Friday, February 6, 2009

Where's the Moral Compass?

Right after Jimmy Carter’s April, 2008 meeting with representatives of Hamas in Syria, Ari Fleischer, former Press Secretary for George W. Bush said, “I just don’t know where that man’s moral compass is set.”[1] It’s a legitimate question, it’s just aimed in the wrong direction. Since the massacre in Gaza, millions around the globe are asking that very same question not of Carter, but of Israel.

More than 1300 killed, many of them women and children. Thousands injured, many of them permanently with arms, legs and faces blown off or burned beyond recognition by internationally condemned white phosphorous bombs, 22,000 buildings destroyed, Gazans are left without electricity, medicines, food and very little water for drinking or sanitation needs.

Keep in mind that it was Israel, not Gaza, that broke the truce. Admittedly, some crude, home made rockets were launched into Israel in response to Israel’s brutal siege of Gaza, one of the poorest and most densely populated areas of the world, blocking off the necessities of life. Then, suddenly, November 4th, while all Americans were watching the results of our presidential elections, Israeli troops reentered Gaza and killed five Palestinians. It was then that Hamas refused to renew the truce. Israel invaded, dropping one hundred tons of bombs on the first day.[2]

“You can’t believe everything you hear,” is a common comment from friends and politicians. But, given Israel’s history of overwhelming force, you can’t just ignore it either.

“Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Shitila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians.”[3]

writes Robert Fisk, described by the New York Times as “probably the most famous correspondent in Britain.”

It is hard to believe that the massacre of Gaza is any different. It seems that the most dangerous place in the world to live today is close to Israel.

How is, “not believing” today any different than not believing the stories and pictures of the Nazi atrocities in the 30s and 40s when no one wanted to question the moral compass of “Christian” Germany?

There are at least two reasons why we cannot ignore what we are hearing and seeing from Gaza. One is that the planes, ships, gunboats and rockets fired into Gaza were paid for by billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Like it or not, our hands are in that dish. Second, we have allowed, unchallenged, the Christian right to distort the teachings of Judaism and Christianity to justify anything done by Israel’s military.

Someone has to challenge Israel’s Holocaust theology,[4] which says, “We have suffered, therefore we are innocent,” and “we are empowered, therefore we are entitled,” with or without moral compass.

Thomas Are
February 6, 2009
[1] Ari Fleischer, Larry King Live, April 28, 2008.
[2] Rachelle Marshall, Israel’s War on Gaza Arouses Rage Throughout the Middle East and Beyond, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2009, p.7.
[3] Robert Fisk, Why Do They Hate the West So Much, We will Ask, The Independent, January 7, 2009
[4] A term I first heard when used by Marc Ellis, Jewish scholar and author of Beyond Occupation.

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