Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Speaking Out

Robert Reich said

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”[1] 

Although Reich was writing about the Civil Rights movement in the U. S., I immediately thought of the people of Gaza 

Is there any thinking person in America who has not heard of Gaza and the cruelty our government supports there to the tune of $3.1 billion a year? Then are we not the good people who are silent?  Of course, that raises the question, if we are really good people, how can we remain silent.  My friend says, “Well, it just doesn’t affect me. Why should I get involved?”

Why? Because we are involved. Our government and our tax monies go to supporting the oppression and we will levy a price on anyone who challenges our “right” to do so.

The headline reads:

CNN fires Marc Lamont Hill in wake of Remarks Criticizing Israel and Calling for a “free Palestine.”[2]

As soon as Hill spoke to the UN supporting the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, he was cast as antisemitic and fired.

Cornel West, Harvard professor, philosopher, author, critic and civil rights activist, writes:

No one gets closer to peace by silencing voices critical of a lethal status quo. We need a candid debate about the grim catastrophe unfolding in Israel.[3]

I have never had much respect for CNN and probable never will as long as Wolfe Blitzer is their star, But I do have hopes in the millions of Jews around the world who out of self-respect are not guided by fear but speak out in expressing their time-honored faith in a vision of peace and justice for all.

Thomas Are
December 12, 2018              

[1]Robert B. Reich, The Common Good Are we not the good people who are silent? Good, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2018, p 38.
[2] Eli Rosenberg, CNN fires Marc Lamont Hill in wake of remarks criticizing Israel and calling for a “free Palestine”, November 29, 2018.
[3] Cornel West, Why did CNN fire a pro-Palestinian Commentator?   Dec. 4, 2018.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


From Truman to Trump, we have never had an American president to speak with integrity when calling for peace in the Middle East.

What was it?  Eleven minutes? And Truman was falling all over himself to be the first national president to “recognize” the new state of Israel.  Never mind the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who had their homes, freedom and livelihood taken from them by force. Truman celebrated “peace” in Israel.

Even a child will shout, “It’s not fair,” when forced to accept tranquility without regard to justice. When Donald Trump casually announced Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, totally ignoring the historic, emotional and religious claims of Jerusalem as their national capital, even children will respond, “It’s not fair.”

Not only that. It is not going to work. In spite of what Trump and Netanyahu wish, Palestinians are not going to just disappear. Even with the more than three billion dollars a year the U.S. sends to Israel to enforce the repression of Palestinian rights, international law and human conscience is caught in a bind facing the unlawful occupation and oppression of another people.

Let us be honest, at least with ourselves. The United States has never been an “honest broker” when it comes to Israel. From Truman to Trump, we have acted more like Israel’s defense attorney while ignoring the endless building of more and more settlement in the West Bank and Israel’s repeated bombardment of Gaza, including the destruction of sewage treatment plants, rendering what little water they have undrinkable.

In the meantime, Israeli snipers are firing live ammunition into crowds of unarmed demonstrators at the border, having already killed hundreds and wounded thousands.

What sickens me the most is that from Truman to Trump, every American president has chosen to ignore this blatant injustice and the American news media has chosen to look the other way.

Thomas Are
November 27, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Living on Killing

That’s not just some kind of game board slogan, it’s the daily policy and practice of the state of Israel.

Trump keeps suggesting that he wants peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but offers no plan that has a chance of working, precisely because Israel has no interest in peace. What Israel wants is Palestinian land for its settlements… and water. Why settle for peace when Palestinians can be controlled by targeted assassination, home demolitions, road blocks, check points, settler violence and the blockade of Gaza.

All Israel has to do, according to Amon Sofer of Haifer University, is to treat Palestinians like animals.

Seal the territory off from the outside world and shoot anyone who tries to break out. When 2.5 million people live in a closed off Gaza, it’s 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.[1]

Surely one would hope that was just the rantings of one fanatic and not to be taken seriously.

On Monday, May 14, in Gaza, Israeli snipers shot and killed 60 Palestinians, including 6 children – and injured almost 3,000 others amid scenes of smoke, fire, teargas, dust, agony and blood.

These are the children and grandchildren of those who were driven from their homes during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 to make room for the new State of Israel.  Their only crime was not being Jews.[2]

No matter how you look at it, with the blind backing of the U.S., Israel wins. With one very important exception. Israel is losing the support of young American Jews

Jared Kushner does not represent the majority of young American Jews. The New York Jewish Week reported a survey of 4000 Modern Orthodox Jews:

One of the study’s most concerning findings, experts say, is a decrease in emotional connection and active support of Israel…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.[3]

Robert Herbst, civil rights lawyer and political activist, affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace said,

Today, I am ashamed to be Israeli. – young Jewish snipers deliberately shooting down unarmed Gazans gathered in protest at the border fence that helps keep them confined in the largest open-air prison in the world, killing 18 and wounding more than 1,000 is an unspeakable, unlawful outrage.[4]        

Since Herbsy wrote those words on April 4, 2018, the number of casualties has greatly risen. To date, Israel snipers have killed 214 and wounded over 18,000.[5]

Thomas Are
November 15, 2018

[1]. Kill and kill and Kill, By Saree Makdisi, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June/July,2018. P. 8.
[2] Kill and kill and Kill, By Saree Makdisi, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June/July,2018. P. 8.
[3] Support for Israel is tumbling – even among young Orthodox Jews,, 10/1/ 2017.

[4] Robert Herbst, Jewish state, Jewish values, Jewish Shame,  Mondoweiss. April 4, 2018
[5] Google: Gaza protest: All the Latest Updates, Palestinian News/ Al Jezeera.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Garbage, In and Out

“Garbage in – garbage out”, not only applies to computers, it is equally true of people.

            Palestinians are like crocodiles, - Ehud Barak

            Palestinians are beasts walking on two legs – Menachem Begin

There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t  exist.  We can forgive them for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. - Golda Meir

The way to deal with Palestinians is to beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so badly, until it is unbearable. – Bibi Netanyahu

Palestinians are beasts, they are not human. A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile - Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan

When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle. – Rafael Eltin

We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population. – Yisrael Koenig  

One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail. – Rabbi Yaacov Perrin

One hair on the head of an Israeli soldier is more precious than the entire Gazan population. – MK Moshe Feiglin[i]

I find myself asking, how can any people expect to survive when they depend upon such garbage to keep themselves pumped up?

At the same time, I have some Jewish friends who laugh at such garbage. They take very seriously their Jewish values. They work to free the oppressed, care for the unfortunate and speak out on justice issues.  They would never consider themselves extraordinary, but I would.

Thomas Are
October 3, 2018

[i] All of these quotes come from Delinda C. Henley, Leaders Who dehumanize Cross the Threshold. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2018, p. 33-34.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The High Cost of Israel

Our political leaders keep telling us that we just don’t have the money to fund health care for all Americans, provide college level education for our brightest young students or repair our crumbling infrastructure. We just don’t have the money you understand.

But, we borrow billions of dollars on which we will pay interest, to give to Israel, who in turn “loans” it back to the U.S. on which we pay interest.  No wonder Israel, with a population of less than the state of New Jersey, is among the world’s most affluent nations.

Got an extra $115 billion dollars? That’s what the U.S. has “given” to Israel since 1948. That’s about 3 billion a year, or 8.5 million every day.

But Oh, some will say, the U.S. gives $400 million to the Palestinian Authority, which is true. But most of it is used to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by Israel.

In addition to cash handouts, there are hidden and indirect cost for our blind support of Israel such as the Arab oil boycott of 1973, imposed in protest of our taking Israel’s side against the Arab attempt to reclaim of territory lost to Israel in 1973.

More difficult to tabulate is the hidden cost of getting involved with Israel in a “war” with Iraq.

Iraq was no threat to the U.S.  We engaged ourselves in that war strictly on behalf of Israel which has cost us not only the respect of the world’s leaders, but the lives of 4,000 U.S. service men and women.  According to economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, the cost to the U.S. for the Iraq war is now over $3 trillion dollars.[i] 

Critics point out how much brighter our future would be if we had invested these billions or trillions in veteran rehabilitation and care, education, social security, housing, environmental clean-up and prevention, roads, bridges, health care, and scientific and health research.[ii]

Well, some say, “That’s all water over the dam.” Nothing can be done about it now. Except, the same crowd that rushed us into war with Iraq are now trying to push us into a war with Iran.

It’s crazy. In the first place, Iran offers no threat to America. In the second place, Iran is much stronger then Iraq was. And if we do not want another 9/11, why provoke a nation that has no grip with us?

Let Israel fight its own wars for its own interest.  But for goodness sake, let us not get suckered into fighting another war on Israel’s behalf.

So now we are back to the question of why America continues to pour money into a state that commits daily human rights violations, defies US strategic interest, provokes rage and resentment among billions of people, competes with and crowds out US interest using technology subsidized by US taxpayers, and sells America’s military secrets to its enemies.[iii]

Beats me. Fear of AIPAC is my first guess.

Thomas Are
August 27, 2018

[i] The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans, The New observer on, May 8, 2013.
[ii] The New Observer, The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans, The New observer on, May 8, 2013
[iii] The New Observer, The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans, The New observer on, May 8, 2013

Monday, August 20, 2018

How Long Will Israel Last

How long? Not long. I used to think one of its neighboring states would get enough of Israel’s bullying and invade with force significant to cause a down-fall. I no longer think that will happen, for two reasons.

One – any criticism, charge or attack on Israel brings the mighty America into play. The U.S. has demonstrated total and blind support for Israel for 70 years and there are no signs among our political leaders that any change is forthcoming.

But, there is a more logical reason that no power is going to invade Israel. It will be unnecessary. Israel is crumbling from inside in ways that even the U.S. cannot control.  There are at least eight factions grappling for power.[1]

Ashkenazi elites, mostly from Europe are on top, at least right now. Their power stems from the fact that they control the military. Israel has fought more than a dozen wars with its neighbors since 1948.  Most would not call the 2014 bombardment of  the mostly unarmed people of Gaza a “war.” It was more like a massacre.

As victories go, this was a dubious one. More than 2,100 Palestinians had been killed during seven weeks of fighting, and even Israeli officials admitted that a majority of them were civilians. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, 25 per cent of the strip’s population was displaced, and basic infrastructure was shattered. Aid agencies estimated that it will take decades to repair the damage.[2]

Ashkenazis definitely oppose establishing a constitution which might impose limits on its power or insist on equal treatment for all.

Drueze, accounting for about 2% of Israel’s population,   are a unique religious and ethnic group incorporating elements of Islam, Hinduism and Greek philosophy. They fight in the Israeli army with respect and distinction.  But complain that as soon as they take off the uniform, they are treated as second class citizens again. And this was before Israel declared its democracy is for “Jews only.”

Settlers struggle with a different set of feelings. In spite of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s ban on moving civilians into occupied territories they live in the middle of another people’s home lands. Thus, they constantly assert their “right” to be there precisely because they know no such right exist. They cope with this feeling of guilt which hangs on just below the surface by constantly treating Palestinians as a sub-human race, not deserving basic human rights. Their record of strong handed violence is astonishing. Guilt finds mysterious ways to express itself.

Ultra Orthodox are frowned upon by the majority of Israelis who see them as backward, uneducated draft dodgers.  They contribute nothing while living on government stipends. All they do is study and interpret biblical text, proclaiming that working on the sabbath is the worst possible sin. When David Ben-Gurion granted them special exemption from military service, there were only about 400 claiming this privilege. Today, they make up about 12 percent of Israel’s 9 million citizens. Needless to say, there is little love lost between Benjamin Netanyahu and this small but troublesome minority in its midst.

Non-Jewish citizens  add to this mix. Most are angry over the discrimination experienced every day. Carlstrom writes:

Half a century after the occupation, there remains a vast disparity between east and west. Among East Jerusalem residents, 75 percent live below the poverty line, and one third of children do not complete a full twelve years of school…Basic services are scarce, from health care to sewage to post offices. One refugee camp had no running water for three months.[3]

How does Israel justify such abuse? By claiming that GOD wanted Jews to have this land, not them.

Add to this mix, about a million Russian immigrants with their special interest, 130,000 Falasha from Ethiopia and the entire Palestinian nation in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel is standing on very shaky ground. It survives by not having a constitution. All it can see now is that “might makes right”. But, for how long?  How long can Ashkenazi control all these factions by might (the army) alone?  How long? Not long.

Thomas Are
August 20, 2018

[1] - Most of this information I gleaned from a book, Gregg Carlstrom,  How Long Will Israel Survive, the Threat from Within. (Oxford University Press, 2017) Great book, only he takes 260 pages to make his case. I try to do it in one.
[2] Carlstrom,  page 59.
[3] Carlstrom, page 40.

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., 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,, April 5, 2018