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Monday, December 5

"Kushner Foundation Donated to [illegal] West Bank Settlement Projects" (Jared Kushner is Trump's son-in-law)
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Kushner Foundation Donated to West Bank Settlement Projects

Donations include small sum to a radical yeshiva in Yitzhar that has served as a base for violent attacks against Palestinian villages and Israeli security forces.

Judy Maltz 

Jared Kushner



In recent years, the parents of Jared Kushner – the son-in-law and trusted confidant of President-elect Donald Trump – have donated tens of thousands of dollars to organizations and institutions located in the West Bank settlements, according to their tax forms.
The U.S. State Department has long held that the settlements are an impediment to peace. During the election campaign, however, Trump’s key advisers on Israel challenged this position.

On average, the family donates a few million dollars a year to charitable causes through the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation, tax forms for the years 2010 through 2014 show. The average donation is typically in the range of $5,000 to $10,000. Jared Kushner – as well as his brother and two sisters – sits on the board of his parents’ family foundation, which was created in 1997.


Among organizations and institutions in the West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the leading beneficiary is American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva. Located in one of the more hard-line, ideological settlements, Beit El Yeshiva received $20,000 from the Kushner family in 2013.

The president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, whose offices are located in Forest Hills, New York, is David Friedman, Trump’s senior adviser on Israel affairs. Friedman, who has served as Trump’s real estate lawyer for the past 15 years and is considered to be very close to the president-elect, has expressed interest in being the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Also seen as a top contender for that post is Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, who was also keynote speaker at last year’s fund-raising dinner for the Beit El Yeshiva American friends group.

Another Kushner charity beneficiary located beyond Israel’s internationally recognized border is the Etzion Foundation, whose U.S. fund-raising offices are located in Teaneck, New Jersey. The foundation supports Yeshivat Har Etzion, Kibbutz Migdal Oz and the Herzog College teachers’ training institution – all located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc outside Jerusalem. In 2012, the Kushner family foundation donated $5,000 to the Etzion Foundation, and in 2013, another $10,000.

Hospital beneficiaries

Another recipient of Kushner funding in Gush Etzion is Ohr Torah Stone, which received $5,000 in 2011. Headquartered in the settlement of Efrat, Ohr Torah Stone runs a network of high-school, college and graduate programs both in Israel and the United States. The institution was founded by Shlomo Riskin, the American-born rabbi of Efrat and a prominent figure in Modern Orthodoxy.

Following last month’s U.S. election, Riskin was criticized by Jewish progressives for welcoming Trump’s victory. In an interview with Israel’s Arutz Sheva, the settler-backed radio station, Riskin attacked President Barack Obama for not recognizing the legitimacy of the large settlement blocs, such as Gush Etzion, and said: “Trump speaks very differently about Israel and our prime minister and supports the need to transfer the U.S. embassy here to Jerusalem, so I have a lot of hope.”

Another settlement enterprise that recently received money from the Kushner family, albeit a small amount of $500, was the radical Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar. This particular yeshiva has served as a base for launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinians villages and Israeli security forces, as well; as a result, it no longer receives funding from the Israeli government.

In recent years, the Kushners’ pet project in Israel has been the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. In 2014, the family pledged $18 million to the Jerusalem hospital, in addition to $2 million it had already committed. The Kushners have a history of supporting hospitals – both in Israel and the United States – but this was by far the largest gift given by the family to a single medical institution.

Another key beneficiary of Kushner charity in Israel is the Israel Defense Forces. Between 2011 and 2013, the foundation donated a total of $315,000 to Friends of the IDF, the army’s U.S. fund-raising arm. Jared Kushner serves on the organization’s board.

Charles B. Kushner is flanked by his wife, Seryl Beth, left,and his attorney Alfred DeCotiis as he arrives at the Newark Federal Court for sentencing. March 4, 2005.  Marko Georgiev / AP

Among other institutions and organizations the Kushners have supported in Israel in the past four years, for which detailed breakdowns exist, are the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra ($2,500); the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design ($1,000); United Hatzalah ($70,000); the Israel Cancer Research Fund ($10,000); Meir Panim Lachayal, another organization that supports IDF soldiers ($4,000); the Shalva Children’s Center ($20,000); Ma’ayanei Yeshua Hospital ($25,000); and the Rabin Medical Center ($23,000).

In the United States, the family foundation supports many Jewish day schools, charities and cultural centers. In recent years, it has contributed close to $30,000 to various institutions operated by Chabad – the ultra-Orthodox outreach organization.

One of the single largest beneficiaries of Kushner contributions in recent years has been The Ramaz School in Manhattan. During each of the last four years for which tax information is available, the elite yeshiva day school received $250,000 from the family foundation. Haskel Lookstein, the former principal of Ramaz and a prominent modern Orthodox rabbi, supervised the conversion of Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka before she married Jared Kushner.

In 2013, Kehillat Jeshurun, the Upper West Side congregation established by Lookstein, to which Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump belong, received a contribution of $20,000.


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Actions in Building Part 2
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The Christmas season is here in Bethlehem and the “Holy Land”. Already the Christmas tree in Bethlehem Nativity square is lit. It is
beautiful to see people of all faiths here in occupied Palestine share
joys and share sadness (ie. share life). We already attended two
concerts/choirs (one led by Germans, the other by Swedes). It is most inspiring to see Muslims and Jews in the Christmas spirit here. Like all holidays it becomes part of our native Palestinian culture as different faith communities join hands and sing together and celebrate together. Friends of ours lost their son and hundreds of all faiths came to pay respect on the day of burial Friday (it was
heart-wrenching to watch this beautiful family mourn this special
child). Sunday we attended services for six who died earlier (40 day or 6 month rituals) which included my Aunt Amal and my uncle Sami. We miss them all.

We are in the midst of an environmental conference (networking with really good people) and thinking out loud how we make a difference. We finally had rains here in good quantity and even though we are cold, we are happy. We try to live our life despite the horrors of the occupation and the incitement against us. We even had rainbows and great food. We are still lucky to be alive and in good health.

Life carries on and forces us to think of what legacy we leave in it.
Will we be destructive or productive? How much time do we spend to challenge destructive forces and how much to build (I try to balance but it is very hard). For me the most rewarding is seeing positive change in eyes of children coming to our museum and botanical garden.
To see it in the increased critical thinking and questioning by my
students at the three colleges/universities I teach at (Bethlehem,
Birzeit, Dar Al-Kalima). As the semester closes soon, I can’t help but marvel at where they were at the beginning of the semester and where they are now (well at least the majority of them ;-). I could not help but think of the lyrics of Loius Armstrong’s song:
"What A Wonderful World" I see trees of green, red roses too.
I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day, The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow, So pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces, Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands. Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying, "I love you".

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more, Than I'll ever know.
And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.
Yes, I think to myself, What a wonderful world.

The Best Magazine in Palestine: This Week in Palestine will now be available by subscription. Please visit this link to see the
latest/December issue (still free for now and a wonderful issue on
celebrations/holidays) and ALSO to subscribe:
http://thisweekinpalestine.com/

Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert
http://www.kairospalestine.ps/images/Kairos%20Palestine%20Christmas%20Alert%202016%20Email.pdf

And if you have not seen our holiday message of hope and call to
action, please visit
https://www.palestinenature.org/2016-christmas-message/

Stay human and come visit us in occupied Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org


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Actions in Politics & Actions in Building
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It is sometimes hard to know how many people receiving these messages
read them. It would be great to get more feedback on what is useful and what is not. As a simple experiment and since some people do respond I am going to send two messages back to back: this one on politics (including actions you can take), the second one will be on Action in Building (positive things not directly political). I will see how many reply to each and will report to you the results of this
experiment next week :-)

Message 1. Action in Politics

“Israel’s official position is that this is not an area under belligerent occupation [1967 areas]. Go onto the Foreign Ministry’s
websites and you’ll see. We did not accept the Geneva Convention, because we knew it would be against us….When Joshua ben Nun [the biblical prophet] entered the land, he sent three messages to its inhabitants: those who want to accept [our rule] will accept; those who want to leave, will leave; those who want to fight, will fight.


The basis of his strategy was: We are here, we have come, this is ours. Now too, three doors will be open, there is no fourth door.
Those who want to leave – and there will be those who leave – I will help them. When they have no hope and no vision, they will go. As they did in 1948. Those who do not go will either accept the rule of the Jewish state, in which case they can remain, and as for those who do not, we will fight them and defeat them” Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich interview in Haaretz

Senate Passes a Dumb and Dangerous Bill by James J. Zogby This week, without debate or an actual vote, the US Senate stealthily
passed a disturbing and dangerous piece of legislation introduced by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA). Called “The
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016” (AAA), the Scott-Casey bill requires the Department of Education (DOE) to apply the State
Department’s (DOS) definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating complaints of discrimination on US campuses… more at.
http://lobelog.com/senate-passes-a-dumb-and-dangerous-bill/#more-36971
(The bill we allow he Israel lobby to outlaw criticism of Israeli apartheid?)
Senate Passed Anti-Free Speech Bill; House Considers Bill: It targets
human rights activists, not hatred.
https://www.fcnl.org/updates/senate-passed-anti-free-speech-bill-house-considers-bill-483

10 Zionist Arguments You’ve Encountered, But Didn’t Have Answers To
http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2016/11/28/10-zionist-arguments-youve-encountered-but-didnt-have-answers-to/

Endorse the academic and cultural boycott campaign in your own country:
Britain: http://www.bricup.org.UK
France: http://www.aurdip.org
Spain: http://pebai.wordpress.com
Italy: http://bdsitalia.org/
US: http://www.usacbi.org
Global: http://bdsmovement.net
And search for BDS campaigns in your country here:
https://bdsmovement.net/get-involved/join-a-bds-campaign

Stay human and come visit us in occupied Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org



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Wednesday, October 19

UK anti-Semitism report tries to whitewash Zionism
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The Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons, the lower house of the British parliament, has just issued its report, “Anti-Semitism in the UK”, in response to concerns about “an increase in prejudice and violence against Jewish communities” and “an increase in far-right extremist activity”. It was also prompted by allegations of anti-Semitism in political parties and university campuses.

The following observations are based on the report’s Conclusions and Recommendations, which is as far as most people will read.
  • Israel is an ally of the UK government and is generally regarded as a liberal democracy.
Hardly. It is no friend of the British people. Nor is it remotely a Western-style liberal democracy. We share few if any values.
  • Those claiming to be “anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic”, should do so in the knowledge that 59 per cent of British Jewish people consider themselves to be Zionists. If these individuals genuinely mean only to criticise the policies of the government of Israel, and have no intention to offend British Jewish people, they should criticise “the Israeli government”, and not “Zionists”. For the purposes of criminal or disciplinary investigations, use of the words “Zionist” or “Zio” in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic.
The Israeli regime’s inhuman policies are driven by Zionist doctrine. I doubt if justice-seekers are in the least swayed by how many Jews consider themselves Zionists. Or how many Christians do, for that matter.
  • Universities UK should work with appropriate student groups to produce a resource for students, lecturers and student societies on how to deal sensitively with the Israel-Palestine conflict, and how to ensure that pro-Palestinian campaigns avoid drawing on anti-Semitic rhetoric. 
For the sake of evenhandedness, who will ensure that pro-Israel campaigns avoid drawing on hasbara lies and false claims to Palestinian lands and resources?
  • Jewish Labour MPs have been subject to appalling levels of abuse, including anti-Semitic death threats from individuals purporting to be supporters of Mr Corbyn. Clearly, the Labour leader is not directly responsible for abuse committed in his name, but we believe that his lack of consistent leadership on this issue, and his reluctance to separate anti-Semitism from other forms of racism, has created what some have referred to as a “safe space” for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people.
The abusers, and others with vile attitudes, may well be provocateurs bent on making Corbyn look bad. In any case, why should he or anyone else feel obliged to “separate” anti-Semitism from other forms of racism?
  • The Chakrabarti Report is clearly lacking in many areas; particularly in its failure to differentiate explicitly between racism and anti-Semitism… [its recommendations] are further impaired by the fact that they are not accompanied by a clear definition of anti-Semitism, as we have recommended should be adopted by all political parties. 
Who needs a special definition or actually cares about differentiating anti-Semitism from racism? They are two of the same stripe, and I suspect most of us regard them with equal distaste and have no reason to put one above the other. In short, we know racism when we see it and that’s enough.
  • The Labour Party and all political parties should ensure that their training on racism and inclusivity features substantial sections on anti-Semitism. This must be formulated in consultation with Jewish community representatives, and must acknowledge the unique nature of anti-Semitism.
Unique? Racism is racism.
  • The acts of governments abroad are no excuse for violence or abuse against people in the United Kingdom. We live in a democracy where people are free to criticise the British government and foreign governments. But the actions of the Israeli government provide no justification for abusing British Jews.
We tend to take a dim view of those who support states that terrorise others. Jews themselves have warned that Jews everywhere may suffer as a result of the Jewish state’s unacceptable behaviour. This is unfortunate as many Jews are fiercely critical of the regime’s misconduct and, to their great credit, actively campaign against it. By the way, how does the Select Committee suggest we treat those inside our Parliament who promote the interests of a foreign military power with an appalling human rights record?
  • In an article for The Daily Telegraph in May, the chief rabbi criticised attempts by Labour members and activists to separate Zionism from Judaism as a faith, arguing that their claims are “fictional”. In evidence to us, he stressed that “Zionism has been an integral part of Judaism from the dawn of our faith”. He stated that “spelling out the right of the Jewish people to live within secure borders with self-determination in their own country, which they had been absent from for 2,000 years – that is what Zionism is”. His view was that “If you are an anti-Zionist, you are anti everything I have just mentioned”.
The chief rabbi is flatly contradicted by the Jewish Socialists’ Group which says:
Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.
Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not anti-Semitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Semitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the anti-Semites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy out of bounds.
On the chief rabbi’s other point, what right in law do the Jewish people have to return after 2,000 years, forcibly displacing the Palestinians and denying them the same right? Besides, scholars tells us that most returning Jews have no ancestral links to the Holy Land whatsoever.
  • CST [Community Security Trust – a Jewish vigilante and disinformation and propaganda body with close links to the Israeli security service Mossad] and the JLC [Jewish Leadership Council – an Israeli stooge organisation] describe Zionism as “an ideological belief in the authenticity of Jewish peoplehood and that the Jewish people have the right to a state”. Sir Mick Davis, Chairman of the JLC, told us that criticising Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism, because: “Zionism is so totally identified with how the Jew thinks of himself, and is so associated with the right of the Jewish people to have their own country and to have self-determination within that country, that if you attack Zionism, you attack the very fundamentals of how the Jews believe in themselves.” 
The Select Committee is careful to say that “where criticism of the Israeli government is concerned context is vital”. The committee therefore need to understand that the so-called Jewish state is waging what amounts to a religious war against Christian and Muslim communities in the Holy Land. Ask anyone who has been on pilgrimage there. And read The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, a joint statement by the heads of Palestinian Christian churches. It says:
We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.
We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organisations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.
We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation…
In seeking to defend Zionism the Select Committee fails to put the opposing case – for example, that many non-Jews regard it as a repulsive concept at odds with their own belief. There is no reason to suppose that Zionist belief somehow trumps all others.
  • Research published in 2015 by City University found that 90 per cent of British Jewish people support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and 93 per cent say that it forms some part of their identity as Jews…
Did researchers ask British Muslims and Christians about the Palestinians’ right to their own state?
This research sounds like a swipe at people who are accused of “delegitimising” Israel by questioning its right to exist. Actually, Israel does a very good job of delegitimising itself. The new state’s admission to the UN in 1949 was conditional upon honouring the UN Charter and implementing UN General Assembly resolutions 181 and 194. It failed to do so and repeatedly violates provisions and principles of the charter to this day.
Israel cannot even bring itself to comply with the provisions of the European Union-Israel Association Agreement of 1995, which makes clear that adherence to the principles of the UN Charter and “respect for human rights and democratic principle constitute an essential element of this agreement”.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague ruled that construction of what’s often referred to as the Apartheid Wall breached international law and Israel must dismantle it and make reparation. The ICJ also ruled that “all states are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction”. Israel nevertheless continues building its hideous wall with American tax dollars, an act of hatred against the Palestinians and a middle-finger salute to international law.
Here at home powerful Friends of Israel groups are allowed to flourish in all three main parties in the UK. Their presence at the centre of government and in the fabric of our institutions is considered unacceptable by civil society campaign groups and a grave breach of the principles of public life. The backlash to growing criticism of Israel’s stranglehold on its neighbours and increasing influence on Western foreign policy is mounting intolerance, Hence the Inquisition, which lately has been directed against Labour’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, an easy target for orchestrated smears given his well known sympathy with the Palestinians’ struggle and his links to some of Israel’s (not our) enemies.
The shortcomings of the Select Committee’s inquiry are obvious. Its report doesn’t properly consider the opposite view. It is half-baked. It is lopsided. It is written in whitewash.
Stuart Littlewood

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Israel Arresting Palestinian Children For Facebook Posts
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Israel has been interrogating and imprisoning dozens of Palestinian minors for months without any legal representation or a parent's presence.

As Facebook gives the Israeli government more access to posts deemed as “incitement,” occupation forces have been raiding the homes of Palestinians children and detaining them for months over posts on the social media site, a report by the Defense for Children International-Palestine said Monday.
The group spoke with several Palestinian minors who were arrested for their Facebook posts, interrogated for hours and then kept in prison for months without charges under the Israeli policy of “administrative detention.”
“Israeli authorities must immediately stop using administrative detention against Palestinian minors,” attorney and international advocacy officer at DCIP Brad Parker, said in the organization’s report.
“Inability to file charges against children due to lack of evidence should never be grounds for holding them indefinitely without charge or trial.”
The group said this the first time that Israel has used administrative detention against Palestinian children since 2011, a policy that allows Israeli authorities to keep Palestinians in jail for an indefinitely without charges.
Ahmed, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was only identified by his first name in the report, said he was arrested in August and interrogated for hours over pictures of he had posted on Facebook. “He asked for my Facebook password,” Ahmed told DCIP recalling his first interrogation in an Israeli prison. “I gave it to him. He logged in and said it had inciting photos.”
Ahmed had also been arrested in April over posts on Facebook. “I told (the interrogator) of my arrest earlier in April 2016 for 10 days, when I was interrogated (at Shikma prison) in Ashkelon about my Facebook account. I told him I deleted everything upon my release and the account is clean. I told him to check it.”
Three days later, Israeli authorities placed Ahmad under administrative detention for six months. The report warned that more than 19 Palestinian children, arrested since October 2015, did not have any legal representation or a parent’s presence during the interrogations, which is internationally illegal.
Last month, Facebook and the Israeli government agreed to set up joint teams in order to fight what they call “incitement” posts on the social media website, which critics slammed as policies to target Palestinians and Arab-Israelis.
The report highlighted that “Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year that lack fundamental fair trial rights.”
Despite these policies being part of the legal code of the country that should presumably apply to all of Israel and the occupied territories, Israelis seem to be spared from such laws by the police and army.
Israeli Jews and settlers, as well as government officials and politicians, have repeatedly and publicly incited violence against Arab and Palestinian men, women and children. Very few extremist members within the illegal Jewish settler community have been penalized over their calls for violence, or indeed the carrying out of such violence.



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Record US Aid to Israel Reflects Growing Influence of Military-Industrial Complex
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Israel is likely to increase its arms exports now that it cannot use the aid on its own weapons industry, says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.





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Zionism and the Jewish Lobby
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Ryan Dawson of the ANC Report returns to discuss Zionism and the power of the Jewish lobby. We talk about the historical influence Zionists and the Israel Lobby have had on American life and the U.S. government's foreign policy. 

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How Israel seeks to erase the region’s history
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It was presumably intended as an Israeli history lesson to the world. A video posted to social media by Israel’s foreign ministry shows an everyday Jewish couple, Jacob and Rachel, in a home named the “Land of Israel”. A series of knocks on the door brings 3,000 years of interruptions to their happiness. First it’s the Assyrians, followed by the Babylonians, Hellenists, Arabs, Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans – all straight out of Monty Python central casting.
Jacob and Rachel are forced by the warring factions to relocate to ever smaller parts of their home until finally they have to pitch a tent in the garden. Their fortunes change only with the arrival of a servant of the British Empire, who returns the title deeds. A final knock disturbs their celebrations. On the doorstep are a penniless Palestinian couple, craning their necks to see what goodies await them inside.
The chauvinism in portraying Jacob and Rachel as the only normal folk, stoicly enduring barbarians butchering each other in their living room, is ugly enough. But it is harder still to take seriously an account in which the Palestinians suddenly appear out of nowhere in 1948, as Britain departs.
A mile from my home in Nazareth are the ruins of Saffuriya, a centuries-old Palestinian town until the Israeli army expelled the inhabitants in 1948 andblew up their homes. More than 500 villages were similarly razed.
In places where buildings were left untouched, it is Jews – not Palestinians – who squat in someone else’s home. But the falsification runs deeper.
Next to the rubble of Saffuriya lies the much older Roman city of Sephoris, where Jews settled nearly 2,000 years ago after their failed revolts against the Roman empire. A surviving synagogue’s mosaic floor reveals that the Jews of Sephoris worshipped the sun, so close had they grown to the area’s pagan population.
Other entanglements abound. In Nazareth’s old city is the world’s only “synagogue church”, where Jesus reputedly delivered his first sermon. It is a reminder that many local Jews would soon be calling themselves Christians, and later Muslims. Farther north, in the town of Bokaya, an ancient synagogue can be found next to churches and mosques. For centuries the Abrahamic faiths lived alongside each other in a communal harmony unknown in Europe.
In fact, contrary to Israel’s version of history, the most violent clashes – aside from the Jewish revolts – coincided with invasions by Europeans, whether the aggressive sectarianism of the Crusaders, or the British-backed creation of an ethno-religious “Jewish state” by Zionists. More usually, Palestine’s past was marked by cultural tolerance and genetic diversity. Conversions and intermarriages meant the region was a melting pot of identities and beliefs.
Israel, of course, prefers to obscure that history, because it leads to an obvious conclusion: the region needs less, not more, tribalism and dogma of the sort Israel favours.
The Jewish majority in Israel lives almost entirely apart from the Palestinians who stayed on their land and are today nominally citizens. Meanwhile, in the West Bank – known to Israelis as the Biblical kingdoms of “Judea and Samaria” – Jewish settlers lord it over a ghettoised Palestinian population subject to military rule.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been drafting a basic law defining Israel as belonging to a globalised “Jewish nation”, not the country’s citizens. And he insists that peace talks take place only once the Palestinians under occupation recognise Israel as such a Jewish state – a condition that, once viewed as risible, has now been adopted by Washington.
In a sign of the prevailing mood, Israel’s education ministry has recently banned from the curriculum two novels featuring romantic attachments between Jews and Arabs. At the same time, the “green line” that once demarcated the occupied Palestinian territories has been erased from Israeli classroom maps, implying instead that it is all Greater Israel.
Faced with Israel’s zero-sum policies and diplomacy, Palestinians have grown increasingly anxious about the future.
Last week a resolution from Unesco, the UN’s scientific and cultural body, gave voice to their concerns. It highlighted Israeli threats to the most important Muslim and Christian heritage sites under occupation.
Recognising the importance of Jerusalem “for the three monotheistic religions”, the resolution nonetheless warned that Israel was exploiting its illegal control to erase the Palestinians’ connection to such sites, especially Al Aqsa mosque.
Hoping to deflect attention away from these criticisms, Israel railed against the UN for denying primacy to its narrative. Al Aqsa must be billed equally as Temple Mount, Mr Netanyahu insisted, referring to a long-lost Jewish temple believed to be buried under the Jerusalem mosque.
But the ruined temple’s likely location leads to the opposite conclusion Mr Netanyahu has reached: not that the Jews have a stronger claim to sovereignty, but that the region’s peoples and religions are impossibly intertwined.
That should be the chief lesson for the current Jacobs and Rachels, many of them living in armed and relentlessly expanding colonies on stolen Palestinian territory.
This land was always shared, and there will be no peace until it is again.
Jonathan Cook


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