DoD

This is a new book published by Lambert Academic Publishing in Germany. It is now available from Lambert or Amazon and other book sellers. I hope to have the entire book in e-book format on this sight soon.

Introduction

The essays that compose Decade of Deceit 2002-2012 consider current events in the mid-East  from a moral perspective that transcends the immediate moment and forces reflection on concerns that exalt or deny human rights, personal dignity and respect. These are polemical essays, not news stories; morally based in literature, philosophy or theology, not detailed in time-determined facts that mask more universal meaning; satirical when needed, even at times caustic, not confined by propriety or droll taste; and, consequently, necessitating a cross disciplinary grasp of the reality of knowledge that cannot be confined, not determined by column design and immediacy of deadlines. Events considered from this perspective have roots that transcend time, roots imbedded in human nature, roots that grow deep in the earth that gave birth to them for it is from ashes we grow and to ashes we return. And in that biblical myth, peoples have explored the mystery that shrouds the behavior of humankind in a universe that has no consciousness of their existence even as they play out their lives in the universe their minds have created.

Approximately mid-way into this decade of deceit, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister for these first years, fell into a coma, a state that he continues in as this is written. I wrote a piece then for State of Nature that perceived the world from two diametrically opposed vantage points. I present that reflection here as it seems to give depth to the considerations each of these chapters contemplates.

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An English Professor cannot live without words or the wisdom they impart by what they convey and what they omit. Indulge me as I proffer the soul wrenching insight of the Anglican Minister and poet, John Donne, and the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky.

First Donne:

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; … any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Now Dostoevsky:

“I must make you one confession,” Ivan said. “I could never understand how one can love one’s neighbors. It’s just one’s neighbors, to my mind, that one can’t love, though one might love those at a distance. … For anyone to love a man, he must be hidden, for as soon as he shows his face, love is gone.”

The world, whether it knows it or not, stands today on the precipice that exists between Donne’s view of life and Ivan’s as created by Dostoevsky. I refer, of course, to the pause that exists momentarily in Palestine caused by the silence of Sharon as he awaits the awful darkness of the grave, a pause that forces before us the absolutes of fanatical beliefs as expressed by Zionists on one side and Hamas purists on the other, the first determined to expel all Palestinians from the covenanted land given them by their mythical G-d, the second just as determined to eradicate the state of Israel from the land of Palestine.

Rehavam Ze’evi, Sharon’s one time tourism minister, who advocated the “transfer” of Arabs out of Israel and the occupied territories, shot dead in 2001 by Palestinians who said his policies made him a legitimate target, and Uzi Cohen, an influential Likud MP, who advocates today the carving up of Jordan as a Palestinian state and the forced removal if necessary of all living in the West Bank and Gaza, reflect the racism inherent in Ivan’s gut reaction to his neighbors. Uri Dan, writing in the Jerusalem Post February 7, 2006, commented on the Hamas victory in rousing words:

The victory of the Hamas while Israel is still strong can help us realize the Zionist vision of the late 19th century in the 21st century. … There is no possibility that the Hamas will change its plan to destroy Israel. That is why Israel must focus on preserving the large settlement blocs, protecting a united Jerusalem with the Temple Mount at its heart and maintaining the security areas in the Jordan Valley, the Judean Desert and the mountain ridge.

On the other side of this precipice stands the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) that stands dedicated, according to Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in the LA Times (2/5/06), to a “Nazi-like genocidal orientation to Jews in general.” Goldhagen quotes from the 1988 Hamas charter, “Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims,” claiming that this statement and others of similar kind confirm “the genocidal logic of Hamas’ foundational document.” Goldhagen’s perception of the IRM and its charter parallels it to Hitler’s Nazi regime with all the anti-Semitism and “murderous logic” that governs genocidal movements: “Seldom in the modern world has a political party enshrined such hallucinatory hatred and overt murderousness against another people in its constitution.”

Nowhere in his article does Goldhagen address the reality on the ground confronting Hamas if it were to attempt a genocidal destruction of the Jews; no where in his article does Uri Dan address the reality that Israel is in process of expelling the Palestinians by force and implementing the systematic and calculated genocidal destruction of the Palestinian population. Each writer instills fear in his respective reader by omitting that reality: Goldhagen by garbing the Palestinian in the starched, meticulously pressed uniform and leather boots of the Nazi storm troopers gathering innocent civilians into boxcars to be transported to the crematoriums and Dan by garbing the illegal policies of the Israeli government in the cloak of righteousness that protects them from certain extermination. Neither addresses the cause of Hamas’ rise to power. Neither speaks to the Palestinians as an oppressed people suffering the racist indignity imposed on them by force by an Israeli government, dependent on extremist elements to remain in power, that inflicts the very threat they present as the fear facing the Jews. Neither links the horrendous suffering of the holocaust Jews – humiliation, torture, powerlessness, and fear – inflicted by a dominant nation bathed in its ineluctable superiority to the present conditions in Palestine as the now dominant power, the Israelis, inflict like suffering on their imprisoned and excluded nemesis.

So now the people of America and the European Union stand athwart the precipice, looking across the gorge at the Palestinians, locked behind 400 miles of steel and concrete, as the prison guards raise specters of fear of their own imminent peril from those imprisoned because they have democratically elected an organization that demands the people of Palestine be accorded respect, personal and political rights, and justice, a perspective quite at odds with that presented by Uri Dan and Daniel Goldhagen.

Is it possible that the Palestinian people understand Hamas to be a political organization that recognizes the reality of conditions forcing it to address the world-wide community of nations about the injustice inflicted on them by Israel, as the PLO and Arafat could not because of concessions made at Oslo and the internal corruption present in that organization? Is it possible that the religious fanatics that gave impetus to the original charter when Hamas represented a small percent of the Palestinian population, not unlike the Gush Emunim fanatics that exist in Israel, have grown beyond that racism as they confronted the reality of Palestinian needs and the political realities existing in Israel/Palestine? Is it possible that Hamas grasps the desperate conditions that confront their people and realizes that the only chance for Palestine to survive is through world wide recognition of their plight, of the horrendous injustice thrust on them by an overpowering enemy that sees their existence as an impediment, pre-ordained by their G-d as destructive of His largesse to His chosen people?

Is it possible that they realize that the only opportunity to breach the prison walls is through international diplomatic envoys that could bring with them the eyes of the world through TV cameras that would disclose to all the humiliating deprivation and suffering imposed on the Palestinians, helpless against the world’s fourth largest military machine, a veritable Missile carrying Goliath strapped with nuclear bombs while F-16s whirl about his head like so many bees, marching over the hills and valleys of Palestine crunching under foot the Davids with sling shots and stones?

Is it possible that Russia’s acceptance of Hamas’ authority as a duly elected representative of the Palestinian people, with recognition coming from Venezuela, Turkey and elsewhere throughout the world, will force the UN itself to address the 169 Resolutions it has passed demanding that Israel grant Right of Return to the refugees, return land taken in their wars according to international law, cease and desist all forms of inhumane collective punishment, including home demolition, destruction of agricultural land, eradication of demographic records, land confiscation, imprisonment without charge or trial, extrajudicial execution, and imposition of illegal laws fostered by the state of Israel on a people that had no hand in devising them, making them not only unjust but morally reprehensible and contrary to eternal and natural law?

In short, the Palestinians have opened a door to quiet revolution by electing into office an organization free of corruption and prior commitments to Israel and the United States as the one hope that their voice might reach the people of the world who have been locked out of contact by the controlling hand of Israel’s IDF that commands Palestinian air space, water access, and land routes through a humiliating network of ID cards, cattle like corrals, colored license plates, cement Walls guarded by armed military in watch towers, electronic chain link fencing that prevents access to Palestinian farms, olive groves, schools, and mosques, and over 217 checkpoints situated throughout Palestinian land. Even as they lock in the Palestinians, the Israelis have locked out the world so that injustice remains invisible to all.

Let us return to John Donne and Fyodor Dostoevsky for a moment. The brilliance of their respective views lies in what propels them to be made: for Donne, knowing the ineluctable spirit that binds all in a seemingly seamless web of interconnectedness, that humans could conceive that they alone exist, that the world is theirs by some divine command, that they have dominion over all existing things, that they are the chosen few excluding all others, that no one has responsibility for another, that each is an island unto self forcing all others to fend in isolation in a world where survival of the fittest trumps all; for Dostoevsky, knowing the proclivity of humans to greed and self-gratification, that someone, anyone, could conceive of self as a dimension of all, that a duty obligates all to find solace through compassion and selflessness, that our very existence as a people depends on a recognition of the spirit that binds all humankind, that only through that recognition can harmony and peace flourish, that the death of one person is a knell that reminds us of our finality, of the binds that tie each to each and reach back to the beginnings of time and propel us forward into the unknown, that destruction of one opens the door to those who would destroy another, and another, and another till chaos reigns.

It is in the choice we make between these two opposing forces that our future as a people rests. Will we seek peace through inclusiveness, through the ties that bind, or will we hate our neighbors, divide and subdue to achieve self gratification only to face what Sharon now faces, the dire darkness of the grave marked by a monument of hideous kind, the gray cement monoliths that cast both the Palestinians and the Israelis into the blackness of isolation and alienation, a monument to mans’ inhumanity to man?

Perhaps this pause before the Israeli elections, knowing now the route the Palestinians would take, the world’s community of nations might reflect on how to deal with this conflict, this unending war of bitterness, of fanatical hate, of cemented minds set in myths, if only because there are new players who might be influenced to seek another route to world peace. Unless we understand why the Palestinians chose Hamas, an organization they knew would be anathema to Israel and the US, we will not grasp the primary reasons why these unfortunate people continue to resist the oppression forced on them. Martin Luther King stated in his letter to his fellow clergymen from the Birmingham jail in 1963, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” That truth captures the reality of human experience, the incredible endurance of the oppressed. Perhaps the world will confront the injustice that exists and realize “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”

Nothing should be more obvious to Americans than the awful truth that they stand in ignorance of the terrible reality that brought Israel into existence and the genocidal actions that have allowed it to confiscate 84% of the land that belonged, only a short 60 years ago, to the Palestinians. Ignorance guides perception: ignorance caused by sloth and disinterest, ignorance caused by intentional obfuscation, ignorance caused by calculated omission; all three exist in America. For Americans to believe that Israel’s very existence is in jeopardy because Palestinians elected Hamas to run their government, or to believe that Israel is a bastion of democracy standing alone against enormous military might in the mid-east that salivates in anticipation of its imminent destruction, is to swallow the myths perpetrated by those who control our media, by our far-right Zionist ministers of fear, and by the military/industrial/Congressional complex that harvests enormous wealth by instilling that fear.

Americans and the world communities must recognize these facts:

  1. Palestinians democratically elected Hamas to govern in a fair and open process that made a mockery of the last two elections held in the US, and in numbers far exceeding those who vote in America.
  2. Because neither US nor Israeli intelligence understood the potential of such an outcome, the candidates backed by Israel and the US failed miserably, forcing these two non-democratic regimes to align themselves in an insidious plan to destroy Hamas. (Steven Erlanger, NYT, 2/14/06)
  3. By coercing the European Union to join them in denying Hamas funding due it from the UN and taxes collected by Israel on their behalf, they intend to destroy the democratic process in Palestine by declaring Hamas a terrorist organization while denying the terrorism both the US and Israel see as their birthright. Indeed, this threat is now reality as Israel has decided it would not send the Taxes to Palestine. (NYT, 2/19/06).
  4. But not all countries will be partners to Israel and the US in their fear campaign. Hamas has the real opportunity to open Palestine to the world. That is their one great victory. They can now invite the governments of the various nations around the world to visit Palestine, get behind the prison Wall erected by Sharon, let the glare of the camera lights show the world what havoc and devastation and humiliation and inhumane deprivation Israel has branded on the Palestinians. Let Israel attempt to stop Putin, Chirac, Chavez and all other world leaders from entering their occupied land; let the world ask what Israel has to hide that they have entombed a people behind steel and concrete.
  5. This is what the US and Israel fear, the openness that comes to a true democratic state through an organization that is not beholden to Israel or the US.
  6. Hamas now can ask through legitimate channels what Arafat could not. Palestine needs the objectivity of the UN and its Peace Keeping forces to stand between Israel and Palestine, stand on the green line until a real contiguous state of Palestine can arise and the fulfillment of the resolutions passed by the UN can be met including right of return.
  7. With the US banding together with Israel to undermine the democratically elected government of Palestine, it’s manifestly clear that the US is in no position to act as an objective force to bring about a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It must remove itself from the quartet and let a new road map be designed through the joint efforts of the UN working with all nations in the mid-east.
  8. Considering that the US has signed an agreement with Israel to defend it should it come under attack, it would appear that the fear Israel generates by pointing at Hamas’ victory is a paper tiger argument designed to bind all Israelis and the American Congress against an enemy that has no army, navy, air force, or the armaments and technology needed to fight the third largest military machine in the world, especially since they are completely surrounded by a wall and live under Israeli occupation forces.
  9. Now that Israel and the US has demanded that Hamas concede to their demands – renounce violence and recognize the right of Israel to exist – Hamas can counter with a like appeal – Israel must recognize the right of Palestine to exist by returning its land as defined by UN Resolution 242 and renounce violence against the Palestinians. Moreover, Hamas can also seek from the UN that it enforce all 160 plus resolutions that Israel has defied including Right of Return.
  10. It should be clear to Hamas, as it is to the world at large, that indiscriminate slaughter by suicide achieves no fruitful results, it turns the desperation of the act against itself and against the Palestinians. Israel thrives on the consequences of that act using it to justify even greater incursions and destruction. Let the world see the wounds that cause the desperation, and the clear air will serve as the healing ointment.

Certainly these points clarify the reality facing the world communities as they feel the pressure of the United States and Israel to dismember the newly elected government of the Palestinians just as they destroyed Arafat and the PLO as a way of providing time to confiscate the remaining land from the Palestinians. To hold up fear of destruction of Israel as a bogeyman when the Israeli military and its mercenary crew of settlers have slaughtered five times as many civilians as the terrorist groups in Palestine as necessitating the destruction of a democratically elected government is to make a mockery of common sense and justice.

Let us record the truth of the stolen land from its beginnings in 1947 to the present; let us watch the gradual but incessant suffocation of a people as their land shrank from 94% in 1946 to 45% in 1947/48 to 22% in 1967 to 12-14% today, from freedom of movement throughout their land to prison lockdown conditions today, from a land mass in 1947/48 that could be considered relatively contiguous to a fragmented, disjointed Bantustan of walled in and completely surrounded areas controlled completely by the oppressors.

What has Israel hid from the world? What truths that brought it into existence have been omitted in the telling? Let’s begin the telling with the words from Zochrot, a group of Israeli citizens working to bring the truth of the tragedy of Nakba to light.

“To commemorate the Nakba in Hebrew so that our language will be more peaceful and just; To witness what was wiped off the face of the earth in order to understand our neighbors’ pain and loss; To acknowledge the Palestinian catastrophes of 1948 and 1967, and thereby to create a peace-seeking Jewish Israeli consciousness.”

I stood beneath a gnarled olive tree on the grounds of the insane asylum the Israelis have planted on what had been Dayr Yasin, one of 418 towns and villages scattered throughout Palestine that were systematically destroyed as the invading Israelis ethnically cleansed “their” historic land of its indigenous population, as two representatives of Zochrot bared their conscience of the destruction wrought by those early Jews on a defenseless people. While the Jews celebrate their “Day of Independence,” they told us, the Palestinians are reminded of the Nakba, the “big catastrophe,” the days of massacre that leveled Dayr Yasin and sent 80% of Palestinians living in the territories, some 700,000 to 800,000 into refugee camps and foreign countries as they were forcefully evicted from their homes and lands.

Now contemplate these words of Walid Khalidi, editor of All That’s Left, an historical and archeological study of those devastated 418 towns and villages. “These villages (They) have remained altogether anonymous to the outside world and might as well never have existed. A dozen or so, though depopulated, were spared or suffered only minor damage. The rest were either totally destroyed or virtually so. They have literally been wiped off the face of the earth. The sites of their destroyed homesteads and graveyards as well as their orchards, threshing floors, wells, livestock, and grazing grounds were all parceled out among Jewish colonies that had been their neighbors or among new ones established afterwards on the erstwhile village lands.” So complete was this devastation that Moshe Dayan could say with all the terrifying Chutzpa of the conqueror, “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages…There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

Lest some object that the Palestinians were told to leave their towns and villages by Arab rulers in neighboring countries or local chiefs, the reality can be presented in Dayan’s own words or in those of Benny Morris, the Israeli historian who has brought to light many of the words that give lie to that belief. But I prefer to use the scholarship of Dr. Uri Davis whose detailed and exhaustive study resulted in Israeli Apartheid, a work that categorically destroys the fabricated myths used to steal Palestinian land. This very month in The Guardian, Dr. Davis wrote these words in a letter responding to Chris McGreal’s “World’s Apart” and “Brothers in arms – Israel’s secret pact with Pretoria.” “In that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli apartheid is a conflict between a settler-colonial state and the indigenous people of the country of Palestine, the Palestinian Arab people. Unlike apartheid South Africa, however, there is no petty apartheid in Israel. The Israeli Parliament strategically set up an apartheid state right from its founding decade: beginning with the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the Law of Return, the Absentees Property Law and the Development Authority Law and through the Covenant Between the Government of Israel and the Jewish National Fund of 1961. This was well before the 1967 war and the subsequent illegal Israeli occupation and annexation of additional territories including the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the Golan heights – all in blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

Place this reality against the Zionist claim that the creation of Israel evolved from a struggle against British forces, a national liberation movement that created an independent state out of Palestine, similar to the struggles that created India, Iraq or Indonesia. Hear M. Shahid Alam rebuttal of this argument: “This Zionist claim to normalcy … is based on two superficial similarities. First, Israel was created as an independent state out of Palestine, a British colony since 1917. Second, after 1945, some of the Jews in Palestine took up arms against the British to force them out of Palestine. … This claim is not tenable: one intransigent fact militates against it. The Jews who created the state of Israel in Palestine were not indigenous to Palestine. Indeed, more than 90% of them were settlers from Europe, having entered Palestine after its conquest by the British in 1917. In the 1940s, the European Jews had a legitimate claim to our sympathy, but, as Europeans, they had no legitimate claim to statehood in Palestine.” (Counterpunch, 10/29/05).

Imbedded in the Zionist claim rests a mythical seed that they, the Chosen, have been granted a parcel of real estate that constitutes in part all of Palestine. That belief supersedes in their mind the facts of history: nearly two thousand years of Palestinian occupation of the land, recognition politically that they are the indigenous people as the PLO serving as their voice at the UN testifies, that even in the 1947 UNGA proposal to divide the land of Palestine, the indigenous people were to have 45% as their own, the existence of international law, and the existence of the UN and its Charter and Conventions to say nothing of its resolutions that condemn Israel for violations against human rights, right of return, and land theft.

In short, for the world communities to accept the Israeli land annexations for military and security reasons, confiscations by Absentees Property Law, and land acquired by the Development Authority Law that isolates land ownership for Jews alone not only denies the rights of the indigenous people who had no hand in the design or implementation of these laws, thus making them virtual slaves in their own land, but presents the absolute absurdity before the world that a small minority of Jews in Israel, a minority of 5.8 million citizens that represent .001% of the world’s population will determine for the world that a population of 8 million indigenous people will no longer own the land they have lived on for close to two thousand years.

Despite that absurdity, indeed because that absurdity has determined the land confiscation in Palestine these past five years of Sharon’s rule as a Zionist minority contingent kept his government in power under threat that they’d force a new election, Israel became a belligerent occupier of Palestinian land and created illegal settlements on their land. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies,” and such action, if carried out, constitutes a “war crime” in article 85 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. Add to that UNSC Resolution 1544 of 2004 that cites Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international law and specifically references the Palestinian territories occupied since 1947, including East Jerusalem, and Israeli defiance of the UN and the world’s attempts to create laws that would govern all gives way to Israeli Law that claims to have annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (see UNSC Resolution 252). Thus does a small minority that asserts beliefs grounded in myth and superstition rule the world and destroy the rights of a people.

Given comments made by America’s outgoing ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer on Israeli radio, September 18, 2005, “The United States will support the retention by Israel of areas with a high concentration of Israelis.” The Bush regime, acting in our name, will be complicit in this land theft and war crime. What does this mean in practical terms? Americans pay for this land theft and for the infrastructure that makes possible the settlements despite claims to the contrary. According to Karin Friedemann and Joachim Martillo in “bridgenews.org” “The US government funds Israel’s ongoing program to remove the native population of Palestine, primarily Muslims and Christians, and supplant them with European-American Jewish colonists. Our tax dollars facilitate this ethnic cleansing and colonization of Occupied Palestine.” As an enticement to resettle, the Israeli government subsidizes mortgages and provides interest rates lower than anything available elsewhere funded by Israeli bonds underwritten by the US through loan guarantees, a process our government might consider for our New Orleans residents.

Since Israel has invested in excess of 14 billion in the development of these settlements that exist illegally on stolen land, and since that investment includes thousands of acres for future development, all encircled by the inflammable wall, it is clear that Israel will never return the land it has confiscated from the original owners. (see Mark Lavie, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/3/06)

It should be clear by now that Israel had and continues to have designs to confiscate as much Palestinian land as possible as it erases the visible presence of the indigenous people from the hills and valleys of Palestine. It began by erasing the memory and physical presence of the population that lived in the 418 towns and villages depopulated and/or destroyed completely by bulldozers in 1947/8, erasing in the process the deeds and resident papers that told of their rights and existence; it erased their memory. It continued in the 1967 war with its “capture” and occupation of all Palestinian land except the West Bank and Gaza, two heavily populated areas distant from each other. It moved insidiously into settlement development and expansion following the 1968 occupation of Hebron by Israeli military. “Today about 500 settlers are living in the four Israeli settlements in Hebron’s Old City,” many in homes that had belonged to Palestinians. (Occupation in Hebron, AIC 2004). Today, in the West Bank, 246,000 settlers reside in 116 settlements, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews. “The World Court brands all settlements illegal. … An additional 200,000 Jews live in Arab East Jerusalem, also captured in the 1967. Palestinians, numbering 240,000 in East Jerusalem, want it for the capital of a future state. Israel annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.” (Ori Lewis, Reuters, 8/26/05).

Needless to say, Israel pays no attention to the international community even as it obsequiously slithers into the UN attempting to gain a seat on the Security Council. What irony that a state that defies the UN to the tune of 160 resolutions should sit on a council judging other states as not complying with UN resolutions, a state like Iraq that defied 16 according to our President. Considering a recent secret British document made public November 25, 2005, released by The Guardian, Israel rushed to annex the Arab area of Jerusalem using illegal settlement construction and the Wall to prevent it from becoming a Palestinian capital. The British report notes that this action jeopardizes “the prospect of a peace agreement by trying to put the future of Arab East Jerusalem beyond negotiation and risks driving Palestinians living in the city into radical groups… Israeli activities in Jerusalem are in violation of both its Roadmap obligations and international law.” Now wouldn’t one think that if the British government can make such unequivocal points about Israeli action that they could bring these charges before the United Nations, having first convinced the Bush administration that it should remain silent on the issue since it is not an objective participant as it remains a partner to Israeli expansion, and make evident before the world how defiant Israel remains, how isolated from the thinking that governs the states that compose the UN community of nations and abide by international law and the UN Charter?

Shouldn’t it be clear by now, today, that Israel and its obedient partner in war crime, the United States, has no intentions of seeking peace with the Palestinians? How else maintain an unending war of terror? How else fuel division, hatred, vengeance, retaliation and destruction than to systematically strangle by slow, insidious suffocation the rights of a people declared openly in a mutually accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How else continue expansion and acquisition of another’s land than to foster violence with violence and cry aloud to the world your pain even as the cries and torment of the Palestinians is muffled behind the Wall of Fear Sharon leaves as his memorial to a lifetime of savagery and death?

Now, as this monstrous monument to human depravity encircles the Palestinians, as it lumbers over hills, slithers into barren valleys, slices its way through groves and fields of fruit and vegetables, cuts towns in two, indeed, cuts families apart, deprives children of access to their schools and families from their mosques, as it steals 60% of the agricultural land of the citizens of Bil’in and other villages and forces farmers in Jayyous to walk for hours to get to their olive trees if the IDF consents to open the only gate of access, it also serves to protect the illegal squatters that live in American subsidized homes curried with lush grounds and foliage and ensures them that their settlements can expand for years to come, that they will have full access to the stolen water, that their refuse can be hauled to a dump in the very village from which they stole their land, that they can rest assured that they can safely destroy the groves and produce of the Palestinian farmers because the IDF will stand guard as they do so, and that they will go to their grave knowing they made possible in this age of Enlightenment, a term they deride, the complete encirclement of a people making possible their eventual extermination in the full “glare of the electronic mass media.” (All That Remains).

This 400 miles of fear, stretched around the Palestinians like a taut steel belt constricting their every move, breeds the very seeds of vengeance that makes peace impossible, not only because it suffocates the spirit that through hope gives purpose to life, but because it strangles the moral fiber of the Jewish faith, that grew so strong from the middle of the last century it became a code of conduct, by inflicting on another what their forebears suffered so ignominiously at the hands of the Nazis. Both peoples are forced into a nadir of destructive action creating in that wake a vortex of anguish that engulfs the world.

That thought brings us back to the compelling words of John Donne and Fyodor Dostoevsky: do we create a world where survival of the fittest trumps all or do we seek the ineluctable spirit that binds all in a seemingly seamless web of interconnectedness? This we know, virtually each and every Palestinian has raised his or her voice by marking the ballot for a group that supports their fundamental needs as humans, a group they knew would not be accepted by Israel or the US, yet they voted overwhelmingly for Hamas. Why? Because they have no alternative. Arafat could bring no resolution to the conflict; the PLO could not negotiate peace under Abbas; the Israelis continue to build the wall, to steal their land, to defy the UN, indeed, to defy the United States that whimpers its objection and then pays for its construction, and no one stops them, because Israel has by completing the Wall stolen 58% of the West Bank leaving Palestinians only 14% of the land they owned only 60 years ago. This, too, we know, Israel cries to the world, and especially to the citizens of America, that they are in imminent danger of being destroyed by the menace Hamas casts through its charter, that they are surrounded by a sea of Arabs intent on their eradication, that they are helpless before this inevitable force. What hypocrisy.

Hamas, as is true of every Palestinian, is locked in an Israeli prison, guarded outside and inside by Israeli IDF that mans gates throughout the length and breadth of the wall, that mans 217 checkpoints inside the West Bank, that controls the airspace, that controls the sea border in Gaza and the river access in the West bank, that has taken all of the West Bank land on the east as a “security” area, that has cut the West Bank into three Bantustans surrounded by Israeli forces, and that controls everything that goes in and out of Palestine including food stuffs, products, information, cameras, all methods of communication, and all people, those wishing to leave and those wishing to enter. Israel has the most advanced weaponry in the world, state of the art implements of devastation provided by the United States, and it has actively attacked other states including Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon; it continues to occupy others’ land; it has used $300,000 missiles to assassinate a man, regardless of the consequences to innocent humans standing nearby, an example of its inhumane and illegal military power inflicted on a helpless people, in short, it has demonstrated for the world that it will preemptively destroy; and for all these realities, it wants the world to turn away as it cries that it is in jeopardy of continued existence. What hypocrisy.

Israel alone can bring about peace. It can make the US turn to peace; it can stop its belligerence against a virtually unarmed people; it can stop and remove all the settlements; it can withdraw from Palestinian land; it can return all stolen land; it can tear down the prison wall it has erected; it can seek UN peace keepers to watch the removal of its forces, to sit with the new government of Palestine to ensure that they will abide by non-violence as their homeland is returned to them, to work amiably with the UN over a prolonged period of time to make sure that the new Palestinian state takes control of its own affairs; and it can let the world see that it wants to be an honest and cooperative member of the world community by abiding by international law and the conventions of the United Nations not by forcing on the world the myths of a minority that disbelieves the laws that govern in the 21st century as readily as they believe that they have an historic God-given right to land belonging to others.

That would be a direction much to be desired, a direction that John Donne knew in his heart as the only means to peace, a world where all understand that “any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde.” But there is another route, a route to unending havoc and destruction, not just in Palestine but throughout the world as those united in ancient beliefs clash, forcing the rest of the world into political chaos. That’s the route Dostoevsky saw when he noted, “It’s just one’s neighbors…that one can’t love, though one might love those at a distance.” But in our world distance has evaporated as our technology has advanced to force on others what we knew only distantly before; now we confront neighbors we really did not know and could “love” according to the good book, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” only to find that what could be loved Platonically cannot live in our world of greed and self-love. So now, in this hiatus month between the respective elections in Palestine and Israel, the world waits to see if Israelis will vote to stop the infliction of the will of the Zionists on the Palestinians and the world or to bring about the final days of the Palestinians as they complete the strangulation they started so many decades ago.

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Quite obviously the hiatus that gave birth to the above reflections did not bear fruit. The behavior of the Zionist forces from 2006 to now remains the modus operandi of the State of Israel. It remains then for our purposes here to ruminate on the nature of the beast that can impose such brutality on its own.

It occurred to me, therefore, that we might begin these reflections with an ancient tale that captures the wonder and mystery of the exploration while it forces reflection on the consequences that ensue should we ignore the psychological, intellectual, religious and societal entanglements that invariably follow unexamined, irresponsible, soulless behavior.

“With these words he cursed me, this Nazarene
And now I’m just waiting for this world to burn!
Forever I wander, forever alone
Until the Judgment Day…”
(The Wandering Jew Lyrics, Reverend Bizarre)

 On January 19, the second day of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza following its unilateral declaration of a cease fire that brought a halt to three weeks of unrestrained and relentless decimation of the imprisoned people, Ehud Olmert was photographed at the Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait, head thrown back in uproarious laughter as Italy’s Berlusconi smiled approvingly while fondling his shoulders as he stood behind him. In his article on the 20th, titled “Posturing and laughter as victims rot,” Robert Fisk observed “ Palestinians (were) carrying the decomposing corpses of their dead” while Olmert reveled in his rest and relaxation from the arduous task of killing hundreds upon hundreds of children, oblivious it would seem to the lives he had destroyed.

Perhaps we have witnessed the most recent sighting of the wandering Jew of ancient legend, a mysterious personage last recorded in Utah in 1868 by a follower of the Mormon faith. Legend suggests that a Jerusalem shoemaker taunted Jesus on the way to crucifixion only to be rebuked when told, you “will go on forever till I return.” Hence the “Eternal Jew” forced to wander without hope of rest in death till the millennium. The legend swiftly became a metaphor in literary art finding life in German as well as Romance speaking countries from the early 1600s to the 1800s. So what does it mean and how does the wandering of Ehud Olmert reflect that of the Medieval Wandering Jew?

In 1846, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote “A Virtuoso’s Collection,” an exotic tale of the strange and fantastic. The collection of the title is a virtual museum of human history represented by artifacts that have become the hallmarks of a time, a people or a civilization. As Hawthorne’s narrator returns to the door by which he entered, he seeks to know the Virtuoso that has been his guide and tutor on this unique journey through human endeavor. He makes this observation:

I fancied … that there was a bitterness indefinably mingled with his tone, as of one cut off from natural sympathies, and blasted with a doom that had been inflicted on no other human being, and by the results of which he had ceased to be human. Yet … it seemed one of the most terrible consequences of that doom, that the victim no longer regarded it as a calamity, but had finally accepted it as the greatest good that could have befallen him. “You are the Wandering Jew!” exclaimed I.

Hawthorne uses the legend to capture that mystery of behavior that has haunted writers for centuries, a mystery that still befuddles our scientists that search for an explanation for actions that seem devoid of “natural sympathies,” actions that elicit no response to human suffering, emotional or psychological, to physical pain and anguish, to loss of those loved, a child, a son or daughter, a father or mother, actions inflicted for no perceivable reason, where guilt has not been determined nor compassion considered. The legend captures the man that witnesses the suffering of the innocent, the Christ bearing His cross though guilty of nothing but the spirit of human compassion for his brothers and sisters, the sacrifice of atonement, yet mocks the innocent to “go on quicker,” for the Wanderer “is linked with the realities of this earth… to what I can see, and touch, and understand, and I ask for no more.” Nothing can stand in his way as he rushes through life acquiring all that this world can offer, and at any expense, regardless of his impact on others. “The soul is dead within him,” Hawthorne proclaims, the natural sympathy for his fellow humans does not exist.

For three weeks the people of the world watched as the Zionist government of Israel systematically engineered the execution of more than 1300 people and wounded or maimed for life more than 5000, people locked inside a cage unable to protect themselves even by running away, for there was no place to run that the Israeli military could not see or destroy. Indeed, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, simply categorized Gazan civilians as “fighters” and their towns and villages “military bases,” thus enabling the IDF to continue its indiscriminate slaughter. Yet her approach to this illegal invasion pales by comparison with Olmert’s colleague in his government, Avigdor Lieberman, who reflected that the government should drop an atomic bomb on them as the US did in Hiroshima. These are the faces that do not see the faces of those they mutilate and kill. Israeli TV blurs the images of the dead children and mothers lest they offend the citizens’ sensibilities. It is this reality that brings to mind the ancient legend of the Wandering Jew.

How does one explain, no, how does one understand the mind capable of such gross, calculated and unmitigated horror? What people could sit in beach chairs, binoculars in hand, sipping Pepsis, and watch as the F-16s hurled $300,000 missiles into apartment buildings, university science buildings, United Nations storage facilities, mosques and schools, and family homes, totally absorbed in the splendor of the devastation? What minds could conceive the slow and methodical siege that locked the people of Gaza in their cage, unable to leave, unable to acquire necessary water or food or medicine, unable to find work, unable to control the sewage that poured into the streets and sea since they were unable to repair the destroyed infrastructure of their country and forced thereby to endure hours and days without electricity and water, forced to live in darkness while the occupying army sent sound breaking aircraft over head to shatter the silence of the night, forced to stand in lines for food, water, gasoline when and if available, forced to humble themselves before the invading army that struck at will … actions of a sick mind that has no relation to the presence let alone the existence of fellow humans, only the dementia that finds merit in witnessing the pain of another’s suffering.

Hawthorne grappled with this image of the lost soul, severed from the roots that carry all in the concept of humanity, where each is a brother or a sister to another and to all; where the teachings of the faiths that sustain humankind across the globe find love and compassion the fundamental life force that binds all and gives meaning to all; where mercy and kindness serve to heal and advance the commonweal; where the island that is this planet unites all humankind in bonds of necessary and never ending ties if there is to be a future for our children; this is the source of the human spirit that emanates from one all embracing soul that is the common experience of all that must endure the suffering and pain that is this life suffused and made endurable by the springs of love that give joy to the world. This is a concept that requires of all, sharing of all things, that each might survive despite the ravages of time and circumstance. It is the essence of all faiths that truly believe in the human spirit and the uncertainties that control our lives. It finds repulsive, as a consequence, those who seek to destroy the unity of spirit that binds all together in favor of personal gain, sought in the material acquisitions made possible in this world, regardless of the havoc wrought to achieve their ends.

The image of the Wandering Jew reflects that person who abandons his fellows for personal gain, who forfeits human love and compassion for the artifacts of this world gained at any expense, satisfied with the acquisition of wealth, of position, of power even when achieved by devastation and death since ultimately only he exists and all routes to his end are achieved. All humans are expendable and are, then, by definition inferior to the man free of moral or spiritual restraints.

The Wandering Jew is then, as metaphor, another rendering of the story of Cain who slew his brother, for which act he was cursed by God Almighty to wander the earth a fugitive. Why? “Listen to Cain as he walks beside his brother along the path of death: ‘There is no judgment and no judge and no world to come! No reward will be given to the righteous nor any account given of the wicked.’ Such is the belief of those who would declare their independence of any responsibility for their brother, accept any blame for their deception as they accompany him to his death, or bear any guilt for the wickedness they inflict. Without judgment for behavior determined as good or bad, without reward for acts of love or compassion, without retribution for evil and wickedness against his brother, Cain is free to do what he wills to do… Thus did Cain’s intent – satiating his selfishness, appeasing his jealousy, releasing his aggression – reveal the disconnect between his inherent evil and his higher nature” (Cook, The Rape of Palestine 311-315).

The Wandering Jew, like Cain, is Everyman. We are what we will to be: Cain or Abel, with a soul or without one, sympathetic to our fellows or indifferent, human or non-human. That is the metaphor of Melville’s Ahab, of Marlowe’s Faust, of Conrad’s Kurtz, of Hawthorne’s Doctor Rappaccini, of Bunyan’s Demas; it is the conflict inherent in everyman that has intrigued writers from the beginning of time, the chasm of duality that walks the earth, the body and the spirit, selfishness or selflessness, the ego dominant over all regardless of the consequences, the self inflicted wound that separates soul from body, and in that identity declares that he has attained the greatest good, to be not human, the ultimate loss of identity. Emptiness, mad.

Every civilization has had its Cain, its Ahab, its Wandering Jew. The image of Olmert laughing while the mother digs through the rubble of her home captures the cold-hearted man responsible for that death, that Mother’s pain, that instance that mirrors thousands of others piled high in Gaza, but it fails to capture the reality of the metaphor that has to encompass the devastation wrought in the name of Israel that stains the very soul of Judaism.

Compare these three weeks of merciless killing to the Nazis at the Warsaw ghetto; compare it to the wanton rain of death that leveled Dresden, the erasure of 64 Japanese cities and towns before the dropping of the atomic bombs, Nixon’s Christmas bombing of Cambodia. Choose the atrocity that people allow their governments to shower on the innocent. Argue that we have no control over the governments that act in our name, but witness the weeping child that we have failed to protect, witness the dead child cradled in the arms of its father his face contorted with grief, witness the maimed lying in the hospital bed no longer able to walk or see or hold a fork, witness what we will not let ourselves see, what we then tolerate as our military executes its duty imposed by our governments, witness and understand how we become complicit in their crimes, how we become the Wandering Jew, the Ahab, the Kurtz, the non-human.

In my lifetime, the science and technology of mass slaughter has reached levels of devastation beyond comprehension. Citizens can no more see the millions killed by atomic slaughter than the pilots that dropped the bomb from 25,000 feet. Computer controlled aircraft hurl incendiary missiles into crowded streets, white phosphorus falls from the sky turning black the skin it lands on, cluster bombs lay strewn on the fields of Lebanon awaiting the children that will play with them, bulldozers without drivers crush homes beneath their blades of death and destruction, and no one is allowed to see what havoc is wrought in their name. No longer does the Wandering Jew refer to a person, no longer does Cain kill his brother standing alone on the hillside, the metaphor does not hold. Cain is a nation complicit in its barbarity, Kurtz is the corporation that builds the instruments of death, the Wandering Jew is the soul of humans that stand by silent in their complicity content to see no evil and hear no evil, unable then to speak against that evil.

Olmert’s soulless Zionist government mirrors the state and becomes its identity. The world stands in horror at what that state has inflicted on a defenseless people, what Neve Gordon referred to as “raising animals for slaughter on a farm.” It gave Israel a chance to test its weapons from land, sea and air without fear of retaliation of any meaningful kind accept the peoples’ desire to live despite the ruthlessness of their invasion.

The people of Gaza will succeed because they will life. Their suffering will cry out to the people of the world and the world will respond in sympathy for that is the moral imperative that unites all on this earth. But just as Israel’s viciousness destroys Gaza, so in equal measure does it infect its own people with that viciousness. The very image of the Jewish people is threatened, their identity, their character, their uniqueness as a people; it is in the words of Yossi Melman ‘an image (of itself) of a madman that has lost it.”

Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak haKohen Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine before the existence of the state of Israel, wrote of four harmonies of the human spirit. The first two proclaim the essence of the Jewish soul tied to the land of ancient Palestine. His teachings are uniquely focused on the Jewish faith, a Zionism of Jewish morality that stands in contrast to the secular forces currently running that state. But if Israel were to turn to his expansive thoughts as expressed in his last two harmonies, the potential for meaningful harmony between Jew and Palestinian might be possible.

These are the last two: “A third man’s soul expands beyond the Jewish people to sing the song of man, his spirit embraces all humanity, majestic reflection of God; And a fourth is transported still higher, uniting the entire universe with all creatures, and all worlds, with all of these does he sing …” This is the soul of Judaism that is now lost to self and the world. The harmony taught in the Psalms, “The earth is founded upon mercy,” (Ps. 89:13), the love taught in Leviticus, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Lev. 19:18), the value of the earth, “given to man to use and protect,” the prohibition against wasteful destruction and care for the needy, “That the poor of the people may eat,” (Exodu. 23:11), these teachings have been the gift of the Jews to all men and women as they have shared their existence in all nations over eons of time, the very counterpoint of the image of the legendary Wandering Jew.

What if the nation of Israel should return to these values, to see in the Palestinians neighbors’ deserving of recognition and love, deserving of their land that has been given to man to use and protect, deserving of care and compassion that the poor of the earth may eat. What if the harmonies envisioned by Rabbi Kook were to guide the Israeli state so that the historical heritage of the Jews that has so aided the world in overcoming racism, prejudice, segregation, poverty and inequality everywhere might become the lantern of peace in Palestine and these two peoples, cradled in decades of animosity and vengeance, might find reconciliation in the land both love, respect and worship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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