California, we taxpayers paid torture lawyer John Yoo a salary of $381,000 in 2013 to poison the minds of law students – and that was before his promotion to an endowed chair earlier this year.)

    In short, our “willingness to call ourselves to account” is extremely limited, so I don’t think we should be congratulating ourselves about it, even in passing.

  10. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw on December 22, 2014, 7:58 am

    Yes Henry I agree with you, under the law Obama cannot “look forward not backward” he has a duty to prosecute ‘folks who tortured’, failure to do so is a criminal offence in its own right.

  11. Walid
    Walid on December 22, 2014, 10:11 am

    Up Jeff Halper’s alley as well as Zochrot’s, an article in today’s al-Akhbar; some bits and pieces from it:

    In latest attack on Palestinian heritage, Israel reopens museum in old mosque

    Monday, December 22, 2014

    In the latest Israeli efforts to stifle Palestinian culture, authorities in the Israeli-occupied city of Beersheba recently converted a historical mosque into an Islamic museum, despite the fact that 10,000 local Palestinian Muslims have nowhere to pray, locals said.

    Locals told Ma’an news agency that an exhibit showcasing a collection of Muslim prayer rugs was recently opened in the building that was formerly the Great Mosque of Beersheba, which was once used regularly as a house of worship before the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948.

    The exhibit, which locals say has no Arab or Muslim member on the technical supervisory team, will continue until June 2015.

    The move comes after decades of protest from the area’s 10,000-strong Palestinian Muslim community, composed primarily of local Bedouins whose ancestors survived the Israeli expulsions as well as Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who have moved to the city from other parts of the country.

    Representatives of the community have long petitioned Israeli authorities to allow them to open the mosque for daily prayers or at least once a week for Friday prayers. However, their demands were repeatedly rejected.

    The Great Mosque of Beersheba, a town originally known as Bir al-Sabaa, was built in 1906 during the Ottoman era with donations collected from the Bedouin residents of the Negev.

    It remained an active mosque until the Israelis occupied the city in 1948 and turned it into a detention center and headquarters for a magistrate court, following the expulsion of Beersheba’s approximately 6,000 Palestinian residents, most of whom fled to Gaza.

    Thousands of Jewish immigrants were subsequently brought in to populate the city, while the Palestinian refugees were never allowed to return, despite many of them living only kilometers away.

    In 1953, the Israeli authorities turned a portion of the mosque into a museum, which was recognized in 1987 by the Israeli department of archeology as the Negev Museum.

    In 1992, the museum was shut down because the building had become vulnerable. However, it was retrofitted recently, paving the way for its reuse.

    On December 10, Israel resumed excavations in a Muslim graveyard in West Jerusalem as part of the “Museum of Tolerance” project.

    … The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions estimates that Israeli authorities have demolished about 27,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank since 1967.

    A recent statement from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Negotiation Affairs department said that “despite its small size, Palestine has an abundance of historical, religious and cultural heritage sites. Every inch of this land has a story to tell, every hill the scene of a battle, and every stone a monument or a tomb. One cannot understand the geography of Palestine without knowing its history and one cannot understand its history without understanding its geography.”

    But Israel has systematically tried to obliterate, annex and confiscate Palestinian sites as it seeks to strip the land it occupies of its Palestinian identity.

    Palestinians accuse Israel of heritage theft as Israeli authorities, besides taking over Palestinian lands and properties, deliberately target sites that have historical importance and provide evidence of Palestinian heritage and culture.

    Following Israel’s summer offensive against Gaza, many of Strip’s ancient sites, including houses of worship, tombs and cemeteries, were left in ruins.

    Gaza’s historic mosques, dating back to the time of the first Islamic caliphs and the Ottoman Empire, were the worst affected.

    According to the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Israel targeted mosques on purpose, partially damaging 130 mosques and completely destroying 73.

    The destruction of Gaza’s ancient mosques has brought the total losses incurred by the religious affairs ministry to an estimated $50 million.

    Gaza’s only three churches were also damaged during the latest conflict, including the oldest church in the Gaza Strip, the Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius, which dates back to the 1150s.

    … In order to build its apartheid wall and infrastructure for Israeli-only settle­ments, Israeli bulldozers plowed down more than 800,000 olive trees in the West Bank, the equivalent of bulldozing all of New York City’s Central Park 33 times.

    … On Sunday, the Israeli parliament’s finance committee voted through $3.3 million to build a tourist center in a settlement in the occupied West Bank, a statement said.

    The money is for a project at the Barkan settlement in the north of the Palestinian territory, the Knesset statement said.

    According to the Palestinian Authority (PA), besides it being an effective tool in oppressing the Palestinian narrative and rewriting history, tourism is one of the basic grounds upon which the Israeli economy is built.

    Palestinian tour guides or transportation companies haven’t been able to enter the Israeli-occupied territories since 2000. From over 240 tourist guides licensed to work all over Palestine before occupation, only 42 have permits to guide in Israel, which are renewed periodically and without guarantee.

    In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the PA says Israel collects about 90 percent of revenue related to pilgrims and tourists.

    Sunday’s vote came less than three months before a snap general election on March 17 backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but denounced by the opposition.

    Centrist Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, sacked by Netanyahu as finance minister on December 2, called Sunday’s finance committee vote “electoral corruption.”
    “Netanyahu wants to please the settler lobby before the elections,” he told the private television station Channel 10.

    The expansion of Israeli settlements remains a major stumbling block to peace with the Palestinians. According to international law, settlements on occupied land are illegal.

    … According to the PLO, between 1989 and 2014, the number of Israeli settlers on Palestinian land soared from 189,900 to nearly 600,000. These settlements, meanwhile, are located between and around Palestinians towns and villages, making a contiguous state next to impossible.

    While major Palestinian cities have boomed in the past 26 years, Israeli confiscation of land in border regions has continued unabated.

    According to a UN report published in early December, the PA lost at least $310 million in customs and sales tax in 2011 as a result of importing from or through Israeli-occupied territories.

    Last year, the World Bank estimated that Israeli control over Area C – the 61 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control – costs the Palestinian economy around $3.4 billion annually, or more than one-third of the Palestinian Authority’s GDP.

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/latest-attack-palestinian-heritage-israel-reopens-museum-old-mosque

    • just
      just on December 22, 2014, 10:37 am

      Thank you very, very much Walid.

      That’s a terribly important article, imho. The immense chronicle of crimes against the Palestinian people needs to be all- inclusive…this helps.

      It should also anger/hurt any human being to read. It should mobilize human beings to get on board with working for Palestinian justice and freedom and equality..

  12. JimMichie
    JimMichie on December 22, 2014, 10:44 am

    A very nicely written piece, Mark, declaring dead Palestine’s absolute right to have an independent state of its own–free of the racism, apartheid, collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, torture, and cold-blooded murders and massacres, along with continuing theft of Palestinian villages, homes, businesses, farms, water rights, and property–all of this protected by Zionist Israel’s Isreaeli Distruction Force (IDF) for the past 47 years (and counting). Yet, all of this in complete violation of Zionist Israel’s “constitution”, as well as international law and the Geneva Conventions. As I am sure you know, the Palestinians, Christian and Muslim, have been attempting to exercise their “civil rights” with non-violent resistance for decades, while at the same time Zionist Israel has crushed this non-violent resistance with still more violence.

    Please take into account that Israel is not South Africa and, as one of your collegues stated, the apartheid in Israel is far worse than what existed in South Africa.

    I contend that you are wrong in declaring that a “two-state solution” is dead. In doing so, you are giving Zionist Israel open license to speed up the process of illegal land seizures and increase their demonic oppression and persecution of Palestinians. In reaching your conclusion, you fail to state that Zionist Israel is an extremist ultra-right-wing racist population and “government”-turned fascist. I am providing you with a video-clip sample of what Palestinians in their homeland, YES, THEIR HOMELAND, must somehow endure at the hands of Zionist Israel! A Palestinian family living under siege from illegal Israeli squatters (settlers)
    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10204590920004196

  13. Lillian Rosengarten
    Lillian Rosengarten on December 22, 2014, 11:41 am

    Important message Mark in support of our struggle to end the Palestinian nightmare and return Palestinians to their rightful homes to live with dignity in a one state that is Israel/Palestine. It must happen for there is no alternative for survival.

  14. MHughes976
    MHughes976 on December 25, 2014, 12:09 pm

    The 2SS can’t really be ‘dead’ in the sense of ‘formerly alive’ or ‘once possible, but now impossible’ – it can’t be quite inconceivable that Palestine should be effectively partitioned. One problem is that it has always been incompatible with Zionism, which denies a) that the Palestinians have a right to be there which is in any sense comparable with the claimed Jewish right b) never thinks in terms of the division of the Holy Land, so often proclaimed to be one historic and biblical thing. Zionism could not have got off the ground without either of these features: how could any Zionist at any time say to any Palestinian, while seriously pursuing Z policies, ‘Your right to be here is absolutely as good as ours’?
    Problem no.2 is that partition without general consent is and always has been incompatible with justice. What can sovereignty mean if an international committee can abolish it or tear territory away? A mandate territory might be considered a special case, but if it is special in any way it must be by an especially pressing obligation for the sovereign to call for the trust of the people so governed and not to betray that trust.

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