In Steven Spielberg’s film Shindler’s List there is a horrifying scene of a Nazi concentration camp where the camp commander wakes up in the morning and walks out to his balcony overlooking the camp. He brings along a sniper rifle and then starts shooting Jewish prisoners at random who are walking in the camp grounds below.
In real time every day for the last few week’s Israeli soldiers come out in the morning with sniper rifles and use live ammunition to shoot unarmed Palestinians protesting against Israel’s oppressive regime. Last Monday they killed 62 and by my figures that brings the total protestors murdered this way to well over 100. With thousands more wounded or injured. Since the protests started on March 30 Al Jazeera news has compiled these figures:
Over 12,844 total victims, including 488 women; 1129 children under 18; 228 medics; and 124 journalists. The balance are adults of all ages.
I must confess that I have skin in this game that makes me more than a nattering observer. I have relatives in Israel. While I served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WW II I gave no thought to my uncles and aunts who were living in Central Europe occupied by the German Wehrmacht. Years after the war I learned that some of my uncles and aunts were still alive in Romania. Later, when I had enough money, I visited them and found my Uncle Nandor had been a slave laborer for the Wehrmacht in Russia and out of 3000 Jews was amongst only 300 who survived. He came back to Budapest, where he had been living, only to find that my aunt Rosa, his wife, and their two young boys, Emerick and Oskar, had been murdered in Auschwitz.
Now I find our president (who avoided military service during the Vietnam War) supporting the Israeli government’s excuses for snipers firing live ammunition, just like the concentration camp commander in the movie, killing and wounding unarmed Palestinian protestors under the excuse that Hamas put them up to it. Their crime? With a huge barbed wire fence between them they were throwing stones and other similar items of ‘mass destruction’ at the IDF.
Litsa Binder is a dedicated peace activist who has spent a lifetime working for peace throughout the world. She has been to Gaza in support of the Palestinian cause. She is a follower of TPC and we have become friends over the internet. She sent me this copy of a short ‘letter to the editor’ that she was sending to several local newspapers. So far none have printed her letter. Our politicians are largely silent on this issue and the Saudi inhuman campaign against the people of Yemen. A hopeful sign is that Bernie Sanders is beginning to talk about Yemen and hinting at the situation in Israel. We need more people like Litsa who will take the time to goad local media sources to deal with these issues. Let’s not let the government voice be the only one on the street. – b. traven
To the Editor:
I’ve been watching with deep sadness the news today about the US Embassy moving to Jerusalem, while Israeli soldiers shoot unarmed protesters in Gaza. How long, oh Lord, before the Palestinian people can be free? For how long will the U.S. veto every single U.N. Security Council Resolution that condemns the killing of the Palestinian people? President Carter said Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians is worse than South Africa’s apartheid. Yes, it is much worse. I know because I was in Gaza and the West Bank with an interfaith peace builders’ delegation. I saw the injustice, I cried. Martin Luther King said: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” May justice for the Palestinian people come soon, real soon. Every people deserve to be free!
May 14, 2018
6 thoughts on “Pot Shots in Palestine”
Thank you Litsa for taking on this very important and controversial subject that even those opposed to war have left unexamined. It is disappointing that TCP followers of this site seem to be shy about stating their opinions on this travesty in spite of the fact that it is tearing apart the Middle East further and thus threatening world peace.
I, too, wish to thank Lisa Binder for her words and her example. As well, I think that the site proprietor and editor, b. traven, deserves commendation for raising this topic. Unfortunately, the dearth of subsequent commentary testifies to either a complete lack of interest or a degree of self-induced intimidation far exceeding that connoted by the rather insipid concept of “shyness.” In my estimation, the word “taboo” more appropriately describes the operative factor limiting, if not eliminating, discussion of Occupied Palestine, not just here, but in the United States generally. I would gladly pursue the topic of sympathetic magic — or its bastard spawn, “religion” — especially its twin supportive manifestations of sorcery and taboo, as these apply to the current topic, should anyone else evince an interest in such matters which I consider fundamental.
Good to hear from you Mike.. I an happy to report that Litsa had one NJ newspaper run her letter. Not enough but better than none.
We expected a deluge of thoughtful supporting and questioning responses to this article. Instead silence. We did reject a few that were totally off topic or dominated by pro or con invective that did not meet our request for thoughtful fact based response.
I have reached the point in my life where I now understand fully what B. Traven, the author ot THE DEATH SHIP, meant by his book that I read when I got out of the army in 1946. Nationalism,and religion play no part in the common human beings life throughout the world. . It is only the power of the state and its rich supporters that counts.
All Religions are used by the state and the powerful to control the masses. We see this very clearly in our country now with the Christian evangelicals supporting an unchristian president and his policies that defy the essence of Christianity. This is true of both Moslimism and Judaism where our great friend, Saudi Arabia, operates like a 16trh century caliphate and Israel defies the empathy for the oppressed that has always distinguished their religion.
TCP readers are on the whole thoughtful and concerned individuals. The middle east is a quagmire in which our country has taken a firm stand in favor of both Saudi Arabia and Israel, representing two major religions.
My guess is that readers are flummoxed by the massive state support our nation gives these two religious entities and they desire to stay out of the fray.
I raised the subject of religion for several reasons, but primarily as an entry point into a discussion of U.S. foreign and domestic policies which seem hopelessly entangled with events in the Middle East that few persons in the deeply divided American electorate understand or appreciate. I understand the trepidation that some may feel whenever the subject of “religion” raises its ugly countenance, like some snake-haired Medusa, but I consider that reticence ill-advised and shortsighted, to say the least. As Kevin Phillips, a longtime analyst of the Republican party in the United States has written in American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (New York: Viking, 2006):
“In its recent practice, the radical side of U.S. religion has embraced cultural antimodernism, war hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy, and in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for governments by literal biblical interpretation. … The evangelical, fundamentalist, sectarian, and radical threads of American religion are being proclaimed openly and analyzed widely, even though bluntness is frequently muted by a pseudo-tolerance, the polite reluctance to criticize another’s religion. However, given the wider thrust of religion’s claims on public life, this hesitance falls somewhere between unfortunate and dangerous.”
In other words, one cannot safely assume that if one simply ignores and keeps quiet about “religion’s claims on public life” that these increasingly strident demands will simply go away of their own accord. They will not. They have not ever done that, not in the entire history of the human race. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment ideal — enshrined in the U.S. Constitution of 1789 — of “religion” as a personal “spiritual” matter for each individual to work out for himself or herself, has never found agreement among those political/military/financial/corporate/sectarian interests determined to stamp out all other sectarian rivals in order to establish a totalitarian dictatorship of uniform opinion and practice. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814: “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
Consider in this regard the recent decision by the Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Occupied Palestine. Notice in particular, if you will, the U.S. personages invited to participate in the ostensibly “governmental” ceremony. As reported by Matthew Haag in The New York Times (May 14, 2018):
“A Dallas evangelical pastor who once said that Jewish people are going to hell and a megachurch televangelist who claimed that Hitler was part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel both played prominent roles on Monday in the opening ceremony of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.
Robert Jeffress, who spoke at President Trump’s private inaugural prayer service and is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, delivered a prayer at the opening ceremony on Monday, while the Rev. John C. Hagee, a televangelist who founded Christians United for Israel and leads a San Antonio megachurch, gave the closing benediction.
Despite their comments about Jewish people, the two pastors are among the leading pro-Israel voices in the evangelical Christian world. Some evangelicals believe that American foreign policy should support Israel to help fulfill biblical prophecies about the second coming of Christ [emphasis added].
The decision by Mr. Trump to move the embassy from Tel Aviv fulfilled a major campaign promise and handed a victory to hard-line pro-Israel Americans, as well as conservative and evangelical Christians who have long wanted the United States’ diplomatic home to be in Jerusalem.” [emphasis added]
Now, in the interests of furthering discussion of “religious” matters affecting the United States and its so-called “democratic republic,” what does this event say about the ostensibly “secular” and “Constitutional” U. S. government with its supposed Jeffersonian “wall” between Church and State? What wall? What “state”? Where? How? Why? It would seem to me that the absence of a blunt and historically informed analysis of “religion” — especially its perilous sectarian encroachment upon the rights and freedoms of Americans — will do the United States no good but ever so much harm. Better to hold up a mirror so that Medusa can look herself in the face and turn herself to stone instead of everyone else to ashes.
Interesting protest here at Houston against Nikki Haley and for Palestine. Sent to me by a foreign friend. I heard nothing about this protest in the U.S. media.
Pardon me for wading in here belatedly. Mike Murry is right on the mark about the threat to what remains of our freedoms posed by aggressive “Christian Evangelicals,” who are well-funded and well-organized…and DEADLY SERIOUS in their quest to establish a Theocratic State in the USA. They have literature openly laying out their plans, as discussed on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” over a decade ago (exploring a group known as “Dominionists,” i.e. those who seek to have us ruled in the name of “The Dominion of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”). Raising this subject among reasonably broad-minded, educated people who would be deemed “Liberals” runs the risk of having the sobriquet “Conspiracy Theorist” hurled at one’s head. That does NOT mean the menace is imaginary; it means the hurler is not sufficiently INFORMED! As Thomas Jefferson was well aware, with various European Inquisitions (whose targets were frequently Jews) being of more recent history than they appear to us in this Age, Theocracy is absolutely the most oppressive, dangerous, indeed deadly form of governance. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia–one considered an enemy by the US, the other a highly valued ally–have their RELIGIOUS POLICE on the streets to enforce mores and codes of conduct that are largely designed to keep women members of those societies “in their place.” Women–they’re “merely” 51% of the population! I have no doubt whatsoever that a resurrected Thomas Jefferson visiting modern Washington, D.C. would be nauseated and outraged at the role allotted religion in the public activities of the US Government. “What is that cleric doing opening each session of the Senate with a worthless prayer?!? Why? Since when??” “You mean to tell me that to be nominated for virtually any public office in the land, a Republican today has to proclaim they are a ‘faithful Christian’?!? How can this be??? Are there no American intellectuals still alive?” “Why have the courts allowed these so-called Christians to, for all practical purposes, re-outlaw abortion after a landmark Supreme Court ruling 45 years ago that declared abortion to be a woman’s personal decision?!?” “Who is this scoundrel named Jeff Sessions, appointed as Attorney General, with the temerity to quote scripture in support of a deliberately cruel, unnecessary immigration policy??” Sad to say, the Wall of Separation was demolished a long, long time ago.
A final observation on Judaism. I do not agree with traven’s description of this religion as a major one. Its adherents constitute a minuscule portion of the world’s believers, on a planet awash in Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Taoists, Shintoists, etc. The blessing of the young Christianity by a Roman Emperor and its co-optation as the State Religion prevented that sect from being exterminated. Since the rabbi called Jesus Christ preached the moral precepts laid out in the Old Testament of the Jews, that amazing mix of occasional wisdom and (mostly) threats of extreme cruelty against transgressors who tried to evade the required conduct and practices was retained as an explanation of the origins of the Universe, the Earth and the human race. Needless to say, the authors of these myths had zero grounding in Science. This bothers the True Believer not a bit, and that person is expected to believe that every word of the Bible is literally true…including its innumerable self-contradictions. (See the wonderful writings of Robert G. Ingersoll and Mark Twain on this topic.) The supposed support for the State of Israel–and damn the number of Palestinians shot down by Israeli snipers!–proclaimed by today’s loud, public “Christians” is perhaps the ne plus ultra example of hypocrisy and cynicism in our contemporary US political scene. If the existence of Israel did not serve the interests of the US Ruling Class in the oil-rich Middle East, military and even diplomatic support for that state would evaporate in the twinkling of an eye. I have said this publicly frequently, and I’ll say it again here: if you could be the proverbial fly on the wall in a room where these “good Christians” are privately discussing Jewish people, you would be exceedingly puzzled by the difference of their rhetoric from their public stance on support for Israel.