Saturday, November 7, 2015

For Israels, seeing peace is seeing the end of the occupation

(This article first appeared in the Times of Israel on November 7, 2015)
In my last blog on this site, I made a profound statement. While I said that Israelis and Palestinians need to see the conflict from each other’s eyes, that is not the statement I am referring to. I said, believing that I would evoke some stark heartfelt emotions:
“Israel needs to have its first day  of peace.”
I was expecting a reality check from Israelis.  Seeing none amazes me.
No one said anything  to me or replied in a comment about this profound statement which I say again in a more humanistic way:
No Israeli citizen has ever seen a day peace.
No one has questioned me about this statement because in reality and fact, it is a true statement.
Since May 15, 1948, Israel has been in a perpetual state of war. It has not had one day of peace. In fact, in Israel, no day is free from the fear of war as even on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 1973 Israel had to go to war, once again. For over 67 years, no Israeli citizen can say that he or she has lived through one day of peace.
This should be shocking to the conscious, at least I thought it should be to Israelis.  I do not know if most Israelis realize the stark reality of this statement.
The question that should be on every Israeli mind is, when will an Israeli child be born on a day of peace in the Holy Land?
By the same token, over 90% of Palestinians living in Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza), having been infants or born after the 1967 Six Day War, know nothing but the Israeli occupation of their land.   And if we can look at those who are older than 67 years old, having been born prior to 1948, I would venture to say that 99% or greater of the people that make up the Palestinian/Israeli conflict have no recollection of what peace resembles in the Holy Land.   Those who have migrated to Israel, having come from peaceful countries may believe that they are living in peace, but in all reality, the atmosphere is one of war–a war that can escalate at any moment and for any provocative reason.
This leaves only a very minute percentage of individuals in all of the Holy Land that have ever seen a day of peace or have not been ruled by occupation and those minute people are Palestinians who are 55 years old or older.
This also is a profound statement for Palestinians. I do know that Palestinians whether they live in Palestine or beyond realize the reality of this statement.
The constant question on Palestinian minds is when will the Israeli occupation end.
Having the first day of peace in Israel while Israel occupies Palestine is not a mutually exclusive reality.   Israel cannot have peace while it occupies Palestine. Peace comes with the end of occupation. It does not come while the occupation endures decade after decade.
Thus the only opportunity for an Israeli child to be born in a peaceful environment is for Israel to end the occupation of Palestine.  This is the reality that Israelis must face.
If Israel wants peace, it must end its occupation of Palestine.
As a Palestinian, I cannot express this reality in more clearer terms to Israelis.  In case I have not gotten my message across, allow me to try a different means of expressing the reality.
The status quo of no peace and continued occupation cannot endure endlessly.  Like water that reaches its boiling point, the occupation of Palestine has reached that point.
The reality is that the population growth of Palestinians is such that Israelis will be the minorities in the Holy Land by 2016. Currently, the population of Israelis and Palestinians in Israel and in Palestine is said to be about equal.  With the birth rates of Palestinians greater than Israelis, it takes no great mathematical genius to calculate that the population of Palestinians will, in the very near future, be greater than the Jewish population.
Thus, how can Israelis, a coming minority, rule over the Palestinians, an emerging majority.  While Israelis do not like to be compared to the White rule era of the country of South Africa, the stark reality is that the same concept of a minority suppressing the fundamental human rights of the majority is again being played out before our eyes.
Israelis can put on blinders and not accept the coming reality. Israelis may want the status quo to endure perpetually. However, the reality is that Israelis cannot have a day of peace without coming to terms with their occupation of Palestine.
If Israelis want to live in peace, they must end the occupation of Palestine.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Can Israelis and Palestinians See Each Other's Concerns?

This article first appeared in the Times of Israel website on November 4, 2015.
In a Times of Israel blog post, Aaron B. Cohen wrote about a Chicago mock mediation event that involved a small part of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and a dinner I had with him last week. In the article, he quoted what I wrote to him in an email as a prelude to the dinner. He challenged me, in the article, to post this statement on my Facebook page, which I accepted.
The statement which Aaron quoted was:
"Something went wrong along the way. Without putting blame on anyone — because each of us can point to atrocities committed by the other — we need to find common elements that bind us together. We can and should be able to find a solution to this mess but only if we leave our emotions at home or if we both understand each other’s emotions. What is missing is the human element. Each side is not seeing the tragic divide from the other side’s eyes.”
Saying that each side needs to see the conflict from the other’s eyes is not a hard statement to make.
If we are ever going to come to a peaceful resolution, we need to see the conflict from each other’s perspective. Rather, politicians on both sides are trying to appease their respective political base and thus statements which neither advance the peace nor calm the boiling tensions are made in the heat of passions and thus flame an already tenuous situation. This, of course, has tragic consequences.
The current crisis is a situation where the extremists on both sides of the conflict have, once again, ultimate control. The extremists on both sides continually destroy any hopes for peace, while the silent majority in the region composed of both Israelis and Palestinians in Israel and Palestine are standing idly by as mere spectators. This majority needs to recognize itself as the majority in Israel and Palestine and needs to join forces in order to isolate the extremists; and need to demand of their leaders to finally conclude a peace — not talk endlessly to no end.
Enough is enough!
I can say categorically that rockets launched at Israel are wrong. But can Israelis say that the siege of Gaza, Palestine is also wrong?
I can say categorically that when a Palestinian killed Israeli parents on October 1, 2015, it was wrong and I condemn it. But can Israelis say that the “price tag” attack by the settlers who burnt to death the infant, Ali Dawabsha and his father and mother in Durma, Palestine while sleeping in their home on the night of July 31, 2015, is also wrong and also to be condemned?
Can we not see that the “price tag” attacks by Israeli extremists settlers are terrorist acts just as the stabbing of Israelis on a bus by a Palestinian extremists?
Can we not see that the burning of Palestinian Christian churches is just as wrong as the burning of Joseph’s Tomb?
No one can deny that Israel needs security. But can Israelis deny that within the context of peace there is security?
Israelis need to have their first day of peace. Palestinians need an end to the decades old occupation and need their freedom.
Can both sides see the humanity in these statements?
Seeing the conflict from each other’s eyes is a must in order for peace to have any chance. The Palestinians know that the conflict was, is and will always be about the occupation of Palestine by Israel. The Israelis know that Israel needs to be a safe haven for Jews around the world after centuries of worldwide persecution.
The Palestinians have a fundamental right to acquire their freedom. Israelis need to understand this.
Israelis need to feel secure. Palestinians need to understand this.
Can both sides see the other’s concern?
For peace to have a chance, the Palestinian/Israeli majority needs to understand the conflict from each other’s perspective. They need to come together. American Palestinian and Jewish leaders need to join forces to bring the majorities in Israel and Palestine together. It is imperative that these two groups break their silence because the alternative is the continuation of the status quo — which is not a sustainable option, especially given the Palestinian population growth;
the continuation of more children on both sides being killed — which means more bloodshed; and the continuation of playing into the hands of the extremists — which means no peace.
The Palestinian and Jewish peace loving majority in the US and in the Holy Land must come together for peace.
Those who will undoubtedly criticize me for taking this stance, and perhaps Aaron as well, are thinking through a limited view, a periscope aimed at a dark tunnel, when they should open their eyes and see the panoramic landscape of the human dimensions involved.
Those who truly want peace need to stand up and be counted. I believe there is a majority of Palestinians and Israelis who want peace.
Alone they are each overwhelmed by the extremists on their respective sides.
Together, they can isolate the extremists on both sides.
Peace loving Palestinians and Israelis need to join forces.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Beauty of Belladdi Under the Ugly Occupation

After a 20 year absence from my ancestral home, I am here in the heart of Ramallah, Palestine a few minutes walk from the Manara, the town center. Though I lived in America for 48 years, leaving Ramallah, Palestine at the age of 6, I  feel I am at home. Belladdi!  My land! Though I physically  left, my heart and mind stayed here in Ramallah where I grew up next to the old City Hall, the Baba coffee house and the old Dukan (store) Isheeni.

I returned (should I say visited?) to Palestine in 1995 as a member of the Palestinian American Congress Executive Committee delegation. We spent our 10 days in Palestine going to several meetings per day vising political, social, religious, educational and business leaders, so I  didn't have the opportunity to visit relatives or to get the flavor of Palestine in general and Ramallah in particular.  In retrospect,  I should have stayed longer.

I am here now and as I frequently and fervently write about the political aspects from abroad, I longed to feel for myself the richness of my culture in Palestine. While sitting in the Nile Restaurant on 87th Street in Bridgeview, Illinois one gets a very small sampling of our culture but one does not really taste or feel or see or touch or hear the beauty of the language or smells the falafel cooked every 20 feet by street vendors or smiles as one street vendor shouts "Kaaik (round shaped toasted bread with seseme seeds) for one shakel (Israeli currency)" or appreciates the succulent figs and the yellish-green plums that simply fills your tastebuds with our culture. That is what I want to see, feel, hear, touch and taste and smell.

I have been here in Ramallah for two days now. The falafel sandwich made for me by Mahmoud whose restaurant is just a few doors from the Manara Square evoked my tastebuds beyond any sensation I have ever experienced. Maybe it was the mental anticipation, maybe it was the atmospheric surroundings, maybe it was being among my people, maybe it was my eyes that ate before I took my first bite or maybe it was my heart that reveled in the moment that enhanced the flavors of the falafel sandwich. Whatever it  was, that sandwich was so good, I bought another and I devoured both.

Still I have not filled my stomach. There is so much more to see and taste. Palestine is  a rich country, not by wealth from oil fiends but by the beauty of its hills and valleys; by its traditions and its  culture; and by its people young and old. The olive groves are beauty to the eyes as the mind knows that our culture deeply appreciates the oil that comes from them. Yes the culture has been influenced by the political constraints imposed by the merciless Israeli occupation and indeed our music and our theatrical plays have that political element deeply embedded in them.

Rocks are also enmbedded in the landscape.  Rock fences are a pleny and rocks, the symbol of our strenght, are everywhere along the roads.  Roads are forever winding in Ramallah and its suburbs. Around every  curve is another breathtaking sight. One's eyes are filled by the beauty of the land and the people.

I am seeing  and describing a beautiful picture. I have yet to see, however,  the refugee camps, I  have yet to be stopped by a checkpoint.  I have not been confronted by an Israeli Occupation Force soldier and I have yet to see the Apartheid wall.

In Ramallah, one can lose sense of the occupation. Businesses are flurishing, construction abounds and people are generally happy. Israeli occupational forces are no where to be seen. Life seems to be normal.

I feel engulfed by the beauty around me yet I know deep  inside that that beauty is a camouflage as the human spirit is not free. The ugliness of the brutal Israeli occupation remains.

A cousin showed me his haweeya (ID pappers that every Palestian is required to carry) and then laamented that Israel allows him to go to Jerusalem only during holidays. The people, my people are in a prison.

Yet, the people are happy as they go about their daily lives. As I was walking around the Manara on Sunday, I  noticed a vibrant happy people, though I wondered whether the many young men standing around were working or not.

As the per capita of PHds among Palestinians is the highest in the world, I wonder whether the talents of these young men were being wasted under the ugly occupation.  How much more talent can Palestine give to the world under a free and democratic State of Palestine?

I wonder as I see and taste the beauty of Watanni (an Arabic word for nationalism not easily translatable)?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Israel's Shakespearean Plot to Punish Palestinians

It has not been proven to me that members of Hamas or any other Palestinian committed the alleged murder of the allegedly missing Israeli teenagers. The scenario put out by the Israelis just does not make sense. Given the diplomatic failures or setbacks that Israel has suffered in the past several months leads many to believe that this kidnapping was an Israeli fabrication that was conjured up to achieve Israel’s real aim without bringing on the wrath of the world leaders.
Israel is vehemently upset at the Palestinian unification government that ended the 7 year rift between Fatah and Hamas, the two leading political rivals in Palestine. This is no secret. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to world leaders not to recognize the new Palestinian unity government was rebuffed, including U.S. and Western European leaders.
It is also no secret that Israel wanted to punish the Palestinian Authority for bringing Hamas into the Palestinian government. Israel, as the collector of duty fees on products imported to the Palestinian Authority, is withholding those fees as one form of punishment. But Israel wanted to do more.
The concoction of having 3 Israeli teenagers go missing was pre-told by non-other than the head of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, one week before the alleged kidnapping. This “terrorist” kidnapping plot against 3 Israeli teenagers would elicit the support not only with Israelis but with foreign governments—a much needed element in order for Netanyahu to carry on his plan to punish the Palestinians for its unity government with Hamas. He needed to punish the Palestinians without engaging the wrath of the US and Western powers. Thus the Netanyahu government was presented with a story about 3 missing “innocent” Israeli teenagers—what a wonderful Shakespearean plot.
So Israel carried on with this Machiavellian scenario. A news blackout was imposed during the initial hours or days of the search. The plot was developing. The sympathy from around the world was pouring in as the Israeli media broadcast the names and images of the teenagers. Their mothers were crying.
The mothers even went to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to plea for help. They left behind 198 Palestinian mothers whose children innocence was wasted in Israeli Military jails and over 1500 Palestinian mothers whose children were killed since 2000. Motherly instincts are not exclusive to Israeli mothers and thus I wonder if they spoke on behalf of all mothers.
This Shakespearean plot was such a masterful plan aimed at achieving two results. It would elicit the sympathy Israel needed after months of diplomatic setbacks and it would allow Israel, under the cover of “rescuing” its children, to punish the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for the unification government that Israel opposed.
Israel was suffering in public opinion. In April, 2014, Israel was blamed by U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, for the collapse of the “peace” talks; settlement start announcements by Israel was hurting its image; the Palestinians united; and Palestine applied to 15 international agencies for membership. Divestment victories at U.S. campuses were gaining steam for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. The Presbyterian Church voted to divest from 3 U.S. corporations that are profiting from the Israeli occupation. Western European countries called upon their businesses to refrain from any business with corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation.
Israel could not accept any more condemnation and needed a sympathetic ploy to do what it wanted. Thus the plot to punish the Palestinians for the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah needed a cover. The scenario of having 3 Israelis being kidnapped by Hamas proved to be the cover Israel needed to carry on with its plot.
Under the cover of the alleged kidnapping and after gaining the needed sympathy of world leaders, Israel launched its media campaign and its Operation Brother’s Keeper, eloquently named to elicit maximum sympathy. It called up an army brigade which consists of 5,000 soldiers. Israel was going to war against the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli soldiers, in the past several weeks since the alleged kidnapping, freely and indiscriminately entered into over 1,000 Palestinian homes without any search warrants; killed 8 Palestinian children; arrested hundreds of Palestinian men; and ransacked homes—many times just in search of a TV which carried the World Cup games. Thousands of pictures where posted on social media sites showing Israeli soldiers blindfolding and dragging Palestinian children, as young as 7 years old off to prison. Israeli has bombarded an already devastated Gaza relentless for over the past week. The collective punishment against the Palestinian people was being carried out relentlessly and not a word was heard from world leaders.
When news broke that the 3 missing Israeli teens were found dead, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza escalated and the indiscriminate collective punishment against the Palestinian people went unabated and again without any condemnation by world leaders. Israel had achieved its objectives: gaining sympathy and punishing the Palestinians.
In analyzing the events of the past several weeks, the Shakespearean plot put out by Israel seems unrealistic. Killing the teenagers would not have served Hamas’ interests as the value of abducting Israelis is in the prisoner exchange. Murdering the teenagers has no value to Hamas, as the merciless bombing of Gaza has proven. Israelis did not like the prisoner exchange that was made to entice the Palestinians to renew the peace talks last year. In fact, Knesset members introduced legislation this year to prevent the Israeli government from agreeing to prisoner exchanges. Thus the chance of knowing that the teenagers were alive and held as a bargaining chip to exchange prisoners was not in Israel’s self-interest. Israel would have been in a real dilemma had the children been alive and it could not bargain for their release.
Thus the allegedly kidnapped teenagers were found dead. But Hamas never claimed responsibility. Again, it was not in Hamas’ interest to kill the teenagers.
Israel, a mastermind of staging media events, did not provide a picture of the bodies of the teenagers. They did not offer any evidence that members of Hamas committed the alleged kidnapping other than the preordained accusations by Netanyahu and his war hawk ministers.
The question is really not: Where is the proof that members of Hamas committed the alleged kidnapping and murder of these Israeli teenagers? The question should be: Who has the motive to present a scenario to the world that would gain sympathy for the preordained Israeli desire to punish the Palestinians for uniting? Shakespeare could not have written a better plot.
(Fadi Zanayed is an attorney and a Palestinian-American community activist. He blogs at and his poetry collection is at He can be reached at

Monday, June 30, 2014

Condemn All Murder Of Children

The death of the three allegedly kidnapped Israeli youths saddens me. It is appalling but before we rush to judgment as to who killed them let us analyze the facts.

Israel came off one of its worst diplomatic months ever. In April, Israel reneged on releasing Palestinian prisoners it had committed to releasing and then it announced further illegal settlement housing starts amid US attempts to salvage the talks. US Officials blamed Israel. The Palestinians sought membership in 15 international agencies and are about to seek membership in the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians have ended 7 years of rift between Hamas and Fatah, much to Israel's chagrin.  Countries across the globe, including the US, welcomed the new Palestinian unity government despite by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plea otherwise.  France, UK and several other European countries warned their businesses not to do business with corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The Presbyterian Church voted to divest from 3 US corporations who so profit.

Indeed, the diplomatic tide against Israel was being written on the wall.

A week before these youths went missing, the head of the Israeli Mossad predicted that 3 Israeli youths would go missing. Israel in all its communications demanded that the PA disavow the unification agreement between Hamas and Fatah. That was the Israeli intent behind its Operation Brother's Keeper. Israel may have already known the fate of the missing teenagers.

It is not beyond the realm of belief that Israel would sacrifice the lives of its citizens for the greater good, to gain sympathy from world public opinion. So let us not condemn anyone here because it is not proven if they were kidnapped, even the NY Times questioned the "alleged" kidnapping.

It is also within the realm of belief that Israel will fabricate charges on some innocent Palestinians to cover its tracts. Let us not forget the thousands of alleged confessions that Israel gained through the use of torture.

Let us not forget that the US courts found Mohammed Salah innocent despite the torture induced confession written in Hebrew. At Israel's insistence, Salah was put on the terrorist watch list, was stripped of his ability to work and support his family and was striped of any rights. He fought back against the Israeli accusations and won.

Yes, the murders of these 3 Israelis needs to be condemned in the strongest terms. But so does the murder of 8 Palestinian children during the massive operation to find the missing Israelis.  The collective punishment perpetrated against the Palestinian population also needs to be condemned.

You cannot condemn one act and not the other.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Where Is The Outrage Against Israel?

By Fadi Zanayed

The indiscriminate collective punishment imposed by the ruthless Israeli terrorist army in search of the allegedly kidnapped illegal Israeli settlers has gone unabated and the world is not in an outrage. In Chicago we have a major crisis of children being shot and killed on a daily basis and if the Chicago police raided the homes of citizens without search warrants and arrested Chicagoans at will based on an antiquated administrative detention law that does not charge or try those accused of wrong doing, the US would be in outrage. This does not happen in America because we are a democracy. We have a constitution–Israel does not not.

Israel has ransacked over 800 homes, has arrested more than 200 Palestinians, killed one child and produced such havoc that it strikes fear in the hearts of Palestinians. While Israel ruthlessly violates all international laws in its search for the 3 Israeli children, it has kidnapped 198 Palestinian children in its military jails. Let me emphasize: CHILDREN. Where is the outrage?

Israel displays the grieving mothers of the 3 Israeli children but the anguish of the 198 mothers of the Palestinian children abducted by Israel are ignored. Israel has every right to search for the missing 3 Israelis and everyone hopes that they return safe and sound back to their parents. But at the same time Israel must recognize that the right for children to be with their parents is not an exclusive right for Israelis alone. Palestinian children also have a right to be with their parents and not lingering in isolation inside Israeli prisons far away from their homes where there parents cannot visit them because Israel will not allow them to travel through military checkpoints.

The world continues to be outraged at the missing 300 African girls who were kidnapped last month. The world should be outraged at the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli children. And the world should be outraged at the illegal kidnapping of the 198 Palestinian children. The world should also be outraged at Israel for its ruthless indiscriminate collective punishment it is imposing upon the Palestinian population in direct violation of the Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Where is the outrage against Israel?
(Fadi Zanayed is an attorney and American-Arab Community Leader. He blogs at His poetry is at He can be reached at

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Keeping the Momentum Going - Seek ICC Membership

By: Fadi Zanayed

The momentum towards achieving a Palestinian State is swinging in favor of the Palestinians. With increased activity by Palestinians and supporters on social media sites with the Boycott;Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS); at college campuses, and in international diplomatic levels, the momentum has shifted. The question facing Palestinians is whether they can keep this momentum going? 

The momentum in the social media is increasing. The video showing how Israeli soldiers killed 2 Palestinian children, who posed no imminent danger to the soldiers, during Nakba commemorations has gone viral--so much so that the UN and US State Department have independently called for a transparent investigation. To increase social media activity, the Palestinian authority should require internet and cellular companies in Palestine to install video cameras at major confrontational areas with the occupying Israeli army. Additionally, the Palestine should employ the children of jailed Palestinian political prisoners and pay them for video and picture evidence taken on the atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers. This will justify the payments that are going to families of imprisoned political Palestinians lingering in Israeli military jails.

The momentum with the BDS Movement is also increasing. The actions of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) are getting widespread media coverage as they bring forth resolutions before the US universities' student governments to divest from corporations who profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Many US university student body governments are taking up the issue of divestment. These university student body governments are engaged in a non-violent peaceful and democratic activity to bring public awareness of the Israeli apartheid practices and the US corporations that help Israel continue the occupation.

While the SJP students may not win every vote, the public discourse and awareness generated by these student's efforts are to be praised.

Israel is pulling all stops to swing the momentum back toward its favor and divert attention to its apartheid regime. University faculty are being provided junkets to Israel to persuade them against supporting divestment movements. Public relation firms are behind advertisement campaigns against the divestment movements on university campuses. Despite all the advertising and junk money, the BDS movement is growing stronger every day.

The momentum on Facebook, Twitter and other social media are also increasing. Each day more and more Palestinians and supporters are posting and sharing stories that bring to light what the Israeli occupation is doing to everyday lives of the Palestinians. Statements, articles, news stories, videos and pictures are being posted.  A recent photo-shopped picture of Salma Hayek displaying a "#FreePalestine" message went viral with the message "Perception is Reality."

The momentum in Palestine is growing stronger and it must continue. The momentum generated by the brave Palestinian youth who daily confront the Israeli terrorist soldiers with rocks is growing--nothing can stop them for their human spirit to be free is insurmountable.

Neither Israel nor her supporters can stop this momentum. Sheldon Adelson's billions thrown at Republican candidates cannot stop this momentum. 

The momentum on all fronts needs to continue to grow, especially the political front.

April, 2013 was a great month for the Palestinian cause, especially on the political front, despite the faltering of the "talks". The Palestinians sought membership in 15 nternational agencies and a unification agreement was signed by Fatah and Hamas, the two leading parties in Palestine. Even American officials blamed Israel for the faltering of the talks. 

To keep this momentum going, a great majority of Palestinians now desire that Palestine seek membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The momentum for seeking international organization membership and seeking to hold Israeli officials accountable for war crimes is now during President Barrack Obama's second term. Waiting to take action during a first term US president in 2016 will not be as effective as the new president, wishing to be re-elected in 2020, will then have to appease the supporter's  of an entrenched Israel in return for the political contributions..

Now is the time for Palestine to seek membership in the ICC. President Abbas' must be under tremendous pressure as he recently stated that Palestine is not seeking such application. He did leave some encouragement when during the swearing in of the new unity government in Palestine he stated that any Israeli punitive action for the reunification between Fatah and Hamas will be countered on the international level. 

The will of the Palestinian people in Palestine and in the Diaspora is to seek membership in the ICC. The pressure from a new US president in 2 1/2 years will be much greater as the political momentum will shift if action is not taken now.

President Abbas needs to strengthen the political momentum by seeking membership in the ICC and by bringing to justice those Israelis who have committed war crimes against Palestinians.

President Abbas can use the Nakba Rememberance Day killing of Nadime Siam Abu Nuwara, 17, and Mohammed Awad Salemeh Abu Thaher, 22, by the Israeli soldiers as a justification to seek membership in the ICC. He can use the video which shows that these martyrs posed no imminent threat to the soldiers and thus are criminally liable. This move will give great hope to the Palestinian people, especially in Palestine and it will give the Israeli leaders and soldiers pause before they fire another bullet aimed at Palestinian children.

Despite Israel's whitewash of this video, President Abbas needs to capture the moment to keep the political momentum going. He has a duty to protect the Palestinian people. Israeli soldiers are killing innocent Palestinians and they need to be brought to justice. ICC membership by Palestine is the next step to keeping the momentum going.