Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Israel's Greatest Fear

Already you know that I am in over my head. Who could possibly name Israel’s greatest fear? There are just too many from which to choose. However, somewhere in the list would be Israel’s fear of education. I don’t know what Israel fears most.

AN EDUCATED PALESTINIAN?

Why else would Israel go to such lengths to destroy Palestinian schools:

The night before the new school year started, Israeli bulldozers arrived on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem to demolish several caravans recently erected as a school for some 100 students… In the meantime, children study in a tent, without water or bathrooms.[1]

In addition to destroying school buildings, Israel is determined to control the curriculum:

Israel puts financial pressure on Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem in an effort to make them switch over to an Israeli-controlled curriculum, one that teaches that Al-Aqsa is not their holy place, that the Palestinian flag is not their flag, that their land belongs to the settlers and that Ariel Sharon is a hero.[2]

Yet, perhaps more frightening to Israel than an educated Palestinian is an

AN EDUCATED ISRAELI.

Just a little investigation will reveal that Palestine was not a land without a people, that Palestinians did not voluntarily leave their homes in 1948, that Israel chose the war of 1967, that the IDF, Israel Defense Force, is not the most moral army on the globe and that Israel is not a democracy. And most of all, that Zionism is a violation of Judaism.  

However, probably, most frightening to Israel is an

AN EDUCATED AMERICAN.

I have in mind Brant Rosen, who serves a congregation in Evanston, Il. and is fearless in speaking out against Israel from his Jewish heart:

My primary religious motivation comes from my inherited Jewish tradition, in which God commands me to stand with the oppressed and to call out the oppressor…I simply don’t agree with the “official” Jewish community position that Israel’s actions are justified acts of self-defense. Rosen speaks not only as a Jew, but as an American:

I am also the citizen of a nation whose government has essentially given Israel a blank check to take numerous measures that I believe are counter to the cause of peace, including the expropriation of Palestinian lands, destruction of homes, injustice in military courts and widespread building of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, to name a few.[3]

From every angle, education is Israel’s enemy and it’s an enemy that will never be defeated. You just cannot wall out intelligence.

Thomas Are
September 12, 2017




[1] RT News, So sad our school is destroyed: Israel razes EU-funded schools for Palestinian Children. Aug 29, 2017.
[2] Al Jazeera English, How Israel is turning Palestinians into Zionists, August 31, 2017.
[3] Brant Rosen, Wrestling in the Daylight, (Just Word Books, 2012) p. 42.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Normal Society

It all sounded so polite and gracious, when the Zionists were seeking recognition and power. Yitzak Epstein, Jewish activist spelled out how Jews moving into Palestine would improve the lives everyone, including Arab farmers:

The residents will benefit from new scientific farming methods, better health care and education, and will recognize “us as their benefactors and comforters”.

Haim Kalvarisky, expounding on the Balfour Declaration addressed the Arab resistance to Zionist intrusion into their land by declaring:

Palestine constitutes the homeland of all its residents, Jews, Muslims and Christians are citizens on equal footing. Its government would not discriminate against anyone, its administration will be open to all, its schools will promote bilingual education and social services will be provided by the state with no distinction between people on the basis of religious origins.

Bret Shalom, organized in 1925, based on “absolute political equality,” declared:

Although Palestine was the only place where Jews could become a nation-state, they have to operate together and in equality with the Arabs.[i]

Then came Israel with power.

Arnon Soffer, professor at Haifa University, just looking at Gaza, offered a much less optimistic prognosis:

When 2.5 million people live in a closed off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will be even bigger animals than they are today. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.

He goes on to express concern:

If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.[ii]

His concern was right on target. Of all the things that can be said of Israel today, being a “normal society” is not one of them.  

Thomas Are
September 1, 2017




[i] These quotes are taken from Chapter One of Ran Greenstein’s book, Zionism and Its Discontents, (Pluto Press, 2014)  p. 3-18.
[ii] The Gaza Massacre is the Price of a “Jewish State.” , Electronic Intifada, July 25, 2014.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Racism - Unjust, Ungodly and Ignorant

Whether our president should have been stronger in condemning the racism displayed by hate groups this week in Charlottesville, it is clearly condemned by the media, politicians and religious groups all across America. And rightly so. Racism is unjust, ungodly and totally based on ignorance. Racism is rejected, even in the deep south, by all people of good will. We will not condone it and we teach our children to condemn it as well. Unless…

Unless it is practiced by Israel.

In Israel, racism is protected by law. None of its shameful policies is denied or hidden under the rug. Jews are declared to be superior human beings, and are given preferential treatment in commerce, education and health care.  Most of all, Jews are treated with dignity.

On the other hand, those who are not Jews are declared a “demographic threat.”  In spite of 750,000 Palestinians driven by force from their homes in 1948, and millions more displaced in 1967, in Israel’s mind, there are still too many.  How can Israel be a Jewish State with Palestinians around to remind it of how it got to be such.  Thus, Palestinians in Israel are confined to assigned areas. Those in the West Bank are hidden out of sight by an apartheid wall, and those in Gaza are imprisoned in the world’s largest open air prison.

Marc Ellis, Jewish scholar and activist for justice, reflecting on the riots in Charlottesville over the monument to Robert E. Lee,  writes:

I think of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel as among other things, a monument. At Yad Vashem, the dark chapter of Jewish life is highlighted, as it should be. But part of that chapter of Jewish life after the Holocaust, the Nakba, is omitted.[1]

Why does the US media and government declare racism evil in Charlottesville and support it in Israel?  If there is a difference in Steve Bannon and Benjamin Netanyahu, I can’t see it.

Israel, as a Jewish state is unjust, ungodly and based on ignorance.

 Thomas Are
August 18, 2017




[1] Marc H. Ellis, On Charlottesville and Jewish Memory, Mondoweiss, August 16, 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Smothering Palestine

In a quick passing sentence in the Introduction to his chapter, A Country in Darkness, Vijay Prashad wrote:

Palestine struggles alone. Israel turns, hand on the pillow, pushing down and says, “Look, Palestine is threatening us, endangering our lives. Others look away, giving Israel license to push harder.[i]

That image of smothering Palestine caught my imagination. I picture some poor victim being pushed to the floor, thrashing about, feet and hands clawing in the air doing any and everything in his power to push away the pillow so he can breathe.

Now, make the pillow invisible and all the thrashing around looks unreasonable and out of control. Is that not exactly what our US media and politicians have done. They freely talk about the unreasonable Palestinians who simply want to deny Israel’s right to exist.  Make the pillow invisible and every reaction from rocks to rockets looks like the acts of mad men. Nobody is in control. Nobody wants peace. 

In reality:

In January 2004, Sheikh Yassin said he was willing to end armed resistance against Israel if a Palestinian state was created in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi also said that Palestinians would declare long hudna in exchange for independence.

On March 22, Israel assassinated Sheikh Yassin, On April 17, they killed al-Rantissi.[ii]  To this day, most of Palestine’s leaders have either been killed or are sitting in Israeli prisons.  But if Palestine does not resist, it will totally suffocate under the Israeli pillow. And its reaction to Israel’s theft of its land and water,  the continued enlargement of Israel’s apartheid wall, road blocks, check points, illegal imprisonment of Palestinians, including children, the cutting off of electricity, and regular bombardment of Gaza will go unnoticed.

And as long as the good citizens of the US refuse to see the pillow and allow Israel to dictate our conscience, little will change. The pain of the pillow will press down harder and harder.

Thomas Are
August 12, 2017

 [i] Vijay Prashad, Letters to Palestine, (Verso Books, NYC, 2015) p.9.
[ii] Vijay Prashad, Letters to Palestine, (Verso Books, NYC, 2015) p.8

Friday, August 4, 2017

Put the Blame on God

What a great idea. Don’t blame Israel for its cruelty to the Palestinians, blame God.

In 1937, David Ben-Gurion waved a copy of the Bible at the members of the Royal Peel Commission, shouting, “This is our land registry proof, our right to Palestine does not come from the Mandate Charter, the Bible is our Mandate Charter.”[1]

That leaves us with the question;  Whose Bible? Well, it was the Jewish Bible in which the Jewish God, spoke in a language understood only by Jews that declared enormous favor to the Jews above all their fellow human beings. It does cause one to wonder.

Yet, according to a 2013 Pew Research poll:
           
Forty-four percent of the U.S. general public replied “yes” to the question, “Was Israel given to the Jewish people by God?”[2]

When you consider that about one in five Americans claim to not even believe in God, these numbers are quite amazing. So, with American support and approval, Israel builds settlements, puts those who resist the occupation, including children, in prison, restricts travel, erects road blocks, cuts off electricity and constructs a separation wall blocking farmers from their fields, doctors from their hospitals and children from their schools... all in the name of God.

And that is just in the West Bank. Gaza fares even worse. Because “God wants Israel to have all that land purged of Palestinians”, Gaza has been barricaded from the rest of the world, mercilessly bombarded time and time again.  The U.N. has warned that because of the lack of food, water and medical care, Gaza will be uninhabitable in about three more years. According to Israel, what does the U.N. have to do with anything? God wants it this way. 

However, to come to this conclusion, Israel has to distort its own biblical claims by omitting the “conditions” upon which such a divine donation was made. Such as, the Jews, “shall be just and compassionate, and they shall not oppress the orphan, widow, alien and the poor. (Zechariah 7:9-11). At best, Israel’s claim of God’s endorsement is based on half-truths and over simplification. Again, Washington Report points out:

In order to gain membership in the United Nations, Israel promised that it would allow refugees it created in 1948 to return to their homes. Instead it demolished more than 400 Palestinian villages and killed those who attempted to return.

To this day, Israel has never declared its borders nor established a constitution. Its “democracy, for Jews only” is declared through the barrel of a gun, and it’s all done for God. How convenient.

Thomas Are
August 4, 2017



[1] Tom Srgev, One Palestine,  Complete, London: Abacus, 2001, p.401. Cited in Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths About Istrael, (Verso, 2017) p.40.
[2] God’s Expired Promise, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,  August/September 2017. p. 7.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Remember Gaza

Lest we forget: Geneva Convention Article 56:

The occupying power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory… Medical personal of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.

Article 33, adds:

The right to health, like all human rights, imposes three types or levels of obligation on States parties: the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill…

Noble obligations to anyone with respect for human need and suffering.  Total gibberish to Israel. Almost like clockwork, Israel bombs into oblivion the hospitals, clinics, and ambulances of Gaza. Rather than health and care, Alice Rothchild, American Jewish Doctor reports of her visit to Palestine that:

Children are routinely tortured by their interrogators… threats of sexual abuse or death; they are put into solitary confinement, have fluorescent lights on twenty-four hours per day, are placed in stress positions, and beaten.[1]

Yet, a kid trying to assist a friend injured in a peaceful demonstration will be charged with assisting a terrorist. Throw a stone at an Israeli jeep and he is accused of attempted murder. Rothchild calls it the “land of official insanity.”[2] Today, there are thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons suffering isolation. Many are tortured. An average of two to three are killed by IDF or settlers every week.

Gaza has been under Israeli control for half a century; everything that goes in and everything that gets out. After three “Gaza wars,” 2008-9, 2012, and 2014, Gaza is a cesspool; no parks or green space, very little drinkable water or sanitation facilities, electricity only a few hours a day and no where to hide when attacked.

I worry about Gaza.  But I also worry about the kind of people we have become. From time to time, especially when one of Israel bombardment campaigns against Gaza hits the news for a short time, we might even think “how sad” after which we seem willing to push it back under the rug with a “those terrorists.” Then it’s back to life as usual. Where are Jewish values and American sense of liberty and justice for all?

Thomas Are
July 25, 2017




[1] Alice Rothchild, Condition Critical, Life and Death in Israel/Palestine, (Just Word Books, 2016) p.126.
[2] Alice Rothchild, Condition Critical, Life and Death in Israel/Palestine, (Just Word Books, 2016) p.5.

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