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To the Loyal Followers of Reuven Ben Shalom
William A. Cook

Loyal followers of Reuven Ben Shalom’s articles in the Post will remember his last one of 01/22/2015, “Good Palestinians, evil Israelis.” In it he refers to a three hour luncheon he had with his father’s teacher at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 56 years ago. I am that teacher.

How strange, indeed how unusual that a young student and a slightly older teacher would reconnect 49 years later through the magic of internet, reconnect on different continents in circumstances uniquely different both physically, intellectually, and psychologically yet retain memories from another time and another place that created a bond between them. Now put yourself across the lunch table from that man’s son, a veteran of 25 years in the IDF and now a writer for the Jerusalem Post. His life is uniquely different from his father’s and certainly different from the father’s teacher.

When his father was a student, the United States was in the midst of a citizens’ revolution in Civil Rights, a revolution attempting to right the wrongs of a discriminated population, and that revolution expanded in time to ensure the rights of women and to disobedience against their government for a wrongful war in Vietnam. I mention this because my understanding of the American Jewish population was informed by the active participation of Jews in that movement on behalf of human rights, and some gave their lives for that commitment.

In 2001 George Bush and his Cheney led administration took America to war in the mid-east using lies as a pretext and in the process destroyed the principles upon which the American nation existed. And he did this in collusion with Ariel Sharon. I began my excursion into the “conflict” between the Israelis and the Palestinians as an anti-Bush Administration American. The American taxpayer was paying for Sharon’s settlements and the wall, not to seek peace with the indigenous population, but to isolate them while they stole land under the guise of “security.”

Truth is evasive; it is constructed with the mortar of words, and words are well used or abused depending on the temperament and principles of the user. There are many ways not to tell the truth: omission, deceit, lying, intentional deception, coercion, and absolute power among them. The ultimate truth is one: each and every life is sacred. Jews understand this as their engagement in the US revolution attests and as the True Torah Jews and the Jews for Peace in Palestine attests to day. Your own commandments, handed down by Moses, state this simple and everlasting truth and commands that all act in accordance with it, “Thou shalt not kill.” How then explain what is taking place in Palestine?

The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction, (Macmillan publishers in 2010,) contains 32 chapters by world known authors detailing the continuation in the 21st century of “slow motion genocide” against the people of Palestine by the Zionist forces that rule in Israel. Interestingly, Reuven quotes from the English Department’s biography of me as a professor at the university: (He) “refers to Israel as the 51st state of the US, and calls it ‘an apartheid state determined to destroy the Palestinian people.’” What he does not include is the phrase that comes before that quoted piece, a sin of omission perhaps: “…the Zionist forces that have turned Israel into an apartheid state determined to destroy the Palestinian people.” That is an intentional distinction and its truth rests on the research that is referred to in the Introduction to that edited volume where the actions of the Zionists controlling the Jewish Agency in the 1930s and 1940s as they worked to undo the British Mandate in Palestine are revealed in their own words through documents seized by the Mandate Police and preserved in the archives of the Rhodes House collection in Oxford. The reason I was in Israel to meet with Reuven and his father was to research the Haganah Archives that hold a substantial number of Mandate Police records not available in the British Archives that I have also used.

My work depends on verification wherever I can find it. When generalizations are made about my work without references to where the data comes from or what rationale exists to substantiate it, truth vanishes: truth becomes a detractor’s opinion colored by his background and allegiances and indoctrination. Let me illustrate.

1. Reuven states: “He even believes that the kingdoms of David and Solomon ‘were and are but myths.’” But he fails to say that I referred to the works of Finkelstein and Silberman, two Israeli researchers, who describe the mythological reality in their works:
As Finkelstein and Silberman cite, the figure of David (shepherd, warrior, and divinely protected king) and of his son, Solomon (a great builder, wise judge, and serene ruler of a vast empire) have become timeless models of righteous leadership and God’s sanction. They contend that the archaeological discoveries of recent decades have shown “how far from the glamorous scriptural portraits the actual world of David and Solomon was.” They also posit that many of the famous episodes in the biblical story are highly exaggerated. Although it seems possible that David and Solomon were actual historical characters, they were very different from their scriptural portraits. Finkelstein and Silberman offer evidence that it is unlikely that David ever conquered land more than two days’ march from the heartland of Judah and that Solomon’s Jerusalem was “neither extensive nor impressive.” Their point is to show how the legends of David and Solomon developed and how they came to guide Western thinking and shape Western religious and political traditions in important ways. George Cohen

(David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition– April 3, 2007. Israel Finkelstein and, Neil Asher Silberman). May I also note that these same authors, in The Bible Unearthed, disclose that the Exodus is not true but a tale used by the writers of the Exodus that comes from other civilizations. “The Bible is essentially a work of propaganda weaving, historical fragments, and myths of various Canaanite peoples into a powerful justification for Josiah’s rule and expansionist policies…

I personally draw a positive conclusion from this research. As an American-Jew, I have long struggled with the contradictions and problems of Zionism and the unjust policies of the State of Israel towards Palestinians. For those brave enough to seize this research in the right spirit, there is a solution in it for the problems of the Middle East. Simply stated, European Jews, Middle Eastern Jews, and Palestinians are brothers and sisters and share a common Canaanite ancestry. There were a small number of voices amongst the early Zionists who were against the creation of a separate Jewish state in the region. They lost out to the bigger faction lead David Ben-Gurion, who suffered from the disease of European colonialism” (Larry Saltzman review).
As you can see, I am not alone in understanding the evidence that research offers. Why hide from it?

2. “The allegation of a massacre having taken place during the battle of Jenin in 2002 has long since been refuted by international organizations. But Bill Cook still talks of ‘the Jenin massacre’ as if it were a fact.” Reuven questions my use of the term “massacre.”

Yet a general definition of the word states: “the unnecessary, indiscriminate killing of a large number of human beings.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). What is a large number? Are the numbers the only criteria? In my book, The Rape of Palestine, I explain how that term has evolved with the inclusion in the UN Charter of the meaning of “genocide” as it was adapted after the Holocaust as a means of preventing future actions of like kind by nations; it was the Jews experience that gave Raphael Lemkin his definition.

“The International Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on December 9, 1948 set the United Nations definition of genocide:
General Assembly Resolution 260A (III) Article 2.

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Numbers are not mentioned even when “Genocide” is defined. Massacre is either used as a noun or a verb to depict actions against people. Every life is sacred; all 194 nations of the UN signed this definition and accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when they joined that organization.

I wrote a one act morality play titled, The Agony of Colin Powell in 2004. If you go to my web log (Billcook’s web log) you can click on the “Study Guide” for the play. It contains references to the Jenin massacre because Powell was deeply involved in doing nothing about it. Read Robert Fisk’s article, a man who knows something about massacres since he reported on the Sabra and Shatila massacres as he stumbled on the partly buried bodies slaughtered by the Phalanges with the approval of Ariel Sharon as the Israeli Kahan Commission ruled. I might also point out that your own Simon Peres serving as Foreign Minister then worried about the “expected international reaction as soon as the world learns the details of the tough battle in the Jenin refugee camps where more than 100 Palestinians have already been killed…” Peres called this a massacre. (Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, Haaretz, 4/9/2).

3. I trust the above demonstrates that if one took the trouble to check they would find that my references to actions and events are constructed on solid evidence, not that they are, as Reuven suggests, “factually baseless or warped” …”or “a multitude of false allegations, misunderstandings and things taken out of context or blown way out of proportion.” Even my literary works, The Unreasoning Mask, like The Agony of Colin Powell and The Chronicles of Nefaria, are built on factual matters and events. Should one care to they can find a Master’s thesis from a Moroccan graduate student that details the people, places and events in Nefaria as they depict real people or places or events. Nefaria is an allegory that was inspired by an article I wrote, “Life inside the Entombment Wall.” It is available in Arabic translation as well. It depicts a Prime Minister in a coma as he relives his life of wickedness, for he is the Prime Minister of Wickedness.

4. Let me end with this observation Reuven made: “It was an incredible lesson for me to see how someone can make something his life’s work, and end up with a completely distorted understanding of it. Bill came here searching for historic archives to prove Israel’s immorality, yet refused to accept my own living-history testimony as to our ethics and values.”

As a searcher for truth about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I cannot expect to understand it listening to a person who speaks virtuously about his position and expects that he speaks for the nation of Israel. The people of the world have seen and been appalled by the 51 days of devastation inflicted on the people of Gaza by the Zionist power willingly using every advanced military device known to humans against a caged people who cannot run or fly or hide from that devastation, a treatment that goes beyond the pale of proportionate retaliation. How does the world know this? Evidence is everywhere : to those caught in the maelstrom of fire and brimstone in the streets of Gaza, to those opening the pages of their local papers everywhere but in America and witness the photographs that catch the horror, and to the evidence from B’tselem and Amnesty International and even the Palestinian Human Rights Council that publishes the names and ages of the dead. We certainly do not get it from the Zionist Prime Minister when he tried valiantly to transfer the blame to Hamas in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

“…the pictures out of Gaza are heart wrenching and painful, the painful pictures of children dying… and the thousands of refugees. What goes through your mind when you see that?” Bibi’s answer is not the “banality of evil” that Hanna Arendt saw as she witnessed Eichmann’s answers at his trial, an evil of “stupidity” that excluded rational thought.

“Hamas targets civilians, we don’t… They want to pile up as many dead as they can…the more dead the better”
How explain this mindset? How controlled is this man by his own self-devoted professional promotion to believe he can convince the people of the world that his use of flechette bombs that explode above the ground spreading their steel needles into anything within striking distance, bombs designed to kill and mutilate living beings, mock his pretend weeping before Blitzer when asked “what goes through your mind?” and he says “Very sad,, we’re sad for every civilian casualty, they’re not intended…Hamas targets civilians…” But there he stands contradicted by the weaponry employed, yet he shows no signs of remorse, no acceptance of his own guilt, no shame at the amorality of his actions, no mercy. (see “Transference of Evil,” William A. Cook, August 24, 2914).

My research in the archives, including the Haganah archives named after a terrorist entity that blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem killing 91 innocent civilians in a false flag attack that put the blame on Arabs, testifies to the blind commitment of men, by oath to the death, to bring the state of Israel into existence. The Judaic faith does not condone murder of innocents; it rather strives for equity for all and for the rights of all. Zionism by contrast uses Judaism and its religious beliefs to lay claim to land given to them by the God of Abraham, but that abuse of religious faith has destroyed a people with impunity. The International Laws that govern the intent of the United Nations is defied by Israel and the US as the more than 100 resolutions passed by the UNGA testifies. Neither the people of Israel nor the people of the United States have the power to control their governments. We become hapless victims of silence to the evil wrought by those who have taken power in our respective nations.

My luncheon with Reuven touched me deeply. I had never expected or even thought about the possibility of having lunch with a former student, especially one I taught 56 years ago. Across from me sat a life renewed in the son, a blessing that endures generations. But for every Reuven that thrives there are sons who do not, and there are fathers in Gaza who have no sons to greet in the morning sun, no Mothers to embrace the returning son, no sister to grab his hand and sing. That luncheon made real for me the sacredness of life, each and every one.

Yet even as I write these words I can hear the guttural throat of the naysayer tell me “Get over it!” Life’s a hell. Save yourself. But if it is that voice I must hear because they take control, and since they offer nothing to this world but unending war, I must reject their council which is a rejection of life. And indeed, if the council of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, offered in the same issue of the Jerusalem Post that carried Reuven’s column about our lunch, is to be heeded, the Jewish people would agree with me for the “role of the Jewish nation…is to be a ‘light unto nations,’ to lead all of humanity to faith and values of charity, justice and good deeds which we learn from the Torah, its stories, and its commandments.’”

For silence is complicity in that evil and it is the responsibility of the people, as Herman Melville cries in Moby Dick, to “speak truth to the face of falsehood.”

Virgin Atlantic

William A. Cook

Stories rarely begin above the Atlantic though they happen there. We found that out, didn’t we? Two old men randomly commenting about this or that before the flight took off from LAX to Heathrow. Neither knew or probably cared about the other till chance took hold for the ten hours that intervened. But that’s the beginning of a story isn’t it? A question asked, rhetorical even, no answer anticipated, yet it leads to another and then another. How strange then to meet a man who found ultimate refuge in this 21st century in an abandoned light house on a jut of land that faced the coast of Normandy, across the straits, echoed across the millenniums, in the ebb and flow of human forlornness. What unexpectedness creates a story out of the casual conversation of total strangers who weave meaning out of nothingness.

There were no answers when we began to probe the whys of an abandoned light house nor any expectation that a rationale existed. Yet behind that move, the change in the value of the pound for those retired forced decisions into the unknown of what would be, by virtue of a lottery, and a bid, on property unseen yet within reach, happened. And so the future evolved as unexpectedly as the reality, caught as it turned out between a nuclear plant adjacent to the lighthouse, indeed residing in its back yard, and the unrelenting reality of the churning channel of the Dover Sea that moved ineluctably beyond the front door as it had done for centuries before the building of the lighthouse. How strange that image as it bulged into my mind, those enormous contrasts of cement enormity and human will against the eternal power of the channel that split England from France before they were England and France.

And so our conversation continued as we flew beyond time devouring the miles beneath us unconscious of those below or the irony of this day that told of a tsunami in Japan that devastated a nuclear plant sending untold thousands to their deaths and others to refuge beyond homes lost to the sea. What connections in the mind bring those lives lost this day to mind before the mind knew of them and yoked them now in this conversation that wraps the globe in the never ending sound of the seas ebb and flow of love and loss.

Are our realities an intricately woven fabric of thoughts strung together in time and circumstance and you, Martin, become a person of my own design because you sit next to me by some circumstance of seat allocation arranged by a software designer playing God. What did he know of the tsunami, or the nuclear plant that sat on the shore of Japan North of Tokyo as your home sits on the edge of the channel awaiting perhaps the clash of the plates that slide beneath the land masses we now call England and Normandy.

How many unknowns determine what is awaiting the confluence of facts and figures, frustrations and fears to assemble that we might unravel this mysterious stew to understand or not understand. It was then, Martin, that you explained the purpose of your trip to the United States, a trip that would take you to some unidentified location between Barstow and Las Vegas where a lone gambling casino sat in the street, isolated from all but the landscape of rising and falling hills and valleys of salmon colored sand stretching for endless miles beyond sight and sound until they merged with the light blue sky. That very scene you sought as refuge against the unrelenting wind stirred by the low clouds that hovered above your lighthouse home wind-whipped by the sea.

Stranger still, that as you flew from this refuge of isolation in the barren wastes of America’s desert, ironically transforming Nature’s meadows into a Mecca for thousands seeking fortunes as limitless as the sands that stretched beyond the horizon, you found the most startling revelation of your trip, the throbbing of the northern lights pulsating through the night sky as the plane made its way home to Britain. How rare and marvelous, how exciting and unexpected to witness this marvel of our universe encapsulate the entire globe in a wonder of greenish glow awakening us to the aura of the Almighty as He appears in the glorious aurora borealis. How that magnificence touched you as you craned your neck back to drink in its wonder witnessing it from above as though you were an angel of the Lord enveloped in the manifest glory that is God. What determined this interruption of the sea’s dominance that drove you to the desert with a display of illuminating magnificence that altered forever the expectation of this vacation?

Could it be that we are driven by geography, that our behavior seeks exposure to what we do not know or rarely see? You said, didn’t you, that it had been twenty years since you were in America and last felt the warmth of the intense heat and looked at the flowing desert that flamed out beneath the setting sun. How impossible to grasp purpose and meaning in 6000 miles of travel to seek the silence of a barren landscape where only the wind’s whisper speaks to the ear. Yet I, too, sought silence in coming to Oxford, silence of a different sort, silence broken only by words typed more than half a century ago by men unknown speaking of events long since passed yet conveyed in documents stamped with a forbidding declaration, “Most Secret.” How does one explain purpose where time is devoured scouring papers that describe crimes committed, terror unleashed, and plans unveiled that recount ruthless intent and merciless death for the voiceless victims who lived and were lost in time? Is that but a rhetorical question, Martin, or does it resonate with meaning if linked with all the detritus of lost information buried in the silent bowels of the Rhodes House Archives.

What is it that slides beneath this narrative connecting it to our experience of 70 odd years each, lived in different countries, united by people neither of us know, drenched in thoughts brought to our respective minds by waves of knowledge created by thousands of minds lodged in books that we absorbed over time and made our own, all present to our senses as they respond to the six inches that separates our hearing from each other travelling at speeds beyond 500 miles per hour, 35000 feet above the earth we walk upon  and call our habitat?

Arnold understood something of this problem as he stood looking over Dover Beach; he saw the connection that flowed beyond time in the sounds of the ocean that caught somehow the infinite minds that stood on shores around the globe hearing the cry that bound all to each in suffering and silence and loss. What binds, Martin, is never lost, and you must know that as you stand at your doorway and look at the sea lapping the pebbles that form the earth beneath your home. You, too, must hear that never ending roar and feel the ligaments that bind you to Arnold and Sophocles, and all you’ve never met who listen to the eternal sounds. And in that home you have been restoring these many years now, filled with the ghosts of men that survived the wicked waves lashing the cemented rocks that formed the base of that lighthouse, who heard the wind whipping against the small windows set in the stone casings above the stairs that wound up through the turret as they brought new light to the summit, a beacon of life for the distressed seeking succor from the relentless sea.

I, too, Martin restored a home, oh, not one on a channel’s edge, not one where the echoed voice of humankind rings through the lines of Arnold’s throated cry, but an ancient home nonetheless if ancient is relative to time and place. It was the Bailey’s place from 1750, perched on a rise at the tip of a small valley sliced in more recent years by the main street of a small New England town. Seven fireplaces warmed the house over the centuries, all in desperate need of repair by the time we moved in to reset the flues against the wind and rain. Wrapped around the largest chimney was a wooden staircase that revealed the feet of ages grooved deep in the triangular steps forcing reflection each time we climbed those stairs, a silent communication with the dead. The winter wind roared across that valley pebbling the blown glass windows with ferocity not unlike the grating roar flung upon your Dover shore, a telling link between you and me. How strange these thoughts that create a narrative that bind two strangers in mid flight.

There are others, too, that shared this story unraveling in the night sky above the frozen tundra of the pole before its decent into London, though they knew nothing about the flight or you and me or how their lives became intermingled with ours as the hours passed. But you had seen the book I had brought to read before we fell to talking, a book of great sorrow and remorse where indeed the eternal note of sadness gathers in tremulous cadence slow and leads now as then, in Arnold’s day, to the darkling plain of human plight. Curious how the tales of suffering link the centuries seeking suffrage in faiths that ebb and flow in intensity fighting science with superstition even as science succumbs to barbaric weaponry to stave off that very superstition. If Arnold saw the revolutions in Europe and Napoleon’s siege of Rome as harbingers of human helplessness where neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace were possible, how might he perceive the eternal conflict that rages in the Holy Land today where, indeed, superstition and scientific folly unleash, with God’s grace, depleted uranium and white phosphorus on helpless souls as their very bones glow through the seared flesh consumed with fire. And though we grew up in different countries, Martin, we have the same visceral reaction to the revolutions sweeping the Plains of Abraham as Arnold and his wife looking upon the darkling plain where ignorant armies clash by night.

This conflict, Martin, became the substance of our meeting, as we, two old men who had lived through the most devastating years of human history, if it be human determined destruction of their fellow humans that is the hallmark of our existence, attempted to grapple with the minds that ruled this new century where ancient temples and coded laws gave license to a new barbarity. But is it new after all? Is it not like the storied albatross that hangs from Marlow’s neck as he retells yet again how the Thames flows ineluctably from London to the heart of darkness brought there by the Pureza de Sangre that flows in our Eurocentric veins making natural our perceived dominance over our determined inferiors. And that perception, that very perception, does it not, Martin, reflect the insanity of our cultures’ destructive desires to achieve ascendency through beliefs founded on myths that link our faith to the Almighty through Divine Right that demands the rebirth of infidels in Christ? Duty to God becomes the propellant that justifies our divinely ordained mission of insanity to spread absurdity across continents. Such is the flow of destiny century after century as we become but the current viewers of its manifestation. Strange how I had gone to England, to the learned village of Oxford by the Thames, only to meet a former Londoner who now lives by the channel into which that river flows before it makes its way toward Africa.

Are we but the newest residents of a world shaped by ideologies forged in the mind from birth by those who command our beings, our drives, our dreams, our reality that thrives on blood made evil deceptively dressed in the cleanliness and purity of the lamb? What after all drove Leopold to the throbbing black heart of Africa but the lie that licensed the endeavor, to save souls for Christ; what brought that same righteousness to the Puritan Divines that saw God’s presence and blessing in their slaughter of the Pequots, Satan’s minions; what malevolent tome of miraculous words from tribal days consumes our Congressmen and Rabbis who determine God’s gift of a homeland to be theirs regardless of the consequences to the innocents who live there, damned by that same God to everlasting Hell. What after all, Martin, do we see and comprehend from this muddle of unknowns that forms our reality; do we bring nascent thought into play or reconfigure all that impinges on our beings into a reality that is but regurgitation of some monolithic power’s will to which we submit.

How, then, does this become a narrative dressed in the expectations of the short story we began? If I am the author and you the protagonist, are you the you in your mind, in your image, in your flesh that sat beside me on the Virgin flight across the Atlantic, the fictional approximation of my mind, or is there a narrative that can be told of another whether conceived in the mind or fastened on by time and circumstance, a reflection that bears no semblance to reality except as a distillation that leaves it out. Certainly, Martin, it must appear strange to you that I would have attempted a short story framed within the ten hours of our chance meeting. But then what is a story but the recounting by a writer who can suggest a great span of the interaction of humans in chance occurrences that “distil(s) a world into a few square inches.” That by the way, Martin, is the understanding of your Today Programme’s James Naughty in his Introduction to The BBC National Short Story Award 2010 collection of award winners. Given that prescription, I would suggest, my friend, that your story is not mine to tell. (March, 2011)

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.

****************************

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran’s Today

“He’s Neither Alive nor Dead”: the Resurrection of Ariel Sharon

November 8, 2010 posted by Prof. William A. Cook · 4 Comments

“The Israeli Patient: Searching for Ariel Sharon’s Political Legacy.” While noting that the former Prime Minister has been in a coma now for 5 years, “his presence looms over the country’s political course.” — Christoph Schult

Ariel Sharon still comatose 

By William A. Cook

Raanan Gissin, Sharon’s former advisor, made the above comment last month as quoted in the Jerusalem Post (20-10-2010) upon the exhibit of a lifelike sculpture by Noam Braslavsky in Tel Aviv. The wax figure shows the comatose Sharon’s chest move up and down “to depict Sharon’s dependence on a breathing machine.” Some have found the work unsettling. “It’s very tragic,” Gissin noted. It’s “only sickening voyeurism,” Kadima MK Yoel Hasson declaimed. Braslavsky created “the sculpture because Sharon has been absent from the public eye for so long,” according to the Post’s article. Regardless, the exhibit has stirred up the Israelis as they are forced to revisit the former PM who is not yet dead.

Coincidentally, this week Christoph Schult published an article in Spiegel Online titled “The Israeli Patient: Searching for Ariel Sharon’s Political Legacy.” While noting that the former Prime Minister has been in a coma now for 5 years, “his presence looms over the country’s political course.” In an effort to explore whether or not the comatose PM would have taken Israel into peace negotiations with the Palestinians or not, he decided to interview Sharon’s sons and selected friends. Sharon’s sons offer little, indeed nothing worth recounting if the article’s lack of quotes is true. But Schult makes this point, “the entire country is living with the consequences of a policy that the former Prime Minister began but was never able to end. It was Sharon who ordered the construction of the security wall … and withdrew the Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip…” But Braslavsky got it wrong; Sharon breathes but lives via a gastric feeding tube. Can he hear? Can he see? Will he recover? No one seems to know for sure. His sons hope he will eventually wake.

So why the curious renewed interest in the former Prime Minister? It seems that the current policies of the Netanyahu administration, the increased vigor in the Knesset as it rams through a series of “thought” legislation, and the uncertainty that surrounds Obama’s ambiguous thrusts and withdrawals regarding his negotiations have shed klieg lights on what Sharon wrought before he fell into the coma. Five years ago I wrote an article, “Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, The Rape of Palestine,” (11-29-2005) that reflected then, when Sharon first went into the coma, what legacy he left to the Jewish state. It is a legacy of calculated carnage both of the people of Palestine and Judaism; it is imaged in his Wall of Fear that physically imprisons the Palestinians on one side and psychologically imprisons the Jews in fear and victimhood, a true legacy of isolationist tribalism as their efforts to control thought symbolizes. Magnify and multiply the abuses this man inflicted in 2005 by the atrocities of the 2006 Lebanon invasion, the Christmas invasion of Gaza, and the attack on the Marmara, added to those reported in B’Tselem since 2005, and one can understand why this state needs to hide behind thought control and the insulation that protects ruthless self interest. This passage from that article illustrates the point:

“As we moved through month after month of 2005, Sharon’s forces have continued their illegal “targeted killing” of Hamas militants, a short hand way of saying Israel has disbanded the basis of law in the West to reintroduce the law of the ancient barbarian states that granted license to the tribal chief or local tyrant absolute authority to determine guilt without arrest, without issuance of a charge, without counsel, without a plea, and without a court resulting in illegal assassination that goes unnoticed and unpunished in Israel and the United States, the self-extolled bulwarks of Democracy in the world. What hypocrisy. Thus have we come full circle in the mid-east as a new barbarian horde inflicts its merciless power on the innocent as well as the condemned for it inevitably happens, as it did this week, that innocent bystanders suffer the same fate as the object of the extrajudicial execution. The IDF record as reported by the Palestine Center for Human Rights as of January 2004 shows 309 civilians killed as a result of 157 executions. Rule without law, an action approved by the US government and supported by the American tax dollar. Yet no one objects. The above litany of Sharon’s brutality constitutes what is countable in the way of deaths attributable to the illegal actions of the IDF. But there are other consequences to this occupation that are lost to the non-observant eye…”

“The decline in the well-being and quality of life of Palestinian children,” reports Human Rights Watch, “[in the occupied territories] over the past two years has been rapid and profound according to CARE, 17.5% of children in Gaza are malnourished.” Thirteen percent of children between the ages of six months and five years “have moderate to severe acute malnutrition.” Nearly half of Palestinians live below the poverty line. Hospitals are in dire need of basic supplies including water and electricity. Almost ninety percent of the Rafah population depends on food aid. And while malnutrition and poverty imposed by the Israeli oppressors seems hideous enough, it pales in comparison to the reality facing the children as they grow up in the occupation. Dr. Shamir Quota, Director of Research for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programs, makes this observation: “Ninety percent of children two years old or more have experienced ­ some many, many times ­ the [Israeli] army breaking into the home, beating relatives, destroying things. Many have been beaten themselves, had bones broken, were shot, tear gassed, or had things happen to siblings and neighbors.”5

Contemplate that statistic, ninety percent of two year olds growing up have witnessed soldiers bursting through the door of their home, rifles pointed at their mother or father, pushed against walls, beaten perhaps, shouted at certainly, cursed we might assume, and left in fear knowing another raid is imminent. What torture is here? This is intentional, calculated, psychological torture, genocidal “mental harm” as described in the UN Convention.

But there’s more. I left Palestine shortly after the “disengagement” from Gaza, a word that masks the reality of that “peace” move by Sharon. There is no disengagement: Sharon’s government owns the sky above Gaza; it owns the fence around Gaza; it owns access and exit from Gaza; it owns sea passage and use of the sea that borders Gaza; and it owns the missiles that it hurls from F-16s into the cities and refugee camps inside of Gaza indifferent to the innocent incinerated by its savagery. The only real disengagement that Sharon authorized in Gaza is disengagement from responsibility under the Geneva Conventions for occupying powers to provide adequately and humanely for the people so occupied. That means Israel does not have to pay for the care of the people who are locked into their prison in this most heinous apartheid on the face of the planet.”

But lest the disengagement plan be observed as an Israeli weakness in light of world opinion against its occupation policies, Israel redoubled its efforts to punish the Palestinians in Gaza.

“Israel’s policy of assassinating wanted Palestinians continued in Gaza following the unilateral withdrawal. The policy was reaffirmed by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Military Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, at a meeting on 8 November 2005. According to statistics from Al Mezan, 47 targeted assassinations took place from 12 September 2005 to 10 September 2006, usually in the form of air strikes on a moving vehicle. Such attacks killed and wounded a total of 25 bystanders; for instance, an attack on 27 October 2005 killed seven Palestinians, including three children, and injured 19 more. Based on Al Mezan statistics, 362 Palestinians in Gaza died as a result of Israeli military attacks in the year following the unilateral withdrawal: 151 from 12 September 2005 to 27 June 2006, and 211 in Operation ‘Summer Rains’ between 28 June and 10 September 2006. The majority of casualties were civilian. The number of attacks escalated over the course of the year. Between 12 September and 31 December 2005, 544 artillery shells were fired into Gaza, and there were 124 air strikes. Between January and April 2006, more than 3,600 artillery shells and 63 air strikes were launched. Most recently, in June alone, there were 1,376 shells fired and 122 air strikes, as well as an explosion on Beit Lahiya beach which a Human Rights Watch investigation attributed to Israel; these recent attacks resulted in the deaths of thirty-six people, including 12 children, and injured 110. (The Disengagement Plan and Israel’s Status as Occupying Power, NGO in Consultation Status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN).

Following Sharon’s withdrawal into the coma, Israeli politicians were faced with determining what actions to pursue: continued disproportionate and ruthless military attacks against Gaza and the West Bank in keeping with Sharon’s policies or withdraw to a more conciliatory posture to appease growing international criticism of that behaviour. It didn’t take long for the world to witness Israel’s answer. The fall 2006 invasion and razing of Lebanon’s infrastructure followed by its merciless killing of over a 1000 Lebanese including the second destruction of Qana village (the first occurred ten years earlier) where 63 Lebanese refugees including 42 children were hunted down, chased from home to home until destroyed. Again, the savage behaviour executed by Israel was meant to demonstrate to the world that Israel was not defeated by world opinion.

But world opinion appears to be having an impact. Neve Gordon notes in “Thought crimes in Israel” (Redress.cc/palestine11-5-2010) that Israel’s Knesset has a raft of laws before it that will “seal Israel’s transformation into a fully fascist state that persecutes and marginalizes everyone who does not subscribe to the official racially-oriented ideology.” (quote from the introduction to Gordon’s article). These measures include swearing an oath of loyalty and allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to its laws and symbols as a condition for receiving public funding for film projects; for newly naturalized citizens to declare loyalty to the Jewish character of the state (similar Gordon notes to Jews and Muslims in Britain to swear to loyalty to the Church of England); for those protesting against or denying Israel’s Jewish character incarceration can be levelled effectively denying political freedom of speech; for those desiring to live in settlements who do not accept the settlement committee’s political views or religion no recourse is allowed to achieve their end thereby making it legal for settlements to deny access to non-Jews and Palestinians; for those who wish to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, public funds will be denied thus preventing expression to citizens of views that are critical of Israeli actions; for those who wish to encourage boycotts or disinvestment actions against the state monetary penalties will be imposed effectively silencing free speech; for all these measures the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has warned that they would effectively make an alternative political ideology, such as the idea that Israel should be a democracy for all its citizens, a crime.

This then is the legacy of Ariel Sharon: a retreat into self-righteousness that finds fault with all who oppose the Zionist ideology, the isolation within that fears anyone who does not accept the Zionist mindset of force that ensures adherence to rights determined by them to be rights. It is imaged in Sharon’s Wall of Fear that would visually erase their neighbours whom they have erased from their minds as people, to force their citizens to walk the streets, roam the highways, bathe in the sea yet not see one who is different from them though they live in the same land, raise their families under the same sun, drink from the same aquifers, and retire in rest as they watch the sun set over the same sea. But they are not the same if they do not believe what the Zionists believe for there is cemented into that mindset an absolute understanding that they alone determine what will be at any cost regardless of international law or international agreements, and they will use whatever means at their disposal to control all who could or would find fault with their desires and will.

Ironically, the conditions imposed on the Palestinians in their tomb, the benumbed state of their being, the years upon years of isolation and alienation, the loss of sensitivity to the rising and setting of the sun, the loss of friends and family, the loss of consciousness to all that surrounds them since it has been turned to ashes and waste, the loss of memory that gave identity to their being since none know now that they even exist behind the Wall, the loss of their very purpose to live, the loss of hope that has been entombed with them, their dependency on strangers to sustain what life breathes in their lungs is mirrored in the metaphor of Sharon lying in his sheeted shroud as day crowds on day, unable to respond to anyone or anything, entombed in his own flesh, unconscious, as the indifferent are unconscious, to his own plight or that of those he has buried alive.

Shortly after Sharon went into his coma, I wrote a novella (The Chronicles of Nefaria) using this very image of the Prime Minister in his tomb of flesh as a morality tale capturing him in his immobile state reflecting on his past life, suffering the pain that attends all who are indifferent to their brothers and sisters, those who have lost all sympathy for the human condition. Here is a passage from the General as he cries to his attendant nurse, a young girl from the occupied territory (called Elusia in the novella), following a dream:

I hear yet I have no life; everything flows around in sound: the silence, the warm air from the vent, the noise of a car on gravel, the boom of a jet engine, wind outside the window, voices, so many voices, booming ones from down the hall, soft ones like Humilia’s, harsh ones that demand she do this or that, voices I’d like to stifle. Sound, sound only sound. What reality is that? No response; I can make no response. I’m alone, so alone. Oh, if I could only see! Even move a finger, utter a sound, anything to show I’m here, alive, conscious … to touch another.

Humilia! My Angel, where are you? I’ve suffered such a dream, a hellish vision seared into my soul so deeply … my life now, reduced to unending reflection, transforms me into an image of human depravity, decades of days devoted to destruction, desolation and death, the sum purpose of my being  … I cannot recall a day when I did not cause the death or torture or demolition of an Elusian life. I travel now in this hellish pit through fields of Elusian dead, their bodies form moguls on which I walk, their eyes staring up at me in disbelief and, yet, with sorrow for me. I move through fields of loss where the air stirs, surrounding me like the gentle pulse of a person’s breath, the breath of life never lived. Nightmarish visions of countless days of thinking without interruption … mutilated faces stare at me, children, children as far as I can see shrouded in the shadows of the massive gray wall, never to see the sun, or know the thrill of running through the hills of Elusia … to have to live in this rumination of my atrocities hour upon hour, to face the punishment of the Almighty, to see and feel the pain and suffering I have inflicted on others … that is a hell beyond comprehension … to live to remember and never die, to relive the insidious toxic beliefs I’ve infested our children with that will be their inheritance forever, a mental and emotional tomb in which they live every day of their life. And, God forbid, to never speak to another, to confess to those deceived and destroyed, to bear witness to this understanding in the awful silence of this vault where I lie alone, the sole arbiter of my acts – without comfort, without compassion, without forgiveness, without end. Oh, God, Humilia, what have I done?

Even as her Patient laments the agony of his abandonment, his awful, never ending torment, the ever recurring images of his brutality toward the Elusians flows forth from some unexplainable depth within, where despair and hopelessness reside, and he cries out to Humilia to talk to him, to sing to him, to touch him, to forgive him that he may rest, relieved of the horrific retribution thrust upon him.

But while Humilia cannot see his torment, she feels the anguishing cry that tears at his mind unable to erupt from his throat, the ancient wail of all who suffer beyond the ears of their sisters and brothers, lost, forgotten, the dying detritus of human waste, known to none, abandoned and forlorn in the shifting sand where even the wind whines like a banshee’s cry drowning the lone lament of the suffering Patient in the abyss into which Nefaria sinks to become only the last of all the glorious empires that live and die in these middle kingdoms where human desire and greed meet their ineluctable end.

Consider what Sharon and now Olmert have constructed. The Wall rests entirely within Palestine while it snakes over hills and valleys, down the middle of streets, carves towns and villages into parts separating people who have lived together for decades, centuries even, confiscates to the Israeli side the aquifers and wells belonging to the people of Palestine, as well as the olive groves and crops belonging to the people, and the arable land that will become the settlers fields and additional settlements for those who never lived a day in Palestine and have no history here, no memories, no culture that is indigenous if two thousand years is considered a measure. Completely surrounded, without access to their fields or mosques or friends or hospitals or employment, they have but two choices, leave or die. They are indeed buried alive by the Jews, a fate less absolute than the gas chamber since they can choose to leave, and leave behind two thousand years of history and land that has given life to generations of family embodied in 1000 year old olive trees summarily ripped from the ground by Israeli bulldozers, leave mosques in which they have worshiped decade upon decade, and leave their memories as those driven from their homes in 1947 lost theirs when their towns were razed and all that had been was no more.

Or they die; a living death that drags on day after day in poverty and need, dependent on those not indifferent to their plight: Israelis that have not capitulated to the wanton waste of human life because they know what victim hood is and recognize it; friends from all countries of the world who care enough to come as witnesses to the humiliation, the degradation, the racism that permeates the settlers and is embodied in the Israeli government; Jews from around the world who decry the inhumanity inflicted by their own on another; and Americans who care because they have faced the same threatened fear that enabled a corrupt and amoral administration to invade and occupy countries against international law. That is their fate.

The Plight Of The Palestinians – Book Review by Edward Jayne

Written by Edward Jayne
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 11:52
by Edward Jayne Ph.D.In his collection of thirty-two articles by almost as many authors, The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction, William Cook provides a devastating assessment of Zionist violence against Palestinians. Relentlessly told are one atrocity after another, one act of deception after another, one broken treaty after another, one surprise attack after another, one policy reversal after another–all of which are described with both effective immediacy and an adequate sense of historic context. The articles themselves extend from Francis Boyle’s “Israel’s Crimes against Palestinians,” published in August, 2001, to Ilan Pappe’s “The Necessity of Cultural Boycott,” published in June, 2009, spanning almost a decade of Israel’s sixty-year campaign to force the departure of Palestinians from the West Bank. Cook’s long introduction is especially useful in its exploration of events during the late forties when Israel established itself as a Jewish state, the one and only specifically denominational nation in the advanced industrial world. Relevant to Zionist intentions at the time, Cook discusses such matters as the Haganah Oath, the Red House, Catling’s Top Secret “Memorandum of the Criminal Investigation Department of July 31, 1947,” and the Deir Yassin massacre as well as those of Saliha, Lod, Dawayima, and Abu Shusha. Regrettably, he neglects to mention the Zionist sound trucks that were reported to have circulated among Palestinian villages after the Deir Yassin massacre, warning that the same could happen to them as well.

The single issue that keeps recurring in the articles is whether Israel has been intentionally pursuing the genocidal destruction of Palestinians. The word “genocide” actually occurs in the titles of eight of the articles (one quarter of the total), and the flood of information contained therein–as well as most of the rest of the articles–suggests the choice of the word is in fact reasonable, not hyperbolic. Cook recounts how Raphael Lemkin coined the word “genocide” in 1944 by linking the Greek word “genos,” referring to a tribe or race, with the Latin suffix “cide,” meaning to kill. Cook also quotes Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonasson’s more expansive definition of the word to suggest the destruction of culture, language, religion, political and social institutions as aspects of genocide that may fall short of total annihilation. And in fact the reference to “genocide” throughout the text is not limited to total annihilation but includes other modes of extreme repression, and appropriately so. It seems obvious by now that Zionists do not exactly seek to exterminate Palestinians, merely to get rid of them–i.e., either to “transfer” them to nearby Muslim nations or to sequester them in “cantons” (Ariel Sharon’s word) equivalent to American Indian reservations minus the gambling casinos. In the words of Steven Lendman, “slow-motion genocide” would be involved, something presumably better and more “humane” than the Nazi gas chambers, but nevertheless despicable.
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The words “ethnic cleansing” have been used to describe the elimination of an undesirable population without necessarily killing everybody. However, as indicated in Kim Petersen’s somewhat confusing piece, “Bleaching the Atrocity of Genocide,” the meanings of these alternative designations overlap without necessarily becoming identical, and it seems both redundant and unnecessary to submit them to systematic categorization. Massacres can occur without involving the specific intention of ethnic cleansing (for example General LeMay’s bombing of Tokyo in 1945), and, vice versa, ethnic cleansing can occur without the systematic pursuit of a massacre (for example the chaotic population transfer between India and Pakistan in 1947). In the fullest sense, however, genocide usually involves, in the words of Andrew Bell-Fialkoff quoted by Petersen, “the expulsion of an ‘undesirable’ population from a given territory.” In the words of Ilan Pappe, also quoted by Petersen, if to refute him, this expulsion might involve unplanned massacres that help to accelerate the flight, as perhaps illustrated by the example of Deir Yassin. Sometimes a relatively small massacre will do, again as illustrated by Deir Yassin; then again, complete or almost total destruction sometimes becomes necessary, whereupon what might otherwise seem a blatant pleonasm, “total annihilation” becomes justified as suggested by 737,000 Google citations combining the two words. Any number of circumstances might be involved relevant to any particular genocidal campaign, but what seems intrinsic to its implementation if it is truly genocidal is simply enough the intention to get rid of a population–if necessary to kill as many as needed to make this happen–even, if necessary, the total population.

Coincidentally, Hitler’s original purpose was to “get rid of” the Jews, not necessarily to exterminate them. He was certainly willing to kill them in great numbers, but he seems to have been reluctant to put his so-called final solution into full effect until January, 1942, after all other approaches had been exhausted as determined at the notorious Wannsee Conference. Only when Germany was enmeshed in what seemed a successful two-front war, did the Nazis initiate a wholesale extermination campaign in concentration camps. Of course Hitler’s treatment of Jews was brutal from the beginning, but he limited their killings to what might be described as homicidal exemplification (e.g. one or two executions per day at Dachau) while high-level subordinates negotiated as well as possible the transfer of Jews abroad–primarily to Palestine as documented by Leni Brenner in Zionism in the Age of Dictatorships, but also to the United States, Australia, South America, anywhere that would take them. Ironically, as disclosed by both Brenner and Dr. Elias Akleh, the latter in “Gaza’s Holocaust” (p. 105), Jewish groups were among the most effective in blocking this effort. In 1938, for example, the Jewish Agency headed at the time by Golda Meir “spurned the German offer to transfer European Jews to Spain, to the US, or to British colonies for the price of $250 a head.” Similar efforts were rejected in 1941 and as late as 1943 for Slovakian Jews. According to Brenner, the WZO rejected a flat offer of $2 million for all the Jews in Western Europe and the Balkans as late as November, 1942 (see Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, pp. 236-7).

The Turkish genocide of over a million Armenians after World War I also exemplified the effort to get rid of a seemingly alien minority, as did the extermination of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka just last year. Similar results were obtained in the treatment of Native Americans from the beginning of our nation’s history into the early twentieth century. The seventeenth century King Phillip’s War involved the use of slaughter in order to drive Native Americans out of New England, and similar atrocities later occurred even in the supposedly peaceful effort to transfer Native Americans westward from the southern Atlantic seaboard. The so-called “Trail of Tears” in 1838 caused the deaths of as many as 4,000 of the 15,000 Cherokee tribe who were forced to march by foot on a long circuitous route to Oklahoma. Of course many contemporary white Americans considered these deaths regrettable, but the cause prevailed–to get rid of the Indians whatever it took. That the project turned out to be genocidal in the broad sense of the word was undoubtedly considered an unpleasant necessity.

The first recorded evidence of a campaign to get rid of an entire society is to be found in the Old Testament. Here God is disclosed to have sought the annihilation of tribes already established in the Levant in order to give ancient Jews enough territory for their own nation. Jews were newcomers in the region, having just escaped from Egypt, and to make space for themselves–Lebensraum as it were–it was necessary to eliminate their landed predecessors. In Exodus 23:23-33, God himself actually informs Moses that He himself intends “little by little” to drive out everybody already living in the region–identified as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites–so the Jews can take complete possession of the land. However, God shifts this lethal responsibility to the Jews themselves in Deuteronomy 7:1-6 and 20:16-18 by ordering them to take on this unpleasant responsibility. God actually commands Moses to kill all the region’s inhabitants and destroy all traces whatsoever of their former presence. The first of the passages in Deuteronomy cited above can be interpreted as a legal covenant that obliged Jews as God’s chosen people to fulfill this command. Understood in this light, today’s Zionists are now merely resuming the effort, and what they do amounts to a comparable genocidal effort somewhat mitigated by modern humanitarian concerns. Palestinians can live–those who avoid getting killed (as could the Cherokees who survived the Trail of Tears)–but Zionists cannot neglect the primary task at hand to get rid of them, whatever it takes.

When much later driven from the Levant by Roman troops, some Jews who can be considered early “Zionists” once again sought to create a nation entirely their own by getting rid of a different host population, this time by killing as many as 240,000 inhabitants of Cyprus in 115-17 A.D. After having been defeated and expelled from Israel by Roman legions, it seems numerous Jews relocated in Cyprus, befriended its local population, and then butchered everybody in a surprise night attack in order to possess the entire island as their own. However, in retaliation the Roman Emperor Hadrian sent in Roman troops to put to sword almost the entire Jewish expedition. This shameful chapter of Jewish history is not widely known, its story having been told in fragments–a footnote in Gibbon, a couple of paragraphs in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a muddled item in the Jewish Encyclopedia, a couple pages in Houston Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, etc. But it did happen, and its impact could only have thrust the Jewish Diaspora into more distant lands where Jews themselves came to be victimized by exclusionary campaigns. For a variety of reasons inclusive of money lending, the Jewish population was “gotten rid of” by King Edward II in England during the late thirteenth century, then in France at the beginning of the fourteenth century, in Spain during the late fifteenth century, in Poland during the mid-seventeenth century, in Russia during the late nineteenth century, and, as already indicated, in Germany and most of the rest of Europe during the mid-twentieth century. In medieval England and France, their expulsion was relatively bloodless, but, if anything, the level of violence elsewhere seems to have enlarged from one country or region to the next over the following centuries.

With the inception of the modern Zionist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, the theater of choice was once again Palestine, and by 1947 with a lot of help from the British government, President Truman and others, a contingent of Zionist immigrants became operational in the Levant, heavily subsidized, trained, and equipped for sophisticated military combat. Quickly and decisively it used its advantage to drive into exile as many as 780,000 Palestinians–over half the original population. The United Nations had given Zionists limited room for the creation of their own nation, but they grabbed more, and the fight was on to expel as many of the remaining Palestinians from the so-called Holy Land as soon as possible. Of course there was always the pretense in negotiations that Zionists sought an honorable compromise, but it became plain after encounters in Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, Taba, and Annapolis as well as the refusal to accept generous offers from the Arab League and the Anglo-American road map participants, that Israel’s diplomacy was limited to the task of appeasing world public opinion while continuing to get rid of Palestinians, whatever it took to do this. In fact this is exactly where the situation is at right now, and with no prospect of a resolution that doesn’t involve Israel’s acquisition of the entire West Bank and the dispersal of most Palestinians who survive hostilities into adjacent Arab nations and/or small well-guarded cantons.

I can suggest a modest if unthinkable proposal how this campaign might finally be resolved with an arrangement equitable to Palestinians. Simply enough, why not buy their departure from Gaza and the West Bank? According to Kathleen and Bill Christison’s excellent article, “Does It Matter What You Call It?” a recent poll has determined that the number of Palestinians now willing to give up and leave the region is at about 32 percent and rising.” (p. 125) If Palestinians were generously subsidized for accepting this option, a much greater number might be willing to join the exodus–perhaps even a substantial majority. If, for example, the four million Palestinians who live in Palestine and Israel could be paid $5,000 per year apiece ($20,000 apiece for a family of four) to migrate elsewhere, and if potential host nations could be plied with substantial additional funding to facilitate the transition, one suspects the financial aspect of the transfer could be fulfilled to everybody’s satisfaction. Zionists could finally take complete possession of the increasingly desiccated lands they have always sought, and Palestinians could migrate to nearby societies able and willing to accept their full citizenship.

But how could sufficient funding be obtained for such a solution? Again, the answer is quite simple. It would only be necessary to transfer the $3 billion the United States annually spends on Israel to the Palestinians instead. Israel could retain the generous tax-free donations it receives from the Zionist-American community as well as its numerous lucrative military arrangements with the Pentagon, but the transfer of U.S. foreign aid allotments plus some of the promised money from the Arab league would be more than sufficient to lubricate an acceptable “final” solution to the problem, both relieving the dire circumstances of Palestinians and helping to bring an end the political crisis that has dominated the Near East since 1948.

Is this truly possible? Probably not, simply because Zionist strategists are convinced that Israel has won and doesn’t need to get rid of the Palestinians right away, since it can do this at its convenience when it chooses to take this step. Right now it reaps truly generous financial benefits because of its current difficulties, and as long as its narrative of fearful adversity continues to play to its audience in the United States, it can wring generous support from both the federal government and the American Zionist community to sustain Israel’s relatively prosperous standard of living into the indefinite future. And nothing can be done to change the situation. For though nobody seems willing to admit it, the Palestinians are now a defeated people–destroyed, reduced to penury. So the more desperate their circumstances become, the more readily they can be swept aside when the struggle against them is no longer sufficiently lucrative to Israel. In other words, the current impasse can be expected to persist as long as American financial support continues, and this can be expected to persist as long as the U.S. media remains totally supportive of Israel, for example by playing to the hilt a dozen Israelis having been killed in home-made rocket attacks over a period of six years while ignoring the 100-1 kill ratio when Israel launched its surprise attack against Gaza two years ago. Even more forgettable was Hamas’ 16-month unilateral truce ignored by Israel once Hamas was elected in 2006 as well as the U.S. involvement in Sharon’s partially successful 1967 strategy to divide Fatah from Hamas by using it to drive Hamas from Gaza.

Today Israel thrives as the result of both its relentless strategic effort and the continuing U.S. support despite negative publicity resulting from this effort. Amazingly, its unemployment rate is 6.2 percent in the midst of a worldwide depression, and by most accounts its triumphalist collective morale is sky high despite its declining world-wide reputation except in the United States. So a genuine peace treaty that transfers U.S. aid to Israel to subsidize Palestinian migration, thereby terminating its “existential” crisis, seems hardly likely despite its potential benefit to the suffering Palestinians. Of course Jewish racial purity is desirable as best obtained by a fully Jewish state, but even more desirable is the ultimate attainment of this purity additional to continued generosity from abroad for as long as possible. In effect there has been a feedback cycle since the seventies: U.S. financial support makes possible successful operations against the Palestinians, and, vice versa, publicity connected with these operations makes possible the continuation of full financial support. Why should this feedback cycle be permitted to end?

How can indignant Americans deal with this situation? For some by participating in the protest movement wherever its efforts do not turn out to be counter-productive. They must be wary, though, that almost any publicity whatsoever that might seem useful to the Palestinian cause can be “flipped” to discredit it by Israel’s talented apologists. It is also possible to deal with the situation by boycotting everything linked with the Zionist cause, by helping to educate the American public as well as possible, for example by publishing and circulating books like The Plight of the Palestinians in relatively cheap editions [!], by confronting the issue in otherwise pleasant conversations with otherwise pleasant people, and by always making very plain their sympathy and full support for the rapidly growing number of emancipated Jews who reject the Zionist cause. These include numerous individuals with normal attitudes toward political responsibility, especially those Jews aligned with the J Street campaign and certainly the hundreds of supposedly “self-hating” Jews included on the Zionists’ so-called SHIT website who reject the ideological juggernaut of Zionists dedicated to a misbegotten Biblical mandate.

Counterpunch

Weekend Edition
December 17 – 19, 2010

The Plight of the Palestinians

Insisting on Humanity

By RAMZY BAROUD

When a copy of William A. Cook’s latest book, The Plight of the Palestinians arrived in my mailbox, I initially felt a little worried. The volume, featuring the work of over 30 accomplished writers, is the most articulate treatise on the collective victimization of Palestinians to date. From Cook’s own introduction, ‘The Untold Story of the Zionist Intent to Turn Palestine into a Jewish State’ to Francis Boyle’s summation of ‘Israel’s Crimes against the Palestinians’, it takes the reader through an exhaustive journey, charting the course of Palestinian history prior to and since al-Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1947-48.

Still, I feared that something might be missing in this noble and monumental undertaking: Palestinian people’s own responses to the cruelties they’ve suffered. Would Palestinians be presented yet again as merely poster-child victims, eager for handouts?

The photograph on the cover was telling: a kindly old man with a white beard, who could have been any Palestinian or Middle-Eastern grandpa, is lovingly touching the hair of a toddler. The two are crouching before a small, stained tent. Al-Nakba was still recent, and the two Palestinians, separated by two generations appear tired and haggard as they are caught in this hopeless scene. Yet, somehow the grandfather insists on preserving his right to love his grandson. This insistence on one’s humanity has been the key strength which has allowed the Palestinian people to preserve their struggle and resistance before the wicked arm of occupation and oppression for nearly 63 years.

Do most academics know this? Do they truly comprehend what it is that makes an old man from a West Bank village face the brutality of Jewish settlers, year after year, as he returns to harvest his few remaining olive trees? Or a Palestinian woman from Gaza who keeps coming back to hold a vigil before the Red Cross office with a framed photo of her once-young son, now ailing in some Israeli jail?

What keeps them going is something that cannot be dissected scientifically or analyzed intellectually. It can only be felt, experienced, and partially understood. This understanding is essential, for without it much more time and effort would be wasted, discounting the most important component in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the Palestinian people.

Some intellectuals, although well-intentioned, often conflate the understandable weakness of the current Palestinian leadership and the steadfastness of the Palestinian people. They write about both entities as if they are one and the same. One of the best authors on Palestine rightly pointed at the huge discrepancies of power between Palestinians and Israel, noting that such an imbalance could not possibly lead to an equitable platform for negotiation. To demonstrate the point, the author refers to Palestinians as “almost totally powerless people”, negotiating with a “powerful occupier.”

But the Palestinian people are currently negotiating with no one. Their representatives merely represent themselves and their own interests. It is important that we preserve that distinction – between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Palestinian people, who have held on to their rights for so many years, and unleashed two of the greatest expressions of people’s power and resolve: the First Uprising of 1987 and al-Aqsa Intifada of 2000. A whole population taking on the self-celebrated “greatest army in the Middle East” is hardly “powerless”. The Palestinian people have printed themselves on the practical discourse of this conflict, and they have proved themselves to be powerful players in determining their own fate.

Jeff Halper, the Director of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, understands this fact well. The peace and justice activist has spent decades working for a just settlement to the conflict, a journey that’s allowed him to work with numerous Palestinians. He has thus grasped something many politicians have intentionally or inadvertently missed. “Until they – the Palestinian people as a whole, not the PA – say the conflict is over, it’s not over.” He further states, in a recent article entitled ‘Palestine 2011’, that “Israel and its erstwhile allies have the ability to make life almost unbearable for the Palestinians, but they cannot impose apartheid or warehousing.”

Halper is correct, and history has repeatedly validated his assertion. There are limits to the power of the “powerful occupier”. It can kill, confiscate, destroy and burn, but it can never force the other into submission. Thus to speak of Palestinian victimization without discussing their collective resistance presents an incomplete version of the story.

The Plight of the Palestinians turned out to be an essential read, and a full and authoritative discourse. It offers a grim and detailed story of suffering and the ‘slow motion genocide’, which is important in order to appreciate the harshness of the Palestinian experience. Without this, one can never understand the anger, resentment and pain that are shared by several generations of Palestinians, in Palestine and in the Diaspora.

‘The Human Tragedy’ is laid bare in Part I. Every paragraph confronts the reader with gory details. But if such violence is the reality of the history of this conflict, why do many people understand it differently? The answer lies in Part 2: ‘Propaganda, Perception and Reality’. It starts with a quote, the Israeli Mossad’s own pre-2007 slogan: “By way of deception, thou shalt do war.” It seems that such a slogan has defined Israeli official conduct. However, civil society cannot be misled forever, and the powerful initiatives carried out by ordinary people around the world are what give Part 3 its value. ‘Rule by Law or Defiance’ is an uplifting introduction to activist efforts, with topics ranging from ‘The Russell Tribunal on Palestine’ to the ‘Necessity of the Culture Boycott’.

The Plight of the Palestinians is not just another chronicle of the history of a defenseless nation. While it is an unhesitant acknowledgment of that reality, it is far from being a celebration of victimhood. Rather, it documents the logical evolution from suffering to resistance.

In the essay, ‘Does It Matter What You Call It?’ two of my personal favorite authors, Kathleen and (late) Bill Christison write: “Palestinian resistance does figure in this dismal story. In the same small village where one is uprooting his family, others are building…”

It is the very balance between destruction and rebuilding, despair and hope, occupation and perseverance that makes the Palestinian people powerful. Their power cannot be demonstrated in numbers, but it can be felt, experienced, and understood. The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction spreads the seeds of understanding, which is so essential to any meaningful and lasting change.

The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction by Dr. William A. Cook is out now, available to order with a promotional 20% discount from Palgrave Macmillan! See the attachment for the promotional order form.

Macmillan has provided a rare publishing event—a critical collection of essays on genocide in Palestine for the scholar, the journalist, and the student of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The Plight of the Palestinians forces both Israeli commentators and Palestinian advocates to address controversial legal and humanitarian issues that have rarely been faced over the past 10 years as any criticism of the Israeli government has itself been criticized, especially in America.

Let’s take advantage of this event—let’s declare the value of the book as it opens the door to serious dialogue. Let’s send this notice to as many as we can throughout the world, including relevant blogs and independent media outlets. There’s an opportunity here that should not be missed. At last voices speaking on behalf of the oppressed that justice be sought and peace made possible. Thanks for your help in making this happen.

The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction is a unique chronicle of Israel’s slow, methodical genocide in Palestine, as it occurs daily before an international audience. Dr. William A. Cook’s latest book, published by Palgrave Macmillan, is a collection of global voices revealing and responding to the atrocities committed in the occupied land, which began in the 1940s and which continues to escalate. Each chapter captures the urgency of the ongoing crisis in real-time during the first decade of the twenty-first century. As Dr. Cook writes in his Introduction, “This collection provides the reader with an incredible range of voices—academic scholars, journalists, editors, lawyers, United Nations agency personnel, activist organizers in Israel, Palestine, Australia, and Canada—reflect[ing] cautioned, critical, carefully analyzed, and documented presentations that confront the realities of Israel’s policies as they are antithetical to the moral principles that give meaning to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Charter. They provide documentable evidence that should shake the complacency and indifference that characterizes the governments that accept in silence the ruthlessness of the occupying power that has decided to impose its will on the hapless people of Palestine by destroying their culture and identity even as it imposes on all in Palestine the national pattern of the oppressor. That, in effect, is the definition of genocide.”

The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction is out now, available to order with the attached promotional order form, as well as amazon.com for a special discounted price.  The book is also available at other popular book retailers. For more information, see http://us.macmillan.com/theplightofthepalestinians .

As Israel attempts today to gloss over the reality of its birth 62 years ago with a sweeping public relations campaign extolling the miraculous “resurrection” of ancient Zion in contemporary times, a new nation seeking only peace with its neighbors, it might be enlightening and valuable to examine the truth.

On May 14, 1948 President Harry S. Truman received a letter from the Jewish Agency for Palestine announcing the impending proclamation of the independent republic of Israel (Harry S. Truman Library, document filed August 22, 1949).[1] That date marks not only the beginning of the State of Israel but, sub missa voce, the assumption by the State of Israel of the calculated, systematic and determined ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of the land of Palestine that had been the business of “The Consultancy” and its agents before May 14, as identified by Dr. Ilan Pappe in his monumental The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.[2]

The letter notes that the republic has been established within “frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947, and that a provisional government has been charged to assume the rights and duties of government for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel, for defending the state against external aggression, and for discharging the obligations of Israel to the other nations of the world in accordance with international law.” The letter was signed by Eliahu Epstein, Agent, Provisional Government of Israel.

The letter is notable not for what it announces, but for what it does not reveal. Truth requires revelation of all the facts, not concealment by omission of that which would prejudice an understanding. During the six months between the adoption of UN Resolution 181 and the date of this letter, and in subsequent months, the prospective state of Israel launched a massive military incursion into territory designated by that same Resolution for the Palestinian people, creating in its wake “three quarters of a million Palestinian refugees,” the destruction of “hundreds of entire villages … not only depopulated but obliterated …and houses blown up or bulldozed” (Walid Khalidi, All That Remains, xv).[3] Khalidi’s massive study focuses on 418 villages, once the homes of Palestinians, 292 completely destroyed, 90 others “largely destroyed,” the remainder re-inhabited by Jews called Israeli settlers.

In blunt terms, the Jewish Agency for Palestine lied to the American President that it had established a provisional government that “has been charged to assume the rights and duties … for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel … and for discharging the obligations of Israel to the other nations of the world in accordance with international law.”

The Agency’s deception made no reference either to the President or the international community that it had created the “Catastrophe,” or as the Palestinians termed it, the Nakba, the days of infamy that created what has become the largest Diaspora of refugees in the world and a time of remembrance for those killed in a series of massacres, estimated at 24 by Benny Morris, Israel’s preeminent Historian of that period. Indeed, the Agency had acted against international law in invading Palestinian land as designated by the very Resolution that had given them the right to a state of Israel even as it lied without remorse to the international community that it would live in accordance with their laws.

This letter, coupled with an earlier one to the President, dated May 10, 1948, will serve as a microcosm of political deceit characteristic of the Zionist led forces that controlled the nascent state of Israel. This second letter from The Nation Associates, notified the President that

Tomorrow morning the Washington Post will carry, in the form of a full-age (sic) advertisement, the text of an open letter to you requesting the implementation of the November 29 resolution on Palestine…I have been requested to send you the enclosed text of this open letter by the signators …It is our hope that in the week which remains before the end of the British Mandate, action will be taken by you to insure the recognition of the Jewish state as a means of maintaining the prestige of this country, the authority of the United Nations, and peace in the Middle East (Signed by Freda Kirchwey, President; document available at the Truman Library).[4]

The Nation Associates supported the establishment of the State of Israel and used its publishing arm to further that goal. The “Open Letter” referred to above argued against the moves by “the British and our own State Department” to “sabotage” the partition resolution despite the President’s determined effort to support Israel. Indeed, the Associates went so far as to publish “The British Record on Partition” published in The Nation, America’s Leading Liberal Weekly, on May 8, 1948 detailing their selected reading of “British Military Intelligence Sources.” This document was simultaneously submitted to the Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Open letter published in the Washington Post amounted to a synopsis of this larger document including its primary argument that “there was no reason why the Jewish state could not be set up (if the Arabs resisted partition) and the Arab area turned over to the Trusteeship Council.” Note that this argument is being made even as the Jewish Agency and its affiliates have driven hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and villages and massacred untold thousands in the area designated for the Palestinians recommended to be turned over to the Trusteeship Council.

The open letter cited an amendment to the resolution inserted by Truman’s representative, Herschel Johnson, “the Security Council should determine as a threat to peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 29 of the Charter,  any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution.” Yet no mention is made here of the invasion by the Jewish forces of the towns and villages in the area designated for the Palestinians. Rather, the Associates allege that it is the British Mandate government that has supported the Arab League against Israel since 1945, “under the direction of Foreign Minister Bevin, {who} (has) resisted every American proposal for a decent settlement of the Palestinian question.” “This was true,” the letter continues, “in 1946 when he refused to accept the proposal of the Anglo-American Committee and your own, for the admission into Palestine of 100,000 Jews.” What is left unsaid by the Associates is the British promise to the Arabs in the Balfour Declaration that they would maintain a strict ratio of Jews entering Palestine to the indigenous population, the second of the Balfour Declaration promises never referenced as the companion piece to the establishment of a home for the Jews in Palestine.[5]

So now we see the strategy of the Zionists as they manipulate the President: (a) advance publication of a major document detailing British subterfuge in eroding the possibility of establishing a Jewish state sent to the United Nations, thereby placing blame for the deterioration of conditions in Palestine on the British; (b) a subsequent letter to the President informing him that a public “open letter” will be published in the Washington Post detailing subversion of the Jewish people, placing him in the unenviable position of not aiding the “victims” of this subversion or carrying through with recognition of the Jewish state “as a means of maintaining the prestige of this country”; (c) and, finally, another letter, this from the Jewish Agency for Palestine, on the 14th, seeking his recognition by “welcoming Israel into the community of nations” with no reference to the breaching of international law by the very Agency seeking his support.

Control and manipulation of the events coming out of Palestine has been and continues to be the modus operandi of the Zionist leaders of the state of Israel. The above letters to President Truman offer insight into this manipulation. Moreover, Truman was acting on behalf of the American people in recognizing the State of Israel on the 15th of May 1948. What the American people knew was the suffering of the Jews under Hitler and the apparent logic of the United Nations partition plan to provide a state for the two peoples residing in Palestine. What they did not know was the Zionist entity that had different goals and the will to deceive the citizens of America to achieve them. But the American people were not alone in being deceived. More importantly is the deception kept from the British people about these “disappeared years,” as Robert Fisk terms them. What’s missing is the perspective of the Palestinians and the British Mandate government.

The United Kingdom had mandatory authority from the League of Nations to govern the area with the establishment of the Palestine Mandate in 1922, an action that imposed a western colonial and national mindset on an area familiar with tribal and imperial authority. Prior to the official implementation of the Mandate, the British Government had enunciated a “declaration” concerning the desirability of His Majesty’s Government in the “establishment of a national home for the Jewish people,” called the Balfour Declaration.

Discussions that resulted in the final text of the Balfour Declaration clarify the intention of its wording. The use of “national home” was used intentionally instead of “state.” Additionally, the first draft of the declaration referred to the principle “that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people.”

In the final text, the word that was replaced with in to avoid committing all of Palestine to the Jews only.[6]

Between 1939 and 1947, the mandate Government found it more and more difficult to maintain its position as the responsible governing force servicing the Arab population and the growing Jewish population, determining by 1947 that these two populations could not coexist. As a result, the British Government placed the resolution of the problem in the hands of the United Nations. That in turn resulted in a partition plan of the land of Palestine, proposed in November of 1947 to the General Assembly, to be implemented in May of 1948, seventy two years ago this May.

British authority in Palestine continued under the United Nations until the

implementation of the Partition Plan in May 1948. Consequently, the mandate government

had to abide by the Charter of the UN and its Conventions. Ironically, as the Zionist forces,

estimated by the Jewish Agency personnel in documents seized by the Mandate Police at 20

to 60 thousand (see top secret file of Sir Richard C. Catling, The Plight of the Palestinians),

continued their massacres of Palestinians into 1948, the UN debated the adoption of a

Convention defining “genocide” based on Nuremberg principles, a definition approved that

same year.

In 1944 the term “genocide” appeared in Raphael Lemkin’s Axis Rule in Occupied

Europe. Therefore once the State of Israel was created by the Jewish leaders of the area by

declaration May 14, 1948, and, subsequently, was recognized for membership in the UN in

1949, it was expected to abide by the UN Conventions. The United Nations does not

appropriate to itself the authority to create states. The United Nations only authorizes itself to

recognize states for membership, states that are formed or proclaimed by the people of said

state.[7]

What should be obvious now, after the carefully researched and scholarly work of Dr. Ilan Pappe in his Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and the equally well-researched work of Dr. Benny Morris in his Righteous Victims, both based on recently released evidence from the Israeli archives and those of the Israel Defense Forces Archives, complemented now with the materials preserved by Sir Richard C. Catling, to be made available in The Plight of the Palestinians from Palgrave Macmillan in June, is the truth about the creation of the state of Israel: acceptance of UN Resolution 181 by the Jewish Agency Provisional Government as the designated Jewish state was not done with intent to abide by the goal of the UN General Assembly, to provide a state for two peoples in the land of Palestine, but rather to use it as a means of subterfuge to gain eventual control of all the land and cleanse that land of its indigenous people to whatever extent possible. Put bluntly, what was true then is true today; the current government in Israel continues the practices of past Israeli governments, cleanse the land of its rightful inhabitants to make that land part of the Jewish state. This is what is termed, “slow motion genocide,” not, one would hope, a civilized policy to be extolled either by the Israelis or the international community.

The Eternal Jew Goes on Forever

“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)

William A. Cook

            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. (emphasis mine)

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.  

 

 

 

 

The voyage of Hope: Blessed Are the Merciful Who Confront the State without Mercy

William A. Cook

“Now the opposite of Beatitude is misery … to be afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”

(St. Gregory of Nyssa, 380 AD)

“Hope” was scheduled to sail to Gaza on Thursday, September 25th, but could not because negotiations to buy a boat fell through repeatedly “due to outside pressure.” Regardless, whatever day “Hope” sails, and it will sail, is a day every Christian and every humane person, regardless of religion, should mark on his or her calendar as the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount live in our day as true believers in the Beatitudes give meaning and life to “Blessed are the merciful for they shall see God and Blessed are the peacemakers for they are the children of God.” Five physicians from 4 countries, Human Rights lawyers and monitors, a member of the Israeli Knesset, the General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, a veritable Ship of Mercy, will confront the Goliath of Mercilessness that has besieged 1.5 million people in Gaza for almost  two years now making their lives not a state of beatitude, but rather a state of misery – “afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”

How reprehensible that the nations of the world sit mute in General Assembly at the United Nations, made silent by the coercive veto of the United States prodded by the Satanic voice of Israel; how pathetic the obsequious behavior of our Congress that protects its wallet rather than respond to the starved and humiliated Palestinians suffering behind steel walls and locked gates; how repulsive to witness silk suited ministers of the cloth raise their collective voices in prophetic proclamations condemning those already condemned to misery for disagreeing with their interpretation of the beatitudes as words of war not peace, of arrogance not humility, of mercilessness not justice, of hate not love; how sad to live these past sixty years and watch the dissembling of Judaism as it abandons its thousands of years of moral, ethical and religious substance to the drive of Zionist fanatics bound by a “secular nationalistic concept completely devoid of ethics and morals” (Rabbi Aharon Cohen of Neturei Karta, 2006).

The voyage of “Hope” to Gaza, like that of the “Free Gaza” and “Liberty” in August, symbolizes for the people of the world, as it does for the people of Gaza that people care even if their governments do not. Governments can be and more often than not are bought and sold, victims of abusive power from within and without; but the conscience of a people churns inside recognizing, indeed feeling passionately what others suffer, what they themselves would not tolerate should it be inflicted on them, and they know in their hearts, ay in their very souls, that all people have a right to life with dignity and no nation has a right to manufacture a pretense that denies “life with dignity.”

Those who inflict such pain claiming they are the victims lie, and in their actions destroy not just sources of energy that make possible tolerable living conditions, jobs, businesses and homes, but the substance of meaning, the purpose of existing, the state of beatitude where nothing is absent that a good desire may want, in the words of St. Gregory, who knew what real Christian civilized people had as rights in 380 AD. Happily he didn’t live in this barbaric age of uncivilized humanity that can encircle its enemy with barbed wire and steel and electric surveillance and bulldozers and F-16 fighter jets and missile carrying helicopters and thousands of highly trained obedient troops made conscienceless by Pavlovian modification. How advanced we’ve become in removing empathy from the heart that the desires of our rulers be met.

“The stranglehold on Gaza’s borders has made … the work of the UN and the other humanitarian agencies … virtually impossible. Only a trickle of medicine, food, fuel and other goods is being allowed in … making people highly dependent on food and aid and it has brought the health system and basic services, such as water and sanitation near to collapse” (Medecins du Monde UK). These are the conditions that Israel inflicts on the hapless people of Gaza. How can a nation be reduced to such barbaric behavior? How can a nation listed as the 16th wealthiest nation on the planet inflict such heinous acts on a neighbor? How can the United States support such cruelty? “40% of Gaza residents have been deprived of clean water. Children are living in the cold and dark. Gaza pumps 40 million litres of untreated sewage into the sea each day, because of a lack of electricity to run the treatment plant, and lack of pipes to replace old ones … where 80% are unemployed and 20% work for the UN and NGO’s, therefore 100% of Gazans rely on the benevolence of the outside world” (Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize winner).

Where are those who would comfort the afflicted, where are those who hunger and thirst for justice, where are the merciful, the peacemakers? They are not in Israel’s government or in the Congress of the United States or in the mega-churches of the Christian Zionists; these are the perpetrators of evil who seek to destroy people they do not know nor care to know. These are people driven by ideologies of hate constructed on pillars of racism, superiority and mythologies interpreted by fools.

How can such conditions exist in a country controlled in every way by the “advanced” state of Israel? Why is it that the Palestinian people are allowed to suffer such physical, emotional, and psychological torture, such absolute humiliation, at the hands of the occupiers while the world looks on oblivious to those who inflict such torment on their victims? How ironic that the victims of Nazi cruelty, the Jews of Israel, those who were brought to the land of Palestine out of sympathy for their suffering, should become in their turn the militaristic state that creates victims to further their own political ends. This horrific irony cuts two ways like a knife blade severing the heart, it destroys the victim even as it makes a murderer of the assailant, for the Jew is no longer the victim but the perpetrator of known evil. That act unveils the myth of the beleaguered Jew that wanders the face of the earth in constant torment and suffering, a constant victim of those who would impose their will on him. It strips naked the lie that fosters the innocence of the Jews that created the state in 1947-48, as Dr. Ilan Pappe attests in his penetrating book on The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, when in fact they, the Jews, orchestrated a systematic erasure of the indigenous people even as they cried to the outside world that they were the victims.

It is that lie, the massacre at Deir Yassin and all the subsequent massacres that killed thousands and forced 700,000 into exile that cannot be admitted, anymore than the slow, calculated massacre taking place in Gaza can be admitted that is destroying Judaism turning it into a cold, secular, fanatical religion devoid of ethics and morals, driven by greed and power as the good Rabbi Cohen states.

The voyage of the “Hope” may be more than a voyage of the merciful to a bleeding land that receives no mercy; it may be a voyage of virtue that teaches, in the words of St. Augustine, “Hope is the greatest of all virtues, even greater than love. For love only teaches what should be, while Hope teaches us what will be.” Should Augustine’s sage remark become prophetic, a day will come in Israel when it will confront its past, indeed, as Professor Pappe so cogently states, “… unless Israel acknowledges the cardinal role it has played, and continues to play, in the dispossession of the Palestinian nation, and accepts the consequences this recognition of the ethnic cleansing implies, all attempts to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict are bound to fail.”

Beneath that statement festers an infectious disease that sucks out the marrow of Judaic morals cleansing it of its life sustaining force as it has cleansed the natives of Palestine from the land that gave them life. “… the Jewish religious  propensity to seek atonement has been replaced by the arrogant disregard for world public opinion and the self-righteousness with which Israel routinely fends off criticism” (Pappe).

How psychologically terrifying to know that the power that provides for the “Jewish State” is the power that destroys the Jewish soul. How spiritually appalling to sense the dissembling of the Jewish moral and ethical cohesiveness that spans the centuries in favor of a nation determined by exclusivity and apartheid separateness. How physically disturbing to contemplate the reality of day to day existence where the Jews walk through opulence indifferent to the suffering, deprivation, and destitution of their neighbors. When will the state of Israel demand of itself what it demanded of those that caused the holocaust in Europe? When will it recognize and acknowledge that in their teaching as in the teaching of the Beatitudes, mercy and justice, reconciliation and retribution pave the road to peace, not checkpoints and barriers and walls and unjust laws that protect the oppressor at the expense of the oppressed? When will the governments of the world rise against the injustice done to the Palestinians and join the ordinary people of their nations as they set sail on the voyage of Hope to Gaza?