December 2012 Archives


This just in from Caritas Jerusalem. It well illustrates why the ‘ceasefire’ such a farce! A ceasefire implies an ending of hostilities – all forms of hostilities – and not just a cessation of the bombing of civilian areas.

Israel continues to strangle Gaza – controlling her borders by land, air and sea. They control her electricity. They limit the flow of goods, block exports, and so make the life of the Gazan people an ongoing misery, and then they breach the very boundaries of military restraint that they themselves agreed to! How can this be called a ‘ceasefire’?

Father Dave

Caritas Jerusalem


Caritas Jerusalem points to abuses of Gaza fishermen.

Ongoing Attacks Against Palestinian Fishermen In Gaza

Israel had formally barred Gaza fishermen from heading more than three miles out into the Mediterranean Sea for about three years, its gunboats often enforcing the rule. It said its blockade was a measure to prevent weapons smuggling.

As indirect negotiations continue in Cairo between Israel and the Palestinians over issues like fishing, border crossings and movement in the buffer zone along the land boundary of the Gaza Strip, both sides said Wednesday that the encounter at sea and several other skirmishes in recent days had been problematic. A Palestinian health official said seven Palestinians had been wounded by Israeli gunfire, one of them seriously, in the buffer zone on Wednesday. On Friday, a man was killed in the area as a crowd approached the fence

between Gaza and Israel.

Despite an Israeli concession to permit Gazans to fish up to six nautical miles from shore rather than three, attacks and violations still continue against the fishermen in Gaza by the Israeli forces.

The Continued Attacks against Palestinian Fishermen Prove False Israeli Claims of Permitting Fishermen to Fish up to 6 Nautical Miles.

According to the Palestinian Center For Human Rights: These violations were as follows:

  • On Monday, 26 November 2012, Israeli gunboats intercepted a fishing boat while it sailed at 8 nautical miles out of the Gaza city shore. According to fisherman Amjad Ismail Ahmed al-Sherafi (38) from Gaza, at approximately 09:30, he and his brother Mohammad (34) sailed there in the Gaza waters when an Israeli gunboat intercepted him and forced him to stop at gunpoint and sail back without pulling his fishing nets out of the sea.
  • At approximately 10:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli forces chased a fishing boat belonging to Murad Rajab al-Hessi, from Gaza, at nearly 6 nautical miles off the shore from Deir al-Balah. Mohammad Murad al-Hessi (39), Ahmed Murad al-Hessi (32), Murad Mohammad al-Hessi (18) and Rajab Rashad al-Hessi (36) were on board of the boat. 4 Israeli gunboats opened intensive fire at the boat, which caused damage to the boat. The Israeli soldiers then ordered the fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat. They were all arrested and interrogated at gunpoint. 3 hours later, 4 of them were released. However, Mohammad Murad al-Hessi remains in detention. In addition, the boat still remains confiscated.
  • At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened intense and direct fire at a Palestinian fishing boat, belonging to Khader Jamal Baker (20), from Gaza, while he sailed at 3.5 nautical miles. As a result, the fishing boat was destroyed. Baker was arrested by Israeli soldiers who interrogated with him at gunpoint for 3 hours before releasing him.
  • At approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened intense fire at a Palestinian fishing boat with 3 fishermen on board, belonging to Wafdi Suheil Baker (24), from Gaza, while sailing at 5 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. As a result of the shooting, the engine of the boat was damaged. The soldiers subsequently arrested the three fishermen, who were identified as: Wafdi Suheil Baker (24), Khaled Suheil Baker (20) and Mohammad Suheil Baker (18), all from Gaza.
  • At approximately 12:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened fire directly and intensively at two Palestinian fishing boats belonging to Mohammad Najib Baker (60) and Tal’at Kamel Baker (22), both from Gaza, while they sailed at 3 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. As a result of the shooting, both boats were damaged.
  • At approximately 10:15 on Thursday, 29 November 2012, Israeli naval forces stationed off the Beit Lahia shore intercepted a fishing boat with 6 fishermen on board, belonging to Fahed Ziad Baker (38), from Gaza, while sailing at approximately 5 nautical miles off the Beit Lahia shore, in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldiers arrested the fishermen and investigated with them aboard the Israeli gunboat at gunpoint. Until now the fishermen remain in detention. The arrested fishermen were identified as: Fahed Ziad Baker (38), Ihab Jawad Baker (36), Mohammad Ziad Baker (32), Nai’m Fahed Baker (16), Ziad Faged Baker (18) and Ali Alaa Baker (18)

The Oslo peace accords signed by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in September 1993 called for allowing fishing up to 20 nautical miles from shore, but experts say that never came to fruition.

On the 29th of November 2012, the International Community recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state.

Caritas Jerusalem believes in peace and justice and calls upon the International Community to help all those civilians who are victims of human rights violations.


Father Roy writes: This Muslim is a woman.  We can learn a lot about Islam, rightly understood, from her.  Scroll down to read about the author in her own words.  The highlights are mine.   Peace, Roy

Sinem Tezyapar

Sinem Tezyapar


Islam Mandates Abiding by the Peace Agreements

Sinem Tezyapar, Turkey

As a Muslim, I do not want there to be war, and I want no military operations against Palestinian Arabs. However, I also do not want Israeli citizens living under the threat of rockets or suicide bombers, and I do not want rockets falling onto their homes and school gardens either.

For me there is nothing justifiable about bloodshed. I stand opposed to the warmongers who see war as a game, to those who “benefit” from war and I stand opposed to anyone who sheds blood. I don’t discriminate among those who spill blood for what reason; I find it all wrong, I oppose whoever seeks solutions through violence.

I am not going to entertain the ceaseless debate of which side is right or wrong because for me both sides have their own reasons, excuses, wrongs and rights. But what is important is to stop this needless spilling of blood right away and permanently. Rather than taking one side and blindly blaming the other side, we must approach the matter with justice and work to overcome prejudice and educate people about their false beliefs and ideas so that we may stem the cycle of violence at its beginning.

This is such a sensitive issue that anyone personally hurt or otherwise effected might react to, but I feel the pain of both sides and since I am a Muslim, I have to clarify about some false ideas that have been taken for granted as “Islamic”. What goes between Israel and ‘Palestine’ is an artificial conflict and what is more it is against Islam from several points. Let me put a few of them forth very briefly:

Relations with Jews- Muslims are not at war with Jews. According to the Qur’an, Jews have a special status as ‘People of the Book’ and Muslims can establish good relations with them through marriage and the sharing of food. Kosher food is also lawful for Muslims to eat and permission has been given for Muslim men to marry Jewish women. So from an Islamic perspective, this shows that there can be no obstacle to living together and in harmony, and this is clear evidence that enable the formation of warm human relationships and tranquil togetherness between Jews and Muslims.

War only for self-defense- From an Islamic point of view, there can be only defensive war and war is only an unwanted obligation when one’s life, security and honor is under attack. Muslims do not attack, they can only defend themselves. War has to be inevitable at the point that one has to defend itself. Even if it is considered obligatory for self-defense, it has to be carried out with strict observance of humane and moral values. To put it in another way, God granted permission for war only for defensive purposes, and Muslims are warned against the use of unnecessary violence; “Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits.” (Qur’an, 2:190)

In another verse, God commands justice and warns Muslims against feeling rage toward enemies so that their judgments are not impaired: “You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness…” (Qur’an, 5:8) I don’t accept any kind of hatred between people but even at those times when they are not strong enough to overcome their anger, they still are responsible to be just.

Protecting peace- When there is a peace treaty, both sides should adhere to the peace agreement meticulously, and commit not to attack to each other. Especially for Muslims, after making a peace agreement, according to the Qur’an one has to watch out to protect it and abide by it. This the way according to the Qu’ran. God says; “If they incline to peace, you too incline to it…” (Qur’an, 8:61) In the case of the Palestine-Israel conflict, when one side fires rockets at the other side, the other side is fully entitled (and obligated) to protect its citizens. If there is a peace agreement, in times of peace launching rockets from Gaza is a violation of the Qur’an. When Hamas fires rockets, it’s not firing rockets only at Israel, but at its own people as well; Israel retaliates and it becomes inevitable that civilians, innocent children are severely effected by this. The same goes for Israel.

Protection of civilians- There is no justification in the Qur’an for killing innocent people. God says that this is like killing all mankind. (Qur’an, 5:32) It is a sin to target civilians or be reckless of their security during an attack. When Hamas launches rockets over Israel, there is no aim, no precise target, and thus these rockets fall sometimes on empty land but sometimes onto the homes of innocent Israeli civilians. It is a sin to take an innocent life, and it is also a sin to cause disorder, to panic people. Another important matter is that Islam absolutely forbids suicide attacks. God says; “Do not kill yourselves.” (Qur’an, 4:29) Consequently, killing oneself and killing other people are both prohibited in Islam.

The right to live in the Holy Land- It is against any conscience and above all against the Qur’an to tell Jews to go somewhere else. Jews have been expelled from Spain, they have been slaughtered in Europe and there has been enormous intimidation against them in many places all over the world. So where do they have to go? These lands are places that their forefathers lived. The graves of their grandfathers are on these lands. And it is confirmed by the Qur’an that Bnei Israel will be living in the Holy Land till the end of the world. God says; “And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.'” (Qur’an, 17:104) and the Prophet Moses (pbuh) says “O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously…” (Qur’an 5: 21) Thus, it is against the Qur’an to tell Jews to leave these lands; any Muslim who does so is in contradiction to the very Word of God Himself.

Let us not forget the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Jacob, the descendants of the prophets, are fighting one another. Both sides are Abraham’s children and surely the land is spacious enough for all. There is no real reason that we can’t coexist together. Let’s live together as brothers; dine together, have conversations together; let us pray side by side, Jews in synagogues, and Muslims in mosques. Let us adopt a language of peace, a language of love. This is easy! And there is no other way.

More about the author, in her own words:

Sinem Tezyapar is a political and religious commentator, peace activist and an Executive Producer at A9 TV, broadcasting from Istanbul. She is also the spokesperson of a prominent international interfaith organization, as well as its coordinator for international relations with political and religious leaders. She is working with interparlimentary and non governmental organizations for the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum for a Culture of Peace and Global Ethics.

As a devout Muslim, she denounces terrorism, anti-Semitism, and all kinds of violence. She is against radicalism, fanaticism, racism, bigotry and all atheistic and bloodthirsty ideologies. She defends the unity of all under belief in One God. She wants there to be faith, love, brotherhood and peace prevailing throughout the world, and stands ready to cooperate with like-minded people in accomplishing such goals.

She frequently talks about concepts like democracy, laity, freedom in Islam, global security, how to combat terrorism, radicalism, anti-Semitism and bigotry, Turkey’s role in the region, the problems of Jews and Christians in the Middle East, current relations between Israel and Turkey, the Iran-Israel conflict, the latest situation in the Middle East, the concerns of the Western world about Islam and Muslims in general.

She has been influential in setting up many meetings and conferences between religious and political leaders of Turkey and Israel including Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Deputy Minister Yitzhak Cohen, Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara, Knesset Member Nissim Zeev, Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar and others. She is a personal friend of many Israelis such as advisors, experts, academicians, religious leaders and politicians.

Some of the people she has arranged to be interviewed by A9 TV are:

Israeli Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara (Likud), Dr. Marina Solodkin (Israeli Knesset Member, Kadima), Rabbi Nissim Zeev (Israeli Knesset Member, Shas), Michele Marie Bachmann (Republican member of the United States House of Representatives), John Kyl (United States Senator), Congressman Steve Rothman, Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau (Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, former Chief Rabbi of Israel), Rav Dr. Izhak Dayan (Chief Rabbi of Geneva), Rabbi Abraham Cooper (Deputy Dean of Simon Wiesenthal Center), Ambassador Charles Ries (Former US Ambassador to Greece, Director, RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy), Aaron David Miller (Woodrow Wilson International Center), Douglas Johnston (Director of International Center for Religion & Diplomacy), Dr. Richard Hellman (Founder of CIPAC), Morton A. Klein (president of ZOA, The Zionist Organization of America), Dr. Ely Karmon (Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, and at the Institute for Policy and Strategy), Moshe Amirav (Former adviser to Israeli PM Ehud Barak), Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Former IDF Military Intelligence, Begin Sadat Center expert on Islam and Arabs), Prof. Avraham Diskin (Political adviser to Knesset), Prof. Moshe Maoz (Political adviser to Knesset), Dr. Gil Feiler (Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies), Prof. Charles Asher Small (Director of Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy), Seth Cropsey (Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute), Gershon Mesikha (Mayor of Shomron Regional Council), Prof. Hooshang Amirahmadi (President of the American Iranian Council) and many others.


Father Roy writes:   The article pasted below deserves a careful study.  What if the report is true?  Do you think it’s true?  Some folks are still asking where the faulty intelligence information about Iraq’s WMD program originated.  Richard Walker is the pen name of a former New York news producer.   Peace, Roy

Father Roy

Father Roy


Mossad Ploy to Frame Iran Almost Works

By Richard Walker

For the past decade, Israel has successfully manipulated media coverage of the Iran nuclear issue but its latest attempt to use the Associated Press (AP) to feed the world bogus information hit a brick wall.

AP was recently ridiculed by leading scientists for recklessly publishing a ridiculous diagram supposedly hacked from computers running Iran’s nuclear industry. It purported to show Iranian scientists had been running a test to calculate the energy that would be released by an atomic bomb. A prominent scientist who examined the diagram said it was hardly worthy of a graduate engineering student. He likened it to basic diagrams found on the Internet explaining the workings of common software.

It was not the first time documents of this kind have found their way to the media. Similar ones were produced in 2000. Each time they were discreetly fed to journalists by “unnamed diplomats,” which most intelligent observers knew to be the Mossad. In some instances intelligence sources from Israel’s allies, particularly Britain and the United States, were involved.

The latest attempt to use fake intelligence to shape international opinion in favor of an Israeli strike against Iran followed a familiar pattern. Information was fed to AP journalist George Jahn, no stranger to the dissemination of questionable intelligence about Iran.

In March 2012, Jahn broke a story that the Iranians were deliberately cleaning up the Parchin site near Tehran of any traces of nuclear weapons testing. According to Jahn’s sources, which he said were unnamed diplomats from a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program, satellite images confirmed the movement of trucks and the dumping of a considerable amount of soil.

Most experts agreed the satellite images came from the Mossad. AP, however, failed to emphasize Parchin was a well-known conventional weapons facility. Scientists who examined the satellite images agreed they failed to prove Parchin was a nuclear facility. It was suspected the Mossad leaked the story to cover all its options, because the spy agency had obtained classified intelligence that International Atomic Energy Agency experts planned to inspect the site.

In May 2012, Jahn and AP were back in the headlines. This time Jahn claimed there was intelligence confirming Iran had an underground chamber to test a nuclear trigger. He produced a drawing that his unnamed sources told him had been made by someone who had knowledge of the Iranian nuclear facility.

Professor Muhammad Sahimi, an expert in chemical engineering at the University of Southern California, was the first to blast the story and especially the drawing. He said the drawings looked like “standard cylindrical tanks [that] were used to store gas/oil or other types of fuel in rural areas such as Parchin.”

AP is not alone in enabling Israel to use bogus intelligence to shape international opinion, however. Most of the U.S. mainstream media has blindly published fake intelligence from Israeli sources for decades.

Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.


The speech of Khaled Meshal (leader of Hamas) to his adoring crowds in Gaza has caused a lot of controversy – not least amongst those of us who are seeking for a genuine and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine!

Uri Avnery (former Knesset member and founder of Gush Shalom) thinks that we should not take Meshal’s statement that all of Israel/Palestine “belongs to us” too seriously. It only mirrors statements being made by right-wing Zionists in Israel, he says, though he evidently does consider Meshal’s tirade rash and ill-considered.

Rabbi Michael Lerner thinks Avnery is not sufficiently disturbed by Meshal’s “murderous discourse” and believes that all of us working for peace need to be unequivocal in our condemnation of all such calls to arms.

Personally, I recall the one wise thing taught to me by my first Martial Arts instructor – that ‘your mouth can lie but your body can’t lie’.  This statement has a special relevance to young pugilists who say they want some gentle sparring but whose fists give away their real intent. It applies equally in international politics. We should always pay less attention to what the mouth is saying and focus on what the speaker is doing.

Netanyahu likes to speak of peace while he destroys any possibility of such a peace with his settlement expansion. Meshal speaks of war but has also said that he will accept a Palestinian state along pre-1967 borders. The two statements are not reconcilable. Let’s allow his body to speak for him over the coming weeks and months.

Father Dave

Khaled Meshaal

Khaled Meshaal

The Sea and the River

By Uri Avnery

December 15, 2012

“Palestine, from the Jordan to the Sea, belongs to us!” declared Khaled Meshal last week at the huge victory rally in Gaza.

“Eretz Israel, from the sea to the Jordan, belongs to us!” declare right-wing Israelis on every occasion.

The two statements seem to be the same, with only the name of the country changed.

But if you read them again carefully, there is a slight difference. The direction.

FROM THE sea to the river, from the river to the sea.

Therein lies much more significance than meets the eye. It shows how the speaker sees himself – coming from the East or from the West.

When one says “from the river to the sea”, one sees oneself as belonging to the extensive region known to Westerners as the “Middle East”, a vital part of the Asian continent. The term “Middle East” is, itself, a patronizing expression with colonial undertones – it suggests that the area has no independent standing. It exists only in relation to a far-away world center – Berlin? London? Washington?

When one says “from the sea to the river”, one sees oneself as coming from the West and living as a bridgehead of the West, facing a foreign, and probably hostile, continent.

In its long recorded history, going back many thousands of years, this country – whether Canaan, Palestine or Eretz Israel – has seen many waves of invaders who came to settle here.

Most of these waves came from the hinterland. Canaanites, Hebrews, Arabs, and many others came from the East. They settled here, mingled with the existing population and were soon absorbed, creating new mixtures and establishing natural relations with the neighboring countries. They fought wars, made peace, prospered, suffered in times of drought.

The ancient Israelite kingdoms (not the mythical ones of Saul, David and Solomon but the real historical ones of Ahab and his successors) were a natural part of this environment, as witnessed by contemporary Assyrian and other documents.

So were the Arab invaders of the 7th century. They settled among the locals. These very slowly converted from Christianity and Judaism to Islam, adopted the Arabic language and became “Arabs”, much as the Canaanites before them had become “Israelites”

QUITE DIFFERENT was the way of those invaders who came from the West.

There were three waves: the Philistines in antiquity, the Crusaders in the Middle Ages and the Zionists in modern times.

Coming from the West (even if, like the first Crusaders, overland)]  the invader sees the vast enemy continent before him. He clings to the shore, establishes a bridgehead and advances to enlarge it. Significantly, no “western” invader ever established borders – they advanced or retreated as their forces and circumstances decreed.

This historical picture applies, of course, only to those invaders who came and settled in the country. It does not concern the invading empires which just wanted to control the area. They came from all directions and moved on – Hittites and Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians, Persians and Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, Arabs and Mongols, Turks and British. (The Mongols came here after destroying Iraq, and were beaten decisively by the Muslim general Baybars, heir of Saladin, in one of the most decisive battles in history.)

Eastern Empires usually continued through Egypt to the West, turning North Africa into a Semitic sphere. Western Empires continued to the East, towards India.

Tutmosis, Cyrus, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon and many others came and passed on – but none of them left a lasting mark on the country.

LIKE THEIR predecessors coming from the West, the Zionists had a bridgehead mentality from the start, and have it to this day.

Indeed, they had it even before the Zionist movement was officially founded. In his canonical book, Der Judenstaat, Theodor Herzl, the visionary whose picture hangs in the Knesset plenum hall, wrote that the future Jewish State would form a part of the “wall against Asia”. It would serve as a “forward position of the culture against the barbarism”.

Not just culture, but The Culture. And not just barbarism, but The Barbarism. For a reader in the 1890s, these needed no explanation: Culture was white and European, Barbarism was everything else, whether brown, red, black or yellow.

In today’s Israel, five generations later, this mentality has not changed. Ehud Barak coined the phrase which reflects this mentality more clearly than any other: “We are a Villa in the Jungle”.

Villa: culture, civilization, order, the West, Europe. Jungle: barbarism, the Arab/Muslim world surrounding us, a place full of wild animals, where anything can happen at any moment.

This phrase is repeated endlessly and accepted by practically everyone. Politicians and army officers may replace it with ”the neighborhood” (“Shekhuna”). Daily examples: “In the neighborhood in which we live, we cannot relax for a moment!” Or: “In a neighborhood like ours we need the atom bomb!”

Moshe Dayan, who had a poetic streak, said two generations ago in the most important speech of his life: “We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and the cannon we cannot plant a tree and build a house…This is the fate of our generation, the choice of our life – to be prepared and armed, strong and tough, or otherwise the sword will slip from our fist and our life will be snuffed out.” In another speech, a few years later, Dayan clarified that he did not mean just one generation – but many to come, endlessly – the typical bridgehead mentality which knows no borders, neither in space nor in time.

(Just a personal remark: sixty-five years ago, a year before the foundation of Israel, I published a pamphlet which opened with the words: “When our Zionist fathers decided to set up a [national home in this country] they had the choice between two courses: They could appear [as] a bridgehead of the “white” race and the master of the “natives” [or] as the heirs of the Semitic political and cultural tradition [leading] the war of liberation of the Semitic peoples against European exploitation…”)

The difference between sea-to-river and river-to-sea is not just political, and far from superficial. It goes right to the roots of the conflict.

BACK TO Meshal. His speech was a reiteration of the most extreme Palestinian line. The same words could have been delivered seventy years ago by the then leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. It is the line that has played into the hands of the Zionists and condemned the Palestinian people to disaster, to untold suffering and to its present situation.

Part of the blame must go to the Arabic language. It is a beautiful tongue, and can easily intoxicate its speaker. Modern Arab history is full of wonderful orators, who got so drunk on their own words that they lost contact with reality.

I remember an occasion when the Egyptian president, Gamal Abd al-Nasser, an outstanding rhetorician and the idol of the Arab masses, was making a sensible speech about Egyptian affairs, when somebody in the crowd shouted: “Palestine, oh Gamal!” Nasser forgot what he was talking about and launched into a passionate exposition of the Palestinian cause, heating himself up more and more, until he was obviously in a kind of trance. It was the state of mind which led him into the Israeli trap in 1967. (Israeli politicians since Menachem Begin are, fortunately, very poor speakers, speaking very inferior Hebrew.)

One could say, of course, that Meshal’s speech before the masses was just a politician’s bid for popularity and does not really count – what counts is the very different positions he adopted behind the scenes in Egypt and Gaza. That might sound reasonable – but is not.

First, because speeches influence the speaker. It would be very difficult for him to extract himself now from the verbal trap he set up for himself, even if Arab listeners have learned to take grandiose speeches with a grain of salt.

Second, because extreme Arab speeches immediately become ammunition in the hands of Israeli extremists. They reinforce the general contention, also from  Ehud Barak, that “we have no partner for peace”. Meshal’s mirror image, Avigdor Lieberman, has already used this speech as his main weapon in repulsing the European condemnation of Netanyahu’s new destructive settlement project.

IN REALITY, Meshal is now more than ever ready for compromise (as was Nasser at the time he made the speech I mentioned.) He has indicated that while not ready to make peace with Israel himself, he would accept a peace agreement signed by Mahmoud Abbas and ratified in a Palestinian referendum. He also indicated that such a peace should be based on the 1967 borders. He knows, of course, that Abbas is ready for an “agreed” solution of the refugee problem – agreed, that is, by Israel. This means that only a symbolic number will be allowed to return to Israeli territory.

Trouble is, in his exciting public speech he said the very opposite, and worse. So did Nasser, and it killed him. So, for some time, did Yasser Arafat, until he saw the folly of this method. As, I think, will Khaled Meshal, in due time.

There is no escape from the simple truth that there will be two states between the river and the sea – as well as between the sea and the river.

Unless we want the whole country – sea to river, river to sea – to become one vast graveyard.

More Avnery articles online:…


Father Roy writes:  There’s an essay by Don Wagner in FOSNA’s mailing pasted below.  My allies and I are giving it the widest possible circulation on the Internet.

Don and I met in the Holy Land in April of 2004.  I was in Jerusalem attending Sabeel’s Fifth International Conference on Christian Zionism.  Don was one of the presenters.  It was at that conference that Sabeel offered the Church a viable Christian Alternative to Christian Zionism and Rapture Theology, which can be studied at one’s leisure:….

While at the conference I seized an opportunity to chat with Don and get to know him a little bit.  We discussed some of the things he wrote about in the essay pasted below:  “Witnessing History”.  We talked about the news that was current.  President Clinton had invited Benjamin Netanyahu and Yassir Arafat to Washington … at the same time … in another all-out attempt to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.  Clinton’s courageous efforts were suddenly thwarted when the Monica Leiwinski story broke.  Don and I commiserated and asked the right questions:  “Who recruited Monica?  Who trained her?”  Please read on. 

Cheers, Peace, Roy

Rev. Don Wagner

Rev. Don Wagner

Roots of Resistance: Witnessing History

by Rev. Dr. Don Wagner on December 14, 2012


Looking back from today’s vantage point leads one to affectionately remember the first Palestinian “Intifada” as “the good old days.” After all, it pre-dated the violent second Intifada, the Apartheid Wall, the disastrous Oslo Accords, and so much more. For me, the journey into the first Intifada began with my family’s arrival in Cyprus in mid-November, 1987, as I began a sabbatical that I assumed would be spent writing a book and volunteering for the Middle East Council of Churches.

As soon as we arrived at our apartment, the kids turned on the television and we were amazed (in the pre-cable and pre-satellite era) we could pick up stations from Jerusalem, Cairo, Amman, and Beirut. I was eager to see how these varied perspectives would cover the Arab Summit underway in Amman. The Egyptian station observed that when Yasser Arafat arrived at the Amman airport, there was no official delegation to meet him, a serious insult in the Arab world. Moreover, the issue of Palestine had fallen to the very bottom of the Summit agenda. That’s the way it was in November, 1987.

Everything changed on December 8th when a truck ploughed into a group of poor Palestinian labourers, who had lined up for menial day-jobs in Israel. Most Palestinians believed this was a deliberate act of revenge after an Israeli was stabbed two days earlier. It was actually the spark that unleashed pent up anger that was channelled into tremendous creativity after twenty-two years of military occupation. Immediately, massive demonstrations erupted across the Gaza Strip and spread immediately to East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel responded with the usual brutal force, sending the Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF, which was trained for military combat), to attack small and large demonstrations comprised mainly of youth throwing stones. As the casualty rates mounted among the Palestinians, the western media parroted the familiar Israeli narratives that pitted the tiny Jewish State defending itself against the violent Arab masses. By late December, the MECC decided to send me to the Palestinian territories for the month of January to assess how they might respond.

Arriving in East Jerusalem, one could see and feel how the air itself seemed to breathe a new spirit of confidence and defiance. IDF patrols seemed to be everywhere but they were regularly confronted by the “Shebab,” groups of young men and occasionally women, who seemed utterly fearless. The “Intifada” was beginning to capture the imagination of most Palestinian factions, religious communities, and I sensed an emerging unity that had not been evident in my ten years of regular visits.

The contagious energy generated by the “Intifada” was guided, at least in part, by an anonymous, underground leadership. It took several weeks for the PLO hierarchy in Tunis to catch up with events. The underground leadership issued “bayans”, or directives at least weekly. I recall having my morning coffee with friends and discussing the new “bayan” that was slid under the door or posted on the windshield in the middle of the night. Multiple strategies were spelled out, including boycotting all Israeli products, organizing local relief committees, marches commemorating an important date in Palestinian history, tax revolts, and rotating store closures. Like clockwork, Jerusalem merchants might be told to close their doors at noon, Bethlehem at 1 pm, Ramallah at 2 pm, etc. If shopkeepers did not comply, the “shabab” would pay them a visit.

But there was a dark side as well. Casualties mounted and the “shabab” carried the brunt of the IDF abuse, with exceedingly high numbers who were martyred or seriously wounded. When Israeli Defense Minister Itzhak Rabin called for “beatings and the breaking of bones,” the “Shabab” were the main targets. Shortly after Rabin’s declaration, the Red Cross and Red Crescent documented the case was of three young men who were buried alive by the IDF after a demonstration in Jericho, supposedly as a warning to future protestors.

A meeting with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Director of the Union of Medical Relief Committees, revealed another important dimension of the first “Intifada.” Barghouti described the Medical Relief Committees that were being organized not only in cities but in all refugee camps and remote villages. Their primary role was to provide medicine, food, and humanitarian services to those in need. Over 1000 medical professionals volunteered their services, including over 300 trained physicians. Mobile clinics were sent out to replenish the medicine and when requested, medical teams were deployed with nurses and physicians. The Local Relief Committees were a vital component of the grass-roots mobilization and support of the “Intifada. “

After two weeks in the West Bank, we drove down to the Gaza Strip where the energy and level of organization was equally impressive. I was staying with a human rights field-worker from Jabaliyeh refugee camp who drove me around crowded refugee camps and cities in the northern part of the Strip. Small bands of youth seemed to rise up throughout the crowded streets, confronting the IDF patrols a barrage of rocks or taunting them by flying kites with the colors of the Palestinian flag-which were illegal according to military regulations. The youth were chased or attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets (steel ball-bearings covered by rubber). They were fearless in their provocative games of confrontation and retreat. Again, the sobering aspect included visits with wounded young men, teen-agers, and children 12 and under in Shifa and Ahli hospitals. Upon arriving at Ahli Hospital, we saw my friend Dr. Swee Ang, all 4’11” of her, chasing three IDF soldiers out of the operating wing where they attempted to seize a young boy who was about to undergo surgery. Dr. Swee had served in the refugee camps during the Sabra/Shatila massacre and wasn’t about to put up with the IDF behavior. Returning from Shifa Hospital, we passed several IDF patrols and noticed a demonstration in front of a new mosque. Strangely, the IDF patrols completely ignored the protest. I asked my host why this was the case and he said: “Oh, it’s a new Muslim group called Hamas, and we suspect there might be some connection between them and Israel.”

Returning to Jerusalem, I met with Faisel Husseini and his staff at Orient House in East Jerusalem. Faisel was recognized as a key leader in the Jerusalem district and had gained the respect of all the factions. I was impressed with his vision for a disciplined, sustained, non-violent movement that needed the support of the international community. Faisel and I had signed an agreement a year earlier between his Palestine Information Center and our Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the U.S. He had hired and trained eight human rights field workers who were deployed throughout Palestine, and directed by Dr. Jan Abu-Shakrah in Jerusalem. Our Chicago office, directed by Dr. Louise Cainkar, received and organized the reports, sometimes daily, on the dead, wounded, and of the extensive human rights violations. Their work became a staple of reliable information for a broad network of journalists, academics, attorneys, human rights organizations, and NGOs.

In retrospect, there are many legacies of the first Intifada that might be mentioned, but let me highlight two. The first observation is the power of organized, persistent, non-violent resistance. The 2004 call by Palestinian civil society to employ boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, including humanitarian flotillas and other creative challenges to Israeli power appears to be gaining momentum throughout Europe and North America. As more campus organizations, church bodies, and secular movements take up the call to boycott products made in Israeli settlements and move toward divestment, a movement for justice in Palestine is emerging. Organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, American Muslims for Palestine, and Students for Justice in Palestine, are beginning to cooperate using grass-roots organizing around these non-violent campaigns. In time, Israel will feel the pressure if the movement can expand significantly.

A second observation is the absolute importance of unifying our efforts on peace and justice. The unity of Palestinian factions, classes, and popular organizations broke down at points but was sustained for over four years. We are beginning to see some modest signs of unity emerging among secular and faith based groups, however embryonic it may be. If a broad based movement can be organized and sustained in North America and Europe, not only would it be a first, but it could have a far reaching impact.

A final lesson from the first Intifada was how it ended. The first Intifada forced Israel and the international community to the negotiating table. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership was seduced by the illusion of peace and the false promises of the Oslo Accords. The power of grass-roots resistance was lost, perhaps in part by four to five years of exhausting sacrifice, but also because everyone’s hopes shifted to support the negotiations. Perhaps the lesson here is to remain suspicious of negotiations, expect little, and keep the pressure on both Israel and the leadership, both in Palestine and globally. Perhaps there is no better component for a just peace than a unified and sustained grass roots international justice movement for justice in Palestine, both inside the Palestinian territories, one day within Israel, and globally, with no let up until there is a sovereign Palestinian state.

About Rev. Dr. Don Wagner

Rev. Dr. Don Wagner is the National Program Director for Friends of Sabeel-North America; was a Professor at North Park U from 1995-2010; National Dir. for the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the 1980s; ordained Presbyterian minister and active with Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian church. He is the author of four books, including Anxious for Armageddon (on Christian Zionism) and Dying in the Land of Promise: Palestine and Palestinian Christianity from Pentecost-2000.