This report just in from Al Jazeera, suggesting what we all suspected – that there was nothing ‘natural’ about the death of Yasser Arafat.
The real question is ‘why has it taken eight years to uncover the truth?’ Given that (as the article below reveals) polonium poisoning has been used before by Israel, why didn’t any of the ‘experts’ check for this earlier on?
The other key question of course is whether anybody will do anything about this murder, even if it can be proven?
Make sure you see the video too. It’s long but very comprehensive.
Tests hint at possible Arafat poisoning
Nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera discovers rare, radioactive polonium on ex-Palestinian leader’s final belongings.
Gregg Carlstrom Last Modified: 03 Jul 2012 16:27
It was a scene that riveted the world for weeks: The ailing Yasser Arafat, first besieged by Israeli tanks in his Ramallah compound, then shuttled to Paris, where he spent his final days undergoing a barrage of medical tests in a French military hospital.
Eight years after his death, it remains a mystery exactly what killed the longtime Palestinian leader. Tests conducted in Paris found no obvious traces of poison in Arafat’s system. Rumors abound about what might have killed him – cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, even allegations that he was infected with HIV.
A nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera has revealed that none of those rumors were true: Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004.
More importantly, tests reveal that Arafat’s final personal belongings – his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element. Those personal effects, which were analyzed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat’s blood, sweat, saliva and urine. The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.
“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” said Dr. Francois Bochud, the director of the institute.
The institute studied Arafat’s personal effects, which his widow provided to Al Jazeera, the first time they had been examined by a laboratory. Doctors did not find any traces of common heavy metals or conventional poisons, so they turned their attention to more obscure elements, including polonium.
About the institute
The study of Arafat’s medical file and belongings was carried out at the University Hospital Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The university’s Centre of Legal Medicine is considered one of the best forensic pathology labs in the world.
It has studied evidence for the United Nations in East Timor and the International Criminal Court in the former Yugoslavia, and it investigated the death of Princess Diana, among other well-known personalities.
It is a highly radioactive element used, among other things, to power spacecraft. Marie Curie discovered it in 1898, and her daughter Irene was among the first people it killed: She died of leukemia several years after an accidental polonium exposure in her laboratory.
At least two people connected with Israel’s nuclear program also reportedly died after exposure to the element, according to the limited literature on the subject.
But polonium’s most famous victim was Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian spy-turned-dissident who died in London in 2006 after a lingering illness. A British inquiry found that he was poisoned with polonium slipped into his tea at a sushi restaurant.
There is little scientific consensus about the symptoms of polonium poisoning, mostly because there are so few recorded cases. Litvinenko suffered severe diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting, all of which were symptoms Arafat exhibited in the days and weeks after he initially fell ill.
Animal studies have found similar symptoms, which lingered for weeks – depending on the dosage – until the subject died. “The primary radiation target… is the gastrointestinal tract,” said an American study conducted in 1991, “activating the ‘vomiting centre’ in the brainstem.”
Scientists in Lausanne found elevated levels of the element on Arafat’s belongings – in some cases, they were ten times higher than those on control subjects, random samples which were tested for comparison.
The lab’s results were reported in millibecquerels (mBq), a scientific unit used to measure radioactivity.
Polonium is present in the atmosphere, but the natural levels that accumulate on surfaces barely register, and the element disappears quickly. Polonium-210, the isotope found on Arafat’s belongings, has a half-life of 138 days, meaning that half of the substance decays roughly every four-and-a-half months. “Even in case of a poisoning similar to the Litvinenko case, only traces of the order of a few [millibecquerels] were expected to be found in [the] year 2012,” the institute noted in its report to Al Jazeera.
But Arafat’s personal effects, particularly those with bodily fluids on them, registered much higher levels of the element. His toothbrushes had polonium levels of 54mBq; the urine stain on his underwear, 180mBq. (Another man’s pair of underwear, used as a control, measured just 6.7mBq.)
Further tests, conducted over a three-month period from March until June, concluded that most of that polonium – between 60 and 80 per cent, depending on the sample – was “unsupported,” meaning that it did not come from natural sources.
Original link: www.aljazeera.com…
Avnery writes as a Jew who was not only an eye-witness to Arafat’s entire career but was also his personal friend. He understood and admired the man, and this comes out clearly in the article below.
What is most confronting, in my view, in Avnery’s analysis, is why Arafat was killed. Why kill this Palestinian leader after he had renounced violence and seemed to be a genuine partner for peace with Israel? Avnery suggests that this was exactly why he was killed! The Israeli government of the day had no desire for peace, and so Arafat, who seemed to make peace look inevitable, was an impediment!
Sadly, the current Israeli government seems no more committed to peace than its predecessors. Dave
FOR ME, there was no surprise. From the very first day, I was convinced that Yasser Arafat had been poisoned by Ariel Sharon. I even wrote about it several times.
It was a simple logical conclusion.
First, a thorough medical examination in the French military hospital where he died did not find any cause for his sudden collapse and death. No traces of any life-threatening disease were found.
The rumors distributed by the Israeli propaganda machine that Arafat had AIDS were blatant lies. They were a continuation of the rumors spread by the same machine that he was gay – all part of the relentless demonization of the Palestinian leader, which went on daily for decades.
When there is no obvious cause of death, there must be a less obvious one.
Second, we know by now that several secret services possess poisons that leave no routinely detectable trace. These include the CIA, the Russian FSB (successor of the KGB), and the Mossad.
Third, opportunities were plentiful. Arafat’s security arrangements were decidedly lax. He would embrace perfect strangers who presented themselves as sympathizers of the Palestinian cause and often seated them next to himself at meals.
Fourth, there were plenty of people who aimed at killing him and had the means to do so. The most obvious one was our prime minister, Ariel Sharon. He had even talked about Arafat having “no insurance policy” in 2004.
WHAT WAS previously a logical probability has now become a certainty.
An examination of his belongings commissioned by Aljazeera TV and conducted by a highly respected Swiss scientific institute has confirmed that Arafat was poisoned with Polonium, a deadly radioactive substance that avoids detection unless one specifically looks for it.
Two years after Arafat’s death, the Russian dissident and former KGB/FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in London by Russian agents using this poison. The cause was discovered by his doctors by accident. It took him three weeks to die.
Closer to home, in Amman, Hamas leader Khaled Mash’al was almost killed in 1997 by the Mossad, on orders of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The means was a poison that kills within days after coming into contact with the skin. The assassination was bungled and the victim’s life was saved when the Mossad was compelled, after an ultimatum from King Hussein, to provide an antidote in time.
If Arafat’s widow, Suha, succeeds in getting his body exhumed from the mausoleum in the Mukata’a in Ramallah, where it has become a national symbol, the poison will undoubtably be found in his body.
ARAFAT’S LACK of proper security arrangements always astonished me. Israeli Prime Ministers are tenfold better protected.
I remonstrated with him several times. He shrugged it off. In this respect, he was a fatalist. After his life was miraculously preserved when his airplane made a crash landing in the Libyan Desert and the people around him were killed, he was convinced that Allah was protecting him.
(Though the head of a secular movement with a clear secular program, he himself was an observant Sunni Muslim, praying at the proper times and abstaining from alcohol. He did not impose his piety on his assistants.)
Once he was interviewed in my presence in Ramallah. The journalists asked him if he expected to see the creation of the Palestinian state in his lifetime. His answer: “Both I and Uri Avnery will see it in our life.” He was quite sure of this.
ARIEL SHARON’S determination to kill Arafat was well known. Already during the siege of Beirut in Lebanon War I, it was no secret that agents were combing West Beirut for his whereabouts. To Sharon’s great frustration, they did not find him.
Even after Oslo, when Arafat came back to Palestine, Sharon did not let up. When he became Prime Minister, my fear for Arafat’s life became acute. When our army attacked Ramallah during “Operation Defensive Shield” they broke into Arafat’s compound (Mukata’a is Arabic for compound) and came within 10 meters of his rooms. I saw them with my own eyes.
Twice during the siege of many months my friends and I went to stay at the Mukata’a for several days to serve as a human shield. When Sharon was asked why he did not kill Arafat, he answered that the presence of Israelis there made it impossible.
However, I believe that this was only a pretext. It was the US that forbade it. The Americans feared, quite rightly, that an open assassination would cause the whole Arab and Muslim world to explode in anti-American fury. I cannot prove it, but I am sure that Sharon was told by Washington: “On no condition are you allowed to kill him in a way that can be traced to you. If you can do it without leaving a trace, go ahead.”
(Just as the US Secretary of State told Sharon in 1982 that on no condition was he allowed to attack Lebanon, unless there was a clear and internationally recognized provocation. Which was promptly provided.)
In an eerie coincidence, Sharon himself was felled by a stroke soon after Arafat’s death, and has lived in a coma ever since.)
THE DAY Aljazeera’s conclusions were published this week happened to be the 30th anniversary of my first meeting with Arafat, which for him was the first meeting with an Israeli.
It was at the height of the battle of Beirut. To get to him, I had to cross the lines of four belligerents – the Israeli army, the Christian Lebanese Phalange militia, the Lebanese army and the PLO forces.
I spoke with Arafat for two hours. There, in the middle of a war, when he could expect to find his death at any moment, we talked about Israeli-Palestinian peace, and even a federation of Israel and Palestine, perhaps to be joined by Jordan.
The meeting, which was announced by Arafat’s office, caused a worldwide sensation. My account of the conversation was published in several leading newspapers.
On my way home, I heard on the radio that four cabinet ministers were demanding that I be put on trial for treason. The government of Menachem Begin instructed the Attorney General to open a criminal investigation. However, after several weeks, the AG determined that I had not broken any law. (The law was duly changed soon afterwards.)
IN THE many meetings I held with Arafat since then, I became totally convinced that he was an effective and trustworthy partner for peace.
I slowly began to understand how this father of the modern Palestinian liberation movement, considered an arch-terrorist by Israel and the US, became the leader of the Palestinian peace effort. Few people in history have been privileged to lead two successive revolutions in their lifetime.
When Arafat started his work, Palestine had disappeared from the map and from world consciousness. By using the “armed struggle” (alias “terrorism”)’ he succeeded in putting Palestine back on the world’s agenda.
His change of orientation occurred right after the 1973 war. That war, it will be remembered, started with stunning Arab successes and ended with a rout of the Egyptian and Syrian armies. Arafat, an engineer by profession, drew the logical conclusion: if the Arabs could not win an armed confrontation even in such ideal circumstances, other means had to be found
His decision to start peace negotiations with Israel went totally against the grain of the Palestinian National Movement, which considered Israel as a foreign invader. It took Arafat a full 15 years to convince his own people to accept his line, using all his wiles, tactical deftness and powers of persuasion. In the 1988 meeting of the Palestinian parliament-in-exile, the National Council, his concept was adopted: a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel in part of the country. This state, with its capital in East Jerusalem and its borders based on the Green Line has been, since then, the fixed and unchangeable goal; the legacy of Arafat to his successors.
Not by accident, my contacts with Arafat, first indirectly through his assistants and then directly, started at the same time: 1974. I helped him to establish contact with the Israeli leadership, and especially with Yitzhak Rabin. This led to the 1993 Oslo agreement – which was killed by the assassination of Rabin.
When asked if he had an Israeli friend, Arafat named me. This was based on his belief that I had risked my life when I went to see him in Beirut. On my part, I was grateful for his trust in me when he met me there, at a time when hundreds of Sharon’s agents were looking for him.
But beyond personal considerations, Arafat was the man who was able to make peace with Israel, willing to do so, and – more important – to get his people, including the Islamists, to accept it. This would have put an end to the settlement enterprise.
That’s why he was poisoned.
This article by Natash Mozgovaya appeared in Haaretz on July 4. The vote to divest from companies supporting the Palestinian Occupation lost by only two votes, both of them abstentions! The vote is disheartening to all of us who had hoped for a strong stand from the church against the Palestinian Occupation, especially as it comes on the heels of a similar failure at the Synod of the U.S. Methodist church.
You can read the gracious response of ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ here. My (less gracious) response is that timidity has always been sadly typical of church synods. If we had had to wait for a church synod to vote to end slavery, we might still have that atrocious institution with us as well! Mind you, I suppose we should be heartened that this same Presbyterian gathering did vote to divest from products actually produced in the Settlements, but it’s hardly comparable really. Dave
Presbyterian Church in U.S. rejects divestment of global companies in Israel
Deeply divided General Assembly votes down proposal that sought to divest three major companies that ‘profit from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.’
By Natasha Mozgovaya
The largest Presbyterian group in the United States narrowly defeated a proposal to divest from three companies that do business with Israel. After an hours-long debate that took place late Thursday, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted 333-331, with two abstentions, to reject the divestment plan..
The debate was long and nerve-racking, as those attending the debate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were deeply divided on the matter.
Divestment supporters said the targeted companies – Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Motorola – were profiting from Palestinian suffering. The American Jewish Committee, a public policy group, said the proposal demonizes Israel and threatens Christian-Jewish relations.
In an announcement, one student said the reasoning behind the divestment proposal was not a motion against Israel or the Jews, but rather against investment in “non-peaceful products.” “Many of us can’t sleep at night knowing our pension money comes from this oppression,” he said.
A Palestinian told the assembly that his house “was demolished in 1968 by a CAT bulldozer,” adding that “occupation is the worst form of terror.”
A Caterpillar employee from Illinois complained that commissioners were only being presented one side of the story. “I’ve been an employee of Caterpillar for 37 years. You are being shown the very narrow side of CAT. CAT is the first responder around the world,” he said, noting the company’s work at the Twin Towers after the September 11 attacks. “I am proud to wear this Caterpillar shirt, no matter what happens at this GA.”
Another commissioner said she feared the motion was “missing the target.” “Different companies in Israel militarize the bulldozers. Caterpillar can’t stop building at the West Bank”, she said.
There were also those who expressed concern that a vote in favor of divestment would only “alienate our Jewish friends.” Matthew Miller from Iowa said, “I believe an unintended consequence of the divestment will alienate our interfaith Jewish partners in this country. Taking one side over another will privilege Palestinian suffering, not Israelis that are terrorized by their neighbors that seek to eliminate them. This course of action will not have its intended effect; it will achieve nothing but alienation.” His comment stirred angry responses that the Presbyterian community has been “doing what Rabbis told us to do” for years, and the “number of settlers is over 500,000 today,” adding that it would be a shame “to be bullied out” of the divestment and to “ignore the suffering of our Palestinian brothers.”
Some harsh words were thrown around the room. “Investment will never relieve our conscience from ethnic cleansing and apartheid,” said one debater. “There is plenty of investment in Israel – billions of dollars are invested in illegal colonies, a separation wall. We have had enough with investments that bring hatred.”
The Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expressed its disappointment with the decision, as they did after a similar initiative failed to pass the Methodist Church vote earlier this year.
“It appears that church commissioners were swayed by a fear that divestment would cause irreparable harm to Jewish-Christian relations,” said Rev. Katherine Cunningham, IPMN Vice-Moderator. “In reality, the divestment motion was supported by a broad alliance of Jews, Christians and others who believe that nonviolent means such as divestment are an effective way to pressure the Israeli government into abiding by international law and respecting Palestinian human rights.”
In a subsequent vote of 369-290 the assembly decided to support a minority report that called for a positive course of action with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and proposed to invest in companies that promote peace.
Pro-Palestinian Presbyterians have been trying for years to persuade the denomination to divest. The church, however, has been dissuaded by U.S. Jewish groups and other Christians who argue that withdrawing investments will not contribute to peace in the region.
Pension funds in Norway and Sweden have divested themselves of holdings in some firms involved in building settlements or helping to erect the West Bank separation barrier. European activists have stepped up pressure on companies by exposing their West Bank ties and picketing stores that sell goods produced in Israeli settlements.
While Thursday’s vote may have resulted in the General Assembly voting down the divestment, members vowed to reignite the debate next year, saying that if progress is not made between Israel and the Palestinians, the result of the next vote might be very different.
And now it’s time for the Anglicans of American to have their say on Israel/Palestine!
As an Anglican myself, it would have made me proud to see our Episcopalian sisters and brothers in the U.S. go one step further than their Methodist and Presbyterian brethren and take a genuine stand against the Palestinian Occupation, but it was not to be. Instead we get a resolution that was designed to be ‘modest’ and ‘thoughtful’ and so will most likely prove to be entirely ineffectual.
Desmond Tutu continues to cry out like a lone voice in the wilderness when it comes to prophetic leadership in the Anglican world. Outside of South Africa Anglicanism only seems to move by consensus, which means finding the lowest common denominator.
Republished from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship website
Israel-Palestine issues addressed at legislative hearing
By Matthew Davies
[Episcopal News Service -- Indianapolis] The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the focus of two hours of passionate testimony July 6 at a public hearing in the National and International Concerns Committee. About 40 people testified on the 14 resolutions that are currently being considered by General Convention.
The resolutions range from calling the church to support more intentional economic investment in the Palestinian Territories that would support the creation of a future state to asking the church to divest from Israeli companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian land.
All of the resolutions acknowledge the need for the church to engage in education and advocacy concerning the conflict, but many of the speakers held divergent views on how such an effort should be accomplished, including which resources would be helpful for study.
[An earlier ENS story that outlines the content of the resolutions and additional context is available here.]
The hearing comes one day after the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), following two hours of speeches at its General Assembly in Pittsburgh, rejected divestment in favor of positive investment as part of its position on peace in the Middle East.
At the Episcopal Church hearing, Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe, vice president of the House of Bishops, read a statement on behalf of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who upheld resolutions B010 and B019 as “faithful responses” to the witness of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and Bishop Suheil Dawani. Those resolutions both urge peacemaking through positive investment in Palestine, but B010 specifically calls the church to reject boycotts, divestment or economic sanctions “and other divisive and punitive measures which seek to tear down, not to build up.”
Dawani, according to Jefferts Schori’s statement, says it is the role of religious leaders to “work together with people of other faiths to encourage the politicians to put politics aside and meet midway, where all people are equal: the marginalized and the powerful, the poor and the wealthy, men and women, children and the elderly, regardless of faith or social status.”
Jefferts Schori’s statement also reminded the committee of the 30 years of resolutions from General Convention “that consistently convey an understanding that peace can only be achieved by the parties to this conflict themselves negotiating two states for two peoples.”
The Episcopal Church also has official church policy dating to 2005, when Executive Council, as recommended by its Social Responsibility in Investments Committee, commended a report calling for “corporate engagement” and “positive investment” when dealing with companies in which the Episcopal Church owns assets and shares.
The only resolution (D039) that specifically calls for the church to divest from American companies that enable the occupation is being proposed by the Rev. David Ota, a deputy from the Diocese of California. Ota told the committee he is “flabbergasted at how much misinformation” there is in the media. “What is happening to the Palestinian people is colonization. If we were alive at a time of colonization of the Americas we would have taken action.” While he said that a policy of “constructive engagement is wonderful” he insisted that most people don’t understand it or see it happening.
The Rev. Vicki Gray of the Diocese of California, who helped to draft D039, said that the resolution applies pressure against the unjust policies of the Israeli government, and denies anti-Semitism. “It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the illegal and immoral policies of the Israeli government,” she said. “One side does not hold all the blame but one side holds all the power.”
But Jefferts Schori said in her statement that the Episcopal Church’s ability to be an effective advocate “depends upon us listening to their voices and standing in the place in which the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has chosen to stand.”
Wolfe noted that the presiding bishop has been clear “that this is why we do not support boycotts, divestment, or sanctions against Israel, but rather positive investment in the economic future of people living in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Bishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem addressed the House of Bishops earlier on July 6, thanking them for their “concern and love” for the diocese.
Dawani said that the diocese has a duty “to promote mutual respect and acceptance among God’s people [and] to encourage an atmosphere of tolerance.”
The diocese operates more than 30 social service institutions throughout Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Dawani said that as a diocese that is present in five countries of the Middle East “we have to keep a presence and balance among all the faith communities and governments of that region that will help us to play an important role to continue to be a bridge for peace and reconciliation.”
“As Christians we are called to be peacemakers, to be a voice of the voiceless and to be an advocate for a just peace,” he added. “We work closely with Christians, Muslims and Jews. The three faiths depend on one another to provide a unified voice for peace. We all agree that our love to God is expressed in how we love our neighbor. We must support religious leaders to stand for justice and peace for their people lf the Holy Land.”
Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, also spoke in favor of B010 and B019, calling them “faithful, thoughtful, and creative responses to an enormously complex political reality and an enormously complex set of challenges faced by our church in Jerusalem. They are resolutions that make clear that we are listening to their voices and standing where they’ve asked us to stand.”
He noted that the authors of these resolutions “chose to omit references to study documents that are divisive, theologically problematic in places, and not part of the approach that our church in Jerusalem has asked us to follow.”
Those documents are Kairos Palestine’s “A Moment of Truth” and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.’s “Steadfast Hope” that include information about using boycotts, sanctions and divestment to pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
Ten of the proposed resolutions, all submitted by dioceses, urge the Episcopal Church to study those two documents.
The Palestine Israel Network (PIN) of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship drafted a sample resolution used by the 10 dioceses and adapted the Steadfast Hope document for an Episcopal audience. The network says that the legislation calls not for boycotts, sanctions and divestment but for the church to implement existing policy. It’s main objective is for the church to develop and implement a strategy of advocacy and education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the 2013-2015 triennium.
Sauls said that the two documents are not helpful and “walk dangerously close to several lines that we, as Christians, should be eager to avoid.”
Rather, he said that he sees resolutions B010, submitted by Bishop John Tarrant of South Dakota, and B019, submitted by Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California, as approaches that are pro-Palestine, pro-Israel, and pro-peace.
Several speakers testified in favor of the PIN resolution, many saying they had traveled to Israel and the Palestinian Territories and had been asked by many Palestinians to tell their story. Many of those speakers raised concerns that the Palestinian perspective is rarely heard in the United States and that the Kairos and Steadfast Hope documents help to present that narrative.
The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves of the Diocese of Hawaii, who helped to draft the PIN resolution, said that he knows the church is divided over divestment and that that is why the resolution does not explicitly mention it. He noted that divestment only forms one paragraph of the 16-page Kairos document that is endorsed by almost 3,000 Palestinian Christians. “We show enormous disrespect if we do not consider this,” he said.
“All 10 dioceses that considered this resolution adopted it,” he said. “This grassroots support results because it is thoughtful and we thought it was a modest resolution. We deliberately wanted a resolution that would unify the convention while also recognize that the church has engaged in the pursuit for peace in the holy land for 33 years.”
Assisting Bishop Christopher Epting of the Diocese of Chicago said he supports the PIN resolution and everything that Grieves has said. “It seems there is a balance – advocacy, education and utilizing our existing policies and resources. We are not asking for divestment.”
Some Jewish voices supported the PIN resolution. Rabbi Michael Davis, a member of the council of Jewish Voices for Peace, called the Israeli occupation “evil [and] racist. It is not Jewish and it is not Christian.” He upheld the Kairos document, saying that he’d had it translated into Hebrew. I urge you to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
Mark Braverman, an American Jew, said he “prays that my people will some day understand and repent for what we have done to the people of Palestine. The church is called to take a bold prophetic stance in what is going on in Palestine today as it did against apartheid. To reject the study of these documents amounts to a silencing of voices. This is about putting your own house in order. Love us the way you loved the people of South Africa.”
Paul Schumacher, from the Diocese of Hawaii, said he is disturbed by PIN resolution. “We must offer our church a better alternative. I am not proud that my diocese passed this resolution. I believe that most of the people who voted for it did not know what they are voting for. I have read both documents. What I found there horrified me moved me to come here to say so.”
Schumacher said that the Kairos document “does not tell the truth about this conflict. It says the Israelis are the only guilty party in the conflict. Steadfast Hope is shocking. It accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing. At best they are propaganda, at worst hatemongering.”
Allison Duvall, a national and International Concerns committee member and deputy from the Diocese of Lexington, said it is “our Christian duty” to hear the multitude of religious narratives. “The church must study this conflict but must do so in a way that does not demonize or ostracize an entire people.”
The Very Rev. Walter Brownridge from the Diocese of Hawaii read out a statement from Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. “Had the world not imposed sanctions on apartheid South Africa we might still be languishing under its oppression,” Tutu’s statement said in part.
Other speakers also drew parallels between apartheid South Africa and the Israeli occupation.
The SRI committee report from 2005 acknowledged that the situation in Israel and Palestine is not the same as the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
“In the case of South Africa, the entire system of apartheid was illegitimate, and no actions short of dismantling it could be countenanced by the world community. The goal was the end of that South African regime,” that report said. “The case of Israel is different. Church policies clearly support Israel’s right to exist, and no companies should be involved, however inadvertently, in any way with organizations engaged in violence against Israelis. Companies can and should operate in Israel proper.”
Many of the speakers upheld the role of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, a nonpolitical, nonprofit organization established in 1985 that supports the diocese’s more than 30 social service institutions throughout Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories.
“We can affect lives on the ground,” said Phoebe Griswold, an AFEDJ board member and its outgoing president, urging the committee to include humanitarian assistance in the lead of any resolution they present.
She noted that more than a third of Palestinians are children. “They will shape the future of the Holy Land,” she said. “As Bishop Dawani says, peace begins on a child’s school desk. I ask myself, when the wall comes down, what will we find on the other side. Because of the work of the American Friends, we will find trained people to build a new state. We will find Christians eager to live in peace and be led by God.”
Anne Lynn, executive director of the American Friends, agreed that peace only can be built on education.
The National and International Concerns Committee will discuss the testimony from the hearings and consider all the resolutions that have been proposed before recommending legislation to the houses of General Convention.
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
This just appeared in Haaretz. It’s enough to make you despair!
That God that for every corrupt IDF official, there are other caring and courageous people in Israel like Gideon Levy who know their responsibility to their suffering neighbours.
By Gideon Levy
Avi is an inspection coordinator for the “Civil Administration” – the occupation regime, to speak without euphemisms. Presumably Avi likes his job. Maybe he’s even proud of it.
He doesn’t bother mentioning his last name in the forms he signs. Why should he? His ornate “Avi” signature is sufficient to carry out his diktats. And Avi’s are among the most brutal and inhumane diktats ever to be imposed in these parts.
Avi confiscates water containers that serve hundreds of Palestinian and Bedouin families living in the Jordan Valley.
The containers are these people’s only water source. In recent weeks, Avi has confiscated about a dozen containers, leaving dozens of families with children in the horrific Jordan Valley heat, to go thirsty.
The forms he takes pains to complete, in spiffy style, say: “There is reason to suspect they used the above merchandise for carrying out an offense.” Avi’s bosses claim the “offense” is stealing water from a pipe. This is why the containers are seized – with no inquiry, no trial. Welcome to the land of lawlessness and evil. Welcome to the land of apartheid. Israel does not permit thousands of these wretched people to hook up to the water pipes. This water is for Jews only. Even the greatest Israeli propagandists could not deny the nationalist, diabolical separation taking place here.
The axis of evil is located about an hour’s drive from your home. But emotionally distant and far from the heart, it inspires no “social protest.” And on the scale of Israeli evil, it is one of the worst. Backed with forms and bureaucracy, applied by ostensibly nonviolent inspectors, it involves not a drop of blood, yet leaves no drop of water either.
The Civil Administration is supposed to take care of the people’s needs. But it does not stop at the most despicable measure – depriving people and livestock of water in the scathing summer heat – to implement Israel’s strategic goal: to drive them from their lands and purge the valley of its non-Jewish residents.
The stealing of water, whether it did or didn’t take place, is of course only the excuse. Even if there was such a thing – what choice do these people have? The authorities won’t allow them to connect to the water pipe running through their fields; pipes whose water is flowing to saturate the settlers’ green vineyards and fields.
Last week I saw the people whose water container Avi had confiscated, leaving them thirsty. Newborn babies, a handicapped little girl, a small boy post-surgery, women and old folks, and, of course, the sheep – the only source of income here. Denizens with no water – in Israel, not in Africa. Water for one nation only – in Israel, not in South Africa.
But this is not the only watershed. A few days ago, the Israel Defense Forces decided to hold training exercises in the area. What did it do? Evicted the residents from their homes for 24 hours. Not all of them – only the Palestinians and Bedouin. It occurred to nobody to evict the residents of Maskiot, Beka’ot or Ro’i. The authorities don’t call that apartheid, either.
Where did the IDF evict them to? Wherever the wind carries them. Thus some 400 people were forced to leave their huts and tents and spend a day and a night on the arid soil by the roadside, exposed to the elements.
Amjad Zahawa, a 2-day-old infant, passed his third day under the hot sun, with no shelter over his head. Greetings, Amjad; welcome to the reality of your life.
Avi, as we have already mentioned, loves his work and is proud of it. Dozens of others like him are also doing this contemptible work. But they are not the only ones at fault. Behind them stand millions of Israelis who are entirely untouched by all this. They blithely drive through the valley roads, paying no heed to the endless embankment alongside the road, imprisoning the residents and blocking their access to the road.
There is an iron gate every now and then. The soldiers, representatives of the merciful occupier, show up every few days to open the gate for a moment. Sometimes they forget, sometimes they are late. Sometimes they lose the key, but what does it matter?
The occupation is enlightened, Israel is right, the IDF is the most moral army, and apartheid is merely an invention of Israel’s haters. Go to the Jordan Valley and see for yourselves.