Saturday, December 20, 2014

What is a Proper Theology?

I sometimes think there is an unwritten agreement for church membership.  We are to put our brains out of gear at the beginning of Advent. We are to sing and listen to selected readings from scripture, but no theological inquiry is allowed until the decorations are safely packed away.  It is during Advent and Christmas, the most celebrated season of the year, that we seem to substitute a theology about Jesus for the theology of Jesus.  We talk more about who he was than what he said and did. This leaves me wondering, What is a proper theology?

I used to think theology was something stored away in my books. Week by week, I would take one off the shelf and look for something fresh and interesting. I would dust it off and preach it to my congregation. I knew I was successful when people filed out after church saying, “Thank you Reverend, That was fresh and interesting.”

I know better now.  Theology is not in my books. Theology is in you, whoever you are.  It is known in how you live and how you relate to your fellow human beings.  You don’t learn theology in church, you discover it as you live in the world.

I used to think “church” was something we did up front in the sanctuary.  I know better now.  You don’t come to church, you bring church with you when you come.

I think it was John Calvin who said something like, theology is the spectacles though which we see God.  Maybe so. But I don’t believe that any more.  Theology is the spectacles through which we see the world as God intends it to be.

My fear is that what I learned in seminary was a fixed theology. I studied until I got it right, went out as a young pastor and dished “it” out one spoonful at a time until my sharper church members also got it right. I invited the world to come and get it. I had it and the world needed it.

I now believe such thinking is short sighted.  Theology is not something we have, or get or even something we believe. It is something we do.  It is something learned by following the teachings of Jesus and if we don’t do our theology, it makes little  difference what we believe.  

If we want the world to take us seriously, then we must show Jesus to be relevant and that we are faithful.  Jesus teaches such things as “love you enemies, turn the other cheek, go the second mile, feed the hungry, defend the weak and set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  When the world sees us doing these kinds of things, we might then claim a proper theology.

Now, what does all this have to do with a blog dedicated to justice and peace for the Palestinians? Just this. We go to church week after week  while our brothers and sisters in Palestine are persecuted, and we hear very little, if anything, about it.

Our theologians tell us that we must present “both sides” in the name of fairness. I confess;  when families are driven out of their homes in the middle of the night, I cannot see another side.  When  children are deliberately frightened by soldiers with guns and clubs until they cannot sleep, I cannot see another side. When people are denied access to a doctor or hospital at checkpoints, I cannot see another side. When water is confiscated and shipped out of Palestine and into Israel, when settlers are allowed to shoot holes into rooftop cisterns, I cannot see another side.

What I can see is that until the church speaks up, in a loud and clear voice to defend the oppressed and humiliated, we have no theology worth sharing.

“But the church is doing so many things right,” I am told.  This is true.  However, if all parts of my body function just right and only one tiny clot forms on my brain,  I am not 99% healthy, I am 100% sick.  If the church does everything else just right, but fails to defend the weak and oppressed, we are not almost healthy, we are totally sick.

So, what is a proper theology? Jesus got it right.  “Love God and neighbor.“ And who is my neighbor? The one who needs my help.  He said nothing about taking someone else’s home so he might come again (Christian Zionists) or that Yahweh might fulfill a promise to one set of chosen people, (Jewish Zionists) over any other people.

A proper theology is not just saluting the “General", and admiring his medals, It is following the General’s orders. It means looking at our world through the spectacles of God’s love. If the church doesn’t speak up, somebody else will and as soon as that happens, the church will become irrelevant.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                December 20, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Not My Leaders

Several people have asked if I had seen the full page ad in the New York Times purchased by 121 self identified “leaders” of the Presbyterian Church.  The ad, Presbyterians: We Can do Better than Divestment, denounced  last summer’s vote by the General Assembly to divest from three companies making profits from Israel’s occupation.  I do not know if my friends hoped I had seen it or hoped I had not seen it. But for what it’s worth, I found it disturbing.

I agree with much of what the “leaders” said in their ad. They claim a “deep commitment to a just and lasting peace between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.” I certainly agree with that. They review the atrocities of this past summer and “long for justice for both peoples.” They hope to find the “true path” to a just and lasting peace for both sides.” Then, they denounce divestment as polarizing and declare that we can do better than that.

I agree. We can do better than divestment, but I doubt that we have in mind the same “better.”  Their better is:
To reaffirm boldly the church’s commitment to a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, each with secure borders, territorial integrity and a fair share of natural resources. We also restate our profound condemnation of the threats to a two-state solution, including: violence and terrorism, the Israeli settlements, and any denial of the legitimate aspirations of either party – including their rights to a viable and secure homeland. [1]
All of that sounds wonderful. However it ignores the history, the facts on the ground and 66 years of Israel’s oppression.

The state of Israel in 1948 came into being through acts of terror, murder of unarmed Palestinians and the expulsion of 750,000 from their homes, creating the largest and longest refugee  problem in history.  Arnold J. Toynbee said, “The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 and 1948 was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis...though not comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality.” [2]

These refugees, many of whom have lived in camps their entire lives, yearn to return home.   I hear nothing in the leaders aspirations for a “deep and relational work that models peace and reconciliation with justice and compassion,” that even hints at including the millions of Palestinian refugees. All Israel hopes for is that the church in the US will join them in pushing the refugees into miserable little separated camps where they can be forgotten.

Since 1967, when Israel invaded Egypt and the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and East  Jerusalem, Israel has consistently squeezed Palestinians into smaller and smaller  isolated bantustans. Palestine has been over run by settlements, Jewish only roads and an apartheid wall which leaves little possibility of a state living side by side with Israel. Right now, West Bank has no side. It is split up into little enclaves surrounded by Israeli  military while Netanyahu does everything possible to make sure Israel’s permanent domination will never change. He is delighted to have American church leaders parrot his “peace talk.”  as long as our leaders don’t create any real opposition to his program. Even to make public his actions through such nonviolent gestures as divestment, would be labeled “polarizing.”

Consider the history:

So, again, I agree. We can do better than divestment, But, the “better” I have in mind is that in addition to divestment the church could do a better job of speaking out for justice and speaking up for the oppressed.

These kind of things seem quite Christ like.  In his first sermon, Jesus defined his mission as freedom to the oppressed and release to the captives. In his last sermon he said, “I was hungry and you did not feed me, thirsty and you did not give me water, in prison and you did not see me.  When, Lord did we see you in need and fail to minister to you?”  Remember what he said, “When you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.”

I can’t think of any people who are presently among the “least of these” more than the Palestinians.  Israel destroys their crops until they are hungry. Israel steals their water.  Their children are sick because Israel bombed their hospitals and clinics and blockades the import of medicines. Palestinians are not occupied because they are “the least,” they are the least because they are occupied.

The two state solution to which the Presbyterian “leaders” commit themselves is no more than a cover up for continuing the theft of more Palestinian land and shutting Palestinians up in little enclaves, isolated from each other. It is a massive movement to ghettorize millions of people so that Israel might prevail as a nation for Jews with privileges for Jews only, such as Jewish only roads, buses and schools.  The question which never seems to be addressed is, what would a two state solution look like for a Palestinian state?

I would challenge my fellow Presbyterians to name just one policy or military action carried out by Israel, in the 66 years of its existence, which took seriously steps toward a viable two state solution, with secure borders.   I wish the leaders would ask themselves why Israel, to this day, has never declared its borders nor adopted a constitution granting liberty and justice for all.

The leaders talk about “shared resources” while Israel pumps 80% of the water out of Palestine for Israeli use and builds a wall around Qulqiliya, which sits on the largest aquifer in the West Bank.

Israel is yet to show good faith, respect or acceptance of Palestinian human rights and promises no indication of doing so in the future.

I would challenge the 121 signers of the NYT ad to go to Palestine and see for themselves.  If that is not feasible, at least read about what is happening there before making commitments to a centralist position based on the assumption that both sides are equally guilty, vulnerable, or able to defend themselves. As Desmond Tutu says, “When you are neutral in a situation of oppression, you have taken the side of the oppressor.”

The “leaders” may be Presbyterians. I am also Presbyterian, but they are not my leaders.  When it comes to working for peace with justice for the Palestinians, those who support divestment are way ahead of them.

Thomas Are
November 26, 2014

[1]  Ndew York Times, November 20, 2014
[2] .Na’im Ateek, Justice and Only Justice, Orbis Press, Maryknoll, New York, 1989.) p.32.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Harassment and Beyond

The question is, why does Israel constantly create sonic booms over Gaza, rip up olive trees, shut down entrance crossings and go out of its way to frighten children?  The answer is simple; to harass, to make life for the Palestinian as intolerable as possible.

As soon as Israel moved its settlers out in 2005, Palestinians, in Gaza were blasted day and night with sonic booms.  When American made F-16s break through the sound barrier at low altitude, it creates an earth rattling explosion feeling like a mega ton bomb. Windows shatter, walls crack and every object in the house rattles. These “sound bombs”  strike without warning, like a sledge hammer. They cause fear in men, miscarriages in women, and traumatize children. Even teenagers suffer anxiety attacks, experience muscle spasms, nose bleeds, loss of hearing and have difficulty breathing. Three or four times a night, these low level shock waves blast the nervous system , especially of infants and old people.  .  

One Gaza Mother asked:

Why punish all of Gaza’s Palestinians? Is it to make us all so afraid we can’t close our eyes? To make us beg for mercy? To make us want it to stop at any expense?  It is cruel. It is inhumane. It is collective punishment. It is psychological torture in its rawest, most disturbing form. And so the war on Gaza continues. Terror and torture[1]

This kind of intimidation has nothing to do with security, When our president says that Israel has a right to defend itself he chooses to ignore Israel’s sonic boom program which has no purpose other than to harass.  Could you imagine a surgeon operating on a loved one when suddenly… BOOM!  

And, how does the Israeli Defense Force ripping up newly planted olive trees defend Israel?  Since the second intifada in 2000, about 465,000 olive trees have been destroyed by the Israeli military. My friend, Bert Weaver, volunteered to go with a team to the West Bank and re-plant olive trees.  They worked for ten days, planting thousands of little seedlings while the IDF sat on a hill and watched. On the last day of their work, soldiers came down, announced that the field had been confiscated for 24 hours for “security reasons.”  As soon as Bert and his friends got out of the way, bulldozers came in and ripped up ever tree.  Why? The answer is not security.  That may be the excuse, but the real reason is harassment.

Bert wrote, “For our group it was a vivid experience of the gross injustice Palestinians live with every day. It is one thing to hear and read about injustice, but when you experience it first hand it carries a very different weight.”[2]

Another kind of harassment was expressed by Eran Efrats.  Some call him a traitor. Others say he is an enemy of Israel.  I think of him as simple a person of conscience.  He is one of the hundreds of Israeli soldiers who are now called “refusenics”. He refuses to continue serving in the Israeli military because of its record in the occupied territories.

Efrats tells of being ordered to enter a Palestinian home at 2 o’clock in the morning for “mapping”.  Mapping meant to arouse the family, rough them up a bit and draw a floor plan, showing rooms, closets, windows and doors.  This takes a few hours. In the meantime the family stands aside frightened and hoping no harm will come to their children.  When Sergeant Efrats turned his map into his superior officer, he was told to throw it away.  “We have mapped that home a hundred times.”  It was then the Efrats joined an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers working to raise awareness about the daily reality in the Occupied Territories.  He asked, what was the purpose of the mapping?   It was not security. It was harassment.[3]

Worse than having your home “mapped” is having your home destroyed..

Salim Shawamreh applied for a building permit every year for four years at the cost of $5,000 per application and had been turned down every time. So, facing the needs of his expanding family, he built on his own land, without Israel’s permission.  Then it happened. Salim responded to the banging on his door. There stood a Civil Administration inspector with an automatic weapon strapped across his chest looking more like a gangster than a government official, “Is this your house?”
            “Yes,” Salim answered, “It’s my house.”
            “No, now it is our house.”

In the next hour, Salim was beaten, handcuffed and forced to watch his home destroyed.  He had no permit. But, as Jeff Halper says, “Everyone knows that Israel does not give building permits to Palestinians.”[4]  Since 1967, more than 27,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed.  Salim had just joined 160,000 other Palestinians who had seen their home, life investment and dignity stripped from them. 

When a man cannot provide a home for the safety and security of his family, he is emasculated. He looses not only his pride but his sense of worth. When a woman looses her home, she has no context in which to feel like a wife and mother. She either strives to survive on the streets or she bunks in with another family,  where some other women is keeper of the home  By the way, only 2% of homes  demolished are related to punishment for acts against Israel.   All the rest are for stealing land to give to Jews or for no more purpose than pure harassment.

A major form of harassment ignored by the world and supported by the U.S. is the hassle of waiting at crossing gates to enter or leave the Occupied Territories.

Americans going to see Dr. Yassine in Baltimore for medical treatment have no idea that he is not allowed to visit his wife in Gaza.  She has a Palestinian passport. He, on the other hand, born to parents living in a refugee camp in Beirut, is classified simply as a stateless “refugee.” His wife, Leila El-Haddad, can be with her husband only when she can get through the crossing point and visit him in America.  After which, she had to return to Gaza

On November 21, 2006, Leila found herself with her 2 year old son lined up with thousands of penniless Palestinians waiting to cross the Rafah gate. Hoping to get close to the head of the line, she arose predawn, packed her belongings, picked up her son and lined up for the crossing to open.  All day long, she waited, cared for a toddler while fighting to keep her place in line. From 4 AM until sunset, she waits. The gate did not open. So, she rushed back to the overnight ghetto seeking a room for another night. She tries again to enter Gaza the next morning. “It is hard not to believe that Israel “takes pleasure as we languish in uncertainty.”[5]  This went on every day for 15 days. Finally on December 6th, she and her son found themselves among the few who managed to make it through the Rafah crossing. She writes

I think the most disturbing and overwhelming feeling of all is having to come to grips with the realization that your life and how you live that life continue to be controlled wholly and absolutely by an Occupier and that its ability to deny you entry to your own home so abruptly, so arbitrarily, and yet so methodically – largely because of the acquiescence and complicity of the world—has become so accepted… You cannot fly. You cannot fish, you cannot move, you cannot breath, you cannot live. If you meet all these “cannots,” then you know you are from Gaza… Yet, the rest of the world goes on uninterrupted.[6]

Some actions of Israel go far beyond harassment in showing the Palestinians and the world just who has the upper hand.  I would put the killing of Hamas leaders in the category.  On December 14, 2006, Israel’s high court of justice ruled unanimously to legalize assassinations by Israeli forces against Palestinians.  “According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, 339 Palestinians have been extra-judicially killed over the past six years, almost half of them bystanders.[7]

One can only imagine how out of control our media and congress would be if Hamas had established a program of targeted killings of 339 Jews in Israel simply because Gaza did not like them.

And sometimes, just sometimes, harassment takes the form of humiliation.  Such as when a ten year old Palestinian girl is taken into a room by herself and ordered by Israeli soldiers, probably female soldiers, to remove her clothes. When she was down to nothing but panties and a tee shirt, she was forced to take them off also as though she could be carrying an automatic gun or grenade beneath her underwear.  The fourth Geneva Convention says, “No child shall be subject to … degrading treatment or punishment.”   It also says, “Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour.”

When an old woman, a holocaust survivor, who had become critical of Israel’s humiliating policies toward those who were not Jews, is taken aside and cavity searched because she is suddenly classified an a terrorist, that is a pure violation of the Geneva Convention’s standards for any civilized nation. Never the less, it gets worse.  

I don’t know what to call it when a young woman, with cerebral palsy, while being strip searched in the Ben Gurion airport before a long flight to the U.S. is forced to give up her maxi pad. According to, that is exactly what happened to Maysoon Zayad  on July 31, 2006. She was not allowed to buy sanitary products as she waited for hours. She said:

Nothing, can be more embarrassing for a woman than to be forced to sit there in a wheelchair and bleed all over herself.”[8]

Add to Israel’s list of harrassments a few things such as building more settlements, cutting off Palestinian freedom to move from one place to another within their own country by an apartheid wall and Jewish only roads, cutting off access to electricity,  water and even education, denying trade by disallowing exports, and denying such imports as medicines, sugar, coffee, shoes, blankets, diapers, toys and the list goes on and on, you will have a nation of frustrated and hopeless people. Over time, someone will pick up any weapon they can find and push back.  A people will endure only so much humiliation and neglect. Then something is bound to happen and it probably will not be good, not for Palestine, nor Israel or the United States.

            Thomas Are
            November 20, 2014.

[1] Laila El-Haddad Gaza Mom  (Just Word Books, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2013) p.96.
[2] From Bert’s written personal report of his trip to the West Bank,  February, 2009.
[3] Lecture delivered by Eran Efrats,  December 17, 2013 at Oakhurst Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia.
[4] The story of  Salim Shawamreh  is found in Jeff  Halper’s book, An Israeli in Palestine,  (Pluto Press, 2012)  in association with The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
[5] Laila El-Haddad, Gaza Mom, (Best World Books, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2013) p. 186.
[6] Ibid.,  p. 188-198.
[7] Ibid.,  p.204
[8] All three of these strip search stories come from a video Behind the Barbed Wire, on what we aren’t being told about Israel-Palestine but need to know, produced by

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Had Twenty-Nine

I had just finished sharing a meal with a friend when he said, “What you don’t realize is that there are not two people in this whole town that give a rat’s-ass about what happens to the Palestinians.” Right away, I caught on that he did not care about what was happening to the Palestinians, but I could not accept that he was right about the more than 5000 other people who  lived in  our small community. It was not that I needed to prove him wrong. It was more like I felt that I had to try and do something to make known the pain and suffering of those living under occupation.

I drove up to a state park, met with the banquet manager and signed up for a one day rental on their largest conference room. I came home and planned a six hour seminar on Israel/Palestine and sent out invitations.  I called on a lot of friends for leadership, especially those who had been there and had seen first hand the violence of Israel’s occupation.  Much to my delight, we had 82 to come, including 29 college students.

Why bring this up now? That was seven years ago. So, let me say it again, out of eighty-two people who attended our seminar, twenty-nine of them were college students.  I was thrilled. Young people are more sensitive to justice issues than most of us old birds.  Many expressed surprise at what they had learned. Some announced that it was an “eye opening experience.”   I thought to myself.  Wow, now we are on our way. I just knew that with so many new peace activists things would soon change for the human rights of the suffering people of Palestine, most of whom are also young people.  What I did not know was that my twenty-nine would be going back to college campuses and encountering “Birthright kids”.  I had never heard of Birthright Israel.

According to Wikipedia, Israel has, since 1999, invested $660 million in a program to bring young Jews on a free ten day trip to see Israel from the inside.  Since that time, more than 400,000 kids from 64 countries, 80% from U.S. and Canada, have been treated to a very sanitized view of their “birthright home.”  They never travel into the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem. They are not allowed to visit and talk with the Israelis on their own.  One Birthright participant wrote:

Can blind support of a nation that has disobeyed international law ensure and strengthen your Jewish identity? Not necessarily. Does being Israeli mean to be Jewish? Not necessarily… Modern Zionism is a political movement that calls for a “Jewish” state, not a nation for all its citizens. .. If we take a closer look at Zionism’s goals, it is a movement of ethnic cleansing of an indigenous people. .. On my free trip to Israel, I did not find my long lost Judaism. What I did find was a hotbed of racial discrimination and a skewed view of Palestine.[1]

It is clear that Israel is panicked.  More Jews are leaving Israel than are moving to Israel.  No wonder they are courting young people even to the point of trying to entice them with erotic advertisement and the promise of a “Sexual Playground.” Jonathan Katz, referring to Birthright ads featuring smiling, shirtless, muscular Jewish men, writes:

The goals of these ads are to present Israel as a sexual playground… If this voyage is one intended to arouse all the senses, then it makes sense to speak of beach beauties of Tel Aviv and Eilat.  And if one goal is to prevent young Jewish men and women from shacking up with those goyim, then it is thus a natural progression that Israel is marketed as a romantic dreamland. A sexual playground.  Two messages surface: firstly, “You will have fun on this trip”; secondly, “you will meet some really hot people that make you happy in that very special way.”[2]  

Lawrence Davidson, history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania writes:

There have been studies originating both in Israel and abroad that show “as many as half of the Jews living in Israel will consider leaving…if in the next few years the current political and social trends continue.” This finding is in addition to the fact that yerida or emigration out of Israel, has long been running at higher numbers than iliyah, or immigration into the country.[3]

I am convinced that there is more Bible based Judaism in Atlanta than there is in Tel Aviv.  Why? because suddenly younger American Jews are learning about Israel’s history and ambitions and are finding Israel in huge conflict with their values.  Norman Finkelstein wrote, “The current Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has become a source of embarrassment to many liberal American Jews.”

If Israel brings Birthright kids over to learn to love the state of Israel, in many cases, it is clearly not working  American Jews are not turning their backs on Israel because they don’t know enough of what Israel stands for, but, according to Finkelstein,  “If the romance of American Jews with Israel is coming to an end, it is because they now know too much.”[4]

Birthright kids are backed by Israel’s most powerful propaganda machines. My twenty-nine can’t even count on being backed by the U.S. media, their own political leaders or even their church.  All they have is a small group of dedicated people who do give a rat’s ass about what is happening to the Palestinians. Standing up for justice is worth standing up for even if you are in a vast minority. I’ll bet on my twenty-nine.

                                                                                    Thomas Are
                                                                                    November 5, 2014

[1] Hannah Friedstein, An Open Letter to Birthright Participants Past, Present and Future.  Mondoweiss, October 22, 2014.
[2] Jonathan Katz, Is My Birthright a Sexual Playground?  March 4, 2014.
[3] Lawrence Davidson, Israel’s Jewish Exodus.,  June 15, 2014
[4] Norman Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much,  Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End. (OR Books, New York., 2012) p. 15,17.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Israel is a Run Away Truck

To more and more people watching the carnage of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last summer, it seemed that Israel is like a run away truck; picking up speed, engine red hot,  exhaust spewing out poisonous gas, racing downhill, no one at the wheel and heading for a crash. The question is, will we, the U.S., crash with it?

It seems that our congressional leadership is determined to keep its blinders on even as more people around the world see that we are on the wrong side of history.  

Last month, the Swedish Prime Minister announced that his country would become the first in the European Union to recognize Palestine as a state. A week later, the British Parliament voted 274 to 12 to do the same, saying that the British public is fed up with Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian land. Last month’s war against Gaza was the last straw.  Some of the moral concerns expressed by the parliamentarians sounded like a foreign language to our congress:

One lawmaker says that the occupation is “much worse” than apartheid in South Africa. Another says that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 now seems like a “sick joke,” because it never guaranteed freedom to Palestinians. Many members offer frank descriptions of Israeli detention of children and unending settlement expansion. Several describe Israeli actions in Gaza as war crimes. One mentions the use of terrorism by Mandela and Begin long before Palestinians used the tactic. Labor and Conservative members alike speak of the role of the Israel lobby in the United States.[1]

Of course, recognition does not solve much. In fact, it hardly solves anything. Recognition without rights is next to meaningless.  After a cease fire and recognition, Gaza will still need food and medicine, water and electricity. More than 450,000 people have been run over. According to the United Nations:

At least 2,168 Palestinians were killed, 519 children and 77 % were civilians.[2]  11,321 Palestinians were injured, 108,000 are currently homeless and over 1000 children will be permanently disabled.  142 families lost three or more family members in the same incident.  At least 220 schools were damaged, with 22 completely destroyed.  62 hospitals were damaged, 278 mosques (73 completely demolished).  Some of the mosques were historical sites that dated back to the 7th century.  The Gaza power plant remains inoperable - with electricity outages for 18 hours a day in most areas.
George Galloway,  member of Parliament, identified himself as a life time friend of Israel, abstained from voting on the Parliament’s recognition of Palestinian as a state because he said that such an act will not solve the major problems facing Gaza:

I cannot support this motion as it accepts recognition of the state of Israel, does not define borders of either state or address the central question of the right of return of the millions of Palestinians who have been forced to live outside Palestine. Israel was a state born in 1948 out of the blood of the Palestinians who were hounded from their land. Since then it has grabbed ever more land from the Palestinian people. In the last five years it has twice launched murderous assaults on the Palestinian people of Gaza, some 1.8 million people crammed into what is in effect a prison camp. In the wake of the most recent war on Gaza, Israel has announced its biggest land grab in the Occupied West Bank so far. Israel has defied UN resolution after UN resolution with impunity…[3].

Richard Ottaway, long time supporter of Israel said that Israel has made him “look like a fool. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”[4]

Of course, it’s hard for the United States government to condemn Israel for its barbaric bombing of innocent unarmed people when we are providing the bombs to do it.

Marc Ellis asks:

What is to be thought of world leaders who know the score in private and continually lie in public? They are little better than the Israelis gathered on the border of Gaza who cheer each Israeli bomb strike.
            Maybe those Israeli bomb cheerleaders are not far off. Israel was born through violence. Israel has expanded through violence. Israel makes sure that there won’t be a Palestinian state through violence.[5]

What recognition does do is send a message to the world and especially to the U.S. Congress that Palestine has not yet been pushed under the rug.  It also sends a message to the people of Palestine that they have not been forgotten in spite of all the efforts of self-serving politicians, irresponsible media and silent pulpits. The British Parliament, along with Sweden and 130  other countries have said, we have not forgotten you.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that the church (synagogue and Mosque) has three obligations to the State. First, to ask the State if its actions are legitimate. Second, to aid the victims of State despotism. And third, to jam the wheels of State when it runs over people.  When a mad man drives down a crowed street, we must put spikes in the spokes of the truck.[6]

Of course, the Israeli government never heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and couldn’t care less about the British Parliament. But, an increasing number of people both in the U.S. and around the world watched the news from Israel/Gaza and are saying, there is something wrong with this picture. And that angers Israel, which in itself makes me feel that we may be clogging the wheels of the Zionist truck.

                                                                                                    Thomas Are
                                                                                                    October 22, 2014

[1] Mondoweiss,  British Parliament Sends a Message to Obama:  The People see Israel as a “Bully., Oct. 15, 2014
[2] Palestinian Center for Human Rights
[3] George Galloway, Why I Cannot Support This Motion on Palestine,  Information Clearing House,  Oct.  14, 2014.
[4] Philip Weiss, British Parliament Votes Overwhelmingly to Recognize Palestinian State,  Mondoweiss, Oct. 14, 2014
[5] Marc H. Ellis, Burning Children, A Jewish View of the War in Gaza, (New Disapora Books, 2014) p.51
[6] Eric Metaxas,  Bonhoeffer, (Thomas Nelson, 2010) p.153-4. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

War with Iran ... Foolish and Immoral

For years, we have heard Benjamin Netanyahu try to push America into a war with Iran. Just last month, while at the United Nations, Netanyahu:

Declared Iran the “gravest threat” to the world, saying that defeating ISIS without also defeating Iran “is to win the battle and lose the war.”  
          He said that he did not believe Iran is actually opposed to ISIS even though Iran has had troops in Iraq fighting ISIS for months.[1]

Again, the next day, meeting with President Obama, it is reported that his main agenda was to “not let up on sanctions against Iran.” Referring to what he called a “global concern” about Iran’s nuclear program, he declared that in order for diplomacy to work, those pressures must be kept in place.”[2]

I remember John McCain, when running for president, responding to a reporter’s question as to what he would do about Iran.  Glibly, McCain referred to a popular singing group, and with a smile said, “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”

The same people who were so eager for us to attack Iraq several years ago, saying that it would be a “cake walk,” that our troops would be greeted with flowers,” are at it again. They assured us then that a war with Iraq would cost us nothing. It would pay for itself.  Yet, two decades later, we are still stuck in Iraq and paying an enormous price.  It is amazing that none of the war-hawks who are now saying, “no friendly relations with Iran.” are willing to admit that invading Iraq was a mistake.  Forget Iraq, they say. Attack Iran.

I think an attack on Iran would be foolish.  Iran is much stronger than Iraq. Some say, twenty times stronger. If there would ever be a case of smacking the tar baby, bombing Iran is it. Some problems do not have a military solution. Attacking Iran could very well cause more problems than it solves.

The problem is not Iran, it is salafism. Salifism is a radical Islamic fundamentalism which rejects everything modern and everything Western. The salafist are not Shia nor Sunni. They hold no loyalty to any denomination or nation.  Their goal is to force a society based on the seventh century world of Mohammad and sharia law. Salafism is dangerous and a threat to many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. But, it is an idea. You just can’t stop an idea with a bomb.[3]

The analogy is often used that we must cut off the head of the snake.  Sounds easy, but salafism is not a snake.  Recent history shows that salafism is more like a star fish. Cut off the leg of a star fish and it just grows another leg, and the leg you cut off becomes another star fish.   When Osama bin Laden and his salafist cohorts flew planes into the towers in New York and crashed into the pentagon, it was estimated that less than one percent of the world’s Muslims would call themselves salafist.  Today, nobody knows how many there are. Some estimate as many as 10 percent.  But this much is certain.  Every time we pull off an Abu Ghraib,  a Guantanamo Bay,  or bomb another Muslim nation, the salafist groups around the world go into a recruiting mode.

It would be foolish to attack Iran, but not only that, it would be immoral.

We have often heard that Ahmadinejad threatened to destroy the State of Israel and annihilate the Jews.  But, the quote referred to by Israel’s Prime Ministers did not say that Ahmadinejad threatened  to drive Jews into sea. Reading his words in the Farci language, what he actually said was, “This regime occupying Jerusalem must disappear from the pages of time.”[4]  This sounds more like a moral condemnation, that a physical threat.

Another consideration when casually talking about a war with Iran is that back in 1982, when Iraq attacked Iran, even after more than 200,000 Iranians had been killed, “20,000 by poison gas launched by Iraq, 100,000 severely injured by nerve agents, even after the war, 55,000 people were being treated for illness from chemical weapons,”[5] Iran did not retaliate:

The real reason for Iran’s failure to use chemical weapons was not the inability to formulate the necessary mix of chemicals but the fact that Ayatollah Khomeini had forbidden it on the grounds of Islamic jurisprudence.[6]

Chemical weapons violate Islamic morality.  Now here is the point.  The same Islamic restriction against killing innocent people that applied to chemical weapons also  applies to nuclear weapons:

Khomeini’s wartime fatwa prohibiting Iran from manufacturing or using chemical weapons and Khamenei’s 2003 fatwa against the manufacture, possession, or use of nuclear weapons – provided concrete evidence that religious prohibitions on WMD by the supreme leader have not been mere propaganda but have played a decisive role in determining Iran’s policy on both chemical and nuclear weapons issues.[7]
For what it’s worth, there has never been an Iranian suicide bomber and in the past two hundred and fifty years, Iran has attacked no one.

In 1988 the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airline killing all 290 people.  President Reagan announced that the Vincennes was under attack, that the airliner was not in its assigned corridor, that it was descending, that its transponder made erroneous signals. Yet, when all of these excuses proved to be false, Iran launched no retaliation.

I wish our media would give fair press to Iran.  In the days after 9/11, thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran to hold candlelight vigils for the victims in America:

Tehran asked nothing in return from the Bush administration for its help, which included putting the Northern Alliance at the United States disposal as the primary ground force component in the campaign to topple the Taliban. … Khatami asked to visit Ground Zero that he might offer prayers and light a candle in memory of the 9/11 victim … Tehran also offered to send terrorism experts to open an American-Iranian counter-terrorism dialogue. Bush rejected both proposals and condemned Iran as an “axis of evil” in his next State of the Union Address.[8]

In the meantime, Israel assassinates Iranian scientist and threatens to bomb its people.

Again, It would be foolish and immoral for the U.S. to allow Israel to pull us into a war with Iran. For peace in the Middle East, it would be far more just and wise for the US to make a serious effort to bring about a fair and moral solution toward the rights of the Palestinians still under Israeli occupation.
                                                                                    Thomas Are
                                                                                    October 12, 2014

[1] Jason Ditz, Netanyahu: Iran Worse Than ISIS, ISIS Equal to Hamas,,  September 29, 2014
[2] Huffington Post, Israel’s Netanyahu Meets With Obama. September 30, 2014.
[3] See The Good Fight, by Peter Beinard, and The Battle for God, by Karen Armstrong.
[4] See Flint and Hillary Mann Leverett, Going to Tahran, (Metropolitan Books,  New York, 2013.) .p. 19.
Their research is backed up by The Guardian, The Washington Post and the New York Times.
[5] Gareth Porte Manufactured Crisis, (Just Word Books,, 2014)   p. 59.
[6] Ibid.  p.63.
[7] Ibid., p.75.
[8] Leverett, Going to Tehran, p,118-119.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Netanyahu Just Can't Let It Go

Monkeys can outrun and outclimb a man every time, and they both know it. Yet, the monk often finds himself caught in the man's net. The man knows he could never catch a monk by trying to outrun him. So, he weaves a basket, places a coconut inside and makes the neck just open enough for the monkey to get his hand in but not get the coconut out.  Along comes the monk. He thinks, smells like a coconut. Reaches his hand in. It is a coconut. Not only that, it is his coconut. God must have meant for him to have it. But, the man is coming, which does not bother the monk. He can outrun the man anytime. All he has to do is get his coconut out of that basket tied to the tree. Suddenly he is tangled up in a net.  

I think that is the story of Israel. Like the monk, Israel can let go of the occupied territories at any time and have peace, but Israel refuses to turn loose the coconut. And now, Israel is beginning to feel the net.

Netanyahu had claimed that “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.” Alan Dershowitz, Israel’s American Defense Attorney,  brought it even closer by declaring, “ ISIS is America’s Hamas.”

ISIS is an extremist Islamist organization that doesn’t play by the rules, has prepared to behead Americans, smuggle Americans and Europeans into America with evil intentions on their mind. The only difference is, ISIS is much further away from the United States than Hamas is from Israel, but they use the same tactics.[1]

Really?  Hamas is an elected  body of government and finds support in many foreign governments. Its goal is to get Israel’s boot off of the Palestinian neck and has offered peace in exchange for freedom on many occasions. Nathan Thrall pointed out in the August 1 issue of the London Review of Books:

It was only after Israel arrested hundreds of Hamas members in the West Bank in early July, and Israeli airstrikes killed seven Hamas members, that Hamas began firing rockets into Israel.
            The most frequently repeated myth especially in full pro-Israeli newspaper ads, is that Hamas’ main objective is the destruction of Israel. It is a charge that was once true but has since been modified by pragmatic Hamas leaders, who ever since the late 1990s have offered Israel a long term truce in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal to its 1967 borders. In 1997 King Hussein of Jordan conveyed to Israel a letter from Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal offering a 30-year truce on those terms.  Israel’s response was an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Meshal.
            In 2002, Hamas supported the Arab peace initiative offering Israel full recognition and normal relations if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories, an offer Israel ignored. In 2006 Gaza’s former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh sent a letter to George W. Bush offering a truce “for many years” on the same terms. That letter was also ignored. Finally in 2010 Hamas announced it would honor any peace plan approved by a majority of Palestinians in a referendum
            Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist, recounts that in November 2012 he and Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari had completed a draft agreement containing mechanisms for maintaining a permanent truce, with Jabari agreeing to end all military attacks on Israel. Israel aborted the agreement by assassinating Jabari.
            Israel again had the opportunity to achieve both peace and security when Hamas and Fatah adopted a reconciliation agreement setting up a government pledged to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements with Israel…But instead of agreeing to work with the interim government Israel condemned it as “terrorist,” and maintained the blockade of Gaza.[2]

On the other hand, ISIS is a pure salafist ideology which holds no loyalty to any state and has few, if any friends in the political world. Hamas’ main demand in cease-fire talks is to end the occupation of the Gaza Strip. It has no stated plan to invade anyone.

Dershowitz asks, “If we had tunnels coming into the U.S. from Mexico or Canada, there is no doubt we would put boots on the ground to destroy those tunnels.”

This is amazing coming from a famed lawyer. Can he make a case only by denying context and history. We have not imprisoned the Mexicans for the past 66 years and we have not bombed Canada into devastation. And Dershowitz knows it. He just hopes the US media will not point it out and the average American will not care.

Last week, Netanyahu announced that he was coming before the UN, (Pretty courageous, I thought, since Israel is the most blantent violator of the UN General Assembly’s resolutions)  to refute “the lies of Mahmoud Abbas,” who said:

Forget about the Palestinians continuing to meet and discuss while Israel continues to construct settlements and ignore even the simple commitments it agreed to, such as the release of prisoners… The Palestinians will not return to any negotiations that do not take as a starting point the final objective of  a Palestinian state alongside Israel, based on the ’67 borders, and a binding timetable for its establishment.

Abbas used such words as “colonial occupation,” “racism,” a war of genocide,” “massacres,” and a nation above the law.” But has he lied?

Has Israel not been an occupying force in Palestine since 1967?  Is a Jewish state with rights and privileges for Jews only not racism?  As for a war of “genocide,” has this not been the stated goal and practice of Israel since 1948?  And as for “massacres and a nation above the law,” even Americans saw the bombing and destruction in Gaza last summer: more than 2,000 people killed and 11,000 injured, 3,000 of them children, 1000 permanently disabled with 1,800 orphaned.  As much as Netanyahu tries to deflect criticism of Israel as “lies.” the nets of world opinion are closing in on him.  Netanyahu’s strategy of we will keep on killing your people, assassinating your leaders and blowing up your children until you stop hating us, is clearly not working.  Palestinians are determined to hang on. 

“But Hamas used their children as human shields,” is often proclaimed.  For the sake of discussion, let’s pretend for the moment that a Palestinian mother did come to the door with her child held out in front of her to protect the terrorist behind her.  I have watched a lot of TV cop shows and never once when the robber came out of the bank holding a hostage in front of him have I  seen the police shoot down the hostage to kill the bad guy. Yet, Israel excuses the death of over 500 children by claiming that they were shields.  Now, stop pretending. There is not one shred of evidence reported by the world’s press of Palestinians  using children or anyone as shields. Because Netanyahu says it ad nauseam does not make it true. It is simply his desperate effort to cover up the senseless killing of civilians including children. I understand his panic.

He is being closed in by his own “refuseniks,” those military personnel who, at risk of their own freedom, refuse to serve the goals of “the most moral army on the globe:” because of its ruthless attack on an unarmed and cornered people.

Another concern of Netanyahu is the threat of Abbas to go to the International Criminal Court with charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes against Israel.  The ICC has already declared settlements illegal.  Obama has referred to settlements as, “unsustainable,” while Marc Ellis, Jewish scholar and prolific writer asks, “When does “unsustainable” become “unconscionable?”  I would guess when it is brought before the ICC.

And then comes BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.  People of conscience all over the globe , from main line churches to the dock workers in Oakland, California, use BDS as a means to get the attention of Israel.  It is a movement of moral non-violent resistance which cannot be stopped by Netanyahu’s military might or AIPAC’s money.  BDS is unstoppable and is growing.  It worked in South Africa and it is putting the squeeze on Israel.

And then there is Jewish Voice for Peace, which is a small but rapidly growing Jewish community which seeks to take their historical faith seriously.  They oppose Zionist Israel because of the high moral and compassionate standards of the Prophets.

Add all of this together and unless Israel finds a way to pull its fist out of Palestine and let go of its agenda to become a Jewish only state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean,  the net is inevitably closing in. At least, I hope so.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                October 3, 2014

[1] Melissa Clyne, Alan Dershowitz:ISIS is America’s Hamas,  Newsmax Media, Sept. 12, 2014
[2] Rachelle Marshall, Cease-Fire Follows Cease-Fire But Gaza Remains a Prison. Published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 2014, p.10.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hatred in Context

I had just finished speaking to a group of about a hundred people. One lady in the audience was not pleased. She spoke up for Israel and asked, “Why are the Palestinians so filled with hate?” Then she answered her own question. “Seems as though they rather die than live with Israel.  I guess, it’s just in their religion.” Even though my response did not satisfy her, I want to try again to respond to her question and her answer.

To see the Palestinian response to Israel’s occupation as a religious conflict is extremely short sighted.  To address her concern, we have to go back to 1948 when Israel moved in and simply took 78 percent of historical Palestine by force simply because they had the military power and brutal disposition to do so. Around 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes. Many were killed in cold blood and many more were sent to refugee camps to live in squalor. That was 66 years ago and they are still living in those camps. Their children have never known any life but that of occupation and oppression. I wish my questioner could for one day put herself in the shoes of those crowded into an open air prison year after year, crying out for an opportunity to live and work a normal life free of humiliation while the world’s leading politicians look the other way and the US media ignores their plight.

Arnold J. Toynbee said, “The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 and 1948 was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis...though not comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality.(1)

Back in 1956, David Ben-Gurion confessed:

If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural, we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to  them? Our God is not theirs. We came from Israel, it’s true, but that was two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? [2]

Ben Gurion went on to say that the “Palestinians may perhaps forget in one or two generations.” He may have been right, had 1948 been the end of Israel’s domination over the life and land of the Palestinian, but as it turned out, it was merely the beginning.

In 1967, Israel launched the Six Day War, which resulted in Israel’s taking control of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Israel publicly proclaimed it as a war of self defense and most people still blame Nasser. However, as admitted by some of Israel’s top political leaders:

Mortecai Bentov, member of the Israeli Cabinet, said in 1972, “Israel’s entire story about the dangers of extermination was ‘invented’ of whole cloth and exaggerated after the fact to justify the annexation of new Arab territories.” [3]

Menachem Begin said in 1982, “The Egyptian army concentrated on the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” [4]

Years before the Six Day War, Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister said, “Israeli political and military leadership never believed in any insuperable Arab dangers to Israel. They sought to maneuver and force Arab states into military confrontations which the Zionist leadership were certain of winning so Israel could carry out the destabilization of Arab regimes and the planned occupation of additional territory.”[5]

In 1987, Palestinian kids rose up and started throwing stones at the occupiers in what is called the intifada. Israel retaliated. Amnesty International reported 540 Palestinians, including children, shot dead by Israeli troops. [6]  During the first 30 months, according to the Washington Post, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 159 children and had beaten thousands.[7]  Israel labeled them terrorist and adopted the policy of “punitive beating.” Examining 3,460 of the 7,107 documented cases of beatings by soldiers in the first year of the uprising, investigators of Save the Children concluded that one-third of beaten children were under ten years old, and one fifth under the age of five. Nearly a third of them suffered broken bones.[8]

Dennis Madden, Roman Catholic Priest shared with me:

If you take all the Palestinians who have been killed in the intifada, the number is roughly around 1,000. The number who have required medical attention is roughly around 106,000. The over 50,000 who have been in prison, the houses that have been demolished, the thousands of trees that have been uprooted, the deportations, you take all of the statistics together...what it averages out to is that every Palestinian family has had at least two members that have either been killed, deported, arrested or tortured.[9] 

And this was BEFORE suicide bombers.

Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, a leading Jewish magazine in the US wrote, “Israel’s attempt to regain control by denying food to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, by raiding homes and dragging out their occupants in the middle of the night to stand for hours in the cold, by savagely beating a civilian population and breaking its bones — these activities are deplorable in any civilized human being.” He pleaded with Israel, “Stop the beatings, stop the breaking of bones, the late night raids on people’s homes, stop using food as a weapon of war, stop pretending that you can respond to an entire people’s agony with guns and blows and power. Publicly acknowledge that the Palestinians have the same right to national self-determination that we Jews have...”[10]

Through the years, the one thing Israel has been uncompromising in defending is its  program of building settlements on Palestinian lands

Today, over 500,000 settlers occupy almost 42 percent of West Bank. It’s true, as Israel defenders remind us, Israel vacated 2000 homes in Gaza in 2005.  However, at the same time, with little press coverage, Israel built 4,600 units in West Bank. Even more distressing, to this day, Israel confiscates eighty-five percent of West Bank water for Jewish use only. The amount of water pumped for an Israeli resident of the West Bank is twelve times more than the amount allowed for a Palestinian.[11]   The average settler gets the use of 10 gallons of water per day to the Palestinians’ one and a half gallons.[12]

And so, we read in this morning’s newspaper:

Israel on Sunday laid claim to nearly 1000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem – a step that could herald significant Israeli construction in the area – defying Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement expansion and challenging world opinion.[13]

And then there is the wall, called a “Security Wall.” It would be more accurately described as an imprisonment wall, with farmers separated from their fields, children from their schools, the sick from hospitals, families from family and thousands of Palestinians being separated from their meager water supply. Of course, Israel says the wall is to keep out suicide bombers. However, more than 375,000 Palestinians are blocked in on the Israeli side of the wall and there has not been a suicide bomber since 2006..

The attack on the Mavi Marmara and the murder of nine humanitarian aid volunteers, including an American, shocked much of the world. The 700  participants on the Mavi Marmara represented over thirty countries. They were doctors, human rights activists, professors, a U.S. diplomat, a Nobel Peace laureate, in addition to clergy and journalist from around the world.   What exposes this charge is that anyone who seeks relief for the suffering Palestinians can be automatically labeled a terrorist.  The real question is how can we so casually assign heinous motives to such distinguished volunteers?  Is a terrorist anyone who feels empathy for their beleaguered fellow human beings? After forty years of occupation, 90 percent of the people in Gaza have no clean water, and two-thirds of the population lives without adequate food, medical care, sanitation systems, electricity and fuel. About 75% of those in Gaza are unemployed and live on $2 a day.[14]

Before the flotilla; it was the 2008-09 twenty three day massacre of the population of Gaza, shut in and bombarded, which killed 1,390 people, according to B’tsalem, the 2006 bombardment of Lebanon, dropping four million cluster bombs, killing more than a thousand people, mostly civilians, the 2003 murder of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, the 1983 massacre of unarmed refugees in Sabra and Shatila,  the 1982 bombardment of Lebanon, and the 1967 Six Day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Uninterrupted throughout this history is the ongoing occupation with settlements, checkpoints, mass imprisonments, the stealing of land and water and the construction of an apartheid wall.  .

A United Nations report published in 2007 found:

38 percent  of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure – roads, settlements, military bases and so on –largely off-limits to Palestinians, Israel has methodically broken the remainder of the territories into dozens of enclaves separated from each other and the outside world  by zones that it alone controls, including at last count, 6123 checkpoints and roadblocks.[15]

Then again last month’s bombing of Gaza. Who can forget the images on the evening news of blown up homes and multistory public buildings, tons of rubble in the streets and women and children running from F-16s, Apache helicopters and warships with no place to hide? People living in Gaza, had no tanks, planes or even shelters to protect them. Over 2000 were killed, by far mostly civilians, and many children, in fact, twice as many children as combatants. Meanwhile Israel cut off electricity, bombed hospitals and schools and destroyed sewage plants. Raw sewage flowed in the streets.[16]

On several occasions, Hamas has offered peace in exchange for the privilege of living on 22 percent of their historic homeland, and every time, Israel refused, saying in essence, God wants us to have all your land. You may be allowed to live only in separate little bantustans, with little opportunity to interact with the rest of the world, and with even less opportunity to prosper or meet the most basic of human needs.

Throughout its history, Israel has shown little interest in meeting any conditions for peace with the Palestinians.  Typical of Israel’s attitude is expressed by Menachem Begin in 1977.:

The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable and is linked to security and peace. Therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed over to any foreign administration. Between the sea and the Jordan River there will be only Israeli sovereignty. Relinquishing parts of the Western Land of Israel undermines our right to the country, jeopardizes the security of the Jewish population, endangers the security of the State of Israel and frustrates any prospect of peace.[17]

So who now wants to push who into the sea?  And who uses religion to justify its brutality?

The rocket resistance by Hamas, is not an effort to destroy Israel. Israel is too strong, too rich and protected by the US.  Rockets are simply asking the world to notice so there will be fewer people standing up and saying such things as, “They are just by nature filled with hate.”   My question is, what would any of us feel if we were Palestinian?

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                September 3, 2014


[1].Na’im Ateek, Justice and Only Justice, Orbis Press, Maryknoll, New York, 1989.) p.32.
[2] This quote is documented in numerous sources. I refer to the book by Don Wagner and Walt Davis, Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land. (Pickwick Publications, 2014)  p.21.
[3].Paul Finley, Deliberate Deceptions, Facing the Facts about the U.S., Israeli Relationship, (Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago,. 1993.) p. 36.
[4].Clifford A. Wright, Facts and Fables: The Arab-Israeli Conflict, (Kegan Paul International, New York, 1989.) p.132.
[5].Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism, (Veritas Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1988) p.59.
[6] Amnesty International, Israel and the Occupied Territories,  1990.
[7] Rights Group Accuses Israel of Violence Against Children in Palestinian Uprising,, Washington Post, May 17, 1990
[8] Ibid. 
[9].Private conversation with Father Dennis Madden, Tantur Institute, Jerusalem. Summer, 1981.
[10].Rosemary Radford Ruether and Marc Ellis, Beyond Occupation, (Beacon Press, Boston., 1990) p. 99-100.
[11].Ze’ev Schiff, Intifada, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1990) p. 97.
[12] Jenifer Dixon, The Holy Land Unveiled (American Free Press, 2012) p. 23.
[13] Isabel Kershner,  Israel Takes large Swath of Land in West Bank,  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  Sept. 1, 2014
[14]  Dixon,  p. 21.
[15] Constance Hillard, Does Israel have a Future? (Potomac Books, 2009.) p. 85
[16] Rachelle Marshall, Israel Again Wreaks Vengeance on Gaza, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September, 2014, p.8.
[17] Cited in Zionism the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land, Edited by Don Wgner and Walter Davis, (Pickwick Publications, 2014) p.38. oly Land, Edited by Don Wagner and Walter Davis, Holy