October 2012 Archives


Father Roy writes:   They really are up-to-date in Chapel Hill, N.C.  A few years ago, a public forum on a subject related to Israel would not have been allowed.  There would have been no ads like this one to debate.  The ad in question was paid for by the Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian Church which teaches:  “Public debate is critical to a democratic society.”   Peace, Roy   

Bus ad policy scrutinized at Chapel Hill Town Council forum

By Holly West

, with some calling for the end of political advertising.

The forum was held in response to a petition filed on Sept. 12 urging the Chapel Hill Town Council to revise its transit advertising policy after some residents were offended by the content of a widespread ad.The ad — which runs on Chapel Hill Transit buses — that calls for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

It was paid for by the local Church of Reconciliation as part of the “Be On Our Side” national campaign, which argues foreign aid to Israel is perpetuating the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The council did not make a decision at the forum, but many residents voiced their opposition to the ad and others like it.

West End Wine Bar owner Jared Resnick spoke at the public forum on behalf of several businesses on Franklin Street.

“Collectively, we share a strong belief that these ads are negative, detrimental and just overall bad for our community,” he said.

But some residents fear putting restrictions on ads would stifle free speech.

Janie Freeman, from the Salaam-Shalom committee at the Church of Reconciliation, said the purpose of placing the ad was to bring about discussion on the issue.

Public debate is critical to a democratic society, and public debate can take place on buses,” she said. “It has been pointed out that the First Amendment would not be needed if it only protected speech that is agreeable to all.”

Chris Brook, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, agreed that the town should not restrict speech on bus ads.

“There’s a lot of danger in attempting to bar ads because people find them offensive,” he said.

But forum attendee Bill Carr said discourse should happen in places such as the Town Hall.

“This is a wonderful forum for public discussion,” he said. “Buses and subways are not.”

Moving forward, the council will consider a number of options that were proposed at the meeting.

The council could ban political advertising, as suggested in the petition.

“We don’t want people to feel like they are being bullied and then hide behind freedom of speech,” said councilwoman Penny Rich.

The council could also decide to keep the town’s current policy, which many think is working well.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to live in a community where, when faced with controversy, we shut down the dialogue,” councilman Lee Storrow said. Another option would be to end bus advertising altogether. “What has been made clear this evening is that there is not a political or religious ad that would not be found offensive by someone,” councilwoman Donna Bell said.


Father Roy writes:  The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is a woman who flies an airplane:  Katharine Jefferts Schori.  The PB calls for peace in the Middle East to become an election issue.  The text of her letter is pasted below.   Peace, Roy 

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

photo: Jonathunder (creative commons licence)

article source: Episcopal News Service

Presiding bishop writes to presidential candidates

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to the presidential candidates, urging President Barack Obama and the Hon. Mitt Romney “to use the debate forum to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.”

The following is the text of the letter:

October 12, 2012

The Hon. Barack Obama The Hon. Mitt Romney
c/o Obama for America c/o Romney for President
P.O. Box 803638 PO Box 149756
Chicago, IL 60686 Boston, MA 02114-9756

Dear Mr. President and Governor Romney,

As each of you prepares for the two remaining presidential debates, I write to urge you to use the debate forum to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.

While the volatile political nature across the Middle East has emerged as a key theme in this year’s campaign, I am concerned by the relative absence of discussion of a conflict that is central to that region’s future. This week Palestinian leaders have signaled their willingness to consider a return to the negotiating table, and it will be vital for the next President to prioritize the re-launch of the peace process and to articulate a clear vision for how American diplomatic leadership can assist and encourage negotiations.

Support for a two-state solution is the shared policy of the United States government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority. The contours of such a solution should be clear to all: a secure and universally recognized Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, standing alongside a viable, contiguous, and independent Palestinian state with a shared Jerusalem as the capital for each state. Despite widespread recognition that a solution should reflect this goal, progress toward it has remained elusive.

In the meantime, the level of strife in the conflict has grown. Several current trends give significant cause for alarm, including the threat to Israel’s security from others in the region, most especially a nuclear Iran; continued Israeli settlement building, particularly in and around Jerusalem, at a pace and pattern that complicates the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state; unacceptable levels of violence on all sides; and the humanitarian disaster of the Gaza Strip. Each of these complicates the task of peace negotiations, and each passing day makes a final solution more difficult to achieve.

While it remains fundamentally true that only direct bilateral negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians themselves can bring about a just and lasting peace, history is clear that American political leadership has the power to play a catalytic role in supporting the work of peacemakers. As you present your foreign-policy plans to the American people, I urge you to discuss specifically how you would work with our nation’s partners in the Quartet for Middle East Peace to support the resumption and successful completion of negotiations. I urge you to be as specific as possible, considering not just the complexities of the issues to be resolved by the parties, but also the impact of such factors as the upcoming Israeli elections, Palestinian political division, rising unrest and extremism in the region, and the tragic humanitarian dimensions of the conflict.

As Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, I lead a faith community with a particular concern for peaceful resolution of this long and devastating conflict. Our Church’s partner in the region, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, has stood for decades as a voice of peace and moderation – and a significant provider of healthcare, education, and social services – in the midst of the various instabilities of the region. The Diocese of Jerusalem, together with its Episcopal and Anglican partners in the United States and throughout the world, works to build understanding and reconciliation through these forms of human service – in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, has described the role of Christians in the Holy Land as to “work together with people of other faiths to encourage the politicians to put politics aside and meet midway, where all people are equal.”

I believe that the next American President has an opportunity and a responsibility to help make this vision of reconciliation a reality. The peace and stability of the region, the safety and human dignity of those who live in the midst of this conflict, and the moral character of our own nation all require the full engagement of the United States and its President in the resolution of the conflict. Would that we were again known as builders of peace on the global stage!

Please know that my prayers are with each of you, and with our nation, in these undoubtedly challenging and personally costly final days of the campaign. I remain

Your servant in Christ

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church


Father Roy writes:   Palestinian farmers have every reason to be angry.  And they express themselves as best they can.  The highlights in the article pasted below are mine.  Please read this article, too:  A malignancy called Jewish settlers.   Peace, Roy

UN envoy alarmed by attacks on Palestinian trees

JERUSALEM (AP) — The U.N. Middle East envoy says he’s alarmed by attacks blamed on Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers and their olive trees.

Robert Serry says Israel must do more to protect Palestinians and their property in the West Bank, in a statement sent to reporters Sunday. Israel’s military had no immediate comment. The West Bank, claimed by the Palestinians for a state, is under Israeli military rule.

An Israeli rights organization, B’Tselem, counts 450 Palestinian-owned trees either damaged or uprooted since the harvest season began on October 10.

Every year a small number of extremist Jewish settlers carry out attacks during harvest season. Most attacks occur close to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Olive groves provide crucial income for Palestinian farmers.


Father Roy writes:

Many of you have read Joharah’s essay which is pasted below with my highlights.  She’s right.  Israel eases restrictions on the human rights of Palestinians once in a while and milks the “gesture” for widespread publicity.  All the while expecting to be thanked.  A few hours later the restrictions return.  What a perfidious government Israel has.  One of the things we have to admire about Joharah is that she doesn’t hesitate to give her readers a piece of her mind.  And her skills in the LOD (the language of diplomacy) certainly are highly developed.  Another thing we admire about Joharah is that she’s open to suggestions  Joharah is a Muslim in whom there is no guile.  She works with Hanan Ashrawi at MIFTAH.  Hanan is a Christian, an Anglican (Episcopalian).  She’s a sometimes Lay Reader at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem.  Or at least she used to be.  There’s no guile in Hanan either.

Peers, there’s a matter of urgency to which my Allies and I have been giving a great deal of thought.  Thinking is hard work, but somebody has got to do it.  See what you think of a new idea.  If the Leaders of the Muslim World were to begin a project to explain to non-Muslims and Muslims alike what a Hudna means to Muslims … and … what a Fatwa means to Muslims … it would facilitate the peace process immeasurably.  A Hudna is a ceasefire and much, much more.  A Hudna is Islamic Jurisprudence.  If you agree that education is called for (in order prevent another world war which nobody would win), help us spread the word.  Spreading the word in this case will be seen as Christians throwing Muslims a  “touchdown pass”, as it were.

In Iran there is a Fatwa prohibiting … i.e.,forbidding … i.e., outlawing … the Islamic Republic from manufacturing nuclear weapons.  That’s a fact, and the majority of the world’s population knows nothing about it.  There’s a postscript.


P.S.   Our Islamic Brothers and Sisters have already taken the initiative.   See: a common word between us and you – AOL Search Results.   Please read on. 

Source: www.miftah.org…

Whatever You Do, Don’t Say Thank You

Date posted: 15/10/2012

By: Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

Israel has announced it would mull the idea of offering additional entry permits into Jerusalem over the Eid Al Adha, the Muslim’s most major holiday. It also said its decision would be contingent upon “security considerations”, that is, if Palestinians play good and don’t bother the occupation. Two months ago, during the Eid Al Fitr holiday, Israel granted thousands of West Bankers permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel as a “good will gesture” during the holidays and an additional 5,000 permits for Palestinian workers to seek jobs inside the Green Line.

Anyone less versed in the conflict would think Israel is a “gentle occupier”, compassionate with the hardships of the people it occupies and finding ways to make their lives easier. When Israel announced it was “easing measures” at the Qalandiya checkpoint, Palestinians who forgot the bigger picture sighed a sigh of relief. And those who got the coveted permit to enter Israel smiled inside, picturing their stroll through Jerusalem, a leisure they had not enjoyed for years.

Unfortunately, if the situation plays out like the last time Israel “offered its kindness” to the Palestinians, West Bankers thirsty for a bit of normalcy or better yet, for big shopping malls, will flock to west Jerusalem and load up on Israeli goods. It will be Israel who benefits from its own “goodwill gesture” more than this being any kind of philanthropic move on its part. Last time, Israel’s Jerusalem malls and beachside restaurants in Tel Aviv made a small fortune from Palestinian vacationers who flocked to the tourist sites they thought they would never see.

The saddest part of this is to sense the gratitude some Palestinians feel when they get these permits or pass through Qalandiya without having to open the trunk of their car. This is no doubt a natural reaction in any normal circumstance: you thank those who make things easier for you. But in the case of Israel, no “thank you” is required.

Once we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, Israel’s objectives are disturbingly clear. At the Qalandiya checkpoint, the purpose of making the checkpoint a bit “easier” [which is applied haphazardly at best] is not out the kindness of Israel’s heart but a way to neutralize those who must endure it day in and day out. Most Palestinians will remember that, 15 years ago, there was no such thing as a Qalandiya checkpoint. Israel has made sure this is a new reality on the ground and a permanent fixture on the Palestinian landscape. It is a constant reminder that Jerusalem is off limits and will never be part of a Palestinian state if Israel can help it.

So, when drivers pull up to the Israeli soldier manning the checkpoint, or walk through its metal bars, the last thing that should be on their lips is “thank you. If it were not for Israel’s occupation and all of the violations and illegalities that come along with it, the checkpoint would not be there at all. It is the Palestinians’ right to go from Ramallah to Jerusalem and the occupation has deprived us of that right. So, when we are able to cross, by all means take the opportunity. But Israel deserves no thanks for giving us something that is rightfully ours in the first place.

On this Eid, if they can, Palestinians should visit Jerusalem and go to the beach. Every Palestinian has a right to smell the Mediterranean from the beautiful shores of Jaffa or to walk the alleyways of the Old City. But remember, Israel does not offer permits or ease restrictions at checkpoints because they love us. It is to ease them into accepting isolation of Jerusalem as a given and have us thank them for allowing us into their malls and their beachside restaurants.

There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of an opportunity that arises. But instead of plumping up Israel’s economy by spending loads of money in Israel’s malls, we should all take that opportunity to appreciate the Palestine that was stolen from us and which will forever be in our hearts.

Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at mid@miftah.org…


Here’s an interesting offering from American cartoonist, Nina Paley.

I’m not sure what the author’s intentions were in putting this 3-minute musical/cartoon/video together but it is certainly helpful in terms of the big picture – in terms of giving us an historical perspective as to who owns the land of Israel/Palestine.

It is curious, I think, that most Jews who claim ownership of the land do so on religious grounds (‘God gave us this land’, etc.) whereas the Torah itself makes clear that no one but God Himself owns it.

‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Leviticus 25:23)

If you want to check the identity of all the characters in the story, you’ll find them on Nina Paley’s blog.