We Give Thanks by Mill VP

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As we enter this Thanksgiving day, we are given the chance to slow down for at least a day, to catch our thoughts as they rest from a busy and eventful season and to find gratitude within ourselves and through the people and circumstances surrounding us.

This Thanksgiving greets us fresh after an election that created much discourse and civil unrest within many communities throughout the United States. Earlier this month, reactions to a much apprehensive election highlighted concerning fractures in a nation far from united.

America has been bleeding for a while. Our ears and eyes have ached watching an upset nation cry out for justice in the “Black-Lives Matter,” “Cop-Lives-Matter,” hostilities. The gift of democracy has given voice to differing ideologies and individual plights of justice. It is the outcry resulting in violence that we lament.  The election and the tumultuous months of debates led to a diverse and hostile climate within America once again.

Today is the day we open our hearts to gratitude. While unsettled and uncertain, what exists today and every day is a God who says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” (Ps. 136.1) And that goodness comes without condition, He has invited us into his will to “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

For the community of Millennial Voices for Peace, we have come together to lament the hostile division in our nation and we have given light to concerns for our future, but as we have opened our hearts to gratitude, we have found a bounty to be thankful for as we consider the non-violent peace ambassadors in the conflicting nations of Israel and Palestine.

We are thankful for those leaders that continue to remind us that peace is possible. You give us encouragement during divisive times. We would not have tangibly seen the power of God’s reconciliation if it was not through the hands of those resiliently laboring the hard work of peacemaking in the holy land.

The leaders of Millennial Voices for Peace have expressed their thanks to those who have personally inspired us to carry a heart dedicated to seeing peace practiced in Israel, Palestine, our own nation, and throughout our world.

We Give Thanks To The Following:

Tent of Nations

“I remember visiting Tent of Nations, where I heard the story of the Palestinian family, the Nasser’s, and their dream to turn their farm into a place of reconciliation. Instead of hating the Settlers that are their neighbors, they have invited them over for dinner and to see the farm. They told me that God commands them to love their neighbor; he never said it would be easy. They also host a kid’s camp for children of any race and nationality who have been raised in a conflict.”

Musalaha and Rabbis for Human Rights

“I am thankful for Salim Munayer and Musalaha. The conviction that reconciliation is born out of relationship is changing lives and hearts for peace.”

“While in the Holy Land, meeting and working alongside people like Salim Munayer (Musalaha) and Rabbi Arik Ascherman (Rabbis for Human Rights), as well as others, lifted my spirits. They speak and act out of a spirit of conviction and higher purpose to create a better world for everyone, not just their own ethnic or religious community. They are a significant source of hope, and encourage me to continue doing my part. They carry on when no is watching or listening, regardless of the difficulty of the situation, and that is something to be thankful for!”

The Parents Circle

I think back to the first time I saw The Parents Circle in a documentary: a group of parents (both Israeli and Palestinian) who have lost children because of the conflict. Instead of letting their grief turn to hatred and violence, they mourn and support one another.”

Christ at the Checkpoint

“I am thankful for Christ at the Checkpoint for opening my eyes to the multiple narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for the peacemakers who modeled powerful and life-changing love in the face of great opposition.”

Grassroots Jerusalem

“I am thankful for Grassroots Jerusalem organization started by an Israeli-man to help give Palestinians resources and a voice in a city where they do not have one.”

Friends

“I am thankful for the friends who first told me that there were peacemakers in the Holy Land. Like many people I know, I had assumed that the conflict in the Holy Land was intractable and that the Palestinian and Israeli people were totally opposed. It was through stories told me by friends who had spent time with Israelis and Palestinians on the ground in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, that I began to see where I had misunderstood.”

Those who have gone before us

“I am thankful for the generations of ambassadors for reconciliation who have gone before us. Their model of fervor and commitment, against all odds, has carved a path for us to walk today.”

On behalf of Millennial Voices for Peace- We Thank You!!

 

 

Raising Our Voice in the Election by Mill VP

Across the United States, and much of the world, eyes are trained on the US presidential campaigns and forthcoming election. The web-sphere is rife with the latest gaffes, “reveals," polling data, competing opinions on the best and worst candidates. Engaging the non-stop media and opposing energies the election wears us down and tempts us to withdraw completely. 


With the election in our sights, we at Millennial Voices for Peace want to take a longer view to engaging our future president, whoever that will be. During October, we have been promoting an advocacy opportunity through Churches for Middle East Peace: a letter to the presidential candidates urging them to be proactive for peace, recognizing the role of the US in perpetuating—and ending—the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.


We’re discussing a few excerpts from the letter to highlight why this issue is important to us and the next American president. 


"We ask that during the coming political campaign that you pledge, if elected, to take urgent and vigorous new steps to seek creative political solutions that will foster a just and lasting peace."
We want leaders who will engage complexity, who understand that the current situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is not sustainable. Rather, it is harmful for all involved. We want an American president who not only recognizes her or his role in mediation, but values the political participation and representation of Israelis and Palestinians.


"We lament the violence perpetrated by both Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides have engaged in incitement. Both sides live in mutual fear.... This status quo is clearly contrary to global security interests, including those of the U.S., and a source of violent extremism throughout the region. In addition, the daily indignities and stresses of the Occupation foster human suffering and have led to emigration from the small but vital Palestinian Christian community."


Suicide bombs, stabbings, shelling of civilian areas, and violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians: all forms of violence must receive the same resounding condemnation from an American president. It is important for the next president to recognize the harms of the Occupation, but Millennial Voices for Peace also believes that it is crucial for American Christians to support an end to the Occupation. The Occupation perpetuates fear and discrimination, and Palestinian Christians are among those who combat its institutionalized violence. 


"We hope you will speak forcefully and provide the leadership of your office, if elected, to call openly for an end of violence and settlement expansion....to support…the end of practices under the Occupation that result in major human rights abuses, such as home demolitions, systematic land seizures, travel restrictions, the blockade of Gaza, and indefinite administrative detention, including detention of persons under eighteen."


Not all violence is expressed through weapons. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict wages across society, in housing, education, infrastructure, and juvenile detention, a cause championed by DCI-Palestine’s No Way to Treat a Child campaign. An American president who seeks peaceful and just solutions must recognize all elements to the conflict, not just those represented by militaries or ambassadors.

“We pray that, as you look forward to the heavy burdens of leadership, you will find the wisdom, strength and persistence to seek new avenues toward a just and durable peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”


As we consider how to leverage our votes in the coming weeks, we can also consider that--no matter who takes office--the next president shoulders immense responsibilities. No matter who takes office, the president’s office needs our intercession and deserves our input. Multiple American presidents have striven for the goal of a  “just and durable peace” for Israelis and Palestinians. By raising our voices in this election year and during the next four years, we hope that vision is further grounded in reality. 

Millennials Can Commit by Mill VP

"Gathering with the leadership team to dream up a strategic and bold plan for Millennial Voices for Peace was inspiring. The fact that we all have full-time jobs and other commitments and yet choose to pour energy into MV for Peace is evidence of the deep conviction, love and hope behind this movement."

- Kelly Dunlap, Interim Director of Social Media for Millennial Voices for Peace

Commuting home from a long day’s work is usually my time to catch up on the news. As a teacher, it is relaxing being able to listen after a day of hearing myself talk. The other day, a news story came on NPR about millennials- people who came of age around 2000, and a shift in the house-buying market.

Millennials aren’t buying houses like generations in the past. In fact, in just a decade it went from nearly half of the younger population who were homeowners to now with a little more than a third.

This is not the first developing news story where researchers are seemingly taken back by millennials doing things differently. Trends have changed with marriage and children as well, millennials simply are not making the same commitments as early in life as past generations. Some are choosing to opt out all together.

As a millennial, I know we like to live life differently and are not likely to follow the pathway our baby-boomer parents took. But sometimes I resist the idea that millennials are non-committal.

When I first gathered with forty millennials from all over the U.S to form Millennial Voices for Peace in January of 2015, I was excited, passionate and inspired by the motivated individuals who came to gather and create a collective voice of peace regarding the Holy Land. But yes, after the conference “high,” I too, was leery that such a good thing would slowly drift away like a zealous cloud because, well…We are millennials, right?

But through a year-and-a-half of keeping up connections with members and leaders across the nation, all individually doing our part to keep MV for Peace alive, faithfully working to develop the foundations of a new voice for peace amongst Christians, I have never felt more proud to be a millennial than when we met for our second gathering outside of D.C for the Millennial Voices for Peace Leadership Retreat 2016.

In late August, leaders of Millennial Voices for Peace got together for a strategic planning meeting and retreat for this dispersed community of individuals more accustomed to eachother's email address than one another's actual face. The chance to be re-acquainted with this passionate group was refreshing. Seeing us all together, knowing the hard work we have put in and realizing how committed this group is to MV for Peace,  re-affirmed my belief in millennials. And yes, I said committed..

Here are a few other reflections from the 2016 Millennial Voices for Peace Leadership Retreat:

After communicating for a year via remote calls and email, being in the same physical space with other team members was deeply refreshing. We accomplished a great deal in the short time we had at the retreat--it makes me hopeful for everything we can do going forward. Six years ago, I was traveling with a group of students, and we had the opportunity to meet Abuna Elias Chacour in Haifa. He told us: "I don't want your hands to be clean. I want you to get your hands dirty working for peace." Being part of Millennial Voices for Peace is how I get my hands dirty.”

– Jessica Mussro, Millennial Voices for Peace Director of Resource and Networking

“Gathering with the leadership team to dream up a strategic and bold plan for Millennial Voices for Peace was inspiring. The fact that we all have full-time jobs and other commitments and yet choose to pour energy into MV for Peace is evidence of the deep conviction, love and hope behind this movement. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m excited to be a part of it.”

– Kelly Dunlap, Millennial Voices for Peace Interim Director of Social Media

 

 

 

The Myth of Solution by Kathryn Comfort

About a month ago we published a blog titled "The Myth of Expertise", as a follow up I offer my own perspectives on another problem that those who are involved in activism and engagement in Palestine/Israel may face: the myth that we need to solve the problem.

Call it American Exceptionalism or Millennial mindset, our generation (the generation that MVP seeks to represent) has been spoon fed an idea that we are going to change the world. Messages this can be seen from Rachel Corrie's fifth grade speech, to the stories that Courtney Martin recounts in her book "Do It Anyway," to the countless advertisements for colleges, clothing brands, and diet choices. We're living in a bubble that constantly tells us the world is broken and that we need to fix it.

I've been engaged in this issue for three years. And the only thing that I can say confidently about the situation is this: it is not my job to fix it, but it is my job to stay present to it.

Last week I was sitting at an end-of-the-year-banquet for graduating English majors. A woman across the room was boasting loudly that she had a solution for the conflict. That, after traveling to the region once for a week and minoring in Middle Eastern studies, she had concluded that she had come up with a solution so phenomenal, so profound: that it was fool proof and original. At first I was annoyed. And then I was humbled. I was humbled because I remembered that when I first began to understand the situation I was full of solutions. "Send them all to summer camp", "develop leadership institutes", "give them more development aid". How foolish I was to think that, as an 18-year-old, I might be able to propose something original and lasting which could pacify a conflict rooted in culture, identity, and ethos in ways I still struggle to grasp.

As an American I am complicit. My tax dollars fund a government that depends on constant militarism to maintain an imbalanced status quo while simultaneously preventing the opposing leadership from developing autonomously by pumping conditional foreign aid into their system. So yeah, I have a stake in working towards a solution.

BUT, I'm not directly affected by Israel's separate but equal systems for black and white Israeli citizens (much less Arab-Israelis...), I don't wake up and see a wall every day--and if I did, the wall wouldn't stop me (an American citizen) from crossing checkpoints or going to Jerusalem for Ethiopian food. I'm not directly affected by high import taxes or by restrictions on my career path because of my immigrant status. I don't have to constantly explain to people my family history, nor do I constantly live in fear that something terrible could happen to me at any moment because I am hated. 

No. I am complicit; I am not affected. And because of this, I need to be careful. 

I run into this a lot. Folks I have just met will ask what I think will solve the whole thing. As though in three minutes I can break down the convolution of the entire historic and contemporary context and wrap it all up nicely with a bow. And the thing is that there are people a lot more invested than I am, whose very lives depend on their ideas working who are already coming up with theories and strategies. The best that I can do in these situations is present the work that is being done by Palestinians and Israelis and to push that I am a partner in that work.

My point here isn't to say that we should enter in and support whatever either side deems as a practical solution to the conflict (as a pacifist the idea of violence as a solution makes me cringe). But it is to say, that if we are involved in this work, we are not called to be world-savers, but humble supportive partners who ask “what does this work require of me?" before asking “how can I solve this?”

Are Millennial Evangelicals Turning on Israel? by Anonymous Author

No, but we are turning on your BS. 

What do Millennials think about Israel? After several years of engaging the Israel – Palestine conversation in Christian communities, I’ve seen this question posed in a dozen ways with varying degrees of alarm and/or psychosis.

The unfortunate and ironic thing about many who pose this question, is that the author or speaker doesn’t necessarily care what millennials think. There is a clear, well documented generational gap when it comes to the conflict and the land, and yet, the question isn’t an invitation for young people to enter into conversation. It’s often a rhetorical segue into the author’s point: sound the alarms, circle the wagons, it’s time to get the next generation in line.

Those paying attention have seen an influx of initiatives to combat pro-Palestinian activism and/or BDS campaigns in universities across the country. While only a subset of this push focuses on Christian communities and universities, they have a fault in common: they ignore legitimate grievances and dictate the only true positions.

We in the Christian world might compare it to a bounded set theological framework. Believe this or you’re out -- end of discussion.

Nowhere is this framework clearer than in conversations regarding Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. I’m not actually looking to discuss BDS in this post, and I know that MVP has a plurality of opinions when it comes to the subject. What I do what to talk about is the quality of conversation itself.

While an extreme example, Yahovel.com’s “Don’t Boycott God” video is truly a masterpiece. I think the screen writer began by Wikipedia-ing “millennial interests.”

If you don’t have time to watch the video, or can’t make it through the whole thing, here’s a recap:

We are introduced to Wyatt, a young man who, “cares deeply about the world and about people. He is very passionate and impulsive [sic].” Wyatt learns about the Israeli oppression of Palestinians online, rounds up everything he owns that reminds him of Israel, takes them out back, and begins shooting them with a shotgun.

Millennials, am I right?

Wyatt’s friend comes to the scene. Wyatt explains his grievances with Israel, mentions military occupation, and cites oppression in general. The moment of realization comes when his friend finds a Bible, puts it on the shooting block, and takes aim: the Bible, too, was made in Israel.

“If you really want to boycott Israel, then getting rid of your bible and rejecting God is a great place to start.”

He goes on to explain that the liberal media lies, Palestinians are not oppressed, lists all the good things Israel does, and says that he has seen it all first hand. After encouraging Wyatt to get his story straight, he gives a final warning: “It’s a dangerous things to go boycotting God and the Bible.” *firm shoulder pat*

On the whole, I don’t think Christian discourse is that bad and figure this video is probably an embarrassment to many in the exclusively pro-Israel camp, especially the young people. There are well informed and well formulated arguments for an exclusively pro-Israel position and we want to hear and discuss them.

What we don’t want is garbage propaganda.

If your response to BDS is to suggest we shoot a Bible, you’re gonna lose us. If you’re not willing to acknowledge Palestinians have legitimate grievances, you’re gonna lose us. If there is not a forum for informed discussion about the geopolitical realities on the ground, you’re gonna lose us. If we are not permitted to truly seek peace and justice for all people, you’re gonna lose us.  

We at MVP are not turning our backs on Israel, but if this is the sort of BS you expect us to listen to, we may turn our backs on you.  

 

 

Four Ways to Stay Engaged when the Holy Land High Fades Away by Kaitlyn Barnhill

For those of us who have taken trips to Israel and Palestine and had life changing experiences from the friends we have made in the land and the relentless conflict we so desperately want to find a solution to, we know what it is like coming home from a trip like this, eager to make that next step. And many of us do take that next step, sharing stories with friends, speaking at our churches and school campuses and trying to stay connected with our friends and the news in the Holy Land. But as time goes by and we naturally engage in the life happening around us and our own personal pursuits back at home, a lot of time can go by without actively being engaged in our passion and interest for our friends living in the land.

Many of our friends there continue to invite us to come back to visit. But for most of us, this is not always a possibility. The default can become an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, where we can fade into less and less engagement. But the truth is, our friends in the land will never get the luxury of having an “out of sight, out of mind" mentality, the conflict is their every day life that they cannot escape. And our truth is that we really want to be engaged and active in their plight for justice, we just don’t know how to remain active from so far away.

So how can we continue to stay engaged and actively pursuing our passion to be ambassadors for peace? Here’s a few helpful ways my friends and I have found to stay involved.

Host a monthly Middle Eastern feast where stories and updates are welcomed and shared. As we all know, food is the main gathering feature in the Israeli and Palestinian culture. This would be a fun way to learn some of our favorite Middle Eastern recipes with friends and be reminded of the times we ate similar foods in the land. I was recently given a Palestinian cookbook and hope to use this as a tool to gather my friends around a table and reflect on our journeys to the land.

This can also serve as a tool to help people meet their personal deadlines and action steps. Within your community of friends who have connections to the land, maybe someone is pursuing a blog, or planning to lead a trip back to the Holy Land, or involved in a Middle Eastern Studies group, by gathering friends with alike yet diverse visions, together you can work to encourage one another to keep pressing on and live out their goals.

Create a podcast. Find out about some people in your community who are from the land, who have had an experience there, or who are in the midst of studying about the conflict. Once a month, sit down for a cup of coffee with one of them and ask to record the conversation. Pick their brain, ask them all about their experience there or what they have learned throughout their studies and what their hopes and visions are for a better future. It can be simple. Come up with a few questions you would like to ask and just try to guide a naturally conversation. And if you are the one with plenty of stories to tell, ask a friend to lead you into a conversation where you can have a platform to tell about your experiences. Share your monthly podcast on social media and create a voice for those eager to tell their stories!

Get in touch with your artistic side. There are many ways you can do this. I am not a painter but I have wanted to explore the slow process of painting and reflecting simultaneously. Maybe this could be practiced by printing a picture you took during your time in the land. Let that picture be your subject to paint across your canvas. You may not be experienced in this at all, but it doesn’t matter, let your mind notice every subtlety and capture it in the best way you know how. As you take in each detail, let the memories of that scene or that person soak in and remind you of the friends and the land you deeply treasure. It doesn’t matter what you do with the painting, it is the act of reflection that is essential in the processing your soul requires.

Imagine your personal artistic expression. Painting, writing and poetry, sculpture… practice the art of reflection through the process expressing your experiences artistically.

Find out what’s happening around you. One of the best ways I have found to keep my thoughts engaged and to be actively involved in conflict resolution is by getting connected with groups, organizations and talks around me. Immersion is key. We can gain a lot by reading email subscriptions or following national organizations news reports, but there is something significant about going and being a part of a local conversation about global issues. Find a peace center, church or school’s calendar to follow and keep an eye out for conversations you would like to engage in. Our experience and interest in the Holy Land and our heart towards conflict resolution in and of itself equips us to be a part of the greater conversation for world peace. Be willing to go participate in a conversation or seminar outside of your interest, understanding and/or knowledge. The parallels will surprise you, and the universal pursuit for peace, empathy and acceptance will be inspiring.

The Myth Of Expertise by Anonymous Author

There are few social justice issues that I do not care about. As my eyes skim the headlines and see protests for the right to LGBT marriage or relief efforts for the thousands of Syrian refugees spreading throughout Europe or yet another report of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, my heart breaks for pain and suffering that plagues our world.

And yet, there are few social justice issues that I am willing to talk about at length. Why? Because I, like so many of us, have fallen prey to what I call the myth of expertise. I look around me and see people who know so much about so many things and I think, “I don’t know anything compared to them. How could I contribute?” So I wait for a big blue genie to come and magically prepare me to join the conversation.

Let me tell you a secret: this genie does not exist. And those people who seem to know so much did not get to that point by waiting for a moment of enlightenment. No, they just dove in and began to learn. They joined book clubs, spent an afternoon researching, emailed an expert, watched documentaries, and attended events.

Here are two reasons why it is important to silence the myth of expertise and join the discussion on topics that you care about before you feel equipped to contribute:

Things get done by those who show up, not by those who know the most. I had a professor in college who used to tell us this, and, over time, I found that he was right. We demonstrate to those around us who we are and what we care about by what we do, not by what we say. Professing to care about an issue without a willingness to ask questions and be present for the discussion demonstrates insecurity, indifference, and possibly even cowardice.

Secondly, it is important to join the conversation before you feel you’ve gained the “necessary expertise” because you’ll learn more about the issue by being in the conversation than by being a spectator. The amount of knowledge you need be successful participant in a conversation is next to nill. Know enough to ask good questions and you’re set; sometimes all you need is the desire to learn.

Two years ago, I began hearing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from friends and family who had lived in the Palestinian Territories in the West Bank and who had experienced the fear and pain of living within this decades old war. At the time, I would have admitted to you that I cared about the injustices happening in Israeli and Palestinian lives, but I was deep in the clutches of the myth of expertise and kept my mouth shut.

But I did show up. And I kept showing up. There was a panel event at our school on the conflict and I asked if I could help organize. Then I discovered that my friends were in a class on Christianity and the Holy Land and I listened to as they recounted what they were learning. My professor asked if I would be willing to help organize a trip to a conference in Bethlehem over spring break. I said that I would and, months later, found myself on a plane to Tel Aviv and headed to a conference hosted by Palestinian Christians and focused on a conflict about which I still felt I knew nothing.

And, quite suddenly, I found myself answering other people’s questions. Quite suddenly, I found that I did know enough to speak up and give voice to my convictions. I hadn’t read books and I’d barely skimmed the wealth of articles written on the Holy Land. I still wasn’t an expert (and probably never will be one). But, by doing something before I felt I was ready to contribute, I not only demonstrated that I truly cared, but I also learned far more than I ever thought I would.

Don’t fall for the myth of expertise. If there is an issue you say you care about, DO something—attend a conference, read a book with a friend, or become part of an advocacy campaign. It matters less what you do than the fact that you’re taking action and showing that you care. I think you’ll find that, even before you feel you’re ready, being part of the conversation is where you’re meant to be.

Capitol Brief by Mill VP

Capitol Brief takes a look at US legislation and its implications for peace and justices for Israelis and Palestinians. 

Anti-BDS Legislation Gains Traction

The top development, which began in early 2015, is a growing tide of anti-BDS legislation at the state and federal level. “BDS” stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions; the term is often affiliated with an international campaign seeking to utilize these tactics against Israel. The language employed in new anti-BDS legislation presents some serious problems, and for reasons you might not expect.

Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace now did a highly recommended year-end review documenting the progression of 2015’s unprecedented anti-BDS legislation (here). Friedman’s weekly legislative round-up is a must read.

SUMMARY:

The US congress developed Anti-BDS legislation in concert with, and partly in response to new European Union policy that requires labeling products made in settlements; iow, products made in settlements cannot be labeled, “made in Israel.”

The EU’s labeling policy passed for two reasons: (1) to comply with existing legislation requiring products to identify their place of origin (2) affirm the 1967 “green line” by distinguishing between Israel proper and the occupied territories. The EU is Israel’s greatest trade partner and has not participated in Boycotts, Divestment, or Sanctions against Israel proper.

In response, the US congress has developed “anti-BDS” legislation to combat politically motivated discrimination against Israel.

While there is a plurality of opinions regarding BDS within MVP and throughout the country, the principal concern is not that Congress opposes BDS and it’s not that Congress opposes the EU’s labeling policy. The principal concern is that this legislation employs language that changes policies critical to the foundation of future negotiations and a Palestinian state.

I’ll illustrate this point by looking at an excerpt from section 909 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015:

“requires that no U.S. court recognize or enforce any judgment by a foreign court against a U.S. person doing business in Israel, or any territory controlled by Israel, if the U.S. court determines that the foreign judgment is based, in whole or in part, on a determination by a foreign court that the U.S. person's mere conduct of business operations therein or with Israeli entities constitutes a violation of law.”

This language conflates Israel with Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The implications of this language are vast, but we’ll focus on three important points:  

1.       The European Union has never passed legislation employing the tactics of Boycott, Divestment, or Sanctions against Israel proper. With that in mind, the only impact of this legislation (as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Act) is to protect settlements from labeling (being identified). This protection of settlements provides legitimization to settlements that does not reflect US foreign policy.

2.       This languages suggests (for the purposes of trade policies) that the United States should apply its laws to Israel proper and settlements equally, implying de facto sovereignty in lands across the 1967 boarder in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is a reversal of US policy upheld by every US president, Republican and Democrat, since 1967 and conflicts with International Law.

3.       This legislation promotes a false understanding of the 67’ green line: that it is evolving, fluid, unclear, contested.

The green line has been the bases for all negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and is sine qua non for Palestinian participation in any future negotiations. The green line is not a subject of negotiation; it is essential to have negotiations. New “anti-BDS” legislation mischaracterizes the green line, creates confusion by conflating Israel and its settlements, and impedes efforts to reach a two state solution.

In conclusion, this is bad. It’s very very bad and expanding beyond Washington, DC to take hold at the state level.

The subtlety of the legislation is exploiting the fog of fear and confusion surrounding BDS and serves to support the annexation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank.   

I choose to believe there are supporters of this legislation that do not fully understand, and would not support, its implications. We can only hope to counter these measures by calling our representatives in congress to raise awareness.  

For those interested in learning about the specific resolutions and bills involved, please review and follow Friedman’s legislative round-up here