Thursday, July 14, 2016


Well, Israel, you have finally done it. You have not only turned the world against you, you have brought the US down with you.  I hate that, but you are not totally to blame. You had a lot of help from our misguided politicians, the media and millions of right wing fundamentalist who call themselves Christian Zionists.

When I think of our invasion of Iraq, sanctions against Iran causing the death of half a million children, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding and the indifference to Palestinian suffering, I ask myself, what happened to the America in which I grew up?

Chas Freeman warns:

For a long time, we have enabled Israel’s self-injurious behavior. This has made it possible for Israel to choose land over peace, to corrupt its democracy, to deviate from the core values of its official religion as understood by Jews abroad, to empower racism and bigotry among its Jewish majority, and most recently, to humiliate the president of the United States while extracting twenty-nine kowtows from Congress.

No one now harbors any real hope that America can either deliver peace or help Israelis, Palestinians, and those with whom they share their region to achieve it.[1]

I don’t care how many times Hillary Clinton calls for bilateral negotiations between the two parties, she knows that no fair solution can come from such grossly unequal parties unless some outside party is willing to redress the imbalance of power. Israel also knows that if her support were to suddenly compromise her ambitions for power and wealth, she would drop them as quickly as she dropped her embrace of Yasser Arafat when she decided to run for the Senate in New York.

Israel today is being more and more ostracized and boycotted by people of conscience all over the world because of its racism, arrogance and violence against the Palestinians. I say, “Thank goodness. It’s about time.” But I hate to see the US being dragged down with it.

It seems that Arab leaders are finally learning that they cannot count on the US to control international blowback to Israel’s dysfunctional and unpopular relations with its neighbors.  Other than the US, Israel does not have a friend in the world.  With years of failed “peace talks,” financing settlement building, while objecting to them, and standing by paralyzed while Israel bombards Gaza over and over, who is going to respect anything the US has to say about seeking peace in the Middle East?

In 2002, the Arab League offered a revolutionary peace proposal including recognition and normal relations with Israel in exchange for a return to the ‘67 borders and peace with the Palestinians. Israel nor the US ever responded. To this day, Israel has never offered a “peace plan” for living side by side with the Palestinians.

Today, we still can’t get the words "occupation” or “illegal settlements” in the party platform of either presidential candidate for fear of losing large pro-Israel donors.  The occupation has gone on for 50 years. When are we going to admit that we can’t claim to be progressive and remain silent on the incredible misery and unbelievable suffering meted out against the Palestinians?

Thomas Are
July 15, 2016

[1] Chas W. Freeman, America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East. (Just Word Books, 2016.) p.107.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Like an Animal

With the headlines reporting that a Palestinian kid killed a thirteen year old girl in an Israeli settlement last week, and with the killing of four Israeli citizens in Tel Aviv, it is easy to lose the context of this conflict. While no one interested in peace condones terror attacks, and let’s be clear, terror is what these actions were about, we must, in the interest of fairness seek to understand why such acts of violence are taking place in the first place.

The per capita income of an Israeli is $18,000 and the average for a Palestinian is $1,100. While Israel has the highest economy in the region, Palestinians are homeless, without adequate drinking water, health care, education or protection from air and sea bombardments. Pleas for justice from Israel are met with “Death to Arabs.”  After decades of occupation, abuse and indignities and watching every week as more land, labor and resources are stolen from what’s left of Palestine, little concern is raised by the world’s media. When the most powerful nation on the globe denies their rights as human beings, acts of frustration are bound to overflow even if they are called “terrorism.” Such acts may not be beneficial, but they are understandable.

The Mayor of Tel Aviv understands:

We might be the only country in the world where another nation is under occupation without civil rights… You can’t hold people in a situation of occupation and hope they’ll reach the conclusion everything is alright.[1]

While Netanyahu tries to focus attention on the murder of a 13 year old child, complete with pictures of her bloody bed, teddy bear and grieving parents, Israel attacks Palestinian children by the hundreds.  According to The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:

Each year, the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes some 700 Palestinian children. Like adults, Palestinian children in the West Bank are subject to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights. Israeli Jews living in illegal West Bank settlements are subject to Israeli civilian laws, and afforded all the protections one would expect in a democracy. This constitutes “separate and unequal” policies.

Defense for Children International found that during and after an arrest, 75 percent of Palestinian children were subjected to physical violence, with 97 percent denied access to legal council, and had no parent with them during interrogation.

UNICEF reports that ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli detention system is “wide-spread, systematic, and institutionalized.”[2]

I can’t believe that Americans don’t care when such abuse of children is carried on in our name and with our tax dollars. But, I can believe that Americans are ignorant. The media, church and politicians operate out of agendas to keep us ignorant.

I ask myself; How would I feel if I were a Palestinian living under Israel’s boot? And what would I do?  Can I picture myself picking up a gun and killing four occupiers in Tel Aviv?  I hope not. But, I honestly cannot answer that question because I do not know.  Put me in a cage, treat me like an animal, and who knows, I may just act like an animal.

Thomas Are
July 4, 2016

[1] Common, With Latest Denial of Rights, Israel Maybe Guilty of “Collective Punishment’ UN, Army Radio, June 10, 2016.
[2] Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Post card to Political leaders. June/July 2016, facing page 26.