Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sowing Hate, Reaping Death

Sowing Hate and Reaping Death

By Rami Elhanan

April 28, 2010 "Occupation Magazine" -- - My name is Rami Elhanan. Thirteen years ago, on the afternoon of Thursday the fourth of September 1997, I lost my daughter, my Smadar, in a suicide attack on Ben-Yehuda street in Jerusalem. A beautiful sweet joyous 14 year old girl. My Smadar was the granddaughter of the militant for peace, General (Ret.) Matti Peled, one of those who made the breakthrough to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. And she was murdered because we were not wise enough to preserve her safety in Matti’s way, the only correct and possible way – the way of peace and reconciliation.

I do not need a Remembrance Day in order to remember Smadari. I remember her all the time, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 60 seconds a minute. Without a pause, without a rest, for 13 long and accursed years now, and time does not heal the wound, and the unbearable lightness of continuing to exist remains a strange and unsolved riddle …

But Israeli society very much needs Remembrance Days. From year to year, like clockwork, in the week after Passover, it is drawn into the annual ritual: from Holocaust to the Rebirth of the nation, a sea of ceremonies, sirens and songs – an entire people is swept into a whirlpool of addictive sweet sorrow, eyes tearful and shrouded; mutual embraces accompanied by `Occupation songs` and sickle and sword songs [1] against the background of images of lives that were cut short and heart-rending stories … and it is hard to avoid the feeling that this refined concentration of bereavement, fed directly into the vein, is intended to fortify our feeling of victimhood, the justice of our path and our struggle, to remind us of our catastrophes, which God forbid we should forget for a single moment. This is the choice of our lives – to be armed and ready, strong and resolute, lest the sword fall from our grasp and our lives be cut short.[2]

And when all this great sorrow is dispersed with the smoke of the barbeques, [3] when Israelis return to their daily routines, I am left enveloped in great sorrow. I miss the old good Land of Israel that never existed, and I have feelings of alienation and estrangement that keep increasing with the passage of years, from war to war, from election to election, from corruption to corruption.

And I think about the stations of my life, on the long journey that I have taken on my way to a redefinition of myself, of my Israeliness, of my Jewishness and of my humanity. About the light-years that I have traveled, from the young man who 37 years ago fought in a pulverized tank company, on the other side of the Suez Canal, from the young father who 28 years ago walked the streets of bombed Beirut, and it did not at all occur to me that things could be otherwise. I was a pure product of a cultural-educational and political system that brainwashed me, poisoned my consciousness and prepared me and others of my generation for sacrifice on the altar of the homeland, without any superfluous questions, in the innocent belief that if we did not do it, they would throw us – the second generation after the Holocaust – into the Mediterranean Sea.

Nearly 40 years have passed since then, and every year this armour of victim hood continues to crack. The self-righteousness and the feeling of wretchedness keep dissipating, and the wall that separates me from the other side of the story keeps crumbling.

When Yitzhak Frankenthal recruited me to the Bereaved Families Forum 12 years ago, for the first time in my life I was exposed to the very existence of the other side – to this day I am ashamed to say that for the first time in my life (I was 47) I encountered Palestinians as normal human beings, very much like me, with the same pain, the same tears and the same dreams. For the first time in my life I was exposed to the story, the pain and the anger, and also to the nobility and the humanity of what is called “the other side.”

The climax of that journey was the meeting between me and my brother, the “terrorist” who spent seven years in an Israeli prison, the peace-warrior Bassam Aramin, who wrote to us, among other things, the following moving words:

“… Dear Nurit and Rami. I wanted to express my identification with you as a brother on this sad day, the anniversary of the death of your beautiful and pure daughter, Smadar. There is no doubt that this is one of the saddest days, and from the moment we met I did not have the courage to write to you about it, for fear of adding more sorrow and pain to your hearts. I thought that time would likely heal that deep wound. But after I myself drank from that same bitter cup that you drank from before me, when my daughter Abir was murdered on 16 January 2007, I understood that parents never forget for a moment. We live our lives in a special way that others do not know, and I hope that no other human beings, Palestinians or Israelis, will not be forced to know …”

Today my perception of the two sides is completely different from what it was 40 years ago.

For me, the line that separates the two sides today is not between Arabs and Israelis or Jews and Muslims. Today the line is between those who want peace and are willing to pay the price for it, and all the rest. They are the other side! And today, that other side, to my dismay, is the corrupt group of politicians and generals that leads us and behaves like a bunch of mafia dons, war criminals, who play ping-pong in blood among themselves, who sow hate and reap death.

But this evening I want to talk specifically to those who are in between, who are sitting on the fence and watching us from the sidelines, I want to talk to the satiated Israeli public that does not pay the price of the Occupation, the public that sticks its head in the sand and does not want to know, that lives within a bubble, watches television, eats in restaurants, goes on vacation, enjoys the good life and looks after their its own interests, shielded by the pandering media that help it to hide from the bitter reality that is concealed only a few metres from where they live: the Occupation, the theft of lands and houses, the daily harassment and oppression and humiliation, the checkpoints, the abomination in Gaza, the sewage on the streets of Anata …

On this evening, especially, I want to address the Left public in all its shades, those who are disillusioned and angry, those who are afflicted with apathy, with despair and weakness, those who enclose themselves in the bubble of themselves and grumble on Friday nights, but are not involved with us in this hard war against the aggressive pathogen of the Occupation that threatens to destroy the humanity of all of us. And on this evening, the evening of Remembrance Day for the dead on both sides, I want to ask them to join us in our war against this fatal affliction! I want to tell them that to be bystanders is to be complicit in crime! I want to tell them that there are many who are not willing to stand aside, who are not willing to be silent in the face of evil and stupidity and the absence of basic accountability and justice!

And I want to tell them about the true anonymous heroes of our dark age!

About those who are willing to pay a high personal price for their honesty and decency, those who dare to stand in front of the bulldozers with rare and amazing courage, the refusers who say no to the omnipresent militarism, the combatants for peace who discarded their weapons in favour of non-violent resistance, the resolute demonstrators who crush against the terror of the police and the army in Bil’in, in Ni’lin, in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan every weekend, the lawyers who struggle every day in the Ofer camp military Court, and in the High Court of Justice, the heroic women of Mahsom Watch, the dedicated peace activists from abroad, like the late Rachel Corrie who gave her life, and also the those who blow the whistle on crimes and conspiracies, from Anat Kam to Gideon Levy and Akiva Eldar, and also the peace organizations of both peoples, and especially the bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families who are bringing about the miracle of reconciliation despite their tragedies.

The darker the sky gets, the more visible are these stars gleaming in the darkness! [4] The more the oppression becomes opaque and evil, the more they, with their heroism and their noble struggle, save the honour and the humanity of all of us!

And today we desperately need to expand the circles of non-violent opposition to the Occupation! This evening I call on you from here and from the bottom of my heart: get out of your bubble! Join the mosquito that buzzes unceasingly in the ears of the Occupation, [5] that annoys and irritates and harasses, and does not let Filth prevail in silence! [6] Don’t let the other side steal the future of all of us! Don’t let the other side continue to endanger the security of our remaining children.

Thank you.
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[1] Songs of the singing troupe of Nahal (a brigade in the Israeli army). http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2f/Nahal2.jpg
[2] From Moshe Dayan`s Eulogy for Roi Rutenberg (April 19, 1956).
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Quote/dayan1.html
[3] Israelis traditionally have barbeques on the eve of Independence Day.

[4] Martin Luther King.

[5] Ali Abu Awwad.

[6] Ze’ev Jabotinsky: Betar Song. http://www.saveisrael.com/jabo/jabobetar.htm

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent. Original Hebrew: http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=39284

Monday, January 29, 2018

@ Davos, Trump Affirms Israel, Disavows Palestinians!

Pres. Trump Affirms Israel, Disavows Palestinians
JRK
January 25, 2018

In a dramatic one-on-one at the Davos Economic Forum, US President Donald Trump met with P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) of Israel on Thursday, January 25, 2018). Have you heard about it?

In their brief news conference, Bibi thanked the President profusely for his unstinting support of the Israeli position vis a vis the Palestinians (without once even mentioning the Palestinians).

President Trump, for his part, again reiterated his threat of divesting even more funds for Palestinians (So far, $65m withheld from UNRWA, which helps refugees in camps because no room in Israel). He claims "hundreds of millions" of US dollars (a gross exaggeration), have gone to the Palestinians and they have made no "progress toward peace."

By recognizing "Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel", Mr. Trump has virtually invalidated any Palestinian claims to E. Jerusalem as its capital, or to any part of the land; while virtually validating Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided capital." And, Palestinians, stop your resistance! In the process, he has abandoned US leadership in brokering any "peace" between Israel and the Arab Palestinians.

By "taking Jerusalem off the table", our President implies that Palestinians have no valid claims for redress or restitution in regards to how they have been treated through the decades leading to the present state of affairs. So now, the Israelis have less incentive than ever to stop the settlements being built on stolen land, home and orchard demolition, restrictions on movement, home invasions to terrorize children/families and other indignities.

It's onward and upward for the debilitating Occupation in the foreseeable future, with its disregard for human and property rights, all to the long-term detriment of Israel and a growing number of Jews there and here who are wanting to follow a truer form of Judaism (such as respecting the rights of non-Jews).

Instead of threatening the withholding of funds to Israel ($3.6b/year), for their mistreatment of the Palestinians, the President is withholding funds set aside for the Palestinians (isn't that a Congressional decision?) and has purposely removed a main "bargaining chip" the Palestinians have always wanted to use to press their case for legitimacy (and in keeping with the UN and international expectations since 1947/48).

"Peace" in Israeli/US terms, is for the Palestinians to withdraw their claims of human rights violations and accept the degrading treatment the Israelis have meted out to them through all the years. All Israel requires is that the Palestinians "accept the State of Israel," by which is meant giving up any and all claims of Palestinian autonomy, their own state, and accepting total Israeli control over all the land. Then, there will be "peace." What a deal! But more importantly, the US President now clearly sides with the Israeli point of view.

So, what of the Palestinians now? Through 82-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians have disavowed the US as an honest broker, calling for someone else to deal with the Israeli/US axis on their behalf. He even refused to meet with VP Pence during his visit there this week.

Who will step up? Belgian has offered $25m in help. The UN and European countries are totally distrusted by the Israelis. As far as the Israelis are concerned, no broker is needed to broker anything. There is nothing to negotiate, change or discuss. The US has their back. It's "Get your embassy here and keep attacking Iran."

Yet we, in the grassroots resistance, will continue to lift up the Palestinian plight. We will present the Palestinian narrative, with their legitimate claims, to America people. We will press for changes in what America expects of our friends, the Israelis: Justice. Equality. Respect.

All of the above is to whet your appetite to attend our four sessions on the Kairos Palestine document of 2009 where Christians there plead for understanding and help: Holland Library, 7:00, Jan. 30, Feb. 6, 13, and 20.

For much more information from our affiliated organizations go to: www.palestineportal.org JRK

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Emperor's New Clothes

In 1837, Hans Christian Anderson crafted a short story. Two shifty weavers promised the emperor of a certain kingdom, a new suit of clothes. The thing was, the suit could only be recognized by the truly wise. It would be invisible for those out of touch with reality.

When the emperor paraded before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dared to say they couldn’t see the suit, for fear they would be seen as out of touch with reality. This charade continued for some time.

This isn’t in the story, but I can just imagine the two thieving weavers, laughing all the way to the bank, pocketing the exorbitant cost of the wonderful new wardrobe – until a little child cries out to any who would hear: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” And the truth finally dawns.

The view of our President and the US on the Israeli/Palestinian situation is finally clear and unambiguous. We are exposed. There has been no genuine support for the Palestinians. Only for the Israelis.

There is no longer even a fig leaf to cover our supposed support for the Palestinians. It has dried up, shriveled and been blown away by the fiery, unpredictable wind out of Washington. There may have been principled statespersons over the years who may have actually believed the two disputants could, should and would negotiate the status of the land and the capital. But those people are gone.

In one stroke of his pen, the President of the US overturned decades of hypocrisy: the mask of an even-handedness and the farce of impartiality. The President has trashed the US position regarding the disputing parties, expecting them to sit down and negotiate contrasting claims. By his action, our President has thrown his (and our US) support completely for the Israeli position.

You claim Jerusalem as your eternal, undivided capital? You got it!

Palestinian claims for the land and Jerusalem as their capital? Sorry. They don’t matter.

US impartiality? Sorry. We’re for Israel.

Honest broker between the two sides? Nope. We made that claim, but it was never true. Prohibiting funds to Israel if they support human rights violations is only just now before our House of Representatives.

Negotiate the future of the land or the capital? What’s to negotiate? It’s Israel’s.

The way Israel has treated the indigenous people through the years? Nothing wrong there. That was simply the cost of nation-building.

Orchards destroyed, homes demolished, land confiscated, Arabs eliminated from East Jerusalem, and the residents disenfranchised in the “West Bank and Gaza”? Legitimate. Every bit of it.

For Palestinians to resist? That makes them “terrorists” doesn’t it? And the US doesn’t support “terrorists”.

But what do Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel and the US think about this unequivocal bonding? Not so much, as more and more people are learning the “truth” about what has been going on over there. And the world is supposed to bow down to the will of the Israelis and the Americans? How likely is that going to be? With grassroots opposition growing, our President’s position will continue to erode in the years to come.

With the US abdicating the “honest broker” role, there will be other power brokers who will step into that role. We and the Israelis are one, eternal and undivided. We have lost our way.

So now we see the first step in our President’s plan for “Peace” over there: The Israelis have our full support. No need for the Palestinians to expect our help. This is what “Peace” looks like. Get used to it. The Palestinians have no “cover.” At least not from the United States. That fiction has now finally been exposed, naked in the light of the new day.

For many Americans, there is shame and embarrassment in the kingdom. The emperor has no clothes. And the Palestinians have no “cover” either.

Someone in this short story is exposed as out of touch with reality.

And it isn’t the little child who cried out, so everyone could hear: “But he isn’t wearing anything
at all!”

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Donald Trump/Netanyahu Dance

From the Kairos W. Michigan Director’s Desk

Op-ed: The president told the world he personally doesn’t mind if there’s a one-state or a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But a single entity between river and sea means the end of Jewish, democratic Israel. How dare Israel’s PM not point that out? BY DAVID HOROVITZ February 15, 2017, (The Times of Israel, a notable Israeli newspaper)

Did Donald Trump know what he was doing? Did he really cavalierly discard the center-piece of US, European, the Quartette, and Arab League orthodoxy about the Two-State “solution”?

The Jewish settler class is ecstatic. Mainstream Israelis, like David Horovitz, still want to tout the Two-State as a ruse for continuing to establish “facts on the ground”, to the detriment of Arab Palestinians. That sentiment is strongly echoed by many mainstream Jewish groups in the US (think AIPAC).

We in the Kairos movement have long known that the so-called Two-State solution has been dead for decades. At least from the aftermath of the 1967 war when Israel decided to occupy and settle ALL of Palestine.

Well, many Palestinian leaders got all bent out of shape as well, including the highly respected Hanan Ashrawi. Are you abandoning the Two-State? What kind of a One-State entity do you envision?

Indeed! President Trump seems open to “One State” that both the Israelis and Palestinians “can live with”. The US leader perhaps is cleverly asking Israel what that would look like. Will it be a truly pluralistic, democratic State with liberty and justice for all (to include the people of the West Bank and Gaza?) Or do you Israelis think you can maintain an ethno-centric Jewish State at the expense of the downtrodden, dispossessed Palestinian neighbor?

As happened in South Africa, it won’t work in the long run. Palestinians won’t just lie down and take it. They think (rightly) that their lives matter just as much as Jewish lives.

The Kairos movement stands with them, eager to build bridges instead of fences that demean and divide (in the name of “security”). The recent assassination of a Hamas militant signals that the Israeli elite desire warfare to justify their fear-mongering against all those Palestinian "terrorists". The demand by Bibi at this week's AIPAC meeting ("accept the existence of the JEWISH state") is a code phrase for the demand that Arab Palestinians summit to Israel's claim to settle the whole of Palestine, swallowing up land that no longer belongs to the Palestinians. What Palestinian authority (no matter how corrupt) can accept that demand?

Israel cannot have both a Jewish State and a “Democracy”. That’s an oxymoron. Israel may have a “Jewish democracy” but not a “true democracy”. Israel will either continue insisting it is a “Jewish State” (that excludes Palestinians from full rights, and continues to lose international legitimacy); or she will move towards a truly “democratic, pluralistic State with liberty and justice for all”. Will Israel face the consequences of her choices?

Israel has chosen its course. There is no turning back to the “Two State”. It is now one state, eventually diluting its all-Jewish majority for a truly pluralistic society (like most other modern states).

Is this a pipe-dream or what? Jews want to be Jews, at least on one speck of land on the Planet! And Palestinians want their existence and “rights” respected as well. Let’s all pray for a way forward that will take both narratives into account!

Friend, be in prayer for our all-day strategic planning session for our KWM Board and other interested “stakeholders” this Friday, March 31. As many as 15 of us will be focused on how to flesh out our mission statement (“a movement that educates and mobilizes Christians and others in W. MI to promote a ‘just peace’ in Isr/Pal”). Thank you for tracking with us in the past; and now, even more importantly, into our future!

Faithfully yours, John R. Kleinheksel

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Christmas Greetings from Palestinians

Dear Friend,
It's been a long time since I posted on this blog.
Israel is tightening its grip on all the land, making it more and more burdensome for the indigenous people to survive, let alone thrive.
As you know, Kairos West Michigan is the community we are building in W. Michigan. We are learning more about facts on the ground, listening to our brothers and sisters in Palestine (and Israel) and tracking with Kairos USA, and the growing network of churches and groups like ours wanting to build momentum for a just peace in the land of Abraham and Sarah, Isaiah and Micah, Jesus, Peter, James, John and Saul (Paul).
Here is the Christmas greeting from our friends in the land three religions call "Holy";

17 November, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, colleagues and partners of Kairos Palestine,

Christmas in Bethlehem continues to be celebrated as it has been for more than two thousand years, in spite of occupations and hardships. The message of peace and good-will given that first Christmas continues to inspire and sustain us as we strive to be led by love of the other and the right to life and dignity for all. Yes, the times remain bleak for Palestinians as hopes for peace have waned, and as destruction and violence ravage the region. But we refuse to give up hope that justice will be done. In this context, your friendship and solidarity stand out like a shining star of hope, mercy and support.

We thank you in the name of Kairos Palestine and all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, for your persistent solidarity and advocacy for real peace. We thank you for the many resolutions, campaigns, talks, debates and more conducted with love so that the liberating truth is proclaimed.

We also give thanks for the many churches, church organizations, seminaries, congregations and wonderful people who have responded to our Kairos Palestine call that proposes a path towards justice and peace in the Holy Land. Thank you to those who continue to promote our Kairos call so that joined Christian action can make of us “the peacemakers” we are called to be.
Sadly, Israeli policies continue to impose realities on the ground that hamper the establishment of a Palestinian state and ignore all calls to respect international law, human rights and the law of war. In addition, Israel seems adamant to continue to feed despair among Palestinians.

Politically, Israel has tried to ensure that the Palestinian struggle becomes irrelevant to regional peace and has emphasized that the problem is the war on terror, ignoring how the injustice it perpetrates against the Palestinian people has fed terrorism, extremism and violence. Its policies undermine international law on a daily basis and claim exclusive religious rights to the land to justify continued occupation, settlement expansion, oppression, dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians.

And, while all of us who daily experience the effects of occupation are suffering, it is the children who are the most vulnerable. For this reason, Kairos has chosen the theme of “Children” for its 2016 Christmas Alert. Palestinian youth and children are targeted on a daily basis with intent to instill fear and humiliation. Respect for human rights, International Humanitarian Law and UN resolutions are important to ensure their safety and access to a minimum degree of decency and life. They are dehumanized as are all Palestinians and their struggle framed as part of world terrorism. According to a report by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, at least 1,000 Palestinian children between the ages of 11 and 18 have been detained by Israel since January 2016, many of whom have been abused and tortured while in detention. According to the Palestinian prisoner’s rights group, ADDAMEER, a total of 240 Palestinian children are currently being incarcerated by Israel. We need you to help us in our struggle for freedom and dignity, especially for our children.

We invite you this Christmas, as the 50th anniversary of the military occupation is dawning on us, to be also in touch with difficult realities in our world. Please take time to read our Christmas Alert with its theological reflections, articles, poems, stories and reports. Share it as widely as possible and try to follow the actions proposed in the epilogue. Follow the campaign throughout the four weeks of Advent and join us in proclaiming the Christmas message from Bethlehem where Jesus was born over two thousand years ago, a message of peace and good will for all. Provide us with your gift of compassion to help relieve the prolonged suffering of Palestinian children and all those who suffer injustice and oppression.

From the land where hope remains a promise and love a source of salvation for us and the world,
In peace,

Hind Khoury

General Secretary

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Meet Jeff Halper (ICAHD)!

I’ve met and interacted with Jeff Halper (in June, 2013). His positions contribute to ways that Israelis and Arab Palestinians could live in harmony together (Confederation?)

The more I read about his new book, WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE, the more I want to see and hear him again. I can’t wait for May 6, 7:00 at Hope Reformed Church in Grand Rapids (corner Kalamazoo Ave SE and Burton).

My view is that if Americans knew what Mr. Halper knows, our unquestioning support for Israel would evaporate overnight.
Not that we wouldn’t continue to support them, but not is such an uncritical way.

Well, let me rephrase that. Our official US position has always been to be critical of the growing settlement enterprise. It’s just that there has seldom been even the threat of financial consequences, let alone the actual withholding of any of the $3.1B in annual military support. (Netanjahu’s government is wanting a 25% increase from US in the 2018-2028 period). And how sad that Mr. Trump is now on record as not seeing the Israelis settlements in the West Bank as a deterrent to peace over there (Jerusalem Post, May 3, 2016).

Mr. Halper, an American-born Jew, moved to Israel in 1973 and heads up the Israel Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD). He has long been incensed over the settlement enterprise that confiscates land on which Arab Palestinians have lived for a long, long time and demolishes their homes, businesses, schools and orchards, among other countless indignities.

In touting his new book, War Against the People, he will explain why the global elites, including the US, don’t pull the plug on the settlement enterprise. Mr. Halper explains that Israel has created “Global Palestine”, providing “on-the-ground-tested” weapons of security so those in control in the US, China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa and other places, can “police” their unruly minorities.

Israel has developed the weaponry, the tactics and the security systems (better than our Pentagon) for wars of repression being fought today (think US urban “unrest”, and the militarization of police forces all over our country and the world) Those are Israeli weapons systems!)

Israel has made a bargain with the power elites: “We know how to keep you in power. We’ll sell you our proven weapons. What we ask in return is that you may criticize us, but let us keep our Occupation”. Even Saudi Arabia and other (Arab/Islamic) Gulf states seem to in on the bargain. Questions? Ask Jeff on Friday night!

If you can’t make it on Friday, May 6, go to his Jerusalem website, or the US affiliate: . Thanks for tracking with us here at Kairos West Michigan (KWM) with thanks to our friends at The Micah Center, Vern Hoffman and Jordan Bruxvoort.

Monday, April 18, 2016

America and Israel's Original Sin

EVERYONE’S ORIGINAL SIN

John Kleinheksel’s report on the KUSA/FOSNA Chicago conference, April 14-16, 2016

Jim Wallis is right, but let me expand on it. Racism is not only America’s original sin; it is the sin of every ethnic group that wants to view the world from “our” perspective only. American Caucasians (“white privilege”) do it. Afro-Americans do it. Palestinians do it; Israelis do it.

We take what is only part of the whole and make it the whole ball of cheese, excluding the other existing parts. It’s called idolatry. What will it take for separate ethnic groups to see the greater whole and work for an integrated society?

That was the chief question Kairos USA and Friends of SABEEL North America (FOSNA) had us address on April 14-16, 2016, on the campus of Garrett Evangelical Seminary in the heart of Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

I joined Western Seminarians Jenna Harms and Mark Mares to see the parallels between the deaths of African-Americans in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, Oakland and Chicago; and the deaths of Arab Palestinians in Gaza, Beit Liqya and Jerusalem. The conference exposed the similarity of militarized force against civilian blacks and Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Professor Stephen Ray (an African-American from Garrett Seminary) kicked off the colloquy by helping us see that modern states are racially based and self-protective. Rabbi Brant Rosen (a Reconstructionist Jew from Evanston) insisted that 19th Century European nationalism hijacked Judaism to colonize and replace the indigenous people of Palestine. He appealed to fellow Jews to follow the “Exodus God” (deliverance from captivity), instead of the “Conqueror God” adopted by the settler movement in Israel today. For an elaboration of this theme, read Jewish dissident Robert Cohen’s blog here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/writingfromtheedge/2016/04/the-wicked-sons-guide-to-passover/

Many speakers pointed out that the ethnic group in control thinks they are the only ones with the right to use violence. For those in control, even those who “resist” have no right even to nonviolent resistance. Rev. Iva Carruthers, one of the mothers of the resistance movement in Chicago lifted the phrase of Eric Garner (“I can’t breathe”) to mythic proportions, making it a metaphor for the oppressed of every land. White privilege in the US and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in Israel paint law enforcement as under attack and unjustly maligned. More sensitive Americans (and Israelis) have come to realize there is more to it than that.

At the end of the conference, Dr. Beth Corrie led the participants in examining: “Where do we go from here?” After sharing her resolve personally to read more Afro-American literature empathetically, during the silence she provided, I resolved to look at and admit my own complacency with “white privilege”. When Dr. Corrie gave 15 minutes to groups of 2 or 3 persons to discuss how to live going forward, it was a perfect space and time for Mark, Jenna and me to talk.

We agreed to hold each other accountable in learning more about minority points of view in W. MI. Classis Holland (Reformed Church in America) held a Black Lives Matter event recently which I blew off.

We pledged to work with Kairos West Michigan (KWM) to bring the valid Palestinian narrative to US consciousness so the grassroots will finally lift the heavy concrete of Congress and the White House off its AIPAC-inspired unquestioning support of Israel.

New director of FOSNA, Palestinian Tarek Abuata closed the conference with the challenge to see Palestinian suffering as the speck of sand in the Israeli oyster that will fashion a Pearl of Great Price as an end result. He pointed out that when Palestinian civil society called in 2006 for BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) it was not even on the US computer screen. Such actions are now being discussed even in the Main Stream Media (MSM) and even among Jewish students in colleges and universities (with some successes, as with G4S vowing to suspend operations in the West Bank).

We in KUSA and FOSNA agree that it is misreading Hebrew and New Testament scriptures to equate the modern Jewish State with God’s supposed promise of land to a reconstituted Israel. For Jesus of Nazareth, re-installing the Jewish (tribal) state was never the goal of the Kingdom of God he was ushering in (read Acts of the Apostles).

Tarek Abuata concluded his stirring challenge this way: “Jews will often remark, ‘You Palestinians are a demographic threat to us. You want to overwhelm us’”; to which Mr. Abuata replied: “What do you think you Jews have become to us? You have truly been a demographic and nationalistic threat to the existence of Arab Palestinians!”

Rabbi Brant Rosen’s blog is “Shalom Rav”. A link to his latest entry is here: https://rabbibrant.com/2016/04/18/new-for-passover-your-child-will-ask/