Marking the 60th Year of Al Nakba

Southern California events marking the Palestinian Catastrophe (Al Nakba)

LA Jews For Peace Report on Sabeel Conference in Pasadena

Posted by nakba60la on February 20, 2008

Impressions of the Sabeel Conference,

All Saints Church, Pasadena, Feb. 15-16, 2008

By Jeff Warner

The Sabeel conference consisted of five plenary sessions with ten main speakers, and two workshop sessions. Advertised speaker Phyllis Bennis did not attend.

Sabeel mean “the way.” Sabeel is a West Bank Christian organization committed to justice, reconciliation, and non-violence. Sabeel supports the two-state solution as outlined by UN resolutions and international law. Sabeel was represented by Naim Ateek (see below).

In the following I summarize the essence of each of the ten chief speakers, list the workshops, and then address what was missing from the conference.

Sessions and Speakers

Session 1: “The Nakbah Then and Now”

· Rola Karam, a Palestinian American woman introduced a documentary video of the Nabkah as experienced in her parent’s hometown. This was a Christian town so it was not destroyed, but many men were executed.

· Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American woman who volunteered with the International Women’s Peace Service, gave a PowerPoint presentation showing the occupation: settlements, Israeli-only roads, the wall, and checkpoints. She published a book documenting her observations of the occupation. Baltzer gave a good presentation, although she tended to exaggerate and that detracted a bit from her credibility.

Session 2: “Keynate 1 and 2”

· Nabila Espanioly,.A Palestinian woman from Nazareth founded the Al-Tufla center and is chair of the Mossawa Center (Advocay Center for Arab Citizens of Israel) gave a PowerPoint presentation on Palestine from 1948-1967. She described life in Palestine under military rule. She called the events of 1967 as Al-Naksa, an expansion of the 1948 Al-Nabkah.

· Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, is a founded of Sabeel. He was the Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. Ateek described his position as seeking solutions based on faith principles of justice, peace, and non-violence and following international law. His talk focused on the post 1967 occupation, which he called evil. He claimed his work is modeled on Jesus’ resistance to the Roman Empire. Ateek reviewed the book by Israeli Abraham Burg (part of the Israeli elite, ex speaker of the Israeli Knesset) called “Hitler Won.” He pointed out that Burg was part of the Israeli elite, but has decided that the occupation is bad for Israel and Israelis.

Session 3: “Keynote: Why the Palestinian Conflict is a Colonial Situation.”

· Dr. Gabriel Piterberg, Jewish Argentinean who grew-up in Israel; now Professor of History at UCLA. Piterberg described the Jewish settlement of Palestine as a settler colonization where “white” settlers move in for the long-term, and attempt to completely replace the indigenous population (this contrasts with a different type of colonization where the indigenous population is used as a labor force). He notes that in the case of Israel, the Jews have partly succeeded – they expelled most, but not all, the Palestinians (the indigenous population). Piterberg says that Jewish efforts to replace the Palestinians continue, within the Green Line and within the West Bank. Piterberg suggested that “negotiations” toward a two-state solution only give the Jews the opportunity to continue their effort to replace the Palestinians. He suggested that the only solution for the Palestinians freedom is to give-up on two-states, and demand equal citizenship in Israel including the vote. He does not suggest that this will be easy to accomplish.

(Continued here:


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