A Third Intifada in Palestine? لانتفاضة

Definition — “Intifada” is the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, beginning in 1987. The Second Intifada, also known as the Al Aqsa Intifada, began in September 2000 when Ariel Sharon marched provocatively with his troops around the Temple Mount.

Both Intifadas have been devastatingly brutal with civilian casualties on both sides, but by far the Palestinians have borne the brunt of the deaths and injuries. During the First Intifada, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed an estimated 1,162–1,204 Palestinians over 6 years. [Rami Nasrallah, ‘The First and Second Palestinian Intifadas,’ in Joel Peters, David Newman (eds.) The Routledge Handbook on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Routledge 2013 pp. 56–68 p. 61]. Among Israelis, 100 civilians and 60 IDF personnel were killed. [Mient Jan Faber, Mary Kaldor, ‘The deterioration of human security in Palestine,’ in Mary Martin, Mary Kaldor (eds.) The European Union and Human Security: External Interventions and Missions, Routledge, 2009 pp. 95–111.] The Second Intifada was even more brutal.

The casualty counts are an important place to begin to understand what is at stake when we consider the real possibility of a THIRD intifada. Regardless of where the observer, the diplomat, the solidarity activist, or media come down on the Intifadas historically —- the facts point to the devastating impact on Palestinian men, women and children, of whom the vast majority of dead and injured are innocent civilians.

The reason is simple. The U.S. Congress sends over $3.8 Billion in military aid to the State of Israel EVERY YEAR. Israel has the best equipped military and “security” forces in the Middle East, if not on the planet. And last month, 125 Democrats in Congress said that military aid to Israel shouldn’t be conditioned on Israel’s human rights record. Any child knows this is a recipe to support and enable Israel’s massacre of civilians without being held accountable.

The recipe for a Third Intifada has been simmering for weeks as Israel prepares to evict (I prefer the term expel or expulsion) from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem. “Eviction” couches Israel’s actions in terms of a real estate dispute, while “expulsion” correctly defines the political action underway. The State of Israel is about to kick Palestinians out of their homes, the homes they were sent to in 1947-1948 when Israel kicked them out of their homes and businesses and neighborhoods in present day Israel to make room for the Jews emigrating to this newly created country, the First Nakba, or “catastrophe”. In 2021, the intended beneficiaries of the homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbor are again Jews, the Zionist settlers who don’t even mask their intention of erasing Palestinians from the land between the river and the sea.

On May 9, gangs of settler thugs, supported by Israeli “defense” forces, attacked Al Aqsa Mosque as Palestinians were praying, injuring many and refusing to let ambulances approach to help the wounded.

Sheikh Jarrah: A Third Palestinian Intifada Is Now a Stone’s Throw Away

My Palestinian friend from Gaza, Yousef Aljamal, has been watching these developments from his perch in Turkey where he’s studying for his PhD. He writes about the possibility that we’re witnessing the beginning of the Third Intifada. (Read his article here.) His parents and grandparents are refugees from the First Nakba, ending up in Gaza as a result of their expulsion from the village of Aqer which became Kiryat Ekron in present day Israel. Other members of his family were expelled to Jericho in the West Bank in 1948. Israel has kept the family separated from each other for decades.

Yousef has witnessed a lot in his short life in Gaza — the Second Intifada, Israel’s military assaults on Gaza (Cast Lead in 2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Operation Protective Edge in 2014), as well as Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007 which has left over 2 million Palestinians stuck in the world’s “largest open air prison“. He understands the certain disaster ahead if Israel launches another military campaign in Gaza.

Yousef writes:

“Israel might have the power now to suppress the Palestinians, shoot them in the eye, fabricate claims that what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah is a “real estate dispute,” but its intellectual leaders, unlike its politicians, know very well that they can’t sustain this system of apartheid for very long. In the same way that the Second Palestinian Intifada erupted in Jerusalem, a Third Palestinian Intifada is now a stone’s throw away. But this time, no one knows where it will stop. And then, all the normalization agreements and all the recognitions of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will not be able to stop the Palestinians and their supporters across the globe.”

Read Yousef’s entire article here. And then if you’re an American, contact President Biden here and your member of Congress, and tell them to hold Israel accountable for the slaughter that has already begun in Gaza today.

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Should US Taxpayers’ largesse to Israel be conditioned? The great debate begins.

In this time of a divided and polarized Congress — they can’t even find bipartisan support for Trump’s impeachment or putting stimulus checks into the hands of Americans reeling from the impacts of the pandemic — there is an issue that will reliably bring both Republicans and Democrats running to embrace each other.

Sending US taxpayers’ money to Israel.

For decades, Israel has been the recipient of the largest amount of US foreign aid in the world. Before leaving office in 2016, President Obama ensured that the sweetheart deal would continue to the tune of $3.8 Billion/year for the next 10 years. The Congressional Research Service reported in November 2020 that “To date, the United States has provided Israel $146 billion (current, or noninflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. At present, almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although from 1971 to 2007, Israel also received significant economic assistance.” Check out the CRS publication — U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel — updated November 16, 2020 for good background and some eye-popping revelations.

Over the years, only a few members of Congress have asked why the U.S. doesn’t use its generous aid to Israel as leverage to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws. There’s no longer any serious disagreement that Israel is a repeat offender in the realm of human rights violations, and that Israel has obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect the people they are occupying. In 2020, Amnesty itemized Israel’s continuing human rights violations of the Palestinians, including forcible transfers, forced evictions and demolitions, discrimination, unlawful killings and excessive use of force, freedom of movement, arbitrary detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment, freedoms of expression and association, and more. Read Amnesty’s report. Or the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine. Or the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2019, available online.

The overwhelming silence in Congress about Israel’s human rights violations, and our country’s complicity in funding and providing Israel the weapons and instruments of destruction, is typically explained away with platitudes such as “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East” or “Israel is a great partner to the United States, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States.” 

In the Spring of 2021, it appears the shock of Israel’s gross and outrageous violations against the Palestinian people has finally broken through the manufactured silence and coverup. The Emperor really is not wearing a stitch of clothing!

Here’s how it all unfolded.

Representative Betty McCollum, D-MN

On April 15, Representative Betty McCollum introduced H.R.2590To promote and protect the human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and to ensure that United States taxpayer funds are not used by the Government of Israel to support the military detention of Palestinian children, the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank, or further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law.

This isn’t the first time; Rep. McCollum has introduced similar legislation twice before. H.R. 2590 prohibits Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem for: the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; to support the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; or, to extend any assistance or support for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory in violation of international humanitarian law. The bill adds greater transparency in order to show Americans what the U.S. taxpayers are funding in Israel. There are 15 cosponsors to date.

A week later, approximately three-quarters of the House of Representatives — split relatively evenly between Democrats and Republicans — sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee supporting continued security assistance to Israel. Without mentioning Rep. McCollum’s H.R. 2590, 330 members of Congress signed on to the proposition that “reducing funding or adding conditions on security assistance would be
detrimental to Israel’s ability to defend itself against all threats.” Read the letter and see who signed on here. The letter came only three days after the speeches of Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who said during the J Street conference that the administration should consider conditioning aid to Israel.

I wasn’t surprised to find that both members of Congress representing my home state of New Mexico are in agreement on this issue, a rabid Republican who supports QAnon, and a progressive Democrat who ran on support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Dare I say their kneejerk support for unconditional funding to Israel is probably the only thing these two will ever agree on.

Good news!

Now, perhaps for the first time, there’s a robust debate happening in Congress on whether Israel should be more transparent in how it uses American taxpayers’ largesse, and whether Congress should attach conditions to that military aid. Don’t Americans have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent?

Contrary to the letter’s warning that U.S. financial aid to Israel should not be reduced, H.R. 2590 doesn’t recommend any reduction in aid; Rep. McCollum and her colleagues simply want to hold Israel accountable for using the aid as it is intended — for security. “Security” should not give Israel carte blanche to imprison Palestinian children, destroy Palestinian homes and villages, or expand Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Every American should read H.R. 2590 and the letter side-by-side, and it will be clear which members of Congress are being thoughtful about U.S. support for Israel, and which members of Congress either don’t read the letters they sign, or they merely jump on AIPAC’s bandwagon when they’re told to.

What do the following cosponsors of H.R. 2590 and the organizations supporting H.R. 2590 have in common? They all believe in human rights, in transparency and accountability, and educating American taxpayers about how Israel is using their tax dollars.

Original Cosponsors: Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Andre Carson (IN-07), Marie Newman (IL-03), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Cori Bush (MO-01), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04)

Endorsing Organizations: Adalah Justice Project, Al-Haq, Americans for Peace Now (APN), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Arab American Institute, Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Center for Constitutional Rights, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Jewish Allies for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine, Churches for Middle East Peace, Church of the Brethren – Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Coalition of Palestinian American Organizations, CODEPINK, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), DAARNA, Dallas Palestine Coalition , Defense for Children International – Palestine, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Detention Watch Network, Disciples Israel Palestine Network, DSA BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Eyewitness Palestine, Freedom Forward, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Friends of Sabeel – Colorado, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Good Citizens Of DFW, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, IfNotNow, Institute for Policy Studies – New Internationalism Project, Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), J Street, The Jerusalem Fund, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Justice Democrats, MADRE, Massachusetts Peace Action, Middle East Children’s Alliance, Movement for Black Lives, MPower Action Fund, National Council of Churches USA, National Lawyers Guild, National Union of Palestinian Youth, New Generation for Palestine, NGP Action, Norwegian Refugee Council, Palestine American League, Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, Palestine Legal, Peace Action, Presbyterian Church (USA), Progressive Democrats of America, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, Rebuilding Alliance, Reformed Church in America, ReThinking Foreign Policy, Sacramento Democrats for Justice in Palestine, Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Tree of Life Educational Fund, U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, United Church of Christ, United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, United Methodists for Kairos Response, United We Dream Network, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), US Palestinian Council, Veterans For Peace, Virginia Coalition for Human Rights, War Resisters League, Win Without War, Working Families Party

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Palestine: Law and Accountability in Bringing the Occupation to an End

Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur to Palestine, was featured in a special webinar on February 20, 2021 sponsored by the Canadian Voices for Palestinian Rights. This hour-long discussion is wide-ranging on many topics pertaining to Israel – Palestine, and I recommend it to anyone who especially wants to understand Canada’s role (past and present) on the occupation.

Beginning at about 48:00, in response to a question about what comes next, Professor Lynk says there are only 4 possible options. (1) Two-states, (2) One-state, (3) One-apartheid state or what Trump proposed, and (4) the status quo where nothing changes. He says there are no other options. I wonder what he would think of the concept of a confederation as Sam Bahour and Bernard Avishai spoke about today? I think I’ll ask him.

His last piece of advice at the very end of the program should be heeded by everyone who cares about making a difference in Palestine.

Professor Lynk’s strong understanding of international law and appreciation of the facts on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories make him a voice without equal for justice and dignity for Palestinians.

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Finkelstein dissects the ICC ruling about Palestine

Finkelstein and Lora in NYC (August 2017)

I first met Professor Norman Finkelstein in Albuquerque in 2012 when he spoke to a friendly audience about his book “This Time We Went Too Far: Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion” about Operation Cast Lead. Several years later, I was serendipitously in the right place at the right time, and attended a course he taught over several weeks at the New York City public library dissecting John Stuart Mill’s classic ON LIBERTY. Finkelstein is a controversial figure in the best sense of the word. He thoroughly reads and researches before he expounds on a topic, and then he speaks his mind clearly and without reservation for the political correctness or sensibilities of his audience.

Norman  Finkelstein received his doctorate in political theory in 1988 from the Princeton University Politics Department. He taught for two decades in the CUNY system, NYU and DePaul University (in Chicago). He has lectured on a broad range of subjects, and has written ten books that have been translated into more than 50 foreign editions. Finkelstein’s main fields of research and teaching are political theory, international law, and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

On February 14, 2021, Finkelstein was asked his opinion about the recent ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC concluded it had jurisdiction over the Palestinian occupied territories to investigate potential war crimes from Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014 as well as the 2018 Gaza border protests where Israeli sharpshooters maimed or killed hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Many of us have been waiting for the court’s decision for years.

The mainstream media (including the United Nations) has framed the ICC’s recent ruling as “good news” for the Palestinians. I must admit that I’ve been on cloud 9 since reading this news, thinking that perhaps there would finally be a measure of justice for the Palestinians, as well as elevating the credibility of international law and of the ICC itself.

Unfortunately, I failed to read the opinion (or even digest the entire announcement made by the ICC on February 5, 2021). Although the ICC concluded it does have jurisdiction in Palestine, it went on to say:

In addition, the Chamber found, by majority, that the arguments regarding the Oslo Agreements, and its clauses limiting the scope of Palestinian jurisdiction, are not pertinent to the resolution of the issue of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in Palestine. Such matters and other further questions on jurisdiction may be examined when and if the Prosecutor submits an application for the issuance of a warrant of arrest or summons to appear.

In this interview, Professor Finkelstein dissects the ICC’s opinion better than many who are well-versed in the intricacies of international law in the context of Israel-Palestine. Every Palestine solidarity activist would be wise to spend the next hour listening to his explanation. Without giving the punch-line away, I’ll just say that the Palestine Authority shot itself in the foot when it responded to the ICC’s query regarding the Oslo Accords.

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Words matter

Communication is never easy, but some topics (religion and politics rise to the top) can be downright dangerous. In recent years, we’ve seen social media abused, misused and weaponized for nefarious purposes. QANON , President Trump, and Israel’s hasbara come to mind.

A particularly sensitive landscape on which to tread lightly in my experience is the topic of Israel and Palestine. Words matter. Are we talking about “Israel proper” or “1948 Palestine” or “the Zionist entity” when we discuss the State of Israel?

Labels carry emotional weight for both the speaker and the listener, as one person noted when he mentioned that he prefers to use “the Zionist entity” to “annoy the professional class”.

I recently caught a discussion on Facebook about these labels, which generated a lively response from mostly an appreciative group of friends. With some interest, I observed the banter anonymously (as Facebook allows) until someone mentioned that he doesn’t recognize the existence of the State of Israel, regardless of what it might be called. I know some other Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists that share this viewpoint, to wit, the State of Israel is illegitimate, and the labels we use must not add any legitimacy to it.

When the Facebook thread turned to the issue of recognizing Israel’s legitimacy, I came out of the shadows and commented that the State of Israel is recognized under international law. . . . Regardless of what labels anyone wants to use for whatever purpose, denying Israel’s legitimacy as a State was denying international law. . . . And then the Facebook thread took off in an energetic discourse about the merits of international law.

(A side caveat: I didn’t know any of the participants — lawyers? Palestinians? activists? And they didn’t know me. Knowing your audience is probably a good lesson to remember on social media.)

When the exchange became personal and emotional, I tried to extricate myself. “Good night” “Good night”. The energy (hostility?) in the thread had grown mob-like and I didn’t think it was productive.

The following missive kicked me in the shins on the way out the door. I didn’t respond because I wasn’t sure it was referring to me. The poster surreptitiously mentions “the particular individual” and “entity” and “individual Zionist entities”. But later I confirmed it with another observer — I am the “entity” mentioned below.

Without further explanation, I’ve copied and pasted the missive.

Dear Palestinian Friends, 
I’ve been reading this thread, and am disgusted to find a particular individual has demonstrated that they are only here to disrupt and exact violence upon the Palestinian community on this post.  It’s frankly disgusting, and this person is defending Zi*nists because they have kinship with THEM… Not our Palestinian sisters and brothers. Sickening behavior.
As a Black woman, these particular positional tactics the entity is employing here are VERY familiar to me.  I’ve dealt with racists my entire life, and this form of so-called ‘engagement’ is violent and purposeful.
In addition to being mean spirited toward Palestinians (who they erroneously claim are ’emotional’), this entity is only validating the voices of (what appears to be) NON PALESTINIANS, again, as a purposeful tactic.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen such hateful actions deployed in this manner, but, unfortunately, I am devoid of ‘surprise.’ 
Alarmingly, it has come to my attention that this entity ACTUALLY ROUTINELY ATTENDS PALESTINIAN EVENTS where they reside!  How DISTURBING!!  This is a betrayal and an affront, and I’m hoping that this particular thread and the behavior exhibited here will be shared with the Palestinians this entity has ‘communed’ with so that they may protect themselves. 
Let this thread be a cautionary reminder of the lengths individual Zi*nist entities will do to to gaslight, justify, and excuse the immoral erasure of the Palestinian people, similar to how Anti-Blackness is wielded and justified worldwide.  Just look at the way this entity has insulted Brother Salaita on HIS OWN THREAD, as a Palestinian (as well as other Palestinians here).  It’s vile.
Please be vigilant, and most importantly, PRESERVE YOUR PEACE.  This entity is NOT here to provide support or solidarity, and only to aggravate.  Repulsive.
Disengage.”

Thoughts and suggestions welcome. If you’re interested in reading the entire thread that preceded this missive, please let me know. I think I saved it.

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#FreeRamiAman is released!

News from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on October 26, 2020. This is very good news. My earlier post about Rami Aman and his incarceration in Gaza. https://loralucero.wordpress.com/2020/09/22/freeramiaman/

Released with Time Served

On Monday, 26 October 2020, the Permanent Military Court in Gaza issued a decision to release 3 persons detained on grounds of “peace activism” and sufficed with time served after their charged were changed to “weakening revolutionary spirit,” as per Article 164 of the PLO Revolutionary Penal Law of 1979. 

The Court convicted the detainees of the charges pressed against them in the indictment and sentenced Rami Eyas Helmi Aman (39) to a year in prison, including time served; however, the sentence was suspended as per Article 284 of the Criminal Procedures Law No.(3)/2001.  Meanwhile, the Court sufficed with time served for the other two detainees as per Article 118 of the PLO Revolutionary Penal Law of 1979. 

As their legal representative, PCHR has followed the case since the onset of their arrest more than six months ago on 09 April 2020, up to today’s court session where the Court decided to release all three of them. PCHR lawyers attended each one of the Court sessions, including today’s sentencing session; during which, PCHR lawyer argued that there is no legal or factual basis for a conviction as evidenced in interrogation minutes, affidavits and the detainees’ own testimonies before the Court. Our lawyer asserted that the charges lacked both factual and moral elements of the crime to permit a conviction based on the pressed charges; thus, the Court released them.

The security services in Gaza detained Aman, and seven of his colleagues including one girl, were for holding a Zoom meeting with peace activists from across the globe, including Israelis. A few days later, 5 persons were released while three remained under custody and were charged with recruiting self or others for the benefit of the enemy under Article 153 of the PLO Revolutionary Penal Law of 1979. On 23 July 2020, the girl was released on bail while the two other activists were kept in custody

On 04 May 2020, PCHR lawyer appealed for a release on bail for the detainees, which was rejected by the Military Prosecution two months later under the pretext that investigations are still ongoing. On 17 September 2020, their charges were changed to “weakening revolutionary spirit,” and Aman and his colleague were transferred to Ansar Central Prison awaiting trial on this charge; meanwhile, the girl was awaiting trail outside prison.

PCHR reiterates its demand for immediate cessation of prosecuting civilians before military courts under any circumstances, as it violates the simplest principles of justice and the Palestinian Basic Law of 2003, as well as Palestine’s international obligations.

PCHR stresses that bringing civilians before the military courts is clear violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, especially Article (30):

“Litigation is a protected and guaranteed right to all people. Each Palestinian shall have the right to find sanctuary in the legal system.”

Lastly, PCHR also stresses that the 1979 Revolutionary Penal Code is unconstitutional and illegal, this Code was not issued by a legislative authority responsible for legislation in the PA and its application has been critiqued by PCHR for more than two decades.

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#FreeRamiAman

A Palestinian man has been arrested and held in detention in Gaza for the crime of participating in “normalization” activities with Israelis. His name is Rami Aman. For the past six months, as far as anyone knows, he hasn’t been charged or given an opportunity to respond in court.

To be clear, this is nothing new for either Hamas in Gaza, or the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the occupied territories, or the civil Israeli government in Israel. All four threaten to punish civilians who collaborate with the “enemy.” Israel forbids its citizens from visiting with Palestinians. The IDF routinely arrests Palestinian children and hauls them off to military detention. Some remain in detention for many months.

Rami Aman certainly knew what the risks were when he joined that Zoom call with Israelis, but he had nothing to hide. Unlike the “collaborators” who sneak around and work with the enemy to undermine the Palestinian military objectives, Rami wants Israelis to know Palestinians; and vice versa. He understands that the future depends on both sides understanding the other.

A former research consultant with Amnesty International in Gaza saw the zoom meeting and tagged Hamas officials to bring to their attention this forbidden “normalization” activity.

“So what’s wrong with talking? What’s normalization?”

Mike Merryman-Lotze with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) answers both questions in this excellent piece he wrote in 2018. My personal understanding of the subject was greatly improved after reading Mike’s story this Spring and his words of caution; I highly recommend it.

Mike ends with the following points:

“First, we should recognize that Palestinians and Israelis are getting together and cooperating but on their own terms. One of the key problems with many past people-to-people programs is that they were initiated and led by outside actors who imposed their own goals and terms on interactions. The normalization framework pushed forward by Palestinians is a reassertion of ownership of the terms of interaction by those most impacted by the systematic injustice of Israel’s occupation and inequality. Normalization principles transform interactions, moving them from coexistence-focused dialogue sessions to action-based interaction with the goal of transformation through co-resistance against injustice. If you are thinking about supporting dialogue or people-to-people programs, it is important to consider who “owns” the process and how it resists structures of injustice.

Second, we should understand that dialogue is not an end in and of itself and that dialogue can be harmful. Particularly in situations of ongoing injustice, attempts to bring people together can’t simply focus on building understanding if there is no corresponding effort by all involved to end the injustice and inequality that stands between people. While dialogue and exchange can be important parts of transformation, they can also be tools used to block change; reinforce existing imbalances of power; and erase legal, institutional, and structural injustices. Whether we are setting up panel discussions or working to pull people together, we always need to understand issues of power. Dialogue is not a neutral process, and we must carefully consider how dialogue pushes toward action for change.

Third, it is important to understand that the normalization discussion is largely not about us. Normalization concerns do not place blocks on Quakers listening to, interacting with, or dialoguing with any party. Challenging normalization initiatives is not aimed at silencing select viewpoints or limiting who is able to speak. Indeed, listening to and engaging with those with whom we disagree is an important part of building understanding as we push for change. The normalization discussion is about addressing power imbalances and injustice in relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, not shutting off all dialogue or ending conversations that build understanding.

Finally, the normalization conversation points to the fact that dialogue and listening are not enough. To achieve peace and justice there must be political change that ends the system of inequality and oppression that exists between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as U.S. complicity in that injustice. To address this, Quakers must then move beyond positions that express concern for both parties and that encourage dialogue and listening but that don’t lead to direct action. Quakers should support direct action to end injustice, such as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) and AFSC-led No Way to Treat a Child Campaign. We can support discussions, but we must back up our support for talk with support for action.”

I agree with Mike’s observations and words of caution, with the exception of his conclusion. He writes: “It is political change and an end to injustice that will lead to dialogue and understanding, and it is political action that is needed to bring change.” Which comes first — the chicken or the egg? I believe dialogue and understanding are the precursors to a political change and an end to injustice. But the dialogue must occur with Mike’s caveats in mind.

Rami Aman – Gaza Strip

On September 9, 2020, a group of NGOS submitted a 24 page petition at the UN on behalf of Rami Aman. Check it out here.

The group that filed the petition — UN Watch — is an apologist for Israel’s crimes and human rights abuses in the occupation, and regularly calls out anyone or any country that stands up in support of Palestine in the United Nations. Sadly, Hamas’ actions in Rami Aman’s detention have given the UN Watch and the State of Israel fodder for their campaign.

Anyone familiar with the human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians will find the following words from the petition hypocritical in the extreme coming from the UN Watch, but no less true.

The Applicant is a Palestinian peace activist who resides in Gaza. He was arrested by Hamas security forces on 9 April 2020, three days after his peace group, the Gaza Youth Committee, held a two-hour video call with Israeli peace activists via Zoom. He is accused of holding a “normalization” activity with Israelis. Normalization refers to cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, including peace dialogue. According to both the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) and Hamas, normalization is a crime which is tantamount to treason. The criminalization of peace dialogue is a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and association pursuant to Article 19 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). Likewise, detention on that basis is a violation of ICCPR Article 19.

The Applicant has now been in Hamas detention for more than four months. His due process rights are being egregiously violated. He has not yet been charged and has never had an opportunity to challenge his detention in court. Moreover, he is a civilian who will be subjected
to trial in a Hamas Military Court in violation of ICCPR Article 14.

Then the petition begins its propaganda campaign against Hamas by equating “collaboration” with “normalization” which I will not recite here. These are two very different activities but even many Palestinians can’t tell the difference!

Consistent with the above, the PA and Hamas reject any “normalization” with Israel. Normalization includes joint economic activities, joint sports activities and meetings to promote peace. As detailed below, Hamas considers “normalization” to be a form of treason and uses various provisions of the PLO Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979 to prosecute that crime.

Mr. Aman was held incommunicado for at least one week. According to a statement published by Amnesty International on 6 May 2020, Mr. Aman was permitted to speak with his family for the first time by telephone on 26 April 2020—more than two weeks after the arrest. According to information provided to us, he has had one visit with his family since then. Also, Mr. Aman has had three visits with his lawyer, the first on 16 April 2020—one week after the arrest. The Amnesty International statement added that Mr. Aman was likely to be charged under Article 164 of the PLO Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979, which refers to “propaganda aimed at weakening the revolution” and that he was likely to be tried in a military court. In addition, Mr. Aman has not yet been charged or brought before a court.

I’d like to know why Amnesty International, the American Friends Service Committee, the National Lawyers Guild, and other groups that often stand up for Palestinians have not voiced their objections to Rami’s arrest and detention. Clearly, Rami has become a political football in the international arena now. Dialogue and understanding of the “other” will likely be the victim.

Coalition of NGOs that signed the petition.

University College Dublin (Ireland)

Global Human Rights Defence (Netherlands)

African Agency for Integrated Development (Uganda)

Global Vision India Foundation (India)

Help People Foundation (Italy)

Sisters of Charity Federation (United States)

Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines (France)

Geneva International Model United Nations (Switzerland)

Forum Méditerranéen pour la Promotion des Droits du Citoyen (Morocco)

Women’s Voices Now (United States)

Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech (Japan)

African Heritage Foundation (Nigeria)

Romanian Independent Society of Human Right (Romania)

ONG Association Internationale Des Droits De L’Homme (France)

Vision GRAM International (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (Uganda)

Structural Analysis of Cultural Systems (Germany)

Public Organization “Public Advocacy” (Ukraine)

Association un Enfant Un Cartable du Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso)

International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization (United States)

Yayasan Pendidikan Indonesia Wira Tata Buana (Indonesia)

Godwin Osung International Foundation Inc. (Nigeria)

Centre for Youth and Literacy Development (Ghana)

Hape Development and Welfare Association (Pakistan)

Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (France)

Women Educators Association of Nigeria (Nigeria)

Chia Funkuin Foundation (Cameroon)

Save the Climate (DRC)

Association pour le Développement Culturel (Chad)

Business Innovation Research Development (France)

World Organization of Building (Canada)

Amis de l’Afrique Francophone (Benin)

Observatorio Nacional De Seguranca Viaria (Brazil)

Organization Earth (Greece)

GreenPlanet (India)

Foundation of International Servant Leadership Exchange Association (South Korea)

European Union for Jewish Students (Belgium)

Association of Christian Counselors of Nigeria (Nigeria)

Fudnação Antonio Meneghetti (Brazil)

Shola Mese Foundation (Nigeria)

Ideal World Foundation President (Ghana)

Groupe d’économie solidaire du Québec (Canada)

Haiti Cholera Research Funding Foundation Inc. USA (United States)

Future Hope International (Ghana)

Les œuvres sociales pour les actions de développement (DRC)

Festival de Théâtre pour la Santé (Togo)

Ingénieurs du Monde (France)

Association de Solidarite d’Aide et Action Mali (Mali)

International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (United States)

Somali Help-Age Association (Somalia)

Kuchlak Welfare society Balochistan (Pakistan)

Kathak Academy (Bangladesh)

Moorish Holy Temple of Science (United States)

Safe Society (India)

Conglomeration of Bengal’s Hotel Owners (India)

World Kabaddi Federation (India)

African Initiative for Mankind Progress Organization (Rwanda)

Amis des Étrangers au Togo (Togo)

Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc. (United States)

Association pour la Défense des droits, de développement durable et du Bien-Etre Familial (Rwanda)

Project 1948 (Bosnia)

United Nations Watch (Switzerland)

Les Amis du Projet Imagine (France)

Earthquake and Megacities Initiative (EMI) (Philippines)

Coupe de Pouce (DRC)

ONG Credo Action (Togo)

Noahide Institute (United States)

Ekta Welfare Society (India)

Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network (Nigeria)

Association Build Africa (Cameroon)

Update: ALLMEP joins PCHR, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch in a renewed call for their immediate release from nearly six months in detention. #FreeRamiAman Read more: English – https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=15059Arabic – https://www.pchrgaza.org/ar/?p=19615

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Filed under Hamas, People, Politics, Uncategorized, United Nations, Video

#FreeClosedMindsEverywhere

Palestinian child – rapper in Gaza

A good number of Palestinians in Gaza have locked the door and thrown away the key, refusing to participate in any dialogue with Israelis. Rami Aman is not one of them.

Rami Aman has an open mind, a curious mind, a well-developed sense of self-worth and personal dignity which he wants to share with Israelis who are interested in learning more about his world, his people and his culture.

The State of Israel forbids any Israelis from visiting Gaza where the enemy and terrorists reside. The de facto ruling elites of Gaza forbid Palestinians from visiting and communicating with Israelis, the enemy and occupier.

Fortunately, there are people on both sides of this divide who understand this type of ostracization is medieval and counterproductive.

Rami Aman sits in a prison cell in Gaza, silenced by Hamas and many of his peers because he participated in a group Zoom chat between Israelis and Palestinians who were interested in learning about each other.

My hope is that the youth in Gaza and Israel will be able to rap to their hearts content; and more importantly, be able to hear each other’s rap.

#FreeRamiAman

#FreeClosedMindsEverywhere

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, Uncategorized

Dem Party Platform Disappoints

climate march 1

What’s there to say about the 80-page draft Democratic Party Platform? There’s something in it for everyone, maybe that’s why it’s so long. It’s full of lofty goals and language that promises the moon.  As a life-long Democrat, I found myself agreeing with 90+% of it, and taking notes to tweak it here and there.

The light-bulb went on about half way through my review when I realized that my “tweaks” actually pointed to a much bigger problem.

Even if the Democratic Party could make good on its intentions — and we all know it will require the Democrats to regain control of the Senate, build a stronger majority in the House, and win the Presidency in 2020! — this draft platform reads like a well-worn, dusty paperback from the 1990’s with ideas that might have galvanized my parents’ generation.

Sadly it’s not a platform for the 21st Century, for the young adults and children who are going to inherit the mess that the Democrats and Republicans (MY GENERATION) have bequeathed to them.

As a political statement, it’s understandable that the Democratic Party wants to distinguish itself from the ghastly failures of the Trump Administration. Nearly every paragraph begins with a description of the evil that has befallen our nation in the past four years, followed by how the Democrats are going to do things much differently, and so much better. Certainly, a breath of fresh air. I suspect most Democrats (maybe even some Republicans) will read this draft Platform and cheer the drafters.

we are oneTHIS PLATFORM IS NOT MUCH DIFFERENT NOR BETTER THAN THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORMS OF A BYGONE ERA.  It’s simply better than Trump, and setting the bar as low as that is not how the Democratic Party should be measuring itself. Instead, the Democratic Party needs to measure itself by the challenges facing future generations of Americans.

#1 Climate chaos is an existential threat.  The draft platform includes all of the talking points that any good Democrat wants to hear about climate change (with the exception of the inclusion of nuclear energy) but it falls flat in elevating climate decision-making to the central focus it must have in every aspect of our lives, and in our government.

#2 Global relationships and struggles are confirming the undeniable fact that we are truly one.  Yet, the Democratic Party leaders (as the draft Platform reveals) still believe in the 20th century paradigm of us versus them; with a top-down, hierarchical worldview that belies reality, and the next generation of leaders around the world knows it.

#3 The economy of the 21st century will not look like the economy of the 20th.  Yet, the Democratic Party doesn’t acknowledge how the future is evolving so rapidly and profoundly different from our recent past.  The global pandemic is opening up opportunities to recreate our lives and hasten towards a more just future for everyone (Americans as well as the global south), but the Democratic Party clearly doesn’t see it and can’t articulate that future, much less set us on a path towards it.

 

Lora and friendI wasn’t surprised when I came to the very last page of the draft Democratic Party Platform and found how the draft addresses Israel and Palestine.  It captures the fossilized thinking that permeates the Democratic Party leadership, and the inability of the Party to recognize and understand the new reality on the ground.

Democrats believe a strong, secure, and democratic Israel is vital to the interests of the United States. Our commitment to Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its right to defend itself, and the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding is ironclad.

Democrats recognize the worth of every Israeli and every Palestinian. That’s why we will work to help bring to an end a conflict that has brought so much pain to so many. We support a negotiated two-state solution that ensures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state with recognized borders and upholds the right of Palestinians to live in freedom and security in a viable state of their own.

Democrats oppose any unilateral steps by either side—including annexation—that undermine prospects for two states. Democrats will continue to stand against incitement and terror. We oppose settlement expansion. We believe that while Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Democrats will restore U.S.-Palestinian diplomatic ties and critical assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, consistent with U.S. law. We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.

Women in Black Stop the OccupationI won’t dignify these last three paragraphs of the Democratic Party Platform with a critique because I honestly don’t believe the Party leaders are capable of hearing, much less understanding, a thoughtful response.

I’m going to work as hard as I can to get fresh new thinking into the halls of Congress and into the White House. The next Democratic Party Platform needs to be drafted by 20- and 30-somethings who will have a stake in the future of our country. Clearly, the old fogies don’t have a clue.

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Filed under Politics, Uncategorized, US Policy

Calling Americans to act NOW!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 —- Action needed before 2 pm EST

ACTION ALERT 🚨 🚨

Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania has filed an amendment to the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) portion of H.R. 7608 to prohibit funding to UNRWA.

H.R. 7608 includes funding for critical humanitarian and development efforts for Palestinians, including funding for UNRWA, and Perry’s amendment wants to strip all funding to UNRWA.

Flood Congress using UNRWA’s online advocacy tool and urge your reps to OPPOSE the Perry amendment before the House Rules Committee takes testimony on H.R. 7608 at 2 pm EST on Wednesday:

Please use the link below to urge your Representative to oppose Perry’s amendment and support humanitarian funding for Palestine refugees: unrwausa.org/contact-congress

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Filed under Politics, US Policy