NEARLY THREE DECADES AGO, a new Israeli protest group was launched, calling itself “The 21st Year” and declaring in its founding covenant that:The 40th year of the independence of Israel is the 21st year of its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For more than half of its years of statehood, Israel has been an occupying power .

It’s the Occupation, Stupid! (If that is the answer, what is the question?)

Hint: what do the alarming rise in anti-Jewish sentiment, the growing isolation and de-legitimization of Israel, the deepening despair of the Palestinians, and the threatening perversion of the Jewish future all have in common? THE CONTINUING RISE in anti-Jewish sentiment in countries around the world is of course shocking and disturbing. But is it altogether surprising? I first addressed this issue some forty years ago when undertaking my doctoral research on Israel’s rule over the West Bank during the early years of the Occupation. Here is a compressed version of what I observed in a pamphlet that was published in January 1977:While Israel continues to rule over the West Bank, there are bound to be ever more frequent and more intensive acts of resistance by a population that is feeling encroached upon by a spreading pattern of Jewish colonization and whose yearning for independence is no less than was that of the Palestinian Jews in the early months of 1948.

A Blessing in the Midst of the Earth

IMAGINE A SUPERHIGHWAY starting in Aswan in southern Egypt and following the Nile, running across the Sinai, up past southern Jordan, crossing the river and then up through Israel, the West Bank, into Lebanon, crossing northern Iraq, past Aleppo in Syria, into Iran, and ending in Turkey. That’s what the prophet Isaiah envisioned for the future when he wrote:On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.” (Isaiah 19:23–25)This vision in which God declares “Blessed be Egypt my people” and “Assyria the work of my hands” is so unrealistic from a political perspective that it seems more like wishful thinking than prophecy. It’s hard to reconcile this vision with the current situation where Egypt and Jordan are the only Muslim nations that recognize Israel’s legal right to exist. In 1998, while on a Compassionate Listening tour of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, I was fortunate to meet the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, chief rabbi of the settlement of Tekoa, who taught that we should live as if our dreams of peace really can come true.

Palestinians Perpetually Participating

WHEN ISRAELIS VOTE, Palestinians do not. But they do get to participate: they can watch. Like the residents of the Palestinian village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa in the occupied West Bank who get to watch as the ballots cast by their Israeli settler neighbors from Beit Horon are shipped to election headquarters—to the Knesset that Palestinians do not get to vote for (but whose decisions control their lives) on a highway they can-not use (but built on land confiscated from them). Palestinians also get to participate in the legal proceedings of Israeli courts: they get to be convicted. Not much of a surprise, given the clear division of roles in the theater of injustice of military courts.

Which Side Are You On, My People? Ending American Jewish Support for the Occupation


IN JULY 2014, the American Jewish establishment mobilized tens of thousands of American Jews in support of an unnecessary and devastating war on Gaza, while those of us who openly questioned and decried the senseless loss of life were shouted down and labeled traitors. It was that summer, while saying kaddish for the Israelis and Palestinians who had been killed, that IfNotNow was born to challenge the establishment’s clear moral failure. Two years later, while thousands of AIPAC conference attendees welcomed Donald Trump with standing ovations, hundreds of IfNotNow activists converged on Washington D.C. to lay the groundwork for the bold, soulful organizing that is now known as the #JewishResistance. As Trump went on to win the election riding a wave of xenophobia and racism, and white supremacists celebrated in public, the necessity of resisting arm in arm with others under attack was no longer an abstract concept. So we showed up to protest his inauguration with Black, Muslim, and immigrant communities.

The Occupation At 50: A Palestinian Perspective


IT WOULD TAKE SEVEN YEARS after the 1967 war for me to show up in this world, but its legacy continues to play a significant role in my life. If we are to engage this 50-year anniversary in a way that propels us towards a sustainable resolution, we will have to take stock of how it fundamentally shaped and shapes each of us. I argue that requires painful introspection to figure out what we individually are willing to give up in order to break that legacy’s shackles. I was born and raised in Dubai, not Palestine. Yet my father’s stories of olive groves, simple lives, and rich, colorful histories permeated my life in Dubai.

It’s Time to Put Our Privileged Jewish Bodies on the Line

IF WE WANT TO SEE an end to the Occupation, it’s time to put our privileged Jewish bodies on the line. That’s why hundreds of Jews from around the world will join with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence in the summer of 2017 to engage in civil disobedience and noncooperation with the unjust laws of 50 years of Occupation. After living in Jerusalem for seven years and seeing the daily discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank while Jewish Israeli life went on largely unperturbed, I knew something more than another educational forum or another policy paper was called for. The majority of the global Jewish world does not see the discrimination, segregation, and humiliation facing Palestinians living under the Occupation. But when Jews from America, Jews from Europe, Jews from Australia, and Jews from Israel stand together in solidarity with Palestinians, we will make the realities of the Occupation visible.

Is “Land for Peace” Legitimate? Reflections on the Six-Day War, 50 Years Later

A FEW YEARS AGO I was riding in a car with an Israeli friend on Highway Six in Israel, a fairly new road that runs north-south through the middle of the country. Somewhere along the way I saw a section of the Security Wall just off in the distance. I asked him why they built the wall there. He responded, “Simple. To prevent them from throwing stones at us—and to prevent us from seeing what we are doing to them.” It was an honest response, perhaps too honest, of what it is like to live in today’s divided Israel, in a situation that each side justifies in a manner that only increases its corrosive nature.

Atzma’ut 69, Occupation 50: Does That Add Up?

FOR ISRAEL, this summer marks the 50th anniversary (June 10, 2017) of the end of the Six-Day War and the beginning of the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. And that historical marker quickly follows another one: the 69th anniversary of Israel’s statehood, commemorated by Israelis as Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (May 1 and 2). Yom Ha’Atzma’ut is usually translated as “Israeli Independence Day.” That English word means “not hanging on.” But the Hebrew would be more accurately translated as “Day for Standing on One’s Own Feet, Day of Affirming One’s Own Essence” (Etzem, the linguistic root of “atzma’ut,” means “bone, skeleton, internal essential structure.”)
From that deeper perspective, the 50th anniversary of the Occupation casts a deep pall of doubt upon the 69th birthday of the State. Has Israel really been independently “standing on its own feet” or has it for five- sevenths of its history been simultaneously standing in military boots on a subjugated people and depending (not “independing”) on the military and money support of the United States government to do so? The present Israeli government, elected just two years ago, is by far the most right- wing—politically, economically, and religiously—in Israel’s history.

50 Years Later – How the Occupation Evolved and the Answer to its Growth


I WAS BORN IN 1971, four years after the 1967 war that led to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. I grew up living under the brutality of the Israeli military and its violence. Until 1993 we, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, lived under what I refer to as “direct military occupation.” The military was fully present and controlling of every aspect of our lives. The military headquarters, known ironically as the “Civil Administration,” were located in the heart of every major city in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Physically, the Israeli army roamed the streets of our villages, refugee camps, and cities day and night.

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