Monday, March 15, 2010

Suddenly, It's a New World In US/Isr/Pal relationships

I suppose it is almost too much to ask, that we are finally seeing a crack in the wall that has prevented criticism of the Jewish state. The flood gates appear to be opening. Instead of toning down the "rhetoric" as many in Congress request, more of the "truth" must come out into the open. Here is a summary of recent events (with thanks to Noushin Framke, of the Isr/Pal Mission Network (PCUSA), for bringing it to our attention. JRK

Suddenly the ’special relationship’ is… embarrassing
by PHILIP WEISS on MARCH 15, 2010

My initial joy over the Biden insult was not misplaced. The Israeli blunder has catalyzed a new moment in the US-Israel special relationship and maybe, just maybe the beginning of the end. The lead thinktank of the Israel lobby today proclaims that US-Israel relations are "perilous." AIPAC panicked last night. Michael Oren is alarmed.

The Obama administration seemed to relish the opportunity to distance itself from Israel almost as if it had been rehearsing for a break and was only waiting for the provocation. Everyone piled on. Hillary was sharply critical, Joe Biden was critical to Netanyahu’s face, on Saturday there is the General Petraeus leak, and on Sunday David Axelrod is critical on the Sunday talk shows.

Of course, the conditions that the Obama administration is criticizing have been there for years: four decades of Israeli expansion and American passivity. And of course, the criticism has been murmured even in Washington for four decades. The difference this time is that high level political people are willing to express it openly.

That hypocrisy is cracking because politicians sense that they can get away with being halfway honest. The Obama administration senses what we all sense, and that even Tom Friedman senses when he goes on Meet the Press and talks about how much money we give Israel: word is getting out about the special relationship, and Americans are beginning to ask questions.

When both Joe Biden and General David Petraeus are reported to say that the special relationship is endangering American soldiers, they are only saying what Walt and Mearsheimer said in their historic paper four years ago, and what Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, described as the blinding flash of the obvious. But remember, Walt and Mearsheimer could not publish their paper in the United States, and when their book came out, the joke was that a lot of people in D.C. were reading it in brown paper covers, lest they be called anti-Semites.

You could not say that Israel was hurting our interests because Abrams, Libby, Wurmser, Feith, Frum, and Wolfowitz were helping guide the ship of state through the seas of Islamophobia. And intellectuals were just as afraid of the policers of official understanding, of Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Goldberg, Larry Summers, Richard Haass, and David Remnick and Bob Silvers too–Silvers who has never run a review of The Israel Lobby.

Now that atmosphere is changing, even in power circles. Of course, the best reflection of the change is Andrew Sullivan’s remarkable shift. Sullivan was not deterred by Leon Wieseltier’s calling him an anti-Semite, because he knows, the issue is just too important to world peace not to keep talking.

I don’t think you can say enough about Gaza, Goldstone, and the grassroots. Gaza vindicated those of us on the left who said that Israel was treating Palestinians like animals; and instead of understanding the moment and engaging the critics honestly, Israel hunkered down and smeared the critics, thereby discrediting itself in Europe and among young American peace types. I can point to many important moments over the last year: we have thecrazy video from Judaized East Jerusalem to thank, the young bloggers of the Gaza war, the suppressed Max Blumenthal video from Jerusalem, and the silent demonstration outside the Waldorf last week with its swarming pro-Israel loonies. BDS has played a role, too. It has upped the pressure and elicited more looniness: the Reut Institute’s bizarre allegation that BDS is working in tandem with Hizbullah.

Jeffrey Goldberg and Ethan Bronner have struggled to hide that looniness from Americans, still western awareness of Israeli looniness has grown. It has been fed by the Dubai hit captured on surveillance tapes and Netanyahu’s crude crackdown on dissent, and his ministers railing against intermarriage and assimilation. It has been fed by the hubris of Israel’s refusal to meet five congressmen sponsored by J Street; Politico runs Bob Filner’s piece on that diplomatic idiocy today, and Ahmed Tibi warned last week,"Through astonishing ineptness, rather than principled policy, Israel is risking the anger of its bankroller."

And today Netanyahu has exhibited more looniness,insisting on Israel’s right to East Jerusalem.

When the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs declares war on our president and then says his policy is "to make Israel cough up Palestine," any sensible person says I want nothing to do with these people. And when you remember that it was this very same thinktank that in Colin Powell’s view hatched the idea for the Iraq war, you say, Please get out of my life, now.

Suddenly the special relationship is embarrassing. Israel is like a bad party guest. We enabled its drunken behavior for years, now people are starting to talk.

It is only a matter of time before this new mood is reflected in the modern American ceremonies of scrutiny: investigative newspaper stories (catching up with Grant Smith), grandstanding op-eds that discover the existence of the Israel lobby, and more and more Congresspeople who dare to speak out. I’m optimistic. The high beams are on the special relationship, because it has done the unforgivable, it has damaged our pride.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Active Nonviolence is alive and well in Palestine/Israel

Dear Friend,
David Hartsough (3/12/2010) details the many places where active nonviolence is alive and well in Pal/Isr.
He concludes his lengthy remarks with these suggestions for right now in the struggle for security and justice for both sides: (with thanks to TIKKUN for bringing it to our attention, JRK).

MEND Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy
Another important part of the Palestinian Nonviolent movement is MEND (Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy) which is offering nonviolent training to hundreds of young Palestinians throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Their goal is to help educate and nurture a new generation of Palestinians with a deeper understanding of nonviolence and nonviolent action. ( )

Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center
The Wi’am Center is working to support active nonviolence among Palestinians. They aim to improve the quality of relationships by addressing injustices rather than avenging them; dignifying persons on both sides of the conflict; promoting human rights and advocating for peace among all people. ( )

Israeli Peace Movement
There are many hundreds of Israelis who are refusing to serve in the Israeli armed forces in the occupied territories and/or are total conscientious objectors. Many of them have served time, or are currently in prison, for taking this position.

We were deeply moved by the Israelis and Palestinians who have formed Bereaved Families for Peace ( and Combatants for Peace ( Recognizing that their shared pain unites them, they are speaking together in schools and community groups. “We refuse to let our grief harden into hatred and actions of retaliation. Instead, we are turning, in compassion and reconciliation, to each other - Palestinians and Israelis - with the hearts of parents who want to join our voices and hands so that there will be no more bloodshed and no more lives of children wasted..”.

We had not known how many Israelis are also working for the peaceful, and nonviolent resolution of the Occupation. These include:

· 4,000 Refusers-- Israeli military who are refusing orders to serve in the illegally Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza, and hundreds of high school students who are being jailed for defying Israel’s compulsory military service. (Israeli law says that once you leave high school you are technically required to serve in the army. For men that can be up for three years, for women it’s 18 months.)

73 Israeli pilots are known to have refused to fly military missions over the Occupied Territories.

Other courageous groups of Israelis working for peace and justice include New Profile (, Rabbis for Human Rights ( ), The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions ( and Women in Black ( who have been demonstrating every week for twenty-two years.

Conclusion/What Can We Do?
Throughout our time in Palestine, and later in Gaza it became very clear that the security of the Palestinians and the Israelis is inextricably linked. There is such significant interdependence between these two peoples, in an ancient and Holy Land, that they must work together to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Peace in the region can only be achieved through nonviolence, not more rockets and bombing and killing one another..

Unfortunately, in the short time since we were in Palestine and Israel, the harassment at these nonviolent demonstrations, and especially of the leaders of the Popular Committees in the villages, has significantly increased. The Israeli soldiers are using live ammunition more frequently, and are coming into the villages in the middle of the night, raiding the homes of the leaders and taking them off to jail for indefinite detention. Some have even been killed.

As former President John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” We in the peace and justice movement need to strengthen our support of this powerful nonviolent movement in Palestine, and help make peaceful change possible.

We can:

1. Keep the courageous Palestinians and Israelis resisting the Israeli occupation and Apartheid state in our thoughts and prayers.

2. Help get the word out, to our friends and the broader public, about these weekly nonviolent demonstrations and this amazing nonviolent movement in Palestine

3. Join an Interfaith Peace Builders,or a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation. going to Israel and Palestine to meet peace and human rights workers working for a peaceful and just resolution to this tragic conflict. ( and , I encourage you to join Scott Kennedy, of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, who co-led the delegation with me in December of 2009. He will be co-leading a IFPB delegation October 31-November 13, 2010 during the Palestinian Olive Harvest.

4. Send people to accompany the Palestinians in these nonviolent demonstrations and when requested, stay in their villages to help offer nonviolent protection. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) (, Christian Peacemaker Teams (, and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program ( have long-term delegates in the region.

5. Get moral, practical and financial support to this nonviolent movement –for legal support of those arrested, and for minimal support of some of the leaders of this movement who can no longer get to their fields to grow their crops and tend their animals. (Financial support for this movement can be sent to Peaceworkers at 721 Shrader St., San Francisco, CA 94117 and 100% of your contributions will be forwarded to the nonviolent movement in Palestine.)

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (

6. Promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli occupation of Palestine, and companies that profit from the occupation and apartheid policies, being called for by over 200 Palestinian and Israeli organizations. The goal of this campaign is to boycott companies that profit from the occupation and apartheid policies; this action will help bring economic and political pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation of the West Bank, end the Siege of Gaza and end the Apartheid system in Palestine and Israel. (

7. Work to help end the American blank check to the Israeli government of over $3 billion a year in military aid to the Israeli government. It condones the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine, subsidizes the building of the Apartheid wall between Israel and the West Bank , perpetuates the Siege of Gaza, and supports the violence being used against nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank. Please contact your Congressional representatives and the President to voice your concern..

For more information on the nonviolent movement in Palestine and Israel, check the following links:

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

International network for the Palestinian Popular Nonviolent Resistance

American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights (

International Middle East Media Center

Friends of Freedom and Justice, Bil’in

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Highly recommended work:

Refusing To Be Enemies: Palestinian and Israeali Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation, by Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta. , (Ithaca Press, UK -2010, ISBN13: 9780863723421,)

David Hartsough is a Member of San Francisco Friends Meeting. He is married, is a father and grandfather, Director of PEACEWORKERS, Co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, and recently spent a month in Palestine and Israel co-leading an interfaith peace-building delegation.

I am grateful to Sherri Maurin, Jan Hartsough, Ken Butigan and Scott Kennedy for their invaluable assistance in writing/editing this article.

John Kleinheksel Sr