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Announcement :: War and Militarism
Tearing Down Walls – Building Bridges: Protesting Apartheid in Israel/Palestine
17 Oct 2007
Please Join
The Boston Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace,
The Mass. Chapter of The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
At a large, area-wide mobilization

Tearing Down Walls – Building Bridges
Protesting Apartheid in Israel/Palestine
October 27th, 2007 – 3:00 p. m.
Copley Square, Boston
Please Join
The Boston Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace,
The Mass. Chapter of The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
At a large, area-wide mobilization

Tearing Down Walls – Building Bridges
Protesting Apartheid in Israel/Palestine
October 27th, 2007 – 3:00 p. m.
Copley Square, Boston

Hear activists from Israel, Palestine, South Africa and the U. S. address the issues of inequality, violence and peace in Israel/Palestine. Take a stand for justice and human rights for everyone in Israel/Palestine.

“We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God's dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.” – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

For further information, or to help make this important mobilization possible, contact Maserve (at) or call 617-354-6471

This rally follows a conference sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel: Issues of Justice and Equality" Featuring a keynote address by
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. If you would like information or are interested in attending this separate two-day conference, please see:

Mobilization Cosponsors:
American Friends Service Committee, The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights,
Centro Presente, Jewish Women for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine,
Pax Christi Massachusetts, Friends of Sabeel North America,
and Unitarian Universalists for Peace in the Middle East

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Boycott Racist Sabeel Conference in Boston
19 Oct 2007
1. Is it appropriate for the leader of a so-called peacemaking group to use language reminiscent of the deicide charge in reference to Israel, the Jewish state?

Background: Sabeel’s founder, Rev. Naim Ateek has used hostile imagery that is clearly reminiscent of the deicide charge – the notion that the Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus – to demonize Israel. Rev. Ateek’s defenders have attempted to downplay this problem. Nevertheless, the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia has written a working definition of antisemitism that mentions the use of “symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”

2. Should Rev. Ateek apologize for his use of this imagery?

Background: When Rev. Ateek’s use of crucifixion imagery in reference to the state of Israel was brought to the attention of the ecumenical community, Rev. Ateek’s defenders attempted to downplay its inappropriateness. But in June 2006, Rev. Richard Toll, chairman of Friends of Sabeel North America, implicitly acknowledged that its use is unacceptable in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch. On June 9, 2006 the paper reported that “Toll said Ateek has toned down his rhetorical since his crucifixion statement.” Why would Rev. Ateek find it necessary to “tone down” his rhetoric unless it was inappropriate?

3. Sabeel’s prescription for peace between Israelis and Palestinians seems to be based entirely on Israeli concessions and withdrawals. What evidence is there that Israeli concessions and withdrawals will lead to peace? At what point can Israel expect a reduction in violence against its citizens?

Background: In Dec. 2005 Rev. Richard Toll, chairman of FOSNA, wrote “End the occupation and the violence will end.” This prescription has not been borne out by recent events. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last year and the rocket attacks increased. Israel was attacked by Hezbollah this past summer from the very territory from which it withdrew in 2000.

4. Did Yasir Arafat have an obligation to make a counter offer at Camp David in 2000? Yes, or no?

Background: If previous behavior is any predictor, Sabeel’s speakers will likely portray the offer at Camp David negotiations as a “five-state solution” – Gaza, Israel and three “bantustans” on the West Bank. Challenging their mis-characterization of negotiations at Camp David and Taba is not the point of this question. This question merely asks if Arafat had an obligation to make a counter offer, which he did not make.

5. Who should we believe about Camp David/Taba negotiations, Sabeel Activists, who say the Palestinian Authority was offered “bantustans” or Dennis Ross who says the offer included contiguous land on the West Bank?

Background: At Sabeel conferences held in the U.S. last fall, Sabeel activists who spoke about Camp David negotiations described Israel’s offer as a “five-state solution” that included Israel, Gaza, Israel and three “bantustans” on the West Bank. Dennis Ross, the chief Middle East peace negotiator for the Clinton Administration contradicts these claims. In his book, “The Missing Peace –– The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace,” Ross offers maps of the Camp David Proposal put forth by the Clinton Administration in July 2000 and another proposal put forth in Dec. 2000. Both maps clearly show a contiguous West Bank –– not three separate “bantustans.”

6. Just how reasonable is it to expect Israel to negotiate with Hamas, a group that speaks about Jews in undeniably hateful terms and which denies Israel's right to exist?

Background: Earlier this year, Hamas broadcast a video on its website in which a suicide bomber expressed a desire to drink Jewish blood. On Oct. 6, Al-Jazeera broadcast a speech in which Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya stated: “The language of blood is my language, and there is nothing but blood. I have shut my mouth to the art of speech, and let the machine-gun do the talking. I let Al-Qassam do the talking, to turn the dens of the Jews into hell.” Later in that same speech, he stated: “We will never recognize... We will never recognize... We will never recognize Israel.”

7. Isn’t Sabeel’s support for a one-state solution just a code-word for the elimination of Israel as Jewish state?

Background: In “The Jerusalem Sabeel Document, Principles for Just Peace,” published in 2004, the organization states its “vision for the future” is “One state for two nations and three religions.”

8. If this single state were created, would the Jews be safe?

Background: Edward Said, who spoke at an international conference hosted by Sabeel in 1998, admitted in 2000 that he worried what would happen to a Jewish minority in a single state. “It worries me a great deal,” he said. “The question of what is going to be the fate of the Jews is very difficult for me. I really don’t know. It worries me.”

9. If Sabeel and its supporters are truly interested in peace, doesn’t the organization have an obligation to acknowledge Yasser Arafat’s troubling legacy and the role in played in promoting the suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis?

Background: In November 2004, Sabeel issued a press release that described Yasser Arafat as “the father figure of the Palestinians.” The document did not mention Arafat’s role in the death of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, the anti-Jewish incitement broadcast on Palestinian Television with his approval, the thousands of people on both sides of the conflict who lost their lives after Arafat failed to make a counter offer at Camp David, or the millions wasted and stolen by the Palestinian Authority under his leadership.

10. Will the people arrested for setting Christians homes in Taybeh on fire in Sept. 2005, be tried and punished for their crimes?

Background: In September 2005, a group of Muslims who were detained after allegedly setting fires to Christian homes in a Taybeh, a town outside Ramallah. Within hours of their arrest by the Palestinian Authority, they were released.

11. Has Sabeel’s founder Rev. Naim Ateek, spoken to Hamas about his fears of the future Palestinian state being governed by Islamic teachings on the status of women and religious minorities?

Background: At the Episcopal Church’s General Convention held in Columbus, Ohio in June 2006, Rev. Ateek stated that Israel should not be allowed to maintain itself as a Jewish state. If Israel is a Jewish state, Rev. Ateek will not be able to tell Hamas that the future Palestinian state should not be an Islamic state, he said.

At this point, one of Ateek’s listeners – a bishop in the Episcopal Church – asked him if had spoken to Hamas about this issue.

Rev. Ateek’s response: “Not yet.”

Rev. Ateek voiced these concerns more than three months ago – giving him ample opportunity to speak to Hamas about benefits of a secularism and pluralism.

Attendees should not expect direct answers to these questions. But asking them will challenge the distorted one-sided narrative the organization has broadcast to well-meaning Christians in the United States.
Hosting Controversy: A Sermon by Rev. Nancy S. Taylor
23 Oct 2007
It is a delicate and painful thing to stand between two friends, both of whom feel they have been done wrong by the other.

With his letter to Philemon, St. Paul places himself between an escaped slave and his aggrieved master. He attempts to arrange something that is nearly impossible: genuine reconciliation. He aches for the two parties – both dear friends of his – to move from distrust and anger to equity, brotherhood and reconciliation.

Part of what is so intriguing about Paul’s letter is that this is no private correspondence between himself and the slave owner. He addresses his letter to the gathered church of which the slave owner is a member. This question of relationship and reconciliation, of inequality and the hope for equality, of past hurts and future behaviors, is no private matter. These are public affairs.

Members and friends of Old South in Boston, just as Paul found himself standing between two friends – both of whom felt aggrieved, both of whom were sure they were in the right – so too, do we.

As Paul’s letter served as a briefing to the congregation on the situation between Philemon and Onesimus, so may my words this morning serve as a briefing to this congregation on the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Last February Old South was approached by a group called Sabeel. Sabeel is a Christian Palestinian organization advocating on behalf of the human rights of Palestinians. Sabeel is a partner organization of our denomination, the United Church of Christ, working in and among Palestinians, both Christian and Jewish. Sabeel’s international patron is the Most Reverend Doctor Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Peace Laureate and chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Old South has been asked to host a Sabeel conference, scheduled for late October, in which Archbishop Tutu will be the key-note speaker.

Knowing this would cause significant consternation among our Jewish friends and place Old South in the midst of a controversy, I brought this request to Council in March and briefed them on what we could expect. Having hosted Sabeel and Archbishop Tutu four years ago, many members of Council had already experienced the fallout from this sort of decision. Council members agreed to host Sabeel and to give welcome to Archbishop Tutu.

I want you to know – and I want you to hear it from me before you hear it from others – that the fallout has begun and we are right in the middle between two friends, our Jewish friends on one side and Palestinian Christians and their advocates on the other.

A columnist in The Jewish Advocate, a local Jewish paper, has publicly accused me and Old South of hosting, “an anti-Jewish hate fest” and has demanded that we “do the right thing” and bar Sabeel and the Archbishop from speaking here. Some of you have received materials from a man who stationed himself outside the church on recent Sundays … whose materials run along the same lines as the column in The Jewish Advocate.

We know for a fact that this is just the beginning, that things are heating up and that there will be more public attacks and that we will be picketed by angry people bearing ugly signs and slogans.

Now, that is the worst of it. I have delivered the bad news. Let me share some good news.

The columnist who wrote those things in The Jewish Advocate represents an extreme, angry hard right side of the Jewish community. While he is busy writing in his own style of colorful and incendiary language, I have, for months, been in quiet, respectful and meaningful communication with leaders in the Jewish community.

Last week I met with the executives of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the American Jewish Committee. Andy Tarsy of the Anti-defamation League had planned to be there … but he has been pre-occupied lately and could not make it.

These leaders are not happy with our decision to host Sabeel and the Archbishop. They express concern, disappointment and fear. Why? Because the Archbishop and Sabeel use the language of apartheid to describe the situation of Palestinians and because they promote a program of selective investment in Israel as a means of applying pressure. Our Jewish friends experience these as a threat to the security, and as an affront to the dignity, of the state of Israel.

I regret causing a rift between Old South and our friends and allies in the Jewish community. Nevertheless, the position of our Church Council – and my position – is that, as one of a handful of great world leaders of our time, Archbishop Tutu has earned the right to express his views on this most painfully contested part of the world.

Old South, the church of the open door, will not close its doors to this holy and courageous man … this man who, despite every reason not to, embarked upon a truly impossible dream: his truth and reconciliation commission. Due in no small measure to his own spiritual genius, his humility and his love for God, he was able to achieve what others scoffed and laughed at.

In addition to the presence of the Archbishop, we have designed a series of speakers and events to enable us to encounter different perspectives and to meet and hear from Jews, Muslims and Christians. As a part of this, I have invited the leaders in the Jewish community to identify a speaker of their choosing as a part of this program. They have agreed to do so.

You should also know that I have a conversation scheduled for next week with the religion reporter for The Boston Globe. I am scheduled to write my own guest column for The Jewish Advocate. And, our own Bob Brown, ministerial intern and former TV and film director and producer, has offered his expertise to guide us as we wend our way through this very public controversy.

Finally, Old South has arranged for a coach/trainer to be here on Saturday, October 13 to provide a morning of non-violent conflict training. We will invite those Old South members who attend this training, to serve on peace teams during the Sabeel conference. Throughout the Sabeel Conference we will schedule two-hour shifts of three or four volunteers per shift, to stand inside and outside the church to help keep the peace and to keep things from escalating. A police detail will also be present.

In entering this conversation – in standing between two friends – we enter the international conversation about one of the most painfully contested places on earth. It is because so much is at stake, because it matters so very much, because sides are drawn and passions are exercised, that we need to be here, right here, like St. Paul, managing and facilitating a middle way … the way of peace … and, God help us, the way of reconciliation.

The columnist who wrote so colorfully for The Jewish Advocate demanded that Old South bar the door and keep Sabeel out of this “holy church.” What this gentleman does not know is that we Congregationalists do not regard buildings as holy. In fact, we believe our meeting houses can and should be used for both holy and secular purposes.

Sometime ago, back in 1773, Old South hosted a series of meetings that led to the Boston Tea Party. Gathered in our Meeting House were British loyalists and the Sons of Liberty. They spoke, argued, threatened, cried, laughed, cajoled and held forth … some with eloquence, many with passion, all with conviction and emotion. Because so much was at stake, because the outcome mattered dearly, it brought out both best and the worst in those who gathered.

May it be our ministry to reach into the best of ourselves and, as ambassadors of Christ, to facilitate conversations that are both perilous and holy.

God grant us both wisdom and courage in the facing of this hour.
See also:
"to demonize Israel"
05 Nov 2007
It is not anti-Zionists who have made a demon of Israel. Israel itself made a demon of Israel.
They're putting words into their enemies' mouths again.
06 Nov 2007
>In Ateek's metaphorical telling, in other words, Israel is guilty of trying to murder Jesus as an infant, of killing Jesus on the cross, and of seeking to prevent his resurrection.

That is *not* what he said. They are lying.
So what did he say?
10 Nov 2007
Where you there? What did he say? What reason do you have to believe that it isn't true, since it has been reported separately in dozens of different sources ?
Criticism Gone too Far: Boston sabeel Conference
10 Nov 2007
IN CIVILIZED circles it is considered boorish to speak of Jews as Christ-killers, or to use language evoking the venomous old teaching that Jews are forever cursed for the death of Jesus. Those circles apparently don't include the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, an anti-Israel "peace" organization based in Jerusalem, or its founder, the Anglican cleric Naim Ateek.

Sabeel and Ateek are highly regarded on the hard-line Christian left, and regularly organize American conferences at which Israel is extravagantly denounced by numerous critics. So far this year, such conferences have been held in Cleveland, Berkeley, Calif., and Birmingham, Ala.; another begins Friday at Boston's Old South Church.

Just as critics of the United States are not necessarily anti-American bigots, critics of Israel are not necessarily biased against Jews. But Sabeel and Ateek's denunciations of Israel have included imagery explicitly linking the modern Jewish state to the terrible charge of deicide that for centuries fueled so much anti-Jewish hatred and bloodshed.

"It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him," Ateek has written, envisioning "hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily."

In a sermon titled "The Massacre of the Innocents" Ateek similarly condemned the "modern-day Herods" in Israel - a reference to the evil king who the New Testament says slaughtered the babies of Bethlehem in an attempt to murder the newborn Jesus. In another sermon, Ateek portrays Israelis as having "shut off the Palestinians in a tomb . . . similar to the stone placed on the entrance of Jesus' tomb."

In Ateek's metaphorical telling, in other words, Israel is guilty of trying to murder Jesus as an infant, of killing Jesus on the cross, and of seeking to prevent his resurrection. To use "this imagery in reference to the Jewish state is inexcusable," says Dexter Van Zile, a layman in the United Church of Christ who serves on the executive committee of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East. Millions of Christians would doubtless agree.

Writing in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies in 2004, Adam Gregerman observed that "liberation theologians" like Ateek "perpetuate some of the most unsavory and vicious images of the Jews as malevolent, antisocial, hostile to non-Jews. . . . As such, liberation theology impedes rather than fosters any serious attempt at understanding or ending the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians."

Exemplifying Sabeel's grotesque demonization of the Jewish state is the theme of its Boston conference: "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel." It is hard to imagine an uglier slander.

Apartheid was the racist system through which South Africa's white minority government ruthlessly repressed the country's large black majority, denying them political rights and relegating them to third-class education, housing, and employment.

Israel, by contrast, is a flourishing democracy based on tolerance, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Israeli citizens of every race, ethnicity, and religion - and both sexes - exercise the right to vote and enjoy identical civil and political liberties. Within Israel's parliament, about 1 member in 10 is Arab; there is even a mosque within the Knesset for the benefit of Muslim parliamentarians.

Arabs and other non-Jews serve in Israel's government ministries and foreign service, on its courts, and in the military. From the Arab beauty who was crowned Miss Israel to the country's Arab soccer stars to the Arab students in Israeli universities, the evidence of Israel's democratic equality is overwhelming and ubiquitous.

It is true that in response to deadly terrorist attacks by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has been forced to adopt stringent security measures, such as the protective fence between the West Bank and Israel proper, or the checkpoints at border crossings. These are unpopular and inconvenient, but they have saved many Israelis, Arab and Jew alike, from being murdered or maimed. Checkpoints and fences can always be removed when the bombings and incitement end, but lives lost to suicide bombings can never be replaced.

This is not to say that apartheid doesn't exist in the Middle East. In some Arab and Muslim countries, harsh discrimination against non-Muslims, women or homosexuals is enshrined in law. But rather than explore that all-too-real apartheid, Sabeel's conferees instead denounce the freest nation in the Middle East. As they gather in Boston this week, they might reflect on the words of Martin Luther King:

"I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world," King declared in 1968, "and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy."
See also:
there they go again
10 Nov 2007
>Israeli citizens of every race, ethnicity, and religion - and both sexes - exercise the right to vote and enjoy identical civil and political liberties.

Nearly half the people living under Zionist control are *not* Israeli citizens, don't vote, have no rights and have been de facto prisoners in the world's largest concentration camps, and under martial law for decades.
Israel is a one person one vote democracy
11 Nov 2007
Nearly half the people living under Zionist control

Ok- this is a complete lie. But since you insist, lets see some demographics to support it. Lets see some demographics to support anything other than the fact that Israel is a one person, one vote democracy

are *not* Israeli citizens, don't vote, have no rights

More lies- the acting president of Israel was a druze Aarb. No rights? One of the Israeli Supreme Court Justices is Arab. No rights?
there they go again
12 Nov 2007
>>Nearly half the people living under Zionist control

>Ok- this is a complete lie.

No, it is not. Zionists control not just Israel "proper," but *all* of Palestine, including Gaza and the West Bank, both of which are giant prison camps, where people live as virtual prisoners under martial law. They have no vote and no rights. They are nearly half of the people who live in Palestine.

Even in Israel "proper," non Jews have fewer rights than Jews do. The existence of a few prominent and well publicized tokens make this no less true. Israel is, by its own definition, a "Jewish state." It is not a state for all the people who, live there. All the people who live there are not equal. Zionism is opposed to equality. Zionism is not just in favor of ethnic supremicism. Zionism *is* ethnic supremicism. The only difference between a Jewish state and an Aryan state is the name of the favored ethnic group. Zionists are to Jews what Nazis are to Germans, an anomalous embarrassment to an otherwise admirable people.
Israel is a pluralistic and vibrant democracy
13 Nov 2007
Modified: 12:30:49 AM
Click on image for a larger version

No, it is not. Zionists control not just Israel "proper," but *all* of Palestine, including Gaza and the West Bank, both of which are giant prison camps, where people live as virtual prisoners under martial law.

Remember Oslo? The palestinians have control of 100% of Gaza and 97 % of the West Bank. They can vote. they elected Hamas, remember? And Abbas, earlier.

They have no vote and no rights. They are nearly half of the people who live in Palestine.

See above. They can certainly vote.

Even in Israel "proper," non Jews have fewer rights than Jews do.

No. Its still one person one vote. There are affirmative action programs meant to increase Arab participation in government and academics.

The existence of a few prominent and well publicized tokens make this no less true.

Wrong, again. Was there ever an acting president of South Africa that was black? Was there ever a black Supreme Court Justice in South Africa?

Israel is, by its own definition, a "Jewish state."

Yet 20% of the population is not Jewish.

It is not a state for all the people who, live there

All its population has equal rights and equal protection under the law.

All the people who live there are not equal.

Wrong. All have equal protection under the law.
The state of Israel provided sanctuary for the Bahai people exiled from Iran. They have established their headquarters in Israel, where they are safe from the persecution they received in the Islamic world. These are the magnificent Bahai gardens of haifa.