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.