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.
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).
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.
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.
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.