Posts made in February, 2016

In Iran Cardinal Turkson Calls for Cooperation Between Muslims and Christians

Posted on Feb 23, 2016

Pope Francis shakes hands with Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, during a meeting with council members at the Vatican June 16. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

by Damian Howard, S.J.

(America Magazine the National Catholic Weekly) February 6, 2015 – Cardinal Peter Turkson has used a conference address in Iran to call for Muslims and Christians to collaborate in promoting justice and peace. The Ghanaian cardinal, who is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was on a short visit to the city of Qom, renowned in the Muslim world as a centre of Shi‘a scholarship. His intervention came as one of a series of speeches given in a conference at the A’emmeye Athar Center for Jurisprudence Studies on the role of “revealed religions” in the modern world.

The comments come at a time when the influence of Shi‘a Muslims, who represent some ten percent of worldwide Islam, is palpably on the rise. Iran, a country which has been ruled for nearly four decades by a regime based on a distinctly revolutionary form of Shi‘ism, has only just been welcomed back into the community of nations after a period of isolation and is striving to make the most of its new status. Dialogue with the Holy See has been taking place for a number of years but the recent meeting of Pope Francis with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican is widely perceived as reflecting a desire to strengthen ties between the Catholic Church and the Shi‘a world.

Read More

Commission for Justice and Peace: New Vision

Posted on Feb 22, 2016

Statement issued by Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

February 18, 2016 – The Commission for Justice and Peace met in its ordinary meeting on February 3, 2016, in Jerusalem, and reflected on the present political situation. It reflected on the human and ethical aspects, and addressed the following message.

The situation is stagnant and lifeless, with no light of hope, not for the Israelis who need security and tranquility, neither for the Palestinians who wait for the end of the Occupation, and an independent state.

The present situation for the Palestinians is inhuman. It is settlers who occupy, day after day, Palestinian land. It is the siege of Gaza for years already. One and a half million under a siege of poverty, misery and humiliation. It is also siege for the rest of Palestine and diverse hardships, political, economical and social. It is demolishing of homes. It is military check-points and the arbitrary behavior of Israeli soldiers humiliating the Palestinian. These check-points are a place of humiliation which is constructed uniquely on the logic of war, a place that magnifies hatred and death daily. It is the siege of Jerusalem and the Judaization of the city, the sending away of its Palestinian inhabitants. It is the all-inclusive accusation of terrorism against all Palestinians and the collective punishment that results from it. Today the situation has become a new Intifada in which Palestinians plunge to their death out of despair caused by a life full of frustration, humiliation and insecurity, with no hope at all.

Is Israeli society satisfied with this situation? Is it satisfied with this life in the shadow of continuing hostility with the Palestinian people?

Read More

Maryknoll: The Status Quo Is Unacceptable

Posted on Feb 22, 2016

151210 Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

February 11, 2016 – The civilian suffering of the almost two million people of Gaza, especially the women, children and aged due to the Israeli blockade, seems to be forgotten in the Israeli, U.S. and world media. Gaza is identified with Hamas rather than with its oppressed population and the situation continues to deteriorate. The two-state solution has failed as a possibility due to settlement activity and political opposition in Israel and the U.S. The status quo while acceptable to the Israel government is a source of hopelessness for the Palestinian people especially the young. The policies of the Israeli Government towards the Palestinians in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza continue to lose international support, and the support of younger Jews in the U.S.

Read More

The Occupation Goes Missing from The NY Times

Posted on Feb 22, 2016

by Barbara Erickson

February 8, 2016 – The occupation went missing from The New York Times this past week. Palestinians were there, as victims and attackers, but the brutal military regime that controls their lives made no appearance.

The newspaper had plenty to say about Israeli Jewish life, however: two lengthy stories about prayer space at the Western Wall and one discussing Zionism. Each of these stories ran over a thousand words.

Two shorter news articles reported that the murderers of a Palestinian teen had been sentenced to prison and that a knife attack left one Israeli police officer dead, but nothing in either of these provided the context crucial to understanding events in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, as the Times obsesses over Israeli identity and attitudes, the occupation grinds on, producing news that appears elsewhere. At the top of the list were two major stories: A Palestinian prisoner was near death after passing his 75th day on hunger strike, and Israeli forces carried out a massive demolition of over 20 homes, rendering more than 100 Palestinians homeless in the dead of winter.

Read More

“The Wanted 18″

Posted on Feb 22, 2016

A documentary mooovie by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan about the “terrorist” cows of Beit Sahour (CANADA/PALESTINE/FRANCE, 2014)

The Wanted 18 is an animated documentary film. Directed by Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan. Produced by Saed Andoni, Ina Fichman, Dom Barneaud. How did a herd of 18 cows defy the Middle East’s most powerful army?

Poignant and thought-provoking, humorous and serious, it shows the power of grassroots activism, peaceful resistance and courage in a part of the world that is fraught with negative imagery and despair.

It’s 1987, and the first Palestinian popular movement in the West Bank is rising. Residents want local alternatives to Israeli goods, including milk, which they’ve been buying from an Israeli company. And so begins the strange story of the 18 cows.

Read More

How Palestine plans to shift its media strategy

Posted on Feb 22, 2016

The new head of Palestinian communications Jamal Dajani (R) speaks with 24 FM Radio in Ramallah, Jan. 27, 2016. (photo by FACEBOOK/Jamal Daja

The new head of Palestinian communications Jamal Dajani (R) speaks with 24 FM Radio in Ramallah, Jan. 27, 2016. (photo by FACEBOOK/Jamal Dajani)

I do care deeply about freedom of expression. Palestinian journalists, like in any other society, have the right to demand more of their government, but they also need to adhere to journalistic ethical standards. You can’t come from the media world and not care about freedom of expression. –Jamal Dajani, speaking about Palestinian press freedom

(http://www.al-monitor.com) February 10, 2016 – You would expect the holder of the title “director of strategic communications and English-language spokesman” to talk about how to woo The New York Times or how to convince the BBC for positive write-ups about Palestine. But while Jamal Dajani — appointed Jan. 26 as new media guru for Palestine’s prime minister — is deeply interested in how the Palestinian narrative is reflected internationally, his first priority is working with the local media. For him, the first task in representing a politician is to communicate with the local constituency.

Read More

Hisham and Mounis: from besieged Gaza to US immigration jail

Posted on Feb 21, 2016

by Leila Abdelrazaq

All of the dialogue in the short comic below was derived either from conversations I had with Hisham and Mounis during December 2015 at the prison in Florence, Arizona, or from the writings and interviews contained in their case files. Though I sometimes paraphrased things they said or created composites of several different quotations, I did my best not to put words in their mouths, both literally and figuratively. This is their story, in their own words (with some of my commentary).

Hisham and Mounis are still fighting for their freedom in the Florence SPC (Service and Processing Center) in Arizona. They are each being held on $9,000 bond, and two lawyers from the Tucson office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations have recently taken on their cases.

Read More

Christian Peacemakers converse with an Israeli soldier

Posted on Feb 20, 2016

Christian Peacemakers converse with an Israeli soldier  (Photo: Christian Peacemaker Team)

Christian Peacemakers converse with an Israeli soldier (Photo: Christian Peacemaker Team)

(Christian Peacemaker Team) Hebron, February 7, 2016

He asked   –      “Where do you live?”
We replied –     “The old city.”
He asked –        “I mean, where are you from?
We replied –     “The U.S.” and “Ireland”.

He was small, with a tiny face and deep brown eyes that twinkled in the street lights at the checkpoint.

He asked –        “What do you think of the situation here?”
I replied  –        “Will you arrest me if I tell you honestly?”
He replied  –     “No, I won’t arrest you.”
I replied –         “Your presence here with checkpoints is humiliating the Palestinians.”

His body language intimated that I had a point, and as his partner attempted to try to defend or to justify the occupation with its checkpoints, he gently cut him off and said –

“From their perspective, she has a point.”

Read More

What happens when an anti-Zionist rabbi visits Israel?

Posted on Feb 20, 2016

On a rare visit to Israel, the anti-Zionist Satmar Rabbi distributed money to ultra-Orthodox institutions that refuse to receive state funding.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys hold flags during a rally organized to welcome Rabbi Yekusiel Leib Teitelbaum, in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, Jan. 20, 2013.   (photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys hold flags during a rally organized to welcome Rabbi Yekusiel Leib Teitelbaum, in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, Jan. 20, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

by Mordechai Goldman*

(http://www.al-monitor.com) – Thousands of Hasidim arrived at the Brooklyn home of the Satmar grand rabbi, Rabbi Yekusiel Leib Teitelbaum, on Jan. 31 before he departed for his second visit as grand rabbi to Israel. Officially, the visit was to celebrate the bris (Jewish male circumcision ceremony) of his grandson, the son of his son who serves as a rabbi in Israel. But from the balcony of his home, the grand rabbi presented his followers with several other goals for his trip. He defined the visit as an effort “whose essence is to help the Torah institutions in the Holy Land that do not receive funding from the Zionist state.” One of the synagogue managers who officiated at the event added, “Our rabbi is going to strengthen the God-fearing institutions and people in Israel, who have not knelt to Baal and have not prostrated to the golden calf of Zionism. There’s a reason they hate us [in Israel] and don’t want the rabbi to come.”

And indeed, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, when the grand rabbi and his entourage landed at the airport in Israel, they were detained for an hour and a half at customs. In the eyes of his followers, this was intentional harassment, stemming from the grand rabbi’s declaration that he will contribute funds for activities to prevent the conscription of ultra-Orthodox in the Israel Defense Forces, and his announcement that he will focus his war on the “hunters” (as he defines them) who work from within the ultra-Orthodox community to enlist ultra-Orthodox youth in the army.

Read More

To my fellow Israelis: We can stop this

Posted on Feb 19, 2016

Palestinian medic tries to comfort a wounded boy at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, early Friday, July 18, 2014. The heavy thud of tank shells, often just seconds apart, echoed across the Gaza Strip early Friday as thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground invasion, escalating a 10-day campaign of heavy air bombardments to try to destroy Hamas' rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel. Photo by Ezz al-Zanoun

Palestinian medic tries to comfort a wounded boy at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, early Friday, July 18, 2014. The heavy thud of tank shells, often just seconds apart, echoed across the Gaza Strip early Friday as thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground invasion, escalating a 10-day campaign of heavy air bombardments to try to destroy Hamas’ rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel. Photo by Ezz al-Zanoun

by Jonathan Ofir

(Mondoweiss) February 8, 2016

An open letter to my fellow Israelis:

This is probably a culmination of nearly a decade’s reviewed study of our history. At some point, beyond the singular stories, cases and arguments, I feel something unequivocal and very generally encompassing needs to be said about our Israeli “miracle”, the manifestation of the Zionist “dream”.

I will not write this in Hebrew, although that would probably have been the most direct idiomatic tool to reach your minds. I will not do so, because I have had enough of dirty laundry recycled amongst us “self-understanding” Israelis. Whilst I write to you, my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community – whose help we need so badly – not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture. It is the vein of the “moser” – the one who “snitches” against the “Jewish nation” towards the goyim.

Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.

Read More