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.