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What US Christians don’t know about Israe

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Rehmat View Drop Down
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Joined: 28 February 2005
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    Posted: 17 April 2005 at 9:01am

American Jews sympathetic to Israel dominate key positions in all areas of our government where decisions are made regarding the Middle East. This being the case, is there any hope of ever changing US policy? President Bush as well as most members of Congress support Israel - and they know why. US Jews sympathetic to Israel donate lavishly to their campaign coffers. .

 

The answer to achieving an even-handed Middle East policy might lie elsewhere - among those who support Israel but don’t really know why. This group is the vast majority of Americans. They are well-meaning, fair-minded Christians who feel bonded to Israel - and Zionism - often from atavistic feelings, in some cases dating from childhood.

 

And typical of many US Christians, I somehow considered a modern state created in 1948 as a homeland for Jews persecuted under the Nazis as a replica of the spiritual, mystical Israel I heard about as a child. When in 1979 I initially went to Jerusalem, I planned to write about the three great monotheistic religions and leave out politics. “Not write about politics?” scoffed one Palestinian, smoking a waterpipe in the Old Walled City. “We eat politics, morning, noon and night!”

 

As I would learn, the politics is about land, and the co-claimants to that land: the indigenous Palestinians who have lived there for 2,000 years and the Jews who started arriving in large numbers after the Second World War. By living among Israeli Jews as well as Palestinian Christians and Muslims, I saw, heard, smelled, experienced the police state tactics Israelis use against Palestinians.

 

My journey not only was enlightening to me as regards Israel, but also I came to a deeper, and sadder, understanding of my own country. I say sadder understanding because I began to see that, in Middle East politics, we the people are not making the decisions, but rather that supporters of Israel are doing so. And typical of most Americans, I tended to think the US media was “free” to print news impartially.

 

In the late 1970s, when I first went to Jerusalem, I was unaware that editors could and would classify “news” depending on who was doing what to whom. On my initial visit to Israel-Palestine, I had interviewed dozens of young Palestinian men. About one in four related stories of torture.

 

Israeli police had come in the night, dragged them from their beds and placed hoods over their heads. Then in jails the Israelis had kept them in isolation, besieged them with loud, incessant noises, hung them upside down and had sadistically mutilated their genitals. I had not read such stories in the US media. Wasn’t it news? Obviously, I naively thought, US editors simply didn’t know it was happening.

 

Somehow, despite obstacles to prevent it, the presses had started rolling. After its publication in 1980, I was invited to speak in a number of churches. Christians generally reacted with disbelief. Back then, there was little or no coverage of Israeli land confiscation, demolition of Palestinian homes, wanton arrests and torture of Palestinian civilians.

 

Speaking of these injustices, I invariably heard the same question, “How come I didn’t know this?” Or someone might ask, “But I haven’t read about that in my newspaper.” To these church audiences, I related my own learning experience, that of seeing hordes of US correspondents covering a relatively tiny state. I pointed out that I had not seen so many reporters in world capitals such as Beijing, Moscow, London, Tokyo, Paris. Why, I asked, did a small state with a 1980 population of only four million warrant more reporters than China, with a billion people?

 

American Jews have fallen victim to Zionism, a nationalistic movement that passes for many as a religion. While the ethical instructions of all great religions — including the teachings of Moses, Muhammad and Christ - stress that all human beings are equal, militant Zionists take the position that the killing of a non-Jew does not count.

 

Over five decades now, Zionists have killed Palestinians with impunity. And in the 1996 shelling of a UN base in Qana, Lebanon, the Israelis killed more than 100 civilians sheltered there. As an Israeli journalist, Arieh Shavit, explains of the massacre,

 

We believe with absolute certitude that right now, with the White House in our hands, the Senate in our hands and The New York Times in our hands, the lives of others do not count the same way as our own.

 

Israelis today, explains the anti-Zionist Jew professor Israel Shahak - ..are not basing their religion on the ethics of justice. They do not accept the Old Testament as it is written. Rather, religious Jews turn to the Talmud. For them, the Talmudic Jewish laws become ‘the Bible.’ And the Talmud teaches that a Jew can kill a non-Jew with impunity.

 

The danger, of course, for US Christians is that having made an icon of Israel, we fall into a trap of condoning whatever Israel does - even wanton murder - as orchestrated by God.

 

While Israel and its dedicated US Jewish supporters know they have the president and most of Congress in their hands, they worry about grassroots America - the well-meaning Christians who care for justice. Thus far, most Christians were unaware of what it was they didn’t know about Israel. They were indoctrinated by US supporters of Israel in their own country and when they traveled to the Land of Christ most all did so under Israeli sponsorship. That being the case, it was unlikely a Christian ever met a Palestinian or learned what caused the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

This is gradually changing, however. And this change disturbs the Israelis. As an example, delegates attending a Christian Sabeel conference in Bethlehem in 1998 reported that they were harassed by Israeli security at the Tel Aviv airport.

 

“They asked us,” said one delegate, “‘Why did you use a Palestinian travel agency? Why didn’t you use an Israeli agency?’”

 

The interrogation was so extensive and hostile that Sabeel leaders called a special session to brief the delegates on how to handle the harassment. Obviously, said one delegate,

 

“The Israelis have a policy to discourage us from visiting the Holy Land except under their sponsorship. They don’t want Christians to start learning all they have never known about Israel.”

 

(Source: ‘Journey to Jerusalem’ by Washington, DC-based writer Grace Halsell - author of 14 books)

 

Know your enemy!
No time to waste. Act now!
Tomorrow it will be too late
What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

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