Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obama Administration Praised for Strong Stand

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) is one of our longtime contributors. They weigh in here with this press release The settlement issue is the "wedge" that shows the "Achilles Heel" of Israeli occupation; an occupation that must end. By not ending it, Isr/Pal is surely moving toward a "One-State" solution, where the outcome will be equal rights and full citizenship for ALL people who live there. Bantustans just won't finally cut it, historically, internationally, or from the standpoint of "justice". JRK

Washington DC, August 5 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today welcomed the firm stance taken by the Obama administration against Israel's eviction of 58 Palestinians from homes in East Jerusalem in which they have been living for many decades. The homes were immediately occupied by Israeli settlers. Israel argues that the homes had been Jewish-owned before 1948, and that the Palestinian families had "violated the terms of their leases."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the evictions as "deeply regrettable," and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, who was summoned to receive Washington's official protest of the act, that the evictions were "provocative" and "unacceptable," and violate Israel's obligations under the Roadmap. ATFP said it agreed with the leading Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that, "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."

ATFP President Ziad J. Asali said, "We are gratified that our government has taken a strong stance against these unjustifiable evictions, and we strongly agree with Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary Feltman that they were indeed regrettable, provocative and unacceptable. We urge the Obama administration to continue to try to ensure that Israel avoids further provocative measures, especially in Jerusalem. We also urge the Israeli government to recognize the significant damage to the credibility and viability of peace negotiations caused by actions that prejudice the outcome on Jerusalem. Building conditions for an end of conflict agreement requires that all parties focus on their broader, long-term interests and refrain from actions and statements that undermine the prospects for peace. We strongly feel that Israel should not take or allow actions in Jerusalem that are bound to complicate building the conditions for a viable, permanent peace agreement."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Palestinian Youths Commit to Nonviolence

Palestinian Youth Embrace Nonviolence

In the West Bank city of Hebron, the unemployment rate is hovering around 28%. Seventy-eight checkpoints, monitored by Israeli soldiers, make even the shortest of trips difficult and time consuming. Four Israeli settlements inside the Hebron city limits, and another five just outside of the city are home to some of the most aggressive and dangerous settlers in the West Bank. In the midst of the violence and desperation, a dozen young Palestinian men and women sit in a circle and read the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They have come because of their refusal to accept defeat and because of their conviction that there is a way forward that does not involve violence, but chooses to draw its strength from love. They are the July 2009 participants in the Nonviolence Youth (NV Youth) Hebron training program, and they are joining their voices with thousands throughout the Palestinian territories and millions around the world who have already been convinced of the potential to create change through nonviolent resistance to injustice.

NV Youth is a project of Love Thy Neighbor (LTN), a nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, MD. Since 2007, LTN has sponsored nonviolence summer camps for children and nonviolence trainings for young adults, and, in fall of 2009, will inaugurate a follow-up leadership training program for graduates of its introductory courses. Through music, literature, art and role play, participants are given the opportunity to build and practice their nonviolence and conflict resolution skills. Discussions about largely nonviolent resistance movements around the world, including the U.S. Civil Rights movement, the South African Anti-Apartheid movement and the Indian Independence movement provoke creative thinking about how new ideas and different strategies can be incorporated into the Palestinian nonviolent struggle against the occupation.

Demand for these programs is high, not because LTN and NV Youth are introducing a new and foreign concept, but because of the long history of nonviolent resistance that is woven throughout Palestinian society and culture. According to LTN’s executive director, Tarek Abuata, the organization has been able to achieve what it has only in partnership with the many other nonviolence initiatives that are already an active part of Palestinian culture. The camps and training programs build on that tradition and set out to expand participation in the movement and provide its leaders with the needed resources that are difficult to obtain under occupation. By empowering young people, LTN and NV Youth are working to ensure that the next generation of Palestinian leaders will be grounded in the tradition and history of nonviolent struggle in their homeland and around the world.

In a society so deeply scarred by injustice and inequality, the message of nonviolence contains an element of hope that offers welcome relief from the daily struggle. Unfortunately, it is a message that is all too often lost on a media that prefers to report on bloodshed and strife. And so it is without fanfare and recognition that the young people of Hebron gathered last month. But they, and thousands like them, will continue to gather and raise their voices against oppression and violence. It is in this stubborn refusal to succumb to injustice or violence that one finds possibilities and hope.