Abandoning the Families of Palestinians in Israeli Prisons would be Catastrophic

It is impossible to fathom the numbers and ease by which Israel apprehends and injures Palestinians. Between 1967 and 2014, Israel’s soldiers apprehended over 40% of the entire male Palestinian population, and in 2015 alone they injured 11,953 Palestinians- or about 33 Palestinians a day. Without the financial support of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the families of the Palestinians injured, buried, and apprehended would be unable to meet their basic elemental needs.

mai abdul rahman                 May 2017

Palestinian women hold pictures of jailed relatives during a protest marking

Meanwhile, on April 28th the Washington Post carried an article by Thane Rosenbaum titled: Palestinians are rewarding terrorists. Rosenbaum argues “while the settlements may be an obstacle to peace…Palestinian law that entitle Palestinians convicted by Israel for participating in the struggle against the Israeli occupation to monthly salaries” spurs Palestinians to commit violence.

Intentionally or unintentionally, Rosenbaum omits to address Israel’s wholesale detention policy, or simply site the percentage of Palestinians who served one or several terms in Israeli prisons, the numbers of Palestinians serving consecutive administrative detention terms ‘without either indictment or trial‘, consider the number of Palestinian prisoners killed, injured, and tortured while in Israeli custody, and those randomly killed and maimed by Israel’s occupation forces-all of whom once released, treated, or buried are unable to provide for their families.

If Rosenbaum had solely considered Israel’s wholesale detention of Palestinians he may have concluded that supporting the families of Palestinian Political prisoners, providing for the families of Palestinians in Israeli custody serving recurring administrative detention terms, or issuing a monthly stipend for the families of Palestinian prisoners killed and injured while in Israeli custody, is necessary, if not vital.

By every humane measure abandoning the families of the Palestinian prisoners would be catastrophic. Since 1967, Israel has used every pretext to apprehend and jail Palestinians. For example, from 1967- 2014, almost one million (800,000) Palestinians including 10,000 women and 8,000 young children have been apprehended and sentenced by Israel’s military courts. These numbers account for more than 22% of the entire Palestinian population, and 40% of the Palestinian male population. In fact, the vast majority of Palestinians have at least one if not several of their family members in Israeli controlled prisons, or have been arrested and detained by Israel.

Unequivocally some Palestinians are responsible for committing serious crimes, but most are apprehended for political reasons and are legally termed as political prisoners (resisted Israel’s home demolitions or loss of their homes and fields to Israel’s illegal settlers, protested Israel’s incursions, destruction of their olive trees, and land confiscationUnknown-1objected to Israel’s ‘draconian system’ that obstructs their daily movement and economic prospects, or peacefully marching). Regardless, it is hard to articulate or fathom the numbers and ease by which Israel apprehends Palestinian women, men, and children.

Once Palestinians are branded by Israel’s military as ‘resisters of the occupation’ they are more likely to be rearrested, and their rights to travel abroad for school, work, or move from one Israeli administered checkpoint to another within Palestine are severely restricted. All of which hugely impacts their ability to find, keep a job, and provide for their families. Without the financial support of the PA, at least one of every 5 Palestinians would be unable to meet their basic needs. So here are the more relevant questions to ask: Why does Israel employ wholesale detention of Palestinians? Why does Israel degrade the dignity, quality of life, and economic viability of the Palestinian people- young and adult? And why did Rosenbaum choose to address this issue?

For Israel to maintain its 50 years occupation, continue its illegal settlement scheme, and decade long Gaza Siege -it is imperative for its soldiers to apprehend any Palestinian (young or adult) Unknownwho could pose the smallest challenge to Israel’s military occupation policies, or oppose Israel’s absolute control of Gaza’s water, lands, and economy.

Keeping Palestinians poor and in need provides Israelis the ability to leverage Palestinians’ daily needs, control their livelihood, keep them on edge, and too fatigued to resist Israel’s oppressive military occupation and illegal settlement enterprise. Hence, since 1967, Israel has used its occupation and military policies to arrest the growth and sustainability of the Palestinian economy, and curb the quality of life of the Palestinians under its military control.

As for the timing of Rosenbaum’s article- curiously, on April 16th, one thousand Palestinian men, women and children held in Israeli prisons began a peaceful hunger strike to draw attention to Israel’s administrative detention practices, mass arrests, and its ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Four days later, Israel’s minister of agriculture Uri Ariel and a group of Israeli settlers “set up grills outside the Ofer Prison windows to “celebrate the hunger strike”, while shocking they inadvertently helped generate world wide coverage of the Palestinian hunger strike and their demands.

If one considers the large numbers of Palestinian prisoners past and present, it becomes obvious that Israel’s detention practices are intentional. Israel’s detention policies impose tremendous psychological stress and economic hardships on a massive number of Palestinian families, restricts the viability of the Palestinian economy, and also incurs a substantial burden to the sparsely funded PA- that have no choice but to support these families.

Additionally, the PA payment system also provides monthly stipends to the families of Palestinian civilians who were wrongly killed or critically injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. For example, in 2015, Israeli security forces injured at least 11,953 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, including bystanders, peaceful protesters, demonstrators, and suspected assailants. Also, during that same year, the Israeli settlers injured 84 Palestinians. Meaning, during the span of one year, Israeli soldiers and settlers injured 33 Palestinians a day.  While the daily cost of treating the predictable number of injured Palestinians is tremendous, denying them medical treatment would be callous, and refusing to support the families of the injured until they recover would be unconscionable.

It is difficult to imagine how is it possible for the Palestinian society to withstand the scale in the number of Palestinians injured in their midst. It is more difficult to conceive how anyone could overlook the human cost of Israel’s occupation practices and military laws on ordinary Palestinians, or disregard the tragic consequences of Israel’s occupation policies on the young Israeli soldiers tasked with implementing Israel’s military orders .

Is it possible that Rosenbaum is purposeful in his omission of the facts? You be the judge. The vast majority of people of every stripe and nationality will not justify the killing of civilians. Nonetheless, in 2014, Rosenbaum like Bin laden before him justified the killing of civilians based on their free will to choose their government. While Bin Laden argued that killing of American civilians is an acceptable moral cost; Rosenbaum proposed that Israel has the right to kill Palestinian civilians– child, man, woman, combatant, and noncombatant- for choosing to vote for Hamas. Based on his argument, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that killed 459 Palestinian children is totally acceptable, simply because their parents most likely had voted for Hamas.

Accordingly, for Rosenbaum Israel’s wars and incursions that killed thousands of Palestinian civilians and orphaned young Palestinian children are justifiable. Likewise, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, illegal settlement expansion, willful destruction of Palestinian olive trees and orchards, the seizure of Palestinian owned lands and properties, the polluting of Palestinian waters and streams, and Israel’s military control over every Palestinian individual from birth to death are also reasonable and defensible.

Nonetheless, ignoring the consequences of Israel’s military occupation and its military policies does not negate the relevance of considering the ramifications of Israel’s detention policies on the Palestinian people and how Israel’s wholesale detention policy impacts the economic viability of more than one million Palestinians and their families. Merely reflecting on the sheer number of Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel could help explain why it is necessary for the PA to support the Palestinians who are without the means to support the daily needs of their young children.

Irrefutably, the human and economic cost of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian population is colossal. However, the consequences of Israel’s five decades long military occupation also scars the Israeli soldiers responsible for implementing it. The intersectionality of Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlement enterprise on its victims and victimizers is beyond doubt. If the well being of the Palestinians is non-consequential than what about the long-term impact of administering Israel’s military practices on its young soldiers?

Holy Week: The Quintessential Palestinian Christian Experience

While the vast majority of Christians relate to Holy Week in the abstract, for Palestinian Christians it marks the intrinsic and central event that defines their history, character, and relationship to their faith.

mai abdul rahman                Easter 2017

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Palestinians are the living stones of uninterrupted generations of Christians that are linked in faith and lineage to the first Christians. Holy Week for the Christians of Palestine is the most significant living faith experience that connects them to their past, present and future, and the quintessential cornerstone of their faith.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and concludes on Easter Sunday.  On Palm Sunday the Palestinians will follow the same path that Jesus took on his triumphant return to Jerusalem. Two thousand years ago, Jesus rode on a donkey as followers laid palm branches along his path. This week, Palestinians will march on foot and waddle through Israel’s Separation Wall, checkpoints, and soldiers 3aOlive-branch-offering-940x626while carrying and waving their Palm fronds and olive branches.

Palestinians will retell the story of Jesus’ sabeel (Arabic for just path), visit their churches, and attend candlelight services at some of the oldest standing churches in Christendom (Bethlehem, Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, Taibeh, Tabarieh, Arabe’, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala). They will recount how Jesus entered Jerusalem greeted by a loving crowd who waved and covered his path with palm branches.

images-1During Holy Week, Palestinians  will meditate and contemplate their organic experience and unique narrative that connects them to the very first Christians and ancestors who lived through and witnessed the countless biblical accounts that speak of Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19). They will recount the hardships and the Joys their ancestors before them experienced, and pray for the peaceful end of the innumerable hardships they daily confront.

On Good Friday, they will retrace Jesus’ sabeel along the cobble stoned Via the Dolorosa, mark the Stations of the Cross that lead to his crucifixion, reflect and pray at each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross that are depicted on East Jerusalem’s ancient walls. While carrying and clutching their wooden crosses they will march towards the Sanctuary of Flagellation and meander the narrow paths that commemorate the final steps of Jesus. 07079c71e9ed7699c216c4b8997f162eSome will gently release white pigeons of peace at the end of their procession to honor their beloved and tortured Jerusalem.

On the eve of Holy Saturday, the Holy Sepulcher will celebrate the Holy Fire, which will spread to every town, city and village across Palestine. For 1,200 years and until the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, delegates, clerics and laymen carried and passed the Holy Fire to neighboring Christian churches in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.

On Easter Sunday, Palestinian Christians will attend Easter Sunday masses and services. At the two holiest Christian sites that mark the birth of Jesus and his crucifixion (Bethlehem and East Jerusalem) more than twenty separate masses will be conducted within 24 hours at their two holiest Churches- the Church of the Nativity and the Holy Sepluchre.

For the Christians of Palestine, Jesus’ sabeel path dictates every aspect of their Holy Week. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday are the organic manifestations of their faith, and directly connects them to their past, present and future. Faithful, they relentlessly practice non-violence while working for justice and peace for the People of the Holy Land- Palestinians and Israelis. During this Holy week, Christians of Palestine will live their faith by tracing Jesus’ sabeel, and again commit to remain faithful to his just path.

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Will Netanyahu’s ‘one state’ proposal end Israel’s structural bias of the Palestinians?

The Israeli prime minister is anxious for the world to abandon perusing the two- state solution. Instead he is proposing to extend Israel’s full sovereignty over all of Palestine, its people, and resources. But will his one state option curtail or suspend Israel’s structural discriminatory practices, or end Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories?

mai abdul rahman              February 2017

PALESTINIAN CHILDREN WALK THROUGH REMAINS OF DEMOLISHED HOUSE IN ISAWIYAH

The United Nations, European Union, Arab League, United States, Canada, Russia, Germany, China, the Vatican, as well as the majority of  Israelis support the two-state solution. In fact, 138 nations endorse an independent Palestinian state within the pre 1967 Green Line borders. Nonetheless, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is anxious for the world to abandon perusing the two-state solution.

President Donald Trump’s ambivalence on how best to pursue a permanent peace among Palestinians and Israelis may have facilitated Netanyahu’s public disclosure of the motive behind his government’s rabid focus on increasing the number of Jewish illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While Netanyahu absolved his government of any political responsibility for Israel’s human rights and international law violations by blaming the occupied and oppressed Palestinians, he unveiled Israel’s intent to expand its borders and retain control over the entire Palestinian territories. Consequently, Israel’s illegal settlement scheme was employed to destroy the territorial integrity and contiguity of a future Palestinian State.

As a matter of fact, expanding Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian lands has been Israel’s Likud party platform since its inception. Netanyahu has been a Likud party member since the 1980’s and its elected party leader since 2005. Throughout his political career, Netanyahu was noted for his opposition to the peace accord agreement between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel, which resulted in Israel’s brief withdrawal from the West Bank. While Netanyahu is credited with the rise of Israel’s extremists, his successive governments have shaped Israel’s occupation policies, settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel’s decade long Gaza siege and warsimages-1

Nevertheless, since 2009, Netanyahu issued several public statements in support of the two-state solution, which were understood as Israel’s preferred framework for permanent peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. So what forced Netanyahu to reveal his government’s coveted intent of expanding Israel’s sovereignty over the entire Palestinian territories? The mounting pressure exerted by the international community on the illegality of Israel’s settlement enterprise, and the global affirmative support for an independent Palestinian State based on the perimeters of the two-state solution.

Regardless, Netanyahu’s one state proposal is not a novel concept. After the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the subsequent rise and political dominance of Israel’s extremists, the Palestinians, Israelis and their respective supporters have considered two political frameworks. A measurable sum either advocated for adopting the one state option or the two-state solution. Although, the goals of the two frameworks are driven to meet identical objectives, the advocates of each proposed option aim to achieve divergent if not contradictory outcomes.

By and large, the Israelis and their supporters who advocate for the one state option are subscribers of Israel’s far right parties, fundersresidents and leaders of Israel’s illegal settlements. Their aim is to absorb the Palestinians as second-class citizens with limited rights. They argue, increasing the Jewish population in the Palestinian territories will be less complicated and internationally accepted if Israel extends its sovereignty over the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem. This will nullify Israel’s legal constrains of transferring its own population into the Palestinian lands it military occupies and expand Israel’s borders from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians and their supporters who advocate for one state option are grounded on the principles of human values, democracy, international covenants and laws, and the fundamental human rights doctrine. They believe the one state option will offer the Palestinians the legal framework to advocate for equality and justice for the entire ethnic and religious groups that live within Israel including the Palestinians. In addition, it will provide the Palestinians the opportunity to forge alliances with Israel’s various Jewish ethnic communities (African, Arab, and non-European Jews) and Israel’s non-Jewish citizens who are also struggling under Israel’s exclusive social and political construct.unknown-1 They argue that Israel’s established differential treatment and embedded institutional bias of Jewish and non- Jewish citizens will eventually usher mandatory international embargo of the Israeli State. To secure full citizenship rights for Israeli citizens whether they may be Palestinians, or Israeli black Ethiopian Jews, or oriental Mizrahi Jews, they rely on the legal framework of the Apartheid Convention, International law, and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Mind you, both of these camps -whether supporters of an exclusive theocratic Israeli political system, or those who advocate for an inclusive social and political Israel- believe their strategy will eventually succeed. While one aims to nullify the illegality of the Israeli occupation policies and extend Israel’s borders, the other wants to use internationally accepted fundamental human values and rights to reform Israel’s social and political institutions.

The two state advocates also bear distinctly different objectives. Israelis and their supporters who advocate for the two- state solution aim to protect the Jewish character of the Israeli State and evade the prospect of it becoming an apartheid state. They argue that Israel’s continued military occupation of Palestine and settlement expansion policies will force the international community to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians and pressure Israel to adopt inclusive democratic standards and norms, which would dilute its national character. They fear such a prospect could alter the exclusive protections and privileges that Israeli Jewish citizens and prospective Jewish immigrants have been afforded.

Palestinians and their supporters who advocate for the two- state solution want to end Israel’s terminal occupation of the Palestinians and their lands. Whereas they have succeeded in creating massive political support for the future establishment of an independent Palestinian State, Israel’s illegal settlements continued to grow. As a result they have urged the boycott of Israeli settlement products, the divestment from companies that operate within Israel’s illegal settlements, and the sanction of companies that profit from the Israeli military occupation. They argue, once free of Israel’s military occupation, Palestinians can begin building their economy, address their immediate need for water, electricity, clean up their polluted streams and environment. They support the two-state solution to provide the Palestinians the freedom and space to begin building their national institutions, infrastructure, and economy, address their decades long high unemployment and poverty rates, and improve their quality of life.

In the meantime, it has become clear as day that as long as Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel he intends to retain control of the Palestinians, their lands, and resources. In addition, the state of Israel and its institutions give precedence to its Jewish citizens over others, and the operational and legislative tools to ensure Palestinians are without the political and social means to demand full equality under the law.

Notwithstanding, if Israel with the help of the Trump administration impose the one state option on the Palestinians, the illegality of Israel’s settlements under international law would be revoked. Consequently, Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinian population will be become an internal issue- but not indefinitely.

So what could the Palestinians achieve by acquiescing to Netanyahu’s proposed one state option? Extending Israel’s sovereignty over the Palestinian territories will not end Israel’s mass displacements of the Palestinians, or alter Israel’s structural and institutional exclusive laws, and will also briefly limit Palestinian access to international forums to call attention to their plight. However, the one state option may offer the Palestinians the strategic leverage to partner with Israel’s marginalized populations to demand full citizenship rights from within Israel’s political and legal construct, and the  legal standing to invoke the International Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid Convention.

America’s Muslims: Staying Above the Fray has Run its Course

American Muslims have never been good at playing the role of the victim. By and large, their faith and sentimentalities reject victimhood as a static affliction and the weight of its label, which they consider maladaptive and unproductive. When faced with adversity and hardship they have made every effort to remain ‘above the fray’. But has ‘staying above the fray’ helped or hurt American Muslims? Has it curbed or facilitated the current hateful national discourse?

mai abdul rahman             July 2016

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This week marked two important events for America’s Muslims. The end of Ramadan and the commencement of the Eid Al Fitr celebration coincided with Independence Day. So naturally, when more than 500 Muslim worshipers gathered for the Eid Al-Fitr services at a local mosque in Maryland, from the onset they were consoled that despite the toxic current political climate their right to worship is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and to forgive those Americans who question their faith and allegiance.

Citing the words of Prophet Muhammad that no Muslim should sleep contently while knowing his or her neighbor is hungry, worshipers were encouraged to be sympathetic and advocate for the large and growing number of America’s middle class who have joined the ranks of the poor, ct-muslim-ramadan-volunteers-met-20160604-1continue their Ramadan Zakat practice of feeding the homeless and less fortunate, and enjoy and practice their right to vote. In short, worshipers were urged to calmly mitigate the current intense political climate surrounding them, and to ‘stay above the fray’. But will this approach help America’s Muslims curb the spread of hate and Islamophobia?

With every wave of adversity, America’s Muslims have applied a fairly simple strategy: stay composed no matter the merits of the situation, avoid over reacting, dismiss hateful rhetoric, overlook discriminatory practices and individual acts of bias and bigotry, tread softly, educate, inform, and constructively engage community and nation. But will maintaining this course stop the spread and use of Islomphibia to advance narrow political agendas?

The time has come for America’s Muslims to re-evaluate the effectiveness of ‘staying above the fray’, and to assess whether or not their approach has allowed the spread of hate that has smeared them and others. Has their ‘stay above the fray’ strategy helped desensitize Americans on the effects of their words, political posturing, and actions on Americans whether Muslim or non-Muslim? Specifically, will their ‘stay above the fray’ strategy compromise the well being of America’s young Muslims? In other words, have their choices and responses to Islamophobia help or hurt America’s Muslims and the character of our nation? Above all, does employing the ‘stay above the fray’ strategy help facilitate the hateful discourse that has gripped this nation since 9/11?

If we agree that hate for one community fosters the hate of other communities, is it effective to simply rely on educating Americans of the long history and accomplishments of American Muslims? Probably not! It is not a hidden secrete that the presence of American Muslims in North America pre-dates Christopher Columbus and the American Revolution, and includes notable early American explorers and revolutionaries. Many are aware of the important role that Islam played in shaping America’s earliest enlightened thinkers and philosophers.

Countless researchers and academicians have documented the early presence of Muslim Americans. Many historians have explored how Muslim values whether they may be that all humans are born free of bondage, their conceptual understanding of free will, the treatment of the injured soldier, or Islamic Jurisprudence influenced early American jurists. American scholars have extensively written on the role of Islam and early American Muslims in shaping the views of early American political philosophers and thinkers, who helped formulate the best elements of our Constitution. Has any of this made a difference? Not really!

America’s Muslims have been in North America before and since the birth of the US. As a matter of fact, since the 1500’s Muslims have been present in North America. They were among the first to sail and bank its shores, and some traveled its width and length as explorers. While today most are abhorrent of the cruel treatment that Christopher Columbus exacted on the indigenous native populations, two of his ship captains and their younger brother were related to the Sultan of Morocco Abuzayan Muhammad III (1196-1465). Likewise, most American Muslims are repulsed by the early colonial explorers who injured and mistreated the native nations and tribes, but Estevancio of Azamor (1503-1539) the first non native to explore Arizona and New Mexico was a Muslim. He was born in Azemmour, Morocco.

Furthermore, Muslims were  responsible for building America’s early colonies and their free labor, sweat and blood built the wealth of this nation. Many of the early Africans who by force and abduction were enslaved were born to prominent Muslim families. Muhammad Bilal along with 80 Muslims under his command fought the British in the war of 1812, and successfully defended Sapelo Island, Georgia. Bilal authored the first American Muslim manuscript titled “Rissala” or “message” that explored his faith, beliefs, and prayers. Also in 1832, Omar Said authored the first hand written account of his abduction and enslavement in South and North Carolina. Bilal and Said are heavily referenced in African American literature and their accounts helped shed light on the severity of their conditions and brutality of America’s slave masters. In fact, most scholars acknowledge the important role that their faith played in shaping their identity and scholarship.

Every war America waged, American Muslims played a role. During the American Revolution Yusuf bin Ali and Bampett Muhammad among others fought with America’s early revolutionaries. The presence and accomplishments of early American Muslims was well noted by the Founding Fathers, who thoughtfully considered the relationship of Islam to the new nation. Their active involvement and sacrifice is the reason why much thought was expanded on the role of the state in protecting Muslims. In Jefferson’s autobiography, he recounts the passage of his landmark Bill for “Establishing Religious Freedom”. He wrote with satisfaction of Virginia legislature’s inclusion of religious protections for “Mohamaten” (Muslims).

Additionally, Islam has exponentially influenced the writings of early American philosophers and thinkers. For example, Islam shaped the philosophical perspective of Samuel Johnson, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Paine, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Samuel Johnson is considered America’s first philosopher. He extensively wrote about Islam and explored Muslims’ attitude towards the environment. He studied the relationship between their faith and conviction that humans are stewards of nature in its multiplicity and various forms. In Johnson’s words the expression of the Muslim faith applies to “The plants of the garden, the animals of the wood, the minerals of the earth, and the meteors of the sky.”

Furthermore, the Founding Fathers embraced and studied the Sharia (jurisprudence), especially those laws that pertained to governance. John Adams, praised Prophet Muhammad’s “Thoughts on Government.” Adolph Weinman the sculptor of the US Supreme Court included Prophet Muhammad along with 18 great lawgivers in a marble frieze that sits above the justice’s bench. This simple observable fact is meaningless and irrelevant to a whole lot of contemporary state legislators who claim to be guardians of the US Constitution. Jefferson loathed narrow-mindedness, he wrote: “Bigotry is the disease of ignorance.” For these legislators suspicion and fear America’s Muslims is not merely an outcome of their ignorance. Their rush to ban Sharia law is advocated for political gain and has little to do with facts or logic.

America’s Muslims have been here forever and should begin to loudly reject any attempt to separate them from fellow Americans, and those who use hate and suspicion of Muslim Americans to advance narrow political agendas. Clearly, they and their faith are not a new American phenomenon. For more than 300 years American Muslims have lived and prospered in the US. They are racially and ethnically diverse and hold the second-highest level of education in the US. As a matter of fact, American Muslim women are one of the most highly educated females in the US. They largely belong to America’s dwindling middle class with a large base of income earners contributing handsomely to America’s tax system.

In addition, despite their small number they have produced a cadre of innovators that have influenced our economy and daily life. For example, the seat belt that keeps America’s children safe was modified and improved by an American Muslim, the first mass produced IBM electronic computer was invented by an American Muslim, and the innovation of an American Muslim solar energy pioneer spurred a thriving and promising US industrial sector that is enriching and employing many Americans. In a nutshell, their industrious contributions have enriched their states, and their creative inventions have created a whole lot of jobs.

So than why are Americans of Muslim faith continue to be collectively lumped, smeared, and discredited? The answer is complex, but two reasons stand out. America’s Muslims reluctance to attack bigotry and hate directed at them and other fellow Americans head on is one. Also their use of soft and restrained tactics to change attitudes and practices is partly to blame.

Scarred by the aftermath of 9/11 anti Muslim discourse, they assumed that by informing Americans of their faith they would help lift the veil of mistrust shrouding them. They believed that by being involved in their own communities and by being engaged with the various interfaith communities they would succeed in dispelling the thick layers of confounding myths that do not reflect their faith or community. islamad-e1350125874829They assumed choosing a laid back strategy will help control the spread of Islamophobia and hate. Instead, their approach helped supporters of Israel’s illegal settlements implement a well funded campaign that has complicated their situation at home, and the prospect of peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

And the proof is in the pudding. 15 years after 9/11, their strategy of choice has not tempered the toxic national discourse or reduced the number of hate crimes committed against American Muslims. Simply stated-their decade long strategy has failed on every level, for one overarching reason. Unchallenged, bigotry in the US can become an institutional trend that takes over every public and political sphere, and cyclically repeated and spread by the US corporate media.

Racial bias in the US is a manifestation of a complex system that has been consistently employed through the use of overlapping and well funded legislative initiative. Once these policies are funded they are fostered by the private sector that often carries out its implementation and become invested in its continuation. Meaning, funding bad policies makes them hard to eradicate by simply engaging with others on their negative impact on the individual and community.

While not every legislative initiative results in institutionalizing racism, some have. The four decades long US war on drugs helped institutionalize racial injustice by targeting African Americans and rewarding police departments on the number of arrests. The war on drugs was advanced by legislators who used monetary incentives to implement it’s objectives at the state and local level. Consequently, it was used to foster racial bias that resulted in the economic exclusion of African Americans, who constitute 35% of America’s Muslims.

Hate is America’s centuries old malady, and US legislators who help fuel and fund it are its instruments. The exclusion of Americans is an embedded and entrenched practice that continues to divide and separate Americans. Its success depends on rewarding the few who apply it a shallow sense privilege. The only means to tackle this habitual US legislative practice is to challenge those legislators who engage in peddling hate speech, and their use of our taxes to fund laws that harm Americans of all colors and ethnicities.

Meanwhile, fear of American Muslims has become a national obsession, and bigotry has become its accepted currency. Undeniably, American Muslims are like other faiths and secular communities with their share of lunatic extreme fanatics, and some have committed heinous crimes against innocent Americans. And while one fanatical Muslim is too many, the numbers of American Muslim loonies is no more or less then those represented among other faiths. While unequivocally refusing to allow any form of prejudice that implicates their entire community and faith, American Muslims have to fortify their young from feeling helpless and traumatized by the nagging and constant drum of hate they are daily exposed to. They must take ownership of teaching their children the true tenants of their faith to shield them from the poisonous discourse from within and from the predators lurking to pluck them from without.

America’s Muslims have to exert a greater role in educating their young to reject all forms of extremism, by embracing prophet Muhammad’s call for Muslims to take the path of moderation in every political and social expression, and action. But first, they must start building a cadre of American Muslim scholars trained to teach the tenants of their faith that are also articulated in the ideals and aspirations of our nation. None, but American Muslims can assume the responsibility for educating their young of the true Islam that helped shape the best of the America’s ideals, and to prepare them to lead and create a better future for their community and nation. Creating a class of American Muslim scholars and advocates can help protect young American Muslims from succumbing to the hate that surrounds them, and would also help spawn future American leaders.

For the time being, American Muslims can take comfort and solace in words written in 1776, but words alone will not end racism and bigotry in the US. They must step out and take the responsibility for realizing the American values, rights, and protections that have remained an unfulfilled promise for the vast majority of Americans. They must not shy from exercising the entire list of rights that their identity bestows on them, and breath life and actualize the caption embodied in the Latin words inscribed on the seal of the United States, that sums up America’s distinct identity— “E Pluribus Unum”: out of many, one.

Meanwhile, America’s Muslims have to become fully involved on every civic and political level to create the space for our country to embrace and honor all its citizens and its multitudes of faiths and non-faiths. ‘Staying above the fray’ has run its course, and it has not helped shield them or other Americans from bigotry and racial bias.

In the true spirit of their faith and national ideals, America’s Muslims must help break down the long established barriers of bias and discrimination, including those that have inflicted great suffering on Americans of color, and the marginalized of all colors. Only through a well articulated, deliberate, and comprehensive strategy to end institutional racism and bias will this nation of ours have the fortitude to fulfill its promise to honor and respect all of its citizens, whether they may be brown, black, white, or purple. Yes, it’s a tall order, but it’s doable.

The Makers of the Palestinian Nakba and their Influence on Israel

Undeniably, the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) that rendered 750,000 Palestinians homeless and scattered in countless refugee camps has profoundly influenced the Palestinian perspective on Zionism and Israel. Likewise, the Nakba and its architects have influenced the policies and actions of Israel’s military, political establishment, and Israel’s illegal settlement project.

mai abdul rahman        May 2016

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While the Palestinian and Israeli perspective of the events that led to the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) are viewed from very disparate optics, the political and social-environment that are currently experienced and observed within Israel and Palestine are a direct result of the Zionist doctrine that created the Nakba.

Palestinians contend that their Nakba is the consequence of the Jewish Zionist terror scheme that unleashed a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinians’ Nakba narrative is substantiated and documented by Palestinian and Israeli historians. Ilan Pape’and Benny Morris meticulously  describe the Zionist campaign of expulsion, terror, rape, and intimidation of the Palestinian native population. Pape’ and Morris unequivocally conclude that the aim of the Zionist terror campaign was to dispossess the Palestinians from their homes and lands and repopulate it by Jews. In a nutshell, the Palestinian survivors of the Zionist terror campaign were made homeless to home the Jews. Similarly, the declared aim of Israel’s illegal settlement scheme is to displace and dispossess the Palestinian native population of their lands and properties to make room for Jewish settlers. The impact of the strategies and tactics that created the Nakba on present day Israel is irrefutable.

Israel’s dismissal of the Nakba, or mere reflection of the consequences of the Nakba has helped foster Israel’s militant culture. The historical relationship and collective narrative of the Israeli society and its institutions to the early Zionist groups that took part in the Nakba are directly linked to the militant climate of the current Israeli far right political establishment. Furthermore, the ideological strategies and rationale that created the Palestinian Nakba are used to justify and sanction Israel’s illegal settlers terror inducing strategies against the Palestinian population.

The chief architects of the Nakba were influenced by the militant views of the Jewish Russian born Zeev Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky’s “The Iron Wall” publication laid out the rationale for the Jewish colonization of Palestine. Jabotinsky did not refute Palestinians’ right to their ancestral lands, but suggested their rights and desire to remain on their lands can be altered or arrested through the use of force. He argued that the “Zionist colonization must be carried out to destroy the will of the native population.” Central to his strategy was the use of organized systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians by constructing an ‘iron wall’ made up of well-equipped and armed Jewish militants. He asserted that “under the protection of an iron wall of Jewish bayonets, which the native population cannot break through.”

When first proposed the ‘iron wall’ doctrine was rejected, but eventually it was adopted and implemented across Palestinian villages and towns with the intent of driving Palestinians out of their lands. The Zionist militants organized terrorist attacks on the native Palestinian population, their homes, lands, and properties. They planted bombs in buses, marketplaces, movie theaters, and public places, and some were ordered to commit “operational rape”. They were also responsible for executing wholesale massacres that targeted Palestinian villagers, their women and children.

After Israel’s independence, the militant Zionist groups that were involved in the Palestinian Nakba were granted considerable influence. Many became Israel’s political and military leaders. The Haganah, Palmach, Irgun and Stern Gang formed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Additionally, they fielded Israel’s political elites and military commanders including Levi Eshkol, Yigal Allon, Menacham Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, and Moshe Dayan. For example, Yitzhak Shamir who later became Israel’s prime minister defended his role in assassinating Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden and for taking part in the brutal massacre of Deir Yassin.

The Zionist’s embrace of Jabotinsky’s doctrine, especially among Israel’s political institutional leaders and military commanders was too difficult to subdue. His ideology shaped Israel’s political parties, and influenced its military and political leadership who helped build a culture of acceptance among Israelis for the perpetual occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, its Gaza wars and siege. It is the chief reason that young Israelis and their Palestinian captive victims are hostage to “never again” and “never forget” Jewish motto, that exacts high price for the smallest infraction including non- violent dissent against Israel’s military policies.

In fact, many credit Jabotinsky for the rise of Israel’s far right political parties and  Jewish extremism. For example, the Irgun Zionist militant group morphed into Herut (Freedom party), and since 1977 it is known as the Likud. Menachem Begin who was Likud’s first prime minister made the following statement soon after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948: “ Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (Greater Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever.” His views are articulated in the Likud charter. Since 1993, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been the leader of the Likud. Netanyahu’s father, Benzion Netanyahu, was Jabotinsky’s private secretary.

The  Palestinian Nakba, was instrumental in fashioning Israel’s agenda and mission that is articulated by its military and political establishment, its Zionist agencies, religious and community groups, affiliates and organizations. Their collective purpose and actions are meant to disconnect the Palestinians from their ancestral lands in order to expand Israel’s territory and reach. In fact, the entire Israeli establishment was once members and leaders or connected to members of Israel’s bloody terror campaigns that produced the Palestinian Nakba. The early Zionist terror campaign group leaders and members became Israel’s generals, prime ministers, party leaders, and Knesset members .

Why should this matter? The ideological perspective and strategies of the early Zionists became the fundamental framework that drove Israel to become an army nation, where boundaries between its militant ideology and society are blurred. It is the reason why Israel is more like ancient Sparta, where mandatory military service provides its impressionable young with one unifying national experience (the occupation) and one shared enemy (the Palestinians). It is the reason that has provoked Israel to build a warrior society that is unique among nations, where the measure of each young Israeli is defined by his or her role in executing Israel’s military policies and occupation.

Since 1967, Jabotinsky’s strategies and objectives have been visibly articulated within the folds of the Israeli settler’s extremist culture. Their violent activities against the Palestinians whether they may be citizens of Israel, Palestinian-Israeli Bedouins living in the Negev, or Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation, is driven by one objective: to increase the number of Israeli Jews living within the Palestinian population.

While the US defines violence by Israel’s illegal settlers against the Palestinians as terrorism, Israel defines these same activities with the innocuous term: ‘price tag’. However, Israel’s’price tag’ term describes illegal settlers’ use of violence and intimidation against Palestinians including young children. Israel’s ‘price tag’ label relates to the destruction, burning, and desecration of Palestinian churches, mosques, olive trees, homes, and institutions.

Recognizing the Palestinian Nakba is of critical importance to the Palestinians, and a necessary step to addressing Palestinian grievances. Also acknowledging the Unknown-1consequences of the Nakba in shaping Israel’s extremist militant ideology and its relationship with the Palestinians is of great relevance to Israelis and Jews as well. Furthermore, understanding the role of the Nakba and its influence on current day Israel is relevant to all those who are concerned about the direction of the Israeli society and its far right political establishment. Moreover, those befuddled by the rise and growth of Israel’s Jewish extremists can better understand the current Israeli state by considering the role of the Nakba in creating Israel’s tolerance for inflicting pain and loss on the Palestinian population.

Accepting to shoulder the militant strategies of Israel’s early Zionists is the reason why non-violence is a doctrine with few adherents in Israel, even among the few Israelis who are willing to make peace with the Palestinians. It also explains why the principles of non-violence are unappreciated. Understanding the influence of the makers of the Palestinian Nakba on Israel’s parties and political establishment is central to understanding Israel’s five decade long occupation and its settlement policies.

There is no denying that the Palestinian Nakba helped Israel establish its reign and control of Palestinian lands. From the Israeli perspective the terror campaigns unleashed on the defenseless Palestinians resulted in the creation of Israel, allowing the dominance of the Jewish people on the remaining Palestinians within Israel and subsequently on the vast majority of Palestinians under Israel’s occupation and siege. With little reflection, the Israelis have largely absorbed and internalized the dreadful strategies of the early Zionist terror campaigns.

Nonetheless, there was a time when Israelis were honest about the implications of their actions. Early Zionists including David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first president, acknowledged that violence against the native Palestinian population was used in all of its forms. Ben-Gurion also warned that promoting a culture of accepting violence could potentially undermine Israel’s moral compass. To contain it, he asked that no one within the ranks should sanction acts of violence against innocent people “with money or speech making to justify murder”. Refusing to face the consequences of the Nakba could become Israel’s destiny, unless Israelis and their supporters commit to end funding and justifying Israel’s illegal settlement project.

Unchallenged, the human and moral cost of the early Zionists’ terror campaigns have created the social acceptance for Israel’s citizens and settlers to utilize the same tools to expand Israel’s territory within Palestinian lands. Consequently, the ‘iron wall’ terror inducing strategies and their objectives remain the guiding principles behind Israel’s illegal settlers and their terror tactics. In short, the impact of the Nakba on the Israelis and their institutions is still unfolding.

All is not lost. Israel’s far right ideology can be adjusted by acknowledging the consequences of the Nakba on both Israelis and Palestinians. This simple humane gesture will help build genuine peace among Israelis and Palestinians. Israel’s past history and fate are linked to the Palestinians. The Nakba is their shared tragedy that has affected the destiny of its victim and victor. While highly controversial, hope rests on the small but growing sentiment within Israel to begin a national conversation on the merits of the Palestinian Nakba account. Once Israelis embrace the Palestinian Nakba narrative they will help construct a new shared narrative that will heal the scars of its violent history that has been etched in the seminal consciousness of both people.

 

 

 

 

BDS’ Senate Debut Confirm its Viability

The Palestinian lead non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement can no longer be ignored or denied. On February 11th, the US Senate passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which includes several clauses that name BDS and a direct response to the US BDS campaign.

mai abdul rahman       February 2016

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While the Senate’s veto proof vote displays Israel’s political weight, it also demonstrates BDS’s influence and viability in shaping a balanced political landscape in the US. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a non-violent peaceful movement. Moreover, with Israel’s help a whole lot of Americans were made aware of the breadth and strength of the global BDS campaign, its potential and promise.

For several years, Israel’s political establishment has recognized BDS’s wide international appeal, but its rapid spread in the US has caught them by surprise. Average Americans have quietly worked to implement some or all of the BDS call in their local communities. The US BDS movement has benefited by strategically focusing on building grass root support at the local level where its constituents play an important role in shaping their local BDS campaigns that fits the perspective and aspiration of their communities, and leveraging its broad network of supporters nationally. As a result, the US BDS campaign is built on a well-founded organic national grass root movement.

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Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

While the BDS’s inherent promise and sensible approach has fueled its spread globally, the US BDS reliance on a slow and steady strategy, and focus on building strong grass root support for BDS has proved to be prudent and effective. Above all, the success of the US BDS campaign rests on the belief that a lasting just peace is achievable.

The US BDS movement is made up of Americans that represent America’s diverse political, ethnic, racial, faith and non faith communities. For example, in a span of two years, American Jewish groupschurchesinterfaith communities, unions, academic associations, Jewish and non Jewish student organizations, political and human rights activists have endorsed the BDS call. Distinctively, the US BDS movement has attracted a diverse community of supporters that include Jewish and non-Jewish Americans committed for the long haul to advance a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Alarmed of the spread of BDS in the US, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his US supporters have urged American legislators to slow its momentum. This month, the US Senate granted Israel’s prime minister far more than he had asked for, or probably dreamed. Seventy-five US senators voted in favor of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The sweeping legislation attempts to shield US companies profiting from Israel’s illegal settlements from being pressured by US BDS’ers to move their operations into Israel proper (pre-1967 borders). The 2015 Senate Act also nullifies the longstanding US policy of supporting the two states solution (along the Green Line), and requires US agencies to monitor the activities of the global BDS movement, report and identify foreign companies that participate in BDS.

According to AIPAC: “This measure builds on the important work of Congress … passing into law firm anti-BDS negotiating objectives for American trade negotiators.” The intent of the legislation is to expand commercial relations between American companies and Israeli companies operating in Israel’s illegal settlements. The measure also attempts to provide US companies profiting from Israel’s illegal settlements (Palestinian territories) some legal protection from liability under international law and the International Court of Justice. Nevertheless, within the folds of this legislation is a direct response to the US BDS campaign, which has focused its efforts on targeting US companies profiting form Israel’s illegal settlement enterprises.

The reluctance of US legislatures to exert the smallest political gesture to curtail Israel’s illegal settlements or ease its military policies has facilitated the adoption of BDS in the US. While Congress annually dedicates massive sums of US taxpayers’ precious resources to fund Israel’s military occupation and its illegal settlements, Americans are denied federal aid to support the homeless and poor, emotionally challenged students, or crumbling roads. As a result, US BDS’ers have waged public campaigns to educate Americans on the tremendous cost of funding Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. They argue that at the very least, the US could mandate guidelines for the $billions it grants to ensure these monies are spent on activities that exclude subsidizing Israel’s illegal settlements.

By far, the Israeli political establishment is most concerned about one specific BDS demand that reasserts the relevance of the Charter of Nuremberg. During the Hitler regime Germany’s legislators passed national laws and decrees that sanctioned the indiscriminate displacement of German Jews. These laws denied Jewish citizens their rights and legally authorized their transfer, where millions perished in concentration camps. Accordingly, the Charter of Nuremberg declared that forced deportation and uprooting of civilian populations to be both a war crime and a crime against humanity. This is an opinion adopted by the world community following World War II to protect future communities from displacement and to avert a recurrence of the German Jewish experience.

While these international covenants are universally agreed upon within the context of the displaced German and European Jewish communities, the Israeli political establishment considers these protected rights highly objectionable when applied to Palestinians. For more than six decades, Palestinian refugees have remained stateless and homeless living in clusters of overcrowded camps. Despite Israel’s diplomatic efforts to thwart any mention of the Palestinian refugees, countless of UN resolutions assert the rights of the displaced Palestinians. Regardless, BDS invokes the Charter of Nuremberg and calls on Israel to recognize the rights of the Palestinian refugees.
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Generations of Palestinian refugees have lived in temporary makeshift shelters without political rights or protections. Palestinians contend that the stateless status and appalling conditions of the Palestinian refugees is the consequence of Israel’s 1948 deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The Syrian war demonstrates the critical importance of resolving the Palestinian refugee problem. Their hellish plight has again exposed the urgent need to meaningfully address and rectify the hardships they have endured. While Israel has so far refused to recognize their role in creating the Palestinian refugee crisis, their difficult and brutal conditions merit their serious attention.

Since 2011, Palestinians living in Syria’s refugee camps are again victimized by a ruthless Jaramana Photo 1-X2war. They are victims of a horrendous crime and a colossal human tragedy. While the plight of the Syrians has awakened the conscience of many and activated the world’s civil community, the Palestinians living in their midst have no one to call attention to their horrific circumstances. At minimum, Israel and its supporters should be willing to recognize the considerable hardships Syria’s Palestinian refugees are facing. Dismissing to acknowledge the perplexing nature of the Palestinian refugee crisis will not absolve Israel of its responsibilities to address this contentious problem, but compassionate understanding of their dire conditions will heal both societies.

BDS is guilty of gaining momentum in the US. It is challenging Israel’s continual military, economic, and political control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. BDS questions Israel’s perpetual need to dominate Palestinians’ daily life, their natural resources (air, water, land, and sea), and institutions (religious, health, education, cultural, and social). Fundamentally, the spread of the US BDS movement disputes the accepted Israeli narrative, which for so long has been unchallenged in the US.

Those who are waging the anti-BDS campaign in the US are blindly whitewashing Israel’s actions regardless of the merit. Their objective is to maintain the status quo and the continuation of Israel’s policies regardless of the human cost. They prefer to keep Israelis and Palestinians living in a permanent state of fear and anxiety, willing to indefinitely arrest the opportunity for a just peace in the region. While, their objectives and motives are clear, the outcome of their strategies is a quandary that defies logic.

For the time being, US legislators have surrendered the responsibility for fostering peace among Palestinians and Israelis to ordinary Americans. The Senate’s veto proof vote is an open admission that US politicians are unwilling to pay the political price for pressuring the Israeli political establishment and its US allies to choose peace. Thankfully, the US Constitution bars US politicians from banning Americans from adopting BDS. Americans who believe that peace is achievable will continue to exercise their right to observe BDS by refusing to reward companies that profit from the occupation, and support BDS in their churches, unions, and campuses. They choose BDS because it is effective.

 

 

 

The Palestinian Christians: Forsaken and Forgotten

mai abdul rahman                  Christmas 2015

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On Christmas Day, Christians across this country will celebrate the birth of Jesus. Worshipers will hold bibles that bear the faithful diligence of the forefathers of present day Palestinian Christians. By and large, most are unaware that Procopius of Gaza, 500 years after the birth of Christ, was the first to develop biblical commentaries, which consisted of a series of extracts from the first disciples to elucidate specific portions of Scripture. His work was duplicated and incorporated by Greek, Latin, and Protestant Christian theologians.

Theologians portray the work of early Palestinian Christian scholars as “intimate” that kindle “ the personal relationship between Christ and the Christians that lies at the core of each believer’s life.” Palestinian Christians offered a personal religious experience, which they faithfully taught in their well-attended ethical schools. Their work and scholarship helped the spread of their faith to Asia Minor, North Africa, Greece, and Rome.

Palestinian philosophers defined civil society as one that is not chiefly concerned with wealth, power or possessions, but rather with the education of the human mind and the refinement of the human psyche. Their perspective on civil citizenry and society contributed to the establishment and spread of classical learning centers, where philosophy, history, the sciences, and theology were concurrently taught and studied. For example, 5th Century Christian converts Aeneas of Gaza and Zacharias Scholasticus interpreted the work of Plato and Aristotle, and taught theology at Gaza’s schools of rhetoric. Early Palestinian Christians employed their knowledge of Greek philosophy to engage with non-Christian philosophers on the merits and relevance of their Christian faith.

Furthermore, few will be cognizant to the fact that the ecclesiastical vestments their clergy wear invoke the Palestinian traditional dalmatic embroidery that dates back to 1200 B. C. For centuries, Palestinian Christians have preserved the use of distinct stitch patterns on their robes, stoles, belts, and headdress to communicate their religious sect, aspirations, and rank; or to highlight a particular season or special event.

Time and again, Americans ask the Palestinians they encounter: “You are a Christian?” In need of a direct confirmation follow up with “When did you convert?” Patiently, Palestinians explain that they trace their faith to the very first disciples. The Palestinian Christians whether they reside in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, or Israel are Palestine’s living stones. They represent the uninterrupted presence of the very first church.

For more than two thousand years, the Christians of Palestine have faithfully maintained the oldest churches in Christendom. Invisible to the rest of the world, the Palestinian Christian community has preserved the ancient gardens where Jesus prayed, tended and harvested the olive trees that once shaded Jesus and his disciples. They have kept their churches open to pilgrims, and when necessary their sanctuaries accommodated the earnest prayer of Palestinian Muslims. Many a time, their ancient churches were used to shelter displaced Palestinians, or to baptize a young Muslim child.

So why do most Americans choose to ignore the contributions of Palestinian Christians? Predictably, Palestinians assume that their Arabic bible, liturgies, and sermons, and Arab Semitic ancestral heritage are the core reasons that their community is forsaken and forgotten. Out of sight, the faithful scholarship of their forefathers who clarified and contextualized the Old and New Testament, and their ancient traditions that are daily displayed by clerics and church are dismissed.

Regardless, without the scholarship, faithful work, and witness of the early Palestinian Christians, the spread of Christianity to Europe and the New World would have been difficult. Moreover, without the stewardship of  the Christians of Palestine Christendom’s first churches would have been long gone- and that is an irrefutable fact.

The Christians of Palestine embody the resilience and spirited hopeful faith of the Palestinian people. Their resolve to continue worshiping in their ancient churches, is an act of Somoud, a distinctly organic form of Palestinian non-violent resistance. Despite their daily hardships and confounding circumstances their steadfast commitment to stay in the holy land is a credit to their ancestors and faith.