Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sharon Truly Did Represent Israel

I like Thomas Friedman. When I read his book, That Used To Be Us, I was ready to nominate him for president.  However, when it comes to anything critical of Israel, he struggles. Thomas Friedman recently referred to Arial Sharon as representing the stages of Israel.[1]  I think he is right about Sharon representing the mindset of Israel, I just don’t see the progression Friedman seems to suggest in his opinion piece.

Sharon was a “warrior” for what Friedman calls:

the enduring struggle for survival ... there is a Jewish state today because of hard men, like Ariel Sharon, who were ready to play by the local rules … and had contempt for those in Israel or abroad who he believed did not understand the kill or be killed nature of their neighborhood.

The results of Israel’s war of Independence left over 500 Palestinian villages totally destroyed, 750,000 driven from their homes and crowded into refugee camps to live more like caged animals than as fellow human beings for the rest of their lives. Ariel Sharon was the heart of Israel. I am surprised that Friedman is willing to admit it.

When Palestinian farmers, still clutching land deeds and holding keys to their homes, were forced to live on about 11 cents a day, slipped back into the new State of Israel to “steal” a little of the crops they themselves had planted, Sharon called them thieves and drove them back by force. When a Jewish mother and her two children were killed, Sharon was called upon to retaliate.

As commander of Unit 101, a newly formed reprisal and sabotage group, this “warrior without restraints,” ordered his men to cause maximum damage to the village of Qibia. With great pride, these defenders of Israel locked frightened Palestinians in their homes and massacred sixty-nine, mostly women and children, to teach them a lesson about Israel.

During his second stage, in which Friedman said Sharon, “embodied a fantasy that, with enough power, the Israelis could rid themselves of the Palestinian threat, that they could have it all.”  Sharon proudly announced his plans:

                We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement,
                in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements, right across the
                West Bank, so that in 25 years’ time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States,
                nobody, will be able to tear it apart.[2]
Twenty five years later he was still saying:

              Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements
              because everything we take now will be ours. Everything we don’t grab will go to them. [3]
Sharon vigorously expanded the settlements enterprise on Palestinian land, invaded Lebanon and was responsible for the massacre of as many as 2,000 helpless refugees, again, mostly women and children, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, with countless others raped and brutalized.   

Perhaps I am being unfair. Prime Minister Sharon did pull the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, which was proclaimed as a great sacrifice by Israel for peace. However, Friedman fails to mention that at the same time, Israel was building 13,000 units for Jews only on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and those moving from Gaza were offered $227,000 to relocate. Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948 and 1967 were given no compensation for the lives and land taken from them by force. Sharon’s disengagement was hardly a liberation. It’s hard to feel liberated when surrounded by a hostile army.  Israel maintained control of all crossing points, sea and air space. Gaza remained alive only as an outdoor prison.  Israel walled in Gaza, continued to control all access in and out of Gaza, cut off fuel, electricity and restricted the flow of humanitarian aid including medical supplies. Gaza may have been evacuated but remained under Sharon’s total control

I fail to see the evidence of a more peace minded Sharon as Friedman writes, “having, orchestrated a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza,  he (Sharon) surely would have tried something similar in the West Bank if he had not had a stroke.”  This is the man who, “ on the day that Rabin shook hands with Arafat, vowed that he would destroy the Oslo Peace process.”[4] 

And, if he did pull out of West Bank, what would be left?  A land checkered with Jewish only roads, checkpoints, walls and military regulations that keep Palestinians locked up in isolated bantustans.

But, what could you expect from a man  who, back in 1980, convened a meeting with some of his top generals and other top military and security people and had them sign a blood oath which committed them to fight to the death to prevent any government of Israel withdrawing from the West Bank.[5]

Friedman references a biography of Sharon entitled, “He doesn’t Stop at Red Lights.” I guess not. The cross street is packed with slow moving compacts and he is driving a tank. He goes to war when he is the only one with an army.

As far as I can tell, Sharon’s life remained dedicated to Zionism. He seemed to believe that Jews were God’s chosen people to be privileged above all others. To him, there were only two kinds of people: Jews and everybody else. He did not want a Jewish state, at least not one with all the restrictions imposed by the Hebrew prophets. He wanted a Zionist state.  I never saw evidence to indicate otherwise.  Friedman is right about one thing. Sharon truly did represent Israel.

Thomas Are
January 30, 2014

[1] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 17, 2014. p. A-11.
[2] Max Blumenthal, How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny, The Nation, January 11, 2014.
[3] Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
[4] Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, (Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2009) Volume One., p. 40.
[5] Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, (Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2009) Volume Three., p. 228.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kerry's Peace Plan

I like John Kerry. Voted for him and sent a little money for his presidential run against George W. Bush.  But if he were to ask me what I thought about his performance as Secretary of State, I would give him and A and an F.
I would say yes to his leadership with Iran. After years of no talking and saber-rattling, Iran has come to the table and said let’s work together to avoid another war in the Middle East.  Against those in Congress who side with Netanyahu and against their own president and in spite of AIPAC’s crying wolf, Kerry has brought about an agreement with Iran to greatly limit its nuclear program and open its facilities to regular inspections. For the first time in decades, the streets no longer rumble with shouts of  “Death to America”.  Some say Kerry deserved the Nobel Peace prize. In spite of Israel-firsters in Congress and no let up from AIPAC, to sabotage his efforts, most people in the world agree that Kerry has brought us to the closest point of peaceful relations with Iran in years.
However, I would give him an F on his so called “Peace Talks” when it comes to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He talks borders when Israel announces plans to destroy 2,000 more Arab homes in order to construct 828 Jewish only homes in East Jerusalem plus 20,000 more in the West Bank.[1]
The issue is still the Israeli occupation. Israel’s separation wall has turned Palestinian towns and villages into prisons. Gaza continues to live in inhuman conditions, under permanent blockade. Settlements gobble up homes and land. Military checkpoints and road blocks by the hundreds humiliate Palestinians trying to get to work or home and hundreds of thousands of refugees still live in camps.
Also part of the reality is Israeli disregard of international law and Palestinian citizens
living within Israel suffering from discriminatory policies.
Israel justifies its actions as self-defense. It is true that some Palestinians have followed
the way of armed resistance which Israel uses as a pretext to accuse all Palestinians of
being terrorist. However, as many have pointed out, if there was no occupation, there
would be no resistance.
Rachelle Marshall responds to Netanyahu’s saying, “pressure must be put upon the Palestinians” to bring them to a point of peace.
It’s hard to imagine what additional pressure could be imposed on the Palestinians as they watch their land disappearing under Israeli homes and golf courses, and their economy remain shackled by Israeli restrictions.[2]
And Kerry is talking about borders, movable borders.
Does he not know that Gaza has borders.  Yet, because of Israel’s air, sea and land blockade:
Hardships steadily increase for the nearly two million Gazans who are being deliberately kept cold and hungry by the blockade Israel imposed seven years ago… Gaza’s only remaining power plant was shut down in early November for lack of affordable fuel… Sewage stations unable to operate their electric pumps are overflowing, and in late November a neighborhood in Gaza was  flooded with 3.5 million cubic feet of raw sewage.[3]
With winter in full blast and no electricity for 12 hours a day, no fuel for heat and sewage flooding through your home, with settlers destroying your olive trees, it’s ludicrous to talk about Israeli security.
What needs to be put on the table is not a discussion of borders, but Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and resources and Israel’s humiliating treatment of the Palestinian people.   Until that is addressed, borders are irrelevant.
                                                Thomas Are
                                                January 19, 2014

[1] Rachelle Marshall, Kerry faces Down Israel and its Lobby to Achieve Agreement with Iran,  The Washington Report on Middle east Affairs. January 2014. p. 9.
[2] Ibid. p.9
[3] Ibid.  p.9.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Krauthammer Just Doesn't Get It

Charles Krauthammer just doesn’t get it.  In this morning’s newspapers, he writes that the boycott of Israel is nothing short of anti-Semitism.   He is wrong. The world did not boycott South Africa in the 1980s because it was white but because it had become a brutal apartheid state treating those under its control as somewhat less than human.

Which is exactly how Israel now treats its non-Jewish citizens and those people whose land they have militarily occupied for more than six decades.

I support BDS, (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), not because Israel is Jewish, but precisely because it does not act Jewish.  The heart and core of Judaism is justice and compassion for those in need.  Krauthammer seems far more committed to his Jewish state than to his Jewish scriptures. My friend, Jim Beaty says, “Tel Aviv is no more Jewish than Washington is Christian.”[1]

Many Jewish historians (Norman Finkelstein) intellectuals (Mark Braverman) artist (Gilad Atzman) ex-IDF soldiers (Eran Efrati) and refuseniks (Maya Wind) are touring the US asking the citizens of this country to do exactly what Krauthammer labels anti-Semitic.

Krauthammer  writes:

And don’t tell me this is merely about Zionism. The ruse is transparent. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation – is to engage in a gross act of discrimination.[2]

Does Krauthammer not connect the dots?  It is precisely this kind of discrimination which Israel applies to the Palestinians that motivates so many to call for a boycott.  Is he not aware that, as he writes, bulldozers are rumbling through the streets of East Jerusalem to tear down the homes of Palestinians by the hundreds to build more Jewish only houses? His state for Jews is stealing Palestinian land and water, constructing an apartheid wall through Palestinian towns, denying basic human freedoms such as movement and assembly, and doing all that the world will allow it to do to deliberately make life in Gaza and parts of the West Bank unlivable.  Krauthammer knows all this. He is just hoping you don’t know it. And that is why the call to BDS scares him so much. It is attracting the world’s attention to how Israel is treating those under its military occupation, those in refugee camps and even its own non-Jewish citizens.  It’s not anti-Semitism that Israel and its lackeys fear, it is exposure.  

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Charles Krauthammer does get it. He cries anti-Semitism because it’s just getting harder and harder for him to disguise it.  

                                                                                    Thomas Are
                                                                                    January 12, 2014

[1] Dr. Jim Beaty heads up the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless which offers a hot meal and a safe place to sleep to hundreds of homeless men, women and children every night.
[2] Charles Krauthammer,  Boycott  Israel nothing less then anti-Semitism., The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  January 10, 2014. p. A-12.