Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Discouraging

The meeting was over.  We had just heard a talk by a Palestinian activist sharing what his life is like under military occupation. As we stood to leave, a man in front of me, his name tag read, “Ben,” turned around and said, “It’s discouraging. But, what can I do? I guess the best thing is to just pray.”

Here are a few suggestions for Ben:


Some say, “I don’t want to use my car to make a political statement.”  I say, Why not?  If we believe in something, a bumper sticker is an easy way to show our solidarity with the suffering people of Palestine and stand up for peace and justice.  I have had a FREE PALESTINE sticker on my car for 15 years and I remember getting the ‘finger” only once. On the other hand, it has been a great conversation starter. 

I returned to my car, parked on a city side street, and there stood a woman staring at my bumper.  O Boy, I thought, now I am going to get my head knocked off. 
             “Is this your car?” she asked,
“I agree.” And, she said, “I am Jewish.  I feel lonely at my synagogue.  It feels good to know that I am not alone.” 

From bushy bearded motorcycle riders to totally covered Muslim ladies, I have received expression of appreciation from those who do not want to feel alone.  All a bumper sticker does is show solidarity, but how valuable that is.[1]


While sitting at a table for ten in a restaurant, a man I hardy knew, said something about the stupid Palestinians firing rockets.  He was too far away to engage in a conversation without turning the dinner party into a shouting match, so, I made a face as though I had been whiffed by a smell from a sewer.   He got my message and I could only hope it made him uncomfortable. 

Under different circumstances, we might see it as an opportunity to say something like, “I used to think that way. But, then I read Elias Chacour’s book, BLOOD BROTHERS and it pointed out another way.” There are many books, many by Jewish authors, which have helped me to better understand that situation and my part in it. [2]

3 – FLAG

On May 15, Nakba Day, and March 16th, the anniversary of the crushing of Rachael Corrie,  people walking by will see a Palestinian flag flying in front of our house.  It is a small way to show solidarity with those oppressed by Israel’s occupation and has led to meeting several like minded friends.


Ben could also send $100 to Jewish Voice for Peace,[3]  This is a nation wide organization of Jews committed to the ethical teaching of their scriptures, such as Jeremiah, Isaiah and the Psalms. At great rick of being isolated from family, friends and religious community, they live out the historical mandate of their faith by marching, demonstrating and teaching justice for all, especially those oppressed by religion, racism or pariah nations.

Jewish Voice for Peace is growing in number and influence.  Anyone experiencing discrimination will have a friend in JVP. 

5 – BDS

Ben could  join hundreds of thousands of world wide supporters of BDS, (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a call from Palestinian civil and religious leaders to pressure Israel  to end the occupation. Sanctions are the actions of governments. Divestments are the actions of corporations. But, individuals, like Ben, can boycott those companies that profit from the occupation, such as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and any business that sells soda stream, to name  a few.[4]  


Letters to the Editor on the Israel/Palestine crisis seldom get published, but every now and then, one will get through.  At least, they are read by the editor.

I often write letters to my elected officials which I am convinced are never read. I get back a form letter addressing none of my concerns. But, who knows. If our representatives in Congress got ten letters from ten different people expressing concern over the same issue, it might get mentioned at their staff meeting.  Every little bit of awareness might help.  At least, it helps me to write them.


There are a hundred books out there addressing Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians.  Ben could read any one of them and be motivated to take a little risk and share it with a friend.  We do not get an honest representation of what is happening from our media, our politicians or even from out pulpits.  Our best resource for accurate reporting can be found in books and in the social media.  A great place to start is with the Website Mondoweiss.

8 – Then Ben could pray.  But unless he, and all of us, do the kind of things listed above, it will do little good to pray.

I understand that Ben is discouraged. I want to say, That is OK. Go ahead and be discouraged,  even get depressed and feel like quitting.  It's a normal part of working for justice for any cause.  Take off a day, or  two, even let it go for a week.  But, then get back up, dust yourself off, and get right back in the fight.

Thomas Are
May 10, 2015

[1] FREE PALESTINE bumper stickers may be purchased for $2 from the Palestine Online Store, a not-for-profit that has been promoting Palestine products since 2005.
[2] I recommend: Mark Braverman – FATAL EMBRACE
                          Max Blumenthal, GOLIATH, 
                          Mico Peled – THE GENERAL’S SON.
                          Paul Finley – THEY DARE TO SPEAK OUT.
            A valued internet resource is:
            And a must see documentary is: PEACE, PROPAGANDA and the PROMISED LAND
                 Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic St., NorthamptonMA  01060
[3] Jewish Voice for Peace, 1611 Telegraph Ave.  Suite 1020, Oakland, CA  94612
     Phone  (510) 465-1777        Email:
[4] Google BDS for a more comprehensive story of the BDS movement, a boycott list and suggestions for actions toward divestment. 

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