Book Review: Seeking Palestine by Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh

This is another in a series of reviews of new books on Middle Eastern affairs. We asked Dr. Gail Weigl, an APN volunteer and a professor of art history, to review the book Seeking Palestine, edited by Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh.

Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh, Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian
Writing on Exile and Home (Northampton, Massachusetts: Olive Branch seeking-palestine
Press, 2013), 202 pages. $16.00.

What does it mean to be an exile from Palestine? Is it defined merely by physical dislocation, or is it less tied to a place than to an idea, to a Palestine that once or perhaps never existed, to a pervasive sense of being displaced, even from a land that was not the land of one’s birth? The essays that compose Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home examine notions of exile, of Palestine, of Palestinian identity in diaspora from the perspectives of poets, academics, novelists, artists and independent writers living as outcasts from a country that never existed as a nation-state, the idea of which calls forth irrepressible longing for a way of life known only through memories, many of those not memories of their own. These writers ask themselves what it means to cling to an identity, a way of life, a set of grievances across generations, and whether the persistence of an idea and an identity can persuade the world at large to seriously address the Palestinian longing to return to their homeland.

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16/9/14

Earlier this year the Jerusalem Municipality approved two construction permits requested by the right wing Elad association in Jerusalem's Hashalom Forest located on the seam zone between East and West Jerusalem. One permit was for legalizing structures built by Elad as part of an ideological tourist center they established on lands given to them by the JNF (KKL), and the other was for the construction of a new camping site meant to accommodate large groups.

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Michael Walzer - A Call for Truth and Peace - Rosh Hashanah 2014/5775

Michael Walzer: Time for Israel and her supporters to do cheshbon nefesh -- an accounting of the soul

 

August 2014

 

Dear Friend,

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I write this letter as a blessed cease fire is just going into effect, — not the first cease fire, and I don’t know if this one will hold. But it may be, so we all hope, that the Gaza war is over. If not now, then very soon negotiations for a lasting cease fire or even for something that might look like peace will begin. I have no sense of how these negotiations will go, but all of us at Americans for Peace Now believe that this is an opportunity for Israel to act boldly to strengthen the Palestine Authority (PA) and its new unity government and, with its help, to prevent or strongly curtail the rearmament of Hamas and to open the way for reconstruction and economic development in Gaza. But Gaza is not alone. There can’t be a legitimate PA in Gaza unless Israel is ready to work with the PA in Ramallah for the two-state solution that we have been defending for so long. When you read this, you will know whether Israel and Palestine have moved closer, or farther away, from this necessary goal.

Meanwhile, we have to think about what is happening inside Israel itself. Before the war began, we followed with horror the news of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys and then of the murder of a Palestinian boy. Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir: in our hearts, these are all “our boys,” who died deaths that no child should.

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APN Board Members Meet with President Rivlin in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel – A delegation representing American for Peace Now (APN) met yesterday with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s residence in Jerusalem.

Rivlin_Klutznick_500The delegation, headed by APN’s Chair of the Board James Klutznick (pictured with the President), congratulated Rivlin for his recent election to be Israel’s tenth president.

Rivlin expressed appreciation for APN’s support of the state of Israel and for caring about its future as a Jewish state and a democracy.

Klutznick pointed out that unlike APN and its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), President Rivlin does not support the two-state solution. President Rivlin replied that if the Israeli Knesset adopts a two-state solution he will not oppose it. “We should live here with open borders, whether in one state or in two states,” he said.

Asked how he planned to use the office of the President to advance efforts for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Rivlin replied that in his opinion, peace ought to start with improving relations between Israel’s Jewish majority and its Arab minority. He said that he hopes to use the office of the President to turn conflicts into constructive debates. 

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Everything Elliot Abrams & Uri Sadot Want You to Believe about Settlements Is Wrong

Last week, Elliot Abrams and Uri Sadot co-authored yet another defense of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s settlement policy.  At the heart of their case is this assertion:

 Israel's actual settlement construction pace has reached a historical low.  Only 507 housing units were approved for construction by Netanyahu’s government in the first six months of 2014, a 71.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2013… 

What does the data actually say? 

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September 8, 2014 - Islamic State; Status of Israel-Gaza Ceasefire

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Q. The Obama administration appears to be engaging in limited military cooperation with Iran against the Islamic State. How does this sit with Israel?

A. This development leaves the Israeli security establishment very uneasy.

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Live-tweeting of APN's Israel Study Tour (Highlights)

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APN is live-tweeting our annual study tour through Israel and the West Bank, as participants meet with politicians, journalists, and experts- all while witnessing first-hand the consequences of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. See below for highlights of the tour so far, and follow APN's twitter feed for up-to-the-second tweets, including those from Israel.

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(Translated from Hebrew and reprinted in the Commentary/Analysis section of APN's News Nosh on September 1, 2014)

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Yariv_Maariv_Collage186x140Now of all times, when a political initiative is needed, when Hamas is trying to portray itself as the savior of the Palestinian people, when Abbas was forced to deal with harsh criticism for not battling enough against Israel - now of all times, Netanyahu decides to declare 4,000 dunams (nearly 1000 acres) in Gush Etzion as state land. How will Abbas explain to his people the disregard and aggression of the Netanyahu government towards him? While Abbas tried to moderate and calm the area, Netanyahu humiliates him in front of his people.

According to international law, the decision to make land state land requires the sovereign to designate the land for the benefit of the general population in the area. It's no secret that when it comes to the Territories, the only ones to benefit from state land are settlers.

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September 2, 2014 - The Gaza war: on the absence of a viable Israeli strategy

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Q. The obvious opening question is, will the Gaza ceasefire hold?

A. At this point in time, barely a week after the ceasefire agreement and several weeks before talks on substantive issues are scheduled to begin in Cairo, three scenarios appear possible.

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APN to Obama: Reverse Israel's Confiscation of West Bank Land

Washington, Jerusalem -- Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), in strongly condemning the Israeli government’s decision to take over a large swath of West Bank land to expand Gva’ot, a settlement-in-the-making west of Bethlehem, as well as neighboring settlements.

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