Jonathan Kuttab is Home in Palestine / Israel to Change the Conversation. Please join us.

Everyone who follows the issue of Palestine / Israel 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.

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:

https://twitter.com/fosnalive

https://twitter.com/holylandtrust

https://twitter.com/AdvocatesJust

https://twitter.com/NVIntl


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.


For those looking for a more complete report on Jonathan's travels, please see this wonderful collection from our friends at FOSNA. 

March 1st, 2022, Update.

#JourneywithKuttabNaturally. Here is another update from Jonathan Kuttab, (NVI Co-founder) on his journey which includes a book tour of his book Beyond the Two-State Solution. He also serves as the Director of Frien#journeywithkuttabnaturally
I had a long working meeting with Omar Harami, Director of Sabeel in Jerusalem.
In addition to other ongoing projects, Omar described to me an exciting new project for providing health insurance to West Bank/Gaza Palestinians. Unlike Israel, which provides a universal health insurance system that covers everyone, including East Jerusalem residents, West Bank/Gaza Palestinians have no such privileges and are unable to get affordable health insurance from private companies, either.
Omar proposed and has been organizing the Christian churches, schools, and institutions, and using their collective power to obtain offers from insurance companies that will cover the members and employees of these congregations and institutions at reasonably favorable terms. Lo and behold, the scheme succeeded, and Sabeel is now leading a coalition of organizations from all denominations, who have already signed up 4000 individuals, and the movement is growing!!! As much as $3 million dollars have been collected in fees and over $10,000 a day is being disbursed for medicines, doctor's visits, and hospital fees. All this was done without any outside assistance or subsidies, and has been beyond everyone's expectations. This hearkens back to the days of the Early Church, collectively taking care of the needs of the community while the apostles took care of preaching the Word. Already, Sabeel is considering expanding this experiment to include other areas where the local community can be empowered to meet its needs rather than rely on charity or suffer in silence. I will be writing again on this project and hope to inform the communnity of more such activities by Sabeel in Palestine.
The same day, I went also to Jerusalem and suddenly came across a parade of seven or eight troops of boyscouts and girlscouts marching through Saladin Street in East Jeruaslem. It was a joyously festive sight commemorating the Muslim holiday of Isra' al Mi'rage--referencing the nocturnal journey of the Prophet Mohammad when he visited Jerusalem on his way to heaven, according to Muslim beliefs.
It was sad, however, that there were no Palestinian flags to be proudly paraded. I was told that the Isareli police insisted on this as a condition for allowing the parade to take place, though you could occasionally see a boy scout who had pinned the flag to his lapel, or an organizor who
wore civilian clothes in the colors and shape of the Palestinian flag.
March 4, 2022
#JourneywithKuttab, NVI co-founder from Palestine. A Reflection on Sheikh Jarrah: On my last day in Palestine, I stopped by Sheikh Jarrah again to speak with the families facing eviction.
There was good news. The Israeli Supreme Court, on a rehearing, had just issued that afternoon its decision suspending all evictions indefinitely, declaring that the four families would be considered “protected tenants.” They should pay a symbolic 2400 shekels (around $800) a year into a trust fund until the issue of ultimate ownership of the property is decided, which could take many years.
The court had tried very hard to reach a compromise and was reluctant to issue a decision, in accordance with ordinary Israeli laws, because of the resistance of the families and the international outcry that the situation in Sheikh Jarrah had generated. The decision essentially embodied the compromise that the court had previously suggested to the parties.
While the decision left much to be desired and did nothing to change the apartheid reality of Israeli laws or plans to "Judaize" the Holy City, it did constitute a clear victory for the families and was a clear indication that international pressure and solidarity do in fact work.
Later on the radio, in Hebrew, I heard the outraged settlers protesting this decision. Itimar Ben Gvir, their leader, said: “Jewish rights should be protected and law respected, otherwise we are giving a prize to terrorists.” The commentator asked, “But isn’t it better to defer this problem rather than bringing attention to the whole issue of Arab rights in West Jerusalem and elsewhere.” He replied: “The Law of Absentee Property governs those rights. The law is what it is. This is a Jewish state, and we must protect Jewish rights no matter what the world thinks.”
Meanwhile, residents of Sheikh Jarrah were talking of bringing Knafeh and celebrating. The important lesson to be learned is that our solidarity work does in fact have relevance and does make a difference on the ground! For all its bluster, Israel does care about its image and is finding it increasingly difficult to justify its actions.

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.

Iqrit and Bir’im are two Christian villages in the North of Israel. Shortly after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the new Israeli Army entered the two villages--which had taken no part in the fighting--and asked the villagers to evacuate to nearby villages for a short period, not exceeding two weeks. They gave the villagers a written undertaking that they could return within two weeks; however, the army reneged.
After three months, the villagers realized they had been tricked and appealed to the Isareli High Court, which ordered the Isareli Army to allow them to return. On the appointed date, however, the Israeli airforce attacked the two villages and destroyed every house in both of them, except for the churches.
Since that time, and for the last 70 years, the villagers and their descendants, have waged a continual, peaceful campaign to be allowed to return to their villages. Thus far they have been without any success. The villagers even agreed to allowing the nearby kibbutz and the Israel Lands Authority to keep the bulk of their lands, if only they could be allowed to return and rebuild their villages.
The villagers, all of them Israeli citizens and internally displaced, still maintain the churches and the graveyards in each village. They even conduct services there each Christmas, but are not allowed to return to, live in, or repair their homes.
Each year, politicians (including even Menachem Begin at one time and some right wing politicians) set up committees and promise to allow the villagers to return, but so far with no success. Theirs is the story of an ongoing Nakba and of a constant, ongoing struggle.

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Update from Jonathan: February 17th
Tonight, after meeting with the Canadian ambassador in Tel Aviv (report coming soon), I travelled north to Haifa, one of the most beautiful cities in Palestine/Israel!
Here I am enjoying a marvelous seafood meal at the Stella Mars Restaurant, starting a delicious mezze of salads with a sea-food theme. My host is Professor Eddy Kaufman, who is a long time activist in nonviolence and human rights. I am here to plan steps for my book to be discussed by Israeli Jews, now that it is available in Hebrew as well.
Professor Kaufman had a chance to update me on the almost unique attempts by this city to model good Jewish-Arab relationships at the local level. It is so unique and successful that a recent book described it under the title of "Haifa Republic" where, despite everything, attempts at coexistence between Arabs and Jews seem to work. The deputy mayor is an Arab, and the city historically, since mandatory times, has either an Arab mayor, with a Jewish deputy, or as now a Jewish mayor with an Arab deputy. Street names honor both Arabs and Jews, and other attempts are made in an effort to break the stereotype of universal hostility between the two communities.

 

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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.

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Recordings

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.


Reviews:

Mubarak Awad

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."

Oriel Eisner

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.”

 

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