map of israel and palestine


Father Roy writes:   I’ve done no highlighting in the article pasted below due to the sensitivity of the subject matter.  However, I invite your attention to Burston’s opening sentence (beneath the picture of the Jews who are demonstrating) and his two concluding paragraphs.   Peace, Roy

Will 2013 be the year American Jews secede from Israel?

If American Jews think that what is being done in their name is self-destructive, oppressive, blockheaded and wrong, it stands to reason they would want it to stop.

by Bradley Burston

One day in the future, when it all comes horribly down, will Israelis finally realize that there were warning signs all along?

More to the point of the ultimate survival of Israel, could it be that when the real alarm sounds, when the genuine danger impends, Israelis won’t hear a thing?

The answers may lie in how Israelis react to the canary in the coal mine, their forward recon unit in the world, the American Jewish community.

In fact, as the new year dawns, there are mounting signs that 2013 may be the year in which U.S. Jews – in the main, liberal in outlook, committed to tolerance, pluralism, and a vigorous, sincere pursuit of peace – effectively secede from this state of Israel.

They remain committed to supporting the existence of an Israel which balances Israeli and Jewish culture with respect for minority rights, democratic values. They will stay active in promoting the welfare of Israel’s disadvantaged.

But many American Jews are already distancing themselves in word and deed from a government it sees as arrogant and short-sighted, enslaved to a runaway train of settlement, dismissive of the rights of Palestinians and other non-Jews, cold to the concerns of a sinking middle class and the drowning disadvantaged, contemptuous of the concerns of the larger Jewish world.

The catalysts: settlement expansion – especially as it strikes at Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects and mocks Washington – and backhanded insensitivity to the rights and ritual of non-Orthodox Jews.

In recent weeks, some of Israel’s most influential defenders in the States have warned of hardline Israeli policies and parties which could lead "to the destruction (the self-destruction) of Israel" (Jeffrey Goldberg), and "national suicide" (Thomas Friedman).

Israeli leaders lent them not so much as a deaf ear. Nothing.

Read the full article here:…


According to the following article in today’s Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has publicly confirmed that he still supports the idea of a ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict, along the lines spelled out in his Bar-Ilan speech of 2009.

Apparently others within the ranks have been saying publicly that Netanyahu’s  Bar-Ilan speech had been “tactical” and directed to international ears (in other words, that it was a blatant lie). This latest statement is designed both to salvage Netanyahu’s reputation for honesty and his international standing as a man of peace.

But when we look at the details of the Bar-Ilan proposal, it’s a little difficult to distinguish between Netanyahu’s concept of a Palestinian state and no state. The requirements he spelled out then included:

  • That the Palestinian state be allowed no military
  • That Israel must retain control of all its borders
  • That no portion of Jerusalem be a part of this new state

Such an entity could hardly be considered a ‘sovereign state’ and Netanyahu knows full well that this form of ‘statehood’ is something that the Palestinians will never accept.

So perhaps Netanyahu’s rivals in the Likud party are simply being more honest? They are not interested in a Palestinian state and they don’t pretend to be.  Perhaps their rise to power will (ironically) hasten the day of peace?

Father Dave

Father Dave

Father Dave


PM reiterates support for demilitarized ‘Palestine’

12/31/2012 21:32

Contrary to claims by top Likud candidates, Netanyahu stands behind his words in Bar-Ilan speech, spokesman says.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stands by his support for a Palestinian state under the conditions described in his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, despite claims to the contrary by other Likud Beytenu candidates, a spokesman for the joint election list said on Monday.

The Likud-Yisrael Beytenu slate does not have a platform, and several candidates have spoken out recently against Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution.

“A Palestinian state will be established when the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, will declare the end of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict and only if arrangements ensuring the security of Israeli citizens are made,” the Likud Beytenu spokesman stated.

Netanyahu, according to the spokesman, does not see a Palestinian state at the top of his agenda, with Hamas ruling Gaza and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas working with Hamas and taking unilateral actions. The prime minister’s priority, he said, is to lead Israel while it is faced with a growing Hamas and the Iranian threat.

“The Left brought up questions [about Palestinian statehood] because they are ignoring the true, immediate threats of what is happening around us in the Middle East,” he added.

The comments came a day after President Shimon Peres, addressing Israeli ambassadors gathered in Jerusalem, called Abbas a “partner for peace” and argued that there is no alternative to the two-state solution.

In response, Likud Beytenu blasted Peres as being disconnected from public opinion.

“A Palestinian state would not only fail to bring peace and stability to the region, but would increase the tension and usher in permanent instability,” Yair Shamir, fourth on the Likud Beytenu list, said on Monday.

“The long and determined effort by Israeli leaders to promote a Palestinian state and to soften the Palestinian Authority’s harsh features cannot change the fact that a Palestinian state would add fuel to the fire of terrorism in the region,” Shamir added. “We must remove the idea of a Palestinian state in our area from the Israeli agenda immediately if not sooner.”

read the complete article here:…


The results of these polls surprised me. I wonder if they surprised the Israeli government?

The significance of these results is not simply that most Israelis support a two-state solution (which has always been the case) but that most of those at the extreme right do too! This certainly illustrates a growing gap between the Israeli government and its citizens – a pattern reflected in other recent polls that showed that the majority of Israeli voters simply don’t trust any of their political leaders (see here)!

A two-state solution is simply not on the agenda of Mr Netanyahu at the moment, and with his government almost certain to be returned in the upcoming election, he is not displaying any indications that he is about to change his stance. On the contrary, the growing power and influence of Lieberman and his allies suggests that his government will become increasingly hardened in its opposition to any Palestinian State.

Father Dave

Father Dave

Father Dave


Poll: Most right-wing Israelis would support Palestinian state, division of Jerusalem

The principles of the agreement as presented to respondents were for two states – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country.


Two opinion surveys conducted by different Israeli pollsters in December show that most Likud-Beiteinu and the further-right Habayit Hayehudi voters would support a peace agreement establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, Israel’s retention of major settlement blocs and a division of Jerusalem. The two polls also revealed that two thirds of all Israelis support such an agreement.

The principles of the agreement as presented to respondents were for two states – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country. The Palestinian state would be demilitarized and its boundaries would be based on the 1967 lines with exchanges of equal-sized territory. Those exchanges would take into consideration Israel’s security needs and would retain the large settlement blocs in Israeli hands.

Another principle presented by the pollsters was that Jewish Jerusalem would be under Israeli sovereignty and the Arab neighborhoods would be under Palestinian sovereignty. The Old City would be under neither side’s sovereignty, but rather would be administered jointly by Israel, the Palestinians and the United States. The holy places would remain under religious sovereignty as they are now.

The responses of Likud-Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi voters to the two surveys were surprising. The Dahaf poll showed 57 percent of the voters of these two parties as supporting such an agreement, with 25 percent opposed. Rafi Smith’s poll showed 58 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed. Among Habayit Hayehudi respondents to the Dahaf poll, 53 percent said they would support such an agreement and 43 percent said they would not.

When it came to the general public, Mina Tzemach’s poll revealed that 67 percent supported such an agreement and 21 percent opposed it, while Rafi Smith’s poll showed 68 percent in favor and 25 percent against. The surveys found that the general public’s support for the agreement rose to 75 percent (Dahaf ) and 80 percent (Rafi Smith ) when augmented by various other “improvements” such as a defense alliance with the United Sates, disarmament of Hamas and an end to its rule in Gaza, and Arab states’ willingness to enact full diplomatic relations with Israel.

read full article here:…


Father Roy writes:   The following report was published in today’s Jerusalem Post.  Why would the US be pressuring the Arab countries not to provide the promised financial aid to the Palestinians?  One can speculate.  Perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a unilateral attack on Iran … or Syria or Lebanon or somebody … if Israel’s “security” is put in jeopardy.  One thing is certain.  The illegal settlements-building continues. 

Israel’s elections on January 22 will reveal the kind of leadership the people of Israeli want in the future.  One wonders whether the highly-organized World Jewish Community will attempt to influence the elections.  As the crisis in the Holy Land develops, UN officials stress the urgency of the situation.  Many of us fear another resurgence of anti-Semitism at the grassroots level.  

Peace, Roy  

Father Roy

Father Roy


PA official: US pressuring Arab FMs not to visit Ramallah


12/29/2012 16:41

Arab League Secretary-General visits Ramallah for the first time while four foreign ministers cancel visit at last minute; PLO official says US, Israel pressure Arab countries not to provide financial aid to the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Saturday accused the US of putting pressure on Arab foreign ministers not to visit Ramallah.

The accusation came as Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby arrived in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This was the first visit to the West Bank by an Arab League secretary-general.

Four Arab foreign ministers who were supposed to accompany Elaraby backtracked in the last minute.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amru was the only minister to accompany the Arab League chief on his visit to Ramallah.

PLO executive member Wasel Abu Yusef told reporters that the US Administration was behind the cancellation of the four Arab ministers’ visit to the West Bank.

“The Americans prevented the Arab foreign ministers from visiting Ramallah,” Abu Yusef charged.

Some of the ministers who called off their visit claimed that they did not want to pass through IDF checkpoints on their way to Ramallah.

But Elaraby and the Egyptian foreign minister arrived in Ramallah aboard a Jordanian helicopter, which landed in the Mukata presidential compound.

Abu Yusef and other Palestinian officials also accused the US of exerting pressure on the Arab countries not to provide the Palestinians with financial aid.

“The US and Israel are imposing an economic blockade on the Palestinian State and are preventing the Arab countries and Western donors from providing Palestinians with financial aid,” he added.

“Unfortunately, these countries have succumbed to the pressure, further intensifying the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”

Abu Yusef, who is also head of the Palestinian group Arab Liberation Front, accused the US and Israel of waging war on the Palestinians following last month’s UN vote in favor of enhancing the status of a Palestinian state.

Elaraby said after the meeting with Abbas that the Arab countries have yet to fulfill their promise to give the Palestinians $100m. per month to solve its severe financial crisis.

He said that the Arab League would hold “consultations” with its members to ensure that they meet their commitment toward the Palestinians.

“We must admit that Palestine needs material and political support,” Elaraby said. “The Palestinian Authority can’t manage its affairs without financial support.”


We are grateful to The Institute for Middle East Understanding for this comprehensive list of facts and figures on Christians in the Holy Land. The facts speak for themselves. Despite all rhetoric to the contrary, the Israeli government continues to push forward with its program of ethnic cleansing!



  • Today, there are roughly 200,000 Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, descendants of some of the oldest Christian communities in the world.

  • The majority of Palestinian Christians are Greek Orthodox, with smaller numbers of Roman Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Copts, Episcopalians, Ethiopian Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Lutherans, Maronites, Syrian Orthodox, and several other Protestant denominations.

  • There are no official figures on the number of Palestinian Christians in the occupied territories, but according to the Lutheran ecumenical institution the Diyar Consortium there are 51,710 Christians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. They are concentrated mainly in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, and Bethlehem.

  • Christians comprise roughly 2% of the population of the West Bank, while Gaza’s estimated 3,000 Christians account for less than 1% of the coastal enclave’s population. While Gaza’s Christian population has remained steady in recent years, the number of Christians in the West Bank has continued to dwindle as many emigrate as a result of the difficulties of living under Israeli military occupation. Lower birthrates for Christians have also contributed to their shrinking percentage of the population.

  • According to Israeli government figures, as of 2009 there were about 154,000 Christian citizens of Israel, or about 2.1% of the population. Of those, approximately 80% are Palestinian Arabs, including 44,000 Roman Catholics, while the rest are non-Arab immigrants, mostly spouses of Jews who came from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.


  • The number of violent attacks by Jewish settlers against Palestinians, including Christians, and their property has risen by about 150% each year since 2008, with 154 attacks in the first half of 2012, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

  • In recent years, settlers have begun so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinians in response to Israeli government actions that displease them, such as the dismantling of settlement “outposts” (nascent settlements built without official approval from Israeli authorities). Often, such attacks take the form of vandalism and desecration of Muslim and Christian holy sites, including a string of arson attacks against mosques in the West Bank and Israel.

  • In December 2012, Jewish extremists vandalized the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem for the second time, painting “Death to Christianity,” “Jesus, son of a whore,” and “price tag” on its walls and slashing tires on cars in its parking lot.

  • In October 2012, the St. George Romanian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem was vandalized, its door damaged and garbage dumped in its entrance. It was at least the third act of vandalism against a Christian holy site in the previous five weeks. A week before the Romanian Church was attacked, vandals spray-painted “Jesus is a bastard” and “price tag” on the Franciscan convent on Mount Zion.

  • In September 2012, attackers set fire to the door of the Latrun Monastery in Jerusalem. Believed to be a “price tag” attack, the arson took place a week after the Israeli government evacuated settlers from the Migron settlement “outpost” in the West Bank.

  • In February 2012, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that over the previous two months, vandals had attacked two churches and a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion. In the attacks on the churches, the perpetrators spray-painted “Jesus is dead,” “Death to Christianity,” and “Mary was a prostitute” on the walls. One of the churches, the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation in Jerusalem, was previously the target of arson attacks in 2007 and 1982.

  • In November 2011, Haaretz reported that ultra-Orthodox Jews were cursing and spitting at Christian clergy in the streets of the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem “as a matter of routine.” The chief secretary of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate stated: “It happens a lot. You walk down the street and suddenly they spit at you for no reason.” A student at the city’s Armenian Seminary complained that he was subjected to insults and spitting from ultra-Orthodox men on a daily basis, stating: “When I see an ultra-Orthodox man coming toward me in the street, I always ask myself if he will spit at me.” According to a separate Haaretz article published in February 2012, spitting incidents were so prevalent that some priests had stopped visiting certain parts of the Old City.

  • In June 2012, Dan Halutz, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, which as an occupying military force is ultimately responsible for security in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, said that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t really interested in stopping the perpetrators of “price tag” attacks, stating: If we wanted, we could catch them and when we want to, we will.”

  • In March 2012, the Guardian newspaper reported that senior European Union officials had drafted a confidential report concluding that Jewish settlers are engaged in a systematic and growing campaign of violence against Palestinians and that “settler violence enjoys the tacit support of the state of Israel.”


  • Christian Palestinians who are citizens of Israel suffer from the same widespread official and unofficial discrimination that other non-Jews do, in everything from land ownership and housing to employment and family reunification rights.

  • There are more than 30 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, directly or indirectly, based solely on their ethnicity, rendering them second- or third-class citizens in their own homeland.

  • 93% of the land in Israel is owned either by the state or by quasi-governmental agencies, such as the Jewish National Fund, that discriminate against non-Jews. Palestinian citizens of Israel, including Christians, face significant legal obstacles in gaining access to this land for agriculture, residence, or commercial development.

  • In November 2010, the influential chief rabbi of the city of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, issued a ruling forbidding Jews from renting property to Gentiles. The following month, some 50 other municipal chief rabbis, also on the government payroll, signed a letter supporting Eliyahu and his decree. One of the signatories, Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, head of the Ashdod Yeshiva religious school, stated, “Racism originated in the Torah… The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel.”

  • In October 2010, the Knesset approved a bill allowing smaller Israeli towns to reject residents who do not suit “the community’s fundamental outlook” based on sex, religion, and socioeconomic status. Human rights groupscriticized the move as an attempt to allow Jewish towns to keep Arabs and other non-Jews out.

  • The US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2009 noted, “While well-known [religious] sites have de facto protection as a result of their international importance, many Muslim and Christian sites are neglected, inaccessible, or threatened by property developers and municipalities.”

  • In the occupied territories, Palestinian Christians suffer from the same restrictions, including on movement, applied to all Palestinians living under Israel’s 45-year-old military rule. These restrictions do not apply to the more than 500,000 Jewish settlers living in illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

  • According to the US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2007: “The Israeli Government gives preferential treatment to Jewish residents of the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, when granting permits for home building and civic services.”


  • Although Israeli officials frequently claim that Palestinian Christians and Muslims have free access to their holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem and other areas under Israeli control, in reality Israeli restrictions make it difficult or impossible for most Palestinians in the occupied territories to worship freely.

  • Since 1993, Palestinians living in the in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have been forbidden by Israel to enter occupied East Jerusalem without a difficult to obtain permit. As a result, millions of Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in the West Bank and Gaza are prevented from accessing their holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.

  • In April 2011, 15,000 Christian Palestinians applied for a permit to enter occupied East Jerusalem to worship at Old City holy sites for Easter, but Israel only granted approximately 2,500 of them.

  • According to the US State Department 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom, published in July 2012:

‘Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

‘Reports of Christian clergy, nuns, and other religious workers unable to secure residency or work permits increased during the year. Christian advocates claimed that the difficulty of obtaining permits gradually worsened in the last 10 years. Israeli authorities continued to limit visas for Arab Christian clergy serving in the West Bank or Jerusalem to single-entry visas, complicating clergy travel, particularly to areas under their pastoral authority outside the West Bank or Jerusalem. This disrupted their work and caused financial difficulties for their sponsoring religious organizations.

‘Separately Israel generally prohibited entry into Gaza by Arab Christian clergy, including bishops and other senior clergy to visit congregations or ministries under their pastoral authority.

‘The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier.’


  • There are currently 22 Israeli settlements built on land belonging to Bethlehem, the city where Christians believe Jesus was born, including Nokdim, where recently resigned Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives. They surround the city and, along with Israel’s wall, isolate it from Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

  • In and around Bethlehem there are some 32 physical barriers to Palestinian movement erected by Israel, including checkpoints, roadblocks, dirt mounds, and gates. As with other Israeli restrictions on movement in the West Bank, Israeli Jews are allowed to bypass them freely.

  • Historically, Jerusalem has been the religious, economic, and cultural center of Palestinian life in the West Bank. Since occupying and illegally annexing the eastern half of the city in 1967, Israel has attempted to separate and isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank by building a ring of settlements around its outskirts. As in the case of Bethlehem, this ring of settlements has been reinforced by the wall Israel is constructing, which also separates Israeli settlements in and near East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

  • According to the 2009 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report: “Many of the national and municipal policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.”

  • According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem: “Since East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967, the government of Israel’s primary goal in Jerusalem has been to create a demographic and geographic situation that will thwart any future attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty over the city. To achieve this goal, the government has been taking actions to increase the number of Jews, and reduce the number of Palestinians, living in the city.”

  • In December 2012, the Israeli government announced that it had advanced plans for settlement construction in the so-called E-1 corridor of East Jerusalem, prompting international condemnation, including from the United States, which has long-pressured Israel not to build in E-1. If completed, Israel’s plans for E-1 would effectively sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and cement the division of the West Bank into separate cantons, making the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories all but impossible.

(See here for a map of Israeli settlements around East Jerusalem and the E-1 plan. See here for a map of settlements surrounding Bethlehem.)