Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Its the Same Story

May 15, 1948 is a day to remember. To the Jew, it is a day to celebrate the Declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. To the Arab, it is a day to lament as “The Nakba”, the greatest catastrophe in Palestinian history.  To Israel, it was a time when God finally stepped in and declared Jews as his favorite people, perhaps his only people. And gave them, yet again, someone else’s land

This Thursday, May 15, synagogues, movie houses, newspapers and TV screens will be filled with ceremonies and celebrations of the goodness of God to the Jews and the bravery of those first pioneers who established the State of Israel, the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

At the same time, very little will be mentioned concerning the plight of the Palestinians who lost their land and freedom. More than 750,000 driven from their homes, many raped, robbed and massacred to make room for a Jewish state.  Over 500 Arab villages destroyed, bulldozed down and covered up, creating the largest refugee problem in modern history.  

Someone said, “Kill one person and it’s a crime. Kill a thousand and it just a statistic.”
However, the Nakba has flesh on it. I received a reply to one of my earlier blogs:

Tom, this is when my wife Aida and her family fled Palestine with only the clothes on their backs, leaving their three story home and her father’s two stores. They lost it all.  For the first 25-30 years of her life, she would wake up screaming, 4-5 times a month, that the Jews were after her to kill her and her family When I met Aida in 1956, she and her three brothers, her mom and dad, were living in one room, with a small cooking area and a bathroom. There were four small beds around the room which were used to sit on in the day time and for them to sleep on at night. This room was about 12 X 16!!!   Your Friend, TONY

Multiply that story by a thousand times and it is easy to understand why Israel’s Declaration of Statehood is so difficult to be seen as something to celebrate.

I think of Elias Chacour, whom I met about 30 years ago.

When Elias Chacour was about nine years old, his father called the family together. “There was a monster up in Europe who persecuted and killed Jews.  He is dead now, but the Jews still do not feel safe there.  So, they are going to come and live with us for a while.”  Chacour remembers being excited to move out of his bedroom to make room for their guests. After all, Jews were also the children of Abraham. They were blood brothers. 

Only they did not come as guests. They came with guns.  In one day Chacour and his  family were driven from the home up into the hills at gun point “ One soldier growled, “This land is ours. Get out now. Move.”

What they did not know was that all over the Galilee, Palestinians were being driven from their homes. In the struggle, parents were separated from their children, some never saw them again.  Some older folks did not make it. Little Elias and the other people of Biram tried to climb up to a little cross road village called Gish. Surely their neighbors would help them. But, the strangest thing. When they finally arrived in Gish, there was no one there.  The homes and shops were empty. Everyone wondered what had happened to the people of Gish.

Several days later, the children of Biram were playing in a near-by field. Their ball rolled down a ravine. Elias went to retrieve it. As he reached down he saw the hand of a small child sticking up out of the sand.  He had just discovered what had happened to the people of Gish.  They had been rounded up and executed. [1]

This was not an isolated case. It reflected the official goals of Zionism. Historians list at least 33 massacres of Palestinians villages. Israeli historian Tom Segev writes:

Israel was born: of terror, war and revolution and its creation required a measure of fanaticism and  cruelty.[2]

In 1940, Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department,  said:

Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries – all of them. Not one village, not one tribe, should be left.[3]

Raphael Eytan, IDF Chief of Staff said:

We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand… When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.[4]

It is amazing that Israel has managed to sell to the Western world, (meaning the US,) the smoke and mirrors that, in spite of the facts, Israel really is the victim that needs an enormous amount of money to be protected from the bad Arabs.

I have known Elias Chacour for almost three decades and in spite of having been savagely beaten by Jewish soldiers who accused him of being a nine year old terrorist, he says only, “I cannot hate them. They are my blood brothers. Perhaps confused and afraid. but never the less, my brothers.”

So, this Thursday, May 15th, as Israel celebrates its day with pride, I will fly a Palestinian flag in the front of my house to declare solidarity with Elias Chacour, Tony Rukab and many others who have suffered 64 years of Nakba.   I cannot fathom anyone looking back over Israel’s history of military domination of a weaker people and find anything of which to be proud.

I am an American and there is much about my country of which I can be proud, but our celebration of Israeli atrocities is not one of them.

Thomas Are
May 14, 2014

[1] Read Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers, (Fleming Revell Company. 1984) p 20, 36-53.
[2] Cited by Alison Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, (If Americans Knew.org, 1914) p.58
[3] Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews.  Volume One.,  (Clarity Press, 2009) p. 122.
[4] Idid.,  p.123.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Apartheid is Apartheid

I grew up in an apartheid system. My small South Carolina town was surrounded by African Americans in the 1930s and 40s, and I never knew them.  I had no black friends. Where would I have ever met one?  We were citizens of the same country but we lived in separate communities.  I went to the new high school on the highway while “they” attended class in a fire trap out of sight.  It was apartheid, only we did not call it that.  The appropriate term was “segregation,” or “Our way of life.”

It wasn’t even total segregation. Whites and blacks worked in the same mill, spent our money in the same stores and took the same drivers license test.  It was more like “sitting down segregation.”  We stood in the same lines in the bank, the Post Office and checking out at the grocers.   All that was OK, but our version of apartheid forbid our sitting down together in the same room. Doctors had separate waiting rooms. Restaurants served either blacks or whites, but never both. And never would “they” have come to “our” church.  Race separated us far more than our faith united us.

Apartheid has many faces.  We did not have twenty five foot walls or white only roads, but the people with power did create legal and social systems that favored the powerful and discriminated against those who were under our control.

Today, Israel screams when any hint of the word apartheid is mentioned, pointing out  small differences between its apartheid practice and that of South Carolina in the 30s and South Africa in  the 80s. However, Israel destroys Palestinian homes to build Jewish only homes in their place. They have Jewish only schools and spend $1,100 a year to educate a Jewish child and $190 for each Palestinian.[1]  Israel builds Jewish only roads on which a Palestinian is not allowed to drive or even cross and builds Jewish only cities that shrive on water taken from Palestinian aquifers.  So, what do you call it when a state strips a vast number of its population of their human rights solely on the basis that they are not Jewish?

Jimmy Carter called it apartheid.  Former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak    called it apartheid as did Israel’s chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni  Even John Kerry used the “A” word, until the Jewish lobby put the squeeze on him.  In fact, probably only those responsible for apartheid and benefiting from it refuse to call it what it is and they will punish anyone who does.

Still, the most charitable word to describe what is happening to the Palestinians under Israeli control today is apartheid.

Thomas Are
May 5, 2014

[1] Nada Elia, The Brian of the Monster, Cited in, The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, Edited by Audrea Lim  p. 58.