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Monday, March 28, 2011

Ask Netanyahu a question

My question:

The UN resolutions for resolving the conflict are already in place on borders, refugees, Jerusalem, etc- why do you refuse to comply?

It said there was an error. It probably didn’t go through.

Other ones I wanted to ask:

Why do you think Israel deserves to defend itself given its brutal occupation and expulsion of millions of human beings?

Do you value Jewish human life above Arab human life?

Why do you still occupy Palestinian land (national security is not an answer)?

Do you still subscribe to the myth that Palestine was a “land without people for a people with no land?”

Why do Jews from all over the earth get a free pass to Israel, but you cannot abide by UN resolutions to let Palestinian refugees of Jewish terrorist violence and their descendants go home to Palestine?

If you do believe in democracy and human rights and claim to be part of the civilized world, why then do you have to own and control all of Palestine and deny rights/entry to the native people?

I guess asking questions of Netanyahu is like asking questions to any despot. They won’t tell the truth or the answer will be a predictable non-answer. For example they are allowed to oppress, starve, kill innocents, bulldoze, deny visas, divide families, build walls, grab land, build illegal settlements, control borders, control water, control imports/exports, bomb police and infrastructure, and “combat” non-violence with live fire because of national security, the right to exist, the right to defend oneself. Defense. From what? Why do they get a free pass on the consequences of oppressing a large population whose land they were granted a portion of and kept taking?

Gotta love how everyone looks at this conflict beginning at the middle. Why are Palestinians upset? They have no rights, no freedom. It is said there cannot be peace without justice. What did American colonists do in the face of possibly lesser wrongs? We called it liberation. The British called us savage terrorists. 

There was a bombing in Jerusalem last week. People are horrified. How could Palestinians kill an innocent woman? People don’t want to think about what Palestinians have lived through over the decades. I often wonder how much Americans would take of what Israel is doing to Palestinians before we would take up arms. I’m guessing it would have been a lot sooner. We never ask why do Palestinians have to pay the price for the Holocaust and why do these victims get to victimize others and be shielded from all justifiable (or not) consequences. Why are they not forced to comply with law and UN resolutions that would neatly resolve all of the things Israel insists on starting talks to think about how to talk about these issues?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Christian view of the Palestinian Israeli conflict

I'm not quite finished with this one yet, but I feel like I already have a few points to make. 

It is a different perspective than I've been used to reading. Since I'm not a Muslim, I had focused on the Muslim perspective, trying to understand and get some background because experience and my gut were telling me there was more to the story than some would have you believe. You always hear people talking about Muslims oppressing the Christians in the Arab world, Arabs only understand violence, Islam causes terrorism, etc. At some point, even if you trust the source, you've got to find out if this is really true somehow. At least that's what I am compelled to do whether its a stereotype, an email, whatever.

When I started reading, I immediately felt a connection to the author. Her views were very, very familiar. They are very much my own. Not many of the facts are new; I've read quite a bit on this subject. The firm belief in the right of Palestinians to go back home if they want, to be compensated, to form a nation and actually share the land and resources with Israel minus the disclaimer that Israel has the right to exist and defend itself are in fact my own as well. I mean, why should we protect Israel's "right" to defend itself against the consequences of stealing, killing and oppressing hundreds of thousands of people?? 

The adherence to nonviolence is impressive and the understanding of it was insightful. She explains that it's not a passive position in which you let people walk all over you, but where you stand up for truth and justice in a way that you respect the human rights and life of everyone. It reminded me of discussions of meekness and submission in Bible studies. Jesus was meek and submitted to God; we are supposed to be meek and submissive - but this doesn't mean we are weak, scared and letting people trample the truth. On the contrary, true submission is a choice ("power under control" as I once heard it described), not something forced on you as we normally think of psychologically "breaking" a prisoner or animal.

She relates her experiences as a Palestinian Christian under Israeli occupation, which could be pretty eye-opening for some people unfamiliar with the conflict. She sees Israel as the major problem and hurdle and feels brotherhood with Muslims in this struggle in the same way Americans of different faiths come together on matters of national interests and security. She also confronts the issue of the beliefs of the American Christian fundamentalist right who ignore Palestinian Christians rights and safety in their blind support for Jews' Biblical right to live there. (Do they just not know about Palestinian Christians or do Christian Zionists knowingly reject fellow Christians' right to worship and live in peace in favor of the Jewish desire for control?)
I did take issue with at least one thing. She is one who doesn't appear to believe in a literal reading of the Old Testament. She believes all the mass killings the Israelites were commanded to do against entire nations is against God's character. I don't see how one can be a Christian and have this view. Apart from the Bible, how is one to know God? She seems to be indirectly claiming to know God apart from the Bible and that is a dangerous claim. One we can absolutely reject as false. The inspired writers of the New Testament explain this to those willing to hear. Hebrews, obviously, is a good choice- the Jews are having the old law explained- how the blood of bulls and goats isn't sufficient, elements of the old were types and shadows of the new, if the old had been perfect there wouldn't be a need for the new, and how the death of the testator put the new in force. Hebrews isn't the only place; the New Testament is filled with explanation of the Old. The Old is nailed to the cross (Col 2:13-15), the Old was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:23-35), the Old gives us hope and is for our learning (Rom 15:4). The Old Testament is true and has it's place and the New Testament affirms that. That being said, I do agree with her 100% that one cannot use the Bible to prove Jews today have any more right to live in Palestine than anyone else, especially the residents (Palestinian Israelis) and former residents (refugees). Unlike her, I just don't think you have to reinterpret the Bible to see that; it's right there in the text.

Two links on the Bible and Israel/Palestine with scripture references:

I'm also pretty averse to saying absolutely that the Bible condones war or teaches pacifism or supports banning gay marriage or any other political act or persuasion. I think this is possibly going beyond what is written. The Bible is the guide for our spiritual growth and direction. This is not to say that the spiritual doesn't or shouldn't intersect with politics and such because the teachings of the Bible absolutely should inform our everyday decisions. This may sound contradictory, but it isn't. Maybe the nuance lies in putting each command of the Bible into law to become hollow like in the Pharisees time versus having the freedom to choose to submit to God's will and make these decisions for yourself (as far as the decisions don't hurt others- which is where the real purpose of civil law comes in...). Anyway, I'm with her as far as personally being compelled to help people and to treat others as I'd like to be treated. For example, if I were an occupied and oppressed person, I'd want the world to stand up to the occupying power instead of defending its right to exist on my grandparents property and defending its right to defend itself against my efforts to gain compensation, freedom, dignity and sadly, even basic necessities.

Other Christian Palestinian books or authors:

Mitri Raheb (Palestinian Christian, writes about the Occupation and being Christian)
---I Am A Palestinian Christian
---Bethlehem Besieged

Raja Shehadeh (Palestinian Christian, writes about the Occupation)
---Palestinian Walks
---Strangers in the House
---When the Birds Stopped Singing

Suad Amiry (Palestinian Christian, writes about the Occupation)
Sharon and My Mother-in-Law (under occupation with humor and grace)

Nothing to Lose But Your Life

Maria Khoury- I can't speak for her specific Chrsitian doctrine, but here is more proof that Palestinian Chrsitians are kind of ignored in American Christian support of Israel.

Naim Ateek on suicide bombing

The Kairos Palestine Document

Emma Williams
It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street (Westerner, doctor, mother, eyewitness to the conflict)

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bibi's going green!

Recycling, I mean. Nothing to do with St. Patty's Day.  :)

AIPAC's Newest Strategy

So, Netanyahu's got a new strategy. No partner for peace. It sounds familiar, doesn't it? Arabs are throwing off repression right and left and Merkel and Europe are increasingly critical of Israel since the leaks of the Palestine Papers. At least someone's paying attention! Israel's got to think of something fast to stop this peace and democracy stuff. A recent tragedy just might be the key to painting Abbas with the terrorist brush.

Israel's trying to use this poor (but still illegal) settler family as a way to turn the hate back on Palestinians and blame all that's wrong with the Middle East not on oppression, but on Palestinians. 

Apparently, it very well could be a disgruntled Asian employee. Of course, Israel and everyone is jumping the gun and calling this terrorism, assuming the perpetrator is Palestinian and hauling in all males of a certain age as usual. And as usual, Israeli police or military or whoever is in charge of protecting the illegal settlers is letting settlers terrorize neighboring Palestinians who had nothing to do with it. Netanyahu is making a big deal of making Abbas jump through whatever apologetic hoops; will Israel be required to apologize for the actions of its military when they violate the rights of Palestinians at the drop of a hat or kill children or settlers who throw Molotov cocktails at Palestinians?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Latest rift with Israel: Germany

Merkel chides Netanyahu for failing to make 'a single step to advance peace'

How awesome is this:

Netanyahu told Merkel he was disappointed by Germany's vote and by Merkel's refusal to accept Israel's requests before the vote, the source added. Merkel was furious.
"How dare you," she said, according to the official. "You are the one who disappointed us. You haven't made a single step to advance peace."

 If only all countries could be as truthful as this in dealing with Israel! If everyone started being honest about it, perhaps there would be a solution. The US is acting as though the Palestine Papers are still well hidden and Israel's intransigence is not well known to everyone (not that it took the Papers to tell us this, but it helps bolster an opinion that was neatly dismissed as anti-Semitism.). At least Germany had the guts to react.

Everyone always talks about how difficult the conflict is and how intractable the peace talks are. If one is honest, there is already a path. There is no need for the Roadmap, the Quartet, the Netanyahu plan, this initiative or that. We already have the UN resolutions and Geneva Convention that governs how to get there (i.e don't torture or transfer your population to the territory you occupy). The problem is forcing Israel to stop the stall tactics and comply with the law and UN resolutions.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Second response***Subject: Israel is uncompromising- stop pandering to them

So, I received another response. Yes, I sent her the same one I sent the State Department.

She (or her aides) must read my blog and thought this would be funny since I talked about robots sending these responses back...

This is NOT even good enough for government work.  :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Subject: Israel is uncompromising- stop pandering to them

My recent letter to my friends at the White House and State Department:

Dear Secretary of State Clinton:

With the leak of the Al-Jazeera Palestine Papers it has become known to us common people what you all in power have known for some time: Israel will not settle for anything less than total Palestinian capitulation. Even when Palestinians are willing to compromise everything- Jerusalem, symbolic refugee return, settlements- it all comes to a screeching halt because Palestinians refused Israel ONE settlement! This is ludicrous!

Why on God's green earth are we still supporting them with military and other aid to the tune or $2 billion or more a year, nonbinding resolutions of support in Congress, and protection from justice at the UN, statements by our President that we have an unbreakable bond??

End the occupation. Hold Israel to account. There will never peace without justice.




I got a response today! (Ok, I wasn't that excited, given how many letters I've written... and the fact that they didn't really answer my main question, not that I think a real person responds to these things. By now it's probably governed by an algorithm, Google technology, keywords.)

Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support
center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it

within the next 7 days.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.


Israel is uncompromising- stop pandering to them

Discussion Thread

Response (Support Agent) - 02/28/2011 10:07 AM
Thank you for your message to Secretary Clinton sharing your thoughts and concerns. We value your opinion and will take it -- and the views of all Americans -- into consideration.

U.S. opposition to the U.N. resolution should not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, the U.S. rejects in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides.

For more information on the U.S. position on this United Nations Security Council Vote, please visit the following links:

Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of State.

****** ****** ******

Harden positions? Are they kidding? Israel's has been hardened from the beginning and we are still operating under the myth successfully circulated by who knows who that Israel is at the table waiting for Palestinians to lay down their guns and come to the peace table, that Israel is ready to make a generous offer if Palestinians would stop being negative and refusing all the time.

I mean if someone stole your house and everything in it, held your children hostage with just enough food to stay alive, but not thrive and they offered to let you live in a closet, isn't that generous? If you say yes, you need your head examined- in both cases.