Sunday, December 23, 2012


Imperialism has been defined as a stronger nation taking the land, labor and resources of a weaker nation for its own gain.

In our local newspaper, several weeks ago, a Jewish friend wrote to complain to the editor about an article concerning the recent presidential election. However, his main concern seemed to be an article written several years ago by the same writer which contained criticism of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. He wrote:

I do not know how this woman gets away with such large press. She is either blindly naive or truly has a frightful agenda. Her previous “opinions” on Israel are unconscionable as she portrays Israel as the big bad bully. Israel for its proportion of the world population (less than  .02 percent of the world population) has contributed more to modern society, medicine, science, technology and humanitarianism than any other nation.
          The Jewish people over the centuries have contributed more to civilization than any other people in proportion to their population size in terms of moral-ethical values, human rights, science, medicine, philosophy. Count how many Jewish Nobel prize winners compared to Muslim prize winners … with 16 million population of the Jewish faith compared to a billion Muslims. (1)

I do not know anyone who says that Jews are not smart. The debate is over the morality of the Zionist government of the State of Israel. The Germans, in the 1930s, were smart people. Brian McLaren raises the question of how a country like Germany, “the epicenter of the enlightenment with it rationality and its mind-set could sink into the barbarism of Nazism and all it entailed.”

The intellectuals realized that Nazism was an excessive growth of confidence ---confidence in their national ethos, in their rational and interpretive powers, in their scientific prowess, and so on. When this confidence grew out of proportion, it became malignant, giving the “us” of Germany a kind of manic hyper-confidence to claim racial superiority and global dominance even if that meant extermination of those who were determined to be “other,” “them” or “not us” (2)

The holocaust happened because good people turned a blind eye to evil policies. This does not take anything away from the IQ level of the German people, it simply points out that smart people can choose to ignore the darker side of their own government. Just this week, Israel announced 3,000 new settlement units and the world is still waiting for the outcry of the “moral-ethical values, human rights” Nobel prize winning Jews of Israel and America to shout, “stop it.” Surely they are smart enough to know what is going on.

The simple question facing the population of the world is: Is Palestine a part of Israel? That is not a hard question. Israel with its Knesset and Supreme Court has had 62 years to figure it out. Does Palestine belong to Israel? Yes or No?

If the answer is yes, then why does democratic Israel not have all its citizens living under the same law? Why not equal treatment? If the answer is “no,” then by what right, moral or otherwise, does Israel have to tear down Palestinian homes and replace them with Jewish only houses, to transfer water into Israel, to exploit labor by denying opportunity for Palestinians to work for themselves? What right does Israel have to keep 2.5 million Palestinians shut up as in a prison?

My Jewish friend has every right to defend Israel's expansionism, but at least he should have the integrity to call it what it is: Israeli imperialism.

Thomas Are
December 24, 2012

(1) Smoke Signals, Letters to the Editor, November 2012.
(2) Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, (Thomas Nelson, 2007) p.36.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Wish Obama were listening

To tell you the truth, I am disappointed in Barak Obama's anemic response to the Israel/Palestine crisis. I remember well his beautiful declaration in Cairo in 2009.

It is undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in the refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.

So, let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate aspirations for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.

Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist. At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestinian's [right to exist]. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

These was the most encouraging words spoken by a president in my life time, and millions of people dedicated to peace through justice around the world remember them well. I wish that Obama also remembered them. But it seems that he is choosing to wash his hands of the whole Israeli/Palestinian mess. Peter Beinart in Newsweek writes, “Even though E1 has long been an American red line.(1) And even though the Israelis alerted the White House mere hours before they announced the decision, the Obama administration's response was pro forma and bland. Publicly, Obama said nothing. It was the first sign of what senior administration officials predict may be a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Obama's second term: benign neglect. (2)

In what terms can the silence of Obama be described other than that he has in fact “turned his back on the Palestinian people?” He obviously knows that the United States is up to its ears in supporting Israel's illegal activity with our money, weapons and UN Security vetoes.

Roger Waters, addressing the United Nations on November 29, 2012, spelled out Israel's guilt of international crimes in five terms: apartheid, ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, violation of Geneva Convention and use of illegal weapons. At risk of diminishing the power of his full address I will summarize his presentation.

APARTHEID – to establish on a racial basis the domination of any one group of persons over any other group of persons and systematically oppressing them, as has been the policy of Israel towards the Palestinians since 1948.

ETHNIC CLEANSING - as in the systematic expulsions of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 and 1967.

COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT – as in the punishment of an entire civilian population, explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Convention. Israel has violated its obligation as an occupying power by the virtual imprisonment and blockade of the entire population of Gaza.

VIOLATION OF GENEVA CONVENTION - which prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory.

USE OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS – such as dropping white phosphorus on civilians, which sticks to the skin like jelly and burns at 1500 degrees, declared to be a war crime.

To those who say, “But, Hamas started it all.” Roger Waters responds. How we understand history is shaped by when we start the clock. Start the clock in the afternoon with rockets flying into Israel and Hamas looks guilty. Israel is simply defending itself. But, start the clock earlier that same morning when a 13 year old boy was shot dead by an Israeli soldier as he played soccer, and history looks a little different. Start the clock even earlier, like in 2009 and 271 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers. During that same time, not a single Israeli was killed.  In fact, Waters, said, “IT” actually started in 1967 with the occupation of Gaza and West Bank. The crisis of rockets is rooted in occupation.

Obviously the rest of the world takes these facts into consideration. I only hope Obama is listen.

Thomas Are
December 17, 2012

1 – The geographical area of Palestine between the West Bank and Jerusalem.
2 – Peter Beinart, Why Obama Will Ignore Israel, Newsweek, December 17, 2012. p.22

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Recognition by the Unite Nations

I have never thought of Israel as being afraid of annihilation as much as Israel being afraid of exposure. Let us be clear, the U.N. Resolution was not about the destruction of Israel, it was and is about the human rights of Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, speaking before the UN, while seeking to upgrade Palestine to a “non-member observer state, said:

We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel. Rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of a state that must now achieve its independence and that is Palestine. The moment has come for the world to say: enough of aggression, enough with settlements and occupation.(1)

Israel and the U.S. cast off the Palestinian bid as merely a meaningless gesture saying that the vote by the UN to recognize Palestine is no more than a symbol. If that's the case, it's strange how hard Israel and the U.S. worked to stop it from happening, even threatening to withhold tax funds due for services in the West Bank. And the US sent Bill Burns, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, to visit Muhmoud Abbas in his New York hotel room to urge him to “reconsider” his request for recognition.

Why so much panic over a mere symbol?  Because this “symbol” allows the Palestinians access to the International Criminal Court and there's the rub.

Suddenly, a people whom Israel had hoped would remain invisible will have a channel of revealing to the world 62 years of continuing “criminal” conduct by our “closest ally.” If Americans actually knew the history of Israel's oppression of the people upon whom it planted its nation, we might begin to ask questions. Questions such as, Why is there “no daylight” between the US, which publicly declares its commitment to democracy, and the State of Israel, which publicly declared itself a theocracy, a state for Jews only?

Some might even ask why the US refuses to recognize the democratically elected government of Gaza instead of broad brush declaring Hamas a “terrorist” organization. Worse still, why do we continue to give Israel more than $8,000,000 a day in foreign aid to build settlements when every news program on TV talks about the horrible financial situation we are having at home?

Some might even begin to wonder if our blind support for Israel's criminal activity could have contributed to 9/11 which ultimately got us bogged down in two wars, which threaten to bankrupt our nation. Some might even ask for an investigation into the crushing death of Rachel Corrie or Israel's deliberate attack on the USS Liberty.

Exposing Israel in a trial before the International Criminal Court would surely raise questions. Our US political leadership might be forced to use more honest language than Hillary Clinton's, “a step that will not bring us closer to peace,” which she immediately followed it up by declaring, “America has Israel's back,”(2) and Barak Obama's declaring that the Palestinian bid for recognition was “unhelpful.” Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador explained, “Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution placed further obstacles in the path for peace, that is why the United States voted against it.”(3)  Perhaps, exposing Israel also exposes us.

Henry Seigman in Foreign said, the U.S. uncritical stance “confirms America's irrelevance” in resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It dooms President Obama's efforts to renew peace talks as an “empty and purposeless exercise.” Unless the U.S. demands that Israel accept its 1967 borders as a starting point, negotiations have “no prospect of producing anything other than cover for Israel's continuing colonial behavior.” (4)

Immediately, the day after 138 nations voted to recognize Palestine, Israel announced the construction of 3000 new houses in Palestinian. The location of these new settlements is significant in that they will cut off the West Bank from Jerusalem and put an end to any hope of a Palestine with contiguous territory. Dani Seidemann, a Jerusalem lawyer and peace activist, described Israel's latest settlement plans as “the fatal heart attack of the two-state solution” and said Mr. Netanyahu was wielding “the doomsday weapon.” (5) All that over a “mere symbol.”

Thomas Are
December 12, 2012

1 – Reported by John Glaseer, UN Votes in Favor of Upgrading Palestinian Status,, November 29, 2912.
2 - Housing Move in Israel Seen as Setback for a Two-State Plan, Jodi Rudoren and Mark Landler, New York Times, November 30, 2012.
3 – John Glaser, UN Votes in Favor of Upgrading Palestinian Status. November 29, 2012.
4 - Housing Move in Israel Seen as Setback for a Two-State Plan, Jodi Rudoren and Mark Landler, New York Times, November 30, 2012.
5 - The Week, The Israeli-Palestinian Rift Deepens. December 14, 2012. p.3.