Palestine Updates 55
Israel sees ground under its feet sink in places that matter
Despite frantic political theatrics by Israel Palestine did not deter a Palestinian victory in UNESCO to have the Tomb of Patriarchs inscribed as an endangered site.
Just yesterday, the Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network (Menno-PIN), a grassroots network of Mennonites working for peace with justice in Palestine-Israel, saw the overwhelming victorious passage of the “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” resolution by the Mennonite Church USA. The Mennonite’s committed to “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” Church members are to halt usage of products linked with the occupation or produced in Israeli settlements in violation of international law, also to advocate for an end to U.S. military aid and arms sales in the region. Only last week, the United Church of Christ had condemned Israel’s cruelty to children and demanded actions to stop Israel’s child abuses.
While these actions represent signs of hope and determined local and international resistance, the world is reminded of how fifty years after being occupied, the West Bank has become a web of checkpoints, settlements and Israeli-only roads, leaving less and less space for normal Palestinian life, and nil by way of bargaining capacity. The prospects of a just “two-state solution” are gloomy. Israel has its stranglehold over the West Bank for 50 years. Under the garb of security it entrenches itself by grabbing more and more strategic Palestinian territories. The anxiety for those who stand by Palestine and more so for the Palestinians, is that in a few years there will be virtually nothing left of Palestine. The occupation appears as an eternal reality.
Despite the gloomy political forecast, people stubbornly refuse to stop trying. And, they have resorted to innovation and creativity. Palestinians are now reinterpreting history going back to centuries and reconstructing history with new imaging. The attempt is to deconstruct the narrative imposed upon them by colonial powers and to chart a new course of times past based on interpretations of history that affirm their identity and national aspirations. A group of Palestinian organizations are also collectively working to develop a series of visuals on the situation in occupied East Jerusalem. The graphics will open up truths about Israel’s apartheid policies in the city, its effects on the Palestinian population, and the crass violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
There may be despair when Israeli military and other policy measures strike and harm. But as the one and only Charles Chaplain said: “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down”.
UNESCO approves inscribes Hebron Tomb as endangered site
In a stormy meeting, UN body angers Israel for second time in three days with resolution calling Tomb of the Patriarchs a Palestinian heritage site in danger
(UNESCO) passed an anti-Israel resolution in a stormy session to have the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the Old City of Hebron in the West Bank, inscribed as a Palestinian world heritage site in danger. Twelve countries voted in favor of the move, while three opposed it. Six countries abstained.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, revered as the Biblical burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs, is now the third cultural site on UNESCO’s “List of World Heritage in Danger” that is registered as located in the “State of Palestine.” The other two are the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem and the “cultural landscape of Southern Jerusalem,” around Battir.Israel says the Hebron resolution which refers to the city as “Islamic”- denies thousands of years of Jewish connection there. “They are trying to rewrite Jewish history and the history of the region” an Israeli spokesperson said.
Israel had been working behind the scenes against the resolution, with the help of the American ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who has called on UNESCO’s focus and attention to not be “wasted on this sort of symbolic action.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement welcomed the vote and called it “historic justice”. It is “another reflection of the international position which opposes Israeli policy, and of our position which rejects recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation.”
US Mennonites huge vote in favour of Israeli investment screen
“The Palestinian people have suffered injustices, violence, and humiliation, including the Crusades, colonialism, and since 1967, life under Israeli military occupation and in refugee camps throughout the Middle East…As we acknowledge our own complicity in this web of violence, injustice, and suffering, we will strive, by God’s grace, to take concrete steps to address these wrongs.”
The Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network (Menno-PIN) is a grassroots network of Mennonites working for peace with justice in Palestine-Israel. It celebrates the successful passage of the “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” resolution by the Mennonite Church USA at its biennial convention in Orlando, FL, today. The resolution was approved overwhelmingly, with approximately 98% of the 548 voters supporting it.
The resolution declares the denomination’s opposition to Israel’s 50-year-old military rule over Palestinians in the occupied territories and commits to “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” The resolution also urges church members to avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official US policy, and to advocate for an end to U.S. military aid and arms sales in the Middle East.
The resolution focuses on ways Mennonites have been involved in harms against both Palestinians and Jews, and names concrete steps to address those harms. It addresses the ongoing reality of anti-Semitism around the world, and the extent to which Mennonites in the U.S. are complicit in Jewish suffering historically, currently, and theologically. Church members are encouraged to build relationships with Palestinian-American, Muslim and Jewish communities in the United States.
Menno-PIN looks forward to working with denominational staff and members to robustly implement the resolution in the years ahead.
Two-State delusion: What’s left of Palestine?
Fifty years after being occupied, the West Bank has become a labyrinth of checkpoints, settlements and Israeli-only roads, leaving less and less space for Palestinian life – and almost nothing to bargain with. Today, more than any other time since 1967, real prospects of a “two-state solution” are bleak. Under the guise of ensuring its security, Israel has maintained its stranglehold over the West Bank for 50 years, and as the peace process played out slowly and painfully in a loop before an international audience, the occupation entrenched itself further and further into the land. Without a sudden and dramatic U-turn in policy and intent, in a few years there will be nothing left of Palestine, the occupation has become a permanent reality.
And the Palestinians say: “Naksa? We are in a Naksa every day. ..“It’s not only for fifty years; it’s since 1936, when the Jews started sneaking into our lands. We left our country when the foreigners came. They first claimed they were guests who would stay for two months and then leave. But none of them left.”
For most Palestinians, life is difficult, and restrictive constantly like a prisoner trapped between walls and barriers. Workers must drive to work in Ramallah avoiding security checkpoints, navigating through a complicated and ever-changing network of them.
It has become increasingly difficult to imagine an Israeli government demolishing thousands of settlement homes, as well as evacuating more than 300,000 illegal settlers from the West Bank and finding them other places to live within Israel. That’s what it would take for a two-state solution to be implemented. But just last month the government green-lighted the construction of a new settlement, the first since 1992, called Amichai.
Imperial Britain advanced religion to stymie Palestinian nationalism
The British Empire ruled over more Muslims between the two world wars than any other state in world history up to that time. From the perspective of British policymakers, Palestine was not just another colony; it was a place which was highly symbolic to Muslims around the globe.
In the dangerous and inaccurate popular narratives on Palestine, religion – a black-and-white tale of Islam versus Judaism – is often given priority of importance. Religious identities are taken as the simple, unquestioned driving force behind the actions of Palestinians throughout history.A closer look, of course, reveals the flaws in this image. During the Ottoman period, the people of Palestine might have been more likely to identify themselves in terms of their family, neighborhood, city or profession, depending on which identity the situation called for at a particular time.
Like most other cultures, Palestinian identities were mixed and layered. Their sense of belonging to any kind of social group varied according to the conversation they were having and was situational, rather than static.
At moments when political issues raised their heads, they might line themselves up according to a range of social, religious or economic factors.
The same is, of course, true of Palestinians now. But despite this, the news and popular opinion often conflate Palestinian nationalism simplistically with Islam, even though many Palestinian nationalists were and are Christian.
Visuals on the situation in occupied East Jerusalem to create awareness ON Palestinian residents of Jerusalem
Seven Palestinian organizations (CAC-Al-Quds University, JLAC, the Society of St. Yves, Al-Haq, BADIL, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem and Al-Shabaka) collaborated with Visualizing Palestine to create a series of visuals on the situation in occupied East Jerusalem. The graphics aim at raising awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies in the city, its effects on the Palestinian population, and the gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law that arise as a result of such policies.