The Crisis of Apartheid: Report Back from Palestine

We Are All Part of One Another - Webinar Series

The Crisis of Apartheid: Report Back from Palestine

NVI co-founder, Jonathan Kuttab, was eager to report back from his recent trip home.

He was in conversation with NVI Board member Mohammed Abu-Nimer who joined us during a second recent trip to the region. The event was hosted by Tess Greenwood. 

We discussed the current reality on the ground and how to support each other at this difficult time.

Time Stamps:

0:00  - Tess Greenwood's powerful framing remarks

6:07 -   Jonathan Kuttab's moving reflections  

22:05 -  Mohammed Abu-Nimer's insightful remarks

41:15 - Q&A starting with NVI founder, Mubarak Awad

113:33 - Cosponsors share about their vital work 

Our experts, Jonathan Kuttab and Mohammed Abu-Nimer, took time to answer audience questions we didn't have the opportunity to address during the webinar.

Q: How can we lift up Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank in our conversation about Jonathan's book, Beyond the Two State Solution?

A: Unlike the Oslo Process and the two-state solution, my [Jonathan's] vision recognizes that the Palestinians are one people who have been fragmented into separate "communities" with each community seeking to find a separate solution to its problems. In my vision, Palestinians who are refugees have a right to return to Palestine, if they chose to do so, and if someone else is living in their homes or properties (whether in Israel or the occupied territories) the new state will work to provide them with some measure of compensation or alternative housing and land from the public lands. It will also provide settlement, jobs, and training as a form of reparations that does not displace Israeli Jews who have been living in their homes or on their lands.
This measure of relative (not absolute) justice can provide healing, remove the sense of bitterness and injustice, without creating an existential threat to Israeli Jews who can also enjoy the benefits of this state, though not exclusively.
So refugees in all these areas can exercise their right of return with the understanding that they must share the land with Israeli Jews who have immigrated to Palestine/Israel and made it their homeland as well.

Q: What are your recommendations on how to humanize the other?

A: Yes, there is need for each side to humanize the other. The problem is that in the past, efforts to create fraternal relationships have avoided dealing with the roots of the problem and created a false symmetry between the oppressor and the oppressed. Thus it rendered the exercise suspect as an illegitimate reinforcer of an unjust status quo. This is called "normalization" and is rightly rejected by Palestinians.
The challenge is to create opportunities for coresistence, whereby both sides join in activities that confront, and challenge the injustices, rather than reinforce them. This is not done through mere declarations but through actions. When Israelis join a Palestinian led initiative or demonstration, and get equally teargassed or arrested, Palestinians can see the genuineness of their solidarity and do not need to question them about their political positions.
The current situation deliberately separates the two populations who only meet each other in a situation of oppression: as soldiers or settlers or powerful employers holding power over illegal/or permit-controlled labor. Joint activities must recognize the realities of apartheid as they try to break its power and hold over oppressor and oppressed alike.

Q: In terms of changing US foreign policy, I’ve noticed in my local and state Democratic Party very few of us who are advocating equality and freedom for Palestinians are active in party politics. Several people in the county Democratic party told me that they won’t allow discussion of foreign policy because it might lead to discussion of Israel & Palestine. So, they are suppressing discussion of the problem within the state and local party organizations. How can we get more of us to be active and vocal and work toward better candidates for elected office, which would lead to changed policy?

A: I [Mohammed] agree it is important to have an active voice through participation in local and general domestic election campaigns, especially with Democrat and also Republican parties, too. The most direct way is the active membership in the parties themselves and to mobilize and advocate for the cause of ending Israeli occupation. Work through churches and other local civil society organizations can be effective too. These entities are influential in certain local American communities. In the past decade we have seen an increase of diversity among the candidates in such local elections. This is a promising sign for advocacy for Palestinian rights and ending occupation.

Q: I agree with Miko Peled, who clearly states that the only way to dismantle the Israeli apartheid state is to completely isolate them. That is that no country welcomes Israel's politicians, no participation in sports, arts, culture, totally and completely shunned. He thinks this will dismantle Israel and the Zionists and I agree with him completely. Do any of the panelists disagree with this assessment?

A: I [Mohammed] think that the fight against South African apartheid was effective partially due to the fact that many countries took part in the campaign against that regime. I think that similar strategy can be effective to end the Israeli occupation through international isolation of Israeli entities/institutions who directly support the occupation and the apartheid system. At the same time, I think that dialogue and engagement with those who are willing to talk to each other from the two sides based on clear commitment to basic human rights should be endorsed too.


Sponsored by Nonviolence International (NVI).

Cosponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), the Fellowship of Reconciliation,  and Just Peace Advocates.

Special thanks to the Salam Institute  


In 2023 Israeli apartheid is intensifying. While Palestinians remain steadfast on their land, the new far right government is outright encouraging settlers to violently attack Palestinians and giving the green light to Occupation forces to carry out explicit ethnic cleansing policies. As more and more people around the world turn their attention to Palestine and demand accountability for apartheid, we will gather for a report back from two Palestinian experts on nonviolence and conflict resolution about their recent experiences on the ground.

Speakers

 

Jonathan Kuttab is co-founder of Nonviolence International, the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, and Just Peace Advocates. A well-known international human rights attorney, he has practiced in the US, Palestine, and Israel. He serves as the Executive Director of Friends of Sabeel North America, and as a board member of Nonviolence International and Just Peace Advocates. He was the head of the Legal Committee negotiating the Cairo Agreement of 1994 between Israel and the PLO. Jonathan is the author of Beyond the Two State Solution, which articulates a vision of a binational state that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism. This book invites readers to begin a new conversation based on reality: how will two peoples live together in some sort of unified state?

 

Mohammed Abu Nimer is an internationally renowned expert on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace. He serves as a professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution at the American University School of International Service, and as a Senior Advisor to the KAICIID Dialogue Centre, an international organization that specializes in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Mohammed is also a member of NVI's Board of Directors. Prof. Abu-Nimer's research has focused on a wide array of topics in peacebuilding and conflict resolution and has been both author and editor of more than 13 books on faith-based and interfaith peace-building. His more recent areas of focus have included faith-based peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue in peacebuilding and building social cohesion, and pedagogical considerations on incorporating peace and forgiveness education in the Arab world.

 

Host:

Tess Greenwood joined NVI’s staff in August 2022 as the Office and Intern Manager. Tess is a community organizer with a background in youth leadership development and anti-Occupation activism. She holds a BA in Labor Studies from Hampshire College. When she's not working with NVI, Tess organizes with IfNotNow, the movement of American Jews organizing their community to end U.S. support for Israeli Apartheid.

 


Latest posts

Kuttab Brothers Debate the Future of Palestine

June 28, 5:00 PM Jerusalem time, 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Kuttab Brothers Debate the Future of Palestine:

Where are We Now and Where are We Going?

Register Here!

The situation in Palestine is becoming increasingly dire. Daily ferocious and deadly attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue, alongside the blockade of humanitarian aid and medical care for those most in need. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, ongoing violence from settlers and the Israeli army against Palestinians persists, including harming civilians, land confiscation, and destruction of property. In Israel (1948 territories), Palestinians are facing unprecedented levels of discrimination and violence. 

Public declarations and positions by Israeli officials are undermining efforts not only for a ceasefire but also for a genuine and viable solution that ensures peace and security for all residents of the region. Subjugating the Palestinians seems to be the only solution offered by these politicians and there seems to be wide support for them.

Additionally, many experts warn that the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapse, rendering it even more powerless than before to provide for its population and protect it from these relentless attacks and violations, even in statements of condemnation.

The ongoing struggle has left many around the world with questions about the future of Palestine and the nonviolence resistance movement.

The Crucial Questions:

  • Where is the Palestinian movement for liberation standing now?
  • What is the future of the Palestinian political leadership?
  • Is there any viable solution to the occupation and what does it look like?

Joining us to answer these questions and many more are two brothers who have dedicated their lives to Palestinian liberation and peace.

Featured Speakers:

Jonathan Kuttab: Jonathan Kuttab is a leading human rights lawyer. In 1979, he co-founded Al Haq, the first international human rights legal organization in Palestine. Later, he co-founded the Palestinian Center for the Study of Non-Violence (now Nonviolence International) and also founded the Mandela Institute for Prisoners. Jonathan is a Palestinian Christian, past chair of the Bethlehem Bible College, and serves on the board of the Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center in Jerusalem. Jonathan was part of the 1994 legal team for the Cairo agreement that resulted in the Oslo II Accord. He was a visiting scholar at Osgoode Law School at York University in Toronto in the Fall of 2017 and is a founding director of Just Peace Advocates Mouvement pour une Paix Juste, a Canadian-based international law human rights not-for-profit. Jonathan is a resident of East Jerusalem and a partner of the Kuttab, Khoury, and Hanna Law Firm in East Jerusalem.


Daoud Kuttab: Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and media activist. He is the former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Daoud Kuttab is currently the director general of Community Media Network (CMN), a not-for-profit media organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. CMN is registered in Jordan and Palestine and administers Radio al Balad in Amman and ammannet.net. He is a regular columnist on Palestinian issues with Al-Monitor, Arab News, and writes frequently in the Washington Post, LA Times, Al Jazeera, New Arab, Newsweek, The New Republic, and other publications.

Born in Jerusalem in 1955, Daoud studied in the United States and has worked in journalism since 1980. He has received several international awards, among them: the CPJ Freedom of Expression Award, the IPI World Press Freedom Hero, the PEN Club USA Writing Freedom Award, the Leipzig Courage in Freedom Award, the Next Foundation Peace in Journalism Award, and the Japanese Peace Award for producing Shara'a Simsim, the Palestinian version of Sesame Street.

Join us for an insightful and compelling discussion on the current state and future of the Palestinian movement, political leadership, and the quest for a viable solution to the occupation. We will be taking a limited number of questions from the participants. 

Register Here!

Direct Action by Solidarity Activists to Break the Siege

 

https://youtube.com/shorts/yD8V3kn-UKE?si=bGj0edTBl51e5Fst

 

 As we witness the daily horrific attacks against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, we also see the global movement calling for a ceasefire and an end to Israeli genocide grow with protests taking place across every major city in the world today. Taking this activism a step further, many are also engaged in direct action to break the siege of Gaza that has lasted for over 17 years and intensified in the last 8 months. People that are ready to put their lives on the line to save others. These people represent us, the global nonviolence movement, coming together from different parts of the world and from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.These are the ones who said, in the face of the impossible, we want to do something.

This will be hosted by Sami Awad. Our impressive speakers updated us and answered our questions!

Freedom Flotilla-Ann Wright

Rabbis for a Ceasefire- Ilana Sumka

Host- Co-Director of Nonviolence International, Sami Awad


Register Now!

Stop Arms to Israel

NVI is supporting efforts to pressure governments, most notably the USA, to halt its weapons transfers to Israel so as not to contribute to further war crimes and human rights abuses.

Control Arms (which has recently spun-off from NVI) issued a statement that calls on governments to abide by the Arms Trade Treaty.  US Pres. Trump withdrew from the ATT and the Biden administration has shamefully refused to re-sign.  NVI is proud to have supported Control Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty and encourages all to support this valuable citizens' network and this humanitarian disarmament treaty.

May 2024 - #Stop Sending Arms - Control Arms Statement on the Israel - Palestine Conflict

1. Control Arms, in partnership with the Ceasefire Now coalition of 688 NGOs, calls attention to the role of transferred weapons, parts, and ammunition in facilitating the atrocities taking place in Gaza, and demands a halt to these transfers and the immediate establishment of a ceasefire.

2. Israel’s bombardment and siege are depriving the civilian population of the basics to survive and rendering Gaza uninhabitable. Today, the civilian population in Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented severity and scale caused by systematic, deliberate destruction of the basics of life. Palestinian armed groups have indiscriminately fired rockets into Israel without concern for the protection of civilians and with open disregard for international humanitarian law (IHL). 

3. We have witnessed more than six months of relentless Israeli attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including the use of starvation as a weapon of war. The International Court of Justice has ruled it is plausible that this could amount to genocide. All States have an obligation to prevent atrocities. In these circumstances, the Arms Trade Treaty is clear: any transfer of weapons, ammunition, parts and components that are at risk of being used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and therefore, must cease immediately. 

4. The four Geneva Conventions and customary international law obligates all states to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. By ending their supply of items that are at risk of being used in the conflict, major arms exporting states can help to bring an end to serious violation of IHL and most importantly to the suffering being witnessed in Gaza. As close partners to Israel, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom shoulder a distinct duty in this regard.

5. Despite the United States and its allies repeatedly urging Israel to protect civilians in Gaza, the United States has decided to provide over US$14 billion in further military support without any new conditions to protect human rights. This aid includes expanded authorities for arms transfers and subsidizing Israel's defense industry. The U.S. should withhold this assistance or enforce existing laws, such as Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prevents aiding countries that restrict humanitarian assistance. Failure to act risks prolonging civilian suffering in Gaza and escalating regional tensions.

Here is another coalition Letter to US State Department calling for a Halt of Weapons Transfers to Israel

For more information on Control Arms, here is a link to Control Arms work seeking to halt weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen. Otherwise, one can go to the website Controlarms.org

Nonviolence Can Heal National Traumas, by Jonathan Kuttab

Dear reader,

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more generalized trauma are not only personal and individual in character but often afflict whole nations and peoples. Frequently historical in nature, trauma can be passed down intergenerationally. 

One of the greatest examples of such trauma afflicting  humanity is that of the Holocaust, compounding the historical experience of centuries of persecution, hatred, and discrimination against Jewish people. This is a trauma that made it easy for many to succumb to the doctrines of Zionism, offering Jewish empowerment via Jewish supremacy in a Jewish-dominated state as the only cure for their ongoing suffering. It has made many easy prey for fascist doctrines, of belief in the value of violence and military overkill as the only path to survival. It has also made it difficult for many to take seriously any path towards peace and reconciliation that is not firmly rooted in their military power and supremacy. And while many cynically exploit the traumas of the Holocaust for political ends, there exists a genuine phenomenon of authentic fear that cries out for healing and needs to be addressed.

That rabbit hole of domination and “deterrence” will likely doom Israeli Jews to eternal strife and enmity with their neighbors, leading to ever increased militarization since in their traumatized state no amount of military power will ever be sufficient, and any attempt by Palestinians to resist that domination is only likely to reinforce the trauma. Similarly, all peace efforts will be viewed with deep suspicion and reticence, particularly if they require concessions that seem to reduce Israeli military domination or appear to make Israel weaker or more vulnerable to the risk of future attacks.

As a Palestinian, I am keenly aware of these traumas. I realize, however unjust it is, that our liberation is tied to the healing of our oppressors from the traumas of the past, for which we are the current victims.

Rubble from a destroyed school in Palestine

I am also aware that armed struggle by Palestinians, however legitimate under international law—and even if it were directed solely at armed soldiers and settlers—still risks reinforcing rather than healing the trauma.

In addition to this, we cannot forget that the Palestinians also have a long history of trauma, are now being traumatized, and are in great need healing, especially when the current genocide stops and the difficult process of rebuilding Gaza commences. Tens of thousands of orphans, bereaved families, over 70,000 wounded, and millions who have lost their homes require not only justice but also time and space to undertake a long process of healing.

I am also deeply conscious of how attractive the call to violence can be for oppressed and traumatized peoples. The events of October 7—apart from the attacks on civilians at the music festival and the kibbutzim as well as the taking of civilian hostages, which are properly to be condemned in no uncertain terms—were also viewed by many Palestinians as a brilliantly successful military operation whereby resistance fighters armed with primitive hand held weapons simultaneously breached the sophisticated walls imprisoning Gaza in 30 locations, captured two army bases, including the headquarters of the Gaza Battalion, killing 340 soldiers and capturing about 40 others, and carried the fight into the territory held by their enemies (rather than their own). Despite the massiveness of the Israeli retaliation and the utter destruction of Gaza, the events of that day will likely hold an appeal to those who preach armed resistance for many years to come.

So we clearly need to resist the siren call for violence, especially in our pursuit of justice. But what can we do to bring about some measure of healing to these deep traumas that are currently feeding the cycle of violence and without the healing of which, no peace is possible?

NVI's fiscal partner, Holy Land Trust along with FOSNA held an extensive series of trainings, attended by over 70 Palestinians in the West Bank, to work on the process of dealing with ongoing trauma. We are also committed to pursuing such healing globally. 

Another conversation between NVI's new Co-Director, Sami Awad and Gabor Mate “From Pain to Healing: Healing Collective Trauma in Israel/Palestine” deals with this problem as well. It is this healing process that is urgently needed by all sides, and it is one area that supporters of nonviolence, can be part of the solution.

Peace,

Jonathan Kuttab, Co-Founder and Board Member

P.S.The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is delayed in Turkey, but another boat is headed from Sweden and is currently near Eurovision raising awareness of the ongoing blockade and siege of Gaza.

 

(Art Credit - Kayla Ginsburg - from CJNV)

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