Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I need a shot, or something. Monday, March 21st, I heard Hillary Clinton’s diatribe to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC.  And I am sick. Does she not watch the news? I know the reporting by the US media is framed and slanted, but the few images out of   Gaza that do come through are enough to make anyone sick to the stomach.

Over and over again she referred to Israel as Jewish and democratic. But, even she knows that it can be one or the other but it can’t be both. Half of the people over whom Israel rules is not Jewish. Israel is not democratic, never has been and Hillary Clinton knows it.

She boldly states that Israel and the US share the same values. Well, I hope not: Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, writes:

Terrorism is a form of violent struggle in which violence is used against civilians in order to achieve political goals.
This definition would seem to apply to Israel’s own policies toward the Palestinians, beginning with the expulsion of half the Palestinian people from their country, the systematic destruction of 536 villages, towns and urban neighborhoods and the expropriation of their lands, and up to today where military occupation of five decades has resulted in the deaths and injury of tens of thousands of civilians, massive arrest and torture, the demolition of some 60,00 homes, impoverishment, further displacement and expulsion – and open “punishment” for the crime of turning to the ICC for protection.[1]

I share moral values with this Jewish writer who has witnessed Israel’s “democracy” first hand. Israel is a brutal occupier and thinks nothing of killing innocent people, including women and children. Clinton it wrong. There are millions of Americans including many Jews who do NOT share Israel’s values.  If Hillary Clinton shares Israel’s values and becomes president of the US, America could become a police state run by the military of whom she will be the Commander in Chief.

She says, as president, she would immediately attack BDS.   This is a non-violent grassroots movement designed to expose Israel’s atrocities. In other words, to her, violence is justified, objection to violence is not.

Then, she lifted up Golda Meir as her example of leadership. In doing so, Clinton commits herself to be as blind to reality as was Meir who is famous for saying:

There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, Meir told the Sunday Times of London. It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They did not exist.

So, the occupation drags on. But to Hillary Clinton, Golda Meir was a woman and since Hillary is a woman, when it comes to choosing a leader, that is what matters most, for honestly, that is about all that she has to offer.  I agree. It is time for the US to have a woman president, but just not this woman. Which of course is exactly what she wants, not that it is time to have a woman, but it is time to have “me” as president

One could hope that she would just look at a map showing the 88 percent of what used to be Palestine and compare it to the little landlocked areas in which Israel confines the Palestinians today.  Twelve percent of their homeland, cut up by walls and Jewish only roads.   She calls that a democracy and wants to be the democratic leader of America.

She justifies Israel’s disproportionate wars on Palestine by referring to suicide bombers. The fact that there have been no suicide bombers in almost a decade is not relevant to her.    

Clinton labels any resistance as acts of terrorism.  During her entire speech, she talked endlessly about terrorism. All Palestinians, including the more than 500 children massacred in Gaza last summer are automatically terrorist. 

She repeated the old charge that if Palestinians did not teach their children to hate, we would have peace.  I agree that Palestinians children hate Israel.  Blow up my home, uproot my family’s farm, steal my water, bomb my school and murder my little sister, and you would not have to “teach” me to hate. I would learn that all by myself.  And what is so ironical is that it’s the Jewish kids in Israel who are taught that non-Jews are lesser human beings who threaten their security and want Israel to be wiped out.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisreal Katz declared the situation as a state of war:

He vowed to push a parliamentary bill through allowing the government to expel all relatives of the attackers, whether they were involved in the attack or not. Suggesting a further crackdown on people not involved in the attack, the Israeli military announced a full-scale closure on the West Bank villages of Zawia and Auga on the grounds that two of the attackers were originally from those villages.[2]         

Someone should ask when has Israel NOT been in state of war. Halper writes:

Israel tops the list of countries in intense international conflicts of the last two hundred years. Besides being embroiled in an intense civil conflict during the half-century before the establishment of the state in 1948, it has fought four conventional wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, plus the 1967-70 War of Attrition), at least seven hybrid or asymmetric ones (First Lebanon War 1982 with an occupation lasting until 2000; First Intifada 1987-93, Second Intifada 2000-05, Second Lebanon War 2006, and three assaults on Gaza 2008/9, 2012, 2014), plus mounting or participating in innumerable operations and engagements inside Israel, in  the Occupied Territories, throughout the Middle East and well beyond. It continues to be engaged in one of the longest securocratic wars of modern times: its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights over the past nearly five decades.[3]

Halper summed it up, (And I am working from memory here) by drawing a triangle: At the top, he put “Jewish.” On the lower corner he put “Democratic” and on the last point, “All the land.”  Then Halper announced that Israel could have any two of these it wanted, but could not have all three.

One: Israel could be Jewish and Democratic, but then could not have all the land. (the traditional two-state solution.)

Two: Israel could be Democratic and have all the land, but could not then be Jewish. (One democratic nation for all its citizens.) Or,

Three: Israel could have all the land and be Jewish, but could not then be democratic. (An apartheid state controlling the Palestinians by force.)
In spite of its military might and its trigger-happy option to use it, like most empires of history, Israel may crumble from within. Whether it survives remains to be seem. If, or when, that happens, it will leave millions of innocent victims, Jewish and Palestinian.  So sad.

Reflecting on all this, I have changed my mind.  I don’t need the shot. Hillary Clinton is running an Israeli fever. But, I am not hopeful. As someone pointed out, you just can’t give a flu shot to a tombstone.

Thomas Are
March 26, 2016

[1] Jeff Halper, War Against the People, (Pluto Press, 2015) p.150
[2] Intel Minister: Israel in State of War after Multiple Stabbings,, March 8, 2016
[3] Jeff Halper, War Against the People, (Pluto Press, 2015) p. 69.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Innocent Victim

We know a lot about him. Taylor Force grew up in Texas, loved horses, was an avid skier, played the guitar, graduated from West Point, served as an officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, lived in Lexington, Kentucky before moving to Nashville to continue his studies at Vanderbilt.  “He lived really large.” His father said of him. A friend remembered his as a peaceful, kind and just an all-American guy. Then he went on a school trip to Israel where he was stabbed to death by an outraged Palestinian. By any measure, 29 year old Taylor Force was an innocent victim and his death was an unnecessary tragedy.  I can only imagine how I would feel if it had been my son.

My local newspaper headlines, “American Student Latest Victim in Palestinian Violence.”  Vice President Joe Biden said “the U.S. not only deplored a recent wave of Palestinian attacks in Israel but also condemns the failure to condemn these acts.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points to the challenges Israel faces. “The first one is the persistent incitement in Palestine society that glorifies murderers of innocent people and calls for a Palestinian state not to live in peace with Israel, but to replace Israel.”[i]

My newspaper seems to forget Israeli daily violence committed against Palestinians on their own land, both by the IDF and by settlers. Joe Biden, as usual, blames the conflict on the resistance and not on the occupation. And poor Netanyahu believes his own propaganda that it is the Palestinian and not his Israeli government that glorifies violence.

However, when seen in context, Taylor Force was just one of the many innocent victims of Israel’s oppression. And unless we are willing to remember, face and address that context, Taylor Force will have died in vain. He stepped into a hornet’s nest of hostility.

Less than two years ago, over 500 children were killed during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza which deliberately targeted schools, hospitals and water supplies. Today, Gaza is an open air prison lacking housing, water, food, medicine and electricity. Its people, most of them refugees from Israel’s previous aggressions, have been used as a testing ground for Israel’s arms and surveillance market.  In the West Bank, Jewish only roads and a twenty-five foot wall separate families from their loved ones, farmers from their fields, children from their schools and the sick from their hospitals… all justified, defended and financed by the U.S. in the name of “security.” No one dares ask about “Palestinian security?”

Does anyone question what is going on that would cause young kids to sacrifice their lives to express their frustration. It is too simple to just label them “terrorist.” That label has lost its sting. Anyone who resists being occupied and abused has been called a terrorist.

I don’t know if Taylor Force was targeted because he was an American, but he was certainly put in harm’s way and set up by US indifference to Israel’s violence. 

Thomas Are
March 12, 2016

[i] Isabel Kershner, Biden Condemns Attacks in Israel. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 10, 2016, p. A-3