AFSC’s Mike Merryman-Lotze gives a rundown on the proposed legislation that would try and prevent you from supporting boycotts of Israel
Take action today! Contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them No, to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act!
On Tuesday, July 19th, Join Gaza Unlocked for a day of social media activism
Gaza Unlocked presents the experiences of Palestinians living in Gaza, and allows their voices to be heard beyond the oppressive and ongoing blockade Gaza residents live their lives under.
Enjoying being out in the warm, summer weather at your local Farmer’s Market? Gaza was once a bountiful grower and exporter of strawberries, but under the Israeli blockade exports have shrunk to less than 80%. Bring Gaza to your Farmer’s Market! Join Gaza Unlocked’s summer engagement effort to raise awareness about the Gaza blockade. Help conduct audience research surveys to assess what people know about the situation in Gaza and share information from Gaza Unlocked Campaign. Download flyers, and other materials to help raise awareness at your local Farmer’s Market here.
Photo: Anne Paq
During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.
The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.
Photojournalist Anne Paq and journalist Ala Qandil have embarked on a cross-country speaking tour and are visiting the following cities in the next few weeks:
April 22-23: Festival Cinema Invisible, Schenectady, New York
Screening of “Gaza: An Open Wound” Sunday, April 23, from 12 to 1:45 p.m.
View the event on the Festival Cinema Invisible website.
April 25: Seattle, Washington
Room 328, Sullivan Hall, Seattle University School of Law at the corner of 12th and Columbia, Seattle
April 26: Olympia, Washington
Doors open at 6:00 pm, and the event will start at 6:30 pm
Olympia Film Society, 266 5th Ave. SE, Olympia
Sponsored by the Rachel Corrie Foundation
April 27, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Moffitt Building, Room 106 – University of California Berkeley
Public Event sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine – Berkeley
April 30, 7:30 pm
Los Angeles, California
Workmen’s Circle Building, 1525 S. Robertson, Los Angeles
Public Event sponsored by L.A. Jews for Peace and Markaz
$10 suggested donation, $5 for students
“I feel like I learned more in three weeks than I learned in my whole life.“
~ Amal, Palestinian-American Quaker (Go Palestine, Summer 2016)
For the past six years, Ramallah Friend’s School’s Go Palestine program has given a gift to many young adults (ages 14-17). Go Palestine has sent young, Palestinian-Americans to Palestine to rediscover their heritage, with homestays with families in Ramallah in the homeland of Palestinian culture. Go Palestine gives young adults a chance to make lasting friends and connections while being steeped in the language, culture and cuisine of Palestine.
Currently, we are raising funds to sponsor a young Palestinian-American Friend to spend three weeks in Palestine this summer. We only need $1,500 more to meet the $4,000 goal. Can we count on your help to give these young people a chance to rediscover their heritage?
- Please consider making whatever contribution you can. To make a donation, please follow the below steps:
- Go to the Go Palestine website and click on the “Donate Online” link: http://www.summerinpalestine.org/donate.html
- Next click the yellow “Donate” button. You will be redirected to a PayPal website. You have a choice to donate by PayPal OR Credit Card.
- Please be sure to click on the small blue plus sign next to the “Add Special Instructions” button at the top of the page and write “QPIN 2017” so that your donation contributes to this fundraising effort.
- Your donation is tax-deductible and you will receive a tax-deductible receipt.
Read more about the Go Palestine mission and stories from past camps here
On April 6th, Professor of Politics and International Studies, Stephen Zunes will be giving a lecture at Pendle Hill and streaming online:
Quaker witness on Israel/Palestine has taken many forms over many decades of involvement by individual Friends and Quaker organizations, bringing both praise and intense criticism. Throughout this period, there has often been strong disagreement between those who have stressed a need to focus on working towards reconciliation between these two historically-oppressed peoples claiming the same land as theirs, and those who, in recognition of the asymmetry in power between the occupiers and those under occupation, have stressed a need for more explicit advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians. How might Friends here in the United States best address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly in light of the important role played by the U.S. government? How might we be more sensitive to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism? Is there a unique role Friends can fill in the quest for peace and justice?”
Follow the link below to register:
Pressure mounts against Friends’ Central School, Petition circulates to allow Dr. Atshan to speak and Reinstate TeachersPosted: February 17, 2017
Pressure continues to mount against Friends’ Central School, following the decision by head of school, Craig N. Sellars, to disinvite Dr. Sa’ed Atshan from a talk he had been scheduled to make at the school. Dr. Atshan is a Palestinian Quaker and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College. Sellars also took the step of suspending the two teachers who invited Dr. Atshan to talk at Friends’ Central School. These actions were met by outrage from students at Friends’ Central, leading to a walkout on Friday.
QPIN is disappointed that Sellars has chosen to censor Dr. Atshan. We are also troubled that Sellars has chosen to punish the teachers, Ariel Eure and Layla Helwa. We find Sellars’ decisions to be at odds with Quaker values and the open discernment process rooted peace, integrity, community, and equality.
QPIN encourages everyone to sign this petition asking Sellars to allow Dr. Atshan to speak and to reinstate the two teachers. As of Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that more than 400 people signed the petition, drafted by Swarthmore professor Lara Langer Cohen.
Several months ago Dr. Atshan gave an interview with Steve Chase of Pendle Hill, a Quaker education center. This interview with Dr. Atshan was transcribed and published on the American Friends Service Committee blog, Acting in Faith. The interview gives voice to Dr. Atshan, and his work.
A Palestinian Quaker bears witness to pacifism
ACTING IN FAITH | BY SA’ED ATSHAN, FEB 14, 2017
I remember being a kid and being in silence with the [Ramallah Friends School] community: students, faculty, staff, hundreds of people together, in silence, and all around us you could hear the bulldozers, you could hear the Apache helicopters, you could hear missiles bombing buildings from the Israeli military, you could hear funeral processions passing by, you could hear youth preparing demonstrations, to throw rocks at the soldiers… There’s just madness, all around you, different kinds of noise. I think that the notion of silence and what it means to sit in silence is very different for different Quakers, depending on what kinds of noises you’re juxtaposing the silence to. In a place like Palestine, that juxtaposition is really powerful.
I identify very strongly as Quaker. I feel a deep moral conviction that is divine in some ways and I feel that I am called to be someone who bears witness to this peace testimony and to this commitment to nonviolence and I want to be one of those people who says, “I will never inflict violence upon another human being even if that means losing my own life. I’m not prepared to take someone else’s life away.” So even if that’s going to come at the cost of my own physical well-being, I’m prepared to then make that kind of sacrifice.
This is complicated with the discourse of self-defense. Oftentimes in the U.S. we hear that Israel has the right to self-defense, but we never hear that Palestinians have the right to self-defense. Palestinians should have the right to defend themselves from settlers taking over their ancestral lands, their homes being bulldozed, children being incarcerated, people having their olive groves destroyed, people witnessing unspeakable horror and systematic dispossession and displacement for 68 years now. Some Palestinians feel that Palestinians have the right, like any oppressed community, to use violence as a tool in order to liberate themselves from these chains of oppression.
Palestinian participants in an AFSC project to connect youth with their elders. AFSC/Middle East staff.
We have these debates within our society, and like African-Americans, there was [the] Nation of Islam, Black Panthers, Martin Luther King, there were different visions for liberation and resistance. Many Palestinians are deeply committed to nonviolence. I don’t feel like I’m in the minority. The overwhelming majority have never picked up weapons against another human being. But sometimes I am met with resistance where folks feel that I’m a bit too dogmatic.
Living in a violent world
I feel that unfortunately we live in such a violent world that there will always be people who are willing to pick up violence, and there will always be people who are readily engaged in those kinds of [violent] actions for the purpose of confronting a kind of evil. There needs to be a moral vanguard in every society of people who say “No, no matter what I’m going to remain pacifist.” In some ways, we hold the mirror to society and we are that constant reminder, that conscience, that if you’re going to use violence you need to really think about its implications, the threshold needs to be very, very high and you need to think about what happens to your own spirit along the way. So I feel this calling … to help support that Quaker witness, especially in a place that’s mired in so much violence.
When you are at the receiving end of physical violence, when physical violence is omnipresent, when it’s all around you, you understand its danger and you understand what it does to people’s souls, and you also understand that once you unleash it, how difficult it is to contain it, to control it, and to manage it. We have this sense that somehow violence…you can create these hierarchies and people can take orders and you can contain violence, but anyone who experiences a context of violence, like Israel-Palestine, sees how it has the potential to spiral out of control.
And the violence that you enact against the “other” can come back to you. We see that in both Israeli and Palestinian societies, with the intense militarization of Israeli society and forced conscription of Jewish men for three years and Jewish women for two years at the age of 18. We see high rates of domestic violence in Israeli households. Within Palestinian society, we’re seeing how the structural and physical violence from outside of the home is creeping into the home and exacerbating the rates of domestic violence.
Boats along the Gaza Strip AFSC/Middle East staff.
I find violence to be incredibly dangerous. I find it to be impossible to contain. And I find that it cannibalizes communities and I find that it chips away at people’s souls. That’s why I think adhering to nonviolence is so important, and why for Palestinian Quakers, often without a doubt, there’s a cognizance of why that’s so essential.
I think that my gay identity and Quaker identity intersect as well and this connects to the pacifism and to the commitment to nonviolence. I was not a masculine boy, not a very macho boy in a very macho society in which there’s toxic masculinity. I was the kid who threw the ball to the other team when we played soccer because I didn’t want to have people rushing toward me. I was the kid who never picked up a stone even though that’s a rite of passage, you pick up stones, it’s a rite of empowerment, and you throw it against the tanks and the military. I never picked one up, I never once felt that desire. I was always that kid who was into arts and theater.
I think that my Quaker identity and my Quaker faith really helps me reconcile all these different parts of my identity. I feel that I can be someone who doesn’t want to release more toxic, aggressive energy into the world since there’s so much of that already. I feel like my Quakerism helps me resist the temptation sometimes when I feel like my patience is being tested and I find myself getting angry. I feel like my Quaker faith, Quaker meeting for worship, being part of Quaker communities, helps me stay grounded and spiritually centered.
On resistance to oppression
As soon as hatred takes over our hearts, I think then the systems of oppression have prevailed. I think the colonizer, once they’ve colonized your heart and your spirit, that whole project of oppression has prevailed. I think what keeps me going is that despite these systems of oppression, that I am the master of my own soul, of my own spirit and that no one can take that away from me and this is something that I cherish and that I hold on to.
Watermelon. Creative Commons / flickr user Harsha K R.
During the first Intifada Palestinian uprising, it was actually illegal to fly the Palestinian flag. The Israeli army said it’s completely illegal. So my grandmother who is a painter, she said, “You know what? I’m going to paint a watermelon, it’s green, red, black, the colors of the Palestinian flag.” So she painted this beautiful watermelon. And then she displayed it prominently in our living room. And I remember once the soldiers raided the house and they said “What is that?” and they were so angry and they took it down and started stepping on it with their boots and my grandmother just smiled, this very innocent smile, and said, “Oh, it’s just a watermelon. I didn’t know.” And all of us we were afraid because the soldiers had guns and everything, but she looked at us and she winked at all of us. And she had this smile which was so mischievous.
But it just empowered us from such a young age which is to say, Yes, they have this quantitative power over us, this military power over us, but they don’t have control over that moment, us smiling. They can’t take that away from us, that moment, this insider resistance to the occupation that only we understand within the family, but that helps us sustain our spirits and helps us sustain our cohesion as a family, and it helps us overcome these unspeakable horrors. That is a message that I try to hold on to as well.
Thanks to Dr. Sa’ed Atshan, Steve Chase and Lucy Duncan
We were surprised and disappointed to learn on Friday that Friends’ Central School canceled a planned talk there by Dr. Sa’ed Atshan. Dr. Atshan is a Palestinian Quaker and professor of Peace Studies at Swarthmore College. QPIN has written the following response to Friends’ Central School’s decision in a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I am writing on behalf of the Quaker Palestine/Israel Network (QPIN) to thank you for covering the story “Friends’ Central students protest cancellation of Palestinian speaker” and to express our disappointment with the administration of Friends’ Central’s decision to disinvite Dr. Sa’ed Atshan to speak to its students. As Quakers we have historically believed it is important to speak out against injustice and oppression, whether against slavery or against the apartheid system in South Africa. In South Africa the international non-violent Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement facilitated efforts to end apartheid. Today, Palestinians face systematic oppression at the hands of an apartheid state and QPIN supports the BDS call by Palestinians. Friends Schools were founded by Quakers as a path to equality, ending injustice and furthering knowledge about the world. Quakers have a long history in support of justice in Palestine/Israel dating back to the establishment of the Ramallah Friends School in 1869.
Quaker decision making is done through a discernment process rooted in values such as peace, integrity, community, and equality. We do not see those values reflected in Friends Central’s decision to disinvite Dr. Atshan, who is a respected educator and leader in the Quaker community. In addition to being a Palestinian Quaker and a professor at Quaker Swarthmore College, he is on the board of key Quaker institutions in the US and in Palestine. He was a graduate of Swarthmore and of the Friends School in Ramallah. His work with QPIN focuses on opportunities for American Quaker youth to visit Palestine.
Dr. Atshan has devoted his career to non-violent struggles for the marginalized, most notably in defense of LGBTQ rights in the US and abroad. Friends Central could not have found a more suitable candidate to address high schoolers about non-violent approaches to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. In disinviting Dr. Atshan Friends Central administrators have made a decision at odds with Quaker values and the long Quaker legacy of support for peace and justice among Palestinians and Israelis.
Steve Tamari, Clerk, Quaker Palestine Israel Network
On behalf of QPIN Steering Committee