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March 15 webinar will examine the human rights situation in Israel-Palestine

Webinar is open to all with advance registration

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Latrach Med Jamil via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),  the Office of Public Witness and Presbyterian World Mission will host a webinar at noon Eastern Time on March 15 titled “Israel/Palestine:  A discussion with human rights experts — is this apartheid?”

Many Palestinians have for decades looked to the Black South Africans’ struggles against apartheid as an inspiration for their own struggle for equal rights. Defenders of current Israeli policy have labeled this framing as inaccurate, attacking those using the term “apartheid” as being anti-Israel or anti-semitic.

The webinar is open to everyone, but advance registration is required. Click here to register.

The discussion will be based around a report by Amnesty International issued in February,Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity,” which can be found here. The report says the laws, policies and practices imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli government do constitute apartheid. Amnesty International has urged the international community to take action.


Independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion, Amnesty International is a movement of 10 million people “which mobilizes the humanity in everyone and campaigns for change so we can all enjoy our human rights,” according to the organization’s website. “Our vision is of a world where those in power keep their promises, respect international law and are held to account.”

With the Israeli occupation in its 55th year, the peace process stalled, and Israel’s “nation state law” codifying discrimination against Palestinians, the question of whether the situation on the ground constitutes apartheid is more pressing than ever.

Webinar panelists will include experts from Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights organizations who will discuss recent reports. Participants will also learn more about the human rights situation on the ground in Israel-Palestine.

Paul O’Brien

Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, will be one of the featured speakers. He joined the organization in April 2021 after 14 years at Oxfam America, where he oversaw campaigning, policy and advocacy.

Joining O’Brien is Jonathan Kuttab, co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and co-founder of Nonviolence International. A well-known international human rights attorney, Kuttab practices law in the United States, Palestine and Israel. Kuttab is currently the executive director of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), a resident of East Jerusalem, and a partner of Kuttab, Khoury and Hanna law firm in East Jerusalem.

His law firm represents the Nassar family, a Palestinian Lutheran family who owns a 106-year-old farm known as the Tent of Nations in the hills southwest of Bethlehem. The family holds a legitimate deed to the land, which is surrounded on all sides by Israeli settlements. The family has been fighting in the Hight Court of Israel to be recognized as legal owners of the property for more than 30 years, racking up more $200,000 in legal fees.

Jonathan Kuttab

Kuttab is the author of “Beyond the Two-State Solution,” in which he explains that the two-state solution (which he supported) is no longer viable. He suggests that any solution be predicated on the basic existential needs of the two parties, needs he lays out in detail in his book. He formulates a way forward for a one-state solution that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism.

Rounding out the panel will be a representative of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization which along with Human Rights Watch issued reports similar to Amnesty international last year. Those reports are here and here.

Founded in 1989 during the First Intifada, the work of B’Tselem has focused on documenting Israeli violations of Palestinians’ human rights in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. It publishes statistics, testimonies and eyewitness accounts and collects video and detailed reports. B’Tselem is an independent nonpartisan organization. It is funded solely by donations — both grants from European and North American foundations that support human rights activity worldwide and contributions by individuals in Israel and abroad.

The organization’s stated goal is “to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

B’Tselem (Hebrew for “in the image of”), the name chosen for the organization by the late Knesset member Yossi Sarid, is a reference to Genesis. 1:27: So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he create them … ” The name symbolizes the universal moral edict to respect and uphold the human rights of all people.

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