and the attacks on Gaza
More on Israel /
Palestine from 2007-08 >>
Reports from 2006 are archived
Archive from 2005 >>
For archives from September through
December, 2004 >>
July and August, 2004
you have comments to offer,
or suggestions for action,
or other statements and articles that should be posted here,
please send a
to be shared here.
reflects on Israel’s attack on Gaza
serving as Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,
the former Moderator of the PC(USA) has recently shared these
thoughts in a email note to PPF members.
I expect that I am not alone in my bewilderment about
how to respond to the violence of Israel’s attack on Gaza in
December and January. The roots of this conflict are deep, and it is
difficult to understand the complexities of the many players in this
struggle. For me, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s consistent
commitment to nonviolence offers the only viable path to develop a
grounded response to the ongoing conflict.
That commitment means we can be clear that the violence of the
oppressive occupation of Gaza and the West Bank by the State of
Israel must come to an end. No one that I know would be willing to
live in a situation of virtual incarceration in one’s home
community, nor would we quietly endure the stranglehold Israel has
on the Palestinian people’s economy and their access to natural
The violence of illegal land seizures beyond the
1967 boundaries for the establishment of Settlements in the West
Bank must also come to an end. I’ve seen the settlements, and I’ve
met Palestinians whose lands have been taken and whose houses have
been bulldozed in Israel’s relentless incursion into the West Bank.
There is a solid consensus in the international community that
Israel has encouraged the development of those settlements in clear
violation of international law.
A consistent commitment to nonviolence, however,
also means that the constant threats of violence and rocket launches
by Hamas from Gaza into Israeli territory must also come to an end.
It is totally legitimate for citizens of Israel to expect basic
security, and to be able to live without fear that they or their
children will be harmed by undirected and indiscriminate violence of
rockets or car bombs or suicide bombers.
And of course, the overwhelming might of the
military forces of Israel, backed up by the resources of the U.S.
government and militaries, must be brought under control. Outside of
Israel and the United States, there was widespread condemnation of
Israel’s unrelenting attack on Gaza that killed hundreds of innocent
civilians. The overwhelming destruction, and Israel’s refusal to
allow international reporters or human rights observers to witness
what was taking place, further threatened efforts to resolve
The best primer I have seen for understanding what
took place in Gaza two months ago was prepared by PPF National
Committee member Walter Owensby, who was on the staff of the PC(USA)
Washington Office staff for 15 years and covered the Middle East, as
well as other international issues. I commend his paper to you as we
work together for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
to read "Gaza Conflict Background"
Join us for the
Christian Peace Witness for Iraq in Washington D.C. on April 28 and
Events will begin
with the Opening Convocation at National City Church on the
afternoon of the 28th, followed by the worship service and
candlelight procession that evening at the Convention Center.
Speakers will include
Tony Campolo, Sr. Dianna Ortiz, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Elizabeth
McAlister and Daniel Berrigan.
morning, Thursday the 29th, there will be a nonviolent action to
lift up our continuing commitment to see the war in Iraq brought to
Registration is now
open for the event at
Also, please contact
if you are interested in sharing floorspace with us at a church near
a metro stop.
|New Amnesty report calls for freeze on arms sales
In the Israeli newspaper Ha-Aretz,
Amira Hass summarizes Amnesty International’s report that as many as
20 countries, led by the United States, have sold Israel weapons and
armaments which may have been used to commit war crimes during
Israel’s 22 day assault on Gaza. In an unusually blunt statement,
Amnesty International's Middle East director, Malcolm Smart,
unequivocally declared, “The Obama administration should immediately
suspend U.S. military aid to Israel.” This is one more indication
that Israel is losing its standing in the international community
(outside the United States), although its political elite and its
American camp followers still publicly dismiss all such criticism as
Here’s another report on the same subject,
from The Guardian UK:
Amnesty, citing phosphorus shells, urges
Israeli weapons ban
Detailed evidence has
emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war
in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells,
500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. In a report released today,
Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an
immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups.
It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to
Israel. The human rights group said that those arming both sides in
the conflict 'will have been well aware of a pattern of repeated
misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take
responsibility for the violations perpetrated.
The full story >>
|A comment on the Israel/Palestine conflict:
I am an
African, I have friends from all nations. The real problems must be
confronted, the killings must stop. The area will be a great place
if the people can live together.
The author of this note identifies herself as
Lydia Daniels, a Liberian, now a Swedish citizen for over 20 years,
living in Sweden and the UK, and working as a nurse.
earlier reports and comments on the Israeli attacks on Gaza >>
|Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb
offers a different perspective on Israel’s attack on Gaza
Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem, in Israel/Palestine, offers a very helpful
perspective on Israel’s military assault on Gaza. He was an
ecumenical delegate to the PC(USA) General Assembly in 2004 GA in
Here are some excerpts:
Gaza: A Different Perspective
Watching the news these days is not an easy
task, especially if you switch between Arab channels like Al
Jazeera on one hand, and Western channels like Fox on the other.
The war on Gaza is portrayed so differently that one sometimes
might wonder if these diverse narratives are actually dealing
with the same conflict. ... The most important thing, I believe,
is not what we are told and shown, but what this war is trying
to hide. Here are some of the intentions as I see them:
1) The two-state solution is the intended
victim of the war on Gaza.
Although Israel is aiming at destroying Hamas’
military capabilities (as primitive as they are), I believe that
Israel’s real intention is to polish Hamas’ political image.
This may seem an outlandish contradiction, but let’s look at
what has been happening. While Israel can’t tolerate rockets
falling into its territory, it is in its long-term strategic
interest to have Hamas control the Gaza Strip. Why? For a simple
reason: if Hamas controls Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank,
then the two-state solution is over. ...
2) Regional power struggles continue to be
played out in Palestine.
The war on Gaza, although purely an Israeli
decision, was also triggered also by some regional powers who
were backing Hamas. ...
3) Gaza is the new poster-child for justifying
Gaza will now be marketed on a much wider
scale as a severe humanitarian crisis. Disempowering aid,
handouts and food supplies will start flowing into Gaza like
never before. Yet Gaza’s problem is, fundamentally, a political
one. What the people in Gaza really need is for the occupation
to end, for the population to be able to live freely, to export
and import, to fish and grow flowers. ...
Thanks to the Rev. Bruce Gillette
|PDA Middle East
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance office has just issued this special
Dear Brothers and Sisters in
“For surely I know the plans I have
for you…to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
All people impacted by the current
violence in the Middle East are facing overwhelming humanitarian
needs as a result of the continuing violence. The most basic
needs—safe shelter, medical care, food, water, electricity—are well
beyond the reach of many of those caught in the crossfire.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is
in consultation with our partners in the region to make aid
available to those most in need.
When Jesus walked these very lands,
by his words and his ministries he told all who would listen to care
for: the children, the old, the poor, the sick, the most vulnerable.
. . . In this moment of crisis,
while leaders strive to find a path to lasting peace, our priority
must be caring for those left vulnerable by the violence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
GIVE to help the PC(USA) and
our partners meet the physical needs of those in all the areas where
violence leaves them vulnerable, and the emotional and spiritual
needs of the many more who have been traumatized by that violence.
Mail your church’s gift to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Church
Remittance Processing, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700,
or give through your congregation’s normal giving channels. Write
“DR000081-E1” on the check or remittance form so that we can ensure
your gift is designated to meet these urgent needs. You can also
give online at
PRAY for all those whose
lives have been and continue to be affected.
STAY INFORMED with regular
updates on the situation, how your church is responding, and to find
available worship resources at
www.pcusa.org/pda or by calling PresbyTel at 1-800-872-3283.
And please scroll down this page for more
information, prayers and reflections on this Witherspoon site.
OUT OF CHAOS, HOPE
|Praying for Gaza and Israel|
We have just received a worship service designed by Rev. W. Mark Koenig,
coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, for a service held at the
Presbyterian Center on Thursday January 8, 2009. We hope you find this
helpful as you pray and work for a just peace.
You are encouraged to use this material
(and other items we have posted earlier)
in services of prayer and worship, or study and dialogue.
The service of worship opens:
We gather in a world of broken bodies and wounded hearts
To worship the God who satisfies our deepest hunger.
We gather in a world of violence and division
To worship the God who welcomes all strangers.
We gather in a world of symbols: crosses, crescents and stars
To worship the God whose only creed is love.
We gather in the world of the powerful and of those who desire
To worship the God who calls us to each other and into our world.
Come, let us worship the God whose love breaks down all barriers.
For the full service >>
Thanks to Rick Upchurch,
of the Collegiate Ministries office of the PC(USA),
who sent this to us.
The Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Special Presbyterian Witness in Washington Weekly - Urgent
Urge Immediate U.S. Efforts to End Gaza Violence, Restore Cease-Fire
The escalating Gaza violence of these past days has been a
sobering jolt from holiday celebrations. For Palestinians and Israelis,
there has been no peace.
It is urgent that United States call all the parties to
restrain from using force and, rather, to trust a diplomatic process. The
current violence has caused unbelievable suffering of innocents and both the
Hamas lead government of Gaza and the Israeli government have descended into
callous behavior that will set the peace process back for many years. Over
fifty percent of Gaza's 1.4 million residents are under the age of 14 who
now have nowhere to run from the violence, and who were already suffering
from malnutrition because of the blockade on Gaza. On behalf of those
children and the children of Israel, both Israelis and Palestinians must
halt this spiral of violence. We mourn the loss of life on both sides and
call now on the United States to exercise bold leadership to immediately end
the violence, restore the cease-fire and lift the blockade of Gaza's
The White House and Capitol Hill offices are sure to
receive countless messages supporting a continuation of the Israeli military
offensive. They need to hear from concerned American Christians that the
U.S. must work with international partners to bring about an immediate
cease-fire for the sake of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Please take action today and call for a immediate
cease-fire. Go to
http://capwiz.com/pcusa/issues/alert/?alertid=12393316&type=CO and make
your voice heard today.
Without an urgent diplomatic solution, both Palestinians
and Israelis will suffer, the risk of a broader confrontation will increase,
and hope for continuation of the Annapolis peace efforts will grow ever
The Bush Administration is in its final weeks, but it has
an opportunity now to take serious action on behalf of Israeli-Palestinian
peace and to safeguard U.S. interests. Congress too must encourage and
support American diplomatic leadership.
The Stated Clerk of the
General Assembly issued a statement today calling for all violence to
stop. He states, "As followers of the Prince of Peace, who has shown us that
true victory comes only through non-violent reconciliation, we yearn for an
end to sixty years of conflict, violence, and oppression, all of which have
left scars on all parties regardless of ethnic, religious, or political
identification and have contributed to wider uncertainty about global peace.
It will require not only our fervent prayers, but a renewed commitment to
action so that when a cease-fire is achieved, it is followed by a new
commitment by all parties to the rule of law as the only path to justice,
security, and freedom for all." The full text is pasted below as well as
a prayer from the newspaper Ha'aretz.
Statement from the
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev. Gradye Parsons
"...all violence in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank must
Whether Jew, Muslim, or Christian, we share commandments of love for God and
neighbor. Therefore, all violence in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank must
stop. Whatever its stated justifications, we know from years of conflict in
the region that the resort to violence inevitably leaves behind death,
injury, fear, and deepened feelings of hostility.
As the death toll and the numbers of those injured in Gaza
continue to mount from the Israeli air assault and the ensuing ground war
between the Israeli military and the fighters of Hamas, we call upon all
parties involved to stop the violence and agree to an immediate cease-fire,
under which the borders of Gaza can be opened to humanitarian aid and
desperately needed medical assistance for the sick and wounded. To this end,
it is imperative that the leaders of the international community, including
the leaders of our own nation, step up and use their good offices to press
the warring parties to bring an end to the killing.
The rockets that have long been fired from Gaza at Israeli
communities must cease. They are not simply provocations, but
undiscriminating instruments of fear and death. Suicide bombings also must
be unconditionally condemned. Members of Hamas and other groups who continue
to call for Israeli's demise must stop their rhetoric of death.
By the same token, the massive destruction of an already
crippled Gazan infrastructure by aerial bombardments must end. The virtual
"lock-down" of Gaza for the last two years has paralyzed economic
development and left public institutions unable to cope with the
humanitarian emergencies they now face. Moreover, the growing deaths of
non-combatants, even when they have sought shelter in legally protected
United Nations facilities, must end. Any new cease-fire agreement must be
honored, if necessary with the help of international monitors, so that there
is neither the firing of rockets into Israel nor Israeli assassination raids
into Gaza, both of which have brought fear and death.
Most importantly, while every effort must be made to bring
an end to the immediate hostilities, we must recognize that this violence is
only one symptom of the decades-long failure of the international community,
the Israeli government, and the leaders of the divided Palestinian community
in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem to make the wrenching commitments
necessary to reach a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. It is imperative that our own government, current and future, move
beyond rhetoric to forceful and active participation as an honest and
impartial broker of a just and meaningful peace.
Finally, we recognize that no lasting peace is possible
without the adherence of all parties to the rule of law, especially those
laws upon which the international community has agreed. These include
resolutions adopted by the United Nations that provide a basis for the
future recognition of two states in the region, one Israeli and one
Palestinian, in which the respective parties can live in peace, security,
and freedom. They also include the Geneva Conventions. Our grief over the
deaths of Palestinians and Israelis in the current conflict is exacerbated
by the knowledge of how many non-combatants have died in recent days. It is
a reminder that all nations are called to abide by the body of basic
humanitarian law that requires the protection of non-combatants in any
The 218th General Assembly of
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), meeting in June 2008, reiterated
long-standing benchmarks for a two-state solution in which both parties can
live in peace and security. Most of those are reflected in "The Amman Call,"
a declaration issued by the World Council of Churches International Peace
Conference on the Middle East, June 19-20, 2007, and endorsed by the 218th
General Assembly. They include the following:
5.1.That UN resolutions are the basis for peace and the
Geneva conventions are applicable to the rights and responsibilities of the
5.2. That Palestinians have the right of
self-determination and the right of return.
5.3. That a two-state solution must be viable politically,
geographically, economically, and socially.
5.4 That Jerusalem must be an open, accessible, inclusive,
and shared city for the two peoples and three religions.
5.5 That both Palestine and Israel have legitimate
5.6. That the Israeli settlements in the occupied
Palestinian territories are illegal and constitute an obstacle to peace.
5.7. That the "Separation Barrier" constructed by Israel
in the occupied Palestinian territories is a grave breach of international
law and must be removed from the occupied territory.
5.8. That there is no military solution for this conflict.
Violence in all its forms cannot be justified whether perpetrated by
Israelis or Palestinians.
5.9. That comprehensive regional peace is indivisible from
a just peace in Israel and Palestine.
5.10. That the life and witness of local churches is at
the center of worldwide church advocacy for a just peace.
As followers of the Prince of Peace, who has shown us that true victory
comes only through non-violent reconciliation, we yearn for an end to sixty
years of conflict, violence, and oppression, all of which have left scars on
all parties regardless of ethnic, religious, or political identification and
have contributed to wider uncertainty about global peace. It will require
not only our fervent prayers, but a renewed commitment to action so that
when a cease-fire is achieved, it is followed by a new commitment by all
parties to the rule of law as the only path to justice, security, and
freedom for all.
A Jew's prayer for
the children of Gaza
By Bradley Burston
Ha'aretz – Wednesday -
January 7, 2009
If there has ever been a time for prayer, this is that time.
If there has ever been a place forsaken, Gaza is that place.
Lord who is the creator of all children, hear our prayer
this accursed day. God whom we call Blessed, turn your face to these, the
children of Gaza, that they may know your blessings, and your shelter, that
they may know light and warmth, where there is now only blackness and smoke,
and a cold which cuts and clenches the skin.
Almighty who makes exceptions, which we call miracles,
make an exception of the children of Gaza. Shield them from us and from
their own. Spare them. Heal them. Let them stand in safety. Deliver them
from hunger and horror and fury and grief. Deliver them from us, and from
Restore to them their stolen childhoods, their birthright,
which is a taste of heaven.
Remind us, O Lord, of the child Ishmael, who is the father
of all the children of Gaza. How the child Ishmael was without water and
left for dead in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba, so robbed of all hope, that
his own mother could not bear to watch his life drain away.
Be that Lord, the God of our kinsman Ishmael, who heard
his cry and sent His angel to comfort his mother Hagar.
Be that Lord, who was with Ishmael that day, and all the
days after. Be that God, the All-Merciful, who opened Hagar's eyes that day,
and showed her the well of water, that she could give the boy Ishmael to
drink, and save his life.
Allah, whose name we call Elohim, who gives life, who
knows the value and the fragility of every life, send these children your
angels. Save them, the children of this place, Gaza the most beautiful, and
Gaza the damned.
In this day, when the trepidation and rage and mourning
that is called war, seizes our hearts and patches them in scars, we call to
you, the Lord whose name is Peace:
Bless these children, and keep them from harm.
Turn Your face toward them, O Lord. Show them, as if for
the first time, light and kindness, and overwhelming graciousness.
Look up at them, O Lord. Let them see your face.
And, as if for the first time, grant them peace.
With thanks to Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman of Kol HaNeshama,
Published by the Witness in Washington Weekly advocacy
program of the Washington Office, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 100 Maryland
Avenue, NE, Washington D.C. 20002, (202) 543-1126
you have comments to offer,
or suggestions for action,
or other statements and articles that should be posted here,
please send a
to be shared here.
Israel Palestine Mission Network issues statement on Gaza
STATEMENT ON GAZA
January 7, 2009
This statement is also available in
easy-to-print PDF format >>
The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the
Presbyterian Church (USA) condemns in the harshest terms possible the
Israeli massacre of Palestinians now underway in Gaza. This long-planned and
all-too-indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds of civilians, the wounding of
thousands, and the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools, mosques and
economic infrastructure cannot be justified in the name of Israeli national
The numbers simply do not add up: In the
past eight years 20 Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets while in the
past three years over 1700 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by the
Israeli military, including the 600 men, women and children who have died so
far in this most recent attack. Hundreds more have died as a result of the
Israeli embargo on medicine, food and fuel. The sheer disproportion of death
and destruction is an affront to the conscience of humanity. This blatant
collective punishment mocks international law as well as the Geneva
Conventions. It is morally repugnant to us and the rest of the world.
Despite the usual "blaming" justifications
given for this incursion, there are other truths about Israel's actions that
need to be told:
1) Israel, not Hamas, broke the truce*, and
has long used its own missiles to assassinate Palestinian leaders, often
with family-destroying "collateral damage."
2) The attacks on Gaza coincide with a
heated Israeli political campaign in which the leaders of the Labor and
Kadima Parties must appear to the electorate to be as tough as the Likud
Party led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
3) The current United States government has
become complicit in this tragedy by supporting Israel's justifications for
its actions and by—alone in the nations of the UN Security Council— blocking
the international demand for a ceasefire.
4) The timing reflects a desire to limit
the restoration of human rights and international diplomacy promised by the
incoming Obama Administration.
The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the
Presbyterian Church (USA), in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
stands with the victims of this atrocious massacre. We condemn violence
committed by both sides, but cannot turn a blind eye to the disproportionate
amount of suffering on the Palestinian side of this equation. The simple
fact is that the firing of the most lethal, hi-tech weapons on earth into an
embargoed, walled-in Gaza by Israeli forces is tantamount to what is crudely
known as "shooting fish in a barrel."
We call upon the government of the United
States of America to support an immediate cease-fire within the United
Nations and independently. We also call for a multi-national peacekeeping
force to be installed as soon as possible, which is the standard that has
been set anywhere else in the world following such a tragic humanitarian
disaster. We call upon the Israeli government to allow UN peacekeeping
forces with humanitarian assistance to enter into Gaza immediately.
Silence now is no virtue
by the Rev. John Shuck
Pastor and blogger John Shuck has posted a thoughtful
note reflecting his own experience and thinking about the Israeli
invasion of Gaza.
The death toll and the violence mounts in Gaza. The
Israelis have opted for a military solution to a humanitarian problem. I
find it curious that so many of my Presbyterian colleagues are silent about
this. There are a whole lot of Presbyterian clergy and laypeople who blog.
But not too many are blogging about this.
I wonder why?
1. Perhaps the news is boring. "They always have been
fighting over in the Middle East and they always will be fighting" is a
mantra I hear now and again. "Ho hum. No news here."
2. Perhaps people don't feel informed enough about the
issue to make an opinion.
3. Perhaps they don't want to anger friends and
colleagues who have a different opinion than theirs.
4. Perhaps they agree with President Bush that this all
the fault of Hamas or the Palestinians themselves and they hope that Israel
will kick some butt.
5. Perhaps, consciously or unconsciously, because the
Jewish scriptures are incorporated into the Christian scriptures and the
Muslim scriptures are not (ie. Qur'an), then Christians always need to be on
the side of the Israelis no matter what they do.
I see it differently.
1. I think this is news. Tragic news. There is a reason
why there is fighting in Israel/Palestine. Johann Hari offers
an important view.
2. If we are not informed, whose fault is that? There
are plenty of resources available. Thanks to Doug King of Witherspoon for
3. Making opinions can cause friction. So what else is
new? If you are supposed to speak for justice and peace and to witness to
Christ, that is part of the job. If we take our jobs seriously regarding
Jesus Christ, we should not be silent even if we disagree.
4. Hamas generates no sympathy for lobbing rockets,
that is for sure. But in desperate times, when backs are to the wall,
extremists become leaders. A long history of second-class status for the
Palestinian people complete with all the indignities placed upon them for
decades has led to this situation.
5. This is the 21st century. Policies based on holy
books and "chosen people" need to replaced by human rights and
self-determination for all people. If it matters, many Palestinians are
I visited the Holy Land in 1994 as part of a tour. It was
a gift to me by members of my first congregation. It was a "visit the places
Jesus walked" kind of thing. I saw quite a bit. We visited the Sea of
Galilee, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, and others. This was
before the wall. No rockets or suicide bombers as I recall.
There was gunfire now and then. Israelis had guns.
Palestinians had rocks.
One day I left the tour. A couple of us ventured on our
own at one point. We took cab ride. The Palestinian driver told us a
different story than what we had heard from our Israeli hosts. I heard about
houses that were demolished. He showed us illegal Jewish settlements. He
told us of the indignities the Palestinians experienced because they were
second-class citizens. He told us that Americans need to know what is
A lot has changed since 1994. The situation has
deteriorated. For my own understanding, perhaps it is time for me to find a
way to take another trip to the Holy Land.
The United States supports the Israelis unequivocally.
Obama, so far, looks little different from Bush. Apparently, "our interests"
are aligned with supporting the Israeli military. The superstition of
American Christians regarding so-called biblical prophecies encourages this
What are the solutions?
1. Two separate states based on 1967 borders. This
doesn't seem to be working. Perhaps it could yet, I don't know.
2. One new nation. This seems to me the logical choice.
A new Holy Land that shows no distinction regarding ethnicity or religion.
One country run democratically in which Jews, Christians, Muslims and all
others who live there share with one vote in one government.
3. Continue the violence. This is apparently what the
U.S. wants. Fox
News reports that the U.S. rejected the U.N.'s call for a cease fire.
The U.S. is the major player here. If the political will
of the United States advocated for a just peace for all who live in the Holy
Land, rather than unequivocal support and money for one ethnic group at the
expense of the others, changes would come.
This would require U.S. citizens to become informed, to
care, and to act.
This seems to me to be something worth blogging about and
worth talking about. If you see it differently, let me know.
Silence now is no virtue.
You can read this, respond to it and see
others' responses, on John Shuck's blog,
Shuck & Jive.
December 30, 2008
[Posted here 1-5-09]
Starhawk is an activist,
organizer, and author of The Earth Path, as well as Webs of Power:
Notes from the Global Uprising, The Fifth Sacred Thing; and eight
other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She teaches
Earth Activist Trainings that combine permaculture design and activist
skills, and works to offer training and support for mobilizations around
global justice and peace issues.
You'll find this and more on
Starhawk's Israel/Palestine Page >>
Starhawk's Home Page >>
All day I've been
thinking about Gaza, listening to reports on NPR, following the news on the
internet when I can spare a moment. I've been thinking about the friends I
made there four years ago, and wondering how they are faring, and imagining
their terror as the bombs fall on that giant, open-air prison.
The Israeli ambassador speaks
movingly of the terror felt by Israeli children as Hamas rockets explode in
the night. I agree with him – that no child should have her sleep menaced by
rocket fire, or wake in the night fearing death.
But I can't help but remember
one night on the Rafah border, sleeping in a house close to the line,
watching the children dive for cover as bullets thudded into the walls.
There was a shell-hole in the back room they liked to jump through into the
garden, which at that time still held fruit trees and chickens. Their mother
fed me eggs, and their grandmother stuffed oranges into my pockets with the
shy pride every gardener shares.
That house is gone, now,
along with all of its neighbors. Those children wake in the night, every
night of their lives, in terror. I don't know if they have survived the
hunger, the lack of medical supplies, the bombs. I only know that they are
I've ridden on busses in
Israel. I understand that gnawing fear, the squirrely feeling in the pit or
your stomach, how you eye your fellow passengers wondering if any of them
are too thick around the middle. Could that portly fellow be wearing a
suicide belt, or just too many late night snacks of hummus? That's no way to
But I've also walked the
pock-marked streets of Rafah, where every house bears the scars of Israeli
snipers, where tanks prowled the border every night, where children played
in the rubble, sometimes under fire, and this was all four years ago, when
things were much, much better there.
And I just don't get it. I
mean, I get why suicide bombs and homemade rockets that kill innocent
civilians are wrong. I just don't get why bombs from F16s that kill far more
innocent civilians are right. Why a kid from the ghetto who shoots a cop is
a criminal, but a pilot who bombs a police station from the air is a hero.
Is it a distance thing? Does
the air or the altitude confer a purifying effect? Or is it a matter of
scale? Individual murder is vile, but mass murder, carried out by a state as
an aspect of national policy, that's a fine and noble thing?
I don't get how my own people
can be doing this. Or rather, I do get it. I am a Jew, by birth and
upbringing, born six years after the Holocaust ended, raised on the myth and
hope of Israel. The myth goes like this:
"For two thousand years
we wandered in exile, homeless and persecuted, nearly destroyed utterly
by the Nazis. But out of that suffering was born one good thing-the
homeland that we have come back to, our own land at last, where we can
be safe, and proud, and strong."
That's a powerful story, a
moving story. There's only one problem with it – it leaves the Palestinians
out. It has to leave them out, for if we were to admit that the homeland
belonged to another people, well, that spoils the story.
The result is a kind of
psychic blind spot where the Palestinians are concerned. If you are truly
invested in Israel as the Jewish homeland, the Jewish state, then you can't
let the Palestinians be real to you. It's like you can't really focus on
them. Golda Meir said, "The Palestinians, who are they? They don't exist."
We hear, "There is no partner for peace," "There is no one to talk to."
And so Israel, a modern state
with high standards of hygiene, a state rooted in a religion that requires
washing your hands before you eat and regular, ritual baths, builds
settlements that don't bother to construct sewage treatment plants. They
just dump raw sewage onto the Palestinian fields across the fence, somewhat
like a spaceship ejecting its wastes into the void. I am truly not making
this up – I've seen it, smelled it, and it's a known though shameful fact.
But if the Palestinians aren't really real – who are they? They don't exist!
– then the land they inhabit becomes a kind of void in the psyche, and it
isn't really real, either. At times, in those border villages, walking the
fencelines of settlements, you feel like you have slipped into a science
fiction movie, where parallel universes exist in the same space, but in
different strands of reality, that never touch.
When I was on the West Bank,
during Israeli incursions the Israeli military would often take over a
Palestinian house to billet their soldiers. Many times, they would simply
lock the family who owned it into one room, and keep them there, sometimes
for hours, sometimes for days – parents, grandparents, kids and all. I've
sat with a family, singing to the children while soldiers trashed their
house, and I've been detained by a group of soldiers playing cards in the
kitchen with a family locked in the other room. (I got out of that one-but
that's another story.)
It's a kind of uneasy
feeling, having something locked away in a room in your house that you can't
look at. Ever caught a mouse in a glue trap? And you can't bear to watch it
suffer, so you leave the room and close the door and don't come back until
it's really, really dead.
Like a horrific fractal, the
locked room repeats on different scales. The Israelis have built a wall to
lock away the West Bank. And Gaza itself is one huge, locked room. Close the
borders, keep food and medical supplies and necessities from getting
through, and perhaps they will just quietly fade out of existence and stop
spoiling our story.
"All we want is a return to
calm," the Israeli ambassador says. "All we want is peace."
One way to get peace is to
exterminate what threatens you. In fact, that may be the prime directive of
the last few thousand years.
But attempts to exterminate
pests breed resistance, whether you're dealing with insects or bacteria or
people. The more insecticides you pour on a field, the more pests you have
to deal with-because insecticides are always more potent at killing the
beneficial bugs than the pesky ones.
The harshness, the
crackdowns, the border closings, the checkpoints, the assassinations, the
incursions, the building of settlements deep into Palestinian territory, all
the daily frustrations and humiliations of occupation, have been breeding
the conditions for Hamas, or something like it, to thrive. If Israel truly
wants peace, there's a more subtle, a more intelligent and more effective
strategy to pursue than simply trying to kill the enemy and anyone else who
happens to be in the vicinity.
It's this – instead of
killing what threatens you, feed what you want to grow. Consider in what
conditions peace can thrive, and create them, just as you would prepare the
bed for the crops you want to plant. Find those among your opponents who
also want peace, and support them. Make alliances. Offer your enemies
incentives to change, and reward your friends.
Of course, to follow such a
strategy, you must actually see and know your enemy. If they are nothing to
you but cartoon characters of terrorists, you will not be able to tell one
from another, to discern the religious fanatic from the guy muttering under
his breath, "F-ing Hammas, they closed the cinema again!"
And you must be willing to
give something up. No one gets peace if your basic bargaining position is,
"I get everything I want, and you eat my shit." You might get a temporary
victory, but it will never be a peaceful one.
To know and see the enemy,
you must let them into the story. They must become real to you, nuanced,
distinctive as individuals. But when we let the Palestinians into the story,
it changes. Oh, how painfully it changes! For there is no way to tell a new
story, one that includes both peoples of the land, without starting like
"In our yearning for a
homeland, in our attempts as a threatened and traumatized people to find
safety and power, we have done a great wrong to another people, and now
we must atone."
Just try saying it. If you,
like me, were raised on that other story, just try this one out. Say it
three times. It hurts, yes, but it might also bring a great, liberating
sense of relief with it.
And if you're not Jewish, if
you're American, if you're white, if you're German, if you're a thousand
other things, really, if you're a human being, there's probably some version
of that story that is true for you.
Out of our own great need and
fear and pain, we have often done great harm, and we are called to atone. To
atone is to be at one – to stop drawing a circle that includes our tribe and
excludes the other, and start drawing a larger circle that takes everyone
How do we atone? Open your
eyes. Look into the face of the enemy, and see a human being, flawed,
distinct, unique and precious. Stop killing. Start talking. Compost the shit
and the rot and feed the olive trees.
Act. Cross the line. There
are Israelis who do it all the time, joining with Palestinians on the West
Bank to protest the wall, watching at checkpoints, refusing to serve in the
occupying army, standing for peace. Thousands have demonstrated this week in
There are Palestinians who
advocate nonviolent resistance, who have organized their villages to protest
the wall, who face tear gas, beatings, arrests, rubber bullets and real
bullets to make their stand.
There are internationals who
have put themselves on the line-like the boatload of human rights activists,
journalists and doctors on board the Dignity, the ship from the Free Gaza
movement that was rammed and fired on by the Israeli navy yesterday as it
attempted to reach Gaza with humanitarian aid.
Maybe we can't all do that.
But we can all write a letter, make a phone call, send an email. We can make
the Palestinian people visible to us, and to the world. When we do so, we
make a world that is safer for every child.
Below is a good summary of
some of the actions we can take. Please feel free to repost this. In fact,
send it to someone you think will disagree with it.
Action Alert on Gaza:
We Need "Sustained, Determined Political Action"
December 29, 2008
As of this writing, a third
consecutive day of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have killed an
estimated 315 Palestinians and injured more than 1,400. According to the UN,
at least 51 of the victims were civilians and 8 were children. Israeli
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has vowed ominously "a war to the bitter end."
Israel's attacks on the Gaza
Strip are being carried out with F16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and
naval gunboats all given to Israel by the United States with our tax
From 2001-2006, the United
States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to
fly its fleet of F16's and more than $100 million worth of helicopter spare
parts for its fleet of Apaches. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel
186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel and signed a contract to
transfer an addition $1.9 billion worth of littoral combat ships to the
Israeli navy. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract
with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and "bunker
Make no mistake about
it-Israel's war on the Gaza Strip would not be possible without the jets,
helicopters, ships, missiles, and fuel provided by the United States.
Information for action – you
can go directly to two websites:
United for Peace and Justice
-- and get to working links.
You can email Obama or post
comments at http://change.gov/ .
Ali Abunimah, of The
Electronic Intifada, wrote, "Palestinians everywhere are asking for
solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political
action." In light of our country's enabling role in Israel's war on the Gaza
Strip, it is the least we can do. Here's how:
1. Attend a protest or vigil,
or organize one yourself.
2. Contact the White House,
the State Department, your Representative and Senators, and the Obama
Transition Team to protest Israel's war on Gaza and demand an immediate
White House: 202-456-1111
3. Make your voice heard in
the media. Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a
letter to the editor.
4. Tell President-Elect
Barack Obama that we need a change in Israel/Palestine policy.
5. Sign up to organize people
in your community to end U.S. military aid to Israel.
6. Come to Washington, DC for
Inauguration Day on January 20. Upwards of 4 million people are expected in
Washington, DC for President-Elect Obama's inauguration. This is a perfect
time for us to reach out to and educate our fellow citizens about U.S.
policy toward Palestine/Israel.
Democracy in Action in
Washington, DC for a Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day on February
Interfaith Peace-Builders and
the US Campaign are organizing this exciting two-day event, featuring
interactive, skills-building workshops and the chance to meet with your
Representative and Senators to discuss U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine.
Spaces are filling up fast.
Copyright (c) 2008, 2009
by Starhawk. All rights reserved. This copyright protects Starhawk's right
to future publication of her work. Nonprofit, activist, and educational
groups may circulate this essay (forward it, reprint it, translate it, post
it, or reproduce it) for nonprofit uses. Please do not change any part of it
without permission. Readers are invited to visit the web site:
Israel launches ground invasion of Gaza
defense minister Barak promised that the invasion "won't be short"
Here’s one report
from the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz >>
There is, once again, plenty of reporting by US media on Israel’s invasion
of Gaza, which began yesterday, January 3. Most of it, however, reflects in
one way or another the Israeli point of view, partly because Israel is
allowing no foreign journalists into Gaza.
We believe it may be helpful for “the other side” to be heard – including
Palestinians, Israelis and other Jews who are committed to peace, Christians
So here’s a sample:
A Palestinian Christian perspective
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem presents a
concise overview of the Gaza situation from a Christian Palestinian
SABEEL’S REFLECTION ON GAZA
The Narrow Gate of Justice
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy
that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is
narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find
it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
On Saturday, December 27, 2008, as the children of Gaza were about to leave
their schools to return home, the Israeli air force carried a massive air
attack against the people of Gaza. In less than 4 hours, over 150 people
were killed and 200 injured – men, women, and children. By the end of the
fourth day, over 390 Palestinians were killed and almost 2,000 injured. On
the Israeli side, 4 were killed and no statistics are available on the
number of injured.
FACTS ABOUT THE GAZA STRIP:
Population: 1.5 million. 75% of them are refugees. 45% of them
are under 14 years.
Area: 360 sq km, 139 sq miles.
Population density: 4,167 people/sq Km (The highest in the
80% of Gazan households live below the poverty line, subsisting
on less than $3 per person a day. 80% of all Gazan families
would literally starve without food aid from international
The Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, similar to that of the West Bank,
including East Jerusalem, started with the 1967 June war. In September 2005,
the Israeli army pulled out of Gaza and removed its illegal settlements.
However, the illegal Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip did not come to an
end. Israel maintained its tight control over Gaza’s borders (air, land, and
sea). To make things even worse, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza in June
2007, thus tightening its border restrictions and causing the humanitarian
conditions to deteriorate further. Under the brutal siege, every aspect of
the lives of the people of Gaza was controlled. They were totally dependent
on Israel for fuel, electricity, cooking gas, medical supplies, food
supplies (even flour), building material, etc. Israel made sure that the
Palestinians would remain alive at barely the survival and basic subsistence
On November 14, 2008, UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon issued a statement
that said, “The Secretary-General is concerned that food and other life
saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people, and
emphasizes that measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the
civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and should
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER:
FIRST: A word about tahdi’a
(the period of calm or truce). It is important to note that among the terms
of tahdi’a was the understanding that Israel would lift the siege of
the Gaza Strip, and gradually extend the truce to the West Bank. This Israel
did not do. It only partially lifted the siege and allowed a trickle of
vital commodities into Gaza which kept the people at the level of mere
survival. Israel’s raids into the West Bank continued on a daily basis and
scores of Palestinians were arrested or assassinated.
The International Herald Tribune reported on December 19, 2008 that it was
Hamas’ understanding that after the tahdi’a Israel would open the
crossings and allow the transfer of goods that have been banned since the
siege was imposed. There was never a return to the 500 – 600 truckloads of
goods shipments that used to go into the Gaza Strip before the siege. “The
number of trucks increased to around 90 from around 70.” The facts and
figures tell the real story. Sadly, however, many western leaders have shut
their ears, eyes, and mouths against the cry of the oppressed and they fell
into the deceptive snares of Israel. Most of the world judges Israel by what
it says and not by what it does; while they close their ears to the
comprehensive and workable 2002 Peace Initiative adopted by all the Arab
leaders including the Palestinians. Even Hamas has agreed to a Palestinian
State within the 1967 borders as expressed to President Carter on his latest
visit to Syria.
SECOND: So long as Israel holds the
Palestinians in general and the Gazans in particular under occupation, they
(the Palestinians) have the right, according to international law, to resist
the “seemingly never ending” belligerent occupation and struggle for their
liberation. Israel, therefore, cannot demand from the international
community sympathy and political support and from the Palestinians calm and
security, while it maintains its inhuman and illegal occupation. It is only
when Israel ends its occupation that it can have a legitimate right to
defend its borders. Israel stands in violation of international law and is
the aggressor due to its belligerent occupation.
THIRD: The Arab leaders and
governments can do more for peace. Many people accuse them of a conspiracy
of silence. Most of the Arab people are ashamed of the positions of their
governments because they have not used their resources collectively to end
the occupation. Sabeel is not talking about the use of force although many
of our Arab people do. We believe that the Arab governments could have
contributed much more towards a resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict
through nonviolent means. Tragically, this did not happen.
FOURTH: Although Sabeel wishes that
Hamas and other Palestinian factions had chosen a nonviolent way to resist
the Israeli siege, we feel that the disproportionate use of military force
against the Gaza Strip and the number of casualties that it produced must be
strongly condemned. It is a shame that once again many western leaders have
failed to see the deeper issues that are involved. They chose to stand with
the occupier rather than with the occupied, with the oppressor rather than
the oppressed, and with the powerful rather than with the weak. It is
important to continue the resistance against the belligerent occupation. But
we call on our Palestinian people to abandon
the armed struggle and to choose a more potent and effective way – the way
of nonviolence. We can do it and we can win. The Palestinians are
capable of setting an example for the rest of the world. This is what we
must do; and this is what can restore to us our human pride and dignity.
In fact, we must look to a world where wars, and weapons of violence and
destruction would be banned and where oppressed nations would choose the
higher moral ground and resist the evil of belligerent occupations by
nonviolent means. We hope for a world where a reformed United Nations would
never be held hostage by powerful nations, but would enjoy the freedom to
establish justice for the oppressed of the world.
FIFTH: We believe that the real
message of the Palestinians to the world is a genuine cry for freedom and
liberation. The Palestinians did not initiate the violence. The prolonged
illegal Israeli occupation is the real cause for the violence in our area.
Israel has shut the door on justice. The only way that can guarantee a
lasting resolution of the conflict is for the United States’ new
administration to dare and open the door of justice. We believe that it is
the narrow gate of which Jesus Christ spoke. It is the gate that leads to a
life of peace and security. “Enter through
the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to
destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the
road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” This
is the narrow gate of justice. This is the basis of international law. The
way of military domination, occupation, violence, and wars is the wide gate
that leads to destruction; while the gate that seems narrow and hard is the
one that leads to justice, peace and security for both sides. We have tried
the wide gate and it has only brought us destruction. It is high time to try
the narrow gate of justice so that we might find life.
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
December 31, 2008
Jewish voices of dissent
Jewish Peace News presents various voices of dissent coming from inside of
Israel and other places in the Jewish world. Some of the dissent is
organized as demonstrations and petitions and some manifests on blogs and in
more traditional publications.
This collection of articles and essays includes voices of dissent coming
from inside of Israel and other places in the Jewish world. Some of the
dissent is organized as demonstrations and petitions and some manifests on
blogs and in more traditional publications.
• One of the more moving voices of dissent is coming out of Sderot
and other Israeli communities around Gaza. A group called
"The Other Voice"
[this website is in Hebrew] has
published a petition calling for the Israeli government to prevent
escalation and restore calm to the area (the petition and an article on the
group are included as the first items below). The petition was written in
November and is gaining more publicity now, for obvious reasons. It states"
We prefer an option of a cold war in which not a single rocket is fired to a
hot war with tens of innocent victims and casualties from both sides." So
far more than 2,300 Israelis have signed it, including more than 500 people
Adam Horwitz reported on this in Huffington Post >>
• Another voice from that part of Israel belongs to Julia Chaitin,
who opposes this war supposedly being fought for her protection. In her
simple, beautiful prose, she outlines how this war is "unnecessary, cruel
and cynical," and will not bring quiet or "normal" life to the people in the
Negev. She says "We will know peace only when we accept the fact that the
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have every right to lives of dignity. We will
know peace only when we recognize that we must negotiate with Hamas, our
enemy, even if we are devastated that the Palestinians did not elect a more
moderate party to lead them. We will know peace only when our leaders stop
considering our lives cheap and expendable..." In an encouraging
development, this essay was
published in the Washington Post.
• An interview from 12/31/08
on Democracy Now! with Dov Khenin, Knesset Member from the Hadash party,
and conscientious objector Jonathan Ben-Artzi. In addition to Khenin's
report on protest in Israel, this segment contains sharp insights and
analysis from both men.
• Sara Roy, whose analysis of Gazan life and economy is so
invaluable, wonders what becomes of Jewish life and ethical culture in light
of Israel's huge crimes. She says, "It is one thing to take an individual's
land, his home, his livelihood, to denigrate his claims, or ignore his
emotions. It is another to destroy his child...Why have we [Jews] been
unable to accept the fundamental humanity of Palestinians and include them
within our moral boundaries? Rather, we reject any human connection with the
people we are oppressing. Ultimately, our goal is to tribalize pain,
narrowing the scope of human suffering to ourselves alone."
• In his
article entitled "Right and Left, Diaspora Jews are more critical of Israel
than ever," (reprinted in the Huffington Post), Anschel Pfeffer writes
of a "quite significant" number of Jews who are reflexively supportive of
Israel but also "extremely disturbed and hurt by the level of civilian
deaths and destruction" Israel is causing. He notes that "Israel expects
support, fund-raising, lobbying and media advocacy efforts to be made by the
Jews of the Diaspora on its behalf," but this war brings these Diaspora Jews
"frustration and disillusionment" with Israel. Given that mainstream Jewish
organizations, including the more left-leaning Reform movement, are squarely
behind Israel's actions in Gaza, Pfeffer's article suggests that a growing
number of Jewish people simply - and probably silently - don't agree with
these organizations that speak in their names.
a short piece from the JTA reporting that the Rome Jewish Community and
the Union of Italian Jewish Communities responded to an appeal from the
Italian foreign minister to raise funds for victims of Israeli airstrikes
and Palestinian rocket-fire. The Jewish community's $400,000 is to be split
evenly between Jewish and Palestinian grantees. Humanitarian aid is a
gesture which doesn't require assigning blame or responsibility to either
side. Whatever their reasoning for making this gift, it notable that a
Jewish community is officially acknowledging the suffering of people under
direct assault by the Jewish state.
For more from Jewish Peace
News, click here >>
Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) offers an online crisis resource
center on Gaza attacks
It lists these as including:
A factual timeline of
the events leading up to the Israeli attacks.
Reliable articles on
the situation in Gaza.
A list of UN
responses and statements on the tragedy.
A list of credible
updated resource on the numbers of killed and injured.
An instructive link
on contacting the media about the tragedy in Gaza.
An instructive link
on contacting elected representatives including President-elect Obama.
Links to Op-Ed
articles being published on the tragedy in publications nationwide.
A list of protests,
rallies, and vigils taking place nationwide.
Click here for the index of
|Rabbi Michael Lerner
urges Israel – for its own sake – to build true peace in Gaza
Rabbi Michael Lerner, who is is editor of Tikkun, a
prominent progressive Jewish and interfaith magazine and chair of the
interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, writes in Religion Dispatches:
"Israel's attempt to wipe out Hamas is understandable, but dumb. No country
in the world is going to ignore the provocation of rockets being launched
from neighboring territory day after day. ... Israel has every right to
respond. But the kind of response matters." The present Israeli military
action, he argues, is entirely out of proportion to any possible Hamas
The only hope for peace for
Israel, he says, is for that nation, as the militarily superior power, to
initiate an immediate cease-fire, open the Gaza border, release all
Palestinians held in detention, and invite in an international monitoring
More than that, he says that
Israel must take positive steps to build peace in Gaza, and between
Palestine and Israel, including (quoting directly from his article):
1. Implementing a massive
Marshall Plan in Gaza and in the West Bank to end poverty and unemployment,
rebuild all that has been destroyed of the Palestinian infrastructure, and
encourage investment in a new Palestinian economy;
2. Dismantle the settlements or
tell the settlers unequivocally that they must become citizens of a
Palestinian state, live by its laws, face charges if their settlements were
constructed on land stolen from Palestinians, and that they will not be able
to count on Israel to protect them;
3. Accept 30,000 Palestinian
refugees back into Israel each year for the next thirty years, a number that
would not seriously endanger the population balance, apologize for its role
in the 1948 expulsions of Palestinians (known as al Naqba), and offer to
coordinate a worldwide effort to raise funds to compensate Palestinians for
all that they lost during the Occupation;
4. Recognize a Palestinian state
within borders already defined by the Geneva Accord of 2003.
This is the only way Israel will
ever achieve security. It is the only way to permanently defeat Hamas and
all extremists who wish to see endless war against Israel. But it won’t
happen until there is a massive shift in understanding about what promotes
Other sources we might include,
or your own understanding of the invasion
and the complex situation that surrounds it.
Please just send a
to be shared here.
From the leadership of the PC(USA):
Prayer for Peace in
Even as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we
are anguished by stories of violence and conflict once again in Gaza [www.pcusa.org/worldwide/israelpalestine].
Citizens and soldiers, young people and old are wounded and killed. We see
how violence begets violence, as an eye for an eye leads not to peace, but
to deeper blindness. We pray fervently for peace, for a New Year marked by a
willingness and commitment to put violence aside and a desire and dedication
to seek new relationships of peace. We pray that governments and leaders
here and there and around the world will use whatever influence they may
have as peacemakers, and that we, too will have courage and faith to pray
without ceasing and to be agents of justice and peace for all.
Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk
Linda Valentine, Executive Director, General Assembly Council
Peacemaking Program Update
December 29, 2008
News reports from Israel and Gaza in recent days have been
unsettling. Escalating violence between Hamas and Israel in the form of
Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli military attacks on Gaza has
placed innocent people in harm’s way. To date, reports indicate that there
have been over 300 deaths and 1,000 injuries. The continued closure of Gaza
with the cutoff or delay of vital food, fuel, electricity and adequate
access to medical attention for the residents of Gaza is another matter of
concern that must be addressed quickly and responsibility.
In response, we can:
Pray for all victims of violence, all who resort to
violence, and all who work for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
Support humanitarian efforts through
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Call the White House comments line (202-456-1111).
Email President Bush and our Senators and Representative through Churches
for Middle East Peace.
letter to the editor of your paper.
Sign the ecumenical Christian letter to President-elect Obama urging him
to make Israeli-Palestinian peace an immediate priority during his first
year in office.
Christian Call for Holy Land Peace Campaign Organizing Packet from
Churches for Middle East Peace. This packet is intended to help
congregations or other groups organize to send a strong message to
President-elect Obama that Israeli-Palestinian peace must be an immediate
priority during his first year in office. (Adobe Reader
From the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterians at Work in Israel and Palestine
On Peace and Justice in Israel and Palestine – 218th General Assembly
Being a Voice for the Victims of Violence in Israel and Palestine –
218th General Assembly (2008)
Actions of Assemblies from 1997 to 2006
Israel/Palestine Mission Network
From the United Nations
United Nations News Centre on the Middle East
Gaza Humanitarian Situation Report - The impact of the blockade on the
Gaza Strip 15 Dec 2008 by United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
The Rev. W. Mark Koenig
Coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
General Assembly Council
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 569-5936 (888) 728-7228, ext. 5936
|A few critical looks at Israel’s attack on
Gaza – mostly through Jewish eyes
Jewish Peace News offers many and varied reports
A couple recent examples:
Palestinian doctor refutes
several of Israel’s justifications for its attacks on Gaza
Calling the Gaza onslaught "Palestine's Guernica," Dr.
Mustapha Barghouti (founder of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and
Secretary General of the Palestine National Initiative) confronts several of
Israel's claimed justifications for the Gaza actions. These justifications С
including the idea that Hamas unilaterally violated and ended the truce,
Israel is only attacking military targets, that Israel is
attacking Hamas but "not the Palestinian people" – are being repeated in the
mainstream press as if they are truths. Barghouti simply and solidly refutes
Barghouti's article >>
The Gaza Crisis: 2008
An analysis by Phyllis Bennis
A quick summary of the main points in this essay:
|The Israeli airstrikes represent serious violations
of international law С including the Geneva Conventions and a range of
international humanitarian law. |
|The U.S. is complicit in the Israeli violations С
directly and indirectly. |
|The timing of the air strikes has far more to do with
U.S. and Israeli politics than with protecting Israeli civilians. |
|This serious escalation will push back any chance of
serious negotiations between the parties that might have been part of
the Obama administration's plans. |
|There is much work to be done. |
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy
Studies and of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. Her books include
Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer in FAQ
format which many will find useful for education work in this urgent period.
Jewish Peace News offers a vast amount of information
(such as the pieces above) from many different sources, both Israeli, Arab,
and foreign. You’ll find it on the Jewish Peace News archive and blog:
To subscribe to Jewish Peace
News news clippings, which are sent only to subscribers, go to
Jewish Voice for Peace is another source of
information, mostly reflecting the U.S.-based Jewish peace-activist
orientation of the group.
A Hundred Eyes for an Eye
Writing for Truthout, Norman
Even if you set aside the
magnitude of Israel's violations of the Geneva conventions and the long
terrible history of its methodical collective punishment of 1.5 million
Palestinians in Gaza, consider the vastly disproportionate carnage in
the conflict. 'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,' Gandhi
said. What about a hundred eyes for an eye?
The rest of the article >>
Norman Solomon is the author
of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep
Spinning Us to Death.
point of view:
It's Overtime for Hamas' Leaders and Time for Them to Go
Ambassador Marc Ginsberg spent his formative years in the
Middle East, particularly in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon from
1960-1968. He was appointed by Secretary of State Vance as his White House
Liaison in 1977, and then served as Deputy Senior Advisor to President
Carter for Middle East Policy. In 1994, he was appointed by President
Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, making him the first American of
Jewish heritage to be appointed to an Arab nation.
In order to understand what this struggle is all
about, one must understand Hamas' goals, largely derived from its
ideological paternity to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. As a Sunni
extremist offshoot of the Brotherhood, Hamas' raison d'etre is Israel's
destruction – nothing less will do. Despite my instinctive belief that
one should try to negotiate a way out of this dilemma no matter the
odds, I have concluded that the only way out of this mess is to separate
Hamas' entire military and political leadership from the oppressed
citizenry of Gaza (and yes, it is absolutely a mischaracterization of
fact to assert that Hamas is the legitimate ruler of Gaza). Easier said
than done you say. But as long as Hamas rules Gaza, no amount of
cajoling is going to end the vicious cycle of terror that Hamas is
inflicting first and foremost on its own beaten-down Palestinian victims
as well as on Israel.
His full article >>
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!