Thursday, December 31, 2015

Clinton for President

I have a suggestion. Let's elect Hillary Clinton President...

                                                                                                ...of Israel!

She obviously loves Israel. Annie Robbins, writes:

            Yesterday Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Washington that included more pandering to Israel             than any speech I've heard from any American politician. It was endless. Israel is a brave                     democracy, a light unto the nations, a miracle, its “prowess in war” is “inspiring,” and we                   must take the US-Israel relationship to the next level.”[i]

I can't imagine what “a next level” would look like.

In her speech, she never mentioned the “occupation.” It just does not exist and settlements don't matter.  She would be great as President of Israel.  Other than not knowing the difference between Hamas and ISIS, she is highly qualified and she would love it.  She loves policies in Israel that she claims to hate in America. For instance, she ridicules Donald Trump's wanting to put a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S., while such is standard practice in Israel.  I have a friend who was denied entrance into Israel last year simply because he was not Jewish and had a camera. If it is wrong, racist and xenophobic to do so here, why is it acceptable in Israel?  She condemns Donald Trump's proposal for a wall on our border with Mexico and praises every wall Israel has ever built on its own land, on borders and on land belonging to others, especially those walls that seal out Palestinian and seals in their water.

Benjamin Netanyahu would welcome her as his president. They have been swooning over each other for years. She supports everything he does even when it puts American security in jeopardy.  Iran, she says, not Israel, but Iran, is guilty of bad behavior.  She seldom spells out just what Iran does to be so bad, other than supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, both of whom exist to protect its citizens from Israel's aggression.

She brags that, as Secretary of State, she undermined the Goldstone Report, the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza bombardment of Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009:

            The Goldstone Report accused Israel of numerous war crimes and violations of international             humanitarian law. Israel committed “a grave breach” of the Fourth Geneva Convention in its             intentional targeting of civilians... It also documented the Israeli military's use of chemical             weapons like white phosphorus on civilian areas, including hospitals.

            Clinton emails reveal that the United Nations Human Rights Council, under heavy pressure,             postponed consideration of the Goldstone Report from October 2 until March 2010... An                     email from Harold Koh, Legal adviser to the Department of State demonstrates that the U.S.               State Department self-consciously and successfully obstructed endorsement of the Goldstone               Report by the UNHRC.[ii]

 She looks at Israel with total tunnel vision. She sees nothing in the summer of 2014 as Israel again attacks Gaza with 6000 airstrikes in 51 days, killing 2400 people including over 500 children. Her Israeli heroes flatten homes, destroy power and sewage plants and bombs U.N. shelters and all she has to say is that the people of Gaza brought it on themselves. No other nation on the globe gets such a pass.  A Palestinian kid throws a rock and spends years in prison while Israeli settlers who firebomb homes and kill innocent people continue to roam around free. Israel builds walls, checkpoints, settlements and Jewish only roads and all she can say is that Israel wants peace.  Of course, the fact that her political campaign is bankrolled by a Zionist billionaire has no influence on her political decisions. The fact that Israel's occupation of West Bank, Golan Heights and Jerusalem has been declared illegal under international law for years, well, she chooses to ignore that, too.

Hillary Clinton, in younger years fought for civil rights, against the war in Vietnam and specialized in children's rights. Then she decided to run for the senate in the heavily Jewish populated State of New York. Suddenly, it no longer mattered to her that the Israel she supported committed state terrorism, persecuted an entire people, stole its land and water, killed its people, the victims became the “terrorist.” 

As someone said, “Israel gets to use violence. Palestinians don't.”  That's her rule. Israel simply defends itself.”

If Israel is looking for a president who wears blinders and is comfortable with half-truths, then they could not find a better candidate than Hillary Clinton. Of course, no one expects her to be elected president of Israel. In fact, she may well wind up being president of the United States.  I just want us to be aware of her sell out to militant Zionism, its racism and all the pain she excuses on their behalf.

Thomas Are
December 31, 2015

[i]Gideon Levy, Hillary Clinton Is No Friend of Israel. Mondoweiss, August 11, 2015
[ii]Jared Flanery, Deferring Justice: Clinton emails show how State Dept. undermined U.N. Action on Israeli War Crimes. November 19, 2015.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Israeli Boycotts

Recently, I have been thinking about my Christian friend, Na’im, who lives in Jerusalem. It is his home. He was born there and has never lived any where else.  He is a citizen of Israel, but not a “national.”  This is hard for me to understand having grown up in America where every citizen belongs to the nation. Not so in Israel. Only Jews belong to the nation.  Citizen Na’im lives every day under separate laws and privileges.

What if I believed the political discharge of every presidential candidate about how wonderful Israel is and its being the “only democracy in the Middle East,” and decided to move there to be close to my friend?  After all, there is enough violence, corruption, racism and poverty in my daily newspaper to cause one to ask if there a better place or is the whole world coming apart?” Of course, I would never move to Israel, but it does raise an interesting question. What would my life be like in democratic Israel?

In the first place, I would soon learn that no where in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel will I find the word democracy.  The founders carefully did not call Israel the Republic of Israel. The idea of a republic carried too much responsibility. So, until this day, Israel has never declared itself to be a democracy, not even in its Constitution. In fact, Israel has no Constitution.  

The next thing I would learn is that I could never, ever become a full citizen of that state. Israel chooses to be a Jewish nation for its Jewish citizens.  It boycotts those who are not Jews.  If I tried to buy a home I would run into a local culture that is actually proud of its racism. I would be told in clear terms that I “did not fit the cultural fabric of their community.”  In fact, there is nothing subtle about the discrimination. I would be told right up front, “We don’t sell to non-Jews.”  Israel not only boycotts individuals, Israel boycotts non-Jewish towns and villages by not providing community services such as equal education opportunities, garbage pickup, health care and public safety. 

If I tried to enter the labor market, I would find newspapers advertising jobs for Jews only. Non-Jews need not apply.  When I wanted to take my grandchildren for a swim, I would find the public pools and parks closed to me.   

I would never be allowed to live in a settlement, even though my U.S. tax dollars paid for their construction, nor would I be safe living near one.  Settlers are into burning. They burn trees, cars, churches and schools. Sometimes, they even set fire to people with impunity.

And where did I get this image of life for a non-Jew in Israel? From David Sheen, a journalist, writer and filmmaker originally from Toronto, Canada, now living in Dimona, Israel, a Jewish citizen of Israel, who holds a greater respect for the ethical dimension of his faith than for the psychotic State of Israel.

I would learn that by law, 93 percent of the land in Israel is reserved for Jews only and bans non-Jews from leasing it. Another law ensures that if an Israeli citizen marries a Palestinian who is not an Israeli citizen they will not be allowed to live together. If I enrolled my child in a school that teaches the real history of 1948, the ministry of finance will withhold funds from my school.[1]   In Israel, no matter what I witnessed or believed, I would learn that I am not free to criticize Israel.

Our politicians “love” to talk about Israel and they see it as they choose it to be.  But if they lived there, even for a short time, they might take a second look. They might even be able to acknowledge that Palestine is occupied and that Gaza is being massacred.  But, let’s not expect too much.  After all, it’s an election year.  

Thomas Are
November 17, 2015

[1] See Donald Wagner and Walter Davis, Zionism, and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land.  (Pickwick Publications 2014) p.48

Saturday, November 7, 2015


I had two nightmares last night.

In the first, I was watching a boxing match between a “defender” and a “terrorist”.  The defender was wearing brass knuckles, carried a club, wore a helmet and danced freely around the ring. On the other side, the terrorist had only one arm, was forced to stay within a six foot circle, had no head protection, and was about a tenth the size of the defender.  To top it off, the referee was the defender’s Uncle Sam.

My second nightmare was when I woke up and realized that it was not a dream.  It is what is commonly referred to in the U.S. as the “Peace Process” between Israel and Palestine.  Our politicians and news pundits keep saying over and over again, “We must get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiation table. They must work out a peace plan between the two of them.”

Such a dream is a nightmare.  

But, it is real life to about 4 million Palestinians living in some of the worst conditions anywhere on the planet.  It is watching helpless as your land is stolen from you to build Jewish settlements connected by Jewish only roads. It is struggling to find water. It is  having the road on which you live blocked by walls and barriers and check points controlled by a power determined to make your life so miserable that you will leave or die.

A YWCA of Palestine Action Alert reports:

Four Palestinians, ages 13-19 have been executed in less than 32 hours. Over 500 have been injured just since Saturday, October 3rd. More than forty have been shot with live ammunition while another 150 or more shot with rubber bullets. Fourteen ambulances have been attacked. It is for all these reasons that the Red Crescent has declared a “state of Emergency.” We call it the Endless State of Emergency.

Writing for the Alert, Marc Ellis  continues:

Many of those killed were innocent of the alleged crimes they were said to have committed. They were children coming home from school like 13 year old Abed Al-Raham Obeidallah who was shot in the Aida Refugee Camp or Hadeel Al-Hashlamon, an 18 year old young woman trying to cross the Hebron checkpoint. She was shot 10 times and left to bleed out. Later her ambulance was met by her father, the doctor on duty on the eve of the Jewish Holiday, the Atonement or what Jews call Yom Kippur who had to pronounce the death of his own daughter. In one case one of the alleged “terrorists”, Fadi Alloun, 19 years old, was going home and was gunned down by the police in Jerusalem when he approached them for help against an angry mob of settlers calling, “Death to Arabs” in Jerusalem.[1]

Perhaps the worse part of the nightmare is not the massacres and bombardments that rain down every few years. The worst of it is having your name smeared as a terrorist, deserving to be punished, while those who harass you are lifted up as moral heroes.

So, get back in the ring, the U.S. says to the Palestinians, as it throws its full weight and support behind Israel. It is the only hope you have of fulfilling your dream of being a respected and prosperous people.   But to the Palestinian, it is no longer a dream. It is not even a nightmare. It is the only life they are allowed to live.

Thomas Are
November 7, 2015

[1] Marc Ellis, Endless State of Emergency – YWCA of Palestine Action Alert,  Global Ministries.Org. October 8, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

But, It's the "Truth"

How can you turn a true story into a lie? It’s simple. The New York Times,  CNN and Fox News do it often. Here’s how it works:


Never mention that the “stone throwers” are on their own land trying to defend their own homes against the tanks and bulldozers of an occupying force, and that it is the longest occupation in modern history.  In fact, the word “occupation” is seldom seen in the US media and when it is, it is used as a part of “the occupied West Bank,” as though no one is responsible.  It’s just the way things are. But, if there is no occupation in the story, there is no story. Yet, “Only 4 percent of U.S. Networks mention “occupation” as part of the story.[1]  They focus more on Palestinian rage without addressing reasons for the rage.  And they never present Israel as the aggressor against mostly unarmed youth but only as defending itself against the “aggressor.”  Even murder is presented as “self-defense.”


Again, present the aggressor as the victim. Rarely show Palestinian rage as reaction to years of brutal occupation of West Bank and blockade of Gaza. Write about rockets. Make no mention of Israeli accountability for closures, curfews, Jewish only roads, the uprooting of olive trees and the denial of basic human rights including separate laws for settlers and Palestinians. In fact it is better to not mention settlers at all.  It might raise the question, “On whose land have these occupiers settled? Never raise such questions as the right to leave and reenter ones own country and the humiliation of having Israel’s sewage and waste dumped in your neighborhood.  It’s easy to distort the facts. First rule is just choose what to leave out and second, set up the frame.

On October 10, 2015, Jewish Voice for Peace circulated a petition entitled: Tell the New York Times: We need Accurate Reporting on Israel and Palestine, saying, The Times’ headlines consistently frame Israel as the victim, completely misrepresenting an uprising which is a response to decades of displacement, occupation and repression:

--Over 50% of headlines depicted Palestinians as the instigators of violence, while no headlines depicted Israelis as aggressors.
--No headlines referenced racist mobs that have roamed the streets of Jerusalem shouting “Death to Arabs.”
--Palestinians were referred to as terrorists 41 times, while the term was used four times (including quotes from Palestinians) to refer to violent Israeli actions intended to terrorize Palestinians.
--The terms “violent” or “violence” were used 36 times to refer to Palestinians, and 2 times to refer to Israelis.
--The terms “attack(s)” or “attackers” were used 110 times to describe Palestinian actions and people, and 17 times to describe Israelis.


Count the tears of the aggressor. Paint the poor combat armed Israeli soldier as the “real” victim. Give him a name, talk to his parents and friends. Interview his father sobbing, “He was such a good boy.” Show their pain. 

On the other hand, if the victim is a Palestinian, never show him as a real person with feelings, a family and dreams for a future. Show no empathy.  He is a non-person. Someone said, “The rule is: If it’s a Palestinian perpetrator, exaggerate his crime. If the perpetrator is an Israeli, the crime didn’t happen”

Rev. Dr. Mitri Reheb, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem wrote:

            Dear Friends,

A new wave of political unrest is here. Within the last five weeks, over forty young people from Palestine were killed and over 1100 injured. These are not mere numbers, but young people with faces, names, and dreams. Yet, as if their lives do not matter, the Israelis are easing their already loose laws on using arms with a clear message of shoot to kill. For the Israeli government, these young Palestinians are rebels that do not deserve to live. They must be taught a lesson. To add insult to injury, you hear the western politicians talking about Israel’s right to defend itself, and standing shamelessly with Israel.

He then adds: “Their lives matter to God.” 


When an Israeli missile struck meters away from the Hassan family home south of Gaza City, crushing the sleeping family inside, Haaretz qualified the reports:

            Palestinians Say Pregnant Woman, Child Killed following Israeli Strike in Gaza.

The New York Times added that the bombing was “retaliatory,” implying that the victims were at least partially responsible for their deaths and joined in raising doubt about the story’s accuracy by saying, “Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinians say.[2]  


Ignore the recent bombings and needless deaths of Palestinians, Israel’s cynical restriction on the food allowed into Gaza, control of imports and exports to destroy any hope of economic stability.  And heaven forbid, never mention road blocks, check points, the wall or theft of Palestinian land for settlements.  Such one sided reporting by most US media is not an anomaly:

Last year when Israel bombed and strafed Gaza for 51 days, resulting in more than 2,200 deaths, of which 75% were civilians, CNN brought on one Israeli spokesperson after the other. From Benjamin Netanyahu to Mark Regev; from Lt Col. Peter Lerner to Alan Dershowitz; Americans were subjected to uninterrupted coverage of Israel’s version of events…while CNN often operates essentially as Israeli state media, outlets like the Wall Street Journal openly demonize the Palestinians as “blood lust.”[3]

Huffington Post reports that a House Committee meeting on the current wave of violence in Jerusalem concluded that the current instability is caused by Palestinian leaders encouraging their people to kill Israelis. Eliot Engel, ranking member of the committee lamented, “It is heartbreaking to wake up seemingly every morning to a new report of a stabbing or a shooting of innocent civilian in Israel.” 

However Mr. Engel failed to express concern for the 21 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces just this month (October) despite having no connection to terrorist attacks.  He did not mention the Israeli teen who stabbed four Arabs saying, “All Arabs are terrorist.” Nor did he mention that between January and July of this year, settler violence caused 42 casualties.[4]

In the first month of Israel’s “shoot to kill” policy, 16 Palestinians have been killed in West Bank and Gaza and more than 1,000 bullet injuries have been reported.[5]

 Lop-sided reporting comes easy for the U.S. media.  They have had a lot of practice. 

Thomas Are
October 30, 2015

[1] Media Educational Foundation Documentary, Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land , U.S. Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 2004
[2] Mondoweiss,  Haaretz and New York Times Whitewash deadly airstrike on Sleeping Gaza Family. October 12, 2015.
[3] Mondoweiss,  You Can’t Say U.S. Media is Reporting Violence in Israel-Palestine in an Evenhanded Manner.,  October 22, 2015.
[4] Jessica Schulberg, Foreign Affairs Reporter, The Huffington Post, Do Palestinian Lives Matter?
 October 2, 2015.
[5] Mondoweiss,  You Can’t Say U.S. Media is Reporting Violence in Israel-Palestine in an Evenhanded Manner.,  October 22, 2015.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Child Abuse

I have in mind a frightened Palestinian kid, probably 8 years old, being held by four Israeli soldiers, fully armed for combat. He was so terrified that he had wet his jeans and there was no one, no parent, pastor or city mayor to protect him and tell him that he was going to be all right.  They knew full well that he was not going to be all right. In fact, he was going to be subjected to isolation and inhumane treatment. And he knew it.

Israel has no conscience even when it comes to abusing children.

Jewish scholar and author Marc Ellis made me aware of this when 25 years ago he wrote of a local mukhtar being ordered by an Israeli captain to round up twelve Arab boys:

The soldiers shackled the villagers, and with their hands bound behind their backs, they were led to a bus. The bus started to move and after 200-300 meters it stopped beside an orchard. The “locals” were taken off the bus and led into the orchard in groups of three. Every group was accompanied by an officer. In the darkness of the orchard, the soldiers shackle the Hawara residents’ legs and laid them on the ground.  Officers urged the soldiers to get it over with quickly, “so we can leave and forget about it.” Then flannel was stuffed into the Arab’s mouths to muffle their screams and the bus driver revved up the motor so that the noise would drown out their cries. The soldiers obediently carried out their orders; “to break their arms and legs by clubbing the Arabs, to remove their bonds after breaking their arms and legs and to leave them at the site.” Their mission was carried out.[i]

Soon after reading this, I had the opportunity to talk with Ellis. “Did this actually happen?” I asked. “Or is this some effort to slander Israel?” Immediately, and with tears in his eyes, he said, “I did not write a novel.”

During the first Intifada, according to the Washington Post, during the first 30 months of the uprising, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed 159 children and beaten thousands. More than 50,000 children were treated for injuries, including 6,500 wounded by gunfire. The average age of children killed was ten.  What was their crime?  Heaving stones, scribbling slogans on walls, or displaying Palestinian flags.[ii]  Save the Children concluded that one-third of beaten children were under ten years old, and one fifth under the age of five. Nearly a third of the children beaten suffered broken bones[iii]

Of course, that was twenty-five years ago.  Someone said that it must have involved extenuating circumstances. (Of course, when Israel is involved, it is always extenuating circumstances.)

So, what has changed?  According to Middle East Children’s Alliance:

Today, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are growing up in decrepit refugee camps, with more arriving every day. Meanwhile children in Palestine continue to suffer “Israel’s acts of aggression” in their daily lives under occupation… Just since the year 2000, more than 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed.  (That’s one child every three days for thirteen years.)  Also, by the end of April, a total of 196 Palestinian children were imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Each year, approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.[iv]

In the past year, Israel’s abuse would include the murder of over 500 children in Gaza. According to Na’im Ateek, their crime included being born on the wrong side of Israel’s wall, playing soccer on the beach or taking refuge in UN “safe” places  Yet, our media has little to report about the torn and burned little bodies of innocent children.[v]  Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a designated shelter in Gaza,” said Pierre Krahenbuhi, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today, the world stands disgraced.”[vi]

In addition to the deliberate killings, when Israel demolishes homes by the thousands, uproots olive trees by the tens of thousands, blows up sewage and water treatment plants, when over half a million people are displaced and 10,000 wounded, it doesn’t take much imagination to know that children suffer the most.

Then there is the burning alive of 18 month old Ali Dawabsheh by settlers who tossed a fire bomb into his home, a bomb which also killer both of his parents.  A crime which has gained little attention in the US media.

And even in Jerusalem. Just last week (Sept 20, 2015) Israeli forces “fractured the skull of Mohammad Issa, a 13 year old boy.”  Two days earlier (Sept 18) 10 year old Yousef Sami Yehya Dari remained in the hospital for nine days receiving treatment for a gunshot in the back causing painful injury to his spleen from which he may never recover.   And last  night (Sept 20) Israeli forces entered a Palestinian family home and kidnapped an 8 year old girl and arrested three young men. No reason was given. Even walking to school can be dangerous with multiple checkpoints where children as young as 4 years old are subject to bag-searches, frisking, detention and arrest by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, who often without warning fire tear gas grenades.[vii]

No wonder that little kid wet his pants.  I would have too.

Thomas Are
September 24, 2015

[i]  Rosemary Radford Ruether  and Marc Ellis, Beyond Occupation,  (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.) p. 1
[ii] “Rights Group accuses Israel of Violence Against Children in Palestinian Uprising,” Washington Post, May 17, 1990. Cited in my book, Israeli Peace/Palestinian Justice, (Clarity Press, 1994) p.16.
[iii] From same article,  Washington Post May 17, 1990
[iv] UN Day for Children Victims of Israel’s Acts of Aggression,  Middle East Children’s Alliance, June 4, 2014.
[v] Na’im Ateek, For the sake of the Burning Children of Gaza, Sabeel Ecumenical  Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem, July 30, 2014
[vi] World stands Disgraced as Israel Bombs Another UN-Designated Shelter in Gaza. Published by Common Dreams, july 30, 2014
[vii] Israeli Forces Fractured Teen’s Skull as Jerusalem Demonstrations Continue,  Mondoweiss, September 21, 2015. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Drinking Poison

Someone said, “A fool drinks poison expecting his enemy to die.”  I can’t think of a more fitting image for Benjamin Netanyahu.   Know it or not, he is killing himself.

There is a fascinating children’s story about an emperor who wears no clothes. The point of the story is that the emperor walks around naked and he is the only one who does not know that he is wearing no clothes. I think of Netanyahu. He is drugged on his own propaganda, chosenness, power and wealth and does not know that he is actually choking  himself.

He is poisoned by his own propaganda.  While the whole world saw television images of the senseless bombing of Gaza, the deliberate killing of men, women and children, the targeting of schools, hospitals, ambulances, electrical and sewage plants plus the destruction of agricultural fields, live stock and farms, Netanyahu still spoke of Israel as having “the most moral army on globe”.     He looks at five year old kids and can only see terrorists and justifies their massacre as an “act of self-defense”.  His nation supports two sets of laws, one for Jews and the other for non-Jews and he still speaks of Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East”.  He steals land, labor, and resources, including water, from an occupied people and with a straight face calls Israel the “start-up nation.”  It is sad to see a man in power poisoned by his own propaganda.

And Chosenness.   I don’t know that Netanyahu has ever claimed to be a religious person. However, he loves that part in the Jewish scripture about God blessing those who bless Israel and cursing those who curse Israel.  Of course, this was recorded by a Jewish scribe who claims to have heard it from the Jewish God in a Jewish language and recorded it in his Jewish scared literature for all non-Jews to read and obey.

However, if we believe in monotheism, that there is one God over all, then when Israel celebrates Joshua’s victory over the Canaanites, was not God also God of the Canaanites? And if God won, does this not mean that God also lost?   More to the point, even in the Jewish Bible, chosenness carries with it the basic Jewish values of justice and charity. The land is held conditionally and is losable.
Wow! Chosenness really gets complicated.

Most outsiders would recognize that Netanyahu is poisoned by power.  Constantly having to outdraw and out shoot all his neighbors to survive is exhausting.  There has to be a better way to feel safe.  It’s an old saying, but true, that the only way to get rid of an enemy is to make a friend of him.  Israel had its chance but chose the poison of power as a means of dominating its enemies.  Thus Israel must invest more and more resources into maintaining its military might, and like salt water, the more it drinks, the more thirst it feels.  Never having enough power to feel secure, I wonder if Netanyahu lies awake at night yearning for more weapons, military aid and people without conscience to maintain his oppression of its neighbors.

When I remember how viciously the Nazis treated the Jews less than a century ago, it is impossible for me to understand how Netanyahu can turn around and abuse another people. He does it, not because he has a right, but simply because he is drunk with power.  His mind and heart must be so toxic until he is beyond memory, feeling or reason.  

Finally, Charity can become an addictive poison, especially when your very existence depends upon itIsrael survives only by handouts from other people, mostly Americans.  In addition to the three to six billion dollars every year put in Israel’s cup by the US tax payer, hundreds of private, tax free, organizations send hundreds of millions of dollars to keep Israel afloat. However, with the ever growing needs of American people at home, even Netanyahu must realize that his “blank check” life line is in jeopardy.  More and more political leaders, especially Democrats, are beginning to ask why the fourth most powerful nation in the world needs our charity.  

There is no doubt that Israel has enemies. I can understand why.  I am an enemy of its policies. Yet, having said that, I do not wish harm to Netanyahu. I would strip him of his power if I could, which some believe would kill him, but I do not wish him dead.

Whether he believes in it or not, I believe his scripture, that he too is created in the image of God.  And, some day, maybe late in life, he is going to be lying on a bed and begin to feel a few qualms. Just because of the “image of God” in which he has been created, even Benjamin Netanyahu will realize that for most of his life, he has been drinking poison. And on that day I will feel sorry for him.

Thomas Are

September 3, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trigger Event

I keep hoping for a trigger event. Like the time that the US government seemed determined to continue the war in Viet Nam. Then, a picture of a screaming nine year old naked child, with her clothes having been burned off and the look of absolute terror all over her young face appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Suddenly, this became a trigger event and Americans began wondering if this was the way to peace in Viet Nam.

I also think of all the preaching in Montgomery, Alabama denouncing segregation as an evil system.  Very little changed.  Then one day, Rosa Parks simply said, “I’m not going to sit in the back of the bus.”  That became the trigger event that lead to the civil rights of African Americans all over the southland.

I had hoped that the deliberate murder of 23 year old Rachael Corrie would have generated enough of a backlash that finally the US government would rise up and say, this has gone too far.  But in spite of the gory details of a multi-ton bulldozer crushing the life out of a young American girl, condemnation of Israel gained little traction.  Then, when Israel bombarded Gaza last summer for 51 straight days, I thought, surely this massacre of over two thousand people will spark a reaction to Israel’s senseless claim to own all of Palestine because “God” gave it to the Jews”. Yet again, when the bombs stopped falling and Gaza was left a pile of rubble, the nations of the world, especially the US, considered the conflict to be settled.

So, I ask, could the terrorist attack that burned little 18 month old Ali Dawabsha alive while he was sleeping in his own bed, become the trigger event that calls into question the whole oppressive regime of Israel’s occupation? At least, people are talking about it. The Associated press reported in American newspapers:

Israel intensified its crackdown on Jewish extremists Sunday imprisoning two high profile ultranationalist Israelis for six months without charge and arresting additional suspects in West Bank…The crackdown comes after a deadly July 31 firebomb attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank that killed an 18 month old and his father and severely wounding his mother and brother.[1]

One can only imagine the panic and fear that gripped two parents who in spite of exploding flames tried to save their children.

Netanyahu is “shocked”, he said. But he could not be surprised. He appointed as Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, who actively called for the genocide of Palestinians and championed calling their children “little snakes.” [2] It was Netanyahu who had called for the bombardment of Gaza where 500 children were burned, blown up or crushed to death in what he called “revenge,” the very same word those who burned little Ali and his family alive spray painted on the wall of his house. And Netanyahu continues to provide state funds and weapons to every settler and refuses to crack down on the thousands of settler violence targeting Palestinians. It was only a matter of time.

There have been some  2,100 settler attacks since 2006, including 120 in the 222 days of 2015 so far… only 1.4% of those who murder Palestinian children are ever indicted.  Juliana Farha says, “This might be news to you, but rest assured that Bibi knows all about it.”[3]

Shahd Abusalama, writing for Mondoweiss:

As one who carries the memories of many brutal Israeli attacks on Gaza, this claimed “shock” didn’t hit me. It rather outraged me at Israel’s crocodile tears and pretentious humanitarianism, despite its brutal military occupation of West Bank, the continued  expansion of its illegal settlements, the suffocating siege of the Gaza Strip that remain in ruins after Israel’s genocidal war last summer, and its ongoing assertion of itself as a “Jewish State” not a state for its citizens, as it discriminates against 1948 Palestinian citizens of Israel, or what its leaders call a “potential fifth column.”[4]

Netanyahu had to say something, no matter how disingenuous it might be. More than 2,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the killing.  Gilad Erdan, a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet said, “A nation whose children were burned in the Holocaust needs to do a lot of soul searching if it bred people who burn other human beings.”  Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, compared Jewish terrorist to ISIS. David Grossman wrote in the daily newspaper, Haaretz, “I can’t get this baby, Ali Dawabsheh, out of my mind.[5]  Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said, “I feel a sense of shame, and moreover a sense of pain. Pain over the murder of a small boy. Pain that from my people, there are those who have chosen the path of terrorism, and have lost their humanity.”[6]

A prime example of "lost humanity" was when Nasar Jaber, a Palestinian youth in Ramallah simply wished a young soldier at a check point to have a “good day.”  The soldier stopped him. “Am I your friend to wish me a good day? The soldier then struck Jabar in the head with the butt of his rifle, fracturing his jaw, and detained him two hours before allowing him to be taken to a hospital.[7]

According to B’Tselem, in the past three years since August 2012, Israeli citizens set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Additionally, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Palestinian taxi, severely burning the family on board. No one was charged in any of these cases… In recent years Israeli citizens set fire to dozens of Palestinian homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West Bank. The vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Police did not even bother to take elementary investigative action.[8]

Again, could the murder of little Ali Dawabsheh become the trigger event that turns the tide of Israel’s public opinion against Netanyahu’s reign of terror?  For the first time in decades, it seems possible.

Thomas Are
August 19, 2015

[1] Daniel Estrin, Israel Holds Jewish Extremists, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  August 10, 2015.
[2] David Harris-Gershon, You Aren’t “Shocked” Jewish Settlers Burned a Palestinian Baby Alive, Netanyahu You’re complicit.  Tikkun Daily August 1, 2015.
[3] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)  reported by Juliana Farha,  Someone Else’s Normal: The Dawabshe Tragedy and Picturing Palestine. Mondoweiss, August 13, 2015
[4] Shahd Abusalama, The Burning of a Palestinian child: not an exception, but results of Zionism,  Mondoweiss,  August 1, 2015.
[5] David Pratt, Something is Rotten in the State of Israel,  Information Clearing House,  August 10, 2015.
[6] Allison Duger,  Mother of Palestinian Baby Burned to death tried to Save her  Child, Mondoweiss,  August 2, 2015
[7] International Middle East Media Center, July 30, 2015
[8] Press releases from B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied TerritoriesB’tselem: A Burned Infant was only a Matter of Time in view of Policy to Not Enforce Law on Violent Settlers. published July 31, 2015.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Palestinian Lives Matter

As I consider the violations of human rights and all that Israel does to dishonor and humiliate their Palestinian neighbors, I think it would be a shorter list to try to come up with what Israel has not done.  Israel has not built gas chambers, has not used Palestinian bodies for medical experiments, or rounded up young Palestinian girls to be sex slaves.   That is to be commended.  But when compared with its record of human rights abuse, it is hard to overlook so many similarities with Nazi-like practices in which Israel engages in seeking a “final solution” to its “Palestinian problem.”  It’s not that Zionist Israel is totally similar to Nazi Germany. It’s that Israel is not un-similar enough in its Nazi-like tactics.  “Death to Arabs,” expresses the mood of the day and it has been for a long time.

In writing of the founding of Israel as a state, historian Arnold J. Toynbee declared:
The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 (and 1948) was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis…Though not comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality.[i]

Chris Hedges summarizes how it is today:

Israel’s goal is to make life a living hell for all Palestinians, ethnically cleansing as many as it can and subduing those who remain. The peace process is a sham. It has led to Israel’s seizure of more than half the land on the West Bank, including the aquifers, and the herding of Palestinians into squalid ghettos or Bantustans while turning Palestinian land and homes over to Jewish settlers. Israel is expanding settlements, especially in East Jerusalem. Racial laws, once championed by the right-wing demagogue Mier Kahane, openly discriminate against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.[ii]

A report by Action on Armed Violence found that Israel killed and injured more civilians with explosive weapons in 2014 than any other country in the world.[iii]

When Palestinians cry out to the world, “our lives matter,” they are not just asking that they be allowed to live, but that they be given the same dignity and security that any life deserves.  Try putting yourself in their place:

We as Palestinians are daily humiliated by the Israeli forces; our human rights are violated daily; our homes are demolished daily by bulldozers manufactured in the United States; our olive trees are uprooted on a daily basis; our land is confiscated and turned over into illegal settlements daily; our young people languish in Israeli jails with no charges or due process for months on end; our teenagers are taken from their beds in the middle of the night and imprisoned by the Israeli army on an average two by night; and the Israeli government continues its violations of international law while the nations of the world remain silent.[iv]

It’s not just that Israel, up-roots trees by the thousands, destroys homes, schools and wells,  Israel has a record of horrible treatment of children. 

Children in the West Bank:

--- Face arrest without warning, military courts, and physical violence at the hands of the Israeli forces.  According to Defense of Children International Palestine, 500 to 700 children each year are arrested and come into contact with the Israeli military system in the West Bank.

--- Over half of the arrests take place during raids on homes in the middle of the night. Children are routinely blindfolded and have reported being beaten, insulted, and threatened with rape.

--- A 2013 UNICEF report concluded that, ”the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.[v]

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs asks:

Do you know what American taxpayer money to Israel supports? Among other things, it funds the IDF’s  detention of thousands of Palestinian children --- 8,000 since 2000 --- who are pulled from their beds in the middle of the night, often beaten, denied access to their parents, food or a lawyer, and held without charge.[vi]
What will it take for us, the United States, to wake up and acknowledge the fact that, “Children’s lives matter,” even if they are Palestinians?  Yet, the US stands alone as the only country in the world to oppose a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for Israel to be accountable for war crimes.

Someone is going to say, “Oh come on. Comparing Zionist Israel to Nazi Germany is a bit over the top.”   And I will say, “Make you case.  I have made mine,” except to point out that the world went to war to stop Nazi Germany. On the other hand, Israel it still at it, and the world, especially the US, looks the other way as Zionism’s brutality rages on.

Thomas Are
August 1, 2015

[i] Naim Ateek, Justice and Only Justice, (Orbis Press, Maryknoll, New York, 1989) p.32
[ii] Chris Hedges, Why I Support the BDS Movement against Israel. Published by Truthdig, July 27, 2015.
[iii] Chris Hedges. Truthdig, 2015
[iv] Ateek’s Moral Universe., Mondoweiss,  July 7, 2015,
[v] Ylenia Gostoli,  Teen’s Death Highlights Israel Abuse of West Bank Youth.,  Al Jezeera,  July 6, 2015
[vi] These disturbing details were noted at a June 2 congregational briefing that featured Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old American teen beaten by Israeli police last summer. While he is now free, hundreds of children who don’t enjoy the privileges of American citizenship remain in Israeli prisons.  Reported in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,  August, 2015. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Controlling the Narrative

Why is it important for Israel to bombard the tiny strip of Gaza over and over?  Certainly not for security, which is the reason given to and bought by most Americans.  Gaza is hardly a threat to Israel. Gaza has no planes, tanks or bombs with any explosive significance.  What Gaza threatens by its very existence is Israel’s narrative.

How do you explain locking up almost two million helpless people as of in prison, most of whom are kids, denying them access to education, health care and a safe place to sleep at night and still tell the world that you are a moral nation. There is no way to justify a Gaza, so you silence their cry.

Today, one year after Israel’s “defensive” massacre, Gaza still remains in ruins: 18,000 homes are still destroyed, 120,000 people are still homeless, living on the streets. Repair on hospitals, schools, sanitation and water systems have yet to be started. If materials were allowed into Gaza and full scale reconstruction were to begin today, the United Nations warns that it would take 30 years to bring Gaza back.[1]  Even Bassam Eid, who blames Hamas for what happened to Gaza last summer, admits a bleak picture:

2.5 million tons of rubble remains in Gaza to this day. 200,000 workers lost their means of employment. 80% of Gaza people are surviving on welfare. 40% of Gazans are living below poverty lines. 22,000 Gazan are homeless. Only 600 caravans have been provided to the Gaza Strip since the end of the war.[2]

According to the Secretary General of the UN, there are no schools – no hospitals – no electricity and no proper drinking water and this is the reality for the Gazan people these days.[3]

“Hamas is trying to rebuild Gaza, and homelessness is at the top of its agenda.” Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said. “From the first day of the war until now, Hamas has tried to support the homeless by offering relief and financial aid. Hamas offers tents, barracks and compensation for victims who lost their houses. But some of them still live in schools.”  Among the 100,000 homeless and jobless living in a school building with 100 other families is Liala Kloob. “You can’t imagine. I, and my six children, have to stand in line and wait our turn to get food, water or even go to the bathroom.”[4] 

All of this at the hands of “the start-up nation,” with the “most moral army on the globe,”  the “only democracy in the middle east,” simply fulfilling the orders of their God who “gave” everything the Palestinians owned to the Jews.”

And how does Israel get away with it when it is so blatant and contrary to human decency?  By control of the narrative, especially in America.

So, we have AIPAC, whose job, according to Mico Peled, is to convince Americans that the U.S. and Israel are essentially identical. They do so by rewarding legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda and punishing those who challenge it.

The key to Israel’s legitimacy is the Zionist narrative, and AIPAC is selling the narrative in order to maintain the legitimacy. The Zionist narrative in this country is not only accepted it is treated with religious fervor. It is seen as biblical and indisputable. One does not need to convince Americans that Israel is always right and that the Zionist narrative is true, they receive this with their mother’s milk.

And what is the narrative?

It is a mythical story that turned the history of Palestine from 1947 until the present time on its head. The brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the establishment of a racist apartheid state which offers exclusive rights to Jewish people in Palestine was sold here as a story of heroism and revival. Thanks to AIPAC, the horrific brutal destruction of Palestine – from 1947 to the present day – is virtually unknown in this country.[5]

No one denies that AIPAC has done its job. But, it could not have been done without the aid of about 50 million so called Christian Zionists who support the narrative in what they call a Rapture Theology. There are many windows through which we can glimpse the core of Rapture Theology and every one of them focuses on Israel.

Rapture Theology grows out of pulling together little bits and pieces of obscure biblical texts and linking them to produce the idea that Jesus cannot come again until the temple in Jerusalem has been rebuilt.  They claim that sometime between the rapture, the time when all the true believers have been lifted up out of the world, and before the final judgment, the antichrist will cause “sacrifices to cease.” Of course for sacrifices to cease, they must be practiced and the only proper place to make sacrifices is in the temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the Dome of the Rock, the third most holy place for Muslims to worship, must be destroyed and replaced by a new temple in Jerusalem.     

If you are finding all this confusing and far fetched, I am with you. But it is supported by such TV personalities as Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Benny Hinn, James Dobson, Sarah Palin and 80 million copies of the Left Behind series.

The late Jerry Falwell said:

God is kind to America because America has been kind to the Jews… I believe if we fail to protect Israel, we will cease to be important to God.  God has blessed America because America has blessed the Jews, his chosen people.”[6]

Two reasons why we should be concerned about Rapture Theology: One - it controls our Congress and Two - it drives our foreign policy. It is not just a harmless heresy.  It is dangerous and it causes unbelievable pain in the Middle East.  

I blame the seminaries for not combating this, the most dangerous heresy to threaten the church and synagogue, in a more aggressive way.  It should be addressed from every pulpit and Sunday School class until Christians scream for the rights of oppressed people.  Unfortunately, most Americans seem to be more committed to loosing five pounds or betting on which way a ball bounces than to becoming engaged in matters uncomfortable or controversial.  

Every now and then we stumble over truth. We see a late night news report or read something on the internet that causes us to question our blind support of all Israel does.  But, mostly, when that happens, we get right back up, dust ourselves off and go on as though we never noticed a crack in the Israeli narrative.  After all, no one wants to be labeled anti-Semitic.   

On the other hand, someone pointed out that Israel is not a religion. It’s not a race. It is a country. And it’s OK – it’s not anti-Semitic – to talk about and even criticize a country we support financially and diplomatically.

So, let me come back to where we started. Gaza, by its very existence, threatens not Israel’s security, but Israel’s narrative.

Thomas Are
July 21, 2015

[1] The Huffington Post:  Alexandra Ma, This is What Life in Gaza Looks Like, One Year After the War., Posted July 10, 2015
[2] Bassam Eid, Former Director of the Jerusalem based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. Gaza one year later: From bad to worse. Blogged July 13, 2015.
[3] Bassam Eid. Gaza one year later: From bad to worse.
[4] Asma’ Jawabreh and Mohammad Atallah, 100,000 in Gaza Still Homeless after War with Israel.USA TODAY, April 25, 2015.
[5] Miko Peled, How the Lobby Enables Israeli Policy: Views of an Israeli in America, National Press Club Conference, THE ISRAEL LOBBY, April 10,2015, Washington, D.C., Reported in A Special Supplement to the Washigton Report on Middle East Affairs.
[6] Gracce Halsell, Prophesy and Politics, Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War,  (Lawrence Hill and Company, Westport, Conn, 1986.) p. 74.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I am Flabbergasted

If you are concerned about peace in the middle east and seek security for Israel when the entire neighborhood is in turmoil, if you want to avoid a needless war with Iran, (a war  which we will not win), and if you are looking for someone with great negotiating skills and experience in understanding the needs and point of view of the other, someone with knowledge of the region and its history, someone known for diplomacy, then, where do you turn? 

Of course, you call on professional football players.  Who better to understand what it is  like to be ordinary people trying to survive in an oppressive situation than those who grew up and continue to live in what the news media calls a “culture of entitlement?” 

That’s why Robert Kraft, ultra Zionist, and owner of the New England Patriots led a delegation of 20 former National Football League players to Israel where they met with Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister wanted an opportunity to explain to them why Obama’s effort to avoid a war with Iran is a dumb move.  It’s not that Netanyahu himself seeks a war with Iran where Israel would have to pay the price in lives and money, he is clear in proclaiming that he wants the United States to go to war with Iran. So, he chose the bright minds of the NFL to make his case. He put it in terms that even they could understand. Call it football diplomacy.

Iran is one yard away from the goal line. If they get nukes, the preeminent terrorist regime of our day will be armed with nuclear weapons.  That’s dangerous for the United States and for Israel and for the entire world. And our effort today is to make sure that we block them and push them back. That’s the ultimate contest and the ultimate challenge, and I hope it was advanced somewhat by this visit.[1]

“I lead my life according to the four F’s – at least phonetically,” Kraft is often reported as having said; “family, faith, football and philanthropy.  This trip has connected all those dots for me.” 

Some one needs to ask, which of these “dots” includes the right of Jews to steal land from Palestinians, kidnap and imprison their children, take their water, blow up their homes and lock them up behind cement barrows and barbed wire fences? Which of his four F’s justifies the past and on-going war crimes committed by Israel every day?

Kraft also chooses to live by a few other “F” words, such as the word foolish, or even fantasy. Or what about fiction?  It’s make believe to think that a team of football players could have a better grasp of how to deal with Iran than President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. 

Mr. Kraft needs another “F" word to connect his dots. It’s the word fairness.

Football is an entertaining game, but when it gets involved in foreign affairs, which causes so much pain to so many people, it is no longer amusing.  Mr. Kraft should stick to something he knows something about for when he gets into defending Israel, he has fumbled and somebody needs to blow the whistle on him.

When I read that wealthy professional football players are recruited to influence US policy in the Middle East, the best “F” word to describe me is flabbergasted with an equal measure of fear.

William Sloane Coffin said it well. “If what you think is right causes some one else to suffer, there is something wrong with what you think is right.”

 Thomas Are
July 13, 2015

[1] Philip Weiss, Patriots’ Owner Brings 20 NFL veterans to Netanyahu who calls them to block Obama’s Iran Deal. Mondoweiss, June 22, 2015