Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't Do Both at the Same Time

Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff under Ronald Reagan, wrote about the consequences of Jewish power over the U.S. policy towards Israel:

I have never seen a president - I don’t care who he is – stand up to the Israelis. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. If the American people understood what a grip those people have on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don’t have any idea what goes on.[1]

Screenwriter and film director, Oliver Stone appearing on the Stephen Colbert Late Show said, “Israel interfered in the U.S. election more than Russia. Why don’t you ask me about that?” That was too rich for the American audience. CBS deleted it. Israel cannot be disparaged on national television.

But, that is the world of politics which I seldom understand.  My question is about the responsibility of the church. The Christian community in Palestine has cried for the church to be their voice and to take up their cause for 70 years. Yet, the pulpits across America have been mostly muted. Marc Ellis, years ago, wrote about the “ecumenical deal” in which the church agreed to never question the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel in exchange for peaceful relationships with the Jewish community.

So, now, after years of failed “peace talks,” hundreds of check points, major bombardments on Gaza and a settler population of a half million, I find myself wanting to boycott the church of which I have been a part my entire life. I want to find other places for my money and support.

But, the church does so much good, I am told. And that is true. But, if to “do good,” means to sweep decades of gross injustice under the rug, I am ready to separate myself from the church and jump out of its wagon.  Let me be clear, I am not being pushed, I am choosing to jump.

If all the parts of my body work just like they should and just one organ, say, my liver, does not do its thing, I am not 99% healthy, I am 100% sick.  In the same way, if all the missions of the church function just as planned, but it has nothing to say about the injustice done to the Palestinians, supported and financed by our government, and the church remains mostly silent, the church is not almost healthy, it is totally sick.

Do I think my criticism of the church will cause it to speak up and do right.?  Of course not. But even a casual reading of the Old Testament prophets and almost any part of the Gospels should.

The church can continue to comfort its members or it can take a stand against injustice, but I don’t know how it can do both at the same time.

Thomas Are
July 12, 2017



[1] These quote from Thomas Moorer and Olive Stone are confirmed by Philip Giraldi, Israel’s Dirty Little Secret, How it drives US policy exploiting a spineless Congress and White House.,  June 20, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Money Talks

Haaretz, perhaps the leading newspaper in Israel, reported that on a tour of  Hebron in the West Bank, American rabbis were shocked by what they saw. Yet, only five of them allowed reporters to use their names:

Most of them are unwilling to have their names or photos published. Their congregations back home might not understand their decision to participate in a tour that offers a different narrative about the conflict – one that puts a human face on the other side and doesn’t paint Israel in the usual rosy colors.[1]

I understand the squeeze. In the early 1990s, I preached against the wisdom of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Members of my congregation warned me that unless I got on board and “supported our troops,” large financial commitments to the church would be in jeopardy.  I was reminded of our commitment to building a medical facility in Ghana and the needs of hundreds of homeless men and families our church was seeking to address.  It was a tight squeeze and I felt it. However, I could not abandon the justice aspect of the gospel to which I was committed to preach.  Did it cost me my job? I would not say so, but it certainly contributed to my decision to seek a more receptive ministry elsewhere.

I feel for the rabbis who would surely loose big donors if they criticize Israel. It is a tight squeeze. At the same time, what do they, or I, have left if we sacrifice our integrity?  Most of those who would criticize them have never been to Israel, never seen the horror of the occupation, or the pain of their wall, the hunger of children or even the humiliation caused by hundreds of check points.

“Money talks,” they say. A prime example was Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to our congress in 2015.  Both he and they were well aware that in the balcony sat Sheldon Adelson, multi-billionaire who had contributed $150,000,000 to the GOP and its friends during the 2012 election cycle. Thus, it was not enough for him to hear the applause of those members of congress, they stood up, over and over, 26 ovations, to be sure that Adelson could see them standing. 

No doubt, money talks, but money has no intelligence, conscience or morals… just power.

Thomas Are
July 9, 2017




[1] US Rabbis Touring Occupation are Afraid to be Identified Lest Their Congregations Find Out. Mondoweiss.net, 7/7/2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For the Bible Tells Me So

At that time, the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.”  (Gen. 12: 7)

How convenient. A Jewish God, spoke in some language understood by Abram, without witnesses, by the way, declaring that his children would be God’s chosen and as proof, God had in mind to give Israel, who did not yet exist, the land of another people.[1]

There are several problems with this narrative.  

In the first place, “There is no empirical evidence that any God even exist. In fact, there are no peer-review scientific articles that take God’s existence seriously,”[2] much less a God who spoke of a state called Israel three thousand years into the future.

Zionists love to quote Genesis 12:

And God said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you, I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves. (Gen. 12:1-3)

When they quote this, they hope that you will not remember that when this was written, Abram had no children. There was no person or nation named Israel.  The man Israel was born two generations in the future as one of the twelve grandsons of Abram.   He certainly was not a state. Yet, 3000 years later Jewish survivors of Hitler’s holocaust moved to Palestine saying, “That’s us.” All this is a long way from God’s promising the land of Palestine as theirs forever.

Israel’s founders claimed to be atheists. Yet, they claimed the land of Palestine to be theirs because a “God” they didn’t believe in gave it to them.  

The bottom line is this: The land of Palestine is in the hands of Israel because of military might and terrorism, not some kind of divine donation.

For those who need a book, or holy writ; The Old Testament prophets and the entire New Testament demand peace, not war. There are no exceptions. You cannot find one verse which says, in this case or that, it will be OK to take another person’s life or land.

Thomas Are
June 28, 2017




[1] It is worth noting that the first seed of Abraham was Ishmael, not Isaac.
[2] Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow, (Harvill Secker, London, 2015) p. 115.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Biggest Myth

Trying to identify the biggest myth is a little like trying to decide which size circle is the most round. But you can’t identify Israel without myths.

Among the list is: A land without a people for a people without a land. Neither side of that is true.  More Jews were living outside Israel, with success and respect, than have ever lived in Israel, before or after the establishment of the state.[1]  Nor was Palestine a land without people. In fact, Israel brags about ethnically cleansing over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes during the first year of establishing their state of Israel.  Without doubt, A land without a people for a people without a land was a big one. But, probably the most significant myth of our day is the claim that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

When I think of a democracy, warm feelings come to mind of a nation seeking the best education, health care and well-being of all its citizens. That has certainly been my experience. However, this is not true in Israel and it is even less true for those trapped in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

When I think of a democracy I think of a land where every man or woman has the right to vote, where anyone is free to live in any community, buy any home they can afford, to send their children to a school of their choice, to drive on the public highways, use the public library and be cared for in a hospital in case of an emergency.

When I think of a democracy, I do not think of Israel where none of these freedoms are respected. In Israel, half of the people living under its military rule cannot vote,

I can imagine two major parties in Israel’s democracy; The Zionist, the party in power, and the Palestinian “party”. However, in Israel’s democracy, only one of these is privileged. The other, well:

The (privileged) regime allows even the lowest-ranking soldier in the IDF to rule, and ruin their lives. They are helpless if such a soldier, or his unit commander, decides to demolish their homes, or hold them for hours at a checkpoint, or incarcerate them without trial. There is nothing they can do.[2]

Some would say that a democracy has a responsibility to care for the weakest and most needy among them.  Ilan Pappe says, “the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ behaves as a dictatorship of the worst kind.”[3]

Of course, Israel says that all these undemocratic measures are temporary. But, it has been temporary for fifty years, and more. In the meantime, this only democracy in the Middle East continues to brutalize the people under its control, including children, confining them to ghettoes, killing and torturing them in Israeli jails, confiscating their land and stealing their water.

Some democracy!

Thomas Are
June 20, 2017



[1] As of July 2014, 6,451,000 Jews live in Israel while 7,282,000 live in the U.S.
[2] Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths about Israel,  (Published by Verso, 2017) p. 86
[3] Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths about Israel,  (Published by Verso, 2017) p. 91.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fiftieth Anniversary

I had lunch with a man “greatly concerned” about the Israel/Palestinian situation. Yet, he said that he had never heard of the USS Liberty.  I spoke to a church group and asked if anyone there had heard of the Liberty and only a very few raised their hands.  I don’t think Americans can understand our submissive relationship with Israel without knowing the story of the USS Liberty.  We owe it to the survivors of the Liberty as well as the people of Palestine to know their story.[1]

It was a warm, clear midsummer’s day, exactly fifty years ago on this day, June 6, the sky was blue and the waters calm, as the USS Liberty performed its responsibility on a reconnaissance cruise in the international waters of the Mediterranean. Captain McGonegle had every reason to relax and feel safe. Israeli planes circled his ship and Israel was our special friend and ally. A very large U.S. flag waved in the wind. Then suddenly, without warning, these friendly jets turned on the Liberty firing bullets and dropping bombs.  Torpedo boats fired rockets blowing a forty-foot hole into its side at the water line. When the captain ordered abandon ship, Israel strafed our sailors in their life boats. Everything possible was done to sink the Liberty. Why? To stop messages from reaching the world that Israel was preparing to invade Syria and occupy the Golan Heights.

The first attack deliberately knocked out its antennas to prevent the Liberty from sending an SOS. Sailors, dodging bullets, rigged a homemade shortwave and called for help. “Liberty under attack, on fire and taking water.”  When that word reached Washington, rather than immediately sending help from our aircraft carriers nearby, Lyndon Johnson ordered that no rescue effort be launched.  It was 16 hours before any assistance arrived. In the meantime, the ship’s one doctor ran out of drugs, pain killers and bandages. One hundred-seventy-one sailors were injured. Thirty-four had died.

On orders from the president, the Liberty docked in Malta. Every sailor was ordered to not speak to anyone about what had happened. To this day, there has been no official investigation.

What happened to the Liberty was tragic. However, the bigger tragedy is that Israel learned that it could do anything and there would be no reaction from the US. That is true to this day. And why? Because of the lobby and Israel’s control on our political leaders. We are, in fact,  according to Paul Craig Roberts, Israel’s puppet.  Now, that’s a tragedy.

Thomas Are
June 6, 2017


[1] I urge you to Google, Howard Films, LOSS OF LIBERTY. It’s a history that we should know.   To learn more, Read the book, Assault on the Liberty, By James Ennes, the officer on deck during the attack.  The latest book on this that I have read is Attack on the Liberty, By James Scott, the son of one of the officers on the Liberty.  Again, this is a history that we should know if we are to understand how the US defers to Israel, time and time again.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Kind of People

What kind of people would enjoy a sumptuous meal in front of a starving child and simply say, “Go away kid, you bother me.”?  None that I know.  What kind of people would deliberately withhold food and destroy the means of growing food in the context of abundance surrounded by children reaching out for crumbs from the table and simply say, “I don’t care?”  I don’t personally know anyone so calloused because I don’t personally know any Israeli Zionists.  

Next month, Israel will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of occupying Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.  Is that something of which to be proud?

Since the Six Day War Israel has:

            ---Demolished over 48,000 homes in the West Bank and Gaza;
            ---Confiscated over 586,000 acres of Palestinian land the West Bank;
            ---Created 300,000 Palestinian refugees;
            ---Colonized the West Bank with over 600,000 Jewish settlers;
            ---Enacted over 50 laws that discriminate against Israel’s Arab minority, and
---Established an apartheid legal system with civil courts for Jewish settlers and separate    military courts for 4.5 million Palestinians, including indefinite detention without trial and a    conviction rate of over 99%.[1]

Why do we Americans, who years ago quit believing in a “superior race,” continue to support and fund a nation which brags about being a nation for a superior race? What has happened to the voice of those who believe there will be peace for all only when there is justice for all?  As long as America continues to insist that the Palestinians are all terrorists and demand that our friends call them terrorists who are just out to kill Jews, there will be little hope for peace there or living with a clear conscience here.  And Israel will continue to kill, imprison, torture and steal land and water from the Palestinian nation. Over 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested since the 1967 war Israel celebrates this week.[2]

And, what kind of people would look the other way in the presence of such injustice.  Well, my fellow Americans, perhaps we all should look in the mirror.


Thomas Are
May 30, 2017




[1] Fifty Years on…A Call for Liberty and Justice for All,  mailchi.mp, 50 Years of Illegal Occupation. May 26, 2017
[2] Mondoweiss, Letter to President Donald Trump from Families of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails, May 24, 2017.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Friends

When I thought I had heard it all, I was jolted to read that there were nearly 700 “Friends of…” organizations operating in the United States raising billions of dollars every year for Israel.[1].  Their influence is not limited to fund raising. They bribe politicians, intimidate the media and threaten academia.  They  exaggerate  the pain of Palestinian resistance and insist that Israel is the innocent victim. No matter what happens, the Palestinians are to blame.

One such organization calling itself  “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces”  states that their job is to look after the (Israeli Defense Forces) IDF:

True to that motto, the money this ‘charity’ raises benefits exclusively the soldiers of a foreign country that has not fought a war longer than 33 days in 40 years and whose primary duties have been to protect Israel’s illegal settlements, demolish Palestinian homes, make the lives of ordinary Palestinians miserable, and suppress Palestinian resistance to its ongoing ethnic cleansing by whatever means necessary.[2]

The irony of this friendship is that it actually does more harm than good. The old AA adage, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” makes my point.  By any measure, Israel is drunk with its own arrogance, power and sense of importance. Its future as a democratic, Jewish only state is little more than an impossible dream in desperate need of an honest friend to lift up the sober truth. The world will accept brutality and look the other way in face of injustice, but not genocide.

On the other side of the coin. In spite of what Golda Meir announced, the Palestinians exist and they are growing. They also have friends. Millions of friends. I know because I am one of them.

Thomas Are
May 11, 2017




[1] Grant F. Smith,  Big Israel, How Israel’s Lobby Moves America. (Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. 2016) p. 27.
[2] Grant F. Smith,  Big Israel, How Israel’s Lobby Moves America. (Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. 2016) p. 67.