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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



It’s not giving money but withholding it that makes a difference

1) Sam Bahour on why Mayor Bloomberg’s gift is a waste of money; 2) Gideon Levy on the need for sanctions. Notes and links on the Jewish group Encounter (see 1).

An Israeli army soldier checks a Palestinian car at a checkpoint outside Jericho. Photo by Ammar Awad / Reuters

Dear Mayor, Thank You, But No Thank You

By Sam Bahour, AMIN (Arab Media Internet News)
December 07, 2013

It was recently reported in The Daily Jewish Forward (Bloomberg To Dedicate $ 1M Genesis Prize to Boosting Israeli-Palestinian Trade, December 02, 2013) that New York City Mayor and billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, was awarded the first- ever Genesis Prize, $ 1 million “which is meant to honor an exceptional Jew.”

In his acceptance speech, given at an official Hanukkah party in New York, Mayor Bloomberg remained true to US Jewish American politics and thus, before making his speech, cleared his intention to donate the money to “promote commerce between the people in Palestine and the people in Israel “with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As a Palestinian American businessman on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory for twenty years, I did not know whether to laugh or cry at this seemingly generous announcement. This well-intentioned act is flawed for several reasons.

Military checkpoint outside Ramallah, the city which Israelis think should be Palestine’s ‘capital’.

First, “commerce between the people in Palestine and the people in Israel” is not hindered by lack of funds; it is stifled due to 46 years of Israeli military occupation, each year of which has been squarely supported by the US Every single strategic economic resource needed to build Palestine, from water, land, borders, trade routes, frequencies, airspace, and so much more are 100% micromanaged by the Israeli military. Until the dirty boot of military occupation is removed from the necks of Palestinians, joint commerce can only serve to beautify a status quo which is creeping toward a state of Apartheid, not peace.

Second, with Israel’s military occupation and structural discrimination against Palestinians on both sides of the green line intensifying over the past few years, there is no appetite in the Palestinian community for more commerce with Israel, given that Palestine’s economy is already massively dependent on Israel’s economy by sheer fact of the military restrictions that Israel places on Palestinian economic development.

Today, the only appetite in Palestine, and many corners of the world, is to intensify boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until Israelis feel the pain of occupation enough to want to end it. This cost-based approach is being more and more articulated by progressive Jewish Americans too, as was recently penned by Kathleen Peratis in the Daily Beast’s Open Zion (If You Want Two States, Support BDS, October 16th, 2013), as well as by enlightened Jewish Israelis such as journalist Gideon Levy in Haaretz (The Iran case proves it: Sanctions will get Israel to end the occupation, Nov. 30, 2013 SEE BELOW).

Instead of wasting $1m on trying to promote commerce between an occupied people and their occupiers, I have a much more constructive suggestion for Mayor Bloomberg: transfer the funds to the New York-based Jewish American organization, Encounter.

Encounter was founded by two rabbinical students and has two rabbis on its board. Jewish American political pundit Peter Beinart recently mentioned Encounter in his recent piece in the New York Review of Books (The American Jewish Cocoon, September 26, 2013). Encounter is an amazing group of dynamic Jewish Americans who are breaking the divide, not by chumming up to the reality of separation, discrimination, and occupation, but rather by mobilizing Jewish Americans from all walks of life, with the bulk being rabbinical students and mainstream Jewish American leaders. The group brings delegations of Jewish Americans – Orthodox, Conservative and Reform – to the West Bank and engages them in active listening to hear directly from Palestinian community members and leaders from the “other” side of the conflict, viewpoints that most have never heard before .

This is not about normalizing the occupation – far from it. It is about sharing a reality that most Jews around the world have had purposely excluded from their education. It goes without saying that I too learn a lot from engaging the participants.

For nearly six years I’ve been a speaker to these delegations. As a matter of fact, I usually drop what I’m doing and head to Bethlehem to participate in the program because I see real education and progress being made. By looking into the eyes of the participants, even though many may not agree on much of the politics, I have come to learn that Mayor Bloomberg’s own Jewish American community can’t stand what they see on this side of the Separation Wall, if given half a chance to experience it.

Indeed, we in the Palestinian business community can take care of ourselves, as soon as our economy can breathe freely. In the meantime, and toward that end, I urge Mayor Bloomberg and those like him to empower those doing the nitty-gritty, behind the scenes education to enable equality, freedom, and independence to take root, for all of our sakes.

Sam Bahour is a management consultant and entrepreneur living in Ramallah; he is co-editor of “Homeland: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians,” and blogs at –

The Iran case proves it: Sanctions will get Israel to end the occupation

The settlements are an all-Israeli project and the boycott can’t be limited to them.

By Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz
November 30, 2013

It appears that international sanctions work and that a boycott is a tool like no other. Even Israel’s prime minister has admitted this; he has called on the world not to ease the sanctions and to even intensify them, and following his lead is the shrill U.S. Jewish lobby.

This being the case, the moral is clear: This is the way to act with recalcitrant states. This applies not only to Iran, where the theory is being proved before our eyes, but with another country that does not obey the decisions of the international community.

Israel has signed the Horizon 2020 agreement for scientific research with the EU barring funding from companies or institutions with ties to the settlements. This is irrefutable proof that a boycott threat works well with Israel, too.

The truth is hard to miss. By signing the agreement, Israel gave a hand to the first official international boycott of the settlements. There is no other way to portray this agreement, even including the special appendix that Israel added in protest. Israel, which passes indecent laws against calls for boycotts against it, surrendered and signed on to boycott terms when it began to be hit in the pocket.

Now we have a limited boycott and a harbinger of things to come. The negotiations over the agreement were conducted by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose office is located in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem. For some reason, the EU didn’t boycott her for this. Negotiations over funds trickling to the settlements are being conducted with a minister who, according to the entire world, has her office in a settlement on Jerusalem’s Saladin Street.

No-one boycotts Israel’s most valuable exports: left The Harpy an armed Israeli drone, Right, the Heron, an Israeli surveillance drone.

This absurdity reveals the hypocrisy of boycotting just the settlements. Every Israeli organization, institution or authority is somehow involved with what’s going on beyond the Green Line. Every bank, university, supermarket chain or medical institution has branches, employees or clients who are settlers. The settlements are an all-Israeli project and the boycott can’t be limited to them, just as the boycott of apartheid-era South Africa couldn’t be limited to the institutions of apartheid.

There everything was apartheid, and here everything is tainted by occupation. Israel funds, protects and nurtures the settlements, so all of Israel is responsible for their existence. It’s unfair to boycott just the settlers. We’re all guilty. On the other hand, boycotting all of Israel is likely to morph into the rejection of its very existence, something most of the world justly does not want. Therefore, we should rejoice over the limited boycott even if it is tainted by double standards. We should draw lessons from it.

French demonstrate support for an international boycott of Israel. Photo by  EPA.

The success achieved with Iran must become the world’s road map in how to end the Israeli occupation and the denial of the Palestinians’ rights. The outline is clear. We have had a failed diplomatic effort and decades of the “peace process,” the longest in history. We have had endless peace plans buried in drawers, while Israel has continued to build without restraint in the settlements in contravention of the world’s position.

So the time has come for sanctions. When these are felt in Israel, only then should an international committee be formed, whether in Geneva, Jerusalem, Oslo or Ramallah, where the world will translate economic sanctions into political achievements.

This worked with Iran, and it will work with Israel and prevent bloodshed. There’s no reason to continue the masquerade of peace talks that, with the exception of one American, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, no one takes seriously. Even he will eventually come around because as long as Israelis don’t pay a price for the occupation or are blind to it, they won’t end it. That’s the truth.

The truth is a bitter reality with which no Israeli can be happy. Disconnected from the international reality, most Israelis are convinced that the status quo where the people of one nation lack all rights while the people of another nation enjoy full rights can’t continue indefinitely. Maybe this will be the real historic achievement of the negotiations with Iran. It will be the last wake-up call for that sleeping beauty, Israel.

Notes and links

Encounter: Purpose
From Encounter website

Encounter is dedi­cated to strength­ening the capacity of the Jewish people to be construc­tive agents of change in trans­forming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Need

While the Jewish commu­nity continues to be one of the most influ­en­tial stake­holders in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most American Jews have never met a Palestinian, nor seri­ously encoun­tered Palestinian narra­tives or perspec­tives. Influential segments of the American Jewish commu­nity advo­cate for solu­tions to the conflict and educate the next gener­a­tion about it in complete isola­tion from Palestinian people and claims. This infor­ma­tion vacuum perpet­u­ates our failure to bring about real, viable solu­tions and further­more, research demon­strates that simplistic advo­cacy efforts are driving away our next generation’s engage­ment with the Jewish commu­nity and their commit­ment to Israel.

What We Do

Encounter exists to reverse and trans­form this reality. Founded by American rabbis and rooted in Jewish tradi­tion, Encounter is a conflict trans­for­ma­tion orga­ni­za­tion, equip­ping influ­en­tial Jewish leaders from across the polit­ical and ideo­log­ical spectra with access to Palestinian perspec­tives and claims on the ground. Encounter’s flag­ship two-day trips, advanced and alumni programs, and our Davar Acher: Leadership Program bring Jewish partic­i­pants to the West Bank on tours to meet with Palestinian leaders in busi­ness, media, non-violence activism, educa­tion, and poli­tics. Encounter also works with leading educa­tors and alumni to revamp Israel educa­tion so that our youth are more equipped and committed to act as informed change agents and less inclined to give up the “Israel project” alto­gether.
Underlying all of Encounter’s work is the core belief that inno­v­a­tive strate­gies for peace will be created only when influ­en­tial stake­holders in a conflict have oppor­tu­ni­ties to meet one another, to open them­selves to previ­ously disre­garded points-of-view, and to develop rela­tion­ships across polit­ical and ideo­log­ical divides.
© Shari Diamond

Our Innovative Strategy: Listening as a Transformative Methodology

By design, we are not a dialogue orga­ni­za­tion. Encounter encour­ages partic­i­pants to listen to and absorb Palestinian narra­tives and claims without disre­garding what they already know and believe to be true. By simply listening and by forgoing the usual route of raucous debate, partic­i­pants expose them­selves to view­points that they formerly may have disdained. The expe­ri­ence enables them to inte­grate these new perspec­tives rather than defend against them. Encounter provides a safe and Jewish-identity affirming atmos­phere for all of our partic­i­pants, rein­forcing that to grapple with the conflict we need not check our Judaism at the door. There are kosher food and prayer services for those who require them.

Who We Target: American Jewish Leadership

Our past partic­i­pants, over 1500 American Jews, repre­sent the full gamut of opin­ions on the conflict—from anti-occupation activists to staunch settle­ment supporters. On these trips, partic­i­pants from these diverse back­grounds sleep in the homes of former mili­tants and pore over maps and histo­ries for hours with their hosts—discovering all the while a reality previ­ously unknown to most of them. Past partic­i­pants include Orthodox and Reform rabbis and educa­tors, settle­ment funders and anti-occupation activists.

Encounter’s Core Values

Encounter is an educa­tional orga­ni­za­tion that culti­vates informed Jewish lead­er­ship on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We do not take specific posi­tions regarding the outcome of the conflict. We do, however, hold a set of values that underlie all of our work, including our orga­ni­za­tional programs, alumni activ­i­ties, and staff and board inter­ac­tions. Our vision is one of genuine peace: an envi­ron­ment of safety and equity that embraces the full dignity of all.
שמע / Shema / Listening

Encounter culti­vates resilient mutual listening and curiosity, between Jews and Palestinians as well as between Jews and other Jews with diver­gent worldviews.
כבוד / Kavod / Dignity

Encounter affirms the funda­mental dignity of all human beings, and encour­ages deep respect for the phys­ical, emotional, and spir­i­tual well-being of all people.
חכמה / Hokhma / Wisdom

Encounter values the persis­tent seeking of wisdom, under­standing, and knowl­edge, partic­u­larly of unfa­miliar and differing perspectives.
רחמים / Rakhamim / Compassion

Encounter encour­ages all of us to find soft­ness within ourselves, and to extend mercy, gracious­ness, and the most expansive possible view of each other.
פתיחת לב / Petikhat Lev / Openness

Encounter encour­ages recep­tivity rather than dogma­tism, open­ness to being trans­formed by new encoun­ters and ideas.
בכל נפשך / B’khol naf’shekha / Holism

Encounter programs inte­grate mind, body, and heart-– taking into consid­er­a­tion the complexity of learning needs and the full­ness of the human person.

אלו ואלו / Elu v’elu / Multiple voices
Encounter values the multi­plicity of voices within soci­eties and even within indi­vid­uals, knowing our deepest creativity often emerges from contra­dic­tions and complexity.

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