Sunday, January 04, 2009
Gaza as an Indian reservation, under siege
Gaza is about 6 miles wide and 18 miles long. (For those who know Oklahoma City: that's roughly Pennsylvania Avenue east to Interstate 35, from the Logan County line to downtown.) In that small space are 2 million people -- about four times the population of Oklahoma City crammed into a space about one-fifth the size of OKC.
Without much basic infrastructure. With a blockade on. With an elected government that was not the one either Israel or the United States hoped for -- so much for democracy being the cure-all.
God gave Israel land, Scripture says. But it came with conditions. Israel is violating those conditions. Israel, the people, will survive, as it has for millenia. Israel, the nation-state, has always had its work cut out for it. (The current issue of The Christian Cenury has a great and incredibly timely package on this, but I can't find it online.)
Imagine the United States herding 2 million American Indians onto a reservation and blocking trade, causing starvation and desperation. Better yet, read some history, because the U.S. did do that at times, just not to the scale of the Israel-Gaza tragedy.
Israel started this round of violence. There was a cease-fire. Israel took out some Hamas leaders by assassination (so says Rabbi Michael Lerner, a rare source for this, which goes against the master narratve at hand). Hamas then let its makeshift rockets fly. Again. Israel retaliated. Again.
I had to force myself to join in the Prayer of Confession this morning. I still have mixed feelings about it. Hamas is evil. Israel has a right to defend itself. But is Israel in the right in how it's responding? I don't think so.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION at church:
Lord of Life, we grieve the death and destruction of human life in the Gaza strip. We know that the hatred is deep on both sides, but the firepower is almost entirely in the hands of Israel, using weapons we have provided, and following our example of responding to threats with overwhleming force. As we begin the new year, let the church of Jesus Christ, the Jew from Nazareth, be fearless in condemning what must be condemned. For this road leads to annihilation, not peace. In the name of the great and fearless Jewish prophets we pray, and for the soul of Israel. Amen.
Yes, but note that the Israeli government help create Ha-mas as a counter point to the PLF. Ironic, huh?
So Israel is continuing to damn its own future in Gaza. Half of the population is under 16 years of age. Wow, two million terrorist in training and all recruited by the actions of Israel itself.
If God is a God of Grace, then He must really be working overtime in this part of the world.
Every time I even begin to try to think of solutions for the "Israeli Conflict" I think of the story of the Scorpion and the Fox.
Here's the Star Trek Voyager version:
"A scorpion was wandering along the bank of the river, wondering how to get to the other side. Suddenly he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river.
The fox said, "No. If I do that, you'll sting me and I'll drown."
The scorpion assured him, "If I did that, we'd both drown."
So the fox thought about it and finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back and the fox began to swim. But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him.
As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, "Why did you do that? Now you'll drown too."
"I couldn't help it," said the scorpion. "It's my nature."
The "Nature" of the "Middle East" has been such for 4000 years.
Here is another version of the scorpion story. This was is more Zen.
"Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"
"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."
Now this one does contain "Grace".
Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to post the following from J Street, a Jewish organization here in the US dedicated to working toward a two-state solution. It reads in part:
"Our position on the crisis reflects our support for Israel, our hope for its security and our sympathy with the ongoing suffering of the people on both sides in this conflict. It is hard for us to understand how the leading reform rabbi in North America could call our effort to articulate a nuanced view on these difficult issues “morally deficient.” If our views are “naïve” and “morally deficient”, then so are the views of scores of Israeli journalists, security analysts, distinguished authors, and retired IDF officers who have posed the same questions about the Gaza attack as we have.
And, when tens of thousands of pro-Israel American Jews are joining with statements made by J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek, Israel Policy Forum and others calling for a ceasefire – it is simply wrong to call these views out of touch with Jewish sentiment.
American Jews are, as Rabbi Yoffie says, by and large sensible and centrist, and they support Israel in her hour of need. But many of those same Jews – and their friends who want the best for Israel – are well within their rights and within the centrist mainstream to question the wisdom of the actions taken this week, to question where they will lead and to ask the US and others to help bring an end to the violence as quickly as possible.
They are also in line with many in Israel, where on Friday, 30 peace organizations (including the Peres Center for Peace, the Geneva Initiative and Peace Now) signed a public call for an immediate ceasefire, joining such pillars of the national conscience as David Grossman and Amos Oz.
J Street understands that Hamas is a terrorist organization and a harsh enemy. We are neither dovish nor pacifist, nor are we blindly opposed to the use of force. We support Israel in defending and protecting its citizens from attack, including through military action if necessary and appropriate to the threat. We believe, however, that force cannot be Israel’s only or preponderant response – even to Hamas."
Check out the whole thing. It demonstrates at the very least that the myth of Jewish solidarity with everything the state of Israel does can be disposed of.
One of these days Israel is going to get wiped off the map, and they'll have done it to themselves.
It has given land for peace, it had previously moved completely out of Gaza and forcibly removed all Israeli settlers from Gaza as well. It had agreed to a ceasefire despite not getting all its hostage soldiers back and withstanding a constant barrage of imprecise rockets.
The ceasefire expired while Hamas prevaricated and delayed hoping for hostilities.
Israel is absolutely wrong. It's armaments are killing innocent women and children who do not live in a fully functioning nation state. Palestine is a divided authority without recourse to a traditional army, navy, air force to defend itself.
The ruling party is holding the opposition party under house arrest in fear that Fatah would overthrow it.
The casualties are not the result of two nation states at war. Palestine is a fledgling state being choked by poisoned politics and to invade and assault a people who have not political control over their own destiny is wrong.
We are in a new ill-defined gray area of war in a post nation-state and post-colonial world.
Reinhold Nieburh's realpolitik no longer serves western democracies.
We are in the midst of having to develop a new moral argument for the use of force and the scope and location of response.
Religious history has nothing to do with solving this problem. It only fuels irrational motivations. The six day war, the Yom Kippur war has nothing to do with solving this. Israeli aggression and colonization has nothing to do solving this.
There has to be a new solution, politically and economically driven, humanely defined.
Sorry. Not going to happen.
Also, I have to take issue with Feodor's use of "Absolute." In terms middle east violence, there's no such thing. Israel is neither absolutely right, nor absolutely wrong. But I understand what Feodor is saying and for what it's worth, I don't entirely disagree, or rather; I disagree far less than I agree.
The Tiny Book of Obadiah:
"The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?
Oba 1:6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him. Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress. For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S."
It is the Palestinian people who will be wiped off the map.
And that should not be construed or even suggested that I believe the extinction of the Palestinian people is a good thing, but then I'm not God. Who am I to judge?
All Hamas has to do is accept Israel's right to exist and cease ALL attacks upon her. All. From here to eternity. And the killing will cease. Then Israel can concentrate on Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Fatah......
I think the answer, actually, could lie in Abraham -- which is about the only point of history we all (Jews, Muslims, Christians) share in common.
In any event, the entire circus is repeating itself yet again, as the Arabs, rather than mount some kind of military strike to distract Israel from her murderous course, is appealing to the UN, which Israel always ignores. This is not so much a display of the UN's weakness as it is a confession of Arab apathy to the Palestinian's cries for help. Not that I am advocating military action against Israel; I am only noting the real world options, and the way it is being played out.
Israeli historian Benny Morris states:
The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb. Their slide into complete Palestinization has made them an emissary of the enemy that is among us. They are a potential fifth column. In both demographic and security terms they are liable to undermine the state. So that if Israel again finds itself in a situation of existential threat, as in 1948, it may be forced to act as it did then. If we are attacked by Egypt (after an Islamist revolution in Cairo) and by Syria, and chemical and biological missiles slam into our cities, and at the same time Israeli Palestinians attack us from behind, I can see an expulsion situation. It could happen. If the threat to Israel is existential, expulsion will be justified..."
Ari Shavit (2004-01-16). "Survival of the Fittest". Haaretz.
The term "demographic bomb" was famously used by Benjamin Netanyahu in 2003 (1) when he noted that if the percentage of Arab citizens rises above its current level of about 20 percent, Israel will not be able to maintain a Jewish demographic majority. Netanyahu's comments were criticized as racist by Arab Knesset members and a range of civil rights and human rights organizations, such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.(2) Even earlier allusions to the "demographic threat" can be found in an internal Israeli government document drafted in 1976 known as The Koenig Memorandum, which laid out a plan for reducing the number and influence of Arab citizens of Israel in the Galilee region.
(1)Sedan, Gil (2003-18-18). "Netanyahu: Israel's Arabs are the real demographic threat", Haaretz
(2)MKs slam Netanyahu's remarks about Israeli Arabs" (2003-18-18). Haaretz
Primary Source: http://www.haaretz.com/
See a comprehensive statement:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel
20% of the Israeli citizens are Arab. 82% of those are Muslem. What happens when Israel eats its own. The Arab Israelis are already by law a second class people within the Nation. In a word, the Arabs are Israel's "Negro" problem. Now add that to the outside Palistinian pressure. Add in that none of the Arab States have any intention of ever letting the Palistinians into their countries.
Any viable solution to the Israeli "problem" has to come from Israel/Palistine itself. Unless of course we want to nuke the whole of the middle east or something drastic of that character.