‘Poof’ — Kerry blames Israel for breakdown of talks (Updated)

Written by Philip Weiss   
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 22:34

This is all over the wires, and it might be historic. John Kerry, Secretary of State, blamed the Israelis for the breakdown of peace talks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. Israel failed to release prisoners on time according to a deal it had with Palestinians, then announced 700 settlement units– “poof!”– causing the latest breakdown in the talks, Kerry said.

The Times had the story hours ago: ”Israeli Settlement Plan Derails Peace Talks, Kerry Says.”

The State Department has already sought to cover for Kerry, saying he meant that both sides are to blame.

Read more: ‘Poof’ — Kerry blames Israel for breakdown of talks (Updated)


Appeals Court Upholds Olympia Food Co-op's Boycott of Israeli Goods

Written by Center for Constituional Rights   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 22:42

Appeals Court Upholds Olympia Food Co-op's Boycott of Israeli Goods
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April 7, 2014, Seattle – Today, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by five members of the Olympia Food Co-op against current and former members of the Co-op’s Board of Directors for their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The court held that the lawsuit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, and that participation in the boycott is protected by the First Amendment. The court also affirmed $160,000 in statutory damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs for the board members, and awarded attorneys’ fees for the appeal. The lawsuit is part of a broader pattern of targeting pro-Palestinian activists in the United States, particularly in legislatures and across college campuses.

“Those who would try to intimidate concerned citizens speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights should take note,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood. “The law and history are on the side of peaceful boycotts for social change, and today’s ruling reaffirms that this time-honored tradition is protected by the First Amendment. Instead of trying to suppress speech calling for Palestinian human rights, opponents should address such speech on the merits.”   
  Read more: Appeals Court Upholds Olympia Food Co-op's Boycott of Israeli Goods


Statement by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on US Efforts to Curb Freedom of Speech

Written by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 22:17

I am writing today to express grave concern about a wave of legislative measures in the United States aimed at punishing and intimidating those who speak their conscience and challenge the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. In legislatures in Maryland, New York, Illinois, Florida, and even the United States Congress, bills have been proposed that would either bar funding to academic associations or seek to malign those who have taken a stand against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

These legislative efforts are in response to a growing international initiative, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which I have long been a supporter. The BDS movement emanates from a call for justice put out by the Palestinian people themselves. It is a Palestinian-led, international non-violent movement that seeks to force theIsraeli government to comply with international law in respect to its treatment of the Palestinian people.

I have supported this movement because it exerts pressure without violence on the State of Israel to create lasting peace for the citizens of Israel and Palestine, peace which most citizens crave. I have witnessed the systematic violence against and humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation and pain is all too familiar to us South Africans.

In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. My conscience compels me to stand with the Palestinians as they seek to use the same tactics of non-violence to further their efforts to end the oppression associated with the Israeli Occupation.

The legislations being proposed in the United States would have made participation in a movement like the one that ended Apartheid in South Africa extremely difficult.

I am also deeply troubled by the rhetoric associated with the promulgation of these bills which I understand, in the instance of Maryland, included testimony comparing the boycott to the actions of the Nazis in Germany. The Nazi Holocaust which resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews is a crime of monstrous proportions. To imply that it is in any way comparable to a nonviolent initiative diminishes the horrific nature of that genocidal and tragic era in our world history.

Whether used in South Africa, the US South, or India, boycotts have resulted in a transformative change that not only brought freedom and justice to the victims but also peace and reconciliation for the oppressors. I strongly oppose any piece of legislation meant to punish or deter individuals from pursuing this transformative aspiration. And I remain forever hopeful that, like the nonviolent efforts that have preceded it, the BDS movement will ultimately become a catalyst for honest peace and reconciliation for all our brothers and sisters, both Palestinian and Israeli, in the Holy Land.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

This statement was issued by Oryx Media.


Help the Augusta Victory Hospital in East Jerusalem!

Written by Arnie Voigt   
Thursday, 27 March 2014 08:59

To all our Sabeel-Colorado trip friends:
On most of our Sabeel-Colorado trips we have visited Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem.  Usually Mark Brown, the Lutheran World Federation representative in Jerusalem, or his assistant -- has explained how an institution of mercy has to function under conditions of occupation. 
Caught under the grinding political realties, Augusta Victoria has not received payment for medical services she has performed.  Help is needed to restore this funding lest the services be curtailed and greater suffering ensue.
So, now I am asking you to write/phone your elected officials in Washington and ask them to make this request of USAID. The situation at Augusta Victoria is explained below.  Please google your senators and congresspersons to obtain the needed contact information.
The facts:

  • The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has run Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) for over 65 years. AVH provides life-saving care (specifically, providing oncology care not available elsewhere in Gaza or the West Bank). AVH is part of a consortium of East Jerusalem hospitals.
  • A large percentage of AVH patients are referred to AVH by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has not paid their bills to AVH in 14 months. The debt is now 25 million USD for AVH and nearly 40 million USD in total for the East Jerusalem and some West Bank hospitals. The debt is increasing 1.5 million USD each month for AVH. AVH bears the largest burden of this debt because of the expensive nature of the care.
  • The PA has been unable to pay because some of the funding they receive from the Oslo agreement has been withheld to pressure them in the current peace negotiations.
  • 200 million USD already has been appropriated by Congress to the PA and is now available for disbursement by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). We wish to request that 40-50 million USD of that amount be designated for humanitarian health care in East Jerusalem. This would help to cover the 25 million USD debt that AVH is now bearing.
  • Our request is that elected officials make phone calls to USAID urging them to designate a portion of the 200 million USD for bills the PA has already incurred related to health care.
  • In addition to the life-saving care provided by AVH, it also plays an important role in building Palestinian institutions and capacity for health care. The Hospital’s life-saving work also can help maintain a favorable atmosphere amongst Palestinians for a final status agreement between them and the Israelis.

Your follow up to what we experienced on our Sabeel trips is deeply appreciated.
Thank you, and blessings,
Arnie Voigt, arnievoigt  AT  msn   DOT  com

For more see: http://www.lutheranworld.org/news/critical-financial-situation-augusta-victoria-hospital-east-jerusalem


Sundown Towns and Anti-Miscegenation Crusades: The Peculiar Institutions of Israel

Written by Friends of Sabeel   
Friday, 21 March 2014 21:39

What: New York TImes bestselling author MAX BLUMENTHAL to speak at Portland, OR conference.
When: April 4th and 5th, 2014
Where:  First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St., Portland, OR
Who: Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, blogger and national bestselling author Max Blumenthal will speak at SEEDS OF JUSTICE AND HOPE FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS: What is required of US conference.
   Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, blogger and national bestselling author Max Blumenthal will speak on "Sundown Towns and Anti-Miscegenation Crusades: The Peculiar Institutions of Israel"  on Friday, April 4 at First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St. Blumenthal's lecture will be presented at a thought-provoking call to action, the SEEDS OFJUSTICE AND HOPE FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS: WHAT IS REQUIRED OF US conference to be hosted by the Portland action group of Friends of Sabeel - North America. Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians..

     Blumenthal's talk will focus on themes from his recently published book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. The bold and controversial book is a product of four years of research on Israel-Palestine at a transitional phase. Beginning with the national elections carried out during Israel's war on Gaza in 2008-2009, which brought into power what he calls "Israel's most right-wing government to date," Blumenthal tells the story of Israel-Palestine in the wake of the collapse of the Oslo peace process.
  Read more: Sundown Towns and Anti-Miscegenation Crusades: The Peculiar Institutions of Israel


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