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.
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 resource from our friend Alex McDonald, a leader of the US Boats to Gaza, a fiscally sponsored partner of NVI.
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.
February 7, 2023
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.
If you want to help, please fill out this simple Google Form. https://forms.gle/ijtLN3JZXG4zgfgx6
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.
If you are inspired to support this work, consider making a donation or becoming one of our sustaining monthly donors.
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.”