Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Birthright Walkouts


For decades, Israel has sponsored “Birthright” trips to show young Jews the glories of the Jewish state. It has been a popular program salted by easy “hook ups” with young sexy Israeli soldiers, both male and female.  Participants are even provided with “An Unofficial guide to Sex on Birthright Israel,” complete with information as to which brand of condoms are safest. Most Birthright trips are joined by young Israeli soldiers who surmise that the possibility of uncomplicated sex with their choice of dozens of exotic foreigners, thousands of miles away from Daddy, is too much of an opportunity to let slip by. So, the Unofficial Guide to Sex on Birthright Israel says, “If you just want to have sex with an Israeli soldier, then by all means go for it.”[i]

Yet, in spite of the erotic pull, some Birthright kids are walking out.  

Philip Weiss reports:

Yesterday two more Birthright tours of Israel were struck by walkouts in Jerusalem. Two from one group, six from another group – making 13 in all to stage these walkouts.[ii]

The fact that each year the Israeli army arrest about 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, most of them subjected to physical violence and interrogation, without parents or lawyer, grates against the Jewish values of more and more Birthright kids.

And then there is Gaza. The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli snipers since the beginning of the protest on March 30th is over 135 with more than 15,000 injured. Over 2,530 of the injured are children, 1,160 are women.[iii] B’Selem, the Israeli human rights group, condemns the shooting of unarmed demonstrators across the fence as “crimes.” Some are saying that the American Jewish love affair with Israel is over.”[iv] Younger Jews have heard too much about the forced displacement of 700,000 indigenous people and Israel’s continued abuse of their human rights to simply buy into the Zionist narratives proclaimed by their parents and grandparents. Younger Jews, both in Israel and America are asking what it means to have Jewish values in the 21st century. And when Birthright tours refuse to even acknowledge the existence of the wall, checkpoints and the blockade of Gaza, some choose to express their Jewish values by walking out.

Thomas Are
July 25, 2018



[i] Wendy in furs, The Unofficial Guide to Sex on Birthright Israel, Jewlicious THE Jewish Blog, February 12, 2011.
[ii] Philip Weiss, Eight more Jews Walk out on Birthright; saying Tour has no Place for Palestinians. Mondoweiss.net, July 16, 2018
[iii] These numbers are too readily available to limit their source to any one website. Just Google.
[iv] Israel just Lost American Jews,Mondoweiss.net, April 5, 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Jewish Heritage


It seems that the children of the Rabbis are more Jewish than their dads. The younger Jews, especially in America, place more value on their morality than do their parents. They are supporting their Jewish heritage above a blind commitment to the State of Israel.

A poll recently conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated that:

Each U.S. generation is less sympathetic toward Israel than its predecessor. There is no guarantee that the strong pro-Israel consensus that has long been a bipartisan feature of U.S. politics will endure forever.[1]

Younger Jews are offended when Israeli soldiers, firing from behind barricades, shoot, maim and kill unarmed Palestinian protestors living in inhumane condition created by Israel’s multi-decade siege in Gaza. They have:

Learned too much about the forced displacement, and on-going discrimination against an indigenous people to accept that Zionism was, and still is, an innocent project of Jewish liberation… They have questioned the myths and narratives accepted by their parents, while their own understanding of what it should mean to “be Jewish,” in the 21st century feels offended by what they see happening in a country that claims to exist and act in their interest.[2]

The creation and conditions in Gaza have triggered a reaction in the conscience of many younger Jews, especially in America. When Israel continues to bombard Gaza, blockade its water,    electricity and medical supplies, many younger Jews of conscience are saying, “the leaders in Israel may be Jews, but they are certainly not Jewish.”[3]

Jared Kushner does not represent the younger Jews of America.  The New York Jewish Week conducted a survey:

One of the study’s most concerning findings is a decrease in emotional and active support of Israel. While 87 percent of those 55 and older report feeling emotionally connected to Israel, 65 percent of those 18 to 34 feel the same way. And while 71 percent of those 55 and older actively support the Jewish State, less than half – 43 percent – of Jews 18 to 34 do the same.[4]

As of this posting, IDF snipers have shot and killed 133 unarmed protestors and wounded more than 13,000. In dozens of ways, including the declaration that Israel’s democracy applies to Jews only, Israel has demonstrated that the only lives that matter are Jewish lives.

May God strengthen and bless those younger Jews who put the glorious heritage of their faith above the idolatrous worship of the state of Israel.

Thomas Are
July 2, 2018


[1] Robert M. Dann, Israel Among the Nations.  Foreign Affairs, July/August 2016
[2] Mondoweiss.net. Jews must Ditch Zionism, Now. April 8, 2018
[3] Mondoweiss.net. Older Jews are Officially terrified of Young Jew’s Views of Israel. March 27, 2018
[4] Mondoweiss.net, Support for Israel is Tumbling – even among Young Orthodox Jews.  November 1, 2017

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Zionist Bigotry


It has been said, Pride goeth before a fall, meaning, “People who act overconfident or too arrogant are likely to fall.”  Oh, I remember where that quote comes from. It’s in the Jewish Bible, God’s word to his chosen people. (Proverbs 16:18) 

As Israel celebrates 70 years of stateism, it has become a nation of racism, arrogance and bigotry. Bradley Burston, writing in Haaretz, a leading newspaper in Israel, says:

It hurts me to write what I’m about to. But it also hurts me to have to live in this place today. This is Zionism as racism…As a public servant, as an Orthodox rabbi, as a settler, you’re free to say anything, as long as it’s anti-Arab, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti- Palestinian anti-Nazi, anti-North American…For sheer, unadulterated Zionist bigotry and hatred…no one can touch Benyamin Netanyahu [i]

It’s amazing. Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Hebron issued a religious edict saying:

A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail. He also asserts that Arabs could be used for medical experiments.

Ovadia Yosef, a former Sephardi chief rabbi said:

“The sole purpose off non-Jews is to serve Jews.”

This declaration was endorsed by 250 Jewish religious figures.[ii]  

Again, Allan Brownfeld writes:

Israel repeatedly refers to itself as a “Jewish state,” but its current direction represents a rejection of Jewish moral and ethical values. Slowly, more and more American Jews, who believed Israel shared their values are coming to the realization that it does not.

I used to think of Israel as a century state, meaning that it would survive for about 100 years. Israel seems to thrive on creating enemies and I thought, one of these days, one of them is going to stomp in and crush it.

No more. I now think if Israel makes it ten more years it will be a miracle. Not because some “enemy” will invade but because it will implode from within. Israel has no foundation other than its illusions about itself, such as: Of all the people on earth, we are God’s chosen. Jews are smarter and more valuable than other people. Actually, Israel has little self-control, no constitution and recognizes no borders. It has one true friend in the world, the United States, and that could easily change as more and more young Jews reject the actions and arrogance of Israel.

Most Americans have supported Israel over the years as, “the only democracy in the Middle East.” But what kind of democracy is it when Israel’s Jewish leadership declares that it is not a nation for all its citizens but rather, its democracy is for “Jews only?” It is pure Zionist bigotry.

Thomas Are
June 26, 2018


[i] Allan C. Brownfeld, Israel at 70: An Alarming Growth of Racism and Intolerance. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,  June 2018, p. 40.
[ii] Also from Allan C. Brownfeld, Israel at 70: An Alarming Growth of Racism and Intolerance. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,  June 2018, p. 40.

Monday, June 18, 2018

NIKKI


There is much to be admired about Nikki Haley, but her blind excusing of Israel is not one of them. It seems that in her mind, Israel, no matter what it does, is innocent and deserving to be given a pass. Israel can do no wrong. If anybody says otherwise, she will not listen.

Last month at the United Nations Security Council meeting, she described Israel’s forces at the Gaza border. ”No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”  When the Palestinian Ambassador tried to explain some context to her remarks, that the conflict at the border is a one sided massacre which has already killed hundreds of  Palestinians and wounded thousands more, including women and children, Nikki Haley got up and walked out. So much for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. Just forget it.

Another story that Haley refuses to remember is that of Arnon Sofer of Haifa University’s advise to 
Ariel Sharon in 2004:

Withdraw Israeli forces from within Gaza, seal the territory off from the outside world, and simply shoot anyone who tries to break put. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it is going to be a human catastrophe.” Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today… So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill, all day, every day.”[i]

The facts that Haley currently refuses to hear include a report that on one day, May 14th:

The Israeli army shot and killed 60 Palestinians in Gaza – including 6 children – and injured 3,000 others amid scenes of smoke, fire, teargas, dust, agony and blood.[ii]

The “brave soldiers operating with restraint” to whom she refers are of course snipers hiding behind barricades shooting unarmed civilians from a safe distance of 1,000 yards or more.

No problem for Nikki Haley. If Israel does it, and it seems harsh, just forget it.

Some wise soul has pointed out:

Erase memory and you wash away the blood from the perpetrator’s hands, you undo the done deed, make it disappear from history. Erase memories of atrocities and you tempt future perpetrators with immunity.[iii]

Nikki Haley is supposed to be our U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. To use one of Donald Trump’s favorite words, it is “unfair.” Actually, we have no ambassador to the U.N.  Israel has two.

Thomas Are
June 18, 2018



1 and 2 - Saree Makdisi, Kill and Kill and Kill,  Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2018, p. 8

[iii] Miraslov Volf, cited in Justin Schwegel, The Greenhouse Propaganda – How Gazan History is Being Rewritten to dehumanize Palestinians. Mondoweiss.net, August 10. 2014

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Last Week in Gaza


Last week, May 15th  is said to be the bloodiest day of the recent demonstrations in Gaza. Israel killed almost 50 unarmed Palestinians.

While Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu were celebrating the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem, just a few miles away, Palestinians were living in concentration camp like conditions. United Nations Human Rights Council leader Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described the living conditions in Gaza as being:

Caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; de-humanized by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason to protest.[i]

Of course, Israel calls them “terrorists,” which provides an excuse to humiliate, and ignore their basic human needs.  Human Rights Watch tried to motivate the Israeli government into acting more responsibly by criticizing its brutal policies.  Instead of hearing the concerns of Human Right Watch, Israel kicked them out of the country.  Problem controlled.

What Israel cannot control are the demonstrations on the Gaza border. It tries to by shooting into the crowds of people. It would be comical if it were not so tragic. The IDF, the “most moral army on the globe” crouched behind earth berms firing into crowds of unarmed protestors across a fence, killing, at last count, 115 Palestinians and injured 13,190, since March 30th.  These numbers include 13 children killed and 2,096 injured, and over a thousand women wounded.[ii]

Why do Palestinians in Gaza continue to risk their lives to protest?  Why? Because:

Gaza is a prison, Gaza is a concentration camp, Gaza has been blockaded for a decade, Gaza’s occupation is a perennial crime against humanity, but most of all Gaza is a target. Gaza is a target because it suits the Israelis to have two million captive Palestinian men, women, and children (half of them are children) to despise, starve, deny medical supplies, reduce to inescapable and unlivable conditions, kill, and then brand as “terrorists” for not surrendering and disappearing from the face of the earth 70 years ago.[iii]

So, they demonstrate at the border, hoping someone will notice.

Thomas Are
May 29, 2018


[i] Bob Livingston, Editor, The Bob Livingston Letter,
[ii] Imemc.org article: Health Ministry: Israeli Army Killed 112 Palestinians, Injured 13,190 Since March 30th.  May 21.
[iii] William Boardman, Israeli Snipers Kill Unarmed, Defenseless People: Isn’t that Murder?  Reader Supported News, May 21, 2018.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hamas Responsible


The headline said, “Hamas is Responsible for Gaza’s Hardship.” [i]

After I picked myself up from the floor, (Ignorance, especially when it is chosen and announced with pride), always overwhelms me.

Hamas responsible?  It was not Hamas that drove out more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, both Muslim and Christian, taking their homes and livelihoods. Many of them wound up as penniless refugees in Gaza. Israel did that.

And it was not Hamas that murdered Count Folke Bernadotte, the United Nations special envoy who mediated a “truce” not to Israel’s liking. Israel did that, too. And it was not Hamas that pulled off a sneak attack in 1967 against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the U.S in attacking the USS Liberty, an unarmed reconnaissance ship, killing 34 American sailors. And it was not Hamas that drove nearly two million Palestinians into the Gaza with limited access to water, food and medical supplies. Israel did that.

Hamas did not bombard Gaza to smithereens in December 2008-09, and again in 2012, and again in 2014, destroying homes, sanitation plants, hospitals and infrastructure.

And it is not Hamas who is shooting into unarmed crowds of Israeli soldiers. Since March 30, when the people locked up in Gaza started demonstrating against their occupation and abuse, sixty Palestinians have been killed and over 2,700 wounded by Israeli fire. Not one Israeli soldier has received a so much as scratch in this so called “conflict.”

When I was a child, my mother asked, “Who broke the window?”  I answered, “Billy did.”  I threw a rock at his head and he ducked.  If that makes sense to you, then I guess you can say, Hamas is responsible for Gaza’s hardship.

Thomas Are
May 15, 2018



[i] Letters to the editor, Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, Sunday, May 13, 2018.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Narcissistic Nation


Much has been written lately by psychiatrist and mental health professionals about the “narcissistic mind-set.”  Defined as:[i]

            One – It is all about me.
            Two – Other people don’t matter because they are not me.
            Three – Regulations and laws are irrelevant because they restrict my being me.

Most of it has been applied to the actions of Donald Trump. And I certainly see the rationale for this concern. However, I wonder if there should not also be a concern for a “Narcissistic Nation,” namely Israel?

            One – It is all about Israel

                        From the bombing of the King David Hotel to massacre in Shebra and Shatilla refugee camps, to the air strikes on neighboring countries, US politicians, media, and the religious right, all give Israel a pass on atrocities. Even an attack on the USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors, avoids accountability. The American attitude seems to be, if it’s Israel, no questions allowed, no public debate. If it’s Israel, it is sanctioned, (blessed) in the sense of approved, not punished.

Two – Other people don’t count.

In keeping with the narcissistic mindset, other nations and people don’t count. Just think of Gaza. Two million people crowded into an “open-air prison,” deprived of clean water, food, medicine, electricity and meaningful work to do. But, to Israel, they are not Jews, so what’s the problem?  Even the non-Jewish Arabs of Israel are treated as second class citizens in their own country. They are not Jews.
                                   
            Three – No restrictions on Israel recognized.

                        It is phrased as Israel’s “right to defend itself.”  But in reality, it is a cover for Israel’s violence against its neighbors. It is not by mistake that Israel has never declared its borders, nor subjected itself to a constitution. The core of Israel’s society is its military might which does not even stand on its own, but is guaranteed and financed by the US.  Israel shouts, “The world is out to get us, because we are Jewish.”

I would argue that the world condemns Israel, precisely because it is NOT Jewish. Israel’s ancient prophets, from whom Jesus got his message and mission, had much to say about caring for the poor, protecting the weak, defending the oppressed, releasing the prisoner and forgiving debts. These are the polar opposites of the “narcissistic nation” now called Israel.

Thomas Are
April 22, 2018

           
[i] Dr. Decker, Trump’s Brain, an FBI Profile of Donald Trump. And especially, Bandy Lee, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 27 Psychiatrist and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.  (St. Martins Press, New York, 2017.)