News we're following

Rochester NY church planned series on Israel / Palestine

Third Presbyterian Church deferred at least the first of a three-part program titled "Israel/Palestine" on consecutive Sundays in March.

On Thursday, March 12, the church announced that it is canceling events on March 15. It therefore seems wise to watch that congregation's web site to learn whether/when the series will go forward.

The programs were:

  1. "The Deal of the Century" otherwise known as the U.S. administration's "Peace to Property" plan. (See also below.) Downtown Presbyterian Church elder Elaine Johnson will explain the the Israeli plan to annex more of the West Bank and the response of the PC(USA) and other denominations.
  2. "The humanitarian crisis in Gaza." Tom Foster, Professor of Imaging Sciences at the University of Rochester, has just returned from a medical mission there.
  3. "Thirsting for the God of Justice in the Dry and Weary Land." Rev. Lynette Sparks, Third Presbyterian's Acting Head of Staff, and her husband Brad report on their spring 2019 CRCDS trip to Israel/Palestine.

UN releases database of firms benefiting from Israeli settlements

On February 12, 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), released a report listing 112 companies benefiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Among them are parent companies operating familiar web sites including AirBnb, Expedia, Home Away, OpenTable, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity, TripAdvisor, VRBO, and the Israeli office of Re/Max.

agoda airbnbcheaptickets expedia general mills kayak Motorola Solutions Open Table Orbitz priceline rentalcars travelocity tripadvisor trivago vrbo

You can read the UN’s MS-Word document here.

The study authorized an independent international fact-finding mission in 2016 (see UN Human Rights Council A/HRC/RES/31/36/) which established these criteria to be included on the list:

  1. The supply of equipment and materials facilitating the construction and the expansion of settlements and the wall, and associated infrastructures;
  2. The supply of surveillance and identification equipment for settlements, the wall and checkpoints directly linked with settlements;
  3. The supply of equipment for the demolition of housing and property, the destruction of agricultural farms, greenhouses, olive groves and crops;
  4. The supply of security services, equipment and materials to enterprises operating in settlements;
  5. The provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport;
  6. Banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and the development of businesses;
  7. The use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes;
  8. Pollution, and the dumping of waste in or its transfer to Palestinian villages;
  9. Captivity of the Palestinian financial and economic markets, as well as practices that disadvantage Palestinian enterprises, including through restrictions on movement, administrative and legal constraints;
  10. Use of benefits and reinvestments of enterprises owned totally or partially by settlers for developing, expanding and maintaining the settlements.

The study was already contemplated in 2012 (UN Human Rights Council A/HRC/RES/19/17)

This article on Mondoweiss lists all of the companies: “UN releases database of companies operating in illegal West Bank settlements


The "Deal of the Century"

The U.S. administration released its long-foreshadowed Middle East peace plan "Peace to Prosperty" to totally negative reaction from sources we trust. Here's a selection.

"President Trump's plan for racial control and segregation should sound disturbingly familiar. Indeed it should immediately bring to mind the Bantu homelands which were the cornerstone of South Africa's 'grand apartheid' … Using a combination of financial sticks and carrots, some of which were unveiled last June at the economic summit in Bahrain, the Trump administration will try to force Palestinians to accept the 'peace plan' and declare independence within their homeland, just as the apartheid South African government once tried to force the native black population to declare independence within their Bantustans. While the crony leadership of some Bantustans did indeed declare independence, South Africa's grand apartheid ultimately failed because local leaders, including the African National Congress and the legendary Nelson Mandela, waged a determined and powerful international campaign against apartheid."

read more

— Sheena Anne Arackal writing in Mondoweiss

"This 'deal' is little more than a cynical rephrasing of the conditions that have kept the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation for decades. It codifies Israel's egregious theft of Palestinian land and would continue Israel's military rule, even over the areas allocated to the so-called Palestinian state. It lacks any evidence of a true willingness to include the interests of the Palestinian community … We must speak out on behalf of the Palestinian community, residents of this land for generations. Their land has been stolen. Their holy sites have been denigrated. Their homes and businesses have been destroyed and they all live under the iron fist of Israel's continuing military occupation. This would not change under this "deal" proposed. As Christians, concerned for our own roots in this 'Holy Land,' we cry out in anguish and anger as a kind of social and religious "ethnic cleansing" is occurring under these efforts of current Israeli leadership and of our own president."

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— Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)

"… [The proposal] is nothing less than a recipe for endless oppression and injustice. Palestinians for far too long have suffered under Israeli military control, a reality which today was denied and ignored. The proposed plan would further entrench the Israeli security establishment, ensuring that generations of Israeli young men and women will serve in a military tasked with continuing control of the Palestinian people. The inevitable result will be more human rights abuses, trauma, and violence. This cannot stand…

We must redouble our efforts to advocate for a durable and just peace that, unlike this and other plans of the past, centers justice, equality, human rights, and freedom for all in Israel and Palestine."

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— Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace

"This is in no way a peace plan – it's an apartheid plan. It's a distraction ploy by two warmongerers who are prioritizing their personal election campaigns over any semblance of statecraft. International law, global consensus and decades of U.S. policy concur that Palestinian land isn't for Trump to give away nor for Netanyahu to steal. The only way forward towards lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians is through justice, freedom and equality for everyone." 

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— Rabbi Alissa Wise, Acting co-Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace

"If there was ever any doubt that the Trump-Netanyahu "peace plan" was anything other than a smokescreen for annexation, it was disabused just moments after the plan's glitzy White House announcement.

Immediately following President Trump's announcement of a plan he claimed would chart a course to a "two-state solution," Prime Minister Netanyahu took to the very same podium to announce his government would immediately move to impose sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all West Bank settlements — a flagrant violation of international law."

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— J Street

"The territories 'allocated' to Palestinians under this plan are small isolated enclaves with no territorial contiguity, separated by Israeli settlements and connected only by bypasses under Israeli control. From the ecumenical movement's history of engagement in South Africa, we know what such a system looks like. This plan makes permanent the fragmentation of Palestinian territory in a matrix of Israeli control, not unlike the Bantustans of South Africa's apartheid system. We know that this cannot lead to peace or to justice."

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— Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches


Our Film Festival Dates

This is our ninth year of the Witness Palestine Film Festival. Your selection team is reviewing prospects for the fall.

A web site devoted to the Festival includes an archived list of films we've screened and other programs we've offered.

2020 dates @ The Little
The Little logo
  1. Sunday, October 18, 2:30 p.m.
  2. Monday, October 19, 6:30 p.m.
  3. Sunday, October 25, 2:30 p.m.
  4. Monday, October 26, 6:30 p.m.