Monday, February 23, 2015

Dear Senator Isakson

An Open letter to Johnny Isakson

Thomas Are
6621 Crepe Myrtle Way
Stone Mountain, Georgia  30087

                                                                                    February 23, 2015
Senator Johnny Isakson
120 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator Isakson,

I could give you many reasons why it would be foolish and immoral to enter into a military conflict with Iran, but I just want to point out one thing that I think you ought to know as you go in to support Israel on March third.


Your friend Netanyahu is going to imply that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon he would use it to destroy Israel.  However, what Ahmadinejad actually said in Farsi, his own language, in a speech on October 26, 2005 was, “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”   This sounds like a moral condemnation, not a physical threat.

Iran voted for UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/67/19, on November 29, 2012, backing a two state solution with Israel/Palestine living side by side in peace and security.  Nothing about “wiping Israel off the map.”

So, as congress jumps up and down like puppets to cheer Mr. Netanyahu, at least know that as you do so, he is pulling your strings.


                                                                                    Thomas Are

P.S.  My wife says that I might get a more favorable reading if I sugarcoat this a bit.  I told her that this is sugarcoated.  I can’t tell you in strong enough terms how dumb it would be for us to get pulled into a war with Iran.  Your defense of American values and morality on March 3rd is far more important than any photo of you cheering the Prime Minister of Israel, party victory or re-election.

[i] See Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett,  Going to Tehran, Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran,  (Metropolitan Books, New York, 2013)  p.19   and  Peter Oborne and David Morrison,  A Dangerous Delusion, Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran,  (Elliott and Thompson Limited,  London, 2013)  p. 79

Monday, February 9, 2015

Presbyterian Denied Entry by Jewish State

Was he denied entry into Israel because he was a Presbyterian?  If that implies that all Presbyterians had best stay away or be turned back, then probably not?  He is an activist with a compassionate heart for the poor, oppressed and abused people wherever they are.

Chris Weaver grew up in the church where I was a pastor for 21 years.  He would never carry a gun, nor would he ever encourage violence. As far as I know he never made a public speech.  What he did do was question the fairness of the news media and the blind support of Israel by our leading politicians.  Last Sunday, on a five o’clock flight, he left for Israel to volunteer to work for six months with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a group of doctors and medical professionals who for 35 years have dedicated themselves to helping the victims of Israel’s violent attack on Palestinian civilians, especially children.  Chris was sponsored by The Joining Hands for Justice in Israel and Palestine, a committee of Presbyterians in Atlanta.

Chris was held up at the Allenby Bridge crossing. Israeli security searched and interrogated him with questions for seven hours. Then without offering any reason or explanation as to why,  he was told that he would not only be denied entry into Israel to work with the Medical Relief Group but that he was banned from entering Israel for ten years.  As I write, Chris is in limbo, holding up in a hotel in Jordan, not knowing what to do.  My guess is that he will fly back home as soon as possible.  At least, I hope so.

Now, the rest of the story.  What do you do when your son is in trouble overseas? You call your representative in Washington. However, when Chris’s father,  Bert Weaver, contacted the office of Representative Tom Price to ask for help in understanding what had happened to Chris, Price’s staff person said, we are not interested.  In other words, if you live in Georgia and have a conflict with Israel, you don’t have a Representative to represent you. He represents Israel.  Even if you are an American citizen, a life long Presbyterian, being sponsored by a Presbyterian organization and seeking to support a team of humanitarian doctors,  if your Representative’s friends in Israel say “no”, then you are on your own.

When the office of Senator Johnny Isakson was called, the answer was pretty much the same. His office was not the proper place to seek help.  Fahed Abu Akel was told to file a complaint and Isakson would pass it on to someone else, but he would not get involved. Now, I know that Isakson, like all politicians, is thinking about his next election and is concerned about running afoul of AIPAC. But is he not aware that the tide in America is turning?  More and more people, including American Jews, are siding with people like Chris, and questioning the policies of Israel and the leadership of politicians like Tom Price and Johnny Isakson, and they also vote.  

While any Israeli Jew can enter the U.S., no questions asked, because of our “special relationship” with Israel, it does not work the other way.  Israel lives in constant fear that decent Americans will look around at their Jewish State and talk about what they see. Visitor after visitor comes home from Israel saying, “You have to see it to believe it.”  This explains what caused so much panic in the security guards at the Allenby Bridge. Chris was carrying one of the most frightening “weapons” ever used against IsraelHe had a camera.

Even so, I cannot imagine what Israel is thinking.  Pass the word around the US that in spite of your country’s giving Israel billions of dollars in charity every year, you may receive no respect if you seek to enter Israel.  What will this do to their tourist economy?  For years I have had people ask me if it were safe to travel to Israel. I have always assured potential travelers, whether going on a Bible study tour or going to work to help the victims of Israel’s occupation and racist policies, that they, as an American citizens, would be welcomed and respected. I can no longer say that.

                                                                                    Thomas Are

                                                                                    February 9, 2015