Andrew Yang Steps In It | Rev. J. Mark Davidson

Andrew Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate, newly-announced New York City mayoral candidate, thought it important to let the large Jewish community in the Big Apple know what to expect from him on issues near and dear to their heart. His article in Forward , "My Vision for New York City's Jewish Community", raised quite the stink.  The stench arose from these lines: "A Yang administration will push back against the BDS movement, which singles out Israel for unfair economic punishment. Not only is BDS rooted in antisemitic thought and history, hearkening back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses, it's also a direct shot at New York City's economy. Strong ties with Israel are essential for a global city such as ours, which boasts the highest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel. Our economy is struggling, and we should be looking for ways to bring back small businesses, not stop commerce." Where to start with an article that &qu

Palestine Student Film Festival

Rev. J. Mark Davidson | November 18, 2020 This morning, Duke's Center for Documentary Studies presented 8 dazzling short films from Palestinian filmmakers. If you ever get a chance to see the films of talented young Palestinian filmmakers, don't miss it. I promise you won't be disappointed. What came through powerfully for me was the pathos of Palestinian life; in the midst of immense tragedy and loss, the irrepressible human spirit, stories of passion and resilience, hopes and dreams. So many of the portraits were of young people:  a young nurse caring for desperate people in the hospital, inundated by trauma and suffering, whose quest is to "change the meaning of red"… a family expelled from their home in the Nakba in 1948, make a new home for themselves in the West Bank, only to see Israelis build the Wall right through their property and encircle them with an Israeli settlement, yet they decide, "this is our home, and we will not leave"… a young man

A Courageous Witness

Imagine armed men break into your home and abduct you. You are torn from your spouse and your children. You are roughed up and thrown into a nightmarish legal limbo known as "administrative detention." You are detained without charge. The military authorities claim to have a case against you. But it is secret. They produce no evidence and there are no charges. Essentially, the law does not apply to you. The state holds you and has taken away your freedom and your rights. Sounds like North Korea or Russia or Saudi Arabia or Egypt, some known human rights violator, right? No, it's Israel.  This ordeal befell Maher Akhras, a 49-yr. old Palestinian father of six, from the occupied West Bank village of Silat-al-Dahr. Maher has gone on hunger strike to protest his detention without charges, illegal under international law. Today was Day 96 of his voluntary starvation to dramatize this violation of his rights. In response to outcries and pleas for compassion, Israel's highes

Musings on "The Doctrine of Discovery"

This past Monday, with 14 states, including North Carolina, and 130 cities, I celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day. I note with dismay that the current Occupant of the Oval Office clings to the colonizer Christopher Columbus and the fascist rhetoric of the great and noble Italian explorer "discovering" the glorious mythic nation. He fails to mention that the continent was already inhabited by millions of Indigenous people and cultures. Nor does he mention the 15th century "Doctrine of Discovery." This little-known doctrine was a series of devastating theological, political, and legal justifications for European Christian rulers to seize, occupy, and settle other people's lands. To European eyes, the land was terra nullius , legally deemed empty. Neither were the indigenous inhabitants considered fully human. The implicit racial bias in the Doctrine of Discovery permitted indescribable evil.  Scholars estimate that 13 million Indigenous people in the United Sta

Book Review of Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality, by Ian Lustick

Book Review: Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality  by Ian Lustick, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019 Rev. J. Mark Davidson, Executive Director, Voices for Justice in Palestine, September 23, 2020 This is a very insightful and helpful book that sheds much-needed light on an important set of issues in Israel-Palestine. Prof. Lustick is Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. The central thesis of his book is that "there is one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and its name is Israel." In saying this, Lustick is only acknowledging the de facto reality on the ground. I witnessed this reality first-hand when I traveled to the West Bank in the winter of 2013. After spending a few days in Jordan, I crossed into what has been geographically and historically known as Palestine for centuries. But the custom authorities who went through my luggage and asked me questions, examined my iti

Book Review of Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality, by Ian Lustick


Friends of Justice for Palestine,   I write to bring an important update on several developments in our ongoing work for a just and lasting peace in Palestine/Israel. On May 19, 2020, the Coalition for Peace with Justice (CPWJ) and the Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East (AIME) united to form a new organization,  VOICES FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE  (VJP). Our re-energized core mission is justice, freedom, and equal rights for the Palestinian people. We will be ramping up our work in education, legislative advocacy, media, and intersectional partnerships.  A new logo and new VJP website is in the final stages of construction. Stay tuned for the live launch in July.  Allow me t