Everyone who follows the issue of the ongoing immoral occupation of Palestine knows we stand today at a critical moment. Not only have efforts to build a lasting peace been stalled for far too long, but facts on the ground have deepened the divisions and locked into place a brutal status-quo that is serving neither side well.
Today, we are pleased to announce that in the midst of this mess, our co-founder Jonathan Kuttab has just arrived home in the region for a month long journey to “change the conversation.” He asks all of us to join him in this effort and to help spread the word and build our collective power.
(Please scroll down to see the most recent posts)
Four small but mighty groups have joined together in an ad-hoc coalition for peace and justice. Nonviolence International, Holy Land Trust, Just Peace Advocates, and Friends of Sabeel North America are working to support Jonathan’s trip and his larger vision.
Of course, we are not only hoping to help change the conversation, we want to change policy and thus impact people’s lives. And, we can’t do that without your help. So, we make these few clear requests of each of you who read this call.
(If you are new to this important topic, please visit this page and scroll down for resources that provide helpful background information)
1) We will be posting updates to this page and our social media accounts. Please come back to this page often and follow all of the groups in this new coalition on social media:
2) If you haven’t already, please read Jonathan’s short book or at least the brief and moving executive summary. Below, you will find several videos we have produced on this issue. The shortest is under five minutes long.
3) Please spread the word. There are some wonderful people already involved in this important effort. But, we also recognize that we currently do not have the clout to make real the changes we desire. So, we ask you to spread the word. Tell others about this effort and have the difficult conversations needed to change the world. Please do talk to people who already agree with us. Activate them or ask them to do even more at this critical moment. And, then stretch yourself to talk to people who see this situation quite differently than you do. To change hearts and minds, it is always helpful to listen first before seeking to be heard. Throughout the conversation remain true to our shared values that all people deserve to live in dignity with their basic human rights protected. Talk to friends, and family. Talk to co-workers and neighbors. Talk with those you fear talking with. Those conversations are never easy, but they can be the most valuable. If you’d like further suggestions on how to have these impactful conversations, please check out this helpful resource: Your Guide to Difficult Conversations About Israel/Palestine
4) Consider writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper. This is one of the most read parts of most newspapers and remains a good way to reach out to new people. Or, if you are more focused on social media, post about this tour using the hashtags #JourneyWithJonathan & #Beyond2States.
5) If you are in the United States, please recognize the central role it plays supporting the ongoing occupation. We are proud to announce that Jonathan’s timely and visionary books has been hand delivered to every single US Senate office. That’s right - all 100 Senators have this book. This is an important step in changing the conversation.
Journey With Jonathan 2023
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #16
Tent of Nations Update
Today, March 2, 2023, should have been the date when the Objections Committee would have confirmed the title to Daoud Nassar for his land, since all 9 of the parties who objected to his claims had been previously dismissed. And, the last objector, who had previously been dismissed, failed to fulfill the conditions of the Committee to reinstate him. He had not paid the fine he was required to pay nor submit a statement by the objector himself, and he failed to present the list and substance of the testimony of his supposed witnesses. As of now, we do not even know the basis of his objection. Nonetheless, the committee decided to grant him yet another chance to present his case, the substance of the testimony he wished to profer, and they set a new hearing for May 15.
Attorney Sani Khoury, from our office in Jerusalem, asked the committee to recuse themselves since their behavior was clearly biased and prejudicial against Daoud and since they failed even to follow their own procedures. He recited a long list of decisions they had taken over the past 2 years to hamper Daoud from obtaining proper title, and described, on the record, how the Committee went out of its way to encourage others to object to his claims and to bring any evidence to cast a shadow on his rights.
The Committee refused to recuse itself and referred to the military order setting up the Committee, which stated that they do not have to follow evidentiary procedures in their attempts to “seek the truth." When Sani reminded them of their refusal to allow him in the past to present certain evidence, they said now they changed their minds and are willing to give all parties another chance to present affidavits summarizing their claims. In effect, starting the process from the beginning and overlooking all the delays of the past two years. Now, all parties need to submit their claims from the beginning and the Committee promised to “look into all facts with a view to arriving at the truth” rather than be bound by any formal requirements, procedures, or evidentiary rules.
While the attorneys are not very hopeful that this committee will ever agree to act as a proper legal adjudicatory body, we need to continue the pressure on the Israeli authorities, not only to complete the process of registration to acknowledge the ownership of the Nassar family, but also to permit Daoud to start building on it and utilizing it for the worthy projects it needs to be accomplishing.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #15
A year ago (some of you may remember from my previous reflections), Sami Awad got a poodle for his daughters. Mylo is a lovable, obedient dog who loves to go for car rides and knows how to close the door when ordered to do so. Today, he got a bath. He was thoroughly cleaned, then dried with a hair drier. I wanted to share these pictures with you. In a way, this is the most political “reflection” I have sent so far from my travels. To imagine that there are real human beings, people with children, and yes, dogs, living and surviving in this pressure cooker called Palestine is the most amazing thing.
Alas, today, all the people in Nablus and the surrounding villages are under siege, as are all the people of Jericho. Also, the bridge to Jordan--the only exit to the outside world for most West Bankers--is closed, and those who are travelling are stymied. The person who shot an Isareli settler near Jericho is still at large, as is the person who shot two settlers near Nablus. The fact that the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians have to be put on hold until they are found and eliminated by Israeli forces is almost never mentioned. Collective punishment is standard practice now, and the same settlers who rampaged through Huwara and its surrounding villages, along with their leaders in the government, are complaining that the current government is “too lenient” on Palestinians and call for yet harsher measures.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #14
Kafr Kanna and Haifa
Yesterday I held two meetings with Israeli Jews (in Hebrew). One was at the Sindyanna of Galilee in Kafr Kanna and the other was at the offices of Ma’an in Haifa. Sindyanna is a cooperative working to empower Palestinian women, working on the fair trade marketing of olive oil, and Ma’an is a function of the Yahad Party which provides services to Palestinian workers and laborers both in Israel and the West Bank.
The lectures concentrated on my book, Beyond the Two State Solution, and a discussion of the possibilities and nature of a one-state future based on equality and cooperation.
One of the interesting remarks I heard was that while others throughout the world may still talk of a two-state solution, no one in Israel talks about it at all. Particularly the new Israeli government is clear that they will never allow a Palestinian state, and all the demonstrations and protests around “judicial reform” and the new Israeli right wing government deliberately avoid talking about the Palestinian question, the occupation, and the future of Israeli/Palestinian relationships.
I returned from my trip to the news of the pogroms being committed by settlers, who in response to an attack that killed two settlers rampaged through Huwwarah and the surrounding villages (with full military protection) burning over 30 homes, a school, and about 100 vehicles, as well as killing one Palestinian and wounding tens of others. The deliberate failure of the Palestinian Authority to provide any protection to the Palestinian people, and the emboldening of settlers whose attacks have been increasing sharply, highlights the need for some form of international protection for Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #13
One of my memories of growing up in Bethlehem is eating falafel from Afteem. Afteem is a refugee from Jaffa, from where he fled in 1948 during the Nakba and started, with his children, a small falafel stand in the Manger Square in Bethlehem. His falafel is the very best in the world, bar none. Often copied and imitated, but never equaled. It is crisp and fragrant on the outside yet soft and lucious on the inside. He makes it from scratch, soaking the chickpeas for over 24 hours and adding his unique mix of spices before deep frying it in oil. Truly delicious.
I asked his son, who is the current proprietor of the shop and still in the Bethlehem's Manger Square, for permission to take a picture with him, which he graciously permitted. I told him I remembered him since my childhood. He asked my family name, and when I told him my father was George Kuttab, he said: “are you Jonathan?” What a treat!
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #12
Today I met with Shadi Khoury and his grandmother Samia at his home in Beit Hanina, a suburb of Jerusalem.
They had just received the good news that the prosecutor dropped her opposition to his returning to school, receiving his permit to do so. On Feb. 20, the court had permitted all defendants to go back to school, but the prosecutor objected to this in the case of Shadi alone and appealed the decision. Today, she dropped her appeal and gave permission to allow Shadi to return to school. He needs to be accompanied by one of his guarantors, to and from school, and return directly to his home where one of the guarantors is required to stay with him at all times until his trial.
His trial is set for March 1 and May 17.
According to Shadi, the entire case against him rests on the forced testimony of one of the other defendants, who said that Shadi participated in a demonstration and “drummed up” on a settlers’ car with his palms. No stone throwing or any other charges were even alleged, just participation in “disturbing the peace.” According to Shadi, the police and interrogators were particularly upset that he refused to confess, despite the beatings, and wanted to “throw the book at him.”
Shadi expressed his gratitude for all those who prayed for and worked on his behalf. He is hopeful that this nightmare may soon be over. He seemed to be in good spirits, if a bit subdued, and every bit as young as I expected him to be. Just a teenager.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #11
Visit To Ramon Prison and Mohammed El-Halabi
Today I visited Mohammed El-Halabi at his prison in the Negev desert. The prison is near Matspe Ramon, in the wilderness where rams roam freely.
Halabi wants to thank all those who have supported him and believed his story from the very beginning. He asked me to assure all of you that not only is he totally innocent but that he has been involved in humanitarian work since his youth, when he worked with Youth for Peace. He continues to work against violence and believes he is being punished precisely because of this.
Halabi related to me that Israel offered him freedom, as well as a scholarship to study for his PhD abroad and a job with the UN, if only he would confess that World Vision is antisemitic or if he provided a secret testimony against OXFAM and Catholic Relief Services. But, he refused. It was clear to him that the Israeli interrogators wanted material to use against foreign NGO’s involved in humanitarian work among Palestinians, but he was unwilling to provide it as it would undermine their work in Gaza and Palestine entirely.
He determined to use his time in prison wisely and started to give the other prisoners courses in all subjects he was good at: Leadership, Strategic Planning, Management, and even Negotiating skills and strategies. He also used the knowledge of other prisoners to start an MA program in Political Science, manging over the years to help graduate (by working with other universities) the first group of 30 MA students from Abu Dis University. He is now working with a second cohort of 30 prisoners.
Halabi firmly believes in nonviolence and humanitarian work. His biggest worry is the support for his family and ensuring that they receive a good education, since World Vision suspended his salary after he was arrested for fear that they be accused of "supporting terrorism." This is a tragedy, since his whole imprisonment is the result of refusing to undermine their work by taking the easy way out and confessing falsely that their money was being diverted for illegal purposes (a charge disproven by their own audit and investigations.)
Halabi also told me amazing things about his trial, which his own lawyer (Maher Hanna, from my Jerusalem law office) was prohibited from telling me, as it is secret. I will be writing about this separately. Suffice it to say, there is nothing about the trial that justifies secrecy other than fear of embarrassment that the evidence of the state is so thin as to be laughable. Halabi is truly a hero and humanitarian, and he wanted me to pass on to you his gratitude.
His appeal will be heard in May, but Amnesty International is about to mount a campaign for his release. I hope this stubborn humanitarian will be able to join his family and enjoy the freedom now seen by these rams.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #10
Today I went up to Nazareth. I decided to take the coastal road in order to see the Mediterranean sea.
The mere sight of the water, even without dipping my feet in it was so relaxing and therapeutic. The deep blue that gives its name (Mediterranean blue) to that particular shade of color was so soothing and healing. I could sit all day and simply look at the water.
However, it is painful to remember that I am one of the privileged Palestinians who can, in fact, visit the coast of Palestine, only because I have (and have maintained) my East Jerusalem residency. For over 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank, who live literally 20 miles from this glorious haven, this experience is subject to a permit from the Israeli authorities that is rarely given. I thought of how such an experience could help relax the pressure cooker atmosphere of the occupation. I would venture to say that it would contribute more to Israeli security and the reduction of tensions than any “iron dome” or the latest drone technologies could do.
This is not mere speculation. A few years ago, the Israeli military in fact tried an experiment. They lifted the ban on West Bank Palestinians to enter Israel for one day—it was a religious holiday. Almost a million Palestinians took advantage of this and most of them rushed to the sea, to picnic, swim, and enjoy the atmosphere before returning home at the end of the day (after also shopping at Israeli malls). No “security incidents” were reported that day at all. Unfortunately, no one in the Israeli military establishment took the lessons to heart, and the experiment was not repeated. Alas.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #9
Sharhabeel Al Zaeem
Today in Ramallah I met an old friend, attorney Sharhabeel al Zaeem from Gaza. Sharhabeel had managed to get one of the very rare permits to travel from Gaza to Ramallah. I had not seen Sharhabeel for years, having not been allowed into Gaza myself for almost 15 years. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with him and learn the latest about life in the open-air prison called Gaza.
The figures are well known, but Sharhabeel informed me that the most recent records show the population of Gaza to be 2,365,000, all living in that narrow strip of land 20 miles long and 5 to 8 miles wide. Almost a third of that area is a “free fire zone,” governed by automatic machine gun installations called Roay, Yoray ("to see, to shoot") that surround the borders of Gaza. Palestinian farmers can only enter this land under the risk of death. Sharhabeel is despairing of the fact that the entire world community seems to have forgotten Gaza altogether. He estimates that Hamas members consist of around 2% of the population and their supporters to be about 10-15%, yet the world is perfectly happy to allow Isarel to punish the entire Gaza strip and keep it under siege because of Hamas. While he is no friend of Hamas, he believes the world needs to engage with them if only to help the people of the Gaza strip, which they control. Palestinians in Gaza are an integral part of the Palestinian people who ache for democracy and freedom, but who are kept in this inhuman open prison with no access to clean water, energy, electricity, and even the most basic living conditions.
The amazing thing is that when I asked him what can be done, he, a Muslim, said, “You need to strengthen the Christian Palestinians in Gaza and their institutions. While their numbers there are miniscule, their impact is great and needs to be strengthened." Good to see you, my friend.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #8
A Busy Day in Ramallah
I had a very busy day in Ramallah today. After spending over 2 hours at the Qalandia checkpoint, I started a series of meetings with organizations and individuals in Ramallah.
My first meeting was with Ubai Aboudi, Executive Director of Bisan Center for Research and Development (www.bisan.org). This is one of the 6 Organizations (reference to one of our articles on them) which had been declared to be “terrorist organizations” by Israel. This organization, like Al Haq and the other organizations, has continued to operate, defiantly. No evidence was ever been produced that these are terrorist organizations, that they are branches of the PFLP, or that they are diverting donor funds away from their stated purposes. European and US governments, who investigated this matter and even reviewed the “secret evidence” Israel claimed it had, all rejected the Israel's claims and refused to accept the Israeli designation of these organizations as terrorist.
Nonetheless, by merely making this accusation, Israel has succeeded in casting suspicion. And, some banks have been reluctant to handle donations to these organizations, fearing the expense of having to defend their actions, by allowing donations to a so-called “terrorist" organization. Perhaps that was Israel's intent all along: to scare banks, governments, and other organizations from dealing with The Six, therefore reducing their power and effectiveness.
I also had the chance to visit with Paul Parker, a former member of the FOSNA Board of Trustees, who is serving now as principal of the Friends’ School in Ramallah. He is enjoying his post and sends his best greetings to the entire FOSNA family.
I am finally back in Bethlehem, after yet more meetings. It is now 11:00PM, and I need to go to bed, as I have more meetings in Ramallah tomorrow, starting with Sha’wan Jabbareen at Al Haq.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #7
Israeli Peace Activists
Today, I met with Israeli Peace Activists, Assaf Adiv, Executive Director of MAAN Workers Association, together with another Israeli Jewish colleague, Erez, and attorney Dahleh, for several hours. Assaf had read my book, Beyond the Two-State Solution, and wanted to meet with me. The three of us had a long and fruitful discussion. We generally agreed that the two-state solution was dead and that we need to think in terms of the new paradigm of one state and about how we can live together on the basis of equality. They expressed dissatisfaction with the current Israeli protestors being unwilling to raise the issue of occupation, and we all agreed that this provides a new opportunity for fresh thinking along the lines of a single state. At the end of the meeting, we decided on a number of events for me to meet with their friends and colleagues in Haifa and Jerusalem to promote the Hebrew version of the book and advance these ideas. We set up a Whatssapp group for this purpose, and I will have a meeting in Jerusalem next week and another in Haifa on the 26th.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #6
Today, I attended the hearing for Daoud Nassar regarding the registration of his land, which has long been under threat. Since my law office in Jerusalem represents Daoud Nassar and the Tent of Nations, I was able to attend the hearing in my official capacity as his attorney, together with Sani Khoury from my Jerusalem office. Daoud was also there with his wife Jehan.
After many postponements, this hearing was supposed to be the final one—with the 9 separate “objectors” bringing forth all of their documents and witnesses.
The objectors, including the Custodian of Absentee Property, again failed to appear except for one, and their objections were dismissed. However, one remaining objector, whose claim had been previously dismissed did appear today with a lawyer who used to be a military prosecutor at the military courts for 10 years. He claimed to have submitted an affidavit containing the evidence of his client’s objections and that he had sent it to our offices by registered mail. He also claims to have 20 witnesses to support his claim. We have never seen any of his supposed evidence, and we do not know what his claim is based upon. Nonetheless, the Objections Committee decided to give him a chance and ordered him to submit the substance of the claim and the “testimony” of his 20 witnesses to us in writing by Feb. 22nd as well as bring all his witnesses with him to a hearing set for March 2nd.
We do not know what will happen on March 2nd, but we will continue to fight this matter. As I told Daoud, this fight is not only for the registration of the land but also for permission to build upon it, and the fight is being fought not only before the Objections Committee but in the public arena. The letters of concern sent to public officials in the US and around the world and the steadfastness of the Nassar family, as well as the solidarity and prayers of those who share his vision throughout the world, are absolutely necessary for his ability to maintain his land and turn it into a true “Tent of Nations,” a place we can support his vision for “refusing to be enemies” while maintaining his right to live in his own land without harassment.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #5
Today we had a delicious breakfast of Shakshukeh (Eggs on Tomatoes) and Khubbeizeh.
Khubbeizeh is a very nutritious plant that grows wild all over Palestine. When it is in season, it is a free source of rich protein. It is collected in the wild, washed, and chopped into small pieces that are fried in olive oil, with onions, salt, and pepper. It is then spooned off either separately, or scooped up in bread. Mmmmmm. Truly deelicious.
The name "Khubbeizeh" means "little bread," and indeed it is both nutritious and filling. Today, Israeli friends of Sami Awad shared this meal in Bethlehem, followed by a discussion of my book Beyond the Two State Solution. It was beautiful to discuss a joint future together based on sharing the land and its abundance, without laying exclusive claim to it on behalf of Jews or Palestinians. This amazing group had a lot of questions, but their main concern was how to sell this vision to Israelis, as it would entail their giving up their privileged position in a system built on Jewish supremacy. The feeling was that even the Israeli Left, which is protesting weekly against the new government is still not ready to accept and embrace Palestinians or their equal rights. They somehow believe they can defeat fascism and "restore Israeli democracy" without talking about the occupation or acknowledging first that the reality, even long before the current government, was neither democratic nor liberal, and that unless we can forge a new paradigm of a joint struggle for a better future for both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, we will both fail.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #4
Visit To the Mission of Canada
Today, I had a meeting with the Head of Mission of Canada to the Palestinian Authority David DaSilvia and his political Officer Charles De Bock. I raised with both of them our concerns about Canada’s position regarding a number of issues important to our work, including the Six Organizations, the Trial of Mohammad Halabi, Masafer Yatta, Khan el Ahmar, and other matters, including the IHRA definition of anti Semitism. I mentioned that Palestinian Civil Society is often disappointed by the positions taken by Canada and by the absence of their representatives from solidarity actions where European diplomats are often present and vocal in denouncing human rights violations.
Officially, Mr. Da Silva repeated the standard position of the Canadian Government, and stated its support for civil society, and its concern for human rights. He also stressed that they have a small diplomatic staff in Ramallah, and cannot always be present at important events or house demolitions, or military court trials, though they occasionally attend and are fully supportive of their other colleagues who attend, and David DaSilvia that they go when they can. We then proceeded to have an extensive off-the-record conversation for almost an hour where we discussed various issues, including the current situation, the expected actions of the new Israeli government, the rise in army and settler violence, and the disappearing prospect for a peaceful or a two-state solution. I summarized for them my Beyond the Two State Solution book and gave them a copy which the Head of Mission promised to read.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #3
Qalandia checkpoint is a sprawling mess through which all those coming to Jerusalem from Ramallah and the Northern West Bank must pass. It also deals with all traffic between the Northern and Southern sections of the West Bank, to ensure none enter the enlarged East Jerusalem area that has been annexed into Israel. Even for those with permission to enter through the Qalandia Checkpoint, including East Jerusalemites, the Qalandia checkpoint is a headache and a time-consuming process even in the best of times.
Yesterday, I went from Jerusalem to Ramallah by public transportation. The bus refused to continue on to Ramallah and dropped us off at Qalandia. A taxi driver on the other side also refused to drive into Ramallah, on the direct road, because the traffic jam was horrendous. He said he would be willing to take me the long way around and approach Ramallah from the northern side. The 6 km trip would now take about 24 kilometers and cost me twice as much. I asked if this was always the case, and he said no. It has been particularly bad since last week's shooting in Jerusalem. He said they are trying to punish all of us. They take forever in their inspections of all incoming traffic, and it creates a huge traffic jam in both directions. “Collective punishment,” he said.
Whether the taxi driver is right or wrong, what is definitely true is that the checkpoints throughout the West Bank are horrible places that waste time and money and result in frustration and humiliation, as all Palestinians are subject to these restrictions on their lives and travel.
The Israeli Occupation is made up not only of the shootings, arbitrary raids, and home demolitions. It also consists of numerous elements of population control and a matrix of governance built on restrictions and permits that are totally under the authority and control of the Israeli occupiers. These restrictions are numerous, constant, burdensome, and thoroughly humiliating, as they constantly remind each Palestinian that he or she lives under the arbitrary rule and control of young Israelis with guns. These heavily armed kids alone determine all aspects of Palestinian life, while Jewish Israelis who live in the same area are totally exempt from such restrictions. The name for this is Apartheid.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #2
It's a very cold and rainy day in Bethlehem--so cold, the schools are closed, and most events have been cancelled. Nonetheless, a group of Palestinian activists and leaders in the Bethlehem area gathered at the home of Sami Awad to discuss my book, Beyond the Two-State Solution, which is now available in Arabic.
The discussion was vibrant and spirited. I first gave a brief summary of the ideas in the book and then invited questions and discussion. There was no dispute among them that the two-state solution was totally dead, if it ever was viable. Most of the questions centered on how such a one-state solution would work, and what it would take to convince Zionists to abandon their supremacy and privilege, or at the very least moderate their ideology to accommodate the minimum needs of the Palestinians. Surprisingly, there was even sharp criticism by most to the Palestinian Authority and the different political factions as well as a dicussion of the need for a better leadership to achieve the rights of the Palestinian people. Even those affiliated with Fatah were most critical of their party and of the Palestinian Authority.
There were also concerns expressed about the current Israeli government, with its open calls for a Second Nakba and the ethnic cleansing of more Palestinians, as well as concern that Palestinian frustrations and legitimate resistance can easily be manipulated in order to provide a pretext for further oppression and even for a mass expulsion of people from Palestine.
At the end of the meeting, before I left, those who had not read the book asked for a second meeting to read it more thoroughly and to discuss it further. We also asked if other Palestinian leaders, including those affiliated with Hamas, could also be brought into the discussion.
Journey With Jonathan: Entry #1 (2023 trip)
I had the easiest entry I've ever had at the Tel Aviv airport with my US Passport: No questions. No search. No interrogation. No hint of difficulties. I submitted my passport, and within seconds was I given the visa printout.
The reason for this, I suspect, is the current request by Israel to have Israelis exempt from visa requirements for entry to the United States, to be among the countries granted an automatic visa waiver.
Arab American organizations, including the ADC (Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee) and others have waged a vigorous battle demanding that Israel not be granted that privilege until they stop the harassment, profiling, and often outright denial of entry for Palestinian Americans.
One of the conditions of the US visa waiver program (allowing entry without obtaining a prior visa) is a low rejection rate (under 3%), which the Israelis attained recently as a result of the reduction in travel throughout the pandemic. Most important, however, is the reciprocity requirement. Organizations like ADC, AMP (American Muslims for Palestine), and Right to Entry have vigorously campaigned not to grant this privilege to Israelis until assurances have been provided that they will not discriminate against US citizens who are of Arab or Palestinian origins, including those who hold palestinian ID cards. Arab and Palestinian Americans have been denied entry, the right to use the Tel Aviv Airport, or even travel to Jerusalem, despite having US passports, without obtaining additional permits (which are rarely given).
Whether the current easing of harassment, which I experienced, is a temporary feature (long enough to obtain the coveted visa waiver status for Israelis) or whether it is a genuine improvement for Palestinian Americans remains to be seen, but it is a reminder to us that persistent advocacy does work and sometimes even achieves results.
#JourneyWithJonathan #KeepingUpWithKuttab #Beyond2States
(Below, please find reports from Jonathan's 2022 trip)
March 1st, 2022, Update.
Update from Jonathan: February 22, 2022!
Beyond the Two-State Solution printed in Hebrew, Arabic & English!
Update from Jonathan: February 20th
A Reflection on Iqrit & Bir’im: Yesterday, along with Professor Eddy Kaufman, I had breakfast with Professor Nemi Ashkar (to my left) and Riad Ghantous (to his left). Ashkar is the chairman of the Iqrit Community Association, and Ghantous is from Bir’im and active in efforts on behalf of the village.
Update From Jonathan Kuttab, February 15th
A Day at the Israeli High Court of Justice
By Jonathan Kuttab, Co-Founder of NVI and Al Haq.
Yesterday, I attended a hearing at the Israeli High Court of Justice as an attorney for Mohammad Halabi, since he is being represented by my law office in Jerusalem. The hearing was also attended by more than fifteen diplomats from the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and several other countries, as well as supporters from multiple NGOs, including Save the Children.
As a reminder, Palestinian prisoner and humanitarian Mohammed Halabi, former head of World Vision Gaza, was wrongly imprisoned on blatantly false charges of redirecting millions of dollars of aid money for the people of Gaza to Hamas. Halabi has been kept in prison for nearly six years, despite there not being any physical evidence for the charges against him.
Under Israeli law, a criminal trial in which a defendant is incarcerated should be completed within nine months of his or her arrest. Beyond that, the prosecution needs to petition the High Court for a three month extension. Typically, the High Court does not get into the details of a case but only the reasons for the delay. A delay is usually granted once or twice. In addition, the High Court is free to refuse an extension and order the defendant to be released on bail, held under house arrest, given an electronic ankle bracelet for monitoring, etc., while the trial continues.
In the case of Halabi, the State has repeatedly requested and received extensions and has refused to consider his release on bail. Today’s hearing was the twenty-third (yes, the twenty-third!!) such a request for extension. The result is that Halabi has been in jail, without bail or conviction, for almost 6 years now.
Maher Hanna, the attorney from our office overseeing the case, was scathing in his presentation. He said that although the Supreme Court would not normally look into the specifics of the underlying trial, limiting itself only to the charge sheet, the court cannot ignore the facts of this specific case and needs to consider its substance. In fact, the charges listed in the charge sheet have long been superseded, for the State no longer maintains them. The State no longer maintains the bulk of the charges against Halabi. All testimony has been concluded, and there is no reason for any more delays. Hanna challenged the Court to at least read the summations of the case, but the judge refused.
Nonetheless, Hanna managed to slip into his presentation a few substantive points:
• The chief interrogator has stated under oath that he never investigated the evidence against Halabi, because it was too voluminous. He had access to all the files and computers of World Vision Gaza, but could not point to any evidence.
• The claim that Halabi mapped out the location of the Eretz crossings in 2010, on behalf of Hamas, is disproven by the Israeli records presented to the court showing that Halabi had not even been to the Eretz checkpoint between 2006 and the end of 2011.
• The state repeatedly offered Halabi the opportunity to plead guilty in exchange for a three-year (later four-year) term, but Halabi steadfastly refused and has insisted on his innocence.
• World Vision no longer operates in Gaza, so there is no danger of Halabi diverting any of its money to anybody if he is released. Anyway, even the state of Israel is now openly allowing Qatari funds to go to Hamas.
• The hearings, including all evidence as well as summations, ended months ago. Yet, still there is no verdict and no indication as to when the judge will issue his verdict (though he had hinted that it would take him months to prepare his verdict.)
In the end, the High Court judge stated he would speak to the District Court judge and ask when he expected to give his verdict, before deciding on this extension. Maher Hanna thinks this is a positive development and is cautiously optimistic that we may at least come to see an end to interminable delays.
Halabi, who attended the hearing by Zoom, had a rare opportunity as the judge left the room to greet all the diplomats and supporters, sharing a brief word with them before the court police cut off the connection. Halabi thanked the diplomats, telling them he is doing all this so that the important humanitarian work of several organizations, like World Vision and others, could continue in Gaza.
An Introduction to the Author and the Book
Jonathan Kuttab is a co-founder of Nonviolence International. A well-known international human rights attorney, Mr. Kuttab has established himself as a prominent speaker on nonviolence. He is also a co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and is President of the Board of the Bethlehem Bible College.
Beyond The Two-State Solution is a short introduction to the current crisis in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism have been at loggerheads for over a century. Some thought the two-state solution would resolve the conflict between them. Jonathan explains that the two-state solution (that he supported) is no longer viable. He suggests that any solution be predicated on the basic existential needs of the two parties, needs he lays out in exceptional detail. He formulates a way forward for a 1-state solution that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism. This book invites readers to begin a new conversation based on reality: two peoples will need to live together in some sort of unified state. It is balanced and accessible to neophytes and to experts alike.
This video is under five minutes long:
Book Launch Webinar
Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism have been at loggerheads for over a century. Some thought the two-state solution would resolve the conflict between them. In this webinar, Jonathan explains that the two-state solution (that he supported) is no longer viable. He suggests that any solution be predicated on the basic existential needs of the two parties, needs he lays out in exceptional detail. He formulates a way forward for a 1-state solution that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism. This book invites readers to begin a new conversation based on reality: two peoples will need to live together in some sort of unified state. It is balanced and accessible to neophytes and to experts alike.
We are just starting to roll out the Arabic and Hebrew translations of Beyond The Two-State Solution, and already we are thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response we are getting. These days many of us are looking for hope in hard times. Jonathan gives us just that.
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In Conversation with Peter Beinart
In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” host Peter Beinart is joined by Palestinian human rights lawyer Jonathan Kuttab, who recently published the book Beyond the Two State Solution (available at no cost via the Nonviolence International website). Kuttab argues that a Palestinian state with no sovereignty or substance cannot deliver freedom or independence and it is time to look beyond the “false mirage of the Two State Solution.” He lays out in detail how a single, shared Palestinian and Jewish state would be structured – from roles in the military to language learning in schools – and how it answers the urgent needs for justice, equality, and security.
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Founder, Nonviolence International
“The Palestinian / Israeli conflict has had many ups and downs with hopes for peace, times of war, and relentless subjugation of Palestinians. Many people including myself and Jonathan Kuttab supported the peace initiative of a 2 state-solution even though many Palestinian leaders were initially reluctant to settle for 22% of original Palestine.
In his new book, Jonathan Kuttab, explains why, unfortunately, the two-state solution is no longer viable. Jonathan Kuttab articulates the fundamental needs of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews and then proceeds to think in a new one-state box about how a win-win future might be possible. This book is the start of a renewed conversation, a new frame, to end the current impasse which is causing so much suffering. It is for the reader to decide and to commit themselves to be part of real solutions to the conflict rather than irrelevant discussions about antiquated solutions."
Thomas R. Getman
Former Legislative Director to Senator Mark O. Hatfield & Past National Director of World Vision, Palestine
"The Two-State – One-State debate continues with new urgency inflamed by faux "peace treaties." More and more progressive and even Zionist Israeli and American Jews are expressing the fact that occupation and annexation of Palestinian people, homes and lands are a violation of core Talmudic values, and guarantee self-destruction of the State of Israel.
Jonathan Kuttab's Beyond the Two-State Solution is a treasured pathway to peaceful and just change. It is a gift of love to all who are suffering with this 73-year conflict. Indeed, none of us is free and at peace unless all are liberated from apartheid oppression. Jonathan Kuttab is a Palestinian American who has listened carefully and responded deeply, giving all of us who have worked and prayed for the imprisoned on both sides of the crumbling Green Line a possibility of a seizing together a Kairos moment. This carefully crafted monograph is a trail marker for real change and reduction of heart, soul, and physical suffering."
Dr. John Quigley
Professor at Mortiz College of Law (OSU)
"Whatever your position about the conflict between Arab and Jew, Kuttab will make you re-think it.” “A brilliantly even-handed assessment of what might work in Palestine/Israel.” “Based on Kuttab’s many years of first-hand involvement with what is happening on the ground."
Director, Center for Jewish Nonviolence
“This text is a great and an excellent contribution and pushes toward the conversation shifts that are emerging--yet still so lacking--in this moment. The writing and thinking is incredibly grounded, thoughtful, and detail-oriented, while simultaneously very accessible and easy to read. The attention given to a huge swath of factors, possibilities and perspectives is quite impressive. I look forward to seeing this booklet become an important part of the paradigm shifts we deeply need!”
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Pioneer Feminist Rabbi
“Wow, it’s amazing. I am deeply impressed and absolutely encourage, even insist, that people read it. I am completely inspired by Jonathan Kuttab's clear, concise and much needed vision of the future grounded in the realities of history and the longings of both people for equity, dignity and security.”