Friday, March 11, 2011

SABEEL Conference Declaration

Dear Friend,
We are in constant touch with SABEEL, our Palestinian Christian friends, who met in Bethlehem, 23 - 28 February.
Below is the statement they make known to the world. Read and send to your friends who care about what's happening over there and how the US should be more proactive. JRK

To Our Friends and All People of Conscience

As the margins of Empire began to crumble in the Arab world, Sabeel's Eighth International Conference convened in Bethlehem inside the prison walls of imperial rule. We, the participants,300 people from 15 countries, met from 23rd to 28th February, 2011, to discuss “Challenging Empire: God, Faithfulness and Resistance,” surrounded by the unavoidable and cruel effects of empire's rule on the Palestinian people and their land.

We heard how Jesus resisted the arrogance, violence and repression of Empire and became a model for us when he drove out the money changers and confirmed the people's independence from Caesar. Jesus helps us overcome fear and stand in solidarity against Empire. We must follow his example and pray for his courage to resist imperial power, aligning ourselves with the poorest and most oppressed.

We met the victims of Empire in refugee camps, at check-points and in their homes, where they courageously persist in the face of unrelenting oppression. We saw them resist the theft of their homes, fields and water, challenging us to confront Empire in our own countries and in the Holy Land.

We support the Kairos Palestine document and encourage all Christians to read it and act on it. Confronting the root causes of the conflict, this document urges all Christians and people of conscience to help end the military occupation that deprives Palestinians of their rights and condemns both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, to a distortion of their humanity. We see boycott and divestment as non-violent tools for justice, peace and security for all. We say to the churches: come and see. You will know the facts and the people of this land, Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Our word to the international community is to stop the double standards, and insist on the enforcement of international law and U.N. resolutions regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict.

As we depart this conference we hold the United States responsible for the obstacles it has placed in the path of peace, including its veto of a U.N. resolution that condemned Israeli settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, contrary to U.S. policy stating that settlements are illegal.

We will carry all that we have seen and learned here to our homes and families, our churches and governments, along with the challenges we have accepted for ourselves and our communities.

Bethlehem, Palestine
28 February, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Restating the Two-State Solution

My friend Saliba Sarsar, takes exception to the Sari Nussbaum piece and publishes this article in the Higher Education Chronicle.
He restates the need for the "two-state" solution, even though that "way" has not made any progress for at least 6 decades now (it was proposed by a special UN commission before Israel unilaterally declared it independence in 1948).
Each "side" says it wants to "negotiate", but it just never happens. Both sides argue their case in public, using the popular media to press their case; never to sit down and talk with each other. There is bad faith. Neither side trusts the other to really converse about the nitty-gritty.
So, here is the politically correct view once again, admirably stated by my collaborator and good friend, Prof. Sarsar. JRK

A Way Forward for Israelis and Palestinians
Saliba Sarsar
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Opinion)
March 6, 2011 - 12:00am

"Is This Man Dangerous?" asks the headline on the cover of Haim Watzman's article on how the maverick Sari Nusseibeh is challenging Middle East orthodoxies (The Chronicle Review, February 4). The answer is a definite no. As a philosopher president (of Al-Quds University), he regularly floats ideas to question assumptions and authority, to think outside the box, in order to educate and to transform reality.

With all due respect, Nusseibeh's idea of having Israel give the Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip civil but not political rights as an interim route to peace between Palestinians and Israelis is not the way forward. It evades the central issue, prolongs the painful status quo, and postpones the inevitable.

As Hussein Ibish and I have argued in our book Principles and Pragmatism (American Task Force on Palestine, 2006), the facts are clear. First, Israel ruling millions of Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel or any other state and large amounts of Palestinian territory beyond the internationally recognized boundaries of Israel is completely untenable. Second, plans demanding complete Israeli/Jewish or Palestinian/Muslim rule over the whole of historical Palestine generate continued conflict and violence without apparent resolution, since neither side can seriously hope for any sort of comprehensive military solution. Third, utopian visions of a single, democratic state in which Israelis and Palestinians both set aside their national identities in favor of an as-yet-undefined umbrella identity in some sort of joint or binational state may be appealing in their own way, but do not constitute a practical path to ending the conflict.

In our real world, which is only a slight approximation of the ideal world of the philosopher king, a doable and just solution consists of Israel and Palestine—two sovereign states—living side by side in security, peace, and prosperity. As the American Task Force on Palestine has repeatedly stated, this solution, with a Palestine built on democracy, pluralism, defensive defense, and neutrality, is in the best national interest of all concerned, including the United States, Palestine, and Israel. It is the responsibility of the United States in particular and the other members of the Middle East Quartet in general to push hard for the resumption and sustenance of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. What is agreed upon, however, remains the prerogative of the parties themselves.

Sari Nusseibeh should not despair. He must continue to use his voice and touch to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict for the two nations—Israelis and Palestinians—and three religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that share Jerusalem.

Saliba Sarsar
Professor of Political Science
Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives
Monmouth University
Monmouth, N.J.