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).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Urge U.S. Action on Palestinian Christian Issues on Eve of Pope's Visit

Churches for Middle East Peace sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton yesterday, on the occasion this week of the Papal visit to the Holy Land, highlighting the rapid decline of the Palestinian Christian community there. The letter was also sent to President Obama, Special Envoy Mitchell and other key contacts in the Administration and Congress.

Help amplify CMEP's message! Tell the White House the decline of Palestinian Christians makes the Administration's efforts to achieve a just and lasting two-state solution even more urgent.

While recognizing that ultimately only a negotiated peace agreement can stem Palestinian Christian emigration, the letter cites several specific issues that can be acted on immediately, including: restrictive Israeli residency and family unification regulations in East Jerusalem; visa and permit restrictions that inhibit the movement of several hundred Arab clergy; and the need for further efforts to strengthen the rule of law in the West Bank and Gaza.

Send an email to President Obama urging the Administration to address the situation of Palestinian Christians as part of their comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace effort.

The CMEP letter stresses that the prospect of a Holy Land devoid of its living Christian community is not just a tragedy for world Christianity but would have serious ramifications for a future Palestinian state, the interreligious nature of Jerusalem, and regional peace and security. It concludes with the hope that persistent U.S. diplomacy can provide a positive future for all the people of the Holy Land.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Motorola Shareholder Meeting today: Send Emails to Moto!

Motorola, Inc. is having its annual shareholder meeting today in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Although Motorola shareholders will primarily be discussing why Moto is losing so much money, representatives from the United Methodist and Presbyterian churches will be present to attempt to pass a shareholder resolution calling for Motorola to respect human rights and international law wherever it it does business. Outside the meeting, human rights advocates will be demonstrating, passing out fliers, and educating arriving shareholders about Motorola's violations of international law and human rights.

This is important because Motorola has long been complicit in the Israeli occupation. Until recently, Motorola sold bomb fuzes to the Israeli military. Researches from Human Rights Watch found evidence that these bomb fuzes were used in the attack on Gaza when they found Motorola serial numbers in shrapnel at the sight of a bombing of a civilian target in the Gaza Strip.

Moto has sold its department that made bomb fuzes but it still makes communication and surveillance equipment for the Israeli military and Israeli settlements, technology used in Israel's Separation Wall in the West Bank, and cell phone systems solely for the use of Israeli settlers.

Send an email to Motorola's management telling them you want the company to stop profiting off of Israel's illegal and immoral occupation of Palestine! Motorola is a multinational company, so we can all help on this one!

Hang up on Motorola, and hang up on apartheid. Click here to send an email and find out more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sabeel Young Adult Conference Videos

Watch the new Sabeel Young Adult Conference video on youtube. Take a look at the pictures from Sabeel's prior conferences to get an idea of what the conference is like and if you or somebody you know would be interested in attending this year's conference this summer.

Below is a video taken by one of our past Young Adult Conference participants of Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions speaking at Beit Arabiya describing the Israeli occupation to our group. Beit Arabiya is the name of the Shawamreh family home located just across the Jerusalem municipal boundary. Even though the house is in the West Bank (or land that is intended to part of a Palestinian state), the Israeli authorities have demolished the house at least 4 times. At Sabeel conferences you'll learn about stories like the Shawamreh family's.

Below is a map of Jerusalem. Toward the top right you will see the Palestinian village of Anata in which Beit Arabiya is located. Notice that this area is over the Green Line on the map or the 1949 Armistice Line. The area east of this line is intended to form the majority of the Palestinian state and is currently land occupied by Israel. The blue indicates illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. You can see Ma'ale Adummim, the settlement that Jeff Halper mentions in the video which stretches from Jerusalem to Jericho effectively cutting the West Bank and its Palestinian communities in half. Also, the red line on the map represents the Wall, or Separation Barrier that has cut further separated Palestinian communities and hurt the Palestinian economy.

Look at the entire map on B'Tselem's website.