South African churches get it

July 29, 2014

 

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In June 2014 the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to divest from three companies doing business with Israel:in the Occupied Territories. Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard. The story  hardly covered in our newspapers is a virtual primer on the role of the Christian church under advanced capitalism.

In 2003 a young solidarity worker from The United States Rachel Corrie  was crushed to death in Gaza as she tried to prevent the razing of a Palestinian home The spotlight  was directed to the manufacturer of the Israeli bulldozer that killed her. Israel had been buying and “weaponising” Caterpillar bulldozers then using them to demolish Palestinian homes, build settlements and the separation wall, clear land to build Jewish-only roads, uproot olive and fruit trees, and carry out military operations.

This gave impetus to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement(BDS) which helped to bring down the quintessential apartheid state South Africa. It is a tried nonviolent measure to help bring countries to their senses. South Africa sensing that it had become a universal pariah for its racist segregationist policies finally capitulated.

Nobody hated the country but disliked its awful policies. Remember at the time the Dutch Reformed Church was the voice of the the establishment.  For decades it justified the unjustifiable. Once again bad theology produced bad practice. Many great Christians like Desmond Tutu, Beyers Naudé and the Catholic archbishop of Durban Denis Hurley distinguished themselves in this struggle.

The contemporary South African Catholic Church apparently gets it and supports the present BDS Movement. They have the lived experience to fall back on. They supported BDS when it happened. They see a striking parallel, not an exact replica for sure but the same demonic features in Israel:L dispossession, racism marginalization and humiliation. True biblical discipleship demands solidarity not weak-kneed sympathy. It demands pastoral planning and calls to action. Both are missing in Toronto and New York inter alios.

The Roman Catholic Church in North America is still too compromised, too timorous, too afraid of Jewish reaction to speak the prophetic word. Notice in the following statement supported by the Roman Catholic Church in South Africa the note of lamentation in the backing away from social justice. There are several reasons for this which I will address in future  posts

 

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Challenging injustice through the courage of faith

The South African Christian community through the South African Council of Churches (SACC), South African Conference of Bishops of the Catholic Churches (SACBC) and other several ecumenical agencies join the other parts of the Church in the world to remember the Israeli/Palestinian people in their celebration of the 8th International Israeli Apartheid Week starting from the 5 -11 March.

Our participation in this Week is influenced highly by our own history of struggle and suffering in South Africa for over many decades when the values of justice, peace and love were suppressed in the interest of apartheid, division, exclusion and conflict. We found through the teachings of the Gospel how these values formed the core of Christ’s ministry.

It is only regrettable that the voice of the Church against injustice in our society is highly weakened today. It is an observation that South Africans have made with a desire now rekindled to resuscitate the voice of prophesy.

As this reflection is made on the life of our own nation in South Africa, many of you will remember that Israel remained the single supporter of apartheid when the rest of the world implemented economic sanctions, boycotts and divestments to force change in South Africa

Our brothers and sisters in Palestine have made a call in this regard, that we should question what kind of regime Israel is. And to this, after many debates and exchanges, the answer is that it shared and continues to share a similarity with the old South Africa in implementing apartheid where all non-Jews of Palestine are discriminated against, displaced of their land and homes, and subjected to refugee camps and a permanent state of violent military rule.

Today the Palestinians cry out to the world and to God, saying:

How long, O God, will they steal our livelihood? Oppress, imprison and humiliate our people? Deprive our children of their childhood? Indeed how long, God, will the multitudes of Christians of the world ignore the anguish of our Palestinian sisters and brothers and all of the oppressed?
From South Africa we are called to repent of this ignorance and oblivion we have shown. We are called to return to the way of truth, community in humanity and speak out from the podiums to the mountain tops. We are called to tell the truth and join in prayer, in the pursuit for justice, peace and love in their land.
In their Kairos Document, similar to the one South Africans put to the world in the 1980s, Palestinians say:

Our question to our brothers and sisters in the Churches today is: Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love?

Israeli Apartheid Week

We urge all South Africans and the Church in South Africa to join in the Awareness Campaign that over 100 Universities in the world including those in our country are engaging in during what is called Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW)

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, film screenings and multimedia displays) held -by ordinary people- in cities, communities, churches and campuses across the globe.
IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to mobilize support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Last year IAW was incredibly successful with over 90 cities worldwide, and 9 universities in South Africa, participating in the week’s events.  We now urge churches in South Africa to join in collective intercession for Freedom in Palestine before the Israel Apartheid Week takes place in different parts of the World. On the 4th of March we will join in collective prayer to bring Palestine to God our Father.

Less Stein, more Margolis

July 28, 2014

 

 

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From working the last several years in the media,I’ve gotten to know a lot of journalists.I’ve gotten to understand a lot more about how these large media outlets function. It really is remarkable, and not hyperbole, that there is nothing that makes major media figures and new executives more petrified than reporting on IsraelThe way in which they become so frightened to do any sort of reporting that could make what they call Israel’s supporters inside the United States angry cant really be overstated.

Glen Greenwald

When the beautiful Christian ex-President and Nobel prize winner Jimmy Carter published his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid (2006) not everyone cheered. Carter had been deeply involved in Middle East policies for three decades. He was a Groucho Marxist. The late comic famously opined, “Who do you believe, me or your eyes.”

Carter had seen it all and like the Hebrew prophets of old, he told it like it was: “an apartheid system was being created in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights, their land has been occupied, then confiscated, then colonized by the Israeli settlers….Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.

He went on to criticize Israel for building what he describes as an imprisonment wall through the West Bank. He accused Israel of strangling the residents of Gaza where the poverty rate has reached 70 percent and where the malnutrition rate mirrors countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. And Carter is critical of Washington’s role.” The United States,” he wrote,” is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories.”

One of the persons who went ballistic was the frequent International expert” Janice Stein of the Munk Centre at the U.of T. whom apparently Steve Paikin on his show the Agenda can not get enough of, said that Carter must be insane to hold such views. Her experience in Gaza and Occupied Territories—zilch, nada. But she keeps appearing though on CBC and TVO as an expert.

Now one who seldom ever appears any more is former Sun writer and award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. Eric Margolis…and here is why, his July 28 column (edited here)

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Israel’s 155mm Cure For Terrorism

By Eric Margolis

This event(the Suez crisis) is worth recalling as we today watch US President Barack Obama and his hapless Secretary of State John Kerry plead with Israel to stop massacring Palestinians in Gaza.

What could be more pitiful than two of the world’s most supposedly powerful men imploring Israel to stop killing Palestinians with US-supplied weapons like F-16 warplanes and heavy 155mm self-propelled guns – which violates US Arms Export Act, though no one in Washington dares to admit this? Or resuming military payoffs to Egypt’s brutish military dictatorship to keep Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Ghetto?
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After five decades of patient work, the pro-Israel lobby now gives the US Congress its marching orders on the Mideast. The media in the US and Canada have largely adopted Israel’s narrative about the Mideast and Gaza.

Here in New York City, watching the TV news, one would think Gaza is a nest of demented terrorists threatening Israel’s very existence with ‘terror tunnels’ and ‘terror rockets.’ Hamas, which Israel helped create to split Palestinians, is a ‘terror organization.’ Palestinian children are running in front of Israeli 155mm heavy artillery shells to give Israel a bad name. Interestingly, one of the best source for real news on what’s going on is Israel’s excellent newspaper, “Ha’aretz.”

There is growing anger around the globe over Israel’s savaging of Palestinians, but Americans don’t see this. As the Arab death toll rises to over 1,000, the world is calling for an imposed cease fire and an end to Israel’s and Egypt’s cruel siege of Gaza. America is getting blamed for the horrors of Gaza.

Washington should be able to demand that Israel, which is due to receive over $30 billion in US aid in the next decade, cease fire and open Gaza’s gates. Of all the vetoes cast since 1950 in the UN Security Council, the majority have been by the US to protect Israel from censure.

Can Washington act to enforce America’s national interests and common humanity? Not likely.

 

Israel has long timed its punitive assaults to sync with the US elections cycle. We are now in the penumbra of America’s upcoming November elections, and Israel knows it. Now’s the time, in Israel’s view, to crush Hamas into dust and tell foreign critics to go to hell.

In fact, the Arab and greater Muslim world’s silence and inaction over the massacre in Gaza suggests that the Greater Israel expansionists may be right. 5.5 million Palestinians remain after all these years sand in the eye of the Mideast.

NDP loses vision

July 28, 2014

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Unfortunately, there is no alternate viewpoint to Baird’s among Canada’s political leaders…. The sad truth is that as the Conservatives have become more and more unbalanced in their support for extremist Israeli actions, opposition parties, fearing a Zionist reaction, have also been thrown off balance. On this key issue they have become nothing more than parrots, sitting in a cage of their own making, chanting, “Israel has a right to defend itself.” —Jim Manly

Jim Manly, a man of sterling integrity, a retired  United Church minister and former federal member of the NDP speaks a painful truth as did the great Toronto star columnist Haroon Siddiqui in Sunday’s Star.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and, to a lesser extent, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair have fallen in line with Stephen Harper’s support of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
None questions the Israeli killing and maiming of hundreds of civilians, including women and children.

All echo the formulation that, given the barrage of (ineffective) Hamas rockets, Israel has a right to retaliate (bombing by air, shelling from the sea, mounting a ground invasion, levelling houses, hitting hospitals, mosques and schools run by the United Nations, and disrupting electricity, water and sewage systems).

Manly, 81, is a two-term former NDP Member of Parliament. In 2012 was jailed for nearly a week in Israel after taking part in an international solidarity mission aboard the Estelle, which challenged the Israeli government’s blockade of Gaza. His son Paul frustrated at the Party’s failure to speak strongly about this criticized the party.No criticism allowed.

It has become obvious that the  former champion of the oppressed the NDP has been muzzled by leader Tom Mulcair. It has sickened many longtime members .

Politico columnist Andrew Mitrovica pretty well summed up the political correctness in his column of July 20 (”Is Mulcair another Harper with a beard?”)He detailed the shocking elimination of Manly’s  talented son Paul as  NDP candidate in Nanaimo Ladysmith. The issue ISRAEL. The israel lobby hangs like an incubus even over the NDP.

The following poem flew around the internet

MULCAIR IS OUR LEADER
Mulcair is our leader. 
We shall not speak;
He maketh us to toe the Zionist line;
He turneth from the suffering of Gaza and standeth firm for Israel.
Yea, tho’ he tramples on NDP Policy
Yea, tho’ the people of Gaza are dragged though the Valley of Death
We shall speak no evil,
For Mulcair is over us;
His caucus and whip, they muzzle us.
Surely Mulcair and Zionism shall follow us
All the days of this session
And we shall be covered with the shroud of silence forever.

National Director Ann McGrath tried to stamp out this growing brush fire by assuring the faithful that Israel had nothing to do with with Manly’s rejection. Few bought the booswa.

Mitrovica wrote:

Taken together, the NDP’s decision to bar Manly from the nomination is absurd, cynical and, frankly, heartless — not the image the NDP has carefully cultivated for the past 50 years or more.

On July 15 the Independent Jewish Voices challenged the NDP

We are chagrined that the NDP has yet to speak out against Israel’s bombing of civilians in Gaza. These are war crimes, since it is clear that Israel has used its precision-guided missiles to target families’ homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, and even a centre for disabled children. The horrific images coming out of Gaza should elicit strong and immediate condemnation from any individual or organization that is concerned about human rights.

Why then, we are wondering, has the NDP failed to condemn these atrocities? Since Israel’s bombing of Gaza began last Tuesday, the NDP has failed to release any formal statement condemning the massacres that the bombing has caused. While we appreciate the NDP’s call — despite coming after a week of Israeli bombings — for a ceasefire, we are deeply disturbed by the NDP’s language in this statement.

It is indeed lamentable to see the lack of courage here. But it is understandable. The “powers and principalities” which St.Paul wrote about, the “mysterium iniquitatis” (the mystery of evil) is evident when institutions, corporations and yes, political parties with noble intentions, seem to lose their bearings and begin to succumb to expediency, popularity, consensus, realpolitik. They are invaded by death. They lose fire and noble intent. The church of course is not exempt here, a point I will make in the future. The principalities seemingly have a life of their own, apparently autonomous from human control. Survival now becomes the raison d’etre and a political party, born of transcendent idealism becomes just another tired institution.

To steal a line from the Book of Proverbs (29:18)

SIGHT

Where there is no vision the party perishes.

The burning children

July 27, 2014

 

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After the Holocaust, no statement, theological or otherwise, should be made that is not credible in the presence of the burning children.
Theologian Irving Greenberg 1974

Sunday midnight in Gaza
1014 killed
832 civilians
212 children

Be ever hearing, but never understanding;be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.
Isaiah 6: 9

For the great bible scholar Walter Brueggemann Jeremiah was the prophet par excellence, the one who saw with great clarity what his people had become. They simply refused to look.

Amira Hass the brilliant israeli journalist is among the many Jeremiahs for her time. She implored fellow Israelis to see the ugly handiwork of the state—and it was only 15 minutes away. She lived among Palestinians saw the effects of the brutal occupation, relatives cut off from each other, from farmlands and markets, an ugly apartheid wall stealing even more land, a proud people forced to undergo humiliating checkpoints and 600 roadblocks, collective punishment, extrajudicial murder in a so-called democracy. She felt the the constant annexation and colonizing activity of “the only democracy in the Middle East”—in reality a state living in a dream world of its own fantasy.a  country which has become a pariah on the world stage.

Isaiah’s anticipation had come true. The “royal consciousness” of power and exclusion had, horror of horrors, become like Pharaoh’s court. The Mosaic revolution of the freedom of the slaves had been overturned and the slaves had now become the slave master.

Jeremiah was sick with grief

My grief is beyond healing. My heart is sick within me. (8:18). His beloved Israel is living in Disneyworld. the status quo is just great.

Peace, peace, but there is no peace”(6;14)

The people have become numb. Denial is massive. Criticism must be faced before newness can break through. The covenant has been broken. God is grieving. The only way through is to die to all the old lies, the truth of the Nakba, the dispossession of 750,000 people in 1948 and the theft of land post 1967. Another people on the same land must be embraced. Innocence and victimhood must be laid aside.

False prophets of course are always with us, Stephen Harper and John Baird immediately come to mind. Those who parrot the stupidities of “what would you do if rockets were shot into your country”—no history, no understanding of the 50 year massive and unrelenting state violence which provokes a desperate response—pathetic rockets which have killed two innocents against precise guided missiles, drones, Apache helicopters, naval blockades and the arsenal of the fifthe strongest army in the world.

Earlier we saw another Jeremiah—Naomi Wolf express her disgust with her synagogue’s silence.

Sara Roy is another brilliant female Jeremiah, a senior scholar at Harvard whose parents were Holocaust survivors. as well 100 members of her extended family murdered in Poland Ms Roy has spent much of her academic life studying Gaza..

What will happen to Jews as a people whether we live in israel or not?Why have we been unable to accept the fundamental humanity of palestinians and include then within our moral boundaries. Rather we reject any connection with the people we are oppressing. Ultimately, our goal is to tribalize pain, narrowing the scope of human suffering to ourselves alone. Our rejection of the “other “ will undo us.”

And now forty years later professor Greenberg’s famous statement which holds up in sickening tension the awful reality of burning innocent children sacrificed to political, military pompous obfuscation and warn out ideology. This time it is Palestinian children burning at the hands of Jews.

No matter. This means nothing to blind men like the Israeli ambassador to the US,Ron Dermer: “the truth is that the Israeli Defence Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.“

George Orwell, where are you when we need you? The  hearts have indeed become calloused.

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZA

 

Another Jew of conscience

July 26, 2014

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Noted American-Jewish feminist writer Naomi Wolf walked out of her synagogue when there was no mention of the Gaza slaughter.

Naomi should not be surprised at this.Most rabbis would lose their job if they channeled Jeremiah or Amos.The real tragedy is the great damage to Judaism which occurs when it is conflated with Zionism.Torah should never coexist with occupation.One expects a cynical state to use religion. John Quincy Adams the sixth USA president knew this: Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak and that it is doing God’s service when its violating all its laws.

Constantinian Judaism is no worse than what passes for biblical faith  in too many Christian churches. Rabbis answer to boards and few are strong enough or free enough to speak the prophetic word. Yet it is being spoken by so many “Jews of conscience”. They should give all of us hope.

Good on Naomi Wolf

Challenged below for why I am mourning genocide in Gaza. I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. … Nothing. Where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.
I want no other religion than this, that is, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.

Jews of Conscience

July 24, 2014

Though indigenous to the people Israel the prophetic like the covenant travels. The covenant cannot be equated with injustice Injustice practiced over a sustained period of time leaves the community without the covenant. Though the community claims the covenant hoping that the claim will protect the community from scrutiny the reality is the covenant travels to those on the margins.

Marc Ellis Judaism does not equal Israel

israel we know is a secular state and there are many Jews there and elsewhere. who do not see themselves as religious but like many Christians who do not attend services for whatever reasons, they have internalized something of importance.Occupation and Judaism are diametrically opposed. The Exodus is part of their DNA.

For these Jews the pursuit of justice and its absence are more important than belief in God. The Jesuit Henri de Lubac one of the Vatican ll prophets made a similar comment over 60 years ago. He said about Jesus,”to believe in you I must believe in love and justice. And it’s a thousand times better to believe in these things than to pronounce your name.” This of course was a riff on Jesus well known synoptic saying,””Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt.7:21)

The many Jews who have broken with “the royal consciousness”, the ethnocentric tribal Judaism, those who have embraced a prophetic consciousness have grown massively and are a cause of great hope. Like much of the civilized world they can no longer abide the continuing specter of Palestinians living under a totalitarian,all embracing and never ending humiliation. In a wired world the state lies of Israel are easily refuted. These Jews of conscience here and abroad have a continuous loop playing in their head—the war time shaved heads of their zeydas and bubbes, the horrific dehumanization of lost relatives. They are collectively saying, “Never again.” Case in point.

in New York City on Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the office of the Friends of the IDF. Shockingly this nonprofit group raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military. That’s right. supporting the military wing of an occupying power..;.and getting a tax break for it.

These brave people read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the group stop fundraising for the Israeli military. Nine people were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. Others protested outside the office.

REBECCA VILKOMERSON was the spokesperson, an apt representative of Jews of Conscience:

We are protesting against the war on Gaza, against this incredibly terrible assault on civilians, and protesting the fact that this organization right here is actually raising money for the Israeli Defense Forces, helping them, supporting the assault that they’re making on Gazan women, children and families. So we feel like it’s really important, especially as Jews, to make the statement that this is not in our name and that the Jewish community is not behind this assault in the United States and that they need to stop doing this immediately.

DOROTHY ZELLNE added her testimony

I’m a former civil rights worker. I worked with SNCC for five years in the black liberation movement in the United States. Most of us have been to Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, if not once, many times, and we have seen for ourselves what the conditions are there. And it is totally unbearable to know that this country dares to even say they represent us and they speak for us.

ALANA KRIVO-KAUFMAN spoke out:

We are here to demand, as American Jews, that Friends of the IDF stop funding Israel’s massacre of Palestinians living in Gaza. Over the past two weeks, 621 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed. We are here nonviolently to do a civil disobedience. We mourn all who are lost, and we are reading the names of those who the Friends of the IDF have helped funded the IDF to kill.

MAIA ETTINGER .expressed these sentiments:

I was raised by two Holocaust survivors: my mother and my grandmother. And in their name, I’m here today to oppose the dehumanization of Palestinians, to oppose collective punishment. These were the things that they suffered and that they taught me to fight on behalf of everyone, not just on behalf of Jews.

15 minutes away

July 24, 2014

Wednesday July 23
663 dead
521 civilians
161 children

The great Hebrew Scripture scholar Walter Brueggemann in his classic work The Prophetic Imagination writes of the religion “of static triumphalism and the politics of oppression and exploitation. One of the The great gift of Judaism of course is the prophetic imagination, the holy cry against what he calls the “royal consciousness”.

Under Solomon Israel had become wealthy. The explosion of consumer goods had satiated the people as Brueggemann says, “It is difficult to keep a revolution of freedom and justice under way when there is satiation.” The Solomonic achievement produced amnesia, the forgetting of the covenant and the mosaic thrust for freedom. In the book of Kings we see the energy of the people used to support the royal court and its needs. The economics of affluence creates the politics of oppression. Religion becomes static, God is subordinated to the purpose of the king. The great scholar George Mendenhall calls this period “the paganization of Israel.”

Now God safely resides in Jerusalem. Goodness and light are ours. The holy is owned by the king. There can be no cries against the royal consciousness. Those on the margin formerly brothers and sisters under the covenant, now have no voice. As one Jerusalemite told me, “Sometime the status quo is the best we can have.” It was of course a status quo which radically favoured him. He could not hear the cries of the oppressed. There was no chance of Newness breaking open his smug world of extraordinary privilege. The “economics of affluence” had replaced “the economics of equality”. The Mosaic moment of freedom from oppression had been totally obliterated.

Here the prophet is ignored. No criticism is tolerated under Solomon. Or in modern Israel. So powerful has the royal consciousness pervaded the people that it cannot hear. As Brueggemann says of Solomon,”he has traded a vision of freedom for the reality of security”. He has replaced covenanting with consuming. Today Solomon lays on the beach of Haifa unconcerned with those imprisoned in Gaza. The royal propaganda then (and the hasbara now) cares not a whit for the questions of justice The prophetic apparently had died. Imperial economics had blocked out the cries of the denied ones.

Brueggemann of course was writing largely about North American Christianity but it is obvious the same dynamic is operative in modern Israel where the insularity of power and smugness has resulted in “the annulment of the neighbour.” It seemingly cannot hear the anguish and the grief of everyday life 15 minutes from their doorstep.

The great journalist Amira Hass a few years back wrote about this callous indifference

Could it be that you do not know what is happening 15 minutes from your faculties and offices? Is it plausible that you support the system in which Hebrew soldiers, at checkpoints in the heart of the West Bank, are letting tens of thousands of people wait everyday for hours upon hours under the blazing sun, while selecting: residents of Nablus and Tul Karm are not allowed through, 35-year-olds and under – yallah, back to Jenin, residents of the Salem village are not even allowed to be here, a sick woman who skipped the line must learn a lesson and will be purposefully detained for hours. Machsom Watch’s site is available for all; in it are countless such testimonies and worse, a day by day routine. But it cannot be that those who are appalled over every swastika painted on a Jewish grave in France and over every anti-Semitic headline in a Spanish local newspaper will not know how to reach this information, and will not be appalled and outraged.

It wasn’t that long ago that another people swore they didn’t know what was happening.

But as we’ll see as in Israel of old, the prophetic has not died.Many jews of conscience can no longer stand justifying Pharaoh. .They have had enough of ethnic cleansing, occupation and state racism.they know the road to redemption, to authentic Jwish values is through the pain,suffering and humiliation of another people,”15 minutes away.”

The descent of Israel

July 22, 2014

I say why are our memories so short Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment?, the home demolitions in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions/?Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?
Ma
rc Ellis, Jewish American theologian

But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves. Militarily, it is we who are on the defensive who have the upper hand but in the political sphere they are superior. The land, the villages, the mountains, the roads are in their hands. The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down,
David Ben Gurion June 7 1938

Monday morning in Gaza. Between Saturday and Sunday night 100 killed. They include 72 residents of Shejaylya one of the poorest and most densely populated neighbourhoods. Tuesday morn:
571 dead
406 civilians
129 children
and shockingly the Al Aqsa hospital was bombed

One wonders how a superpower like the USA can watch such barbarism unfold on a daily basis and continue to pay for it to the tune of $3 billion a year.

On one hand one can admire the bold hasbara of the Israeli state in selling war and dispossession in such a clever way. Goebbels had a way with with words which obfuscated the truth. The country has long been an army with a flag, a military regime governed by a war cabinet. Their leaders have been generals and former terrorists like Begin and Shamir. They have got much mileage out of their simplistic bromides as “the only democracy in the middle east, a real howler for anybody who has studied their ‘democracy.”

The propaganda machine as Ilan Pappe says, “attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.”

 
And the lies are not simply trotted out in Israel. American and Canadian Jewish institutions leap into the breach in every medium possible to neutralize any criticism. Armed with talking points (”Israel has a right to defend itself, being the most egregious) these neo-tribalists act as living megaphones for Israel. All have little or no experience of the suffering of the Other. There is never any context. There is no historical memory, no need to go any deeper. It is intellectual slovenliness.

The brave Amira Hass, the Israeli reporter who lives in Ramallah wrote Monday in Haaretz:

Those who turned Gaza into an internment and punishment camp for 1.8 million human beings should not be surprised that they tunnel underneath the earth. Those who sow strangling, siege and isolation reap rocket fire. Those who have, for 47 years, indiscriminately crossed the Green Line, expropriating land and constantly harming civilians in raids, shootings and settlements – what right do they have to roll their eyes and speak of Palestinian terror against civilians?

One wonders if these mannequins who buy the israeli drumbeat would have condemned the Jews of April 1943 who fought back with grenades against the Wehrmacht in the Warsaw ghetto. Did they have any right to defend their dignity as humans against a brutal occupier? How about the French resistance? And the ultimate question: Have you walked in these shoes. It’s the old gospel question: What is your location? Do you see the world through your comfort in Pharaoh’s court? Are your eyes those of the occupier or the occupied? Does blood and tribe trump solidarity with the oppressed?

As Jeff Halper,a contemporary Israeli hero (http://www.icahd.org/) has shown how his country has mastered and sold the art of penning up people and customizing advanced weaponry and surveillance. The killing apparatus or as Pappe calls it the “incremental genocide” is always followed by crocodile tears and an ascent to the moral high ground. Zionism always has desperately wanted to be seen as l’or goyim a light unto the nations. But you can only put lipstick on a pig for so long. In the age of the instant communication, cell phones, international solidarity tours, the truth has slowly seeped out and many of the truth tellers have been Israelis themselves, “Jews of conscience” as theologian Marc Ellis has called them.

Former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg is another truth teller. According to him israel is “Holocaust obsessed, militaristic, xenophobic and, like Germany in the nineteen-thirties, vulnerable to an extremist minority,

This extreme minority as Max Blumenthal and others have pointed out continues to grow, Rann Bar-On an Israeli peace activist and Duke University mathematics lecturer, was part of a peace demo in Haifa.The israeli storm troopers with police looking on attacked the crowd of 300. His comments to Aaron Maté on Democracy Now follow

I believe that what Israel is doing in Gaza is a racist attack. It is not self-defense in any way. And it is a continuation of Israeli policy that has always discriminated against the Arab population. What happened to us at the protest is not new. This is something that is a trend that has been continuing for many years. There has been much incitement from the political class that has allowed even so-called moderate right-wingers to join cries saying, “Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!” and attacking activists and Arabs in the street.<br />

Max Blumenthal in his book Goliath has captured the deep racism in Israeli society. He told Maté:

So the violence that we’re seeing in Gaza is not just related to a particular military strategy; it’s also influenced by the ideology that has captured the hearts and minds of these young men who have learned to demonize the other and see Palestinians and antiwar and human rights elements as absolutely subhuman. It’s playing out unofficially through a vigilante campaign in Israel, but in Gaza what we’re witnessing is the official revenge campaign orchestrated by Netanyahu and the military.

 

The murder continues

July 21, 2014

 

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Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.

Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian

Watching the unconscionable siege of Gaza, the pummeling of a civilian population,a penned up people, 1.7 million, hemmed in  on every side at the mercy of sophisticated missiles one wonders how long  the world can tolerate such a callous war crime. The tally Sunday night:

368 Palestinians killed, of whom 299 are civilians, Including 84 children and 43 women, and 2,340 others wounded, mostly civilians, Including 679 children and 478 women; 389 houses targeted and destroyed and hundreds of others extensively damaged, thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced. Sewage,water and power grids destroyed

Here we have a civilian populace with no army to defend itself at the mercy of lethal hi-tech murder and we have to listen the glib justification of military commanders in perfect English defend the indefensible and legitimate such indiscriminate bombing. Israel is not to blame. It is all Hamas’s fault.

F-16 fighters  and drones  descend   on these “pathetic ducks in a barrel”. They have no bomb shelters, literally nowhere to run or hide in an overcrowded urban center. They cannot leave; all exits are barred. They have no Iron Dome anti missile system.

It is all Hamas’s fault.

The pathetic home-made rockets are simply the crazed behaviour  of an oppressed people encased  in steel. They are the furious howl of a people without hope. This response has simply given israel another chance at “the incremental genocide”(Pappe) Goliath is waging on David.

And all we hear from the craven John Kerry and Barack Obama, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

And the US keeps sending $3 billion a year as settlements  grow and more  Palestinian  land is eaten up and international law is defied.

US elections are on the horizon and money easily trumps cheap Palestinian blood.

On July 19 several Nobel laureates, public intellectuals  and cultural workers signed an open letter in the Guardian

Among the Nobelists were   Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams.

Other well known signatories included:
Alice Walker, Writer,

US
Brian Eno, Composer/musician, UK

Chris Hedges , Journalist, Pulitzer Prize 2002, US

Frei Betto, Liberation theologian, Brazil

Hilary Rose, Academic,

Ilan Pappe, Historian, author, Israel

Ismail Coovadia, former South African Ambassador to Israel

Joao Felicio, President of ITUC, Brazil

John Berger, artist, UK
John Dugard, Former ICJ judge, South Africa

John Pilger, journalist and filmmaker , Australia

Judith Butler, Academic, philosopher,

US
Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK

Michael Ondaatje, Author, Canada/Sri Lanka

Mike Leigh, writer and director, UK

Noam Chomsky, Academic, author, US

Nurit Peled, Academic, Israel

Paola Bacchetta, Academic, US

Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories,

US
Roger Waters, Musician, UK

Ronnie Kasrils, Former minister in Mandela’s gov’t, South Africa

One wonders where is the prophetic voice of religion.

Biblical theology and the view from below

July 18, 2014

4-kids-slain-by-israel-while-playing-football-in-gaza-beach-middle-east-monitor

Four “terrorist” Palestinians playing soccer just before they are murdered

 

We must expel Arabs and take their places…and if we have to use force hen we have force at our disposal.”
David Ben Gurion the first Prime Minister of Israel Oct 5,1937 in a letter to his son

 
Stand up and speak on behalf of the poor
and those who need your voice in this world.
Remember that:
Where you stand will determine what you see;
Whom you stand with will determine what you hear;
What you see and hear will determine what you say and how you act.
Robert McAfee Brown

 

One of the cardinal things one learns as a student of the bible and as a primer for discipleship is to learn to think from below. This is not easy for the privileged. This is why North American Christianity is caught in a suburban captivity of privilege. Not bad people for sure but our starting point is generally white economic middle class privilege. This is why the growth in churches are those megachurhes. They give people waht they want. The prophets gave people what they needed. Think Joel Osteen and the biblically illiterate Christian Zionist churches in the American South.Any church which dares criticism of the “American Way of Life’ will struggle to survive. The call to the cross and the the kingdom offer of the crucified Galilean is decidedly not in vogue.

 

The fundamental narrative here is of course the Exodus story told from the perspective of the slaves and not of Pharaoh. For us the interlocutor is not the atheist but the nonperson, the unseen or seen only as a category—(everybody in Gaza is a terrerrorist, The Commies etc). Notoriously at different eras blacks, women, First Nations, the powerless were all people with no megaphones. Liberation theology shifted the essential question from the nonbeliever to the nonperson.

 

It was the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer about to be martyred in Berlin in 1945 who most graphically expressed this view in modern times:

 

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.

 
When we analyze Israel/Palestine from this perspective our starting point for Christians is that of the poor. Who are the poor, the non-persons, those on the margin of life? We do not start from these reprehensible and self defeating rockets. We begin with the the radical dispossession of Palestinian people shoved into a crowded prison camp; we begin with the 50 year occupation of a homeland, of ongoing and relentless increase of settlements, theft of land, destruction of olive groves and collective punishment. We begin with second class citizenship, Jews only roads, a people with no nation or citizenship, no army and an asymmetrical poverty compared to the Occupier. We begin with Gaza, a foetid breeding ground of hopelessness hence the pathetic rocket attacks and the asymetrical death counts 270 dead Palestinians, 80% civilians and two israelis, each a child of God.

 
It is in the situation of these poor that God will be found . This is where the essential pain is.The underside of history and as we will see there are some brave Christian churches which have dared extend solidarity to the Palestinian people without justifying the counterviolence.

 

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