Saturday, September 30, 2006
In the Name of Security: Historical Proofs of the Validity of Palestinian "paranoia"
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 2:17 PM


Six Palestinian churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip suffered damage and arson attempts in reaction to the words of Pope Benedict XVI. Palestinian spokesmen of all stripes condemned these attacks and said that the Palestinian nation - Christians and Muslims alike - is one, and is united in its struggle against the occupation. Reports on the attacks in the Palestinian media described the perpetrators as "unknown." In the Palestinian subtext, "unknown" implies "of suspicious identity," a phrase that borders on a half-concealed accusation that Israel's Shin Bet security services sent agents provocateurs.

In Tubas, where an attempt to set fire to a church failed thanks to the residents' alertness, people said openly that the thrower of the Molotov cocktail might be connected to the Israeli occupation. But the mayor of Tubas, Oqab Darghmeh, who raised this possibility, also proposed another option: Perhaps the perpetrator acted out of ignorance.

Most of the critics, however, did not point an accusatory finger at the Shin Bet. They cannot deny the ills that have become so widespread in Palestinian society: criminal behavior and hooliganism masked by the images and jargon of a national struggle, and the growing use of weapons in personal and public conflicts, with the encouragement of Palestinian political actors, who are in need of the atmosphere of chaos in order to be seen as "strong."But is it possible to separate these ills completely from the Israeli occupation?

The latest book by historian Hillel Cohen, Aravim Tovim ("Good Arabs"), offers several historical proofs of the validity of Palestinian "paranoia" about the political motives behind security control. Although the subject of the book is the activity of Israeli security and intelligence agencies among Israeli Arabs immediately after 1948, a consistent policy of action and thought that stretches from the Mandate years until the present allows us to draw conclusions that also apply to Israeli control over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Cohen's research relies mainly on police documents from the period, which have recently been opened for public perusal (the Shin Bet documents are still classified). They relate, for example, that the provision of weapons to collaborators by the local authorities was a way of rewarding them. However, the security forces' liaison committee mentioned in 1949 that "the distribution of weapons to an element or members of one group is likely to be useful to us; it will create the desired tension among the various parts of the population and enable us to control the situation." The security agencies, Cohen reveals on the basis of written documents, occasionally even initiated internal conflicts.

Moreover, the regional committee for Arab affairs in the Triangle (the body that coordinated among the various security agencies in this region) "does not approve of providing the residents of the region with higher education," according to the minutes of a 1954 meeting, and the committee worked to prevent Arabs from being accepted to institutes of higher education. Cohen allows himself to speculate that the motive was its desire to prevent the creation of an educated class that would succeed in organizing and making demands of the state.

In other words, the security services - even if they acted on their own initiative in various places - operated in the context of an official paradigm: continued theft of lands, continued fragmentation and weakening of Arab society, and undermining the possibility of the Arabs developing an independent leadership. Critics of the Military Administration's policies - Israeli Arabs and the main opposition party, Maki (the Israel Communist Party) - were described as "paranoid." But Cohen, in the many examples he brings in his book, retroactively proves that they were right.

Indirectly, this book by a former journalist says that one does not have to rely on written documents - which will be made public in another 50 years - in order to believe a political analysis that differs from that of the rulers. Hence, it was not simply shortsightedness and neglect that caused the Palestinian territories to be flooded with weapons during the 1990s. It was not "security" that led to the creation of a class of new mukhtars from Fatah, who received special privileges that were denied to other Palestinians and that deepened internal tensions. It was not "shortsightedness" that led to the weakening and political trivialization of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, just as it was not simple naivete that omitted the main point from the Oslo Accords: the goal of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

It is not local decisions by regional military commanders that are fragmenting the West Bank into isolated "territorial cells." It is not security considerations alone that prevent Gazan students from studying in the West Bank and American academicians from teaching in Palestinian educational institutions. In the name of security - but not for its sake - Israel is exacerbating ignorance and economic deterioration in the occupied territories. According to this analysis, for which there is no shortage of evidence, the Israeli security services are careful to act within the framework of a clear political paradigm: maximum weakening, in every possible way, of the Palestinian national collective, so that it will not be able to realize its goal and establish a state worthy of the name, in accordance with international resolutions.

Amira Hass writes for Ha'aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.
Monday, September 25, 2006

By Odog

Security Barrier or Segregation Wall: the Politicization of Language and the Wall as a Geopolitical Tool

As George Orwell once stated, if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought, suggesting that terminology in any political discourse can be actively recruited in shaping the nature of debate and the perception of any political issue. The construction of the West Bank barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is one of the most controversial and hotly debated issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since the beginning of the wall’s construction in 2002, a whole range of terminologies have emerged reflecting the opposing perspectives on the wall’s fundamental purpose.

The wall in the West Bank consists of eight meter concrete slabs, watchtowers, razor wire, trenches, foot print tracking paths and electronic surveillance systems. In areas of high population or in the vicinity of the Green Line, the wall consists mainly of concrete slabs with watchtowers placed approximately 250 meters apart. Upon completion the wall is expected to stretch up to 680 km.

The discrepancies in terminology between the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives indicate both the increasing politicization of language and the growing significance terminology plays in shaping the political dialog of the conflict. Furthermore, attempts to monopolize and control language though the media have become a means by which certain political views and ideologies are expressed and widely understood.

The state of Israeli emphatically refers to the wall as a security barrier or anti-terrorist fence which supports the claim that the wall is necessary to protect Israeli citizens from suicide and other attacks. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs the wall is a temporary measure and last resort for the protection of its civilians under imminent threat. Israeli statements highlight that construction of wall has saved lives whereby the number of suicide attacks in Israel have since decreased.

Critics of the Israeli occupation however, highlight the wall’s illegality under international law and attempts to dictate permanent status solutions overwhelmingly in Israel's favor. The construction of the wall annexes land, isolates wells, separates Palestinian communities and causes wide scale destruction of the environment. A wide variety of other terms are subsequently utilized including annexation wall, segregation barrier or even apartheid wall. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, the path of the wall was based on considerations completely unrelated to the security of Israeli citizens and that a major aim was to build the barrier east of as many settlements as possible, to make them easier to annex to Israel.

Israel's emphasis that the wall is a "security barrier" transforms the terminology into a political maneuver to shape the nature of the debate away from territorial expansion to a security issue. While Israel's security concerns may be genuine, the effective outcomes of the wall clearly indicate wider ambitions. In terms of understanding these, investigating the wall in terms of its geopolitical implications might be useful.

Upon completion, 46% of the West bank will be annexed by the wall and settlement blocks. The wall alone will de facto annex 9.5% of the West Bank whereas settlement blocks in the Jordan valley are likely to contribute an additional 36.5%. In September 2004, Israeli authorities issued a military order creating a buffer zone 100-200 meters on the Palestinian side of the wall making an additional 252km² inaccessible to the Palestinians. In addition to this, the wall has effectively cut Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank, severing historical links with other Palestinian cities which have existed for millennia.

The number of Palestinians trapped between the wall and the green line numbers approximately 242,000. Palestinians in these areas suffer significantly due to Israeli policies which encourage them to leave, paving the way for Israeli migration. In 2003, the Israeli Army issued an order declaring all land between the wall and the 1967 border to be closed military zones. The order requires that people to have permits to travel in and out of their lands. Residents often receive insufficient water and electricity while in many cases building permits for new housing structures are denied, forcing many Palestinians to build illegally, which are then subject to Israeli demolition orders.

Israel's claims that the wall is for solely for security are undermined by a variety of factors. Primarily, if the wall was just a security measure and not an effective attempt to annex land, it would have been built on Israel's internationally recognized border, the pre-1967 occupation line. Furthermore, the path of the wall more than doubles the pre-1967 boundary which would arguably make the border more difficult to patrol.

Another discrepancy in the claim for security is the provocative impact it has on Palestinians. Regarding the "temporary" nature of the wall, serious doubts also emerge when considering Israeli actions in the past which suggest the opposite. In 1967 when Israel began building settlements in the West Bank, it similarly claimed that these were temporary security measures. More than 39 years later, many settlements have not only have remained but have been further expanded.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) highlights other discrepancies in Israel's argument especially in reference that the wall has saved lives. The department indicates that between the September 2000 and July 2005, 4,681 Palestinian and Israeli civilians were killed. A total of 2,707 were killed after Israel began construction of the wall of which the vast majority were Palestinians living in the Gaza strip where a similar wall has existed since 1994. In other word there has not been a significant drop in the number of civilians killed. Although the number of Israeli casualties has diminished, the wall has not stopped Israel from killing Palestinians. Since the beginning of the Second Intifada to July 2005, Israel has continued to kill Palestinians at a rate of 53 per month.

Regarding the decrease in Israeli casualties a fundamental correlation with the wall has yet to be established. The diminished occurrence of suicide attacks is also likely to be related to the Hamas declared truce. As it stands, there are numerous points along the wall's path which are not completed. The borders between Israel and Palestine can be easily infiltrated, which is indicated everyday by Palestinians working illegally in Israel. Should another wave of terrorist attacks be declared, the wall will not be able to prevent it.

The construction of the wall is inherently tied with the Israeli policy of unilateral disengagement which has been adopted following popular resistance against the occupation. Prior to the first Intifada the Israeli government was opposed to handing back territory to the Palestinians. However, with the increasing costs and difficulties associated with the occupation, as well as the perceived need to preserve an ethnic Jewish majority, disengagement has been assimilated into Zionist strategy. The path of the wall encloses 98 illegal Israeli settlements accommodating 98% of Israel's settler population while simultaneously segregating the 86% of Palestinians east of the barrier. The path of the wall in this respect enables territorial expansion, annexation of key settlement blocks while preserving “Jewish” hegemony in Israel.

When one considers the geopolitical considerations for the wall's construction, the terminologies used by Palestinians appear less pejorative, but reflect a perspective whereby the wall is utilized as a tool of systemized oppression. Despite this, Israel has been highly effective in its manipulation of language in order to distort western media perceptions and avoid criticism. Israel presents a positive image to the outside world which suggests a close affiliation between Israel and “western” values. Since September 11 Israel has been a vocal supporter of the ensuing “war on terror” aligning itself with other western democracies in the apparent defense of democratic values. The electoral victory by Hamas and growing concern over Iran’s nuclear capabilities has further enabled Israel to portray itself as a country under imminent threat and the only democratic state in a sea of “terror”. The apparent legitimacy of the state of Israel juxtaposed to its "unruly" Arab neighbors creates the perception that Israel is acting in a reasonable manner.

Press coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict generally fails to place any analysis in the context of occupation and this has subsequently led to deterioration in press terminology. In this respect occupied East Jerusalem becomes Israeli "Jerusalem", illegal settlements become "Israeli neighborhoods" and terms like "segregation wall" have been replaced with the Israeli alternative "security barrier". In a conflict where language has been increasingly politicized for ideological ends, the press has adopted seemingly neutral language in it attempt to appear balanced. However, behind the benign sound of "security barrier", lies a calculated political agenda to blur the lines between Israel's geopolitical interests and safety of its civilians. Whether knowingly or not, the Western media utilizes the language of expansionist "doublespeak", and in doing so directly assists the political ambitions of the State of Israel.

Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) GIS Unit, 2006

Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) Monitoring Settlements and GIS Units (2005) Geopolitical Conditions in the Bethlehem Governorate Bethlehem: ARIJ, 2005

B'Tselem (2006)

Falah W. (2005) The Geopolitics of 'Enclavisation' and the Demise of a Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Third World Quarterly 26 1341-1372

ICJ International Court of Justice (2004) Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory ICJ, 9 general list no. 131 para 140

Issac J. & Hrimat N. (2005) Assessing the Impact of Israel's Segregation Wall on the Palestinian Biodiversity International Conference: Promoting Community Driven Conservation and Sustainable Use of Dry-land Agro-biodiversity International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

Philo G. and Berry M. (2004) Bad News from Israel Glasgow University Media Group

PLO (2005) Negotiations Affairs Department Israel's Wall July 2005

MFA Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Reuveny, R. (2005) The Binational State and the Colonial Imperative The Arab World Geographer 8 109-117

Yiftachel O. (2005) Neither Two States or One: The Disengagement and "Creeping Apartheid" in Israel/Palestine The Arab World Geographer 8 125-129
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Speaking back in 2002 these words are still relevant
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 3:03 PM
Against Israeli Apartheid
Desmond Tutu & Ian Urbina

-The Nation 2002

The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure--in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.

Divestment from apartheid South Africa was fought by ordinary people at the grassroots. Faith-based leaders informed their followers, union members pressured their companies' stockholders and consumers questioned their store owners. Students played an especially important role by compelling universities to change their portfolios. Eventually, institutions pulled the financial plug, and the South African government thought twice about its policies.

Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are being mustered one person at a time. Students on more than forty US campuses are demanding a review of university investments in Israeli companies as well as in firms doing major business in Israel. From Berkeley to Ann Arbor, city councils have debated municipal divestment measures.

These tactics are not the only parallels to the struggle against apartheid. Yesterday's South African township dwellers can tell you about today's life in the occupied territories. To travel only blocks in his own homeland, a grandfather waits on the whim of a teenage soldier. More than an emergency is needed to get to a hospital; less than a crime earns a trip to jail. The lucky ones have a permit to leave their squalor to work in Israel's cities, but their luck runs out when security closes all checkpoints, paralyzing an entire people. The indignities, dependence and anger are all too familiar.

Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we went through. Ronnie Kasrils and Max Ozinsky, two Jewish heroes of the antiapartheid struggle, recently published a letter titled "Not in My Name." Signed by several hundred other prominent Jewish South Africans, the letter drew an explicit analogy between apartheid and current Israeli policies. Mark Mathabane and Nelson Mandela have also pointed out the relevance of the South African experience.

To criticize the occupation is not to overlook Israel's unique strengths, just as protesting the Vietnam War did not imply ignoring the distinct freedoms and humanitarian accomplishments of the United States. In a region where repressive governments and unjust policies are the norm, Israel is certainly more democratic than its neighbors. This does not make dismantling the settlements any less a priority. Divestment from apartheid South Africa was certainly no less justified because there was repression elsewhere on the African continent. Aggression is no more palatable in the hands of a democratic power. Territorial ambition is equally illegal whether it occurs in slow motion, as with the Israeli settlers in the occupied territories, or in blitzkrieg fashion, as with the Iraqi tanks in Kuwait. The United States has a distinct responsibility to intervene in atrocities committed by its client states, and since Israel is the single largest recipient of US arms and foreign aid, an end to the occupation should be a top concern of all Americans.

Almost instinctively, the Jewish people have always been on the side of the voiceless. In their history, there is painful memory of massive roundups, house demolitions and collective punishment. In their scripture, there is acute empathy for the disfranchised. The occupation represents a dangerous and selective amnesia of the persecution from which these traditions were born.

Not everyone has forgotten, including some within the military. The growing Israeli refusenik movement evokes the small anticonscription drive that helped turn the tide in apartheid South Africa. Several hundred decorated Israeli officers have refused to perform military service in the occupied territories. Those not already in prison have taken their message on the road to US synagogues and campuses, rightly arguing that Israel needs security, but that it will never have it as an occupying power. More than thirty-five new settlements have been constructed in the past year. Each one is a step away from the safety deserved by the Israelis, and two steps away from the justice owed to the Palestinians.

If apartheid ended, so can the occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006

posted by odog 19/9/06

Taybeh October Fest
Some might be aware that the annual Taybeh October Fest was held last weekend. Given the significance of this event, Bethlehem Bloggers sent a delegation on sunday to check out activities and evaluate the event (and maybe have a pint or two).

All we can say is: what a party! The event was held at the village town hall. In the building people were selling all sorts of neat stuff: local hand crafts, Taybeh T-shirts, palestinian folk clothing and locally produced honey. Outside in the plaza there was music and dabka dancing and of course the bar....

By the evening there were at least a couple hundred present. The place was packed, which we assumed was in anticipation for the final event of the night, a hip hop preformance by Palestinian rap artists. They went off, rapping in both arabic and english, sending a clear message of political defiance in their lyrics.

All in all the event was a sucess and fun family affair, showing that despite the occupation people still find time to kick back and enjoy themselves.

Monday, September 18, 2006
Unity, Tolerance and Respect

posted by Odog 18/9/06

The purpose of this post is not to discuss the Pope's remarks which have caused so much outrage in the Muslim world, it is to condemm the attacks made by some members of the Muslim faithful against Palestinian churches. Unfortunately, the actions of a few misinformed extremists give the rest of Muslims a bad name and creates uneccessary division with christian Palestinians. These are critical times and unity is vital.

Muslim Leaders in Palestine reject attacks against Christians

The supreme judge of Palestine Sheikh Tayseer At-Tamimi called Saturday on the Palestinian people not to be provoked by the Pope's words which have irritated Muslim's religious feelings.

In a phone call with Maan news agency, Tamimi called on Muslims in Palestine not to harm Christian churches, homes or people, as that would be a violation of the historical promise made by the Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab to the Christians in Jerusalem more than 1400 years ago.

Firebombs hurled at two Nablus Churches 12:56

Unknown assailants attacked two churches in Rafidia village west of the West Bank city of Nablus late on Friday at night.The first attack targeted a Protestant church at midnight, the church was hit with several firebombs. Several hours later, more cocktail bombs hit the Greek Orthodox Church in the village, both churches were damaged, but no injuries were reported.

A group calling it self the Osoud Al Tawheed "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility for the attack. The caller said the attacks were carried out to protest the Pope's remarks about Islam. The bombs damaged windows and left black scorch marks on the walls of the two churches. Father Yousef Saada, a priest at the Anglican Church, said several firebombs hit the outside wall of the church.

Father George Awwad, Greek Orthodox priest in the village condemned the attack and slammed the remarks of Pope Benedict XVI about Islam. Awwad described the act as “childish”. Awwad added that the Pope does not represent all Christians and called on the Palestinians to remain in unity. On Friday, Palestinians protested against the comments of the Pope, Christian churches in Palestine also slammed the comments. After the Tuesday speech of the Pope in Germany, and his remarks on Islam “spreading the violence”, anger spread among the Arab and Muslim world, thousands of Palestinians marched in Gaza and demanded him to apologize. Several churches in Palestine also slammed the Pope's statement, Father Awwad said that “the Palestinians are brothers and sisters during bad and good times, tolerance is the common oxygen Christians and Muslims breathe here in Palestine.

Adli Yaaish, Nablus Mayor and a Hamas leader, slammed the firebomb attack and described it as irresponsible. His statements came as several leaders gathered at the scenes of the attacks.“We condemn this irresponsible attack”, Yaaish said, “This will not affect our unity”.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Posted by Odog 16/9/06

Nonviolent resistance continues as Israel confiscates another 100 dunams of Bethlehem

The central West Bank’s Bethlehem is going piece by piece. Israeli army Commander of the Central Region, Yair Naveh, adopted a new resolution Friday providing for the confiscation of 100 additional dunams of Palestinian land. The Director of the Committee to Defend against Land Confiscation, Khalid Al Azzeh, told PNN today that the latest confiscation is set to take place in southwestern Bethlehem’s Al Khader Village.

Israeli forces dropped leaflets in the town Friday afternoon to inform residents that they will lose more of their land.The Israeli government will continue the Wall and settlement activity with a new settler bypass road through the Palestinian town. Al Azzeh said that Bethlehem will become more isolated from Hebron in the south and Jerusalem to the north. Bethlehem is surrounded by encroaching settlements and the Wall. Just recently 14 percent of the District was confiscated, with the northern city taken for military installations, a synagogue and a yeshiva, and put into the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality.

Al Azzeh issued an urgent appeal to the United Nations to force the implementation of its resolutions and international law to stop Israel from taking even more. Meanwhile Al Khader residents continue their weekly nonviolent resistance with hundreds gathering in the town square near the mosque after Friday noon prayers and walking together to the Wall site in protest.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Posted by Odog 14/9/06

Palestine's Very Own October Fest

This weekend on the 16th-17th of September, the West Bank village of Taybeh, near Ramallah will be hosting its annual "October Fest". Now, the first thing I am sure you are wondering is why is it being held in September if its an "October Fest". Well, for those familiar with the Islamic calander, Ramadan is beginning soon and for cultural sensitivity the festival is being held early.

Taybeh Beer is one of Palestines rare economic success stories with exports throughout Europe. "Taybeh" in arabic means "delicious" and while Bethlehem Bloggers is not about edorsing certain commercial products, Taybeh certainly lives up to its name.

At the festival there will be music, dancing, art and of course, tastey cold beers. We encourage anybody who is interested to come! For Israeli's who can't make it, try demanding Taybeh at your local Bar especially in Jerusalem. For more information on Taybeh see the website.

Funeral for child killed yesterday

IMEMC & Najib Farag, Palestine News Network - Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 23:42

The city of Bethlehem was closed Wednesday afternoon, with a general strike declared by all shops and businesses to mourn the death of 13-year old Mohammad Ali Showria,shot in the chest yesterday during an Israeli invasion of Bethlehem.

Crowds filled Bethlehem’s streets after noon prayers Wednesday. All were walking with the body of 13 year old . The funeral procession walked from Hussein Government Hospital to his father’s village eight kilometers away.

Residents and officials from the city and village joined the procession as it moved slowly in the afternoon sun to the eastern village’s cemetery.Mourners flew Palestinian flags and raised posters of the child made quickly to honor his death. Others called out that the Palestinian people would “not succumb to the Israeli war machine and occupation.”

During his burial many people spoke in memory of Showria and against “the new Israeli crime committed in Bethlehem that targeted women and children without any mercy.”

Speakers stressed that Israel and “the war machine will only reap failure from its repression in the face of the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and our adherence to practicing our legitimate rights.”

Throughout the day Bethlehem City and surrounding villages conducted a commercial strike in memory of the slain child. The nine people injured in yesterday’s six-hour invasion are still hospitalized, and two remain in critical condition.

Israeli military officials have issued no statement on the attack. As Palestinians, the family of Showria have no legal right in Israeli courts to demand compensation or justice for their son's murder.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Posted by Odog

Another Day in Bethlehem

I was walking home with a friend from work yesterday. Normal day like any other. However, when we reached the Nativity Church, the suspected birth place of Christ, it was clear that the Israeli army had invaded and a clash was ensuing. The reality of occupation. Scores of youths were huddled around the corner from the parked Israeli jeeps, about ten of them. As always, the shabab were throwing whatever they could as an act of defiance, mostly stones . Israeli soldiers fired back with everything they had, rubber bullets, sound bombs, tear gas and live ammunition. We were taking shelter behind the Church of the Nativity, rubber bullets flew in from different directions as they bounced off the adjacent buildings. Suddenly a tear gas canister flew over the roof of the church and we were choked by the noxious fumes. Later that afternoon I learnt that someone had been killed, a young boy about twelve years old. He had been shot with live ammunition. He had arrived dead at the hospital, the bullet penetrating his liver and heart. Another man was in a critical condition suffering wounds in his head and shoulders. Another women, who was on her way home caught a stray bullet and was shot in the abdomen. This is no way to live.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Divide and Conquor
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 9:47 AM
By Odog

The Segregation Wall continues to carve its way through the lands of Bethlehem destroying orchards, land, people's lives and the prospect of lasting peace.

Last week near the village of Al Walaja bulldozers arrived and began building access roads to facilitate the walls construction in coming months. The top photo depeicts the new access road. The one below indicates an Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Jerusalem which will be seperated by the wall....
Monday, September 11, 2006
Poetry Evening in Bethlehem
posted by: Ameer at 6:20 PM
The International Center of Bethlehem
Cordially invites you to attend the poetry evening with:

Najwan Darwish

On Friday, September 15th @ 7:00 p.m.
At the International Center of Bethlehem, Madbassa Square

* Najwan Darwish was born in Jerusalem 1978. He completed his academic education in law. He is the author of “He Was Knocking the Last Door” published in 2000 by the Arab Institute for Research & Publishing- Lebanon, which has been partially translated and published by some French literary magazines. Najwan participated in different international cultural events. Last year he was invited to the Intentional Biennale of Poets in Paris and to the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. Najwan is considered one of the important new voices in the Palestinian poetry.

The International Center of Bethlehem is a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in 1995. Located in Madbass Square, 109 Paul VI. street, Bethlehem. Telephone number: 02-2770047, Fax number: 02-2770048. Websites: -
posted by Odog

The Fifth Anniversary of September 11

As I am sure many are aware, today is the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks to which some comment is worthy. Given America's violent response, the ensuing war on terror and they way the event has been manipulated for political ends, talking about the September 11 can be difficult.

An understandable reponse by many who suffer the consequences of American foreign policy is to minimise the event. Considering the death toll in Iraq or the atrocities perpetrated by Israel at the bequest of the US, the casualties America suffered back in 2001 is nothing in comparison.

However, all of this I think misses the point. If one can strip away the political rhetoric, human tradgedy is human tradgedy. Seeing two pillars of American capitalism crumble before your eyes might fill your heart with ecstasy or even the feeling that just retribution has finally reached the shores of America, but people were in those buildings all the same, people like you and me.

While the anniversary will inevitably be exploited by Bush and Co. to further thier case for more bloodshed in the name of "freedom", September 11 can also be a means to send an alternative messege; a message in support of our universal humanity. As humans we are all equal and deserving of our freedoms. If one genuinly accepts this premise and not the view that "some are more equal than others", then the finacial and political systems which entrech exploitation and oppression fundamentally come into question.
Palestinian Artists condemn plagiarism in Gannit Ankori's "Palestinian Art"
posted by: Ameer at 3:03 AM
Statement issued by the League of Palestinian Artists:

After conducting a thorough review of Palestinian Art, by Israeli art historian Gannit Ankori; (ReaKtion Books Ltd. 2006) the League of Palestinian Artists deemed it necessary to release the following statement regarding "Part I-Foundations, pp.15-57" of the book. The three chapters making up this part are wrought with plagiarism, falsifications and the misrepresentation of sources which all lead to the distortion of facts in writing the history of Palestinian art. The author did not bother to comply with some of the most basic ethical codes of professional practice. Ankori's violations may be summed up as follows:

First: The author intentionally falsified and misrepresented the pioneering field research originally conducted by our Palestinian colleague, artist and researcher Kamal Boullata whose studies have appeared in books, encyclopedias, exhibition catalogues and academic journals. Published over the last three decades, Boullata's studies were the first to document a painting tradition in Palestine since the beginning of the nineteenth century. In light of the historical background he unraveled, he proceeded over the years to analyze the evolvement of Palestinian art in the aftermath of the 1948 national catastrophe (al-Nakba) that culminated in the uprooting and dispersal of Palestinian society.

Secondly: While purporting to present an academic historic study based on her personal findings, Ankori employed different forms of plagiarism. To deflect exposure, at times she included incomplete quotations or selective citations from Boullata's studies that serve her claimed thesis; at other times, she disregarded all proper attribution to her source. Thus, original ideas developed and analyses revealed in Boullata's writings were wholly appropriated and presented by Ankori as if they were her own.

Based on our examination of both parties’ texts, and regardless of the author in quesiton being an Israeli, the League of Palestinian Artists expresses its full solidarity with artist and researcher Kamal Boullata – not on the basis of his being a Palestinian, but rather because his pioneering studies and historic findings, which concern us in the first place, have been mangled and fraudulently appropriated. Gannit Ankori’s plagiarism did not only violate Boullata's rights as a writer but we consider her own writing as an assault on the very historicity of Palestinian art.

, in the name of the League of Palestinian Artists, we ask researchers, art historians, the mass media and all cultural workers to take note of this highly camouflaged case of plagiarism. Readers should approach Ankori's writing with a critical eye that allows them to recognize what appears to be a genuine contribution to documenting a history of Palestinian art, as nothing more than a rehashing of conclusions reached by someone else as verified by published evidence. We must realize that such insidious practices perpetuated by some Israeli researchers who appoint themselves in a position to speak for the Palestinians could only be understood in the context of a colonialist mentality. This kind of appropriation of intellectual property is taking place at the same time in which the Israeli authorities are continuing to seize the remaining lands in our country, and in the process burying its actual history.

Finally, in response to Gannit Ankori's dedication of her book to Palestinian artists: We, the League of Palestinian Artists, reject her dedication and demand from her an apology for violating the intellectual rights of artist and researcher Kamal Boullata.

The League of Palestinian Artists
Palestine- Ramallah 2006

* Translated from the Arabic, dispatched by WAFA Palestine News Agency on 20/08/2006 and published in the Arabic press.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Families challenge Israel's newly-imposed policy of expulsion of foreign passport holders


At a press conference on Wednesday, foreign passport holders, human rights organizations, and representatives of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem charged Israel with separating families that have long lived together in the West Bank and Gaza by expelling and refusing entry to foreign passport holders."This is one of the more blatantly unjust and blatantly stupid things the government has ever done," said Gershon Baskin, an Israeli who co-directs the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI). "This is a policy that cannot be sustained or continue."According to a report in today's Jerusalem Post newspaper, "The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, which organized the event, charged that the policy has effectively separated foreign spouses from their families in the West Bank and Gaza, trapped others who fear they won't be able to return should they leave, and hurt businesses that rely on Palestinian expatriates coming from abroad.

The B'Tselem human rights organization presented a report at Wednesday's event which estimated that since the year 2000, Israel has refused 120,000 family reunification requests of Palestinians who want their foreign spouses to reside with them in the West Bank or Gaza. In the past, most Western spouses could get in anyway by entering on tourist visas. But B'Tselem and IPCRI said that since March, those visas have routinely been refused.The move also affects Palestinian dual citizens who don't have Palestinian ID cards - which would automatically grant them entry rights - as well as foreign students, human rights workers and businessmen, according to IPCRI.

"A press release by the newly-formed Committee for the Protection of Foreign Passport Holders stated, "Families are being separated, investors are exiting the country, educators are unable to reach their schools and universities, students' education is being disrupted, and elderly are being left without caretakers, just to state some of the ramifications of such a policy. This undeclared Israeli policy of 'denying entry' is currently in effect and can only be attributed to the Israeli Government's continued actions of unilateralism which defies International and Humanitarian Law, agreements previously signed and witnessed by international parties, Israel's own legal system's decisions, as well as sheer common sense.

The press release continues "Until such a time that Israel's military occupation of Palestine ends, it is imperative under International and Humanitarian Law that Israel respects basic human needs of the occupied population. Therefore, we declare our insistence on the most basic human rights:-The protection of the right of Palestinian ID holders to have their non-ID spouses/children/parents/caretakers reside with them in the occupied Palestinian territory.-Guaranteed permanent 'visitation' rights of spouses and family members of Palestinian I.D. holders to the occupied Palestinian territory. -Guaranteed visitation rights by foreign nationals, including professionals, foreign eyewitnesses and peace activists who are in solidarity with the Palestinian people, to the occupied Palestinian territory without discriminating against their ethnic origin or religious affiliation. -The immediate cessation of Israeli interference in the development of the Palestinian economy, education and health systems, and civil society through the occupier's denial of entry of those seeking to contribute to Palestinian development."
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Powerlessness and Oppression
Posted by Frubious Bandersnatch

Powerlessness of the oppressed - this is what is so phenomenally depressing about Palestine. The West Bank is terrorized by raids, curfews and closures, Gaza is bombarded with missiles, land is seized on slim security pretexts, and what can anybody do?

Any response by the Palestinians is branded as terrorism, and greeted with heavy reprisals - almost universally condemned by the International community - it is an accepted norm in today's "War on Terror" climate that all terrorists must be condemned. But what of State terrorism? What of a State that routinely terrorizes a civilian population; sending loud and clear the message "we can do whatever we like to you, whenever we like and wherever we like".

In Al Walladjah, near Bethlehem, people are arrested in their own living rooms for being "illegal in Jerusalem" - because Israel decided to move the municipal boundaries, redrawing the map under the feet of the people of Al Walladjah, whilst simultaneously refusing to grant Jerusalem ID cards. Everyone in Walladjah is illegal in Jerusalem. Anyone can be arrested at any time.

Earlier this year, targetted assassinations rocked Bethlehem every Sunday for 5 consecutive weeks. Videos of the torture of a captured militant were released into the community. In Nablus incursions happen on a daily basis and the death toll creeps up slowly week by week. And in Ramallah, the de facto capital of Palestine, the Occupation forces walk brazenly into the middle of the city and gun down a man outside a family restaurant, and then walk out again.

If we are to condemn terrorism, should we not condemn all terrorism?

Killings in Ramallah
Eliza Ernshire writing from Ramallah, Live from Palestine, 4 September 2006

It is only now that the gunfire saluting the killed young man has become sporadic and no longer constant, and that the verses of the Koran, chanted in farewell of him, have ceased. But the streets are full; and full too are the hearts of all who had to witness an attack that should only have been imaginable in the darkest back-alleys of some underworld city. By thugs, wielding heavy M-16s.

At 9 pm, undercover Israeli Special Forces walked down the main street of Ramallah. They wore civilian clothes and Palestinian police caps. They carried M-16s as all the police force does. No one looked at them twice. They walked straight past us where we stood, at Al-Manara, discussing work with a third colleague. They walked straight past the Palestinian Police Force as well, which is always stationed there. They continued walking straight down Rukab Street until they were opposite the famous Rukab ice cream shop where families gather every evening in the summertime. And then they opened fire. They opened fire after they failed to catch two 'wanted' men who were also in Rukab Street along with half the population of Ramallah. The two men wouldn't come when called and so the undercover Israeli officers opened fire.

It is not easy to explain the horror of seeing the cold-blooded murder of the young man who had turned to escape after realising his situation. It is not easy to explain the horror of hearing the name of the killed youth, spreading from mouth to mouth until the whole of Ramallah knows that the young man killed was A. from the village of Deir Ghassan. Nor is it easy to explain the horror of rushing with everybody else who knows A. from that village or a nearby one to the hospital. The relief, if the body pulled from the fridge is not your A. The anguish if it is. Grown men falling on the ground to beat at the dirt and cry.

The parents of the killed man stumbled into the hospital at midnight. The father could not even see his son because he was temporarily blinded by shock, and the screams of the mother could be heard from the street. Young men were also in shock, wandering around and wondering why they had not even had a chance to fight back. There was an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. Palestine has been so reduced and so humiliated that it is now a country where the occupying force can walk into a main city at nightfall, can walk down the main street of that city and kill a man, and then walk away again as if that is a damn right of theirs and no one is going to blink an eye. It is not their damn right to come and terrorise the people of a city night after night on some hyped up 'security' reason! This is no human being's right.

I have been accused of not understanding how people are feeling on the other side of the Wall. People have written to me 'You don't know what it is like to be driving behind a bus when it explodes' and I say this is true. But I do know what it is like to see fifteen thugs walk down a main street of a city at nightfall and murder in cold-blood outside a family restaurant and then walk away again. And I call that the worst kind of terror.

The boy they killed was just a village boy. And the children who witnessed this killing were just children. As in all parts of the world — children who had begged their parents for an ice cream before going to bed. And now must live with this violation of their sensitivity forever. And the thugs could just walk away! They did not even need jeeps to perform their action of terror. These men were not desperate. Not one of them would tie an explosive belt around his waist. And what I am most afraid of is that they enjoy what they do. To them and to too many others, the lives of Palestinians are, at most, only countable.

There was a three second coverage of this news item on BBC. 'Three militants killed in the West Bank. One in Ramallah and two in Nablus; all were from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.' One second for each man killed. I won't begin a discussion on why, by naming the Martyrs Brigade, the West is somehow justifying the deaths, because the purpose of this article is only to register horror at the night time terror that came in so particularly a disgusting way to the streets of Ramallah four hours ago. And also to say that now the city is angry.

The young men who have been gathering for hours in groups on street corners are angry. Some have been crying, and all have been voicing their disbelief at how on earth Israel can continue to get away with their inhuman actions; not only nightly midnight raids and arrests but also this gangster plot that has left the main street of their city stained with blood again.

In the past two weeks, Israeli forces have come to Ramallah every single night. There is now a vigil in the dark hours of these nights; from 2 am till 5 am, half the city is awake watching and wondering where Israel's eyes are turned and what neighborhood they are targeting. In the past week Israel has made daily incursions into Nablus and has destroyed houses and killed 16-year-old boys in broad daylight, and has raided the city every night. For the past month the whole village district of Ramallah and Nablus have been enduring invasions and raids, house searches and arrests.

While Olmert is taking a few blows about his conduct of the war in Lebanon, the Palestinians are having to endure being his 'dog-under-the-table'. And I voice my protest with the people of the West Bank: How on earth is he getting away with it? It is not enough that Israel has made the token effort of standing by a ceasefire in Lebanon. The international community cannot be satisfied with this.

Eliza Ernshire can be reached at This article was originally published on August 29 on CounterPunch
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The Occupations's Onslaught is Relentless
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 3:07 PM

By Odog

The State of Israel is a war monger whose policy towards Palestinians borders on fascism. Beneath the political rhetoric lies the justification of many of Israel's policies: "we will do this to you because we can, because we are stronger". Their is little room for morality when it comes to Israel's geopolitical ambitions.... only money, resources and power.

News reports announced today the the State of Israel will again annex more of Bethlehem's land. As if Israel hasn't stolen enough? What kind of message does this send? I fear for the day when the patience of the peaceful city of Bethlehem finally runs out. I fear for the loss of lives on both sides of the Apartheid wall, Israeli and Palestinian. This onslaught is relentless and must be stopped.


More lands to be annexed in Bethlehem for Wall construction and Settler Roads

The Israeli forces Commander for the Central Region of the occupied West Bank, Major General Yair Naveh, has decided to confiscate 152 Dunams of southern Bethlehem. The annexation order aims at using the annexed Palestinian lands for the Wall and for “military purposes”. Head of the Wall Resistance department at the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government, Khaled Al Azza, stated that the annexed lands will be used for the construction of a section of the Wall that will run alongside a new settler road linking several settlements surrounding Bethlehem. The roads will be “settler only” as Palestinians will not be allowed to use them which will result in the isolation of several Palestinian villages in Bethlehem district. The Annexation Wall will extend from Al Khader village, south of Bethlehem, to Beit Ummar village, near Hebron in the southern part of the West Bank.

The lands which Israel intends to annex in Hebron is currently used as grazing land and for agricultural purposes.

The new orders comes as Israel continues to tighten its siege and blockage over Bethlehem. Recently, the northern side of Bethlehem was annexed to the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality. The new north of Bethlehem is now totally closed by the segments of the annexation Wall as more areas became isolated. Northeast of Bethlehem is blocked by the construction of Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) settlement, which is built over a small Palestinian green mountain Israel annexed and uprooted its trees. Efrat settlement already blocks Bethlehem from the south and and leads into the military compound of Gush Etzion and the Bitar Illit Settlement to the southwest. Gilo Settlement in built on lands that was annexed from the residents of Beit Jala, the northwest of Bethlehem and completely isolated the Palestinian areas there from Jerusalem. On Monday, the Israeli government issued enders to construct 690 settlement homes in the Occupied West Bank. The new units will be constructed in large settlement blocs in the West Bank and is coherent with Olmert's “Convergence Plan”. The bids are the biggest since Olmert officially took office.

Since the beginning of the year, the Israeli government issued tenders to construct at least 788 units. The new settlement houses will be built in large settlements; 342 houses will be built in Bitar Ilit settlement near Ramallah, while 348 houses in Ma'aleh Adumim near Jerusalem. Al Azza issued a press release urging, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, that the UN take the responsible acts in order to apply the several UN resolution against land confiscation in Palestine. The press release calls for presenting the the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague against the Israeli Wall inside the West Bank, to the UN Security Council for adoption, and calls for the implementation of the International Law.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Al Khader in Pictures:
by Frubious Bandersnatch

The building of the Wall around Al Khader village to the north of Bethlehem continues apace. This wall will isolate Al Khader, a farming based community, from 90 % of the land upon which its economy depends, amalgamating it into the larger Bethlehem ghetto. The economy of Bethlehem does not have the capacity to absorb all the extra workers from Al Khader; who will be made jobless either through confiscation of their land or through loss of access to the Israeli jobs market, where many work in construction and other low-paid labouring jobs. Thus the wall literally spells ruin to many families.

Demonstrations at Al Khader have been ongoing all summer, with locals, internationals and Israelis turning out to protest the building of this illegal wall. On some occasions, the demonstration has reached the nearby Israeli by-pass road, where it has been greeted with mixed reactions by passers by. It is sobering to reflect that these may be some of the last times Israelis and residents of Al Khader will see each other for many years; as the wall closes around the village and isolating it from its surroundings.

The atmosphere at demonstrations has generally been fairly good-natured: on one occasion an IDF soldier was spotted turning a sign written in Hebrew and held by a child from Al Khader the right way up, as he was holding it upside down. Many of the IDF soldiers attending the demonstrations have expressed their unhappiness at being there, and have looked fairly uncomfortable at confronting small children with guns and tear gas. Fortunately there have been no incidents of gassing or firing of rubber bullets.

Sadly it seems that the demonstration is running out of energy; partially as a result of the Lebanon war, which coincided with a lack of attendance by Israeli activists who had previously supported the action, and partially due to natural fatigue, as the wall continues to go up, piece by piece, depressingly blocking the view of the surrounding countryside and imprisoning the residents of Al Khader into a ghetto.

This ghettoization of Palestinian communities is something that is ongoing - often overshadowed by noisier and more explosive events. Al Khader is just one community suffering from the effects of this horrific phenomenon. There are many more throughout the south of the West Bank, whereas construction in the North has already crippled many communities such as Qalquiliya and Jayyus to name only a couple. The Israeli government have vowed to finish construction of the Wall by the end of 2007, although due to political tension within Israel it is not clear whether the Kadima party will remain in power and be capable of keeping this pledge. What is clear is that the Wall spells the destruction of livelihoods and the imprisonment of people wherever it is built. Who will stop it?
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Protest held in solidarity with a Bethlehem resident who lost his shop to the Israeli Wall
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 10:58 AM


Friday, a group of Palestinian residents of Bethlehem and international peace activists held a solidarity act in the city in support of a poor resident who lost his small shop for the construction of the Israeli Annexation Wall. The shop was the only source of livelihood for the man and his family. As the army continued the construction of the Wall, the area around the man's shop was annexed and isolated because his shop is close to the already walled Rachel Tomb, which is frequently visited by religious Jews.

Troops installed a gate and closed the uncompleted section of the Wall, the owner of the shop and his costumers used to cross through the gate to reach the shop, but recently soldiers attacked him and forced him to leave the area. The purpose of Friday's protest was to enable as many residents and internationals to be able to reach the shop and buy their food from there as a means to support the man and to enable him keep his store opened.

Soldiers stationed in the area barred the residents and internationals from reaching the shop but agreed after negotiations that the man could enter the area alone, go to his shop and bring the food out to the protesters. The Annexation Wall in the OPT is being constructed in a way that enables settlement expansion, annexation of land including Palestinian orchards as well as preventing framers from reaching their remaining isolated land.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Israel formally annexes 14% of northern Bethlehem
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 2:37 PM
Those familiar with the situation in Bethlehem will be aware of the contruction of the segregation wall in Bethlehem's northern suburbs. This has been part of Israel's ambition to annex Rachel' s Tomb, a sight that is holy to all three major religions in Israel/Palestine: Christians, Muslims and Jews. In addition to denying Palestinian Christians and Muslims access to this holy site, the segregation wall has effectivily destroyed the economic viability of the area. Streets that were once bustling and full of life are now dead and empty.

Palestine News Network - Saturday, 02 September 2006

Israel has both effectively and officially overtaken northern Bethlehem, swallowing the entire Rachel’s Tomb area. The process was slow enough, ongoing for the past two years, however it all occurred with very little fuss. Those that did protest were gassed, shot at, imprisoned, or ignored.

Now historic Bethlehem is entirely cut off from its twin city Jerusalem by a kilometer stretch of the Wall. Hundreds of shops, factories, cultural institutions, religious and social centers, and residential homes were either confiscated or annexed to Jerusalem and under complete Israeli control.

Although Rachel’s Tomb has been a military installation for years, it looks quite different now surrounded by the Wall and higher sniper towers. The Israeli government confiscated what was once northern Bethlehem and is converting it into a militarized Jewish enclave like any settlement in the West Bank.

An official Israeli spokesperson announced Friday that control of the region has been transferred from army control into the custody of border guards and police overseen by the Israeli controlled Jerusalem Municipality. This indicates that the confiscation is complete. Israelis no longer need obtain permits from their government in order to travel into the West Bank if they want to go to Rachel’s Tomb.

Northern Bethlehem is no longer in the West Bank according to the Israeli announcement and the new facts on the ground. Northern Bethlehem is not even in Bethlehem. It is now in Israel where Jerusalem is, the future capital of the Palestinian state.

Bethlehem’s Mayor, Dr. Victor Batarsa denounced the Israeli actions as contravening international law and any sense of justice. There is no logic in the international silence in a world that refers to itself as “free,” yet stands by and watches without a word. The Israeli government just confiscated 14 percent of the birthplace of Christ.

Dr. Batarsa explained that the Bethlehem Municipality sent formal protests to foreign consuls in the region alerting them to the Israeli unilateral steps that converted the city of Bethlehem into a closed canton, confined and surrounded all sides.

"Fourteen percent of the historic city was confiscated for the sole benefit of the occupying Israeli state. This damages all Christians" the Mayor continued.

"We have all been raped, including the Vatican, the Pope, Arab states, and all the mayors and their cities worldwide that are sister cities with Bethlehem".He stressed that once again a major obstacle is thrown in the face of the so-called peace process.

Hassan Abed Rabbo of the Factional Coordinating Committee maintains that the Israeli procedures in overtaking northern Bethlehem were done in relative silence. The Wall takes a chunk, the new “border crossing” checkpoint takes another, the soldiers and settlers occupying even more space. All of it was done under the auspices of “security,” and northern Bethlehem has become southern Jerusalem, according to the Israeli government.
Traditional Christian Churches in Jerusalem Slam Christian Zionism
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 9:17 AM
"The Jerusalem Declaration On Christian Zionism"
Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!

We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.

We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.

We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.

We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.

We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.

We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.

God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.

"What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace - and working for peace makes us children of God.

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:19)

His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarchate,
Jerusalem Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate,
Jerusalem Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land