Monday, August 11, 2014


Palestinians inspect the destruction in Farouq Mosque after it was hit in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza--Times of Israel photo, 7-24-14

July 23, 2014--UN Rights Chief Warns of Possible Gaza War Crimes - NYTimes. [both sides accused, with Israelis holding the higher count]

 “Some are shamelessly accusing Israel of genocide, or putting us in the dock for war crimes. The truth is that the Israeli Defense Forces should be given a Nobel Peace Prize! A Nobel Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint."  Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, speaking 8-1-14 at the annual Christians United for Israel conference.

An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth is again on the rampage rained down on the Gazan territory that Israel claims control over.   Christians in the U.S. most often give a pass to whatever Israel does to protect its interests and integrity in the embattled Middle East.   The current death toll in this Gaza conflict, is more than 1900 Gazans [a majority according to the NYT probably civilians], and Israel 67 [3 reported civilians].

The Old Testament equal damage axiom, has certainly been exceeded.  The New Testament Gospel admonitions to love the enemy, forgive seven times seventy, are not even on the table.  This is even more a failure of U.S. Christians than of the Israelis.  We are called by Christ Jesus in whom we profess belief to resolve rather than perpetuate conflict.   Instead we’ve played into and ramped up their fears for survival, that loom powerful out of WWII’s history of Holocaust, by arming them to the teeth for decades, instead of working hard to disarm the whole Middle East, to give some hope of real lasting peace.  In the midst of this current lop-sided bomb-blasting our government resupplied Israelis with hi-tech stockpiles, no questions asked.
Israel has a claim on us Christians.  We follow Jesus a most faithful Jew, and our scriptures converge.  My first memories of their history as a nation come from the movie, Exodus—‘this land is mine, this old and ancient land.”  But there is a sad complicated history of the destruction of the Jewish nation in 77 AD, two thousand years of diaspora troubled without a home, Holocaust, and then a violent re-founding on Palestinian land in 1948.
Palestinian protesters marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba, on May 15, 2014, near the West Bank village of Walajah -AFP-Musa Al-Shaer

he Catholic Archbishop of Galilee, Elias Chacuor, of Palestinian roots, called the Prophet of Peace, and a friend of Israeli presidents, still states the problem this way, [interviewed in the St. Anthony Mesenger] “Where I was born was a village in North Galilee, a Christian village. All the inhabitants were Christians and Catholics. In 1948 we were deported, evicted  from our homes by the military and promised that we would be out for only two weeks. But the two weeks did not end; now it’s 64 years later. We were reduced to refugees in our own country, to deportees in our region. We took refuge in a nearby village
where some houses had been emptied. And we lived there, waiting for the time to return. And the time did not come. We wonder if it will ever come.
Q: So it’s not a dead issue to you, all these years later?
A: It will never be a dead issue, as long as we are living! And those who ought to understand our position most are the Jews. They say, “We were here 2,000 years ago; we are returning.” We say, “We have been here that 2,000 years, but 64 years ago, we were deported by violence and we will return.”
Photo by Larry Towell--WEST BANK 2004. A Palestinian man runs through an opening in the wall where the last eight meter high concrete slab seal is to be set in place.
And this happened also, to countless more Palestinian Arabs [they call it the Nakba].   This land is whose?   The Palestinians now have about 23% of the land [calculating from the CIA World Factbook] they had before the Israeli state was formed, and that is now mostly occupied and/or controlled by the Israeli Defense Forces.  And since the new military government of Egypt cut off Gaza border commerce a year ago, the people there have become so impoverished and desperate, driving the most radical to launch their low-tech missiles indiscriminately as long as they can, just to attract attention, even though it’s self-destructive to Gaza.

o you remember how this current tragic exchange began?  The parties were just about to find a possible Two State peace agreement, when the Palestinians declared they were going to start signing their own international agreements with other countries regardless.  Israel immediately announced a new round of settlements construction in the Palestinian territories.   Eyes for eyes--no peace.   Next, three Israeli teens are abducted and killed.  Israel alleges Hamas of Gaza is responsible.  Immediately a Palestinian teen is killed in revenge.  The battle is on—no holds barred.
Who has a solution?  Remarkably, from the start, it was family members on both sides, whose teenage sons were murdered.  This received virtually no notice from the main media, as the bombs burst on the scene.  [Appears in a commentary of Nicholas Kristof, 7-23-14 NYT]
In the carnage of Gaza and the Middle East, the most unlikely people have stepped forward from their grief to offer moral leadership.
The family of Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old Jewish boy who was one of three kidnapped and murdered, said in a statement after the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian boy: “There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder.”
Likewise, the father of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian boy, said: “I am against kidnapping and killing. Whether Jew or Arab, who would accept that his son or daughter would be kidnapped and killed? I call on both sides to stop the bloodshed.”
Thus those who have lost the most, who have the greatest reason for revenge, offer the greatest wisdom. Yet, instead, it is now hard-liners on each side who are driving events, in turn empowering hard-liners on the other side.

he leaders paid no heed.  But the solution is—to follow the wisdom of these who’ve suffered, and put away the sword.  Every violent death is a little part of holocaust.   No country on earth should sell or deliver any more weapons to either side in this conflict.   The arms moratorium-disarmament should include the whole Middle East, all countries, all factions—a true path to a new Arab-Israeli Spring.  This would cost the arms dealers and their political allies dearly.  Yet, the means of peace are the only way to peace.

U.S. resupplies Israel with munitions as Gaza offensive rages - Reuters (1)
                Arab Boy’s Death Escalates Clash Over Abductions – NYT 7-3-14

UNICEF laments Gaza child casualties, warns of task ahead—Reuters 8-4-14
140807- Conflict Leaves Industry in Ashes and Gaza Reeling From Economic Toll -

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

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