Soldiers and Border police

photo courtesy of The Palestine Solidarity Project

If I were a cartoonist I’d depict Santa trying to get his sleigh over the wall that cuts off the West Bank from Israel, or perhaps I’d do one of Santa trying to break the siege on Gaza by attempting to deliver a sleigh-full of inadmissible toys to Gaza’s children. Either way, one can only imagine a bloody end to big elf’s Yuletide venture to the Holy Land.

It can’t be pure coincidence that the Israeli government unleashes some of its worst violence on the captive populations of Gaza and the West Bank during the Christmas season. Operation Cast Lead began on December 27. This Christmas there have been a series of bloody incidents:

  • Scores of Bedouin refugees, including 32 children, were made homeless after a series of housing demolitions in the West Bank that the UNRWA says is a “violation of international law” (see here).
  • IDF warplanes and tanks unleashed hell on Gaza, killing a number of civilians including a 3 year-old girl. They claim that they were targeting “terror sites” after an Israeli workman had been shot by a sniper while repairing the fence that keeps the Gazan people captive (see here).
  • On Christmas Eve IDF soldiers raided the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem – intimidating and harassing the beleaguered camp population (see here).

I guess it makes sense that the IDF increases its activity at times when it knows that its US allies are on holidays and otherwise busy with family and partying. Even so, there’s an additional incentive in 2013 for stirring up more trouble at this point in time – the so-called ‘peace talks’.

Reports are coming in that, contrary to all expectations, there may be real signs of hope emerging from John Kerry’s latest rounds of talks. Netanyahu has no intention, of course, of allowing a sovereign Palestinian state to come into existence, but maintaining the illusion that he does support Palestinian independence is a vital element in the great charade.

If a peace deal should start to look inevitable, as it has on more than one occasion already, a spanner will need to be thrown into the works from somewhere – a lead negotiator will have to be disposed of (eg. Arafat) or an incident will take place that will ‘force’ the Israelis to abandon all friendly discussion.

Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, prays for peace: 

“Oh Holy Child, who experienced the flight into Egypt after the threat from Herod, who two thousand years ago killed the children of Bethlehem, have mercy on our children, and all the world’s children.  Have mercy on prisoners, on the poor, the marginalized, and the most vulnerable among us.” 

(read Twal’s complete Christmas homily here)


Here’s a story that looks like it was taken from one of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of God.

‘The Kingdom of God is like a wedding feast where Hamas militants and IDF soldiers put down their arms and dance in celebration of their common humanity!’

According to the Israeli news channel that uncovered this story, the wedding family really were affiliated with Hamas, and maybe that’s why the IDF soldiers did not actually put down their arms, but danced with their machine-guns in hand! Even so, it is a lovely image of hope – the substance of dreams!

Of course the Israeli authorities couldn’t let something like this go unpunished!

if you can’t view this video, click here


This scrapes the bottom of the barrel!

You’d have thought that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) would have had their hands full already – maintaining the Occupation, making night-time raids, detaining people without trail, demolishing houses, etc., etc. But this just goes way to far! How can anybody attack a puppet show?!

In truth, it’s only a tiny incident when seen in the context of the greater Occupation, Even so, let’s not let this one pass without comment! It simply isn’t right to target a harmless children’s show!

Father Dave


Israel orders Palestinian puppet show closed

For the first time in twenty years, Israel’s public security ministry temporarily shut down the theater.

JERUSALEM — Children’s paintings of flowers and butterflies are up on this East Jerusalem theater’s walls, and the venue is colorfully garlanded.

Everything is in place for the opening of its annual puppet festival today — except the El-Hakawati theater has been ordered closed by Israeli authorities.

For the first time in twenty years, Israel’s public security ministry temporarily shut down the theater. Police spokesman Luba Samri told AFP the puppet festival’s activities “were being organized under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.”

The venue’s director Mohammed Halayiqa has filed an appeal that will be heard at Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing that an event cannot be cancelled because the PA funds it.

He says Norway, a longtime supporter of Palestinian cultural events, actually provided the resources for the puppet festival, through the offices of a local cultural fund.

“I am completely shocked,” Halayiqa told GlobalPost, after the ministry summoned him to receive the closure notice.

El-Hakawati is a central cultural venue in East Jerusalem, where the majority of the city’s Palestinian population lives.

Two months ago, it hosted the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival, funded by French, Swiss, British, and Palestinian donors.

Israeli and Palestinian activists say they are planning a protest Thursday.

“It just breaks your heart,” Tzaphira Stern-Assal, an Israeli activist with the left wing Meretz party, said in front of the theater today. She is helping organizing the protests tomorrow.

Apparently the authorities decided “too many people gathering here would pose a risk to the state,” she sarcastically quipped.


It is remarkable how often internationals lament ‘if only the Palestinians would embrace non-violent methods to bring about change!’ The truth is that Palestinians have been involved in non-violent protests and ‘Ghandian’ techniques such as hunger-striking since the First Intifada. The response of the IDF then, as today, was to respond with violence.

Father Dave

pic courtesy of the Palestinian Solidarity Project

pic courtesy of the Palestinian Solidarity Project


Israeli forces teargas Palestinian hunger strike protesters

Israeli forces clashed with protestors outside Ofer detention center near Ramallah on Tuesday at a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Palestinians in Israeli jails were on Tuesday refusing food in solidarity with four fellow inmates who have been on long-term hunger strike, officials said.

According to the Ramallah-based Prisoners’ Club, 800 prisoners in three prisons were taking part in the one-day strike, among them members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

The one-day strike was the latest show of solidarity with four detainees who are on long-term hunger strike and whose state of health has sparked mass protests across the West Bank as well as statements of concern from rights groups and Western governments.

The four, Samer Issawi, 33, Tareq Qaadan, 40, Jafar Ezzedine, 41, and Ayman Sharawna, 36, have been refusing food for between two and seven months.

An Israeli court in Jerusalem was on Tuesday to hold a hearing on Issawi’s case, his lawyer said.

Prisoner rights group Addameer says Qaadan and Ezzedine were arrested on November 22 and handed a three-month administrative detention order, meaning they can be held without charge.

Both began refusing food on November 28 in protest and their detention orders are due to expire or be renewed on Friday.

Issawi, 33, and Sharawna, 36, were long-term prisoners who were released by Israel under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011, but both were rearrested last year.

Israel has ordered that they serve out the remainder of their original sentences, prompting Sharawna to start refusing food on July 1 followed by Issawi who stopped eating on August 1.

Statistics published by Israeli rights group B’Tselem show by the end of 2012, 4,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails.

Tear gas at protesters

Israeli forces clashed with protestors outside Ofer detention center near Ramallah on Tuesday at a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners.

The rally in solidarity with hunger-strikers marched towards the Israeli prison from Birzeit, Beitunia and Ramallah.

Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters and youths responded by throwing stones at military forces.

At least 18 people were lightly injured, witnesses told Ma’an news agency, and journalists at the scene said Israeli forces deliberately targeted them with smoke bombs and sound grenades.


My friend Miko Peled is making waves across the US and into Canada now!

Apparently the YouTubed video of a speech he gave at a church in Seattle last year is approaching a quarter of a million hits!

Miko is a great man and a truly selfless champion of the oppressed. We were privileged to have him address our church community here in late 2011 and I’m hoping to see him back in Sydney again soon. You can see my interview with him here.

I’ve reprinted below a review of his current tour of Canada. It seems that he is being well received.No doubt his statement that “the IDF was one of the best trained, best financed terror organizations in the world” would have ruffled a few feathers, but it has made him plenty of friends too! I pray that he will remain safe.

Father Dave


Miko Peled and Father Dave in September 2011

Miko Peled and me in September 2011

The General’s Son: Miko Peled delivers a hopeful message on Israel/Palestine

Change the conversation, support today.

The Youtube video of Miko Peled’s book launch talk in Seattle last year has now had over 200,000 hits. So what’s all the fuss about?

Peled is no ordinary critic of current Israeli policies. He is a member of one of Israel’s elite Zionist families. His father was a famous general in the 1967 war and his grandfather was one of the signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Peled now lives in San Diego, California, but he is a frequent visitor to Israel and the West Bank.

His book, The General’s Son, has a very simple message: there should be equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians and they should live together as citizens in one state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, an area two-thirds the size of Vancouver Island. There should be no privilege for Jews, or a separation between Jews and Palestinians in this new state.

Miko Peled did not always have this view.

After 1967, his father Matti, the General, began questioning Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and was eventually elected to the Israeli parliament as a member of the Progressive List for Peace. Even though he agreed with his father that the occupation was wrong, Miko Peled felt that, as a committed Zionist, he should enlist in the army. So in 1980 he joined the elite Red Beret unit. He was discharged from Israeli military service in December 1983.

He then left to see the world, ending up in San Diego, where he opened a karate studio far away from Israel politics.

This all changed in the fall of 1997 when his niece Smadar was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. Peled went back to Israel and listened as his sister Nurit, Smadar’s mother, blamed the death of both her daughter and the Palestinian suicide bomber who had killed her on the brutal Israeli occupation. Her argument reached him.

When he went back to San Diego, he joined a Jewish/Palestinian discussion group. Suspicious at first, he eventually made close friendships with Palestinians and helped create a Rotary Club charity to send wheelchairs to Israel and Palestine. It was here that he learned what his grandfather’s and his father’s military project, in addition to his own service as a Red Beret, looked like from the receiving end. Gradually he began to understand the myths that justified the oppression of Palestinians in Israel/Palestine and the privileges accorded to Israeli Jews.

Miko Peled’s journey has led him to become an activist both in the Occupied Palestinian territories, where he has built relations with the non-violent Palestinian resistance movement and in the U.S., where he is a popular speaker.

Recently he told demonstrators who were protesting an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fund raising event in Los Angeles that “he had been a member of the IDF and was of the view that the IDF was one of the best trained, best financed terror organizations in the world.”

Needless to say this is not a view held by many people in the Israeli elite. It is a courageous view based on his personal experience and his relations with Palestinian friends.

To find out Miko’s tour dates:…