January 2013 Archives

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It seems that Netanyahu runs the risk of winning the battle but losing the war!

While the Israeli PM’s violent attack on Gaza and his announcement of new settlement activity in the West Bank may be ensuring him victory at the upcoming Israeli election, the rest of the world seems to be increasingly isolating Israel and putting their weight (and their money) behind the Palestinians!

Meanwhile, according to some commentators in the US, Barack Obama’s disdain for Netanyahu is becoming increasingly obvious!

I get the feeling that Netanyahu’s upcoming electoral triumph may prove to be something of a Pyrrhic victory.

Father Dave

source: www.globalpost.com…

Saudi Arabia to give $100 million to Palestinian Authority

Saudi Arabia will give the Palestinian government $100 million to help with a budget crisis.

Saudi Arabia will give the Palestinian government in the West Bank $100 million, Reuters reported. The donation comes as President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Arab countries for a $100 monthly “safety net.” He promptly thanked Saudi Arabia, a longtime benefactor.

Abbas has been asking for the money since December, when the Israeli government decided to seize more than $120 million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the Guardian reported.

“The state’s budget is facing a large deficit as a result of the docking of Palestinian money by the Israeli government as a punitive step after the UN recognition of Palestine as an observer state,” Abbas  said in a statement.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters last week his government could not pay the salaries of most government employees, the Times of Israel reported. He warned that more than 1.5 million Palestinians could be pushed into poverty. Other Arab states had also pledged to give $100 million to Palestine recently but have failed to follow through.

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The letter re-published below has been drafted by a variety of prominent clergy in the US Episcopal church and has supporting signatures from prominent international Anglicans such as Desmond Tutu!

The letter has not been received well by the current Episcopal leadership (see this article). On the contrary, the authors have been heavily criticised for trying to circumvent due process!

It never ceases to appall me how quickly the church becomes just another bureaucracy, tied down in the red-tape of ‘due process’! Perhaps Jesus and the Apostles should have formed a committee to decide on the fate of that poor woman caught in adultery (John 8)?

Father Dave

source: episcopaldigitalnetwork.com…

Episcopal Voices of Conscience

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21, 2013

A Prophetic Challenge to the Executive Council

“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”-  Martin Luther King , Jr. August 28, 1963  Washington, D.C.

Today as we celebrate the life and witness of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., we affirm once more that we will continue to build on his dream of a fully inclusive America, “where we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Today we also want to invoke Dr. King’s call for justice on the land where Jesus lived his earthly ministry, the holy land that is precious to all Jews, Christians, and Muslims – the people of Abraham. We affirm that God intends for Israeli Jews and Palestinians to live together in a just peace. Dr. King reminds us that justice must be the arbiter of this conflict, and we add that truth must be its accompanist. This is the justice Jesus called for when he said, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, … to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Just as this church stood with South Africa and Namibia during the dark days of Apartheid, so we recognize that we need to be standing with our sister and brother Palestinians who have endured an Apartheid that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has described as worse than it was in South Africa.  All peoples who have experienced oppression, including indigenous peoples who have known what it is to be dispossessed of their land, understand the Palestinian issue.

Israel must be held accountable for allowing an occupation for 45 years that suffocates the dreams of freedom that Palestinians hold every bit as much as African Americans sought on that day when Dr. King told the world that he had a dream. Occupation cannot be justified as a tool of security. Occupation is its own form of violence, a prescription for frustration and rage among those shackled under its harsh restraints.

We ask the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church to look carefully at the full body of our Church’s policy on Israel and Palestine, and to implement those policies whenever the opportunity arises. The Episcopal Church General Convention held in July, 2012, adopted resolution A015 which reads in part: “Resolved, That that the General Convention reaffirms Resolution 1991 – A149, “Urge a Full Accounting of the Use of Foreign Aid to the Middle East,” adopted by the 70th General Convention,” which reads in part:  “require(s) the State of Israel to account to the Government of the United States for all aid to Israel…in compliance with the Foreign Assistance Act.”

As elected leaders of The Episcopal Church, we ask Executive Council to:

  • Immediately send a message to Congress that the Episcopal Church supports our 15 ecumenical colleagues, who include the church leadership of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and United Church of Christ denominations, that wrote to Congress October 5, 2012, calling for accountability of Israel’s use of foreign aid from our government. The voice of The Episcopal Church is woefully missing in the request our colleagues made to Congress.
  • Immediately move forward with our Church’s corporate engagement policy so that our financial resources are not being used to support the infrastructure of this suffocating occupation.
  • We respectfully ask for a public accounting of the Executive Council’s work on these matters no later than the meeting of Council June 8-10, 2013.

The truth that is so readily seen worldwide, except among our nation’s leaders, is that Israel imposes a matrix of control over the occupied Palestinian territories, locating Jewish settlements on prime Palestinian land, building segregated roads forbidden to Palestinians to connect the settlers to Israel proper, erecting a wall that causes havoc in the daily lives of Palestinians and serves as another pretext to occupy yet more land. We see check points that are used to control the movements of people on their own land where tactics of bullying, intimidation, and detention are practiced; and where the demolition of homes and the uprooting of olive tree orchards are commonplace causing further humiliation and insult, along with the destruction of livelihoods. We see what was once Palestinian East Jerusalem being subsumed through Israel’s settlement policy. We see the teeming population of Gaza held under confinement on land, in the air, and at sea.

We ask today why is it that Congress and the White House are unable to see the injustice of the occupation, where Israel is the oppressor, and the Palestinians the oppressed? Why is it that our government could not recognize the rights of Palestinians to status as a non-member observer state at the United Nations? Why do our country’s leaders embarrass us as a nation by being on the short end of the UN vote, 138-9, and expose our irrational bias? We are mystified that Washington lives in a bubble of unreality in its blind support of an immense injustice perpetrated every day on the Palestinian people, and foments anger across the Middle East and the world.

Just as Dr. King spoke to the throngs on the Mall of our nation’s Capitol so, too, do his words ring true for Palestinians: “I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells.  And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

We believe, as does our Church, in the right of the state of Israel to exist, and we are aware of the threats against it from multiple sources, which saddens and concerns us. We assure all Jews in Israel and everywhere that we too share a commitment to Israel’s security and peace even as we insist that the state of Israel end this miserable occupation, which diminishes both the oppressed and the oppressor.  We affirm our commitment to non-violence and reject the use of violence from either side. We oppose the indiscriminate use of rockets fired into Israeli communities as we oppose bombs being dropped on Gaza by Israeli fighter jets. We affirm the right of Israel to be at peace with her neighbors, but insist it be through the prism of justice as we believe Dr. King would insist.

As our Church stated in 1991, we differentiate between anti-Semitism, which we abhor, and legitimate criticism of the state of Israel, especially as Israel imposes an unjust system of occupation upon another people. We affirm the right of Palestinians to non-violent resistance to the occupation just as African Americans resisted the inhumanity of Jim Crow and segregation.

And just as Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, we hear from Palestinians who have a dream. We hear from Israeli Jews of goodwill that share that dream. May both peoples dream as Martin Luther King, Jr. did: “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

We turn to our elected Church leaders, the Executive Council, to take up the mantle of justice and truth and undertake the long standing witness The Episcopal Church has made over these last three decades.  We ask you, our elected leaders, to give voice to our long held policies, remembering that the arc of history bends towards justice.

Signed- Titles are for identification purposes only and do not imply organizational endorsement

Canon Bonnie Anderson, D.D., President of the Episcopal Church House of Deputies, 2006-2012

Owanah Anderson, citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Right Reverend Edmond L. Browning, former Presiding Bishop, 1986-1997, Current President of Sabeel, North America

Patti Browning , wife of Edmond Browning and long time activist for Palestinian justice

The Right Reverend Steven Charleston, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska, retired

The Right Reverend Leo Frade, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida

The Reverend Canon Brian J. Grieves, former Peace and Justice Officer, The Episcopal Church 1988-2009

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean, Washington National Cathedral

Diane B. Pollard, Senior Deputy to General Convention, Diocese of New York, 1979 – 2012

The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, retired, current Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC

The Reverend Canon Edward Rodman, John Seeley Stone Professor of Pastoral Theology and Urban Ministry, Episcopal Divinity School

The Reverend Winnie Varghese, Rector, St. Mark’s in- the-Bowery, New York, Executive Council 2006-2012

Supported by Internationals endorsers:

Dr. Jenny Te Paa – Dean, Te Rau Kahikatea, St. Johns College, Auckland, New Zealand

The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu – Archbishop Emeritus, Cape Town, Patron of Sabeel, International

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There is a new star on the horizon of the Israeli political landscape. His name is Naftali Bennett and he represents the new ultra-right that is dissatisfied with all attempts to placate the Palestinians and those internationals who oppose his vision of the future Israel.

The snippet below is from a long interview published in The New Yorker and it gives us a fairly comprehensive and chilling picture of the man.

I have to admire his honesty. He doesn’t play games when he says, “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state. No more negotiations, “no more illusions.”

Is this the future of Israeli politics. If so, Naftali Bennett is surely the harbinger of death!

Father Dave

Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett – the harbinger of death? (photo – Wikimedia Commons)

source: www.newyorker.com…

The Party Faithful

The settlers move to annex the West Bank—and Israeli politics.

by David Remnick
January 21, 2013

At a makeshift theatre in the port of Tel Aviv, hundreds of young immigrants from Melbourne, the Five Towns, and other points in the Anglophone diaspora gathered recently to hear from the newest phenomenon in Israeli politics, Naftali Bennett. A forty-year-old settlement leader, software entrepreneur, and ex-Army commando, Bennett promises to build a sturdy electoral bridge between the religious and the secular, the hilltop outposts of the West Bank and the start-up suburbs of the coastal plain. This is something new in the history of the Jewish state. Bennett is a man of the far right, but he is eager to advertise his cosmopolitan bona fides. Although he was the director general of the Yesha Council, the main political body of the settler movement, he does not actually live in a settlement. He lives in Ra’anana, a small city north of Tel Aviv that is full of programmers and executives. He is as quick to make reference to an episode of “Seinfeld” as he is to the Torah portion of the week. He constantly updates his Facebook page. A dozen years ago, he moved to the Upper East Side of Manhattan to seek his fortune in high tech, and his wife, Gilat, went to work as a pastry chef at chic restaurants like Aureole, Amuse, and Bouley Bakery. Her crème brûlée, he declares proudly, “restored the faith of the Times food critic in the virtues of crème brûlée.”

Closer to his ideological core is an unswerving conviction that the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem might as well relinquish their hopes for a sovereign state. The Green Line, which demarcates the occupied territories from Israel proper, “has no meaning,” he says, and only a friyer, a sucker, would think otherwise. As one of his slick campaign ads says, “There are certain things that most of us understand will never happen: ‘The Sopranos’ are not coming back for another season . . . and there will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians.” If Bennett becomes Prime Minister someday—and his ambition is as plump and glaring as a harvest moon—he intends to annex most of the West Bank and let Arab cities like Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin be “self-governing” but “under Israeli security.”

“I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state,” he says of the Palestinians. No more negotiations, “no more illusions.” Let them eat crème brûlée.

read the rest of the article here: www.newyorker.com…

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A simple but valuable contribution to the BDS campaign

If you can’t view this video, click here

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It seems that the Cairo meeting has borne some fruit! According to the article reprinted below, plans for a new unity government are now well underway, with a firm timetable for the reunification process to be delivered before the end of the month!

This is not good news for Israel which has pursued a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy of the two Palestinian factions since Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006. Ironically though, as the article also shows, it has been the recent actions of Israel – both the recent attack on Gaza and the new settlement initiatives in the West Bank – that have been the driving force behind the reconciliation!

Father Dave

source: www.plenglish.com…

Unitary Agreement Comes into Force in Palestine

Ramallah, Jan 18 (Prensa Latina) The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Hamas organization will bring a timetable for reunification into force later this month, according to announcements today from the media involved in the talks that concluded yesterday between both parties. In the meeting, held in Cairo on Thursday, delegates from the two movements coordinated the mechanisms and dates to enforce Palestinian reconciliation, declared a spokesman by telephone from Cairo.

Coordination covers restarting the work of the Central Electoral Commission in the Gaza Strip by the 30th, at the very latest, said the report, while adding that in parallel, talks will be resumed on forming a nonpartisan transition government before the elections to the municipal councils.

Another initiative includes a session of the provincial leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, for a return to the group by Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Islamist organization that governs Gaza.

The details from the report contradicted previous reports in the sense that delegations had been unable to reach agreements.

The renewed Palestinian conciliatory boost emerged late in November, during the three-week peak of Israeli naval, air and land attacks on Gaza Strip that killed more than 180 civilians, half of them women and children and wounded about 2,000, according to reliable calculations.

It also coincides with permission granted by the Israeli government to build over 6,000 homes for Jewish immigrants in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the seizure of tax revenues of the ANP by the Israeli government, in retaliation for raising Palestinian status at the U.N. to the level of non-member State.