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More evidence, as if any more were needed, confirming the truth of claims that Israel is an apartheid state, has come from a recent report put together by the European Union. While this report will be ignored by Christian Zionists, it will undoubtedly become part of the growing body of facts that are responsible for Israel’s declining support in the west. the following article appeared on the Ynet website.

Report:Israeli  Foreign Ministry irked by secret EU report on Israeli Arabs

Confidential memo by European diplomats outlining growing gaps between Israel’s Jewish, Arab communities reportedly enrages Foreign Ministry

A secret report prepared by European Union official on the gaps between the Jewish and Arab communities in Israel has reportedly enraged Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other top Jerusalem officials, the British Independent said on Tuesday.

The confidential 27-page brief outlined a large number of indicators suggesting that Israeli Arabs “suffer from economic disparities, unequal access to land and housing, discriminatory draft legislation and a political climate in which discriminatory rhetoric and practice go unsanctioned,” the paper said.

While the report criticizes some Israeli Arab leaders over their “disloyalty to Israel,” the majority of criticism is levelled at Israel, which it claims fails to address the major issues plaguing the Israeli Arab sector.

The brief’s circulation has reportedly irritated the Foreign Ministry, which slammed the diplomats for drafting it “behind our backs”: “We were not informed, consulted or approached about this document, which was allegedly written by EU diplomats,” a ministry spokesman said.

The European Union often criticizes Israeli policies, especially regarding West Bank settlements, but according to the Independent, it is “unusual in tackling highly sensitive issue.”

According to the British publication, the report indicates “that the erosion of Israel’s founding ethos – as a Jewish homeland but one committed to treating all citizens equally – will reinforce those who seek to ‘delegitimize’ Israel and damage its international standing.”

The EU’s draft also stated that the international community should look at Israel’s treatment of its minorities “as a core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

While at times I can find no end to the number of things that I find distasteful about the colonialist Zionism of the State of Israel, I can’t help but be inspired by an equal number of things that the real traditions of Orthodox Judaism possess, which I believe have influenced secular Jewish thinking, including Zionism. It is in an appeal to these traditions (and recognition of the many diverse journeys of Jewish people) that I find a way, perhaps the only way, to have real dialogue with Jewish supporters of Israel. Christian Zionists could care less!

The following article, by Philip Weiss, help remind us of the influence of the great ethical traditions of the Jewish people. Traditions that many cultures share and hence are are a way for us to move forward together.

The gift of the Jews
Dec 26, 2011 08:48 am | Philip Weiss

The young Lessing

For the last few months I’ve been reading a classic of philosemitism: the “Martha Quest” novels of Doris Lessing. Set in Southern Rhodesia in 1936-1949 and published in England in the 1960s, the first four of these books trace the youth of a fiercely independent child of British colonials born, as Lessing was, in 1919.

Lessing is famous as a “kaffir-lover,” to use the racist slang hurled against her; her hatred of the color bar resulted in her leaving Rhodesia for England in 1949 and culminated in her winning the Nobel Prize four years ago. But there are no major black characters in these novels, and really Martha Quest is a Jew lover. Determined to overcome her parents’ anti-Semitism, she gravitates to the Jews in the provincial capital of Salisbury (now Harare, Zimbabwe).

A fatherly Jewish lawyer gives Martha a job so that she can leave her parents’ farm and move to the city. There Martha  loses her virginity to one Jew (Eastern European “scum,” he says), marries another (German Communist refugee), and has an intense affair with a third (Zionist Communist). A Jewish doctor prescribes contraception and tells her she’s too far along for an abortion. Martha’s Jewish friend Stella sets the bar on fashion and decoration, while Jasmine Cohen sets the bar on politics. Jasmine’s cousin Abraham dies fighting in Spain– and Jews are all over the small Communist party group Martha joins. (In her actual autobiography, Lessing has said that the Jewish mentors in these books were based on real people.)

But my business here is not to count the many Jews in these books. It is to express pride in my inheritance as it was perceived by a non-Jew. The sense pours through these books that were it not for the Jews of that generation and their “ancient culture,” Doris Lessing could never have become Doris Lessing. As brilliant a writer as she is, Lessing needed to break out of the thick racist porridge of the land-based cultures that surrounded her—the British colonials with their “Sports Club” snobbery and the Dutch Afrikaaner men with thighs like “pillars”—and to do so she threw herself on intellectually-sophisticated Jews.

At the beginning of the Martha Quest story, there are the Cohen boys, Joss and Solly, the “brilliant” sons of a shopowner in the small town of Banket, who recognize adolescent Martha’s intelligence and send packages of books to her every week or two. From the books of Communism and psychology, “Martha had gained a clear picture of herself, from the outside.” This becomes her greatest “weapon” in life, literary consciousness:

“She was not only miserable, she would focus a dispassionate eye on that misery. This detached observer, felt perhaps as a clear-lit space situated just behind the forehead, was the gift of the Cohen boys at the station….”

The Cohen boys in their Kosher household–Solly a Trotskyite Zionist, Joss a Marxist–are exact cousins of the Jewish intellectuals at City College in the 1930s.

At the other end of the Rhodesian books is Martha’s tormented lover Thomas Stern, a paranoid refugee from Poland who has lost his sisters in the Holocaust and veers self-destructively from Communism to business, from Jewish terrorism in Palestine to human rights work on behalf of blacks. By scoffing at Martha’s urging that he renounce violence, Stern gives the Martha Quest books their title: The Children of Violence series. But Stern is not only called to violence, he’s called to retail:

“So you see how hard it is to escape one’s fate, Martha? In Poland, middle-men, money-makers—the Stern Brothers. And here? My brother’s a rich man already, and we left Poland with what we had on our backs, eight years ago.”

A lot of my writing on this site is critical of the Jewish political presence in modern America. But I have a chauvinist streak of my own, and Lessing’s non-Jewish eye confirms it in me. The Jewish gift helped to form Doris Lessing as a young writer: the cerebral, text-bound life of persecuted Jews gave her awareness of the world and encouraged her to deliver the savage-sympathetic portrait of white colonial society that would make her name in England in the 1950s. That life is the Jewish culture that I was born into– outsiders, people of the book, harsh critics of the social structure.

[Joss Cohen] fired the following questions at her, in the offhand indifferent manner of the initiate to a breed utterly without the law:

‘You repudiate the colour bar?’

‘But of course.’

‘Of course,’ he said sardonically. And then: ‘You dislike racial prejudice in all its form, including anti-Semitism?’

‘Naturally’—this with a touch of impatience.

‘You are an atheist?’

‘You know quite well that I am.’

‘You believe in socialism?’

‘That goes without saying,’ she concluded fervently; and suddenly began to laugh, from that sense of the absurd which it seemed must be her downfall as a serious person. For Joss was frowning at the laugh, and apparently could see nothing ridiculous in a nineteen-year-old Jewish boy, sprung from an orthodox Jewish family, and an adolescent British girl, if possible even more conventionally bred, agreeing to these simple axioms in the back room of a veld store in a village filled with people to whom every word of this conversation would have the force of a dangerous heresy.

Doris Lessing was an early adopter. Her philosemitism parallels the philosemitism of non-Jewish intellectuals in the States in the 40s and 50s, Edmund Wilson for instance, and anticipates by a generation or two full-blown American philosemitism of the meritocracy– when the White House was loaded with Jewish advisers, when Clinton put two Jews on the Supreme Court, when Jews became university presidents and started google and facebook and craigslist, and neocons guided our foreign policy.

American philosemitism reflects the Jewish contribution to this society. Recently I was told that the world still envies the U.S. because of four industries we have that no one else has (universities/research, film/media, software, and finance), and all these industries are as full of Jews as Doris Lessing’s early novels were. As Scott McConnell, who had something of Doris Lessing’s own Jewish-engendered intellectual awakening when he joined the Commentary neoconservative crowd in the 1980s, has told me, America is thankful to Jews because they are driving the economy. I think this recognition pervades Establishment culture. When I fault Chris Matthews for never talking about the Israel lobby, I must be aware that the network that gives him his salary was built and is now owned by Jewish entrepreneurs in the new global economy. When we try and explain the dismissal of Ron Paul, it is because he above all candidates is representative of an Establishment structure that has no truck with Jews– as opposed to Romney with his neoconservative advisers, Gingrich with his Sheldon Adelson money and Barack Obama with his Axelrods and AIPACs and Crowns. When I marvel that Robert Kagan works for Romney and his wife works for Obama without anyone raising an eyebrow, or that Stuart Levey the former Under Secretary of Treasury worked for Bush and Obama without a hitch—again, this is a measure of the large Jewish presence in the Establishment. Jewish gifts have propelled the new economy, such as it is. And when people accuse Occupy Wall Street of anti-semitism, it is in part because Occupy are critics of the new economy, and much of that economy was built by Jews.

Back when we were outsiders, Hannah Arendt warned Jews about reverence for wealth: liberal Zionists, she wrote, “failed to… attack the role of Jewish finance in the political structure of Jewish life.”

That same warning is sounded in the Martha Quest books, from the restless Communist Zionist Thomas Stern:

“Unlike you, when I work, I think in terms of money. I’m learning that it’s terrifyingly easy to make money.”

She laughed…

“I don’t want you to laugh about money. I’ve got to outwit it. I’ve got to find a way of not becoming Thomas Stern, rich merchant of this city.”

The beauty and tragedy of the Children of Violence series is that Thomas Stern does outwit that fate, at the cost of his own life. But modern American Jews are still stuck with Stern’s contradictions. We’re Zionists, and we’ve been incredibly successful. With the success has come something that none of the provincial Jews in Lessing’s philosemitic saga ever dreamed of having: power, which has eroded our outsiderness and endangered our detachment—that dispassionate eye on misery, that clear-lit space situated just behind the forehead.

It is not that Jews are incapable of that detachment. Many are. But the Cohen boys shared that gift a long time ago, and it is no longer just ours.

 

Ethnic Cleansing of Invented People. By Miko Peled

Mostafa Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, Bahjat Zaalan and his son Ramdan from Gaza died on my fiftieth birthday and just a few days after Newt Gingrich declared them an invented people. They were murdered by the Israeli terrorist organization, the IDF, an organization that is supported and funded by the US.  One Israeli terrorist shot the invented Tamimi in the head with a tear gas canister, and another Israeli terrorist fired a rocket that murdered the invented Zaalan and his boy Ramadan.  Both terrorists were educated and trained by Israel, and armed by the US.  The Israeli terrorists are not invented but quite real, and they are safe, protected by the apartheid regime that trained and sent them on their missions, and the Israeli court system will make sure that they are never brought to justice. This is how Israel’s well-oiled ethnic cleansing machine operates.

The Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine is not a thing of the past but an ongoing campaign that is executed by three arms of the State of Israel: The education system, a dedicated bureaucracy and the security forces. The education system is dedicated to indoctrinating and producing soldiers and bureaucrats who will execute and enforce the ethnic cleansing. The bureaucracy is charged with making rules that make life unlivable for Palestinians.  Rules that restrict Palestinian access to their lands, and restrict their ability to travel freely to work and school. This same bureaucracy then demands that Palestinians pay for permits to be allowed do these very same basic things that they were denied. The security forces, the most obvious of which is the IDF, are charged with enforcing the restrictions, fighting off the resistance, armed or peaceful, and terrorizing the “invented” people of Palestine.

Since my father was a general and I served as a soldier in the IDF terrorist organization, people often ask me how is it that Israeli children who are raised in a Western style democracy become such monsters once they are in uniform?  The detailed answer can be found in my book, The General’s Son due out in February 2012, but the short answer is this: Education – Racism requires a mindset that is fashioned by education.  In order to rationalize and justify the ethnic cleansing the Israeli education system portrays Palestinians as culturally inferior, violent and bent on the annihilation of the Jews, and at the same time, void of a true national identity. Palestinian national identity is but a figment of some anti-Semitic imagination.

Israeli children are educated to see the Palestinians as a problem that must be solved and as a threat that must be eliminated. They can go through life, as I did growing up in Jerusalem, without ever meeting a Palestinian child. They know nothing of the life or culture of Palestinians who quite often live only several hundred meters from them.

Palestinians are portrayed as an existential threat through absurd comparisons like that of Yasser Arafat to Hitler, the Palestinians to Nazis, and the Palestinian resistance to Al Qaeda. Since Israeli kids never meet Palestinians what they learn in school, particularly in the school textbooks, is all that they know. In fact it is remarkable that even though they live so close to one another, much if not all of what Israelis know about their Palestinian neighbors comes from high school text books and popular racist stereotypes. Israelis don’t know that Palestinians never had an army, that they do not posses a single tank, a single warship or fighter jet, that they don’t have a single artillery battery and do not in fact pose a military threat at all.  According to a new book by Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, not a single photo of a person who is a Palestinian exists in Israeli textbooks and there are millions of Palestinians in and around Israel.  Israelis don’t learn about Palestinian doctors and teachers, engineers and writers. They don’t learn Palestinian poetry or prose and they don’t read the works of Palestinian historians.

At a recent lecture I mentioned the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and someone called out: “What ethnic cleansing?” People are unaware of the ethnic cleansing taking place in Palestine because Israel hides it well and the mainstream media doesn’t care enough to ask. In mainstream peace groups and dialogue groups that discuss Palestine/Israel, a basic Israeli condition is not to bring up issues like the ethnic cleansing because Israel doesn’t like to talk about it.

But for the past 64 years ethnic cleansing of Palestine is what drives the Zionist policies towards Palestinians. All Zionist governments and all Zionist political parties left right and center support the ethnic cleansing.  The Israeli judicial system lets the Israeli authorities get away with abuse, theft and murder as long as they are perpetuated against Palestinians. Had these same crimes been committed against Israeli Jews they would have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Zionist supporters like to bring up the fact that on November 29, 1947 the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish sate and an Arab state.  What is left out of the Zionist story is that within one year of the vote Israeli forces had managed to capture close to 80% of Palestine, destroy close to 500 Palestinian towns and villages, kill scores of unarmed civilians and force the exile of some 800,000 Palestinians.

Then, when the UN passed resolution194 in December of 1948, calling for the refugees to be allowed to return to their homes, Israel proceeded to build cities and towns, parks and highways for the use of Jewish Israelis on Palestinian land. Then the Knesset began passing laws that prohibit the return of the refugees and allow the new state to confiscate their lands.

After the war was over, the Palestinians who remained within the newly created Jewish state were forced to become citizens of a state that despised them and saw them as a “problem” and a “threat.” They were designated as “The Arabs of Israel” a designation that stripped them of a national identity and denied them any rights to the land and provided them very limited rights as citizens. From being the rightful owners of their lands and their country they now existed at the pleasure of the new owner of the land, the state of Israel. Palestinian refugees were forced into concentration camps, conveniently called refugee camps, and those that tried to return were shot.  A military unit was created for the purpose of punishing Palestinian refugee who “infiltrated” back into their homeland, now called Israel.  It was called Unit 101, the notorious Ariel Sharon led it and it made a name for itself as a murderous gang with a license to kill Palestinians.

So regardless of the myth, now perpetuated by Newt Gingrich among others, that says there was no forced ethnic cleansing, we know today that the creation of Israel was made possible through a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing, conducted by the Jewish militia, involving massacres, terrorism, and the wholesale looting of an entire nation.

Newt Gingrich, being the history buff that he is, might be interested in a story I mention in my book The General’s Son, about my mother. She was born and raised in Jerusalem and she remembers the homes of Palestinians families in neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. She told me that when she was a child, on Saturday afternoons she would go for walks through these neighborhoods, admiring the beauty of the homes, watching families sit together in their beautiful gardens. In 1948 when the Palestinian families were forced out of West Jerusalem, my mother was offered one of those beautiful, spacious homes but she refused. At age 22, the wife of a young army officer with little means and with two small children, she refused a beautiful spacious home, offered to her completely free because she could not bear the thought of living in the home of a family that was forced out and now lives in a refugee camp. “The coffee was still warm on the tables as the soldiers came in and began the looting” she told me.  “Can you imagine how much those families, those mothers must miss their homes.” She would ask and she continued, “I remember seeing the truckloads of loot, taken by the Israeli soldiers from these homes. How were they not ashamed of themselves?” there are thousands upon thousands of homes in cities all over the country that were taken.

Moving forward now to 1967 and the myth that Israel was fighting for its existence as it was attacked by Arab armies from all directions.  Much was written about this but nothing is more revealing than the minutes of the meetings of the IDF general staff from June 1967, just prior to the war. According to the generals, one of whom was my father, Matti Peled, not only was there no existential threat but the generals clearly state that the Egyptian army needed at least a year and a half before it would be ready for war and therefore this was an opportune time to attack and destroy it.  The army pressured the cabinet to authorize an attack and indeed the cabinet approved an attack against Egypt.  The IDF destroyed the Egyptian army and then went on to attack Jordan and Syria. It took the IDF six days and 700 casualties to kill an estimated 15,000 Arab forces, take the West Bank, the Golan Heights and The Sinai Peninsula.  One may like to think this was a miracle but it was a well-planned, well-executed attack against countries that had no viable military force.  The Israeli army had thus fulfilled its goal of conquering the entire Land of Israel, and the De-Arabizing of Palestine could now proceed into the West Bank and Gaza.

Since the early days of the State of Israel the IDF made it its mission to be the most brutal bully in the region.  Today the IDF has one purpose: to conduct an all out war against Palestinians by terrorizing Palestinian civilians, kidnapping children from their homes and using brutal force against protesters. We are reminded of the intensity of IDF cruelty every so often, the latest major display being the three-week bloodbath in Gaza that began on December 27, 2008. Hundreds of tons of bombs were dropped by Israeli pilots on Gaza, followed by a massive invasion of land forces.  All this for the purpose of  terrorizing a defenseless civilian population that includes 800,000 children.

Now that Israel has been in control of the West Bank for over four decades it had built and invested there heavily.  But all of the investment and construction in the West Bank was made to bring Jews into the West Bank.  Palestinian lands are being taken at an alarming pace, their homes are destroyed and thousands are incarcerated, while industry, roads, malls, schools and gated communities with swimming pools are being built for Jews only.  Water, which is the scarcest resource of all, is controlled and distributed by the Israeli water authority, as follows: Per capita, Israelis receive 300 cubic meters of water per year.  In comparison, per capita Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza receive 35-85 cubic meters per year, while the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 100 cubic meter of water per person per year. But what is even worse is that per capita, Israeli settlers in the West Bank are allocated 1500 cubic meters of water per year. Jews in the West Bank live with green lawns and swimming pools while Palestinians quite often get no water at all.  Perhaps invented people have no need for water.

De-Arabizing the history of Palestine is another crucial element of the ethnic cleansing. 1500 years of Arab and Muslim rule and culture in Palestine are trivialized, evidence of its existence is being destroyed and all this is done to make the absurd connection between the ancient Hebrew civilization and today’s Israel. The most glaring example of this today is in Silwan, (Wadi Hilwe) a town adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem with some 50,000 residents.  Israel is expelling families from Silwan and destroying their homes because it claims that king David built a city there some 3000 years ago. Thousands of families will be made homeless so that Israel can build a park to commemorate a king that may or may not have lived 3000 years ago. Not a shred of historical evidence exists that can prove King David ever lived yet Palestinian men, women, children and the elderly along with their schools and mosques, churches and ancient cemeteries and any evidence of their existence must be destroyed and then denied so that Zionist claims to exclusive rights to the land may be substantiated.

Once we connect the dots it is not hard to see that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is only a small part of the Israeli Palestinian issue. The greater issue is the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Zionist state.  The way forward for Israelis and Palestinians alike is to oppose the ethnic cleansing by opposing all its manifestations. This means supporting the movement to boycott, divest and place sanctions on Israel, or BDS for short, it means actively participating in the popular non-violent struggle in Palestine and it means challenging the racist laws that govern Israel by defying them. There has to be a clear and unequivocal call to recognize that the IDF is a terrorist organization and its officers are war criminals. Furthermore, the reprehensible discrimination against Palestinians, whether they live in Israel/Palestine or not, practiced by the security officials at Ben Gurion airport and other points of entry to Israel/Palestine must be challenged. The struggle for a democracy in our shared homeland is no different than the struggle at Tahrir square and can in fact be seen as part of the Arab Spring.

Miko Peled is the son of an Israeli General and a staunch Zionist who came to realise that his side of the story is not the only side to the story, and who now dares to say in public what others still choose to deny.He is now a peace activist and an author whose book “The General’s Son” is soon to be released.

Most of my secular friends that support justice and equality in Israel-Palestine consider Christian evangelicals to be basically too far gone! The following article, first appearing in Stephen Sizer’s blog, gives a little bit of hope for change in the world of U.S. evangelicals.

How Evangelicals Are Learning to Be Pro-Palestine, Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, Pro-Justice and Always Pro-Jesus

by Munther Isaac 12-09-2011 | 12:19pm

A change is taking place in how evangelicals are looking at the Middle East.

Many evangelicals, who were discouraged by the failed prophecies and the “mood of doom” that dominated the evangelical church in the second half of the 20th century, are rediscovering that the gospel also speaks powerfully to issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Books about the end times, such as those written by Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey, no longer dominate the bookshops, and people are being challenged by writings that focuses on the here and now, instead of the there and then!

In particular, the evangelical church typically has looked at the Middle East through the eyes of prophecy, leaning towards an unconditional support for Israel. Evangelicals in the West cheered the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent wars, believing them to be signs of the second coming of Christ—all the while neglecting the impact these events had on real people in the Middle East, specifically on Palestinians, and especially on the Palestinian Church.

The irony for Palestinian Christians is that evangelicals, with their over-emphasis on prophecy, have lost the capacity of being prophetic!

In many cases, when Palestinian Christians (or those who are sympathetic to them) share their take on things, they are demonized, ridiculed, and even accused of being anti-Semitic. The mere presence and voice of Palestinian Christians presents a dilemma for many Christian Zionists, who prefer a simple black and white perspective. But over the years, Palestinian Christians have challenged the Western church to consider what it means to be the church. They have reminded them of the importance of justice and peacemaking. If our theology produces apathy to injustice, it must be re-examined. In the words of Carl Medearis:

If your end-times theology trumps the clear commands in Scripture to love neighbours and enemies, then it is time to rethink your theology.

Many who come to visit the “Holy Land” are troubled by the situation of Palestinians, and are beginning to ask questions about the occupation and the injustices that the Palestinians are facing on a daily basis.

Facts do not lie. There is still the problem of about 5 million refugees, of whom about 1.8 million still live in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and the surrounding Arab countries. The 700 kilometer-long (435 mile) separation wall continues to affect the lives of Palestinians, leaving thousands living in isolated ghettos. The building of this wall has been judged illegal by the International Court of Justice.

The building of settlements continues to complicate matters for Palestinians and remains one of the biggest obstacles to peace. Though Palestinians and Israelis share the same water resources, per capita use in Israel is three and a half times higher than in the West Bank, due to water restrictions placed on Palestine by Israel. The Israeli military occupation is the longest occupation in modern history. Any visitor to the Palestinian areas cannot escape these realities. Checkpoints, the wall, refugee camps, land confiscations, and lack of water define the reality of Palestinians.

More and more evangelicals are paying attention to the Palestinian Church and its testimony and ministry in the midst of the conflict; the writings of Elias Chacour, Naim Ateek, Mitri Raheb, and Alex Awad are good examples, along with the non-violent peace activities and advocacy by Palestinian Christian organizations. There are also the writings of many Western evangelicals who are sympathetic to Palestinians, and new documentaries that offer a different perspective, such as With God on Our Side and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.

Then there is the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, in and of itself a big example of this change. Among the confirmed speakers for 2012 are John Ortberg, Lynne Hybels, Shane Clainborne, Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, Samuel Rodriguez, Sang Bok David Kim, and many more.

In addition to the international speakers, local Palestinian and Messianic Jewish leaders will share their own experiences and offer diverse perspectives. Participants will meet Palestinian Christians, and be able to listen and see first-hand the realities on the ground, as seen through the eyes of the people.

Lynne Hybels, co-founder of the Willow Creek Church with her husband Bill, has described her discovery of the church in Palestine. She concluded after many journeys:

I am still pro-Israel, but I’ve also become pro-Palestine, pro-peace, and pro-justice and pro-equality for Jews and Arabs living as neighbors in the Holy Land. And the bottom line is always: pro-Jesus!

If more Christians go to Bethlehem in 2012 and leave with the same attitude, we can start looking at this part of the world with hope, in a time when it is desperately needed.

Munther Isaac is the Vice Academic Dean at Bethlehem Bible Collegeand a PhD candidate at the Oxford Center for Mission Studies. He is also the director of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. Click here to learn more about the event.

Why Palestinian Arabs don’t want a Zionist State.

The average Christian Zionist has an IQ at least 40 points higher than is needed to get the correct answer  to why Arabs in Palestine have always resisted the Zionist state of Israel, but, unfortunately their commitment to Christian Zionist religious doctrine about the Israel-Palestine conflict means that even with this superfluous intellectual capacity they fail to see the real causes for Arab resistance to Israel.

To illustrate what I mean I will consider the hypothetical case of an Aboriginal state being created in Australia and how this would be reacted to by the non-Aboriginal Australian population (particularly those descended from white, English speaking peoples).

The population of indigenous Australians that lived in this country when white European settlers came to Australia in large numbers is somewhere between 500,000 and 2 million depending on which authority one reads. These first Australians lived throughout the 7.6 million square kilometres of land that comprises the island continent of Australia. Compare this with the 466,000 Arabs that lived in the 30,000 square kilometres of historic Palestine in 1893. Today the total population of the state of Tasmania is just over 500,000 in some 90,000 square kilometres of land.

Aboriginal Australians have lived in this country for thousands of years and in the last two hundred years they have suffered under the oppression of white European settlement. This oppression came in the form of dispossession, starvation, death by introduced diseases, outright massacre and ethnic cleansing.

I live in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, with a population of about 1 million. The city was founded as a free European settlement in 1836. The Kaurna people were the original custodians of the land known as the Adelaide Plains of South Australia and the culture of these people was almost completely destroyed within a few decades of the establishment of the settlement of Adelaide.

Let us now imagine that the Aboriginal community as a whole petition the United Nations to allow them to create an Aboriginal state on the land previously inhabited by the Kaurna people. The new Kaurna nation would be a state “owned” by its indigenous inhabitants in that only they could have Kaurna nationality while non-indigenous residents of the new Kaurna nation could only ever be given citizenship. The vast majority of land within the borders of the new nation could only be purchased by Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal people from all over Australia (and even the rest of the world) would be encouraged to move to the new state by offering them large financial incentives and giving them full nationality (with all its privileges) upon arrival.

The current population of Aboriginal people in Adelaide is about 5,000 and some 500,000 other indigenous people outside of the Adelaide Plains would be encouraged to become residents of the new Kaurna nation.

How would we expect the current non-Aboriginal residents of the Adelaide plains to respond to this idea? Would they fear dispossession from their homes in the wake of some half million new inhabitants to the region? Would they fear discrimination? Who would be the likely candidates for expulsion to make room for the new residents?

Would the Aboriginal people have an entitlement to do this? Would it be right for Aboriginal people, who have never set foot in South Australia (and neither had their ancestors for as long as anyone could tell), to be given preference over non-Aboriginal people who have lived there for 4 or 5 generations?

The Aboriginal people could claim an ancient and continuous connection with the land before white settlement. They have been a persecuted and oppressed people and their future survival would be guaranteed by such a nation.

And what if the Aboriginal leaders of the new Kaurna nation declared that they wanted to live in a democracy with equal rights for non-Aboriginals? With a majority non-Aboriginal population in the new state, would they not fear that at the first general election, the majority non-indigenous population would simply vote out the minority indigenous leadership and dissolve the new indigenous state? Would that not only further encourage the indigenous leaders of the Kaurna nation to expel as many of the non-indigenous inhabitants as they can and bar their return or the migration of any other non-Aboriginals into the land? Expelled non-aboriginals would have no compensation for the loss of their property and would be forced to live as virtual refugees.

The Kaurna politicians could claim that the Adelaide Plains are only a tiny fraction of the land of Australia. Why can’t the non-Aboriginal residents just move to the vast area of land that is left in Australia? We “own” the land!  We “own” all of it and we only want this tiny piece of it! The whites have only just got there! We have been here for thousands of years!

They could claim that resistance to the creation of such a state by the non-Aboriginal community is simply based in racism.

I have lived on Kaurna lands nearly all my life and I can tell you that without asking one person, without asking one survey question, I can say that non-Aboriginal residents of the Adelaide Plains would literally be up in arms over such a proposal.

This hypothetical situation is virtually identical to the situation that the Palestinian Arab population has had to endure. How is it that we find it so hard to imagine why they resist the Zionist state? Why do we expect the Palestinians to accept a situation we ourselves find unacceptable? By definition, Zionist colonialism, just like any type of colonialism, is oppressive and violent as it violates the sovereign wishes of indigenous peoples.

Such a solution to the problems facing Aboriginal people in Australia would be disastrous for all. Yet we expect it to work in the Middle East? Like I said, the average Christian Zionist is easily smart enough to work this out. They just don’t want to.

CRAIG NIELSEN

The lack of integrity of our politicians comes as a surprise to no-one. The recent comments of U.S. Republicans and Democrats intended to gain favour with the Zionist lobby in the U.S. show that the political climate in the U.S. is such that the way to power must be trodden on a path that continually slanders the Palestinians people and their fight for justice and equality in Israel-Palestine. The following article is from Porter Speakman’s blog

On the “invented” Palestinian people – and other absurd comments.

by Porter Speakman Jr.

This is a cross-post from +972Magazine

by Omar Rahman

Republican candidates in the 2012 primary race have topped each other in inflammatory remarks regarding Palestinians. Every so often I am bombarded by so many words that almost none come at all and I pass up the opportunity to tackle a certain subject.

This was the case recently with a spate of utterly ridiculous—almost comical—statements from candidates for the Republican primary race in the United States about Palestine and Palestinians, but in the end I had to say something. First there was Mike Huckabee, who came out in support of the building of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Then there was Rick Santorum’s statement that there were no Palestinians in the West Bank, only Israelis, and that the entire land belonged to Israel (more on this later). Then there was Herman Cain, well, Herman Cain’s statements were so inane they are not worth describing. Finally, we have Newt Gingrich, the self-proclaimed ‘historian’ who has stated that Palestinians are a fictitious people and that they are all just ‘terrorists’ anyway.

In what has become a ritual for American politicians to out do each other over who can be the most pro-Israel, the journey for national public office clearly runs through the Holy Land, or at least its Washington address at the AIPAC/WINEP headquarters. This is obviously nothing new; Israel has been a domestic issue in American politics—like the economy, healthcare, education, etc. — for decades.

What is shameless and worrisome are the depths that candidates are now willing to go to in their public statements, sounding more like neo-Nazi demagogues as they deny an entire people’s place in the world than politicians trying to get elected by playing up to an important domestic constituency.

Gingrich, in an interview with the Jewish Channel, stated that Palestinians were an ‘invented’ people and then went on to defend his fallacious remarks in a publicized debate. His comments, which go much further, demonstrate a fundamental ignorance of the history of the region, a blindness to the history of nationalism in general, and a callousness to anyone besides the right-wing Jewish community. Gingrich would be wise to study the history of how every nation was formed—particularly America. The Republican frontrunner went on to say that Palestinians are really just Arabs, as if he was revealing some great truth that we all failed to see. I wonder if he advocates a pan-Arab state that does away with identities such as Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraq—which all emerged out of the Ottoman Empire—or the nineteen other states that make up the Arab League, because he believes they are all in fact ‘invented.’

Santorum’s comments were equally erroneous but were funny in the unintended consequences of Santorum’s thinking—or lack thereof. In saying that the West Bank is Israeli and equating it to America’s conquering of Texas and New Mexico, Israel would then be obliged to offer citizenship to all Palestinians living between the ‘River and the Sea.’ I guarantee this is not something that Santorum’s AIPAC policy advisors would want, but the logical argument—as it was computed in Santorum’s head—is telling.
These politicians become so focused on satisfying a microscopic group of individuals on the grand scale of things that they forget the entire world is beaming in to hear them speak. Who could ever take American peacemaking efforts seriously when these are the type of people running for the highest office in the land?

In some ways I am actually happy about it because I would like the veil of honesty to be stripped away from US intentions in the Middle East. The more the United States contradicts its own policy regarding Palestine at the United Nations and its officials make fools of themselves, the more the US isolates itself and Israel from the global community over this issue. It is only when the American-led ‘peace process’ is dead and abandoned that we can start looking for better solutions elsewhere, and Israel will have to look seriously at its place in the region.

Original article here at +972Magazine

 

Recently, the former Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, wrote an article for the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper commenting on the “daily violence” that Israelis must put up with from terrorist actions. Downer habitually omits the daily violence committed by the IDF and Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians. Downer seems to forget that no Israelis have to deal with Palestinian bulldozers that turn up to destroy Israeli homes. No Palestinian tanks routinely charge up and down Israeli towns and suburbs. No Palestinian check-points exist within Israel (or any where else for that matter) to hold up and harass Israelis on their way to school, work or just home. No walls (built by Palestinians) divide Israeli communities from their homes, lands and places of work and education. No Palestinian settlements (deemed illegal by the overwhelming majority of the international community) exist within greater Israel. Nowhere in Israel can you see Palestinian extremists marching around in broad daylight carrying automatic weapons without a blink from the authorities. Nowhere can you find water wells and olive groves in Israel (owned by Israelis) that have been pulled up and destroyed by Palestinian settlers who are on Israeli land illegally. No Israeli refugee camps exist anywhere. the list could go on and on…

The following article from the Mondoweiss website tell of yet more violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Violence, the type of which is a daily occurrence to Palestinians, not Israelis.

Israeli soldier shoots protester in face at close range with teargas canister

by Alex Kane and Philip Weiss on December 9, 2011

Violence rocked the occupied Palestinian territories today, as a demonstrator in Nabi Saleh was critically injured and Gazans continued to brace Israeli air attacks. Four Gazans were killed in the attacks, including at least one civilian.

Mustafa Tamimi, a 28-year-old resident of the village of Nabi Saleh, was shot in the face by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tear-gas canister after apparently throwing stones at an Israeli army vehicle. News of the injury quickly came in through Twitter:

“He was throwing rocks at the jeep, the door opened and the canister was fired with precision and intent straight in his face.” # nabisaleh

Other Twitter users on the ground in Nabi Saleh claimed that at first, the Israeli army was not allowing them to take Tamimi to the hospital. But their troubles weren’t over when the Israeli army allowed Tamimi to go. A tweet sent from the account of the Active Stills photography collective reported: “One of our photographers and 2 friends of Mostafa Tamimi are detained by Security guards in Beilinson hospital.”

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) has more on what happened:
Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year old resident of Nabi Saleh, was shot in the face today, during the weekly protest in the village of Nabi Saleh. He sustained a severe injury to his head, under his right eye, and was evacuated to the Belinson hospital in Petah Tikwa. He is currently anesthetized, breathing through tubes, and his condition is described as serious. Tamimi is undergoing treatment in the trauma ward of the hospital, and is expected to undergo surgery later tonight…

The incident took place in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh today, when dozens gathered for the weekly demonstration in the village, protesting the theft of village lands by the adjacent Jewish-only settlement of Nabi Saleh. After the army dispersed the peaceful march, minor clashes erupted followed by a severe response by Israeli forces. Several people were hit with rubber-coated bullets and directly shot tear gas projectiles. Three were evacuated to the Ramallah hospital for further treatment. One protester was arrested.

The demonstrations, which have been held regularly for the past two years have seen hundreds of injuries to protesters by Israeli forces as well as dozens of arrests carried out with the aim of supressing dissent.

The PSCC posted this video of the aftermath of the shooting. Warning to viewers: It is extremely graphic and disturbing.

An IDF spokesperson, Avital Leibovich, tweeted a photo of a slingshot Tamimi was allegedly using to explain the Israeli army’s actions.

Meanwhile, there has been an escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip. This latest flare-up was sparked by an Israeli air strike in Gaza that killed Palestinian fighters who Israel says were involved in attacks on Israel originating from Egypt’s Sinai.

Ma’an News has the story:

Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that his government was holding intensive talks with regional and international parties to stop Israel’s escalation in attacks on the enclave.

Four Palestinians have been killed since Wednesday and at least 20 injured in a series of airstrikes on Gaza City. The Israeli army expressed regret that civilians were hurt in the attacks, which injured at least seven children.

Speaking after Friday prayers in Gaza City, Haniyeh said Israel’s latest flare up in aggression was preceded by threats of a new military action by Israeli leaders.

About Alex Kane and Philip Weiss

Alex Kane is a staff reporter for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 

Christian Zionism maintains that the current Zionist state of Israel’s creation in 1948 can only be truly understood as the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. The state of Israel, according to their eschatology (theology of the end times), is an unambiguous portent of the imminent return of Christ and the final judgement of the world. With God’s final apocalyptic plans for the end of the world being played out before our very eyes, all Christians need to get on board with God’s agenda in the Middle East or face the consequences of being caught on the “wrong side” of the apocalypse.

A few comments about this belief need to be made to unpack where exactly Christian Zionism goes astray on this point.

First of all Christian Zionism states that the final return of Christ and judgement of the world cannot occur until the nation of Israel is restored from its demise in 130AD. This means that in periods of history before the creation of Israel in 1948, Christians could know that Christs return could not be imminent. The trouble is, once again, that two thousand years of Christian tradition does not affirm such a concept. The consensus of the Church over the last two millennia has been that no one can know the time of Christ’s return. When it comes it will be as “a thief in the night”. Christian Zionists do all they can to deny this obvious teaching of scripture but the plain teaching of the Bible is that we are to act as though Christ’s return can occur today, tomorrow or the day after. The concept that Christ’s return cannot occur until certain specific events (be they the restoration of Israel or anything else one thinks the Bible says) take place is simply not consistent with the teachings of the New Testament.

Christian Zionists give no reason as to why this attempt to recreate the nation of Israel is the one that they demand is prophesied in the Bible. Jews have attempted to return to the Holy Land on masse on other occasions in the last two thousand years. Why this attempt is any different to the others is not known. There is nothing in scripture that says that Jews may unsuccessfully try to return to the Holy Land a number of times before the final return. One could easily argue that the current attempt of Jewish people to return to Israel has been unsuccessful. After 60 years, greater Israel officially comprises about 78% of historic Palestine: only a fraction of the total land that God promised to Abraham, with 50% of Jewish people choosing not to return to Israel. And this when Israel is a regional super-power backed by the greatest military power the world has ever known, the U.S.

The idea of illegitimate Jewish occupation of the Holy land is unknown to Christian Zionists, betraying a major lack of understanding of both testaments of the Bible as well as Jewish tradition which has acknowledged the potential illegitimacy of Jewish occupation of the Holy Land ever since the famous oaths of the Rabbis, as recorded in the Talmud, in 130 AD.

Christian Zionists also demand that Christians must unconditionally support the current Zionist state of Israel lest God will punish them for even daring to speak against His chosen people. Christian Zionists believe that being God’s chosen nation gives the Israelis a license to break His covenantal conditions in just about any manner you can imagine. The only thing that a person can criticise Israel for is if Israel allows for equal rights or rights to self determination of Palestinians.

Anyone reading scripture can see for themselves the ridiculous nature of this idea. While God clearly promises to deliver the nation of Israel in times of trouble, He also equally promises to bring catastrophe (via other nations) to Israel if they continue to ignore the Law of Moses and the testimony of the prophets He sends. The scriptures are filled with criticism of Israel. This criticism comes both directly from God, from His prophets and from both Jews and non-Jews who have grievances with Israel because of the wrong that has been done to them. God promises to hear the cries of those oppressed by Israel regardless of whether they be Jew or gentile.

But it must be said that in the end it would not matter if the Christian Zionist claims about the state of Israel are true. Even if every claim they make in their eschatology could be proven to be true, it would not even remotely mean that the state of Israel should be unconditionally supported or that Palestinian rights to justice, equality and self determination can be ignored. Oppression of the poor and dispossessed is unjust and that is all one really needs to acknowledge and this fact should be the final word on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

CRAIG NIELSEN

The Craziness that is Christian Zionism

While it seems obvious, to anyone who is educated about the origins of the Israel-Palestine issue, that the root cause of the conflict is essentially non-religious in nature, millions of Christians (the majority of whom live in the U.S.) believe that their particular interpretation of the Bible gives them the inside scoop as to what is really going on in the Middle East. Disagreement with this position by anyone is seen as evidence of rebellion against God, or at the very least, compromising God’s word. As such they simply ignore all attempts to rationally discuss the issue from any perspective other than their own narrow Biblical interpretation. They see that the integrity of their own walk with God, if not their eternal salvation, depends on never letting the lies of Satan that contradict their view of the Bible ever get a foot hold in their minds. In fact I greatly suspect that many Christian Zionists see that their resistance to listening to views of the conflict, other than their own, as evidence of their faithfulness to God. The more virulent they are in unconditionally defending the state of Israel (despite the cries of injustice even by fellow Christians) and ignoring any other considerations outside their Biblical narrative, the more they prove to themselves that they are indeed walking with God.

This mentality makes it extremely difficult to engage Christian Zionists and I often feel that trying to convince them to even consider other views is much like trying to deprogram members of a mad religious cult like that of Jim Jones in Guyana. But my own example forces me to believe that repudiating Christian Zionist thinking is not futile. As a former “card carrying” member of the religious right, I can testify to how reason and logic can win out over the toxic doctrines of extremist Christianity.

With this in mind I want to go through a number of the main points of weakness of the Christian Zionist position from not only a Biblical (scriptural) position but from an ethical position which non-Christians can grasp as well.

Perhaps the most important claim that Christian Zionists make is that the Bible teaches that Jewish people have an absolute entitlement to the land of Palestine simply by virtue of their Jewishness alone according to the promises of God to the patriarch Abraham. Jewish people own the land and have the right to possess it regardless of the cost to any previous inhabitants and do with it whatever they please. Given this fact, Christians should unconditionally support the Israeli state according to Christian Zionist dogma.

The falsity of this claim is so plainly stated in scripture that it simply beggars belief that anyone would believe it. Two thousand years of Jewish and Christian religious tradition have affirmed the completely conditional nature of Jewish occupation of the Holy Land. Leviticus 25:23 plainly tells us that the proper understanding of the relationship of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine is that God owns the land and the Jewish people are His tenants. Tenants do not own the land they occupy regardless of the fact that they may possess a lease with no time limit. Outside of the conditions of the tenancy agreement, the Jewish people’s occupation of the land is illegitimate. Strict conditions apply to their occupation of the land. Conditions that require them to conform to the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah. Ethical conditions that demand equal treatment for non-Jews living in the land with eviction and exile being the consequences of breaking these covenantal conditions. Nowhere in scripture does God refer to the Jewish people as co-owners of the land with Himself. He owns the land. The Jewish people’s role is one of tenants, not landlords.

Nearly equal in importance to the above claim is the role and understanding of Biblical prophecy as they believe it relates to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

For many Christians, biblical prophecy is about the specific prediction of future events. The ability to accurately predict future events is seen as evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible and hence, for them, prophecy plays an important role in Christian apologetics. That is, the ability of the Bible to predict future events is an apologetic tool that can be used to help convince non-Christians of the divine inspiration of the Bible and the veracity of its message to repent, believe and be saved. Biblical understanding that views the role of the prophet as more of a social critic than a seer or a soothsayer undercut this apologetic nature of prophecy.  As such, those who hold to the predictive understanding of prophecy consider the social critic view as a sell out and suspect cowardly, liberal and “godless” motives behind such a view. They suspect that those who reject the predictive future events view do so because today’s secularized society frowns upon alleged evidence of the supernatural and hence some Christians change their view because they do not want to incur the ridicule of today’s modern “scientific” worldview.

On top of this issue is the idea that those who understand the proper (predictive) interpretation of prophecy have “inside” knowledge that gives the individual a feeling of empowerment over those who are “disobedient” to God’s word in that they refuse to interpret the Bible properly. Those who interpret world events through predictive prophecy will have more insight than all the political and historical analysts put together ever will. This is an incredibly empowering view and, understandably, the average Christian finds it extremely satisfying and is unwillingly to let it go without a fight.

The unfortunate reality (for Christian Zionists) is that once again, two thousand years of Jewish and Christian religious tradition have given far more affirmation to the social critic view of prophecy than the specific future events view, and with good Biblical reason.

Another aspect of Christian Zionist understanding of prophecy has to do with how it creates ethical dilemmas for the believer which, in the end, betrays many of the prejudices of the Christian Zionist movement.

In ancient mythology, having the ability to know the future, and not being able to change it, was seen as a curse. The reason why is obvious. We can easily imagine how disturbing it would be to know that a loved one is about to die horribly when we can do nothing to stop it. Specific knowledge, particularly of negative future events, would lead to an attitude of fatalism and despair. Why try to make the world a better place if you know that it can never be? This is exactly the problem with Christian Zionism. On numerous occasions I have had Christian Zionists come up to me at protests and inform me that what I am doing is useless. The world is going to disappear down a dark void of horror and there is nothing anyone can do about it! Just preach the Gospel (i.e. terrify people with hellfire and damnation if they don’t support Israel) and leave it at that!

How they harmonise this attitude with the total lack of fatalism and despair evidenced by characters in the Bible like the Apostle Paul (Christ Himself telling us that “Blessed (rather than futile morons) be the peacemakers”) is hard to imagine. Christian Zionist attitudes encourage us to give up on the peace process in the Middle East. This ultimately entails giving up on people. A view the Bible, and Jesus, has no time for. When challenged about this negative attitude, apologists for Christian Zionism point to the reprobate nature of Arabs, and thereby descend into outright racism.

I greatly suspect that anyone who vigorously adopts and defends a theology whereby consideration of human rights and equality is trumped by the dictates of the predictions that accompany their particular interpretation of the Bible, never really had any great commitment to the concepts of equality and human rights in the first place. It is not surprising then that many conservative Christians of this type never have much to say about justice for indigenous peoples or the evils of colonialism.

Just these few points should send alarm bells to anyone considering the Christian Zionist position. Many others could be mentioned. A view of prophecy and eschatology that puts God’s care and concern for justice for all peoples on the back-burner and demonises certain groups has already put itself out of the running in the realm of Christian ideas.

 

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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