Saturday, December 12, 2009

We Best Remember

I can’t believe in a God who kills innocent babies, (Exodus 12:29) and who “hardens Pharaoh’s heart” so that he can send more plagues (Exodus 11:10). I don’t believe in a God who chooses one people to bless and others to curse (Genesis 12:3). And having said just that much, there are those who will say, “But, Tom, those accounts are not meant to be taken literally.” I agree, but then why in heaven’s name do we allow our government to support Israel in bombing the hell out of the innocent people of Lebanon and Gaza? Why do we let Israel, with the support of the Christian Right, get away with brutal crimes against the Christians and Muslims of Palestine on the basis that “God gave all that land to the Jews?”

I can’t support a church that takes little snippets of the Bible from here and there to wave a theology that makes God discount the human rights of many of his people just so Jesus can come again to his throne in Jerusalem. I have no respect for preachers who “host” large groups on holy land tours and take great pride in showing where Jesus walked while ignoring what Jesus taught and its relevance to the painful situation imposed upon the people of Bethlehem, Hebron, Qalqiliya, Ramallah and Gaza City, all in the name of God.

I also admit that I am not as offended by sexist language which refers to God as “he” as I ought to be. Yet, I struggle with the Zionists language that makes no distinction between ancient Israel and the modern state. It is hard for me to pray to the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” or sing “O Come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.”

I ask myself, if the church will not speak out for justice, who will?

While I am spouting off, I am also disappointed in my political party. On January 9th, this year, the 14th day of the war on Gaza, Nancy Pelosi sponsored a bill “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza.” This was just a few days after UNICEF estimated that 800,000 Gazans did not have running water and a million were living without electricity.[1] What about the Palestinian’s right to defend themselves against attacks from Israel? Hillary Clinton falls all over herself praising Israel for “slowing” the construction of illegal settlements without one thought to what the confiscation of lands, destruction of homes and uprooting of orchards are doing to the Palestinians whose country Israel illegally occupies. Even Barack Obama makes a speech to the AIPAC pledging undying support for Israel, without a word of concern for justice for the Palestinians.

Some world leader, I don’t remember who, said, “If I kill one or two, it’s called murder. If I kill thousands, it’s just a statistic.” Israel is counting on that. Who remembers statistics? Who remembers that Israel broke the cease fire negotiated with Hamas by invading Gaza during the night of November 4th and killed six Palestinians? (The very night that most Americans and much of the world were watching the U.S. presidential election returns.) And who will remember that Israel started the war against the people of Gaza precisely at the time when children were getting out of school and its first bombs targeted a class of police trainees.

If the world will just keep on looking the other way, Israel will, in the words of Benny Morris finish the job of expulsion begun in 1948. In spite of the fact that Israel banned reporters from Gaza during its assault on 1.5 million defenseless human beings, the word got out.

Peace negotiations have been going on for more than forty years and the unfailing constant has been increased settlements, assassinations of Palestinian leaders, hunger caused by the blockade of food, medical supplies cooking gas, repair parts for water and sanitation systems, and electricity. (In June, 2006, Israel fired nine missiles into the transformers at the Gaza City Power Plant, the only electric power plant in the Occupied territories.)[2]

Every peace proposal leaves Israel in control of “the borders around them, movement between them, the air above them and the water below them.” [3]

David Bromwich, professor at Yale says, “You cannot bomb a people into partnership. You can’t obliterate a people into a just and lasting peace. You cannot drive deep into their consciousness the knowledge that they are a defeated people and when you have finished your education through violence, come to them as moral and political equals with yourself.”[4]

And, who will remember that just two years ago Israel bombed large parts of Lebanon into rubble, leaving tens of thousands homeless.

Well, we best remember. If there is ever to be peace in the Middle East and security in America, we must remember. How long will it take us to connect the dots between our governments unconditional support of Israel and the terrorist reaction of Islamic fundamentalist?

Thomas L. Are
December 12, 2009
[1] Robert Bryce, Gaza Invasion: Powered by the U.S., “Salon”, January 31, 2009.
[2] Robert Bryce, Gaza, Powered by the U.S., “Salon,” January 31, 2009.
[3] John J. Mearshiemer, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago, Another War, Another Defeat, World News Views, January 17, 2009.
[4] David Bromwich, Professor of Literature at Yale, Self-Deception and the Assault on Gaza, The Huffington Post, January 18, 2009