Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't Do Both at the Same Time

Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff under Ronald Reagan, wrote about the consequences of Jewish power over the U.S. policy towards Israel:

I have never seen a president - I don’t care who he is – stand up to the Israelis. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. If the American people understood what a grip those people have on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don’t have any idea what goes on.[1]

Screenwriter and film director, Oliver Stone appearing on the Stephen Colbert Late Show said, “Israel interfered in the U.S. election more than Russia. Why don’t you ask me about that?” That was too rich for the American audience. CBS deleted it. Israel cannot be disparaged on national television.

But, that is the world of politics which I seldom understand.  My question is about the responsibility of the church. The Christian community in Palestine has cried for the church to be their voice and to take up their cause for 70 years. Yet, the pulpits across America have been mostly muted. Marc Ellis, years ago, wrote about the “ecumenical deal” in which the church agreed to never question the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel in exchange for peaceful relationships with the Jewish community.

So, now, after years of failed “peace talks,” hundreds of check points, major bombardments on Gaza and a settler population of a half million, I find myself wanting to boycott the church of which I have been a part my entire life. I want to find other places for my money and support.

But, the church does so much good, I am told. And that is true. But, if to “do good,” means to sweep decades of gross injustice under the rug, I am ready to separate myself from the church and jump out of its wagon.  Let me be clear, I am not being pushed, I am choosing to jump.

If all the parts of my body work just like they should and just one organ, say, my liver, does not do its thing, I am not 99% healthy, I am 100% sick.  In the same way, if all the missions of the church function just as planned, but it has nothing to say about the injustice done to the Palestinians, supported and financed by our government, and the church remains mostly silent, the church is not almost healthy, it is totally sick.

Do I think my criticism of the church will cause it to speak up and do right.?  Of course not. But even a casual reading of the Old Testament prophets and almost any part of the Gospels should.

The church can continue to comfort its members or it can take a stand against injustice, but I don’t know how it can do both at the same time.

Thomas Are
July 12, 2017



[1] These quote from Thomas Moorer and Olive Stone are confirmed by Philip Giraldi, Israel’s Dirty Little Secret, How it drives US policy exploiting a spineless Congress and White House.,  June 20, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Money Talks

Haaretz, perhaps the leading newspaper in Israel, reported that on a tour of  Hebron in the West Bank, American rabbis were shocked by what they saw. Yet, only five of them allowed reporters to use their names:

Most of them are unwilling to have their names or photos published. Their congregations back home might not understand their decision to participate in a tour that offers a different narrative about the conflict – one that puts a human face on the other side and doesn’t paint Israel in the usual rosy colors.[1]

I understand the squeeze. In the early 1990s, I preached against the wisdom of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Members of my congregation warned me that unless I got on board and “supported our troops,” large financial commitments to the church would be in jeopardy.  I was reminded of our commitment to building a medical facility in Ghana and the needs of hundreds of homeless men and families our church was seeking to address.  It was a tight squeeze and I felt it. However, I could not abandon the justice aspect of the gospel to which I was committed to preach.  Did it cost me my job? I would not say so, but it certainly contributed to my decision to seek a more receptive ministry elsewhere.

I feel for the rabbis who would surely loose big donors if they criticize Israel. It is a tight squeeze. At the same time, what do they, or I, have left if we sacrifice our integrity?  Most of those who would criticize them have never been to Israel, never seen the horror of the occupation, or the pain of their wall, the hunger of children or even the humiliation caused by hundreds of check points.

“Money talks,” they say. A prime example was Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to our congress in 2015.  Both he and they were well aware that in the balcony sat Sheldon Adelson, multi-billionaire who had contributed $150,000,000 to the GOP and its friends during the 2012 election cycle. Thus, it was not enough for him to hear the applause of those members of congress, they stood up, over and over, 26 ovations, to be sure that Adelson could see them standing. 

No doubt, money talks, but money has no intelligence, conscience or morals… just power.

Thomas Are
July 9, 2017




[1] US Rabbis Touring Occupation are Afraid to be Identified Lest Their Congregations Find Out. Mondoweiss.net, 7/7/2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For the Bible Tells Me So

At that time, the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.”  (Gen. 12: 7)

How convenient. A Jewish God, spoke in some language understood by Abram, without witnesses, by the way, declaring that his children would be God’s chosen and as proof, God had in mind to give Israel, who did not yet exist, the land of another people.[1]

There are several problems with this narrative.  

In the first place, “There is no empirical evidence that any God even exist. In fact, there are no peer-review scientific articles that take God’s existence seriously,”[2] much less a God who spoke of a state called Israel three thousand years into the future.

Zionists love to quote Genesis 12:

And God said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you, I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves. (Gen. 12:1-3)

When they quote this, they hope that you will not remember that when this was written, Abram had no children. There was no person or nation named Israel.  The man Israel was born two generations in the future as one of the twelve grandsons of Abram.   He certainly was not a state. Yet, 3000 years later Jewish survivors of Hitler’s holocaust moved to Palestine saying, “That’s us.” All this is a long way from God’s promising the land of Palestine as theirs forever.

Israel’s founders claimed to be atheists. Yet, they claimed the land of Palestine to be theirs because a “God” they didn’t believe in gave it to them.  

The bottom line is this: The land of Palestine is in the hands of Israel because of military might and terrorism, not some kind of divine donation.

For those who need a book, or holy writ; The Old Testament prophets and the entire New Testament demand peace, not war. There are no exceptions. You cannot find one verse which says, in this case or that, it will be OK to take another person’s life or land.

Thomas Are
June 28, 2017




[1] It is worth noting that the first seed of Abraham was Ishmael, not Isaac.
[2] Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow, (Harvill Secker, London, 2015) p. 115.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Biggest Myth

Trying to identify the biggest myth is a little like trying to decide which size circle is the most round. But you can’t identify Israel without myths.

Among the list is: A land without a people for a people without a land. Neither side of that is true.  More Jews were living outside Israel, with success and respect, than have ever lived in Israel, before or after the establishment of the state.[1]  Nor was Palestine a land without people. In fact, Israel brags about ethnically cleansing over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes during the first year of establishing their state of Israel.  Without doubt, A land without a people for a people without a land was a big one. But, probably the most significant myth of our day is the claim that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

When I think of a democracy, warm feelings come to mind of a nation seeking the best education, health care and well-being of all its citizens. That has certainly been my experience. However, this is not true in Israel and it is even less true for those trapped in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

When I think of a democracy I think of a land where every man or woman has the right to vote, where anyone is free to live in any community, buy any home they can afford, to send their children to a school of their choice, to drive on the public highways, use the public library and be cared for in a hospital in case of an emergency.

When I think of a democracy, I do not think of Israel where none of these freedoms are respected. In Israel, half of the people living under its military rule cannot vote,

I can imagine two major parties in Israel’s democracy; The Zionist, the party in power, and the Palestinian “party”. However, in Israel’s democracy, only one of these is privileged. The other, well:

The (privileged) regime allows even the lowest-ranking soldier in the IDF to rule, and ruin their lives. They are helpless if such a soldier, or his unit commander, decides to demolish their homes, or hold them for hours at a checkpoint, or incarcerate them without trial. There is nothing they can do.[2]

Some would say that a democracy has a responsibility to care for the weakest and most needy among them.  Ilan Pappe says, “the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ behaves as a dictatorship of the worst kind.”[3]

Of course, Israel says that all these undemocratic measures are temporary. But, it has been temporary for fifty years, and more. In the meantime, this only democracy in the Middle East continues to brutalize the people under its control, including children, confining them to ghettoes, killing and torturing them in Israeli jails, confiscating their land and stealing their water.

Some democracy!

Thomas Are
June 20, 2017



[1] As of July 2014, 6,451,000 Jews live in Israel while 7,282,000 live in the U.S.
[2] Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths about Israel,  (Published by Verso, 2017) p. 86
[3] Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths about Israel,  (Published by Verso, 2017) p. 91.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fiftieth Anniversary

I had lunch with a man “greatly concerned” about the Israel/Palestinian situation. Yet, he said that he had never heard of the USS Liberty.  I spoke to a church group and asked if anyone there had heard of the Liberty and only a very few raised their hands.  I don’t think Americans can understand our submissive relationship with Israel without knowing the story of the USS Liberty.  We owe it to the survivors of the Liberty as well as the people of Palestine to know their story.[1]

It was a warm, clear midsummer’s day, exactly fifty years ago on this day, June 6, the sky was blue and the waters calm, as the USS Liberty performed its responsibility on a reconnaissance cruise in the international waters of the Mediterranean. Captain McGonegle had every reason to relax and feel safe. Israeli planes circled his ship and Israel was our special friend and ally. A very large U.S. flag waved in the wind. Then suddenly, without warning, these friendly jets turned on the Liberty firing bullets and dropping bombs.  Torpedo boats fired rockets blowing a forty-foot hole into its side at the water line. When the captain ordered abandon ship, Israel strafed our sailors in their life boats. Everything possible was done to sink the Liberty. Why? To stop messages from reaching the world that Israel was preparing to invade Syria and occupy the Golan Heights.

The first attack deliberately knocked out its antennas to prevent the Liberty from sending an SOS. Sailors, dodging bullets, rigged a homemade shortwave and called for help. “Liberty under attack, on fire and taking water.”  When that word reached Washington, rather than immediately sending help from our aircraft carriers nearby, Lyndon Johnson ordered that no rescue effort be launched.  It was 16 hours before any assistance arrived. In the meantime, the ship’s one doctor ran out of drugs, pain killers and bandages. One hundred-seventy-one sailors were injured. Thirty-four had died.

On orders from the president, the Liberty docked in Malta. Every sailor was ordered to not speak to anyone about what had happened. To this day, there has been no official investigation.

What happened to the Liberty was tragic. However, the bigger tragedy is that Israel learned that it could do anything and there would be no reaction from the US. That is true to this day. And why? Because of the lobby and Israel’s control on our political leaders. We are, in fact,  according to Paul Craig Roberts, Israel’s puppet.  Now, that’s a tragedy.

Thomas Are
June 6, 2017


[1] I urge you to Google, Howard Films, LOSS OF LIBERTY. It’s a history that we should know.   To learn more, Read the book, Assault on the Liberty, By James Ennes, the officer on deck during the attack.  The latest book on this that I have read is Attack on the Liberty, By James Scott, the son of one of the officers on the Liberty.  Again, this is a history that we should know if we are to understand how the US defers to Israel, time and time again.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Kind of People

What kind of people would enjoy a sumptuous meal in front of a starving child and simply say, “Go away kid, you bother me.”?  None that I know.  What kind of people would deliberately withhold food and destroy the means of growing food in the context of abundance surrounded by children reaching out for crumbs from the table and simply say, “I don’t care?”  I don’t personally know anyone so calloused because I don’t personally know any Israeli Zionists.  

Next month, Israel will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of occupying Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.  Is that something of which to be proud?

Since the Six Day War Israel has:

            ---Demolished over 48,000 homes in the West Bank and Gaza;
            ---Confiscated over 586,000 acres of Palestinian land the West Bank;
            ---Created 300,000 Palestinian refugees;
            ---Colonized the West Bank with over 600,000 Jewish settlers;
            ---Enacted over 50 laws that discriminate against Israel’s Arab minority, and
---Established an apartheid legal system with civil courts for Jewish settlers and separate    military courts for 4.5 million Palestinians, including indefinite detention without trial and a    conviction rate of over 99%.[1]

Why do we Americans, who years ago quit believing in a “superior race,” continue to support and fund a nation which brags about being a nation for a superior race? What has happened to the voice of those who believe there will be peace for all only when there is justice for all?  As long as America continues to insist that the Palestinians are all terrorists and demand that our friends call them terrorists who are just out to kill Jews, there will be little hope for peace there or living with a clear conscience here.  And Israel will continue to kill, imprison, torture and steal land and water from the Palestinian nation. Over 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested since the 1967 war Israel celebrates this week.[2]

And, what kind of people would look the other way in the presence of such injustice.  Well, my fellow Americans, perhaps we all should look in the mirror.


Thomas Are
May 30, 2017




[1] Fifty Years on…A Call for Liberty and Justice for All,  mailchi.mp, 50 Years of Illegal Occupation. May 26, 2017
[2] Mondoweiss, Letter to President Donald Trump from Families of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails, May 24, 2017.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Friends

When I thought I had heard it all, I was jolted to read that there were nearly 700 “Friends of…” organizations operating in the United States raising billions of dollars every year for Israel.[1].  Their influence is not limited to fund raising. They bribe politicians, intimidate the media and threaten academia.  They  exaggerate  the pain of Palestinian resistance and insist that Israel is the innocent victim. No matter what happens, the Palestinians are to blame.

One such organization calling itself  “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces”  states that their job is to look after the (Israeli Defense Forces) IDF:

True to that motto, the money this ‘charity’ raises benefits exclusively the soldiers of a foreign country that has not fought a war longer than 33 days in 40 years and whose primary duties have been to protect Israel’s illegal settlements, demolish Palestinian homes, make the lives of ordinary Palestinians miserable, and suppress Palestinian resistance to its ongoing ethnic cleansing by whatever means necessary.[2]

The irony of this friendship is that it actually does more harm than good. The old AA adage, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” makes my point.  By any measure, Israel is drunk with its own arrogance, power and sense of importance. Its future as a democratic, Jewish only state is little more than an impossible dream in desperate need of an honest friend to lift up the sober truth. The world will accept brutality and look the other way in face of injustice, but not genocide.

On the other side of the coin. In spite of what Golda Meir announced, the Palestinians exist and they are growing. They also have friends. Millions of friends. I know because I am one of them.

Thomas Are
May 11, 2017




[1] Grant F. Smith,  Big Israel, How Israel’s Lobby Moves America. (Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. 2016) p. 27.
[2] Grant F. Smith,  Big Israel, How Israel’s Lobby Moves America. (Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. 2016) p. 67.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

And Israel Gets Away With It

It seems no matter what, Israel gets away with it. From the imprisonment and murder of children, to blockading an entire nation of people, Israel gets away with it.  There seems to be an unquestioned support of Israel that “keeps out eyes shut, our mouths closed and our wallets open,” no matter what Israel does.[1] The powerful Israeli lobby makes sure that Israel gets away with it.

Grant Smith, author of, Big Israel; How Israel’s Lobby Moves America, describes the Israel lobby as:

A $3.7 billion nonprofit ecosystem with 14,000 employees, 350,000 volunteers and a paying membership of 774,00.

And what does Israel get for all this investment to influence public opinion. It gets an American government willing to look the other way, a news media seldom raising an objection and millions of Christian Zionist putting a biblical halo over Israel’s atrocities.  

But, there is another side to the story. At the founding of the State of Israel, acts of violence were designed to frighten Arabs into fleeing for their lives. One of the best documented examples was the village of Deir Yassin.  On April 9, 1948, the Stern gang, headed by Yitzak Shamir, and the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, conducted the massacre of the Arab village of Deir Yassin.  Jews claim 100 people were killed, Arabs say it was 250.  The commander of the Haganah, Zvi Ankori described what he witnessed:

I saw cut-off genitalia and women’s crushed stomachs. It was direct murder. Soldiers shot everyone they saw, including women and children. Parents begged commanders to stop the slaughter, to please stop shooting.[2]

No one denies that most of those slashed to death were women and children. Jewish terrorist shot people on their homes and threw their bodies into the streets as a message to neighboring Arab villages. Survivors of the raid tell stories of Israeli soldiers starting to kill early in the morning and continuing all day. They killed everyone they saw, including old people and children. One pregnant woman had her stomach cut open with a butcher’s knife.[3]

Rather than hiding its face in shame, Israel’s leaders promoted the massacre as a propaganda tool to frighten other villages into fleeing their homes and leaving them for Israeli Jews to occupy, “free of charge.” 

Also in the minds of Americans should be the USS Liberty.

Fifty years ago, this month, Israel deliberately attacked a US navy ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171, machine gunned our life rafts in the water and did everything it could to sink the USS Liberty.  Why would Israel attack an American ship?  To stop messages from reaching the world that Israel was preparing to invade Syria to capture the Golan Heights.  And to this day, the lobby prevails. The US Government has done NOTHING to protect or protest the assault on the Liberty. Israel has well learned that it can do anything, even kill Americans, and the US will sweep it under the rug.[4]  

No one is safe from Israel’s lobby or its self-proclaimed “right to defend itself.”

As the father of a mentally disabled son, I not only read about Nanar Mujahed, I feel her story. Just last week, (April 21, 2017), Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire on this disabled Palestinian young woman. She certainly posed no threat to them. Frightened and confused as she was, they even put her in handcuffs at the hospital. Now, in addition to having a mental handicap, Manar Mujahed is also paralyzed.[5]

No matter what, Israel gets away with it.

Thomas Are
May 3, 2017


[1] Filmmaker, Tom Hayes, Quoted by Delinda Hanley in the Introduction to the fourth “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” conference, Washington, D.C., March 24,2017.
[2].Lanni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revolutions From Jabotinsky to Shamir, (Zed Books, Ltd. 1984). P. 97. And Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism, (Veritas Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1988) p.33.
[3].Quoted in David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Root of Violance on the Middle East, Faber and Faber, 1977) p. 141. Cited in Clifford Wright, Facts and Fables: The Arab-Isreli Conflict, (London, Kegan Paul International. 1989) p.19
[4] I urge you to Google, HOWARD FILMS, LOSS OF LIBERTY. It’s a history that we should know.   To learn more, Read the book, Assault on the Liberty, By James Ennes, the officer on deck during the attack.  The latest book on this that I have read is Attack on the Liberty, By James Scott, the son of one of the officers on the Liberty.  Again, this is a history that we should know if we are to understand how the US defers to Israel, time and time again.

[5] Mondoweiss, Israeli Soldiers Opened Fire at Mentally disabled Palestinian.  April, 21, 2017.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Israel Celebrates

To this day, Israel sanctifies the massacre and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in what it calls its war of independence in 1948. The indigenous residents of Palestine were pushed into refugee camps all across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Gaza. Israel actually brags to its own people about reclaiming the gift from God to the Jews.

Then, two decades later, Israel launched a surprise attack on its neighbors and gained what it calls “the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.” Yet, what it calls a “liberation” was actually the occupation of the land, labor and resources of a weaker and mostly unarmed people. Israel celebrates five decades of demolishing homes, stealing water, erecting hundreds of checkpoints, putting Palestinians, including children, in Israeli prisons, building a wall through the West Bank separating kids from their schools, farmers from their fields and the sick and wounded from their hospitals. Israel’s Six Day War also built an effective apartheid system.

Meretz chairperson of Zehava Galon said the celebration is of a massive human rights violation:

Israel has controlled millions of people for 50 years, treads on them every day anew and denies them rights and sovereignty.

And, that’s not the worst of it. Haaretz notes:

The 1967 war led to the growth of unbridled national arrogance, which exacted an awful price in blood over the past 50 years and turned the military victory into a moral defeat. In retrospect, it should be called the 50-Year War, and judging by the political situation, its life expectancy appears endless.[1]

This fifty years of oppression should be a source of shame, not a reason for celebration.

However, Israel does have cause to celebrate. It has over powered its non-Jewish citizens and neighbors for half a century and at the same time convinced the world, especially the United States, that all this time it has been the victim. Now, that is quite an accomplishment.

And Donald Trump grins in a total fog.

Thomas Are
April 25, 2017




[1] Both of these quotes come from Israel Will Celebrate 50th Anniversary of ’67 War in – an Illegal Settlement,  Mondoweiss, April 17, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Anywhere in the World

Did you hear what he said? I did. The Secretary State not only said it on national television, it was repeated in leading newspapers all around the world. Rex Tillerson, said:

We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocent anywhere in the world.

Look out Israel. You must be on the top of his list. And America, too for that matter, for our crimes against the innocent children of Palestine.  Even though I have never seen one shred of evidence that Tillerson gives a hoot for the children of the West Bank and Gaza, his noble proclamation of having a heart reveals only that he either knows nothing about Israel’s brutality or he hopes that you don’t know or care.

Donald Trump speaks so passionately about the 100 children gassed by Syria, saying, “No  child of God should ever suffer such horror.”  Yet he has no word of sympathy for the 550 children blown up in Gaza in 2014 by Israeli pilots flying planes supplied by the US., nor do we hear any remorse for the “beautiful children” burned to death by white phosphorus exploding over their heads like a fireworks star-burst at a ball game. He has nothing but praise for his favorite son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose claim to fame is that Benjamin Netanyahu once slept in his bed, when he donates tens of thousands of dollars to displace Palestinian children and their families to make room for Jewish only settlements in the West Bank. I guess only children who get out of Israel’s way are “beautiful.”

Sean Spicer said, “Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”  Of course he is right, but he obviously does not have in mind all innocent people.

Tzipi Livni , considered to be among the most liberal members of Israel’s Knesset, said that the attack on Gaza in 2008-9 was necessary and important.  When Hamas fires those unguided home-made missiles into Israel, we just “go wild.”[i] And what happens to the “beautiful” children of Gaza is hard to believe.  Their homes, schools, hospitals, food and water supplies are considered “enemy bases,” and blown up, without a thought.    Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizonkot said, “They are all just collateral damage.”  According to Justice Minister Ayelet Sheked, “All these children are just little snakes anyway.  Elie Wiesel explained that when 550 children in Gaza were killed it is only because Hamas chose to sacrifice them.”[ii]

Trump is right when he says, “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” He is wrong in excluding Palestinian children from his focus of concern.

Thomas Are
April 13, 2017






[i] The Selective Concern for Beautiful Babies,  Mondoweiss, April 11, 2017.
2 The Selective Concern for Beautiful Babies,  Mondoweiss, April 11, 2017.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ignoring Trump

Donald Trump has such little credibility that even Israel to whom Trump has sworn undying support and allegiance is saying, no thanks, we prefer to go it alone. It’s easy to understand why.

As reported on Morning Joe,[1] Trump is underwater in trying to get anything done whether overseas or at home. The world reads these numbers. Our enemies rejoice and our friends tremble.                     

Gallup Poll has Trump at        Approval 39%         Disapprove   55%
IBD TIPP Poll                         Approval 34%         Disapprove   56%
Quinnipiac University Poll
     Trumps Overall Approval Rating   Approve 35%  Disapprove  57%                                                                                                                              
                   Health Care                   28%                   64%
                   Immigration Issues       39%                   57%
                   Economy                       41%                   48%
                   Environmental Policy   29%                   61%
                   Foreign Policy               33%                   58%
                   Terrorism                       42%                   49%                        

And why is Trump’s credibility so low? 

Too many wishy-washy episodes like his dealing with Syria. Today, Trump “calls on all civilized nations to join the U.S. in seeking an end to the slaughter in Syria. However, he hopes you have forgotten that in 2013, when Syria used chemical gas against its rebel citizens, Trump lambasted Obama for wanting to get involved saying:
        Syria is not our problem
          We should stay the hell out of Syria. What will we get for our lives and $ billions?                                ZERO
            What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a long term conflict
  If Obama attacks Syria and innocent citizens are killed, he and US will look very bad.
               What I am saying is stay out of Syria
                 At least three time in May, 2013, he said, Do NOT attack Syria.

“Forget Syria.”  Over and over again Trump announced his total opposition to any US involvement in Syria.  Yet, today, he looks at the horrendous Assad attack on unarmed men, women and children and Trump has the audacity to put the blame on Obama because he did not send troops into Syria four years ago. Bottom line:  

            2013: Trump says US should stay out of Syria
            2017: Trump says US should have sent troops to Syria[2]

Yet, nothing boosts a president’s ratings so much as a war and he knows it.

Wait a minute, some reader is thinking about now; I thought this was a blog about Israel/Palestine, and you are right. So, let’s get to the point.

In February, Trump asked Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold off on settlement building.” He was speaking as the president of the United States, the number one backer and financier of Israel. But, Netanyahu reads the numbers on Trump and says the heck with him, he has no clout. So, Israel continues with its settlement building, apartheid laws, ethnic cleansing, brutal occupation, check points, walls, barbaric treatment of Palestinians, putting children in Israeli prisons, stealing water and thumbing its nose at human rights…and Donald Trump.

Thomas Are
April 7, 2017





[1] Morning Joe, April 5, 2017
[2] This report on Syria was gleaned from The  Rachael Maddow Show,  April 4, 2017. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

America Second

Trump’s budget laments that we do not have the money we need to address the problems facing America, such as health care, education, climate change and the infrastructure. That’s why he says his proposed budget puts “America First”. Yet, he seems to have vast sums for Israel. Money for Israel is not on the chopping block. His proposal for deep cuts in foreign aid  are not to effect Israel.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

The budget plan from the White House calls for slashing the State Department’s $50 billion budget by about 28%, cuts that would mostly target climate change, democracy promotion, health programs, and numerous foreign aid projects.  Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said U.S, aid to Israel, which totaled about $3.1 billion this year, would not be touched under the Trump plan. Israel gets more U.S. aid than any other nation.

Aid to every other country will come under review.[1]

Israel has a population of about 7.7 million, far less than the state of New Jersey. It is one of the most affluent nations on the globe. Its unemployment rate is less than the U.S., Yet, we neglect our problems and borrow money to send billions every year, about $8.5 million every day, to help Israel deal with its problems.

There’s still more to the story, because parts of U.S. aid to Israel are buried in the budgets of various US agencies, mostly the Department of Defense. For example, since 2006, the American Defense Budget has included between $130 and $235 million per year for missile defense programs in Israel.[2]

Add it all up and Israel,  with less than 8 million people gets more “foreign aid” than all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined – which have a total population of over a billion people.[3]

There are also hidden costs to our blind support of Israel, such as the oil boycott of 1973, and 9/11.  
According to Harvard professor Steven Walt:

The 9/11 Commission reported that 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s  “animus toward the United States stemmed from his violent disagreement with US foreign policy favoring Israel”. Other anti-American terrorist – such as Ramza Yousef, who led the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center – have offered similar explanations for their anger toward the United States.[4]

And, of course, the biggie. Would we have ever invaded Iraq if it were not for the pressure from Israel?

Conclusion: The only reason I give a little money to a homeless beggar on the street is because I think he needs it. I support a shelter for battered woman because the mothers and children there are hurting and hope for a better life. I even give to my church because it reaches out to suffering people in dozens of ways. But, to give vast sums to Israel which obviously does not need it, but uses it to oppress Palestinians, build settlements on what is left of their shrinking land, confiscate their water, imprison their children and exploits them as cheap labor, among many other oppressive practices, does not make sense to me.

Oh, how I wish Mr. Trump really would put America, and American ideals, first.

Thomas Are
March 25, 2017




[1] Trump’s ‘America First’ Budget puts Israel right up there, Too, Mondoweiss, March, 17, 2017
[2] Jeremy Sharp, U.S. foreign aid to Israel, Congressional Research Service, March 12, 2012. Cited in Newsobserveronline, The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans. , May 8, 2013.
[3] Richard Curtiss, “The Cost of Israel to the American People”, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 1998.
[4] Stephen Walt, Whiff of Desperation, Foreign Policy, April 25, 2011.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Children are Innocent

Children are innocent, but many of them are in Israeli prisons.

Shidi is 13 years old. He was 12, on December 30, 2015 when Israel arrested him, forced him to stand naked in a freezing cold prison cell for hours. No parent, no lawyer. His mother saw him across the court room at his “trial,” his hands and feet in shackles. He will spend the next two years in an Israeli prison because Israel says, “He would have stabbed an Israeli, if he had a knife.”[i]

Gideon Levy said, “There is nothing more Israeli than a court that gives a soldier who killed a Palestinian in cold blood a sentence fit for a bicycle thief.”[ii]

An 18-month jail sentence handed down to an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) recruit for the killing of a wounded Palestinian has prompted for widespread criticism for its apparent leniency in light of the severity of his crime…Yet, the ruling was a landmark case insofar as no member of the IDF has been prosecuted for actions carried out in over 12 years... The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.[iii]

Dr. Jess Ghannam, professor of psychiatry and global health sciences at the University of California School of Medicine notes:

Palestinian children in Gaza are exposed to more violence in their lifetime than any other people, any other children anywhere in the world. If you look at children right now who are 10 years old, they’ve been through Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, the invasion in 2012 and the invasion and destruction in 2014. In addition to the siege, if you look at the statistics, even before Cast Lead, 80 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza have witnessed some sort of violence against them, a friend or a family member. And now they’re getting to the point where probably close to 99 percent of children in Gaza are being exposed to a level of violence where they have seen family members be killed, murdered, burned alive. There’s nothing like the levels of traumatic exposure that any child in the world has ever been exposed to on a chronic and daily basis.

According to Middle East Children’s Alliance, “Palestinian children are subject to attacks by the Israeli occupation forces and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis, 1,518 have been killed since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013, that’s one every three days for thirteen years. Almost 250 Palestinian minors, like Shadi, are being held in Israeli prisons.

Shadi’s friends described him as full of life, loved by family, neighbors, friends and classmates. They said that he loved to dance and sing and swim. He excelled in math. Shadi sounds like a delightful kid. But, I wonder what he will be when he is released after years in an Israeli prison?  How much hate can Israel control by force.  Children do grow up.

Thomas Are
March 19, 2017



[i] Farihan Farah,  I am a Proud Woman and a Humanitarian. I am also the Mother of the Youngest Palestinian Prisoner in an Israeli Jail.  Mondoweiss, March 8, 2017.
[ii] Haaretz, Who Needs the Hague when you have Israeli Army Justice, February 23, 2017

[iii] Bethan McKernan, Five Children Get Longer Sentences for Throwing Stones than Israeli Soldier who Shot Incapacitated Palestinian Dead.  The Independent, February 22, 2017.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

In the Name of Religion

I am not Jewish and therefore should be cautious in passing judgement on what is “good” Judaism and what is phony. However, one need not belong to a religion as deeply profound and tested as Judaism in order to recognize its many virtues and values. It is on this basis alone that I, even as an outsider, can emphatically declare that Benjamin Netanyahu is NOT Jewish and what he seeks to create in Israel is a racist state, not a Jewish one.

To make my case, I refer to Rabbi Donniel Hartman, leader of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem who does speak with authority when lifting up the values and virtues of Judaism:

Speaking of the modern state of Israel, he writes:

I am trying to save my own religion from itself…  For much of our history, (Jews) were a powerless people and on the side of the downtrodden. Now, however, we find ourselves in a dramatically different reality… We not only have the ability to protect ourselves but also the power to harm others.

As such, he continues:

As the short history of Israel has revealed, it is all too often the same people who speak in the name of religion, who come down on the side of discrimination toward the non-Jewish national minorities in Israel… and who campaign most vociferously against pursuing peace with our Palestinian neighbors. (p.16)[1]

As I read Rabbi Hartman, I weep with him in the pain he feels for the distortion of his Jewish faith in the face of modern Israel. He writes:

One of Judaism’s central obligations is to “not remain indifferent” (Deuteronomy 22:3), to see the needs of others and to implicate oneself as a part of the solution. (p.20)… Moses “chose to see the injustice around him and rejected the safer path of indifference, and stood with those being wronged. (p.22)... We are all our neighbor’s keepers. (p.31) …He quotes Maimonides, “Whoever is in a position to prevent wrongdoing and does not do so, is responsible for the iniquity of all the wrongdoing he might have prevented. (p.32)

Hartman summarized Isaiah’s message:

Your prayer and fasting are worthless to me as long as there are hungry, poor, homeless, and naked people suffering just outside the walls of your religious sanctuary. Get out of the synagogue and create a society of justice. (p. 57)

Now, what does all this have to do with Benjamin Netanyahu who doesn’t even claim to be a religious Jew?  It makes the point that his understanding of Judaism is race, not religion. He would like for all, especially those of us living in the United States, to think of him as “Jewish” and have a warm feeling toward him. But, let us be clear, Netanyahu is not Jewish. He is a racist hiding behind the smoke screen of Judaism.

Thomas Are
February 26, 2017




[1] These quotes are from Rabbi Donniel Hartman’s powerful little book, Putting God Second, How to save Religion from Itself, (Beacon Press, Boston, 2016)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Settlements Are the Issue

Netanyahu says, “We want peace with the Palestinians but they teach their children to hate us and to try to destroy the state of Israel.”  When someone asked about the settlements, he answered that the settlements were not an issue. It’s just that they teach their children to hate.

Netanyahu and Trump gushed all over each other bragging about how Israel and the US value life and live by the same moral standards.

Yet, any eye witness who visits Palestine will tell you that settlements are the issue.

Come into my neighborhood, knock down my house, build hundreds of Jewish only apartments on my land, surround it with Jewish only roads, keep me boxed into a small bantustan and it would be an issue with me.

I wish just one of the reporters in the Netanyahu/Trump news conference would have brought up the fact that Israel destroys Palestinian homes by the hundreds, steals 80 percent of Palestinian water, has built a separation wall, snaking down through the West Bank separating doctors from their hospitals, farmers from their fields and children from their schools. I wish someone would have had the integrity to ask about the number and treatment of Palestinians, including children,  in Israeli prisons, Someone could have asked about the skunk juice sprayed on Palestinian homes, the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees and the hundreds of check points.

I wish someone would have asked about Israel’s bombardment with planes and tanks and missiles from ships on the unarmed people of Gaza whom Israel keeps locked up like animals in an open air prison. Someone should have asked how Israel feels about the number of children who were left homeless and with no way to fight off the freezing cold of winter. And why does Israel deliberately limit the number of calories allowed for each person.

Netanyahu doesn’t care and Trump doesn’t have a clue. Mix apathy with stupidity and the outlook will be grim, every time.

When those two talk about shared values, they are not talking about my values or the values of any faithful Jew I know.

Thomas Are
February 16, 2017




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Football Deplomacy

I am not usually into football. I keep thinking that half of the people on the globe are hungry, millions are oppressed and abused, and we are flirting with a climate change catastrophe, so, what difference does it make which way a ball bounces. Yet, I find myself interested in Sunday’s Super Bowl because it includes the New England Patriots. It’s not just that the Patriots have such a close tie with Donald Trump, but because Robert Kraft has such a close tie to Israel.

About 20 months ago, I wrote:

If you are concerned about peace in the middle east and seek security for Israel when the entire neighborhood is in turmoil, if you want to avoid a needless war with Iran, (a war  which we will not win), and if you are looking for someone with great negotiating skills and experience in understanding the needs and point of view of the other, someone with knowledge of the region and its history, someone known for diplomacy, then, where do you turn? 

Of course, you call on professional football players.  Who better to understand what it is  like to be ordinary people trying to survive in an oppressive situation than those who grew up and continue to live in what the news media calls a “culture of entitlement?” 

Robert Kraft, ultra Zionist, and owner of the New England Patriots led a delegation of 20 National Football League players to Israel where they met with Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister wanted an opportunity to explain to them why America’s effort to avoid a war with Iran is a dumb move.  It’s not that Netanyahu himself seeks a war with Iran where Israel would have to pay the price in lives and money, he is clear in proclaiming that he wants the United States to go to war with Iran. So, he chose the bright minds of the NFL to make his case. He put it in terms that even they could understand. Call it football diplomacy.

Iran is one yard away from the goal line. If they get nukes, the preeminent terrorist regime of our day will be armed with nuclear weapons.  Our effort today is to make sure that we block them and push them back. That’s the ultimate contest and the ultimate challenge, and I hope it was advanced somewhat by this visit.[1]

“I lead my life according to the four F’s – at least phonetically,” Kraft is often reported as having said; “family, faith, football and philanthropy.  This trip has connected all those dots for me.” 

I want to ask, which of these “dots” includes the right of Jews to steal land from the Palestinians, kidnap and imprison their children, take their water, blow up their homes and lock them up behind cement barrows and barbed wire fences? Which of his four f’s justifies the past and on-going war crimes committed by Israel every day?  Mr. Kraft needs another “F” word to connect his dots. It’s the word fairness. When I read that wealthy professional football players are recruited to influence US policy in the Middle East, the best “F” word to describe me is flabbergasted with an equal measure of fear.

Football is entertainment, but when it gets involved in foreign affairs, which causes so much pain to so many people, it is no longer amusing.  Mr. Kraft should stick to something he knows something about for when he gets into defending Israel, he has fumbled and somebody needs to blow the whistle on him.

William Slone Coffin said it well. “If what you think is right causes some one else to suffer, there is something wrong with what you think is right.”

Thomas Are
February 4, 2017



[1] Philip Weiss, Patriots’ Owner Brings 20 NFL veterans to Netanyahu who calls them to block Obama’s Iran Deal. Mondoweiss, June 22, 2015

Monday, January 30, 2017

Israeli Apartheid

I grew up in South Carolina. Never heard the word apartheid but I lived in an apartheid system.  We simply referred  to it as “our way of life.” We defined it as “separate, but equal.” In reality, we were far more committed to keeping things separate than equal. I went to the better school while the black citizens in my community went to that ol’ fire trap on the south side of town. No matter what we called it, it was an evil system and it took years of external pressure (from the federal government,) and a lot of education to grow out of it. Thank God, the people of conscience rejected apartheid and our “right to exist as a white state.”  

Now, look at South Africa. Apartheid, which means “apart-ness” was sustained by all kinds of legal and emotional justifications.  Keeping blacks in Bantustans was “good for everybody.”  They were inferior human beings that just could not take care of themselves and as long as they provided a supply of cheap labor for the Afrikaners, apartheid worked until the world woke up to the pain inflicted upon millions of weak human beings and its conscience took over. The United Nations regards apartheid as a crime against humanity. Apartheid is now rejected by every civilized nation with the exception of Israel.

Today, Israel is an apartheid state. Of course, Israel rejects the title and prefers to call itself a “democracy” but changing the vocabulary does not change the fact of Israel’s brutal dominance of the occupied territories. Oren Ben-Dor explains:

Israel never officially annexed those areas to Israel (i.e., to ‘pre-1967 Israel’); on the other hand, instead of calling them ‘occupied, it insist on defining them as ‘held’ territories. Israel created this legalistic subterfuge to enable it to claim that articles 47 to 78 of the Geneva Convention that pertain to ‘territories occupied in war’ are not relevant there and to ensure that the state can be selective in the way it applies official Israeli law.[1]

It is amazing that so many people who openly opposed the apartheid system in South Carolina and South Africa are willing to give a pass to Israel.

It’s even called a separation (apartheid) wall. Add to that, hundreds of checkpoints, illegal settlements,  home demolitions, curfews, bombardment of unarmed Gazans, thousands of political prisoners and you have the face of Apartheid Israel.

Thomas Are
January 30, 2017



[1] Ilan Peppe, Israel and South Africa, The Many Faces od Apartheid,  (Zed Books, London, 2015.) p. 78.