Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unhelpful connections: IPMN and Al Shabaka

The Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network has linked to the person who wrote the “Palestinian narrative” for their booklet, “Steadfast Hope.” Their Facebook site has this notice."Israel Palestine Mission Network A viewpoint from Nadia Hijab on the Peace Talks - Ms. Hijab provided the Palestinian narrative for IPMN's Steadfast Hope publication."[*]

Last year I posted several articles about the booklet because it has wildly contorted information in it such as the view that the Jewish Lobby controls the United States media. It also offers the same distorted belief that many ‘Christian Identity’ [1] groups hold that World War II European Jewish immigrants to Israel were not genetically related to the ancient Israelites.

The author of the Palestinian narrative, Nadia Hijab, in the article IPMN is linked to writes that if the peace talks in the Middle East succeed it would be a bad thing for the Palestinians as would a two state solution.When one reads Hijab’s article as well as several others connected to this site there is a complete disconnect from the official policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) concerning Israel and Middle East problems.

The PCUSA’s position is to work for a two state solution, and not to push for both a complete boycott and divestment from Israel. In fact, at the 219th General Assembly of the PCUSA an overture claiming that Israel was an apartheid state was disapproved. There was no overture claiming that Zionism was racist.

And yet the site, Al Shabaka: The Palestinian policy network, where just such attempts at delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish State are advocated, is highlighted on the Facebook page of the Presbyterian organization IPMN.Hijab’s article is, “What if Peace Talks ‘Succeed?’ Strategies to Protect & Fulfill Palestinian Rights” Her concern is:

… next year is likely to see a grand ceremony where Palestinian leaders will sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground. The plan of the PA’s appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 could unwittingly contribute to this outcome by providing the appearance of an “end of conflict” while the reality remains unchanged. If the rest of the world sees that the government of “Palestine” is satisfied with international recognition and a U.N. seat, they will be happy to move on to other problems leaving the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy.

Hijab explains her concerns laying out her foundation for judging the present and future needs of the Palestinians based on the original Palestinian National Charter. This is not different than her narrative in “Steadfast Hope.”Her goals are rooted in the continuing insistence that all of what has been referred to, before 1948, as Palestine is the actual place of Israel’s occupation. Within her section on goals for unifying the Palestinians, Hijab writes:

In the years since the Palestinian National Charter was recognized in 1968 as the common statement of Palestinian goals, there has been a loss of direction regarding the ultimate objective of the Palestinian struggle. .. The PLO gradually shifted from the objective of a secular, democratic state in all of Palestine to supporting the two-state solution. This was formalized after the Palestinian National Council accepted the two-state solution in 1988. It was also “understood,” although this was never formally stated, that the Palestinian right of return would have to be implemented within the Palestinian state for some of the Palestinian refugees with, at best, compensation for the rest.

Hijab’s paper is linked with others on the Palestinian policy site. One is by Ali Abunimah entitled, “Reclaiming Self-Determination.” As one reads through the paper it is clear that self-determinism means a one state solution which would not be a Jewish state. And it would mean that the Jewish people would have to defend their rights to be in any part of what is now Israel. Another paper connects the Palestinian issues to the socialist movement as it is evolving in the United States Social Forum.

That paper is Integrating Palestine into the Progressive Left by Noura Erakat. Erakat links the Palestinian movement, as it promotes the BDM movement (Boycott, Divestment Movement), with various socialist groups including the latest USSF gathering in Detroit this last June (2010). Erakat writes:

According to Kali Akuno, a Malcolm X Movement national organizer and co-founder of the alliance, United Against Racism chose to centralize Palestine in its anti-racist analysis because the alliance’s core activists and organizations “hold a common view that Palestine represents the barometer of the extent to which imperialism is willing to go to ensure that the capitalist system of oppression and exploitation continue unabated. There is a general understanding that the liberation of Palestine is a critical linchpin in the transformation of this system and the creation of a more humane global system.”(Emphasis mine.)

The Palestinian groups which became a part of this summer's USSF, the one Erakat, is writing about, published a resolution, among other things, calling Zionism racist. The leaders write: “The National Synthesis People’s Movement Assembly resolution, adopted by the entire Social Forum, recognized Zionism as a form of racism and endorsed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against apartheid Israel on Saturday, June 26, 2010!”

I’m not presenting any of this to go into a detailed posting on the papers as problematic as they all are. But to make this point, the IPMN keeps stepping beyond the bounds of acceptable and official Presbyterian policy. They do this by a continuing connection to persons, groups, networks and organizations that are in fact uncommitted to the peace making goals of the church. And since they constantly push a one-sided agenda they are also working beyond any biblical encouragement to hold righteousness, truth and kindness in balance.

[*] I should note that eventually this link will disappear as IPMN moves on with their news & article links.

[1] 'Christian Identity' refers to extreme far right groups that believe the white races are the true Israelites. Some of them are connected to neo-Nazi groups.


Pastor Bob said...

Palestinians are socialists? News to me! Tribal certainly but also capitalist. Of course if you look at certain rallies and marches in CA you find all kinds of groups on the left carrying signs saying that Israelis or Jews are Nazis. I would think that Palestinians need to find better people to hang with here in the USA if they want support for their causes from regular Americans.

Viola Larson said...

I couldn't say it better. It is a strange alliance.

John McNeese said...

Nadia Hijab need not worry about a peace agreement. It is not in the script.

These "peace talks" are and have been pure theater: plays written from time to time by different administrations  to demonstrate  to the world our earnest longing for peace, knowing full well that we and our Israeli client will not allow an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state to be formed.

I had hoped that President Obama would be different. However Secretary Clinton and her  coterie of advisors are sticking to the never changing script. 

With all the sound and fury of our debate at this year's General Assembly, the pronouncements expressed by this august  body are largely irrelevant

Viola Larson said...

One of the thoughts in my posting is that the Palestinians do not want a two state solution. They want one, as they put it democratic secular state in which Jewish people could live if they can prove the right to be there. This is not the PCUSA's position at all.

Another point is that IPMN keeps linking to all of these organizations that are calling for a complete boycott and divestment movement against Israel. In fact just today I noticed on their facebook site this comment by Noushin Framke "BDS is a movement -> it is a train that once it's moving cannot be stopped and will only gather steam...not everyone has to get on board; just enough to bring public opinion to the tipping point." This is not the PCUSA position.

It really isn't peace that IPMN is working for.

And many of us are praying that peace will come with a two state solution.

Pastor Bob said...

The real question is will both sides reject those who propose a one state solution? Will both Israel and Palestine settle for a two state solution? That, I think, is the only thing that is actually going to happen.

And that happens to be the position of the PCUSA and has been for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate John's comments, in that they question why externally imposed 'peace' initiatives have not resulted in a genuine solution.

In the end, Palestinians and Israelis will have to determine a solution which suits their own people.

As John implies the reality of the current two-state 'process' is a disaster. Since Oslo, Israeli settlers in the West Bank have grown from 40,000 to over 450,000 (approx). Palestinians have found themselves without East Jerusalem, the right of return, a viable economy, control of borders and airspace, and their full human rights as outlined under international law.

Does IPMN genuinely believe a continued supporting of this process will result in a genuine 'peace'?

The two-state seems utterly distant although clearly defined in UN resolutions (i.e. along 1967 border). And yet the Palestine Papers reveal that Israel refused the most generous offer from Palestinian negotiators.

The title of Jimmy Carter's book "Peace, not Apartheid" lists a distinct choice for peace and default for Apartheid. Is this not what is now happening?

Looking at the Palestinian Policy Network website, I'm impressed that a diverse group of young Palestinian scholars are at least attempting to present an alternative analysis to simple business as usual. They are certainly do not appear 'tribal' as Pastor Bob implies. Perhaps they might be open-minded enough to welcome the critique and reexamination of their positions.

Perhaps IPMN might consider doing the same?

Viola Larson said...

I have allowed this one time, but you must leave your name and city and state if wish to comment again.