Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hamas Responsible

The headline said, “Hamas is Responsible for Gaza’s Hardship.” [i]

After I picked myself up from the floor, (Ignorance, especially when it is chosen and announced with pride), always overwhelms me.

Hamas responsible?  It was not Hamas that drove out more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, both Muslim and Christian, taking their homes and livelihoods. Many of them wound up as penniless refugees in Gaza. Israel did that.

And it was not Hamas that murdered Count Folke Bernadotte, the United Nations special envoy who mediated a “truce” not to Israel’s liking. Israel did that, too. And it was not Hamas that pulled off a sneak attack in 1967 against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the U.S in attacking the USS Liberty, an unarmed reconnaissance ship, killing 34 American sailors. And it was not Hamas that drove nearly two million Palestinians into the Gaza with limited access to water, food and medical supplies. Israel did that.

Hamas did not bombard Gaza to smithereens in December 2008-09, and again in 2012, and again in 2014, destroying homes, sanitation plants, hospitals and infrastructure.

And it is not Hamas who is shooting into unarmed crowds of Israeli soldiers. Since March 30, when the people locked up in Gaza started demonstrating against their occupation and abuse, sixty Palestinians have been killed and over 2,700 wounded by Israeli fire. Not one Israeli soldier has received a so much as scratch in this so called “conflict.”

When I was a child, my mother asked, “Who broke the window?”  I answered, “Billy did.”  I threw a rock at his head and he ducked.  If that makes sense to you, then I guess you can say, Hamas is responsible for Gaza’s hardship.

Thomas Are
May 15, 2018

[i] Letters to the editor, Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, Sunday, May 13, 2018.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Narcissistic Nation

Much has been written lately by psychiatrist and mental health professionals about the “narcissistic mind-set.”  Defined as:[i]

            One – It is all about me.
            Two – Other people don’t matter because they are not me.
            Three – Regulations and laws are irrelevant because they restrict my being me.

Most of it has been applied to the actions of Donald Trump. And I certainly see the rationale for this concern. However, I wonder if there should not also be a concern for a “Narcissistic Nation,” namely Israel?

            One – It is all about Israel

                        From the bombing of the King David Hotel to massacre in Shebra and Shatilla refugee camps, to the air strikes on neighboring countries, US politicians, media, and the religious right, all give Israel a pass on atrocities. Even an attack on the USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors, avoids accountability. The American attitude seems to be, if it’s Israel, no questions allowed, no public debate. If it’s Israel, it is sanctioned, (blessed) in the sense of approved, not punished.

Two – Other people don’t count.

In keeping with the narcissistic mindset, other nations and people don’t count. Just think of Gaza. Two million people crowded into an “open-air prison,” deprived of clean water, food, medicine, electricity and meaningful work to do. But, to Israel, they are not Jews, so what’s the problem?  Even the non-Jewish Arabs of Israel are treated as second class citizens in their own country. They are not Jews.
            Three – No restrictions on Israel recognized.

                        It is phrased as Israel’s “right to defend itself.”  But in reality, it is a cover for Israel’s violence against its neighbors. It is not by mistake that Israel has never declared its borders, nor subjected itself to a constitution. The core of Israel’s society is its military might which does not even stand on its own, but is guaranteed and financed by the US.  Israel shouts, “The world is out to get us, because we are Jewish.”

I would argue that the world condemns Israel, precisely because it is NOT Jewish. Israel’s ancient prophets, from whom Jesus got his message and mission, had much to say about caring for the poor, protecting the weak, defending the oppressed, releasing the prisoner and forgiving debts. These are the polar opposites of the “narcissistic nation” now called Israel.

Thomas Are
April 22, 2018

[i] Dr. Decker, Trump’s Brain, an FBI Profile of Donald Trump. And especially, Bandy Lee, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 27 Psychiatrist and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.  (St. Martins Press, New York, 2017.)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Morals and Massacres

Israel claims to be the most moral nation on the globe with the most moral army.  I would settle for an “almost” moral nation but Israel is not even close.

I looked up “moral” in my dictionary:

Distinction between right and wrong, and the rule of right conduct.

I also looked up “massacre.”

The killing of a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty.

The history of Israel is much more identified with massacre than moral.:[i]

            1946. Zionists blew up the King David Hotel, killing 91 people.

1948. Zionists kill over 100 civilians in the village of Deir Yassin which frightened thousands of Palestinians to flee their own villages. The officer responsible for this massacre was Manachem Begin who was later rewarded by becoming Israel’s prime minister.

1948. More than 100 Palestinian men are rounded up in the City of Lydda and massacred.

1948. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the village of Al Dawayima, west of Hebron, killed in a barbarous manner.

1953. Israeli troops led by Ariel Sharon raided the village of Qibya in the West Bank killing 69  Palestinians, most of them women and children, in retaliation for a cross border raid that killed three Israelis. Sharon is called a hero.

1956. Israeli forces gun down farmers in Kfar Qasim returning from the fields who were unaware that Israel had ordered a curfew earlier that day. Forty-eight Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed including women and children.

1956. Israeli forces killed 275 Palestinians in Gaza..

1970. Israel killed 46 Egyptian children during a raid on a primary school in the village of Bahr el-Baqar, Egypt.

1982. The Sabra and Shatilla massacre of Palestinians in Beirut refugee camps while Israel Defense Forces controlled the area. Somewhere between several hundred to 3000 Palestinians are murdered under the control of Ariel Sharon, who was also rewarded by becoming Israel’s prime minister.

1996. The first Qana massacre too place when Israeli missiles struck a UN compound in Southern Lebanon in  a clash with Hezbollah killing over 100 civilians. Ten years later, in 
2006, another Qana massacre by Israeli missiles killed 36 civilians including 16 children.

2008-09. Israeli assault on Gaza killed 1400 Palestinians.

2012. Israel killed 160 Palestinians in Gaza. 2014. Israeli onslaught on Gaza killed upwards of 2200 Palestinians. This massacre is remembered for its “sniper killings” of unarmed people.

If you are like me and if you have read this far, you are sick of reading about the facts on the ground by the “most moral army on the globe.” That’s why it is hard, when reading today’s newspapers that Israel is simply defending itself when firing into unarmed Palestinians demonstrating at the border.

How much damage has been done to Israeli property? Zero. How many Israeli civilians threatened? Zero.  How many breaches in that precious security fence”? Zero.[ii] 

Don’t be fooled. Israeli violence has nothing to do with security. It is a basic lack of values that chooses massacre over morals and given Israel’s Zionist record, when forced to choose between morals and massacres, massacre will come out ahead every time.

Thomas Are
April 14, 2018

[i] This listing is gleaned from Mondoweiss, A Brief, Unhappy History of Israeli Massacres, April 1, 2018
[ii] Seven Things you need to Know about Israel’s latest Attack on Gaza.,  Mondoweiss, April 5, 2018.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What's New

I tried. I honestly to goodness really tried to quit. I was going to leave blogging to younger minds with sharper insights. But, I made a mistake. I kept reading
Like today, I read that Israel shot and killed fifteen Palestinians who were demonstrating against the siege on Gaza and wounded a thousand.  The only way that Israeli troops could have hit that many was to have randomly fired into an unarmed crowd.

According to today’s newspaper

Israeli troops opened fire from across the border, killing at least nine Palestinians and wounding 491orhers in the second mass border protest in eight days. The deaths brought to at least 31 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since last week.[i]

Among those shot down was Yasser Murtaja, a well-known 30 year-old journalist, wearing a flak jacket marked “Press” while holding his camera. The IDF does not target journalists, Israel announced. No investigation will be allowed.  Hamas has declared that in spite of the risks, it will continue its protest until Nakba Day, May 15th,. the day Israel was declared a state and pushed 700,000 Palestinians into refugee camps.

“So,” my neighbor asks, “what does Hamas want that is worth the risking of their lives?”
They want a lifting if the siege, access to clean drinking water, electricity more than a few hours a day and the right to live in freedom without being bombarded by Israel every year or two among other freedoms that allow human dignity. All of which Israel remains determined to never allow.

So, what’s new?  The fact that this clash has been reported in the mainstream US media for a week now, that’s new.  And worth recognizing.

Thomas Are
April 8, 2018

[i] Hundreds Attend Funeral of Journalist, By Fares Akman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunday, April 8, 2018. P. A-3.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hanging It Up

I believe all writing is a combination of remembering and research.  Unfortunately, in my previous blog, THE PAULINE CAPTIVITY,  my memory went haywire and I went way off track. I “quoted” Paul as saying things he never said. I pulled an image from the Book of Revelation which was written long years after Paul was dead.

So, I have decided that it is probably time to hang it up and leave blogging to younger and sharper minds. I remember saying once that 85 year old men don’t write books and if they do, they shouldn’t. That also applies to blogs.

I am grateful to those of you who have hung in there with me in trying to keep the oppression of the Palestinian people before us.  That injustice continues and is even getting worse under Trump’s so-called leadership. 

Hopefully I can find other ways to add a little weight for the cause of peace through justice.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Pauline Captivity

We don’t know much about the Apostle Paul, but what we do know it significant. The Bible says that he came from Tarsus. Tarsus! Tarsus was the home of Mithraism, one of the many so called “mystery religions” that were popular during the first century. It is significant that Mithras was worshipped by placing a bull on a rack and cutting its throat. Initiates would stand under the rack and wash themselves “in the blood of the bull.”

In the rites of the bull-sacrifice, a bull was slaughtered on a perforated platform through which the blood poured down to bathe the initiate standing in a pit beneath. Afterward the initiate was considered “born again.” Poorer people made do with a sheep in which the sheep was sacrificed, and were literally “washed in the blood of the lamb.”[i]

Most people reading Paul’s talking about one being “washed in the blood of the lamb” assume that he was referring to Jesus and not some mystery savior.

In fact, the ancients worshiped a “Son of God” who was considered God made flesh, whose mother was a virgin. He was born on December 25th, visited by shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding ceremony, rode into town on a donkey while people waved palm leaves, dies on Easter as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, rose on the third day and his followers celebrate his death and resurrection by a ritual meal of bread and wine.   But few people have ever heard of this god-man, His name was Osiris-Dionysus, one of the many mystery saviors of the first century.[ii]

Does that mean that I think Christianity was just another mystery religion? No, I do not, but I think Paul did. He writes nothing about the life and teachings of Jesus or his commitment to social justice. Paul himself declares that his interest in Jesus was limited to the shedding of his divine blood as a sacrifice. Nothing about the commitment to the poor and oppressed.

Paul substitutes the faith of Jesus, what he taught and did, for a belief in Jesus, that he was the second person of the trinity, the “only” begotten Son of God. That little slip has dominated the fundamentalist branch of the church to this day.  It has even influenced our translation of the Bible.  The King James version says:

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. (KJV, I John 5:7)

Sounds very certain that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity. On the other hand, the Revised Standard Version, based on much earlier manuscripts says nothing like that:

And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. (RSV. I John 5:7)     

And why is any of this important?  The basic issue revolves around one question; are we faithful to Christ (Christian) by believing things about him, or to be a Christian, must we strive to live by his teachings and example?

Thomas Are
December 28, 2017

[i] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?” (Harmony Books, New York,  1999) p. 53
[ii] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?” (Harmony Books, New York,  1999) p. 5.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Israel's Right to Defend Itself

Activist/author Anna Baltzer writes:

There is nothing defensive about denying Palestinians water.  There is nothing defensive about preventing people from having materials to build their homes.

Avreham Shalom, from Israel’s Shin Bet (secret service) acknowledged:

We must once and for all admit there is another side…that it is suffering, and that we are behaving disgracefully - this entire behavior is the results of the occupation.[i]

Back in 1937, David Ben-Gurion stated the Zionist agenda. “We must expel the Arabs and take their places. In 1938, he stated, “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves.”  As recently as 1998, Ariel Sharon stated: “There is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”[ii]

And Philip Giraldi points out:

Over the past 50 years, an estimated 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel at one time or another, fully 40 percent of the adult male population.[iii]

These are not defensive actions. Expelling 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 might be called ethnic cleansing, but it could hardly be considered defensive. The robber who breaks into his neighbor’s house is not defending. Withholding medical supplies to an injured neighbor is not defending. Denying him, and his children, clean water, cutting off electricity and aggressively destroying homes, schools and hospitals is not defending.

Trump’s sending Jered Kushner to Israel to work out a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is a joke because Israel does not want peace. It wants freedom to steal more land and water until Israel has it all. If it takes demolishing homes, assassinating Palestinian leaders, road blocks and building an apartheid wall, and worst of all, bombing the unarmed people of Gaza. They simply declare it an act of self-defense and there is nothing in Israel’s moral code to object.

Even Israel’s army, known for its aggression and cruelty is called Israel’s Defense Force.

Yet, with all this clearly in Israel’s repertory, our US media and politicians speak of nothing but “Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Thomas Are
November 27,2017

[i] Penny Rosenwasser, Hope and Practice, Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite our Fears, (June Jordan Literary Estate Trust, 2013) p.171.
[ii] Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June, 2017, p.7.
iii Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June, 2017, p.12.