Friday, September 25, 2020

Palestinian Voices & Peter Beinart's Dramatic Change of Heart

Reprinted with permission; originally published for MennoPIN (Mennonite Palestine Israel Network) August 2020 email update; see website:

 Mennopin’s annexation coverage in the August 2020 email update includes writings from three Palestinian voices from today and one significant American Jewish voice who just changed his mind.

  Jonathan Kuttab – An Analysis 

 “There has been a huge fervor over the threat of Netanyahu to annex portions of the West Bank…The outcry [in response]…hides the fact that a creeping form of annexation has been taking place the last 50 years…It is valuable…to remember why annexation is so roundly condemned…First, the entire fabric of international law and stability requires that…boundaries be respected and should not be altered unilaterally…Second…is that it puts the last nail in the coffin of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders…What most people miss is that Israel was perfectly happy to carry out its settlement and annexation activities as long as the world limited its response to verbal disapproval and did not take concrete steps to sanction it for these activities…It is therefore more important than ever that those of us who care about international law and the prospect of peace find ways to make our position known not by empty toothless proclamations and resolutions, but by seeking to make Israel to pay a price for its settlement and annexation activities. Where governments fail to take such actions, then we must turn to civil society activities like those proposed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).” 

  Jonathan Kuttab is on the MennoPIN Steering Committee. 

  Yousef Al Khouri (Bethlehem Bible College) – The Sin of Annexation

“The Israeli government and its allies continue their plan to erase the Palestinian historical presence in the land of Palestine…The Christian biblical way to describe the plan is SIN…The Kairos Palestine Document, ‘Moment of Truth,’ states clearly that the occupation is a sin against God and humanity…Stealing of the Palestinian land from its indigenous people is an explicit breaking of God’s commandments to his people and the church…The coming of God’s Kingdom…is based on justice, peace, love and coexistence…The church…has the responsibility to be the prophetic voice of the Kingdom that speaks against the sin of occupation and annexation of the Palestinian people.”

Yousef Al Khouri is a professor at Bethlehem Bible College and wrote this in an email he sent out to many people. 

An Open Letter from Christian Clergy from Bethlehem

“We are writing this letter in our capacity as spiritual leaders of various Christian communities in the Bethlehem area. The Israeli government is planning to annex more occupied Palestinian land….For…Bethlehem…the process of annexation will be particularly catastrophic…Soon after the occupation of 1967 Israel annexed over 20,000 dunums of land in the northern part of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour for construction of illegal settlements…One of the only areas left…for agriculture and simply for families to enjoy nature are the valleys of Cremisan and Makhrour, both located to the west of our urban areas and are under the current threat of annexation by Israeli authorities…Our biggest concern is that the annexation of those areas will push more people to emigrate. Bethlehem, surrounded by walls and settlements, already feels like an open prison. Annexation means the prison becomes even smaller, with no hopes for a better future…This is land theft.” 

 * The Open Letter from Christian Clergy from Bethlehem Area was a document sent out far and wide. A list of the names of the authors are: 
  Fr. Yacoub Abu Sada – ‘The Theotokos’ Melkite Church Bethlehem Fr. Issa Musleh – Forefathers Greek Orthodox Church Beit Sahour Fr. Hanna Salem – Catholic Church of the Annunciation Beit Jala Fr. Bolous Al Alam – St. Mary Greek Orthodox Church Beit Jala Rev. Ashraf Tannous – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation Beit Jala Fr. Suheil Fakhouri – Our Lady of the Shepherds Melkite Church Beit Sahour Rev. Munther Isaac – The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church Bethlehem and The Evangelical Lutheran Church Beit Sahour 

  Peter Beinart’s Dramatic Change of Heart
By Joe Roos 
 For many years, the liberal American Jewish community has been firmly committed to a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. But one of those voices recently shook up the liberal Jewish American community. Peter Beinart is one of the leading voices in the liberal American Jewish community and editor of Jewish Currents. Beinart has held out for a two-state solution for many years. But in July he published an article in which he declared the two-state solution dead and the one-state apartheid solution equally dead. His article included the following assertions about annexation and Israel’s future: “Annexation is not the end of the line. It is a waystation to hell [for both Israel and Palestine]. Averting a future in which oppression degenerates into ethnic cleansing requires a vision that can inspire not just Palestinians, but the world. Equality offers it.

The demand for equality—as manifested in the civil rights movement, anti-apartheid movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement—retains enormous emotional power.” “For generations, Jews have seen a Jewish state as tikkun, a repair, a way of overcoming the legacy of the Holocaust. But it hasn’t worked. To justify our oppression of Palestinians, Jewish statehood has required us to see them as Nazis. And, in that way, it has kept the Holocaust legacy alive. The real tikkun is equality, a Jewish home that is also a Palestinian home. Only by helping to free Palestinians—and in the process coming to see them as human beings, not the reincarnation of our tortured past—can we free ourselves from the Holocaust’s grip. The Hebrew word for peace, ‘shalom,’ is connected to the word ‘shlemut,’ wholeness. Only Palestinian freedom—a precondition for true peace in Israel-Palestine—can make Jews whole.” Beinart’s vision of a one-nation solution that is both a homeland for Jews and for Palestinians, where in a democratic Israel every Jew and Palestinian has an equal voice, has sparked a vigorous debate within the American Jewish community. Many, while opposing annexation, also disagree with Beinart. But criticism has also come from some who think he did not go far enough. One of those is Rabbi Brant Rosen. While agreeing that Beinart’s article was “something of a milestone in American discourse on Israel-Palestine,” Rosen also argued that Beinart’s position “betrays a mindset that views the issue as a political conflict to be solved, not a moral injustice to be confronted.”

  Joe Roos is with the Mennonite Palestine Israel Network.

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