Saturday, May 16, 2015

To Get Elected

Want to get elected, especially to a national office? It seems that all you have to do is to “out-Israel” your opponent.  Sell out the Palestinians. Never try to be neutral or talk about the facts on the ground.  Forget being fair and ignore such things as murder, torture and terrorizing innocent kids. It will not be enough to refrain from criticizing Israel, you have to be pro-Israel, no matter what Israel does, even if Israel’s actions put Americans at risk or gets them killed, you have to “out-Israel” all your opponents.

Of course, those running against you know that they have to “out-Israel” you.  But, there is no limit to how “Israel” you can be.  Never mind that Israel has become a paranoid nation. Never mind the unbelievable massacres unleashed on the people of Gaza over the past decade, and the thousands of Palestinians, including children, who have been put in prison without charge. Never mind the children who have been abused, the thousands of homes demolished, the trees uprooted, the water and property stolen.  Just declare Israel a democracy with whom we share moral and pious values.  Such is the approved program for the day and our politicians have caught on.

Allison Deger writes:

Carly Fiorina promises to make Israel her first phone call as president. Mike Huckabee is “just nuts” about Israel. Jeb Bush calls settlements “apartments.” Ben Carson wants to transfer the Palestinians to Egypt. Marco Rubio has taken to dining with top-donor Sheldon Adelson. Ted Cruz is making the rounds with Fire Island’s pro-Israel community. And, Lindsey Graham who  has not announced his bid, said if he is president he will have the first “all-Jewish” cabinet.[1]

Mike Huckabee said on his campaign website, “In a world of uncertainty, evil, and moral insanity, Israel is a shining light of moral clarity. The enemies of Israel are the enemies of America… There is no Christian faith without a Jewish state”[2] 

He just wiped out the faith of millions of Christians including Saint Frances, Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But, he knows the mind of God and according to him, God wants those Palestinians out of there.  And how does Huckabee know this?  Because a Jewish scribe heard a voice that only Jews could understand and wrote that a Jewish god, named Yehweh, said that the non-Jews had no value, and that he wanted the Jews, and no one else, to have the land of Palestine, now and forever.  How about that? And because Huckabee knows all this, anything the state of Israel does to the Palestinians is OK.  It’s all about what God’s wants. Huckabee believes that the Jewish people have God’s blessings upon acts of immorality and injustice against a weaker people, including terrorism, ethnic cleansing, occupation, oppression, and torture.  All of them are acceptable because the Jews of Israel are doing them.

Ted Cruz, got a 30-second ovation at Liberty University when he said, “Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”

Cruz, the tea party icon became angry and walked off the stage in the middle of a speech hosted by a Christian organization because they did not see Israel through the same narrow  blinders that limit his vision.

I will say this: “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you,” he said walking off the stage…”Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight.[3]

Marco Rubio in a speech to Congress said, “How much better would the middle east be if more countries looked like Israel and less like Iraq and Syria.” Rubio’s biggest backer, Norman Braman is said to have committed at least $10 million to the campaign, says, “U.S. must be a ‘global military power’ so that we can sustain Israel.” He did not say to sustain  the security and safety of America, but, so we can sustain Israel.”[4]

Ben Carson, advocates transferring all Palestinians to the Sinai desert and then taking over their property. He claims that the criticism of the settlements “has been exaggerated,” and that Palestinian hostility toward Israel is what is preventing peace. The Guardian reports him as saying, “I would make sure that Israel knew that we had their back. Because if their neighbors know that we’re backing them up, they’re not going to be anywhere near as aggressive.”[5]

Carla Fiorina states, “This administration has made the world a more dangerous place by the way they have treated Israel” She said this with a straight face as her former company, Hewlett-Packard, makes money off of the occupation of Palestinian lands.[6]

Rand Paul vows “that any attack on Israel will be as an attack on the United States.”[7]

These kind of comments are not “slip ups” heard only when the mike is “left on” by mistake. They are main line headlines for our politicians. It has been said that Benjamin Netanyahu has become the leader of the GOP and support for his militaristic policies has become a Republican litmus test.

Want to get elected? Then cheer the Prime Minister of Israel and swear loyalty to his state. Vote for everything he demands.  Of course, doing so will probably get the US engaged in another war with yet another Muslim nation. Never mind that following his leadership has given birth to Islamic Jihad and ISIS. He is to be hailed and heeded. Want to be elected, then puff Israel.  It’s the only way.

Even though support for Israel has become the Republican party line, it is not limited to Republicans. I wish it were. Peter Beinart calls Hillary Clinton,Israel’s new lawyer.  Haim SabanIsrael’s Channel One’s interviewer  said of Hillary Clinton, “Everything that she thinks and everything she has done and will do will always be for the good of Israel.[8]

Because she is so eager to see the world through the eyes of Benjamin Netanyahu, she blames Hamas for all conflicts between Israel and Gaza.  “Hamas just wanted to pile up dead civilians for the cameras… the Palestinians stage-manage civilian deaths to win the sympathy of an anti-Semitic world.”[9]

You start a war with Hamas with a lie about the murder of three Israeli teenagers. You fought the war with exceptional brutality, killing hundreds of children and civilians, leveling whole streets and bombarding hospitals and United Nations shelters with indiscriminate artillery fire…and when world opinion turns against you, what do you do?   You turn to Hillary Clinton.[10]  “If I were the Prime Minister of Israel, you’re damn right,” she says. “I would expect to have security.”

Peter Beinart says in Haaretz: “Clinton offered the most articulate sophisticated, passionate defense of Netanyahu’s conduct I’ve heard from a government official on either side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, important chunks of it aren’t true.”[11]

It might be easier and surely would save a lot of money if we would skip the primaries.  In fact, we might just skip the election altogether and just ask Benjamin Netanyahu who he wants in the White House to jump through his hoops. Why not just ask him to appoint the next President of the United States. What do you think?   

Thomas Are
May 16, 2015

[1] Allison Deger,  As Presidential Field Broadens, GOP candidates Race to Show Their Love for Israel, Mondoweiss, May 7, 2015.
[2] Same article by Allison Deger.
[3] Johnathan Topaz, Ted Cruz booed, Walks off Stage.  March 24, 2015
[4] Philip Weiss, Rubio’s Backer says U.S. must be “global military power” so that We can Sustain Israel. Mondoweiss, May 12, 2015
[5] Associated Press, Republican Presidential hopeful Ben Carson Seeks to buff Image in Israel, The Guardian , Dec.  10, 2014.
[6] Allison Deger,  As Presidential Field Broadens, GOP candidates Race to Show Their Love for Israel, Mondoweiss, May 7, 2015.
[7] Also from Allison Deger, Mindoweiss, May 7, 2015
[8] Philip Weiss, Everything Hillary Clinton will do will always be for Israel – Saban warns the Republicans. Mondoweiss,  April 18, 2015.
[9] Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Tough Hillary Clinton says, “Dreadful” pictures of dead women and children make it hard to get at truth – Hamas is to Blame.
[10] Ed Moloney, Hillary Clinton’s 11th-hour Diplomacy.  August 17, 2015
[11] Tough Hillary interview with Jeff Goldberg.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Discouraging

The meeting was over.  We had just heard a talk by a Palestinian activist sharing what his life is like under military occupation. As we stood to leave, a man in front of me, his name tag read, “Ben,” turned around and said, “It’s discouraging. But, what can I do? I guess the best thing is to just pray.”

Here are a few suggestions for Ben:


Some say, “I don’t want to use my car to make a political statement.”  I say, Why not?  If we believe in something, a bumper sticker is an easy way to show our solidarity with the suffering people of Palestine and stand up for peace and justice.  I have had a FREE PALESTINE sticker on my car for 15 years and I remember getting the ‘finger” only once. On the other hand, it has been a great conversation starter. 

I returned to my car, parked on a city side street, and there stood a woman staring at my bumper.  O Boy, I thought, now I am going to get my head knocked off. 
             “Is this your car?” she asked,
“I agree.” And, she said, “I am Jewish.  I feel lonely at my synagogue.  It feels good to know that I am not alone.” 

From bushy bearded motorcycle riders to totally covered Muslim ladies, I have received expression of appreciation from those who do not want to feel alone.  All a bumper sticker does is show solidarity, but how valuable that is.[1]


While sitting at a table for ten in a restaurant, a man I hardy knew, said something about the stupid Palestinians firing rockets.  He was too far away to engage in a conversation without turning the dinner party into a shouting match, so, I made a face as though I had been whiffed by a smell from a sewer.   He got my message and I could only hope it made him uncomfortable. 

Under different circumstances, we might see it as an opportunity to say something like, “I used to think that way. But, then I read Elias Chacour’s book, BLOOD BROTHERS and it pointed out another way.” There are many books, many by Jewish authors, which have helped me to better understand that situation and my part in it. [2]

3 – FLAG

On May 15, Nakba Day, and March 16th, the anniversary of the crushing of Rachael Corrie,  people walking by will see a Palestinian flag flying in front of our house.  It is a small way to show solidarity with those oppressed by Israel’s occupation and has led to meeting several like minded friends.


Ben could also send $100 to Jewish Voice for Peace,[3]  This is a nation wide organization of Jews committed to the ethical teaching of their scriptures, such as Jeremiah, Isaiah and the Psalms. At great rick of being isolated from family, friends and religious community, they live out the historical mandate of their faith by marching, demonstrating and teaching justice for all, especially those oppressed by religion, racism or pariah nations.

Jewish Voice for Peace is growing in number and influence.  Anyone experiencing discrimination will have a friend in JVP. 

5 – BDS

Ben could  join hundreds of thousands of world wide supporters of BDS, (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a call from Palestinian civil and religious leaders to pressure Israel  to end the occupation. Sanctions are the actions of governments. Divestments are the actions of corporations. But, individuals, like Ben, can boycott those companies that profit from the occupation, such as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and any business that sells soda stream, to name  a few.[4]  


Letters to the Editor on the Israel/Palestine crisis seldom get published, but every now and then, one will get through.  At least, they are read by the editor.

I often write letters to my elected officials which I am convinced are never read. I get back a form letter addressing none of my concerns. But, who knows. If our representatives in Congress got ten letters from ten different people expressing concern over the same issue, it might get mentioned at their staff meeting.  Every little bit of awareness might help.  At least, it helps me to write them.


There are a hundred books out there addressing Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians.  Ben could read any one of them and be motivated to take a little risk and share it with a friend.  We do not get an honest representation of what is happening from our media, our politicians or even from out pulpits.  Our best resource for accurate reporting can be found in books and in the social media.  A great place to start is with the Website Mondoweiss.

8 – Then Ben could pray.  But unless he, and all of us, do the kind of things listed above, it will do little good to pray.

I understand that Ben is discouraged. I want to say, That is OK. Go ahead and be discouraged,  even get depressed and feel like quitting.  It's a normal part of working for justice for any cause.  Take off a day, or  two, even let it go for a week.  But, then get back up, dust yourself off, and get right back in the fight.

Thomas Are
May 10, 2015

[1] FREE PALESTINE bumper stickers may be purchased for $2 from the Palestine Online Store, a not-for-profit that has been promoting Palestine products since 2005.
[2] I recommend: Mark Braverman – FATAL EMBRACE
                          Max Blumenthal, GOLIATH, 
                          Mico Peled – THE GENERAL’S SON.
                          Paul Finley – THEY DARE TO SPEAK OUT.
            A valued internet resource is:
            And a must see documentary is: PEACE, PROPAGANDA and the PROMISED LAND
                 Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic St., NorthamptonMA  01060
[3] Jewish Voice for Peace, 1611 Telegraph Ave.  Suite 1020, Oakland, CA  94612
     Phone  (510) 465-1777        Email:
[4] Google BDS for a more comprehensive story of the BDS movement, a boycott list and suggestions for actions toward divestment. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Who Retaliates

Did you see it in the news?  ABC reported that Israel retaliated against a rocket fired from Gaza. One crude, unguided, homemade rocket landed in an open field in the southern part of Israel, causing no injury to anyone or damage to any structure. However, the news was of “Israel’s retaliation.”

The news faithfully reports the violence, yet seldom mentions the cause of that violence. It is presented as authorities controlling riots. These authorities, however,  are occupying someone else’s land, fighting to seize more land and water that does not belong to them. How can it be retaliation when Israel is the aggressor?

Hanon Ashrawi comments:

It is not presented as an army using its arsenal against young people who are largely unarmed, who are besieged, who are protesting because of the occupation against the total oppression of their whole nation… Israel is the aggressor, killing people in their own homes on their own land, yet it is presented as though the Palestinians attacked Israel which is now simply “retaliating.”[i]

According to: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Only 4% of Network Reports even mention the word “occupation.”

Neither the Associated Press, nor ABC News, included in their story of “Israel’s retaliation” the context of that rocket, the one and only rocket fired at Israel from Gaza this year.”[ii]  At the same time, unreported in the mainstream media during that same time:

In the three months January-March, there were six military incursions - when Israeli forces invaded the Gaza Strip then withdrew – and 67 shooting attacks on land and at sea.[iii]

According to our news media, attacks on Palestinians are normal, certainly not news worthy.  It is only when someone from the occupied territories fires back that it merits a story.  As long as no Israeli is forced to duck, it is seen as a time of “calm” no matter how many Palestinians become victims of Israel’s aggression.  “Israeli forces injured dozens of Palestinians and foreign activist on April 3rd using live fire to suppress weekly marches in West Bank…another Palestinian was injured and dozens more suffered excessive tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces at the weekly march at Bil’in.”[iv] No headlines in my paper.

On April 2nd, Israeli soldiers arrested Palestinian parliamentarian, Khalida Jarrar for “unspecified reasons.”  She joined 16 other Palestinian lawmakers currently serving time in Israeli prisons.[v]

The next week, April 10th,  a Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces at the funeral of his cousin who had died from unattended medical complications while in an Israeli prison.  Thirteen others attending the same funeral were injured by live ammunition and rubber coated bullets.[vi]

The following Thursday, two Palestinians were shot and injured when Israeli soldiers raided their refugee camp.

The next day, Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly protest against the illegal wall and settlements near Ramallah, wounding five, including two by live ammunition.

Settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds, forcing them at gunpoint to go into their homes. Israeli forces arrived and arrested the shepherds.

Back in March, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman.[vii]

At least 30 children across the West Bank sustained gunshot wounds when Israeli forces used live ammunition to quash protest during the first three months of 2015.

In summary: Since 2000, Israeli security forces have killed over 8,896 Palestinians. At least 1,900 of those have been children.[viii]

A report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory found that, overall, Israel was responsible for 2,314 Palestinian deaths and 17,125 injuries last calendar year...Defense for Children International – Palestine has documented abuse and torture that Palestinian children endure in Israeli prisons, where they are denied due process.[ix]

Today, there are nearly 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails; 500 of them held under administrative detention without charge or trial. There are 200 child prisoners, 24 women prisoners, and 14 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council behind bars… There are 1500 sick prisoners including 16 severely ill in the Ramle prison clinic, 24 with cancer and 80 with severe illnesses.[x]

Yet compared to a small rocket fired into a field in Israel, none of this merits attention in our news media. I can only imagine the coverage if this were violence against Jews?

Thomas Are
May 2, 2015

[i] Documentary: Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land, The Media Education Foundation, 2004.
[ii], Israel Retaliates to Gaza Rocket Attack, No Injuries, AP , Jerusalem, April 23, 2015
[iii] Philip Weiss, One rocket from Gaza outweighs 6 Israeli Incursions and 67 Attacks,  Mondoweiss, April 27, 2015
[iv] Same article as above, Mondoweiss, April 27, 2015
[v] +972 Magazine,  Israeli soldiers arrest feminist Palestinian lawmaker, By Haggai Matar
[vi] From, Today in Palestine, Al-Awda-News, April 10, 2015
[vii] Philip Weiss, One rocket from Gaza outweighs 6 Israeli Incursions and 67 Attacks,  Mondoweiss, April 27, 2015
[viii] Kate, 30 Palestinian Children have been shot with Live Ammunition in Protest last 3 Months.  Mondoweiss, March 25, 2015.
[ix] Sarah Lazare, 2014 Deadliest Year for Palestinians Since 1967, UN Report Finds. Common Dreams, March 27, 2015.
[x] AL-AWDA-News, Palestinian Prisoners Day, April 17, 2015.