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

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Money Talks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Are
July 9, 2017




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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For the Bible Tells Me So

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

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

There are several problems with this narrative.  

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

Zionists love to quote Genesis 12:

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Are
June 28, 2017




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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Biggest Myth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some democracy!

Thomas Are
June 20, 2017



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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fiftieth Anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Are
June 6, 2017


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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Kind of People

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

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

Since the Six Day War Israel has:

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

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

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


Thomas Are
May 30, 2017




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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Friends

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Are
May 11, 2017




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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

And Israel Gets Away With It

It seems no matter what, Israel gets away with it. From the imprisonment and murder of children, to blockading an entire nation of people, Israel gets away with it.  There seems to be an unquestioned support of Israel that “keeps out eyes shut, our mouths closed and our wallets open,” no matter what Israel does.[1] The powerful Israeli lobby makes sure that Israel gets away with it.

Grant Smith, author of, Big Israel; How Israel’s Lobby Moves America, describes the Israel lobby as:

A $3.7 billion nonprofit ecosystem with 14,000 employees, 350,000 volunteers and a paying membership of 774,00.

And what does Israel get for all this investment to influence public opinion. It gets an American government willing to look the other way, a news media seldom raising an objection and millions of Christian Zionist putting a biblical halo over Israel’s atrocities.  

But, there is another side to the story. At the founding of the State of Israel, acts of violence were designed to frighten Arabs into fleeing for their lives. One of the best documented examples was the village of Deir Yassin.  On April 9, 1948, the Stern gang, headed by Yitzak Shamir, and the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, conducted the massacre of the Arab village of Deir Yassin.  Jews claim 100 people were killed, Arabs say it was 250.  The commander of the Haganah, Zvi Ankori described what he witnessed:

I saw cut-off genitalia and women’s crushed stomachs. It was direct murder. Soldiers shot everyone they saw, including women and children. Parents begged commanders to stop the slaughter, to please stop shooting.[2]

No one denies that most of those slashed to death were women and children. Jewish terrorist shot people on their homes and threw their bodies into the streets as a message to neighboring Arab villages. Survivors of the raid tell stories of Israeli soldiers starting to kill early in the morning and continuing all day. They killed everyone they saw, including old people and children. One pregnant woman had her stomach cut open with a butcher’s knife.[3]

Rather than hiding its face in shame, Israel’s leaders promoted the massacre as a propaganda tool to frighten other villages into fleeing their homes and leaving them for Israeli Jews to occupy, “free of charge.” 

Also in the minds of Americans should be the USS Liberty.

Fifty years ago, this month, Israel deliberately attacked a US navy ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171, machine gunned our life rafts in the water and did everything it could to sink the USS Liberty.  Why would Israel attack an American ship?  To stop messages from reaching the world that Israel was preparing to invade Syria to capture the Golan Heights.  And to this day, the lobby prevails. The US Government has done NOTHING to protect or protest the assault on the Liberty. Israel has well learned that it can do anything, even kill Americans, and the US will sweep it under the rug.[4]  

No one is safe from Israel’s lobby or its self-proclaimed “right to defend itself.”

As the father of a mentally disabled son, I not only read about Nanar Mujahed, I feel her story. Just last week, (April 21, 2017), Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire on this disabled Palestinian young woman. She certainly posed no threat to them. Frightened and confused as she was, they even put her in handcuffs at the hospital. Now, in addition to having a mental handicap, Manar Mujahed is also paralyzed.[5]

No matter what, Israel gets away with it.

Thomas Are
May 3, 2017


[1] Filmmaker, Tom Hayes, Quoted by Delinda Hanley in the Introduction to the fourth “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” conference, Washington, D.C., March 24,2017.
[2].Lanni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revolutions From Jabotinsky to Shamir, (Zed Books, Ltd. 1984). P. 97. And Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism, (Veritas Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1988) p.33.
[3].Quoted in David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Root of Violance on the Middle East, Faber and Faber, 1977) p. 141. Cited in Clifford Wright, Facts and Fables: The Arab-Isreli Conflict, (London, Kegan Paul International. 1989) p.19
[4] I urge you to Google, HOWARD FILMS, LOSS OF LIBERTY. It’s a history that we should know.   To learn more, Read the book, Assault on the Liberty, By James Ennes, the officer on deck during the attack.  The latest book on this that I have read is Attack on the Liberty, By James Scott, the son of one of the officers on the Liberty.  Again, this is a history that we should know if we are to understand how the US defers to Israel, time and time again.

[5] Mondoweiss, Israeli Soldiers Opened Fire at Mentally disabled Palestinian.  April, 21, 2017.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Israel Celebrates

To this day, Israel sanctifies the massacre and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in what it calls its war of independence in 1948. The indigenous residents of Palestine were pushed into refugee camps all across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Gaza. Israel actually brags to its own people about reclaiming the gift from God to the Jews.

Then, two decades later, Israel launched a surprise attack on its neighbors and gained what it calls “the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.” Yet, what it calls a “liberation” was actually the occupation of the land, labor and resources of a weaker and mostly unarmed people. Israel celebrates five decades of demolishing homes, stealing water, erecting hundreds of checkpoints, putting Palestinians, including children, in Israeli prisons, building a wall through the West Bank separating kids from their schools, farmers from their fields and the sick and wounded from their hospitals. Israel’s Six Day War also built an effective apartheid system.

Meretz chairperson of Zehava Galon said the celebration is of a massive human rights violation:

Israel has controlled millions of people for 50 years, treads on them every day anew and denies them rights and sovereignty.

And, that’s not the worst of it. Haaretz notes:

The 1967 war led to the growth of unbridled national arrogance, which exacted an awful price in blood over the past 50 years and turned the military victory into a moral defeat. In retrospect, it should be called the 50-Year War, and judging by the political situation, its life expectancy appears endless.[1]

This fifty years of oppression should be a source of shame, not a reason for celebration.

However, Israel does have cause to celebrate. It has over powered its non-Jewish citizens and neighbors for half a century and at the same time convinced the world, especially the United States, that all this time it has been the victim. Now, that is quite an accomplishment.

And Donald Trump grins in a total fog.

Thomas Are
April 25, 2017




[1] Both of these quotes come from Israel Will Celebrate 50th Anniversary of ’67 War in – an Illegal Settlement,  Mondoweiss, April 17, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Anywhere in the World

Did you hear what he said? I did. The Secretary State not only said it on national television, it was repeated in leading newspapers all around the world. Rex Tillerson, said:

We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocent anywhere in the world.

Look out Israel. You must be on the top of his list. And America, too for that matter, for our crimes against the innocent children of Palestine.  Even though I have never seen one shred of evidence that Tillerson gives a hoot for the children of the West Bank and Gaza, his noble proclamation of having a heart reveals only that he either knows nothing about Israel’s brutality or he hopes that you don’t know or care.

Donald Trump speaks so passionately about the 100 children gassed by Syria, saying, “No  child of God should ever suffer such horror.”  Yet he has no word of sympathy for the 550 children blown up in Gaza in 2014 by Israeli pilots flying planes supplied by the US., nor do we hear any remorse for the “beautiful children” burned to death by white phosphorus exploding over their heads like a fireworks star-burst at a ball game. He has nothing but praise for his favorite son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose claim to fame is that Benjamin Netanyahu once slept in his bed, when he donates tens of thousands of dollars to displace Palestinian children and their families to make room for Jewish only settlements in the West Bank. I guess only children who get out of Israel’s way are “beautiful.”

Sean Spicer said, “Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”  Of course he is right, but he obviously does not have in mind all innocent people.

Tzipi Livni , considered to be among the most liberal members of Israel’s Knesset, said that the attack on Gaza in 2008-9 was necessary and important.  When Hamas fires those unguided home-made missiles into Israel, we just “go wild.”[i] And what happens to the “beautiful” children of Gaza is hard to believe.  Their homes, schools, hospitals, food and water supplies are considered “enemy bases,” and blown up, without a thought.    Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizonkot said, “They are all just collateral damage.”  According to Justice Minister Ayelet Sheked, “All these children are just little snakes anyway.  Elie Wiesel explained that when 550 children in Gaza were killed it is only because Hamas chose to sacrifice them.”[ii]

Trump is right when he says, “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” He is wrong in excluding Palestinian children from his focus of concern.

Thomas Are
April 13, 2017






[i] The Selective Concern for Beautiful Babies,  Mondoweiss, April 11, 2017.
2 The Selective Concern for Beautiful Babies,  Mondoweiss, April 11, 2017.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ignoring Trump

Donald Trump has such little credibility that even Israel to whom Trump has sworn undying support and allegiance is saying, no thanks, we prefer to go it alone. It’s easy to understand why.

As reported on Morning Joe,[1] Trump is underwater in trying to get anything done whether overseas or at home. The world reads these numbers. Our enemies rejoice and our friends tremble.                     

Gallup Poll has Trump at        Approval 39%         Disapprove   55%
IBD TIPP Poll                         Approval 34%         Disapprove   56%
Quinnipiac University Poll
     Trumps Overall Approval Rating   Approve 35%  Disapprove  57%                                                                                                                              
                   Health Care                   28%                   64%
                   Immigration Issues       39%                   57%
                   Economy                       41%                   48%
                   Environmental Policy   29%                   61%
                   Foreign Policy               33%                   58%
                   Terrorism                       42%                   49%                        

And why is Trump’s credibility so low? 

Too many wishy-washy episodes like his dealing with Syria. Today, Trump “calls on all civilized nations to join the U.S. in seeking an end to the slaughter in Syria. However, he hopes you have forgotten that in 2013, when Syria used chemical gas against its rebel citizens, Trump lambasted Obama for wanting to get involved saying:
        Syria is not our problem
          We should stay the hell out of Syria. What will we get for our lives and $ billions?                                ZERO
            What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a long term conflict
  If Obama attacks Syria and innocent citizens are killed, he and US will look very bad.
               What I am saying is stay out of Syria
                 At least three time in May, 2013, he said, Do NOT attack Syria.

“Forget Syria.”  Over and over again Trump announced his total opposition to any US involvement in Syria.  Yet, today, he looks at the horrendous Assad attack on unarmed men, women and children and Trump has the audacity to put the blame on Obama because he did not send troops into Syria four years ago. Bottom line:  

            2013: Trump says US should stay out of Syria
            2017: Trump says US should have sent troops to Syria[2]

Yet, nothing boosts a president’s ratings so much as a war and he knows it.

Wait a minute, some reader is thinking about now; I thought this was a blog about Israel/Palestine, and you are right. So, let’s get to the point.

In February, Trump asked Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold off on settlement building.” He was speaking as the president of the United States, the number one backer and financier of Israel. But, Netanyahu reads the numbers on Trump and says the heck with him, he has no clout. So, Israel continues with its settlement building, apartheid laws, ethnic cleansing, brutal occupation, check points, walls, barbaric treatment of Palestinians, putting children in Israeli prisons, stealing water and thumbing its nose at human rights…and Donald Trump.

Thomas Are
April 7, 2017





[1] Morning Joe, April 5, 2017
[2] This report on Syria was gleaned from The  Rachael Maddow Show,  April 4, 2017. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

America Second

Trump’s budget laments that we do not have the money we need to address the problems facing America, such as health care, education, climate change and the infrastructure. That’s why he says his proposed budget puts “America First”. Yet, he seems to have vast sums for Israel. Money for Israel is not on the chopping block. His proposal for deep cuts in foreign aid  are not to effect Israel.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

The budget plan from the White House calls for slashing the State Department’s $50 billion budget by about 28%, cuts that would mostly target climate change, democracy promotion, health programs, and numerous foreign aid projects.  Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said U.S, aid to Israel, which totaled about $3.1 billion this year, would not be touched under the Trump plan. Israel gets more U.S. aid than any other nation.

Aid to every other country will come under review.[1]

Israel has a population of about 7.7 million, far less than the state of New Jersey. It is one of the most affluent nations on the globe. Its unemployment rate is less than the U.S., Yet, we neglect our problems and borrow money to send billions every year, about $8.5 million every day, to help Israel deal with its problems.

There’s still more to the story, because parts of U.S. aid to Israel are buried in the budgets of various US agencies, mostly the Department of Defense. For example, since 2006, the American Defense Budget has included between $130 and $235 million per year for missile defense programs in Israel.[2]

Add it all up and Israel,  with less than 8 million people gets more “foreign aid” than all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined – which have a total population of over a billion people.[3]

There are also hidden costs to our blind support of Israel, such as the oil boycott of 1973, and 9/11.  
According to Harvard professor Steven Walt:

The 9/11 Commission reported that 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s  “animus toward the United States stemmed from his violent disagreement with US foreign policy favoring Israel”. Other anti-American terrorist – such as Ramza Yousef, who led the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center – have offered similar explanations for their anger toward the United States.[4]

And, of course, the biggie. Would we have ever invaded Iraq if it were not for the pressure from Israel?

Conclusion: The only reason I give a little money to a homeless beggar on the street is because I think he needs it. I support a shelter for battered woman because the mothers and children there are hurting and hope for a better life. I even give to my church because it reaches out to suffering people in dozens of ways. But, to give vast sums to Israel which obviously does not need it, but uses it to oppress Palestinians, build settlements on what is left of their shrinking land, confiscate their water, imprison their children and exploits them as cheap labor, among many other oppressive practices, does not make sense to me.

Oh, how I wish Mr. Trump really would put America, and American ideals, first.

Thomas Are
March 25, 2017




[1] Trump’s ‘America First’ Budget puts Israel right up there, Too, Mondoweiss, March, 17, 2017
[2] Jeremy Sharp, U.S. foreign aid to Israel, Congressional Research Service, March 12, 2012. Cited in Newsobserveronline, The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans. , May 8, 2013.
[3] Richard Curtiss, “The Cost of Israel to the American People”, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 1998.
[4] Stephen Walt, Whiff of Desperation, Foreign Policy, April 25, 2011.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Children are Innocent

Children are innocent, but many of them are in Israeli prisons.

Shidi is 13 years old. He was 12, on December 30, 2015 when Israel arrested him, forced him to stand naked in a freezing cold prison cell for hours. No parent, no lawyer. His mother saw him across the court room at his “trial,” his hands and feet in shackles. He will spend the next two years in an Israeli prison because Israel says, “He would have stabbed an Israeli, if he had a knife.”[i]

Gideon Levy said, “There is nothing more Israeli than a court that gives a soldier who killed a Palestinian in cold blood a sentence fit for a bicycle thief.”[ii]

An 18-month jail sentence handed down to an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) recruit for the killing of a wounded Palestinian has prompted for widespread criticism for its apparent leniency in light of the severity of his crime…Yet, the ruling was a landmark case insofar as no member of the IDF has been prosecuted for actions carried out in over 12 years... The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.[iii]

Dr. Jess Ghannam, professor of psychiatry and global health sciences at the University of California School of Medicine notes:

Palestinian children in Gaza are exposed to more violence in their lifetime than any other people, any other children anywhere in the world. If you look at children right now who are 10 years old, they’ve been through Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, the invasion in 2012 and the invasion and destruction in 2014. In addition to the siege, if you look at the statistics, even before Cast Lead, 80 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza have witnessed some sort of violence against them, a friend or a family member. And now they’re getting to the point where probably close to 99 percent of children in Gaza are being exposed to a level of violence where they have seen family members be killed, murdered, burned alive. There’s nothing like the levels of traumatic exposure that any child in the world has ever been exposed to on a chronic and daily basis.

According to Middle East Children’s Alliance, “Palestinian children are subject to attacks by the Israeli occupation forces and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis, 1,518 have been killed since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013, that’s one every three days for thirteen years. Almost 250 Palestinian minors, like Shadi, are being held in Israeli prisons.

Shadi’s friends described him as full of life, loved by family, neighbors, friends and classmates. They said that he loved to dance and sing and swim. He excelled in math. Shadi sounds like a delightful kid. But, I wonder what he will be when he is released after years in an Israeli prison?  How much hate can Israel control by force.  Children do grow up.

Thomas Are
March 19, 2017



[i] Farihan Farah,  I am a Proud Woman and a Humanitarian. I am also the Mother of the Youngest Palestinian Prisoner in an Israeli Jail.  Mondoweiss, March 8, 2017.
[ii] Haaretz, Who Needs the Hague when you have Israeli Army Justice, February 23, 2017

[iii] Bethan McKernan, Five Children Get Longer Sentences for Throwing Stones than Israeli Soldier who Shot Incapacitated Palestinian Dead.  The Independent, February 22, 2017.