Thursday, February 26, 2009

ACTION to support Morally Responsible Investment

Dear friends,

One of the many means of acting for peace and justice supported by Sabeel is the idea of morally responsible investment. We encourage churches and other organizations to invest in peace rather than investing in occupation, human rights violations, and injustice--or the companies who profit off of these things.

In early February, the movement for morally responsible investment won a huge victory. After a long campaign by the Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine, Hampshire College announced that it was divesting from a mutual fund that included from six corporations supporting Israel's military occupation - including Motorola and Caterpillar.

Now, after attack from Alan Dershowitz and other Zionist activists, Hampshire's administration has announced that it's divestment had nothing to do with the Israeli Occupation but rather with a general socially responsible investment policy AND is considering the possibility of reinvesting in Motorola and Terex Corp. Call on Hampshire College president, Ralph Hexter, to stand with Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine by clicking here.

It appears that KLD, the company that is screening these companies, is not looking at their subsidiary companies - which is why Motorola is slipping through the cracks. In 1977, Hampshire College was the first U.S. college to divest from corporations profiting from South African apartheid. Click here to applaud Hampshire College for making history and make sure that they continue to lead the way in campus activism for human rights.

To learn more about morally responsible investment, see Sabeel's call for morally responsible investment and the Global Survey of divestment campaigns posted on the Sabeel homepage.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Take Action!

According to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and according to the terms of an agreement signed between the U.S. and Israel in 2007, U.S. military aid to Israel is expected to increase to 2.775 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2010.

In light of the recent events in Gaza and the way in which this military aid was utilized, this is greatly distressing. When U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison and Brian Baird visited the Gaza Strip after the 22 day land and air bombardment of the area, they stated that "If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance."

Fortunately,there is evidence that the Obama administration is reconsidering the deal described above. To encourage this administration to take action please visit this link to send an email to the president. It only takes 60 seconds at most.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obstacles to Peace: More on the recent Israeli elections

Netanyahu has recently been charged with the task of forming the new Israeli government and Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, which favours tightening the Israeli blockade on Gaza, opposes the dismantlement of settlements in the West Bank, and supports policies widely regarded as anti-Arab, has given his support to Netanyahu. While President Shimon Peres' appointment of Netanyahu is troubling in itself because he does not support the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in which Palestinians would control their borders, airspace, and have the ability to form an army (which every sovereign nation has the right to establish), a partnership with Lieberman is even more so.

To further illustrate the danger that this alliance poses to the peace process, I would like to underscore Lieberman's membership in Kahane's Kach Party. Kahane was declared a racist party by the Israeli government and was banned from the Knesset. Kahane encouraged the settlement movement and declared that a Jewish state should include all of Biblical Jewish land, including land that is currently part of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq!:

"Let me tell you what the minimal borders are, and which the rabbis agree upon, according to the description given in the Bible. The southern border goes up to El Arish, which takes in all of northern Sinai, including Yamit. To the east, the frontier runs along the western part of the East Bank of the Jordan River, hence part of what is now Jordan. Eretz Israel [the land of Israel] also includes part of Lebanon and certain parts of Syria, and part of Iraq, all the way to the Tigris River."

These racist sentiments which also constitute obstruction to the peace process are widely supported in Israeli society. Gideon Levy argues that while Kach was banned in the 1980s, Yisrael Beiteinu is embraced by Israeli politics and society even though they bear striking similarities. Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist who's career is inspired by his desire to raise awareness within Israeli society concerning immoral policies directed at the Palestinian population and during the elections, Levy was particularly concerned about Yisrael Beiteinu (which ended up becoming the third largest party in the Knesset beating Labour). I am posting the article he wrote below. Even though it was written before the results of the election became known, it is still a powerful article that puts the burden of rampant racism within Israeli politics on the members of Israeli society:

Kahane Won by Gideon Levy:

Rabbi Meir Kahane can rest in peace: His doctrine has won. Twenty years after his Knesset list was disqualified and 18 years after he was murdered, Kahanism has become legitimate in public discourse. If there is something that typifies Israel's current murky, hollow election campaign, which ends the day after tomorrow, it is the transformation of racism and nationalism into accepted values.

If Kahane were alive and running for the 18th Knesset, not only would his list not be banned, it would win many votes, as Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to do. The prohibited has become permitted, the ostracized is now accepted, the destestable has become the talented - that's the slippery slope down which Israeli society has skidded over the past two decades.

There's no need to refer to Haaretz's startling revelation that Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was a member of Kahane's Kach party in his youth: This campaign's dark horse was and is a Kahanist. The differences between Kach and Yisrael Beiteinu are minuscule, not fundamental and certainly not a matter of morality. The differences are in tactical nuances: Lieberman calls for a fascist "test of loyalty" as a condition for granting citizenship to Israel's Arabs, while Kahane called for the unconditional annulment of their citizenship. One racist (Lieberman) calls for their transfer to the Palestinian state, the other (Kahane) called for their deportation.

Now the instigator of the new Israeli racism will apparently become the leader of a large party once again in the government. Benjamin Netanyahu has already pledged that Lieberman will be an "important minister" in his government. If someone like Lieberman were to join a government in Europe, Israel would sever ties with it. If anyone had predicted in Kahane's day that a pledge to turn his successor into an important minister would one day be considered an electoral asset here, they would have been told they were having a nightmare.

But the nightmare is here and now. Kahane is alive and kicking - is he ever - in the person of his thuggish successor. This is not just a matter of disqualifying Yisrael Beiteinu; it is not even a matter of this party's growing strength to terrifying proportions, becoming the fulcrum that will decide who becomes prime minister. This is a matter of legitimization. All society bears responsibility for it.

Kahane was ostracized; Lieberman is a welcome guest in every living room and television studio. Imagine: Ehud Barak does not rule out a coalition with him; Uzi Landau, considered a "democrat," is now Lieberman's number two; a former senior ambassador and a retired police major general also adorn the list. Did we know that Israel was being represented in Washington by an avowed racist in the person of Daniel Ayalon? Did we know that former Border Police chief and deputy police commissioner Yitzhak Aharonovich was one, too? They have come out of the closet, these racists, breaking out of the heart of the establishment to the despicable right, and the attitude toward them has not changed a bit.

Lieberman and his soldiers are borne on the tides of hatred for Arabs, hatred of democracy and the rule of law, and the stink of nationalism, racism and bloodthirstiness. These have turned, horrifically, into the hottest electoral assets on the market. Like all others of his political ilk, he cynically fans these base urges, particularly among the weaker classes, the rejected, the poor and the immigrants. But not just there. Many young people, among them brainwashed soldiers, will give him their vote, and no one ostracizes them. He chose an easy, relatively weak target, Israel's Arabs, and sets his supporters on them. But his doctrine has seeped in much deeper than that.

Lieberman is the voice of the mob, and the mob craves hatred, vengeance and bloodshed. A useless war in which hundreds of children were killed was received here sympathetically, if not happily. The parties from the right and center have tried to disqualify the Arab parties; these lists are also excluded ahead of time in every political calculation. And Arab students cannot rent an apartment.

When the intifada of Israel's Arabs breaks out here one day, we will know whom to blame - those who criminally incited against them and, no less, those who turned this incitement into something acceptable and legitimate. This cancerous growth has spread to all parts of society; it remains only to issue a desperate last call: Keep away from this abomination. Anything but Yisrael Beiteinu, lest it really become Israel, our home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Looking for material for a short film on Hebron

Yet another young adult conference participant working on raising awareness!


Hello my friends!

I'm going to make a short film, about what happened in Hebron when we were there [YAC 2008].

If you have:

- Video recorded anywhere in Palestine, filmed with video camera, cellphone or whatever!
- Arabic music which is license-free, or where you know, or have contact-possibilities, with the singer
- A great quotation?
- Some pictures?
- Or something else, related to Hebron, or just Palestine?
... please send it to me!

Video can easily be sent to my mail, through


Send it quickly because my friend will start to edit very soon; what we are looking for is video and an emotional Arabic song.

Take care!

Peter Lindqvist, Sweden

Call for Submissions for Art Exhibit

A message from one of our Young Adult Conference participants:

Hello friends!

It has been a while since we've been together but the present situation in Gaza has kept us together in thought and prayer.

I am a part of a society called Students for Peace in the Middle East and we are looking for artistic contributions for an art exhibit and silent auction called "Capture the Conflict" to bring awareness about the situation in Israel/Palestine and to raise funds for Human Rights Watch. If you have anything you would like to contribute - photos, poetry, short films - please contact me at or email them directly to:

It would be fantastic to have submissions from people who have seen and lived the conflict firsthand - the deadline for contributions is the end of February but the sooner we get them the better.

The art show is planned for the week of March 21st, so get your submissions in as soon as possible!

Thanks for considering this and please pass along this to anyone who would be interested.



Monday, February 16, 2009

The Aftermath of the War on Gaza: Israeli political shift to the right and the international call for an investigation into Israeli war crimes

Although Israeli attacks on Gaza have diminished, though not completely stopped, this situation still requires our attention and prayers. There are two issues in particular that I would like to highlight: A) The Israeli political shift to the right and the racist policies of Knesset member, Avigdor Leiberman gaining unprecedented support B) Attention is still required regarding the situation in Gaza and the need for an international investigation into Israeli war crimes committed during the attack on Gaza.

As the international community, particularly the UN and the International Criminal Court build a case highlighting Israeli war crimes committed during the recent war on Gaza, also known as Operation Cast Lead, Israeli politics have shifted to the right and Israel has become more than ever unreceptive to peace plans.

The Israeli peace movement has become marginalized and attacked being called self-hating Jews. Btselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has called for an independent investigation into Israeli war crimes calling on the government to fulfill their democratic obligations to uphold human rights. However, Btselem has been attacked for this call.

In their position paper
, in the conclusion, Btselem states that "The extent of the harm to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead is unprecedented. Only now is the full magnitude of the destruction coming to light and additional testimonies about what happened continue to surface. Whole families have been wiped out. Children were killed before their parents' eyes. Some people watched as their loved ones bled to death. Clearly, even after the dead are buried and the rubble has been cleared away, the residents of the Gaza Strip will carry scars from this operation for a long time to come."

The last sentence of this passage underscores the necessity to continue paying attention to the situation in Gaza. Gazans face a long road to reconstruction and require support from the international community. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble and the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip has been destroyed. It is important to remember that reconstruction doesn't just involve concrete and steel, it also requires attention to the emotional needs of individuals who have lost family members. There is not a resident of Gaza who has not been affected by this recent conflict whether by losing family, friends, property, or all of these.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government ignores its obligation to be held accountable for the destruction and particularly, the targeting of civilians and civilian structures and the use of weapons illegally (use of white phosphorous in civilian areas and the use of DIME). Btselem's report goes on to state, "In Israel, however, official authorities prefer to hide behind sweeping declarations that the military acted properly during the operation."

It is important to keep pressure on Israel and on our own government's policies regarding Israel as Israeli mainstream politics have adopted the politics of the extreme right wing, particularly Yisrael Beiteinu and its leader, Avigdor Leiberman. Yisrael Beiteinu's slogan is "no citizenship without loyalty" which on the surface does not seem particularly racist until one further investigates what this means. It means that Jewish and Arab citizens that do not serve in the army siting consciencious objection are regarded as enemies of that state of Israel and not entitled to the rights of citizenship. Before the Israeli elections, Avigdor Leiberman suceeded in gaining support in the Knesset to ban the Arab parties in Israel from participating in the recent elections. Fortunately, this decision was overturned but Leiberman's policies are gaing more and more support, especially among the youth. I would strongly suggest reading this article from Haaretz about this unprecedented support of Yisrael Beiteinu. The article's title is "Lieberman's anti-Arab ideology wins over Israel's teens".