Monday, October 12, 2009

"The things that make for peace": Reflection by Timothy Seidel from the Electronic Intifada

The following is a reflection by Timothy Seidel which originally appeared in The Electronic Intifada on October 11, 2009:

"The Things that Make for Peace"

A Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem,
April 2006. (Inbal Rose/MaanImages)

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." Luke 19:41-42

Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem is the name of a church and a site of pilgrimage for many Christian travelers to the "Holy Land." Literally, Dominus Flevit means "the Lord wept" in Latin and is remembered as the site where Jesus stopped to look out over Jerusalem to weep and ask this striking question to all who would follow him.

An unavoidable question: Do we recognize the things that make for peace? Are they right in front of us, hidden from our eyes?

The language of peace often surrounds us. In a place like Palestine, the language of peace gets thrown around on a regular basis. One can see it when surveying the expanding colonization of the occupied West Bank in recent decades, in particular during those times of "peace" process. Or when one passes through an Israeli military checkpoint and is greeted with "shalom" -- the Hebrew word for peace. And one also encounters it on the International Day of Prayer for Peace, where Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike gather to resist the daily violence they experience through prayer and protest.

When I read a text such as this one from Luke's gospel, I cannot help but feel like Jesus is speaking directly to me, to us. Indeed, these words are a challenge to all of us who would make use of the language of peace.

This is a subversive text. And it reminds me of a story about what the language of peace in Palestine-Israel looks like, a story from Hedy Sawadsky, a relief worker with the Mennonite Central Committee in the Middle East in the 1960s who was challenged by a Palestinian woman: "what you're doing here is fine, but it is only band-aid work ... go home and work for peace and get at the root causes of evil and war."

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Since my return from Palestine, I cannot help but see the linkages to the work of peace and justice here in the US. Just as that Palestinian woman told Hedy, the root causes are too often rooted here.

I continue to struggle with not being cynical about the situation in Palestine and in Gaza in particular. It is not a healthy place for me to be, spiritually or emotionally. But the Gaza Strip is a heart-breaking catastrophe in so many ways and the people there have been suffering for so long. It makes me think about the ways that we in the US are irrelevant -- in the sense that it is less about what we need to do and more about what we need to stop doing. In other words, honestly looking at the ways in which we, the US, have made Gaza into a prison: through our tax dollars, our US military aid to Israel, which includes the military hardware used in Gaza, our US veto power that obstructs United Nations Security Council responses, or our US media representations of Gaza and Palestinians that too often dehumanize.

Honesty in our self-reflection should lead us to confession and repentance of our own histories of violence and injustice on this continent. I once heard quoted a Native American who argued that the best way for people from the US to address the terrible conflict in Palestine-Israel is to deal more seriously with our own history of colonization, dispossession and displacement and work for justice for the indigenous peoples in the US. This would not only address a serious and ongoing historical sin but in the process more effectively help our Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters suffering in that broken land. This manner of systemic analysis recognizes that work for justice in Gaza should be part of the work for justice everywhere.

This has led me to seek a "thicker" definition of peace, one that emerges out of a deeper, more systemic analysis of violence and injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about these linkages, particularly in naming the connections between racism, poverty (classism) and war (militarism). Or put another way, recognizing that our work at anti-imperialism abroad must be complemented by our anti-racism and anti-oppression work at home.

Identifying the historical trends of colonization, dispossession and displacement in a place such as the Middle East, how might an accompanying peace issue look like in our communities? How might we identify these linkages? I would argue that immigration is such an issue, an issue all-too-invisible, or at least invisible to some. In fact, wherever you may be right now you would likely not have to look too far to uncover the plight of undocumented neighbors and discover opportunities to recognize "the things that make for peace" particularly as it relates to the biblical call to welcome the stranger (Lev. 19:33-34; Eph. 2:17-20).

Newcomers to the United States continue to encounter an unwelcoming hostility shaped by racism and xenophobia. They are too often met with suspicion, intimidation, isolation, militarized borders, raids and migratory documentation backlogs. In recent years, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) conducted some of the largest workplace raids in the history of the United States, causing fear, separating and terrorizing families, and disrupting entire communities and the lives of immigrants and US citizens. The ongoing construction of the US-Mexico border wall materializes this anti-immigrant sentiment. There are an estimated 12 to 16 million persons in the US with undocumented immigrant status. And the US immigration system continues to be dysfunctional, lacking programs for guest workers and increasing documentation backlogs, and proposing futile programs that do not address the root causes of immigration.

In this context, many Christian communities continue to be ambivalent about how it should respond to immigrants, and in its majority the church remains uneducated on the political, economic and social issues that cause immigration. For example, when coming to the United States individuals are looking for economic opportunities, means for survival for themselves and their families, and fleeing the dire situations that their countries are facing -- many of which are directly connected to foreign policies of the United States, including trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that could be understood to lead to the "colonization" of local economies resulting in a displacement that dispossesses whole communities and uproots persons. The economies of neighboring countries, such as Mexico, have been seriously affected by trade policies that promote economic disparity and dependence.

A genuine peace that speaks to all of these forms of violence and injustice is our challenge. This takes us beyond the all-too-familiar and omnipresent language of peace, recognizing that what is required is more than a word. More than holding another peace summit that provides the opportunity for another high profile photo-op. More than another gathering around a peace agency or a peace church.

Indeed, peace in its deepest, thickest, most holistic form always challenges the status quo that maintains the structures of violence that benefit the powerful and privileged. And so, a "thicker" definition of peace requires a thicker, more systemic analysis and approach to peace, accompanied by engaged and engaging theological reflection.

And this is one of the ways that we can engage this issue -- seeking a thicker definition of peace through biblical and theological reflection that is life-giving. Challenging nationalistic and chauvinistic biblical theologies such as Christian Zionism that legitimize the violence and oppression of these structures of dispossession and occupation that create a status quo of suffering for Palestinians, Native Americans, or the undocumented immigrant in our midst is crucial.

This sort of reflection and systemic analysis must lead to action and engagement -- whether in terms of education, political advocacy, boycott, divestment, or sanctions -- whose authenticity will be measured by the ways in which they challenge our lifestyles in a manner that requires we change, transform and heed the calls to confession and repentance that continue to echo from Palestine, Pine Ridge, and across the Global South.

Whether it is seeking a just peace in Palestine-Israel or radical hospitality for the stranger in our midst, how do we look with open eyes and listen with open ears and hearts so that we might see, that we might recognize on this day the things that make for peace?

Timothy Seidel works as Director for Peace and Justice Ministries with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) US He was a peace development worker with MCC in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 2004-2007 and a contributing author to Under Vine and Fig Tree: Biblical Theologies of Land and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Cascadia Publishing, 2007).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

From the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation: "Sheikh Jarrah evictions reveal Israel's apartheid policies"

This post was written by a Young Friend of Sabeel who is now working for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in Washington, DC. You can see the original post and other news, commentary, and analysis about changing U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to be in accordance with international law and human rights at the US Campaign's blog.

Last week we reported on the eviction of 53 Palestinians, members of the Al-Ghawi and Hanoun families, who were evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Joseph Dana, an Israeli-American activist and independent journalist who works with the group Ta'ayush (Living Together), reports on a vigil organized in response to these evictions:
"Last night in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah there was a vigil, a memorial to the families’ homes from which they were evicted. First they were refugees and now they are homeless. After weeks of legal battles, sit-ins and press conferences, several hundreds gathered to acknowledge a critical defeat in the battle over the future of this land and the two peoples who want to live here in peace."
Take a look at Dana's video of the vigil below, and note in particular Rabbi Arik Ascherman discussing the "discriminatory behavior" that these evictions represent just before his arrest at the hands of Israeli military police:

There is a specific term in international law for this type of discriminatory behavior when it comes from the official apparatus of the state. That word is apartheid--a fact not lost on Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who writes in Ha'aretz:
"We should perhaps thank the court for its scandalous ruling, which not only sparked a justifiable international wave of protest against Israel, but also revealed its true face. "There are judges in Jerusalem," as Menachem Begin said, and they have made it official: apartheid. Ownership rights are for Jews alone."
The 1973 UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines apartheid as a crime against humanity, not specific to South Africa, consisting of "inhuman acts" designed to impose racial segregation and discrimination on a targeted group. Specific acts falling under the crime of apartheid include denying basic human rights of freedom of movement and residence and the expropriation of landed property in order to create separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups.

Of course, calling apartheid by its name doesn't earn one many friends, as evidenced by the current controversy surrounding the United Church of Canada's resolutions on Israel/Palestine. There are signs that the discourse is changing, however, not the least of which is the decision by President Obama to honor key critics of Israeli apartheid with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama is scheduled to present these awards today.

A change in the discourse isn't enough, though. Policies have to change, and we're the ones who have to organize to change them. Find out how by clicking here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Update from Sheikh Jarrah

This past Monday, a vigil was held in Sheikh Jarrah for the Palestinian families illegally evicted from their homes. Several hundred international, Israeli, and Palestinian activists gathered to protest the eviction. Midway through the protest, it was declared illegal by the Israeli police, the crowd was told to disperse and in the process, Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights was arrested.

Read the Daily Kos for more information about the demonstration.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Israel must allow evicted Arab families to return home" -- Haaretz editorial

The al Ghawi and al Hanoun families are staying across the street in tents from the houses they were illegally evicted from by the Israeli authorities. Refugees for a second time, the families have nowhere to go.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper published the following strongly worded editorial regarding the eviction:

The eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in order to replace them with Jewish families, predictably sparked harsh condemnations. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the government to refrain from such actions, which she described as "provocative."

Sweden, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, asserted that the evictions were illegal, while UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said they were violations of both the Geneva Conventions and Israel's obligations under the road map peace plan.

The sight of the evicted Palestinian families, who had lived in these houses for decades, paints Israel in the world's eyes as a country that maintains a cruel regime of occupation, oppresses the weak and strives to create political facts in the disputed city under the guise of the "rule of law."

But for all its importance, this international criticism is not what makes the eviction of these families completely unacceptable. A democratic state that strives for peace and justice simply has no right to uproot families who became refugees in 1948. They left homes in West Jerusalem behind them, and were subsequently granted modest accommodations by the Jordanian government. The claim that the houses in Sheikh Jarrah were purchased by Jews in the early 1900s is a double-edged sword that opens a political and legal Pandora's box.

No thinking person will be persuaded that Jews have a sweeping right to return to their homes in East Jerusalem as long as Israeli law not only bars Palestinians from returning to their homes in West Jerusalem, but even evicts them from the houses where they have lived for the last 60 years. The Israel Lands Administration's regulations do not even allow Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to buy land and houses in many parts of the city.

The least that can be expected of a state that legalized the expropriation of thousands of dunams in East Jerusalem to build 50,000 apartments for its citizens is to once and for all deprive extremists of the right to turn Jerusalem into an obstacle to peace and a stumbling block to reconciliation between the two peoples that inhabit this city.

The government must immediately return the Palestinian residents to their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and cancel the eviction orders that have been issued against additional houses. And the neighborhood's fate must be determined via diplomatic negotiations.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Update on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions: "I have been here 56 years and I have more right to be here than them"

The al Hanoun and al Ghawi families have set up tents across the street from the homes they were illegally evicted from by the Israeli authorities. From the tent the settlers are clearly visible and making audacious displays of their ownership. One settler teenager is smiling as he joyfully rides on his razor scooter under the watchful eye of the Israeli police. The streets that the houses are on have been shut down for the past two days and are guarded by Israeli forces.

There has been a large international and local presence protesting the evictions and committed to standing with the families for the past two days and plan to continue coming to demonstrate their solidarity. However, when the protesters are done for the day and return to their homes, the al Hanoun and al Ghawi families must stay on the street.

The al Ghawi family consists of three brothers and their families. One of the brothers, Naser al Ghawi told us that he wanted to stay in the tent across from his house, he didn't want to move because "we have no where else to go".

His wife, Maysoun said, "I have a been here for 56 years and I have more right to be here than them...I'm going to stay here". In fact, Israel's eviction of the families is in contravention to the Fourth Geneva Convention because their houses are located in occupied East Jerusalem. An occupying force is prohibited from transferring their own people into occupied territory. The confiscation of private property by an occupying force is also forbidden.

When asked where their 20 month old child will be staying tonight, they responded, "the street".

Video, media coverage of Sheikh Jarrah evictions

Israeli American activist Joseph Dana, of the group Ta'ayush, reports on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions on his blog:

Here's an Al Jazeera report on the evictions:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Approximately 70 Palestinians evicted in East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah -- Israeli Settlers move in immediately

It seems convenient that every news worthy incident is directly followed by house demolitions and home evictions in Israeli occupied territory. Just as the election of Obama was followed by home demolitions in East Jerusalem, the morning after the tragedy of the Tel Aviv shootings, about 70 Palestinians in East Jerusalem were evicted from their homes.

Just before sunrise, under the cover of night, these UN registered Palestinian refugee families were thrown off of the land that the UN bought for them from Jordan in 1956 (before Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem) by the Israeli police force. Hungrily waiting on the sidelines, Israeli settlers moved into the houses almost immediately as the way was clear.

Fortunately, the press was not preoccupied and the cover of night was not sufficient to hide the grave injustice that was committed today. Still more families in this neighborhood face imminent eviction. We ask for your prayers and support for those affected by illegal Israeli expropriation of private Palestinian property. It is more evidence that the Nakba continues today.

BBC article on the evictions

Haaretz article on the evictions

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Separate but Not Equal

For the past few days, the Sabeel International Young Adult Conference participants have been touring around northern Israel visiting Acre, Nazareth, Tiberius, and more.

The Palestinians that the participants met in these areas have a different relationship with the state of Israel from Palestinians living in the West Bank because they have Israeli citizenship. The Palestinian citizens of Israel face different challenges. They do not have the same rights as Jewish citizens.

It is almost impossible for a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship to rent or buy property in Jewish towns and neighborhoods in Israel. Furthermore, Palestinian towns and neighborhoods receive very little funding in comparison to Jewish areas. This population constitutes 19% of the total population of Israel but only receives 5% of governmental development funds and 6% of the salary budget allotted to government employees (teachers are government employees in Israel). Take a closer look at disparities in funding.

Reminiscent of the United States before 1964, Israel's policy of creating a separate school system for Palestinian citizens of Israel is separate and not equal. The Arab state school system is in desperate need of 9,300 classrooms, however, the government has agreed to build only 2,850 new classrooms over the next two years. The Arab state school system lacks the funding that is provided to the Jewish school systems.

Also, the content of the curriculum must be approved by the Ministry of Education which views any information regarding Palestinian culture and history as a threat to the state of Israel. The Palestinians constitute an indigenous population and have a fundamental right to culture as recognized by the The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which clearly states that indigenous peoples have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or the destruction of their culture. However, the Israeli Education Ministry banned the work of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish from curriculum and is now banning the teaching of the Nakba.

Below is a video from a Palestinian Israeli hip hop group. Read the translation of the lyrics below to understand some of the challenges that this community faces.

Also, take a look at how our participants are doing below in a couple photos we've uploaded.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Sabeel International Conference Moves to Taybeh

The conference participants moved from Bethlehem to Taybeh, a Christian Palestinian village close to Ramallah in the West Bank. Taybeh is well known for opening the first micro brewery in the Occupied Territories. Watch the brewery's story below.

However, the participants weren't relaxing having a beer during their stay in Taybeh. They volunteered to do various kinds of work for the local population. For eight hours they worked on painting, cleaning, and fixing houses in the village.

After a long day of hard work, the participants went back to the Taybeh Guesthouse and enjoyed an evening of Palestinian music and watched a reenactment of a traditional Palestinian wedding.

Take a look at a couple pictures we've uploaded below of the conference:

Below is a picture of a participant, Elizabeth walking through a checkpoint.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Weekend in the West Bank: The Sabeel International Young Adult Conference Continues

On Saturday, the participants visited the largest city in the West Bank, Hebron. Hebron is the only Palestinian city to have a settlement inside of it. Because of the presence of these settlers, movement of Palestinians is greatly restricted in the name of the settlers' security. Certain major roads are specified for use by Israelis only. The Temporary International Presence in Hebron counted 113 checkpoints, roadblocks, and closures inside of the city. Because of these restrictions, the Palestinian economy in Hebron has become strangled. Watch this short introductory video below.

One participant from the United States, Alexandra writes:

The city is not being protected, the soldiers are plainly there for inconvenience. Blocking exists down the shops hallways, closing stores, allowing settlements to throw trash and bricks at the people below, taking homes, all in the name of security!

I do not see security, I see the basic needs of life stripped and I see prisoners in their own town. I see children living in filth much worst than third living world countries.

To learn more about Hebron, browse through BTselem's publications regarding the city.

On Sunday, the participants attended church Beit Sahour, close to Bethlehem. After services, they had the opportunity to speak to local Christian families about the challenges they face living under occupation. One topic that was raised concerned water.

The scarcity of water is a major issue for Palestinians in the West Bank, particularly during the summer. Israeli citizens (those inside of Israel AND settlers in the West Bank) benefit from unlimited access to running water all year round consuming, on average, 280 liters a day. Palestinians, on the other hand, are able to utilize only 60 liters per a day. The World Health Organization recommends 100 liters per a day as the minimum quantity for basic consumption.

Israel has strong control over the area's water sources even though two of the major sources of Israel's water lie largely in the West Bank, the Mountain Aquifer and the Jordan River. Palestinians have a right to this natural resource and Israel has a responsibility as an occupying force to ensure that Palestinians receive it.

BTselem states:

The water shortage violates the basic human rights of Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories such as the right to health, to adequate housing, to equality, and to benefit from their natural resources. This harm results from Israeli policy, in effect since 1967, based on an unfair division of resources shared by Israel and the Palestinians.

Next the participants toured Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. They enjoyed shopping and listening to a story of a collective act of nonviolent resistance demonstrated by the local population during the first Intifada. In response to the Israeli authorities' increase in taxes imposed on the people and the lack of services provided, the local population refused to pay and disposed of their blue identity cards issued by the Israeli government. In reaction, the Israeli government took all of the possessions of the protesters in lieu of their tax money. However, those who took part are still proud of this nonviolent act.

Tomorrow, the participants will be in Taybeh.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Update on the Conference! Watch videos and check out the organizations that participants are visiting!

The participants are still in Jerusalem and had the opportunity to listen to four very different Jewish Israeli organizations working for peace and justice.

The first organization, Rabbis for Human Rights, views their commitment to protecting the human rights of minorities and Palestinians as a religious one. They have called themselves "the rabbinic voice of conscience in Israel". The organization seeks to give voice to the Jewish tradition's concern for the 'stranger' and others vulnerable within society, and are bound by a Jewish responsibility to defy silent complicity. Check out what they do in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Participants also met with BTselem. Known for their accuracy, BTselem documents human rights abuses committed in the West Bank and Gaza and petition the Supreme Court to take action. BTselem is also known for their Camera Distribution Project which effectively gives Palestinians living under occupation a voice by providing them with cameras to document their lives. Check out some footage below!

After lunch, the participants stood in protest against the Israeli occupation with Women in Black. These brave Jewish Israeli women stand in silent protest in a public square every Friday at 1:00 pm with signs held high that call for the end of the occupation. Despite all kinds of insults hurled their way, they have maintained this tradition for over 20 years!

At the end of the day, the participants went on an ICAHD Tour. ICAHD stands for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. ICAHD opposes and resists a practice that Hillary Clinton understatedly described as "unhelpful" to the peace process which is the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in occupied territory. Check out this link about ICAHD's alternative tours.

Finally, the participants moved to Bethlehem for the night and will be going to a Palestinian city heavily impacted by the occupation, Hebron. It is the only Palestinian city with settlements INSIDE of its boundaries. Therefore, there is a strong if not suffocating Israeli military presence and Palestinian movement is greatly restricted within their own city limits.

Keep reading for reflections from participants about their trip to Hebron!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update: The Second Day of the Sabeel International Young Adult Conference and a Message from a Participant!

The second full day of the Sabeel International Young Adult Conference began with a briefing regarding access and movement in the West Bank and Gaza by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). There are over 602 checkpoints and barriers restricting the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank.

After the briefing, the participants visited Ein Kerem, the home village of John the Baptist, at which a Bible study was led by Father Rafiq Khoury illustrating the relevance of John the Baptist’s life to Palestinian Christians’ lives today.

Next the participants took part in a Sabeel tradition, walking the Contemporary Way of the Cross, with Sabeel staff member Nora Carmi. The Contemporary Way of the Cross draws a parallel between the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the Palestinians living under restrictive Israeli measures. The first station was the site of a Palestinian village depopulated during the Nakba (1948). 480 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated in 1948 and resulted in the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

The following stations consisted of examples of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank: a checkpoint, settlements, and the Separation Wall. The last station was the tent of a woman, Um Kamel, who was pushed out of her home by Jewish settlers with the aid of Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem. She was a refugee of 1948 and was made homeless again in November 2008. UNRWA had bought the land for her house to be built in 1956 from Jordan before the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. Yet, the Israeli authorities somehow still found reason to throw her out of her home claiming legal authority.

Watch Um Kamel tell her story:

A Message from Hannah Carter:

Hi everyone,

Thanks for following us on the blog! It is just the end of the second full day here and it feels like we’ve been here for weeks. We have seen so much already, and heard so many stories…to summarize it all when I get back will be difficult. We began the week with a worship service in the Garden of Gethsemane and then walked the Stations of the Cross here in Jerusalem. Today we met with the UN, took our first trip into the West Bank, met with a refugee family and also visited the town where John the Baptist was born.

Needless to say it’s been an incredible experience so far and I can’t wait for the rest of it.

- Hannah

Check out the links to learn about what your friends and family members are seeing and keep messaging us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Update: The First Full Day of the Sabeel International Conference

The first full day of the conference began with an opening worship held in the Garden of Gethsemane. Following the service, Bishop Munib Younan, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land introduced the subject of the challenges facing Palestinian Christians today. He began with a short introduction regarding who the Palestinian Christians are and moved on to address three major concerns regarding this population.

The first concern discussed was the mass emigration of Palestinian Christians to Europe and the United States due to the economic hardships that the Israeli Occupation imposes on them.

The second concern regards the current unemployment rate of this population. Over 40% of Palestinian Christians are unemployed (a major reason for emigration).

The last issue addressed was the intensification of racism in Jerusalem.

After the lecture, the group went on a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem. The participants walked the Via Dolorosa stopping at the stations of the cross and ended their tour with a walk through the Armenian Quarter. Then the participants were given free time to wander the historic streets in smaller groups.

The day concluded with a movie, "East Side Story" directed by Muhammad Elattar. The movie documents the history of Jerusalem pre-1948 until today by beginning with the War of 1948 or the Palestinian Nakba and loss of Palestinian homes in West Jerusalem. The movie then proceeds to draw a parallel between the Nakba and the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Following the occupation, the Israeli authorities have made efforts to push the Palestinian population out of these areas and to create a strong Jewish presence there. These Jewish settlements and restrictions imposed on Palestinians are in contravention to International Law and the 4th Geneva Convention which stipulates that it is forbidden for an occupying force to transfer its own citizens into occupied territory or to confiscate or destroy the occupied peoples' private property. These Israeli actions constitute a second or ongoing Nakba for the Palestinians.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The 4th International Sabeel Young Adult Conference Begins Today!

This evening 38 young adult conference members arrived at the Knight's Palace in the Old City of Jerusalem for Orientation. Our participants include 8 local Palestinian Christians and 30 internationals from the United States, Canada, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands.

For the next 10 days, these participants will be traveling around Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Galilee in order to learn about the Palestinian Christian population of these areas and the challenges they face under Israeli Occupation in the West Bank or as a marginalized people in Israel.

This blog will be updated daily with summaries of the conference day and reflections on the day from participants.

To keep in touch with Sabeel staff and participants during their journey, feel free to leave a comment on the blog!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem

Yesterday, Israeli authorities demolished 3 Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is considered occupied land by the United States and Europe. The Fourth Geneva Convention clearly prohibits ANY destruction of personal property by the Occupying Power, yet according to an Israeli organization, over 24,145 Palestinian homes in all of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem) have been demolished since the beginning of the occupation in 1967.

These demolitions coincided with the International Day of Action Against Home Evictions and House Demolitions. A press conference was held at the protest tent in East Jerusalem in an attempt to raise international awareness regarding this issue.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a Jewish Israeli organization, is also fighting against home demolitions. Watch this video below in which the head of ICAHD speaks about the work of his organization and the fundamental human right to shelter.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Watch this clip from Peace Now about their project, "Settlement Watch"

This clip reporting on Peace Now's work documenting settlement construction in the West Bank was aired on TV in Israel. Members of the group experience difficulty on the job when a settler reacts violently. Take a look.

Peace Now is the oldest Israeli peace movement founded in 1978. Peace Now's project called, "Settlement Watch" monitors and creates awareness regarding settlement construction and the implications of the construction. The organization views the settlements as an obstacle to peace and as detrimental to the moral fabric of Israeli society because the construction of settlements necessitates violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Action Alert!: Tell Israel to Free Humanitarian Workers Aboard Free Gaza Boat

On June 30th, the Israeli Navy attacked and captured the unarmed humanitarian aid boat The Spirit of Humanity. This is the second time that the Israeli navy has attacked a Free Gaza Movement boat while it was attempting to deliver medical supplies, building equipment, and children's toys to the Port of Gaza.

Take action to demand the release of The Spirit of Humanity's crew and passengers!

Learn about the movement behind the Free Gaza Boats and Gaza

Learn more about the movement that is organizing boats sailing to Gaza by taking a look at their website.

Also, take a look at the new short video produced by Israeli Human Rights groups calling for lifting of the border closures in Gaza.

If you want to learn more about the Gaza Strip, take a look at B'Tselem's information page about this area.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Support Sheikh Jarrah: International day of actions against house demolitions in Palestine

The community of Shiekh Jarrah calls on the international community to set up tents outside of Israeli embassies worldwide in solidarity with the neighborhoods threatened with eviction or demolition in occupied East Jerusalem.

Tents have become a powerful symbol of the struggle of Palestinian people living in occupied East Jerusalem. They have been set up as centres of protest in neighbourhoods threatened by numerous eviction and demolition orders, part of Israel’s wider policy to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian population. Ultimately this would destroy any hope of East Jerusalem becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state. A number of the tents, notably the one in Sheikh Jarrah, have been built by Palestinian residents forcibly evicted from their homes as a result of Israel’s racist policy. Palestinians, who became refugees in 1948 & 1967 are, once again, facing dispossession from their homes and land as our governments stand by and do nothing.

The neighbourhoods most severely affected are Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Ras Khamiis, Al Tur and Sur Beher however house evictions and demolitions are not uncommon in the Old City itself. In Silwan, 88 homes in the al Bustan quarter are facing immediate destruction in order to create space for a planned national park. In addition, two apartment buildings housing 34 families in the adjacent al Abbasiyya quarter have also received demolition orders. When completed, up to 2,000 Palestinians will be uprooted from their homes.

The local communities are calling for international activists to organise symbolic protests and set up tents outside of Israeli embassies or Zionist organisations worldwide to stand in solidarity with the protest tents in the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Ras Khamiis, Al Tur and Sur Beher.

The case of Sheikh Jarrah

The neighbourhood consists of 28 families, and is facing a number of eviction orders which are part of a plan to implant a new Jewish settlement in the area, close to the Old City. After the Al Kurd family has been forcibly removed from their home in November 2008, it is now the turn of the al-Ghawe and Hannoun families to face imminent eviction, while others are awaiting further eviction orders.

The families have gone through 37 years of legal battles, fighting for the right to stay in their houses where many of them have been born and which they legally own. To date, the Israeli courts, including the High Court, decided in favour of the Jewish settler organisations, which claim the ownership of the land based on falsified documents. The courts have not only ignored all the documents produced by the Sheikh Jarrah community which clearly prove their legal status and the ownership of the land, they have also shown that their decisions are not based on law and justice, but are clearly political decisions, serving the goal of cleansing the Palestinian people from Jerusalem.

The latest court hearing, held on the 17th May, ordered the families to sign a guarantee for 50,000 NIS and present a further guarantee for $50,000 from the bank. The court has ruled for this money to be taken if the families refuse to hand in their keys and leave their houses voluntarily by noon on the 19th July. After this date, the settler organisations have permission to enter the houses and the fathers of the families will be sent to prison, charged with contempt of court.
Now that all legal avenues have been exhausted, the families last hope is that media attention & international pressure can help stop the evictions taking place

Maher Hannoun, resident from Sheikh Jarrah faced by imminent eviction order and imprisonment, said:
As refugees and people living under occupation, we are asking people to help us with our struggle for our rights. It is unbelievable that in the 21st century, Israel’s authorities can get away with demolishing the homes of Palestinians in order to build settlements or national parks. The price we and our neighbours have to pay is too high, we are faced with two impossible choices – either we throw our kids out on the street or we go to prison. If we lose our homes, there is nowhere else for us to go, the only option we have is to live in tents.

International solidarity gives us more power and strength to continue in our struggle and stay in our homes. We need support from people around the world to let everybody know about our story and pressure their goverments to help stop this racist policy of house evictions and demolitions.

What you can do – suggestions for further actions:

* Contact your MPs and other political representatives to tell them about this story. Ask them to raise the issue of East Jerusalem in the Parliament and Government meetings and put diplomatic pressure on the Israeli authorities.

* Contact media representatives in your countries and ask them to cover the story of Sheikh Jarrah and the ongoing ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem.

* Organise demonstrations, talks, film nights or photo exhibitions in your countries. Email to receive updates, tell us about your ideas for actions, events and the co-ordination of an international day of actions.

* Set up a contigency plan with your organization or affinity group in the event that these evictions are carried out or Maher Hannoun is arrested. Send your email to to recieve alerts and co-ordinate your actions.

We ask for people to stand in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah and support their fight for justice.

Settlements ARE an obstacle to peace!

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank, defying U.S. calls for a halt to settlement growth according to an article in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz today.

Interestingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that international concerns regarding settlement activity are impeding the Middle East peace process. However, the EU and the United States view Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank as an OBSTACLE to peace.

Israeli Human Rights Organization, BTselem, explains exactly why settlement activity in the occupied West Bank is an obstacle to peace:

As part of the regime, Israel has stolen thousands of dunams of land from the Palestinians. On this land, Israel has established dozens of settlements in which hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians now live. Israel forbids Palestinians to enter and use these lands and uses the settlements to justify numerous violations of Palestinian rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a living, and freedom of movement. The sharp changes Israel made to the map of the West Bank make a viable Palestinian state impossible as part of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

BTselem goes on to argue the illegality of the settlements within the framework of international humanitarian law:

The establishment of settlements in the West Bank violates international humanitarian law which establishes principles that apply during war and occupation. Moreover, the settlements lead to the infringement of international human rights law.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Article 49).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A wave of morally responsible investment victories

Advocates for morally responsible investment around the world achieved a wave of victories in the past week!

It started Monday, June 8 with Veolia's announcement that it would pull out of the East Jerusalem light rail project that would connect illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem with Israel. (For those of you who have visited Sabeel's office in Jerusalem, this is the light rail that is being built right through the middle of Shou'fat road in front of the office). Veolia has lost some $7 billion in contracts due to sustained efforts in Europe, including campaigns and law suits against Veolia contracts in France; Dutch and Swedish divestment efforts, which included the participation of the Sabeel partners such as the Church of Sweden and Diakonia; and by British solidarity groups.

(Light rail in front of Sabeel Jerusalem office; photo by Tina Whitehead)

Next came the announcement that the Belgian-French financial group Dexia will no longer finance Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories through its Israeli branch Dexia Israel. This decision follows a months-long Belgian campaign to expose the company's connections to the settlement 'enterprise.'

Then came news that Motorola, which provides the Israeli military and settlements with surveillence and communication equipment, is considering selling off its Israeli subsidiary. his decision comes after our April victory in which Motorola sold off its bomb fuse department, one of the primary demands of human rights advocates working on the Motorola campaign.

Most recently, shareholder resolutions and protests at the Caterpillar shareholder meeting called on the company to end its military sales to Israel. Caterpillar bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes, uproot olive and fruit trees, build settlements and the apartheid Wall, and have even been used to kill Palestinian and international civilians. Faced with questions about Caterpillar's human rights record, CAT CEO Jim Owens repeatedly said that those shareholders who don't agree with CAT's practices shouldn't own CAT shares--exactly what morally responsible investment advocates have been saying all along!

In other MRI news, the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada passed a resolution calling for all churches affiliated with the United Church to support Palestinian human rights through divestment efforts.. The resolution will be discussed and voted on by the United Church General Council in August. And a Canadian court is set to rule on whether companies can be sued for constructing settlements in a suit brought against two Canadian companies by the Palestinian village of Bil'in, one of the sites of weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall. To watch Al Jazeera's report on this case, click here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netanyahu's Conditions without Preconditions for a Palestinian State

Last night, in an internationally televised speech, Netanyahu stated that he was willing to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions...and then proceeded to state his conditions!

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator stated,"He announced a series of conditions and qualifications that render a viable, independent, and sovereign Palestinian state impossible."

Netanyahu demanded that any future Palestinian state not have a military (a right that every sovereign country has) or the ability to ask for military assistance from neighboring Arab states -- thus leaving it dependent upon the state of Israel. Palestine would also not be allowed control of its airspace.

Netanyahu also made a commitment to a united Jerusalem, a commitment which is in contravention to International Law according to the Israeli Human Rights Organization, BTselem. East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory and is home to over 208,000 Palestinians.

Take a look at BBC's key points of the speech
Check out the Guardian's analysis of the speech

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Silencing the Palestinian narrative in Israel

Check out the below excerpt from Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz. A bill proposed forbidding the commemoration of the Nakba was approved. The commemoration of the Nakba does not mourn the establishment of the state of Israel but mourns the dispossession of 700,000 Palestinians and the fragmentation of Palestinian society:

Ten days ago, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved a bill proposed by MK Alex Miller of Yisrael Beiteinu, "forbidding by law the commemoration of Independence Day or the establishment of the state as a day of mourning." The bill was supported by Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar. As a result of the ruckus that resulted from the proposal, a compromise bill is being prepared, which would ban government bodies or any organization benefiting from state funding, from organizing or funding activities related to the Nakba.

One of the teachers who began using the kit [an educational kit teaching about the Nakba], Avital Spivak, says that "the Palestinian side of the story is missing completely from the educational system." She teaches civics to 11th and 12th graders at the Reali School in Haifa, and says "there is a complete blind spot, which leads to ignorance and racism and blocks the possibility of understanding and dialog. There is no need to agree to the right of return to talk about the Nakba, and there is no contradiction between being a Zionist and refusing to be blind and deaf to the pain and the story of the other side."

Read the entire article

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gaza still requires attention from the international community!

According to the UN, Israel destroyed 3,500 homes in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Some of the displaced persons now live in tents, in harsh conditions. Participants in B’Tselem’s video project documented life in one encampment.

Watch a clip from the footage

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Palestinian Family in East Jerusalem Under House Arrest

The Israeli construction of the Annexation Wall on the Khatib family land has rendered 24 members of the family on the Israeli side of the Wall, where they are being kept under house arrest. No members of the family have committed any crime, but the Israeli military keeps them under house arrest because the Israeli military constructed the Wall with the family on the Israeli side.

Read the article!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Palestinian Christians and the Wall covered by Reuters

Reuters news service had a pretty good article about Palestinian Christians on Monday, specifically about the effect of the Wall on the West Bank village of Aboud:
"Aboud's parish priest Father Firas Aridah blames the Israeli barrier for decimating the income of Aboud's Christian community and forcing 34 families since 2000 to leave in search of more stability and security."
Check out the full article here.

Israeli groups call for divestment from occupation

Great news for the cause of morally responsible investment!

A number of Israeli organizations have called on the Norwegian government to divest its pension fund from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. The groups include Zochrot, Mossawa, the Coalition of Women for Peace, and Machsom Watch. Their letter to the Norwegian government includes a list of companies identified by the Coalition of Women for Peace as profiting from the occupation of Palestinian land either through the construction of settlements, operating on confiscated Palestinian land, or supplying the Israeli military with equipment to support the occupation.

Companies listed include Alsom and Veolia (France), which are involved in the illegal settlement light rail that runs directly in front of the Sabeel office; Assa Abloy (Sweden), which operates an Israeli subsidiary in the West Bank; Unilever (the Netherlands), which also operates an Israeli subsidiary in a West Bank settlement); Caterpillar (USA), whose bulldozers are used to destroy Palestinian houses, uproot olive and fruit trees, and build the Apartheid Wall; and Elbit, an Israeli company that is involved in both the Wall in the West Bank and the wall being built on the southern border of the United States.

The full letter is available here; check it out!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sabeel, Nakba on 'Mondoweiss'

A Sabeel trip to Palestinian villages destroyed in Al Nakba made it into Mondoweiss, one of the largest U.S. blogs covering Palestine.

The story includes this picture, taken by an erstwhile YFOSer during a Sabeel staff trip to Al Bassa, which was once a mixed Christian and Muslim town.

The churches, mosque, and Christian and Muslim graveyards of the town are now in the middle of an Israeli industrial park.

Check out the full story on Mondoweiss.

And let us know if you have photos, articles, publications, or anythign else to share--we'd love to hear from you!

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15th is Nakba Commemoration Day

The Nakba, or the "catastrophe" in Arabic, refers to the displacement and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians as a result of the 1948 War. During the war Israel declared its independence from Great Britain and began a policy of expansion by any means possible beyond the borders defined by the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

As a result, several massacres were committed by the Jewish forces, particularly in Tantura and Dier Yassin. Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and marched to neighboring Arab countries. 530 Palestinian towns, villages, and neighborhoods were depopulated. Israel has renamed all of these locations or Hebraized the Arabic names in an attempt to wipe the history of the Palestinians from the land. After the war, new Jewish immigrants moved into the vacant Palestinian homes.

Below was a Palestinian home until the Nakba and has become inhabited by Jewish immigrants from the United States. The village of Sa'sa' is now a kibbutz.

Today, boarded up and neglected mosques and churches stand awkwardly in Israeli towns. Below is a picture of a mosque in Tiberias with the Sheraton in the background.

Read a testimony from the war.

Today, this policy, or the Nakba continues, particularly in East Jerusalem in the neighborhood of Silwan. The Jerusalem municipality has declared this Palestinian neighborhood "green space" and have issued eviction and demolition orders for the Palestinians who have lived in this area prior to Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. This area will then be called the "City of David" claiming the land as legitimately Jewish land by means of the name.

Sabeel Young Adults from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Galilee travelled to Ma'lul, a village destroyed in 1948, to clean the church and mosque. Today, the village is considered a national park by the Israeli authorities.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sabeel's Nora Carmi addressed the Pope on behalf of Christians in Jerusalem


A Message from Jerusalem Christians

Your Holiness,

We, the indigenous faithful Christians of Jerusalem, join our voices to those of our Palestinian Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters in the West Bank and Gaza to welcome you on your much desired pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Your Holiness, your pilgrimage for peace, comes at a very critical moment in the history of the Palestinian people. For this reason, religious institutions and members of the civil society have communicated to Your Holiness, their concerns and aspirations prior to your arrival in the country. We, “the little flock” of Jerusalem would have loved to celebrate with joy your presence among us, but as your experience in Jerusalem in the past few days has proved, we are not free and our rights are denied.

We are pleased that you have insisted on coming at this time to give spiritual support and guidance to the steadfast Christians of Jerusalem, the resilient faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ and His Church established in this city over 2000 years ago. Sad to say, there are only about 9000 Christians of various denominations left but they form an integral part of the rich fabric of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, the city of peace anxiously awaiting a just peace for all.

Your Holiness, you have in the past two days, observed the ramifications of the 42-year old military occupation of this city significant to all faiths. Christians and Muslims suffer the same violations of human and national rights because Jerusalem is under occupation. As the Vatican has recognized: “the part of the city militarily occupied in 1967 and annexed and declared the capital of the State of Israel, IS OCCUPIED TERRITORY (as recorded and confirmed by the United Nations) As such, all Israeli measures which exceed the power of a belligerent occupant under international law are therefore null and void”. This courageous stand of the Vatican should be upheld and prayerfully acted upon in order to end the illegal monopolization and the unilateral judaization of Jerusalem, strangulated by settlements, divided by road blocks and checkpoints. Families are separated because of the wall; residents lose their residency rights; married couples are denied family reunification and homes are demolished! Young people who raise their voices against injustice are thrown into prison and the sanctity of life is desecrated. The beautiful mosaic of Jerusalem is shattered under oppression and injustice.

How can your flock be spiritually empowered and guided when faced with the violation of their rights to worship, to move, to learn, and to return home. How can your flock remain steadfast and continue resisting non-violently? How can we secure jobs and housings for the young people so that they will not lose hope and emigrate? How can we encourage our children in exile to risk coming back to their country and contribute to maintaining the uniqueness of the Christian presence without being denied entry?

Your pilgrimage to the sites made holy by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, not only constitutes a rich spiritual experience, but, is made especially meaningful through the sharing of the sufferings of the people who also make this land holy. We count on Your Holiness, to proclaim anew to the world the teachings of our Savior “to bring good news to the poor…release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of God’s favor.”(Luke 4; 18-19)

Your Holiness, you come as a peacemaker to promote tolerance and reconciliation. We urge you to continue following in the courageous footsteps of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in daring to raise a prophetic voice and to state clearly that:

• Jerusalem must remain an open city to all faiths and be the shared capital of the two states.

• The occupation has to end.

• Israel has to abide by International Law, implement UN resolutions and be held accountable for all violations especially the most recent brutal onslaught on Gaza.

Two thousand years ago, from the Mt. of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus wept over the city, under occupation and torn apart by violence and dissent. “You do not know the things that make for peace!” That cry resonates in Jerusalem to-day, still under occupation and shattered by the absence of tolerance, respect and love.

We trust that your prayers and your genuine desire for peace in Jerusalem will drive Your Holiness and the world that looks up to your leadership to work for a just peace for all. Only then can Christians, Muslims and Jews live in freedom and in harmony in the promising land for all. Only then can the inhabitants of this blessed land enjoy a just peace that they very much deserve.

In closing, we welcome Your Holiness with the Arabic greeting “Ahlan wa Sahlan” which literally means you are among family and that your stay goes smoothly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Listen: Sabeel's Nora Carmi is on BBC 4!

Listen to BBC 4's program on the Pope's visit to Israel. The beginning of the program discusses Jewish-Catholic relations but if you want to listen to an interfaith discussion between representatives of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities in Israel, fast forward to the last 15-10 minutes of the program. In that segment you will hear from Sabeel's Nora Carmi discussing what her expectations of the Pope's visit are.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Update on the Al Hanoun and Al Ghawi families facing eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem

The al Hanoun and al Ghawi families continue to face the threat of eviction from their homes. The land the houses were built on were bought by the United Nations from the Jordanian government in 1956 in order to build houses for refugees of the 1948 War. After 1967, and Israel's subsequent occupation of East Jerusalem, Israel has pursued a policy of Judiazation of East Jerusalem resulting in the displacement of many Palestinian residents.

A press conference was held on May 6th in order to raise awareness regarding the recent Israeli District Court decision to issue an ultimatum to the al Ghawi and al Hanoun families giving them 10 days to voluntarily evacuate their homes or face punitive measures (including forcible expulsion from their homes).

Below is Maher Hanoun, one of 53 family members of the two families affected by the court decision.

The press release states:

"The al Ghawi and al Hanoun cases are part of an ongoing attempt by the two Jewish settler organizations to take over twenty-eight housing units built in 1956 to house refugees and to turn it into a Jewish colony. Israel's measures against the two families constitute blatant violations of international law including the 4th Geneva Convention that obligates the occupying authorities, Israel, to maintain the geographic and demographic characteristics of occupied East Jerusalem.

The Sheikh Jarrah families refuse to comply with the Israeli courts' unjust decisions and appeal to the international community, Human Rights organizations, and the EU to exert pressure on Israel to stop it from pursuing its plan to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian population. We call on our people and our political factions to rise and support us in our struggle."

Below is a map of East Jerusalem from B'Tselem. East of the Green Line on the map is considered occupied territory and was land intended to become part of a Palestinian state, however, due to Jewish settlement activity in East Jerusalem, this vision of a Palestinian state including East Jerusalem is being compromised (the blue sections on the map indicate settlements).