Monday, April 10, 2017

A Loving Solidarity

Excerpts from an Easter Message from Jean Zaru, Ramallah Friends Meeting 

From the land of Palestine, I extend loving greetings to you as sisters and brothers, both near and far. For Palestinian Quakers, Resurrection is a time of joy, hope and sharing. In Palestinian households, we bake small cakes for this occasion which are rich in symbolism. 

Even though the cakes themselves taste sweet, their shape represents the last bitter moments before Jesus’ torturous death.  We transform ring-shaped cakes filed with dates into crowns of thorns. Another type of cake is filled with walnuts and shaped like the vinegar soaked sponge, which instead of water, was offered to Jesus on the Cross. These cakes are baked by Christians and Muslims alike for their respective special occasions. 

With similar import, eggs are naturally dyed a deep red color to represent the blood of Christ. Colored eggs are the joy of children and adults alike, who exclaim "Christ is Risen!" when cracking them open. . .

We learn through scripture that Jesus was a mystic. He had vivid and frequent experiences with the Spirit. He was a remarkable healer, wisdom teacher, and social prophet. An outspoken critic of the domination system, Jesus was also an organizer, an initiator of inclusive movements that shattered the social boundaries of his time. 

While interpreting Jesus in purely political terms does not allow us into a full understanding, we may also reduce his message if we exclude the political dimensions of his life, death and resurrection. 

Our struggle against the inter-related threats of oppression, violence, warfare and the destruction of the environment can be and should be understood as one struggle – a struggle for life." 

About Ramallah Friends Meeting 

There has been an active and vibrant Palestinian Quaker community in Ramallah since the late 1800’s. In 1910, this community built the Ramallah Friends Meetinghouse and later added another building that was used for community outreach.
The Ramallah Friends Meeting has always played a vital role in the community. In 1948, the buildings and grounds became the home to many Palestinian refugees. Throughout the years, the members of the Ramallah Friends Meeting organized numerous community programs such as the Children’s Play Center, the First Day School, and women’s activities.
By the early 1990’s, the Meetinghouse and Annex which housed meeting rooms and bathroom facilities, fell into disrepair as a result of damage inflicted by time and impact of conflict. So serious was the deterioration of the meetinghouse that by the middle 1990’s it was impossible to use the building at all.
A further blow to the Friends and the wider Palestinian community was the high level of emigration brought on by the economic situation and the hardships arising from the continuing Israeli military occupation. The Meetinghouse, which had served as a place of worship for the Friends in Ramallah, could no longer be used as such and the Annex could no longer be used for community outreach.

In 2002, a committee consisting of members of the Religious Society of Friends in the U.S. and the Clerk of the Ramallah Meeting began to raise funds for the renovations of the buildings and grounds of the Meetinghouse. By November, 2004 the renovations were complete, and on March 6, 2005, exactly 95 years to the day after the dedication, the Meetinghouse and Annex were rededicated as a Quaker and community resource. 

Friday, February 03, 2017

The 8 most significant BDS Wins in 2016

The Palestine BDS National Committee announces the eight most significant indicators of BDS impact in 2016:

1.Three more multinationals ended their involvement in illegal Israeli projects. Orange, the French Telecommunications giant, announced the termination of its franchise relationship with the Israeli company Partner Communications, which provided telecommunication support, subscription fee waivers, and entertainment services to Israeli soldiers during the 2014 war on Gaza. 
    The Irish building materials corporation CRH sold off its 25% equity stake in its Israeli operation, Nesher Cement, over links to Israel's illegal Wall and settlements on Palestinian land. 

G4S, the world's largest private security company, ended most of its involvement in illegal Israeli business. Considered a top BDS target for years due to its provision of products and services to Israeli prisons, police, military roadblocks and illegal colonies, G4S severed ties with Israel after it lost lucrative contracts or faced prominent divestment decisions in Kuwait, Norway, South Africa, Colombia, the European Union, Jordan, Lebanon, and the U.S.

    2. The European Union upheld the right to boycott Israel as a legitimate form of freedom of expression protected by European Human Rights Conventions. Previously, the right to boycott had been supported by Sweden, Ireland, and the Netherlands, as well as Amnesty International, the ACLU, the International Federation of Human Rights, and hundreds of political parties, trade unions and social movements around the world.

3. Municipal Councils in France, Norway, and Northern Ireland joined BDS, while in the U.S., Portland, Oregon became the first U.S. city to endorse divesting from Caterpillar. 

4.  Israel’s global isolation intensified as appeasement began to give way to sustained international pressure: 

    The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2334: Israel’s settlements built on occupied Palestinian land constitute a “flagrant violation under international law.” Even though the US abstained from the UN decision, current polls indicate that 46% of the public and 60% of Democrats supported imposing sanctions or taking more drastic measures against Israel to compel it to end its colonization of Palestinian lands. 

Similarly, the U.N. Human Rights Council decided to create a database of Israeli and international corporations that are complicit in and profiting from Israel’s occupation. This remarkable development has made many companies nervous about their own involvement in Israel’s violations of international law.  

5. More mainstream churches around the world adopted BDS-related measures in support of Palestinian human rights. These are: the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, the United Methodist Church, the Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Presbyterian Church USA, The Alliance of Baptists, the Peace United Church of Christ in Santa Cruz, and the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (US).

6. The BDS campaign against Hewlett Packard went viral.
A global Week of Action was organized around November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, to hold HP accountable for providing technology that enables Israel’s system of occupation and racial segregation. The spread of the HP boycott actions exceeded all expectation. Over 150 actions were organized in 101 cities across 30 countries.

  7. The academic and cultural boycott of Israel spread further among student unions, academics, artists, and writers, especially in the Global South. Groups in 225 cities and university campuses registered their participation in Israeli Apartheid Week. 

8. International trade 
unions intensified support 
for BDS measures in 
solidarity with Palestinian

Of course, Israel's right wing 
    took exception to all this. Oh well...