Sunday, December 8, 2013

Insight Leading to Action!

Dear Friends,
Dear Friend,

As you can see, I'm sending fewer things out. Saving my powder for musket shots that capture the truth about the realities in I/P and show the way forward.

Ilan Pappe, a Jewish historian, self-exiled to the UK, is interviewed on Electronic Intifada, bringing to Americans truth that is not permitted in the US media. It is perceived as Anti-Semitic. Sentiments such as these, even though written by Jews, will not be found in any of our newspapers. Some of you (like me), may want to dare the editor of your local newspaper, to print it as a guest editorial. Ilan Pappe is widely respected all over the world, although he is no longer welcomed to teach in his own country, Israel. Truth hurts, especially if you can't stand it.

I want to thank my friends in the Israeli/Palestinian Mission Network of the PC(USA) for passing along this insightful interview.

It's not too long, but gives important, brief, historical perspective and answers questions people are asking. This is a good piece to send to people in your world who might be open to hearing "the other side of the story". (And John Kerry is trying so hard to do the impossible. When will we ever learn?)

The world celebrates the life and example of Nelson Mandela! Many of us are hopeful that the model exemplified by him in overcoming our Dutch brothers' and sisters' Apartheid administration, will be successfully used in overcoming an even worse kind of ethno-centric "Jewish State" that systemically discriminates against the native inhabitants (to say nothing about all the nasty details which I have fed you ad nauseam). Faithfully yours, JRK

“We don’t have the luxury to wait” for Israel to change on its own, says Ilan Pappe


8 December 2013

Few, if any, historians have done more to unearth the truth about Israel than Ilan Pappe.

His 2006 book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine documented how the uprooting of more than 750,000 Palestinians was the direct consequence of a plan drawn up by Zionist leaders in 1947. It arguably remains the most serious study published yet of the Nakba (catastrophe), the violent expulsion of Palestinians leading to Israel’s formation the following year.

Pappe’s outspoken criticisms of Israel have resulted in him being isolated by many of his Israeli peers. When he supported a Palestinian-led campaign for an academic boycott of Israel in 2005, the president of Haifa University called on Pappe to resign his teaching post at that college. Since moving to the UK, Pappe has remained a prolific writer on both Israel’s past and present.

He spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Frank Barat. A longer version of this interview can be seen in the video [on their website].

Frank Barat: You have written about how the first Palestinian intifada took place in the 1930s. Can you explain its significance?

Ilan Pappe: I think it is important to go back to even earlier than 1936 in order to understand it. You have to go back to the late nineteenth century when Zionism appeared as a movement. It had two noble objectives, one was to find a safe place for Jews who felt insecure in a growing atmosphere of anti-Semitism, and the other was that some Jews wanted to redefine themselves in a national group, not just as a religion.

The problem started when they chose Palestine as a territory in which to implement these two impulses. It was clear — because the land was inhabited — that you would have to do it by force and you had to contemplate the depopulation of the indigenous people. It took time for the Palestinian community to realize that this was the plan.

By 1936, you could already see the beginning of the real result of this strategy: Palestinians were evicted from land purchased by the Zionist movement; Palestinians lost their jobs because of Zionist strategy to take over the labor market. It was very clear that the European Jewish problem was going to be solved in Palestine.

All these three factors pushed Palestinians for the first time to say “we are going to do something about it,” and they tried to revolt. You needed the all might of the British Empire to crush that revolt as it did happen. It took them three years; they used the repertoire of actions against the Palestinians that were as bad as those that would be used later on by the Israelis to quell the Palestinian intifadas of 1987 and 2000.

FB: This revolt of 1936 was a very popular revolt; it was the peasants that took up arms.

IP: Absolutely. The Palestinian political elite lived in cities of Palestine, but the main victims of Zionism up to the 1930s were in the countryside. That’s why the revolt started there — but there were sections of the urban elite that joined them.

I pointed out in one of my books that the British killed or imprisoned most of those who belonged to the Palestinian political elite and military or potential military elite.

They created a Palestinian society that was quite defenseless in 1947 when the first Zionist actions — with the knowledge that the British Mandate came to an end — had commenced. I think it had an impact on the inability of the Palestinians to resist a year later, in 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

FB: You moved to Exeter in the UK in 2007, but still go back to Israel very often. How has the situation evolved in Israel over the last few years?

IP: The task of changing Jewish society from within is formidable. This society seems to be more and more entrenched on its positions.

If you compare Israel today with the Israel I left, or the Israel I grew up in, the trend is to become more chauvinistic, ethnocentric, intransigent — which makes us all feel that peace and reconciliation are very far away if we only rely on our hope that Jewish society will change from within.

FB: Should we, therefore, put all our energy on applying pressure from the outside or should we still try to make Israelis change their views?

IP: The reason why we are all debating this is because on the ground the machine of destruction does not stop for one day. We therefore don’t have the luxury to wait any longer. Time is not on our side.

We know that while we wait, many terrible things are happening. We also know there is a correlation between those terrible things happening and the realization of the Israelis that there is a price tag attached to what they are doing.

If they pay no price for what they are doing, they will even accelerate the strategy of ethnic cleansing. It’s therefore a mixture.

We urgently need to find a system by which you stop what is being done now, on the ground, and to also prevent what is about to happen. You need a powerful model of pressure from the outside.

As far as people from the outside are concerned, international civil society, I think the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement is as good as it gets. Still, it can’t be the only model or factor.

There are two additional factors to make it a successful process. One is on the Palestinian side. The question of representation needs to be sorted [out]. You need a good solution.

Secondly, you need to have a kind of educational system, inside, that takes the time to educate the Israeli Jews about a different reality and the benefit it will bring to them.

If those factors all work well together, and we have a more holistic approach to the question of reconciliation, things could change.

FB: The two-state solution seems to be the only one that powerful governments are taking seriously. Why do you think they are refusing to entertain the idea of a one-state solution?

IL: I think two things are taking place. One is the issue of Palestinian representation.

The people that claim to represent the Palestinians from the West Bank became the representatives of the whole Palestinian people. As far as the West Bank is concerned, you see why a two-state solution is attractive. It could mean the end of military control. One can understand this.

But this disregards the other Palestinians: the refugees, the ones from Gaza and the ones that live inside Israel.

That’s one of the difficulties. You have certain groups of Palestinians that, in my opinion, wrongly, believe that this is the quickest way to end the occupation. I don’t think it is.

The second reason is that the two-state solution has a logical ring to it. It’s a very Western idea, a colonialist invention that was applied in India and Africa, this idea of partition.

It became a kind of religion to the extent that you do not question it anymore. You work out how best to get there. That is surprising. To my mind it makes very intelligent people take this as a religion of logic. If you question the rationality of it, you are criticized.

This is why a lot of people in the West stick to it. Nothing on the ground would ever change their mind.

Five minutes on the ground shows you that the one state is already there.

It’s a non-democratic regime, an apartheid regime. So you just need to think about how to change this regime. You do not need to think about a two-state solution. You need to think about how to change the relations between the communities, how to affect the power structure in place.

FB: The Palestinian intellectual Edward Said died ten years ago. You knew him well. Can you say why Palestinians looked up to him so much?

IP: We miss him very much. I don’t think only Palestinians looked up to him for inspiration. He was one of the greatest intellectuals of the second half of the 20th century. We all looked at him for inspiration on questions of knowledge, morality, activism, not only on Palestine. We are missing his holistic approach, his ability to see things from above in a more wholesome way.

When you lose someone like that, you have people that are taking the fragmentation that Israel imposes on the Palestinians and act as if this is a reality itself. What we need is to overcome the intellectual, physical and the cultural fragmentation that Israel imposes on us, Palestinians and Jews, and to strive to come back to something far more organic and integrated so that the third generation of Jewish settlers and indigenous native people of Palestine could have a future together.

Frank Barat presents Le Mur a des Oreilles, a monthly radio show focused on Palestine.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting Beyond Lydda, 1948

Dear Friend,
Lydda, 1948: A Revisiting

John Kleinheksel Sr. November 21, 2013

Every so often, we have an accurate snapshot of the basic reality of Israel/Palestine.
One such portrait comes from Ari Shavit’s Lydda, 1948, in The New Yorker, October 21, 2013, pp. 40-46), which is actually a central chapter in his book appearing this week entitled, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. This gentleman is now all the rage in America, given his status as a journalist with Ha’aretz from a distinguished 19th century immigrant family long associated with the Jewish State. (His great-grandfather, a prosperous lawyer, left England for Palestine in the 1890s to escape persecution).

There have always been at least two views of the meaning of Zionism: 1) The expansive view of Israel as a light to the nations, and; 2) the more exclusive view of Israel as a land/way for us, the Jewish people. The first, more outward-looking view was exemplified by the immigration to Palestine of Siegfried Lehmann, a German-born Jew who set up a youth village for homeless children just outside the ancient city of Lydda (Lod).

Beginning in 1927, his idea of Zionism was to live alongside of the inhabitants of the land instead of displacing them. In the words of Ari Shavit, he wanted Zionist Jews to fulfill an urgent national task in a manner that would benefit all of humanity . . . . a settlement movement not tainted by colonialism or chauvinism . . . . (O)n the contrary, it must somehow plant Jews in their homeland in an organic fashion, becoming a bridge between East and West (ibid, p. 40).

Those years between the Arab uprising in 1935-1938 and the declaration of the Jewish State in 1948 were formative years. By mid-1948, Siegfried Lehmann’s brand of Zionism was eclipsed by David Ben-Gurion’s view: It’s either they or we. There is no room for both of us in the same country. Although he has serious misgivings, Mr. Shavit clearly comes down on the side of Ben Gurion. Under fear of a possible Jordanian military attack, 250 Arabs were gunned down in the Great Mosque of Lydda by Israeli soldiers. Under the direct threat of death from the Israelis, a column of homeless Arab refugees marched South past Lehmann’s youth village and disappeared into the East.

Mr. Shavit wonders how Mr. Lehmann could have been so naive to think and act as though these two peoples could co-exist, side by side. “Contrary to every belief that Siegfried Lehmann held, [Arab Palestinians and Jews] cannot really see each other and recognize each other and make peace” (ibid, p. 46). Indeed. It is a matter of vision, imagination and attitude. Who says we cannot really see each other? Are you able to “see” me? Do we recognize one another? Will the chasm of “us-or-them” persist forever? It’s an attitude, a matter of mindset, Mr. Shavit. You appear to have the older, outdated Zionist mindset. Time has run out on that view!

Mr. Shavit, you “see” an unbridgeable chasm because you are trapped by the exclusive view of Zionism rather than the more expansive view. We had to take the Lydda valley [militarily] . . . . there was no other way. But the Arabs’ side, the Palestinian side, is equally clear: they cannot forget Lydda and they cannot forgive us for Lydda . . . . What is needed to make peace between the two peoples of the land may prove more than humans can summon . . . . So many years have passed and yet the column is still marching east. For columns like the column of Lydda never stop marching (ibid, p. 46).

Really? Never?

Of course the solution is more than humans can summon, Mr. Shavit. For this kind of peace we all need forgiveness, which is the language, not of humans, but of Divinity. There is no forgiveness if we are right in our own eyes, by what we “see”. When people and states see only their own way, and not the point of view of “The Other”, there is no guilt, no offense, and thus no forgiveness.

We will echo your gloomy pessimism if we continue to hold to the “us-or-them” mindset. How can you say the Ben Gurion version of Zionism succeeded when it destroyed over 500 Arab villages, conquering instead of sharing the land, where columns like the column of Lydda never stop marching (last sentence, ibid, p. 46).

Is there today, “no other way”? Will a column of refugees just keep marching away? Or do we need to draw upon something, some vision, some energy, some Source beyond us that will take us beyond the present impasse? In his Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote: There is one vice of which no one in the world is free, which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else . . . The vice I am talking of is Pride . . . Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind . . . . As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you (BreakPoint, November 18, 2013).

Mr. Shavit, you show uncommon insight into the roots of the present reality (we acted in an unforgiveable manner in nation-building), but please take it farther! Don’t remain stuck in an arrested state of development! Don’t conclude that Palestinians cannot forget or forgive “us” for Lydda and all the other villages that were destroyed. Are you the measure of whether anyone is capable of forgiving?

For some, perhaps many, an unforgiving spirit may prevail. And true, what has transpired can’t be undone. But can’t we move on? Can’t we confess this to “the other”? Where is this dialogue taking place? How do we get beyond the Separation Barrier between us? Are real people having these conversations? Might the negotiators in Jerusalem and Jericho address each other this way in the US-sponsored “talks” going on right now?

Both sides are going head-to-head. I suggest they go heart-to-heart as well. What if each side showed more vulnerability towards the other?

1) What if Jews came along side of their Arab counterparts and admitted: How could things have gone so wrong between us? We’re sorry we acted so badly against you when we wanted to escape persecution/extinction in Europe. We were desperate to set up our own nation. We knew you objected to it. You made that clear. Will you forgive us? How can we make it up to each other?

2) What if Arabs came along side of their Jewish counterparts and admitted: We hated it when more and more of you came to our land and you made it plain it was now YOUR land. It was plain you wanted to get rid of us. Will you forgive us for vengeful actions on our part? Can we make a new start?
Mr. Shavit seemingly cannot appreciate Isaiah’s view of Zionism where buckets of water from the wells of salvation overflow not just for the Frozen Chosen but for the goyim. Let the whole earth know what God has done (Isaiah 12:4-6, The Message).

Each of these traumatized people wants to claim the Victim role and justify their grievances by taking a pound of flesh from the other side (to borrow the image from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice).

In his November 16 New York Times column, “Something for Barack and Bibi to Talk About”, Tom Friedman urges both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu to read Ari Shavit’s book. Mr. Friedman thinks Mr. Shavit’s realism might change “the conversation about Israel [and build] a healthier relationship with it” (last paragraph). That may be Tom, but I have my doubts.

Those of us who are people of faith want to draw upon the will, justice and love of the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaiah and Micah, Jesus and Paul to end the conflict; not see it perpetuated generation after generation.
Unless a change of heart comes about in both peoples, unless the bad blood is cleansed through mutual forgiveness and good faith attempts at restitution, the cycle of violence and counter-violence will continue to build up, exploding in volcanic eruptions that dwarf Mt. Etna and may engulf the whole world.

As people of faith, we differ from Mr. Shavit’s view. The columns of homeless refugees may NOT keep marching. Not all may be reconciled but both Jews and Arabs remaining in the land (and beyond), want to be treated with dignity, equality and respect. It takes a new mindset Mr. Shavit! So help us, God!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Two State Illusion

Dear Friend,

You should know of my high regard for my friend Mark Braverman ()

He has written another piece that I am passing on to you.

Here is what I wrote in the "comment" section of his blog: It is consistent with your long-held conviction and stated position, relentlessly exposing the fatal flaw at the heart of the Zionist vision of 1897 and beyond. It must be recanted, rescinded, thus opening the door to a truly pluralist, democratic (One) State.

As I found on my two week study tour to I/P last June, there is virulent opposition to this position. It is considered treason of the highest order. One State dominated by “Jews” is by far, the preferred model.

The Two – State is a fig leaf to mask the commitment to a “Jews Only” State. One pluralist, democratic State is nowhere even on the horizon. Yet, there are SO MANY still trumpeting the Two-State "solution" (now being pursued by Sec. Kerry, Pres. Obama and Martin Indyk; among them, The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), Peter Beinart, Peace Now (Amy-Jill Levine), Gershon Baskin, Uri Avnery, J Street (Jeremy Ben Ami), Hussein Ibish, and probably even Bishop Shori, are on the other side–wanting to “preserve the Zionist dream” by giving a few crumbs to their Palestinian neighbors.

Yet, there you are Mark. And Miko Peled and a hand-full of others, wanting to dismantle it from the ground up, and start over. All the best. And what a task (through KUSA) to get American ecumenical and evangelical congregations on board with this view. Whew. JRK

The Two State Illusion, Racism in Israel, and Jewish Hubris

October 30, 2013 at 11:08 am

On October 16 The Christian Century published my review of Rashid Khalidi’s Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East. The fact that the Century reviewed Khalidi’s book is an indication of the media’s increasing willingness to present viewpoints that challenge the very basis of Israel as a Jewish ethnic nationalist entity. This shift reflects the reality that once you address present-day violations of Palestinian rights, you see that the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was the continuation of the program of ethnic cleansing that began in 1948 and continues to this day with the annexation and carving up of the West Bank and the inhuman siege of Gaza. You begin to understand that the dispossession of the Palestinians was the inevitable outcome of the project to set up a state for the benefit of one people. It is also becoming frighteningly clear that oppression and frankly racist policies on the part of Israel are not limited to occupied areas, but to the territory within the de facto borders of the State of Israel prior to the 1967 war.

Israel’s new racism

A recently released documentary demonstrates this with horrifying vividness. Ali Abunimah, Palestinian writer and activist and publisher of the Electronic Intifada, has reported on a video entitled “Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land,” produced by Max Blumenthal and David Sheen, a piece solicited — and then rejected — by the New York Times. According to Blumenthal, it has since gone viral on YouTube, with close to one million views. The ten minute piece documents vicious, racist attacks on African residents of Israel incited by prominent demagogues and several members of the Israeli Parliament. The piece presents voices, not only shrieking in public demonstrations but speaking calmly in office interviews, proclaiming that Israel is the land of the Jews and that non-Jews (especially those with black skin) are not welcome. The video is shocking — but it is not surprising. From our twentieth-century perspective, we understand all too well that ethnic nationalism breeds racism – that it is racism – and that oppression and violence – the bloody as well as the structural, state-sponsored kind – is the inevitable result. In his recently published Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Blumenthal documents Israel’s escalating move to the political right, into what many would described as fascism. The problem, as I pointed out in my 2011 blog post about Peter Beinart and his brand of “progressive Zionism,” (a piece accepted and then rejected by The Nation), is not the occupation, nor is it the religiously-based racism of fundamentalist Jewish settler-colonists — the problem is a state founded on an ethnic nationalist ideology. “The late and deeply mourned Tony Judt,” I wrote then, “got it exactly right in his NYRB piece back in 2003: ‘The problem with Israel [is that]…it has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a ‘Jewish state’—a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded—is rooted in another time and place.’”

For over half a century, much of the world, with the U.S. in the lead, has accepted and supported this anachronistic and, by Judt’s definition, illegitimate political entity. A central point of Khalidi’s book is how language has been used to deny the reality of a State of Israel that, by virtue of its founding principle of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine has never been willing to share the territory. Khalidi describes the history of U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “a carefully constructed realm of obscurity, a realm in which the misuse of language has thoroughly corrupted both political thought and action.” He documents how U.S. policy since the 1970s has embraced that denial by sponsoring a “peace process” that has advanced Israel’s expansionism, demonstrating how, I wrote, “language functions to obscure the reality of a colonial settler project that has resulted in the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinians…language used to maintain the destructive illusion of a process of negotiation between equal parties, rather than the reality of a powerless, stateless, occupied people at the mercy of a highly militarized state supported by the world’s only superpower.” Despite the futility of this approach to peacemaking, Khalidi points out, our government has pursued it doggedly, bowing to domestic political pressures and to Israeli stubbornness and persistence.

But things are changing. For an increasing number of Americans, the realization is dawning that the story they have been told is a distortion and that our government’s policies are bad, not only for the Palestinians, but for the citizens of Israel. Mainstream journalism, which, like politics, responds to the wind of public opinion, is reflecting this shift. Ian Lustick’s September 14 New York Times opinion piece “Two State Illusion” represents a sea change in NYT editorial policy with respect to Israel. Lustick’s piece was followed closely by Yousef Munayyer’s “Thinking outside the two state box” in the New Yorker’s online edition. “The reality now,” wrote Munayyer, “is that there is a single state. The problem is that it takes an apartheid form.” Rather than solving the problem that it was intended to solve, which is security and freedom from fear for Jews, Israeli policy has condemned the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel to continuing conflict. “It’s time” Munayyer writes, “to start thinking outside the Zionist box and look for solutions that secure the human rights and equality of all involved, not just the political demands of the stronger party.”

On a recent panel, which they shared with Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street (watch it or you access unedited transcripts of the entire panel presentation) Lustick and Munayyer spell out the political danger of clinging to the possibility that negotiations can bring about a fair and sustainable two state solution. The addresses by Lustick and Munayyer are riveting — and an excellent adjunct to Khalidi’s book. A key point made by both of them is that the implausibility of a fair partition at this point not only makes the negotiations pointless, but worse, perpetuates the conditions that make two states impossible, playing into Israel’s hands even more effectively than handing them the entire territory on a silver platter. In contrast, Ben Ami’s words give us a good look at the arguments that must be mustered to hold on to the “two-state illusion.” It is pretty much the brand of “progressive Zionism” that Peter Beinart has been offering up to preserve the Zionist dream: nothing is impossible if we wish for it hard enough and believe in it deeply enough. Commitment to the idea of Jewish nationalist homeland trumps reality, and certainly any commitment to equality for Palestinians, despite the language to the contrary — duly served up by those committed to saving Zionism — about full commitment to a state of their own for Palestinians.

Sad Zionists

Recently, Beinart, in his blog Open Zion, has adopted a strategy similar to that demonstrated by J Street in its recent annual conferences: broaden the tent to competing points of view, in particular to those advocating some version of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). In her recent piece in Open Zion, “If you want two states, support BDS,” Kathleen Peratis freely admits that her commitment to two states has her standing “on very narrow ground…that the current peace process is at best a Hail Mary.” “Sad Zionists,” is how she describes herself and those who cling to “our liberal Zionist dreams.” My question to Peratis is this: how sad are you willing to be? Are you willing to tolerate the sadness of letting go of the concept that an ethnic nationalist entity, a concept carried over from the late nineteenth century, is the answer to anti-Semitism? Are you willing to mourn the understandable mistake of political Zionism as the solution to our historic suffering, a forgivable (if and when we acknowledge the mistake) but all the same catastrophic wrong turn? Are we willing to be sad enough? And having tolerated that sadness, are we then able to contemplate, as I wrote in my critique of Beinart, that “[t]he end of Zionism will not be the disaster that so many Jews – and some Christians — fear. Rather, it will open the Jewish people to a future where the Other is embraced, rather than back to a past in which armies are mustered, walls are built, and enemies, real and imagined, are vilified and attacked. “Saving” Zionism by trying to make it into something it is not takes us in precisely the wrong direction.”

Like other progressive Zionists, Peratis sees commitment to political Zionism as integral to Jewish identity. What I find most unsettling, however, is not Peratis’ sentimental clinging to the “liberal Zionist dream” or the even more dangerous notion that “Fortress Israel,” as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has characterized the state, keeps Jews safe (indeed, it makes not only Jews, but the entire world less safe). As the title of her piece makes very clear, Peratis wants to say yes to (what she calls) BDS because it will help the two state solution. Here is what Peratis does not get: BDS is a Palestinian project. It is a call from Palestinian civil society, endorsed at the time of its inauguration in 2005 by 108 Palestinian political parties, unions, associations, coalitions and organizations representing Palestinian refugees, Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel. The goal of BDS is Palestinian human rights, not the preservation of the Zionist project. If we, as Jews, choose to support BDS, it has to be as world citizens (and if we are Americans, then in particular U.S. citizens) joining a global, universal human rights movement, a movement to say “No” to apartheid in our time. What hubris — what chutzpah — to attempt to co-opt the Palestinian call for BDS into supporting the failing, fundamentally flawed and, in the present scenario — it must be said — racist and anti-human rights cause that is the two state solution today. Holding on to two states is holding on to the Jewish state. And holding on to the Jewish state means suffering the consequences of such a project, consequences on such horrific display in the Sheen-Blumenthal video.

Is that sad enough for you?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When "Israeli" Means "Jews Only"

Dear Friend,

Most of us are unwilling to delve into the complexities of the situation in I/P--and American support for the status quo.

For this, my 8th report since our study tour of I/P in June, I'm urging you to wade through the essay by Jonathan Cook and his "View from Nazareth" (see link below)

But let me lead you gently into it by giving an overview of his interpretation of the recent (Israeli) Supreme Court decision to deny citizenship rights to a group of Palestinian Arab Israelis. Sound complicated? It is.

You would think that there existed an Israeli nationality, for those living in "the State of Israel". But you would be wrong. There is no such thing. You are either a Jewish citizen or an Arab citizen. And if you are an Arab citizen you do not have full rights. Only Jews can be full citizens, because it is the JEWISH State after all.

The Israeli Supreme Court is determined to maintain the original founding principle of a majority existence as a State of and for the Jewish people. (Thus, it is ethnically based, a democracy for Jews, and not a true democratic state!)

In the early going, two "Basic Laws" were adopted:

1) The Law of Return (1950) which gives any Jew anywhere in the world the right to come to Israel and attain instant citizenship.

2) The Citizenship Law (1952) which gives citizenship rights in principle to the Arab minority (but in practice it "applies only to a tiny minority who marry Israeli (Jewish) 'citizens' [and who] enter a lengthy and antagonistic naturalization process."

Israel keeps insisting that Palestinians accept the JEWISH State. If there was only one set of laws for both Jews and Arabs, the Arab minority would demand an end to the immigration privileges only Jews enjoy, which are denied to Palestinians who want to "return" to "their" land.

Perhaps it is a bit unfair to say that America supports the status quo. If that were so, Sec. Kerry wouldn't have worked so hard to bring the sides together to "Talk". So, the "Talks" have resumed again, to achieve two separate and autonomous States, one for Israel and one for Palestine, side by side, with justice for Palestinians and security for Israelis.

In your dreams. Israel completely rejects both a truly pluralistic democratic State and a truly independent Palestinian State. It wants the One State it has now. It cannot conceive of or trust the intentions of an autonomous Palestinian State. The fear of violent displacement runs too deep. [See Yuval Steinitz in the Oct. 15, 2013, "How Palestinian Hate Prevents Peace", New York Times] And to lift the lid (even just a little bit) on the boiling Occupation Pot would just be too explosive! So the Occupation must continue. Or does it have to? How can we begin to dismantle it safely, with confidence-building measures that lead to "good faith" progress?

Remember THE ISSUE:

Israelis: "Why can't you just leave us alone, so we can have our own safe place? (Besides, It's God's will!")

Palestinians: "Because you want it at our expense. It was our place. We can't accept it (or you!) on the basis of the unjust terms you are offering. (Oh, and what about our view of God's will?")

Read Jonathan Cook. Here is the direct link if you want to read it on line:

Stay tuned to developments.

Truly seek out God's will in this matter.

Keep trusting that bloodshed can be averted in the pilgrimage to liberty and justice for all inhabitants of the land.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ruchama Marton Psycho-Policital Perspective


Here is the full article from Ruchama Marton, an Israeli psycho-therapist, feminist and human rights advocate:

The Oslo ‘peace accords’: a psycho-political perspective

Source: (Open Democracy blog)

Ruchama Marton (b. 1937) is a Jew from Tel Aviv, a psychiatrist, feminist and human rights activist, founder and President of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, 1988. She has written numerous articles on psychiatry, human rights and psycho-political analysis. She is the recipient of several peace and human rights awards, including the Right Livelihood Award, (the Alternative Nobel prize) 2010).

For us Israelis, equality is an impossible mental mission.

“Modern Foolishness is not ignorance. Modern Foolishness is the absence of doubt about convention.” Gustave Flaubert

The central and most profound Israeli convention is that 'we' cherish and crave peace. At the same time 'we' are convinced that all others, especially the Arabs (Palestinians) are warmongers. Facts, naturally, must not be allowed to confuse 'us'.

The Israeli-Jewish self-image as spiritually superior and peace-loving is a cardinal element in Israeli society's high self-esteem, and has made possible thousands of cases of state-sponsored killings, injuries, torture, abuse, and dispossession. It justifies the devaluation of the Palestinian enemies and permits the disregard of their human rights.

In remembering my grandparents and their generation, I recollect thinkers like the members of Brit Shalom, who lived their lives according to Jewish ethics, that is to say, ethics which dwell on how to live, what values should guide us in life. These values contrast starkly with the Israeli Zionist ethics of the last one hundred years, which dwell on the question ‘Will I live?’ Living and staying alive, no matter what and how, is the goal. When this is the guiding principle, there is no place for moral questions; there is no place to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. The first question - how do I live? - is a moral one. The second - will I live? - is merely functional.

In referring to the Israeli-Jewish community, we are referring to a 'large group' in Wilfred Bion's terms. The group that describes Israel best is the fight-flight group. The fight-flight group’s basic assumptions (which are subconscious) are that it must preserve itself at all costs, and that this can be done only by fight or flight. This group does not tolerate weakness and expects casualties since the survival of the group is more important than the needs of its individual members. The group may be characterized by aggressiveness and hostility. The leader must lead the group against a common enemy. If an enemy does not exist, the leader will create one.

Simultaneously, the group has a group-work mentality that agrees on its common tasks. In Israel's case the group-work mentality is about peace: the group is profoundly convinced that peace is its primary concern and goal. The result of the enduring co-existence of these two contradictory mentalities (power veneration and peace volition) is the inevitable tension between them. The basic assumption interferes with the group task mentality and generates a dysfunctional group culture.

In order to protect group cohesion in the face of group dysfunction, the leader and the group members must take measures to ensure a firm consensus. When consensus, a general “truth” held to be so by all, is fundamentally at issue, this leads to a mental state whereby the group, tribe or nation, assumes priority over individuals. When consensus becomes both an ideology and a policy, individual freedom is forced to surrender to the will of the group, the nation. In Israel, great pressure is exerted on everybody to be a part of the national consensus, whatever the price of this. Criticism of the national consensus is hardly tolerated inside Israel, and totally condemned abroad. As mentioned above, one of the main pillars of the Israeli consensus is that we are peace lovers. Peace is what we want and desire most.

For example: in 1980 following the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel and the impending peace with Lebanon, I observed a great anxiety within Israeli society. When I pointed out that the prospect of peace was being viewed as a threat - or as I named it, the trauma of peace - I experienced much hostility in my society, my large group: "How dare you say, even think, things like that? We want peace more than anything else. Are you not an Israeli?"

Still, one must ask why peace, which is the declared aspiration of Israelis, provoked such a collective anxiety. I have to conclude that Israel does not yet have a mature definition of itself. In other words, it is not evident to “us” who we are. Israel demands time and again that its neighbor states recognize it - as if Israeli statehood were not a solid fact. Having difficulty figuring out one’s identity from within leads to the need to receive an answer from without. The ultimate "not me" is an enemy. Therefore an enemy as defined by the large group is an absolute need. Losing this solid definition through a peace agreement is a real psychological threat.

Another reason for needing an enemy and war is the severe fragmentation of Israeli society into various sectors, which requires war as a tool for inner cohesion, a remedy for social disintegration. The impending peace with Lebanon in the north following the peace treaty with Egypt in the south (1979) exposed the inner threat of fragmentation and disintegration until this took on the scale of a psychological trauma. I could not help but predict a war that would “save” Israel from the trauma of the peace. The war in Lebanon started in June 1982.

In general, people love to be reassured in their conventions and hate to be confronted with ideas and facts that disrupt their adherence to them. The ideas that 'we' are basically afraid of and reject peace cannot be tolerated because this transgresses the rules of the community, betraying its tribal culture and mentality. In Flaubert’s words – this is an illustration for 'Modern Foolishness'.
Several years later, in one of his political speeches during the July 1984 election campaign, the extreme right wing Rabbi Meir Kahane declared: “We will kick out all of the Arabs. The few Arabs which I will permit to stay here will have to be slaves to the Jews, as it is written in the scriptures. But that is not all. I will force them to take an oath not to the Israeli state, but to the Jewish state."

26 years went by. Kahane was disqualified from running for membership of the Knesset because of the bluntness of his racist views. But his ideas did not disappear; on the contrary. Since 2010, the Knesset and the Israeli government have been dealing with at least three different bills that define Israel as a Jewish state. The revival of Kahane's ideas in Israel's current politics is the clearest realization of the segregation concept so far.

Sharing power
If the power principle is at the core of a policy of disengagement from the other, then sharing power is the core of an engagement based on respect.

Separation (disengagement), in contrast to segregation, is possible only if the partners are equal. In other words – it can work only if the partners are acting with mutual respect – which means sharing power. Otherwise – separation is a euphemism for segregation, which serves only the more powerful partner, which in the case of Israel, means creating and maintaining the occupation.
I firmly believe and hence want to argue here that the genuine meaning of respect lies in readiness to share power.

In fact, disengagement-separation-segregation has been the policy of successive Israeli governments ever since the establishment of the state. Such a policy maintains the imbalance of power and prevents reconciliation. With this policy there is no need for decency and common goals for the two national groups. The powerful side can and will dictate one-sidedly the rules of the game.
In the last twenty years, the name of the game is the Oslo Process, the outgrowth of the Oslo Peace Accords. The Oslo Process is an 'as if' reconciliation/peace epoch. In fact it is the ethnic segregation epoch. Closing the gates separating Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has turned out to be a daily reality for the Palestinians since the '90s and has become the main manifestation of the Oslo agreements: establishing a separation wall between the two nations. The Oslo Process and its intermediary agreements implemented, de facto, the process of segregation between Israeli-Jews and Palestinian-Arabs, and allowed Israel to shed its responsibility for what it had done in the occupied Palestinian territory for over almost three decades. This segregation includes most aspects of life: infrastructure planning as well as concrete segregation in the sewage infrastructure and water supply, all according to ethnic criteria.

Peace can be just the condition of no war. It is not necessarily a just peace, nor is it necessarily a relationship based on respect. Some might even consider the relationship between the Americans and the Native Americans “peace”. These relationships are frequently characterized by an extreme imbalance between two sides, who are not really partners at all. One side is strong and the other weak. In a situation like this, respect is replaced by diktat. This suggests that genuine reconciliation is far more difficult to achieve than peace. (The reconciliation process deserves a specific discussion).

The Oslo Agreement did not die and peace was not born. We, the Israeli-Jewish group, continue to believe what we say to ourselves and the world: that we want peace and that they, the Palestinians, are refusing it. It is easy for us to believe ourselves since the collective subconscious rules and fulfills all its demands – the leader allocates the enemy, the group follows him and supports aggressive militarism on a daily basis by deepening and expanding the segregation and avoiding any chance of reconciliation. For us Israelis, equality is an impossible mental mission.
The Oslo Process and the endless peace negotiations that have followed it are powerful because they help to shrink the gap between the subconscious demands and the group-work mentality. It is so efficient because the Oslo Agreement actually serves war (the basic assumption) while declaring peace (the group-work mentality).

The documents of Oslo didn't deal with human rights or with equality. Maybe this fact is the primal sin of those accords. The actual beginning of a peace process - apart from the ceremonial signing, demonstrations, and media attention - will have to be reflected in the creation of a different emotional and cognitive system. Perceptions of Palestinians as equal, worthy of human and civil rights just like their Israeli Zionist counterparts – that is the real meaning of the peace process.

(7th) Report from the Ground

Dear Friends,

I/P Study Tour Report (7th) From the Ground
(Rev.) John Kleinheksel for FPI

The above sign, ubiquitous in I/P, shows how it is against the law for Israelis to be in Palestinian territory, mixing with the natives. Such separation (segregation) of the two peoples reinforces inequality. These twisted, knotted threads are part of the present fabric.

And yet, representatives of Israel and Palestine are in conversation, persons from Likud and Fatah, with Americans hanging around, bringing their conflicting expectations out into the open, trying to untangle the gnarly knots, with the Two State as the payoff.

FPI (Friends of Palestinians and Israelis) aligns itself with those persons and groups who are building the political will to end inequality between Israelis and Palestinians. It means getting at the often subconscious mindsets we bring to relationships that prevent us from treating “the other” with the respect they deserve as children of God. Palestinians are convinced Israelis (as a whole) perceive them as inferior; and Israelis are sure that Palestinians have not received/accepted them in the land.

I’m attaching a seminal essay by the feminist Jew, Ruchama Marton, a psychiatrist, who probes the psycho/social causes of treating the “other” with disrespect. The implication is that “group think” applies more to Israelis than Palestinians, but a similar case could be made in regards to Palestinian disrespect of Israelis as a whole.

As you know by now, I want to get at the roots of the conflict and move beyond conflict to treating each other with the mutual respect instead of as Enemies, each being created in the likeness of God (who gives manifold expressions of Self-ness, yet is Single [unified] and wants God’s children to welcome diversity in harmony-Shalom-Salaam).

Ruchama Marton brings fresh insight into Israeli “group think” that justifies segregating Palestinians behind a “separation barrier” to protect them from the evil Enemy who threatens their very existence. It goes like this: “We are quite sure we are not being accepted, received, welcomed here; therefore, until you show us respect for who we are, we will treat all of you as enemies. There must be complete acceptance of our “right” to exist here. Absolutely no allowance will be made for any acts of violence against us for being here. Your hatred of us must not be allowed to make any inroads into our way of life”.

Since this mindset is perceived by Palestinians as oppression by Occupation forces, there will always be a state of war between the two peoples. There is no way Palestinians can earn Israeli trust and respect. We want “peace” (with no power sharing); and you want to destroy us. If we actually did extend “respect” to you it would mean sharing power. Since you don’t want us here, if we shared power with you, it would mean the death of us and our way of life. It won’t happen. The war will never end.

Friends, this is what makes the “conflict” so agonizing and maddening. Ms. Marton equates “respect for Palestinians” with “sharing power” with them. On its face, her insights offer no solutions, only diagnosis and “understanding”. But understanding these roots does not lead to mutual respect, only further isolation. When will we start seeing “the other” as fellow human beings with their own desire for space?

Institutional injustice can only lead to liberation when we start seeing the evil in ourselves as well as “the other, the Enemy”. Then fear gives way to vulnerability, healing and mutual respect. My visit confirmed the deeply felt fear on the part of Israelis: fear of Palestinians, fear of extinction.

Eugene Peterson (The Message) has a compelling translation of Jesus’ teaching on how we perceive the world around us: Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! (Matt 622-23)
Indeed! That is, what we “see” is what we allow into our being, our person. What do we “see” when our eyes light on “the other”? An Enemy or a potential Friend? The Rich Man never “saw” Lazarus at his door (Luke 16:19-31) and so the chasm became unbridgeable. Hindus talk about The Third Eye, the center of wisdom, bringing order out of chaos. Having discerned betrayal in relationships, how do we move to “wonder” and even entrustment again? This also explains the dilemma Israelis and Palestinians confront on a daily basis. Reading Ruchama Marton, I was reminded of the truly fine books by Rabbi Michael Lerner (Embracing Israel/Palestine), Richard Forer’s Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion and Mark Braverman’s Fatal Embrace.

As the separation (segregation) deepens, “Aggressive militarism on a daily basis” (Marton essay), makes reconciliation [seem] impossible. And this: “For us Israelis, equality (power sharing) is an impossible mental mission”. Please read the Ruchama Marton which I am placing here next. JRK for FPI

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dialogue Among Stake-holders

Here is what I first sent to a group of 20 "on the ground" in I/P and the US:


I wanted to be sure you read this op-ed by Ian Lustick (THE TWO STATE ILLUSION, NY Times, Sept. 15, 2013), the most convincing (recent) articulation of what we have known for a long, long time: Two States is dead. Its time has past.

This will disappoint many of my (especially Palestinian) friends who are still holding out for the Two State resolution for the two peoples.

I have long sensed that one, pluralistic, democratic State is the goal, NOT beating the dead horse of the Kerry/Obama "talks". That "race" is over. Not that this outcome will be easy. Or without pain. But come it must.

I invite your comments. Click on "Reply to All" for a general discussion among us.

How is it that the NY Times allowed this in their space?!

Peace, justice and love, JRK for FPI

The first response I got is worth sharing. It is from a Shadia Kanaan, a dear Muslim friend in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who has family in Ramallah, the West Bank.

Here is her response, followed up with comments that I sent to the group of 20. You may want to enter the dialogue in the "comments" section.

As the two-state solution in Palestine/Israel turns increasingly into an illusion, the author proposes yet another version of the one-state solution that has been circulating during the past few years. This proposition has been gaining traction within some Palestinian circles and among a few western dreamers who have rightly come to the conclusion that the two-state solution has been pre-empted by the Zionist settlement enterprise. I believe The New York Times published the article out of recognition that the two-state solution is dying, and that a solution based on a unitary state is a possible alternative.

Noble as the idea of a democratic state where Palestinians and Israelis live as equals may be, it is bound to face formidable hurdles mainly because the balance of power tilts against it. Naturally, Israelis and their worldwide supporters have not come so far in the implementation of the Zionist dream/Palestnian nightmare in the whole of Palestine to have it come crashing down by the proposition of one state for Israelis and Palestinians. They will be united in fighting it with all the power they can muster both in the region and globally. I doubt if one can find many Israelis, even among the most liberal on the left who would support the one state solution. If one goes through the comments of readers of the article, one will discern the overwhelming opposition of Israelis and other jews to the idea.

Palestinians on the other hand may fall into the trap of adopting this idea, just like they adopted the two state solution before it, armed only with the notion of justice but without backing it with the elements of power required to make it a serious proposition. The call for justice on its own becomes a mere mantra, a slogan that provides false hopes to idle dreamers.

And yet, the powerful never seem to learn the lessons of the past. Israel has yet to learn that its best options have always been to seize the moment and accept genuine compromise while it is ahead. History goes in cycles: empires and powerful nations grow old and weak and are replaced by others. Israel will be no exception. There will come a time when Israel will have to face a not so pleasing configuration of power around it, hence would have to swallow the bitter pill and seek compromises that may then escape it. The same compromises it now dismisses with impunity.

Dear Shadia (and Others),

Friends, Shadia is a dear Muslim friend of mine with lots of family in Ramallah, the West Bank. She lives in Kalamazoo with her husband Azzam, has a family here in the US and has helped get the Palestinian point of view across to classes I have taught in Holland, Michigan, the USA.

Thank you Shadia, for your contribution to this discussion. What a measured, realistic, thoughtful word of caution in your response!

It is true. Israel is fighting mightily to maintain the Status Quo, of One, Jewish, Democratic State to the exclusion of equal rights for Palestinians.

They have zero tolerance for:

1) an autonomous Palestinian State alongside of their state, (fear of not being accepted and in fact overthrown)

2) or One State, pluralist, secular, with equal rights for all citizens, (the loss of a Jewish majority is unthinkable)

Back in 1947, the "international community - UN" thought that partitioning the land was fair, One State for each of the two peoples, side by side. Both sides mightily resisted it even then, as today.

In 1948, most Arab Palestinians wanted all the Jews to be kicked out and the land given back to them. Yet, in the early days of Arafat, there seemed a willingness to opt for the One, Pluralist, Secular State (equal rights for all).

But following the 1967 "six-day war", the US (and others) persuaded the Palestinians to (again) opt for the Two State solution. This was predicated on the false assumption that Israel was willing to share the land with their Palestinian neighbors. The Two State "solution" is still the official view of the UN, the US, Israel and the Palestinians. The Kerry "talks" are still predicated on this view which has been "talked" to death (while the settlement enterprise moves forward full speed).

Shadia, you are so correct in stating that Israel wants neither the One Pluralistic State, NOR the One State for the Palestinians, side by side with them. They don't ever want to give up their Jewish majority in the "land" (conceived as completely theirs).

The "talks" are a complete sham. Israel, as always, is very willing to "talk". They always are willing to talk; and continue to colonize historic Palestinians land, demolishing homes and villages, etc., etc. without making the "compromises" as you call them, to bring equality to the people of the land.

You call the One, Pluralist, Secular State a tempting "trap" that we in the West (and some Palestinians) might fall into. On the face of it, it seems a "just" solution. It is the goal for most of the persons to whom I sent this Lustick op-ed (with the exception of some very bright, young Palestinian leaders I met will on the study tour in June of this year. They are still holding out for the Two State "solution").

Israel is feeling the pressure from both the US and the European Union (EU) to "compromise" or face further sanctions, disapproval and isolation from the rest of the "world community". They seem willing to enter these latest talks because the US (through Sec. Kerry) has said nothing about ending the settlement advances. Obama, during his earlier visit, promised to give virtual unqualified support to the "Jewish Democratic State". What does Israel have to lose, in entering the talks? Nothing. Keep talking. Keep the colonial enterprise firing on all cylinders. While we "progressives" keep prattling away about "justice" for the Palestinians. (You call it a mantra, yes, a toothless, worthless mantra).

I personally have long come to the conclusion that the BDS movement (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) is the only language that Israel understands. So many Americans are just not there yet, I know that, even among my own constituency (The Reformed Church in America, who helped lead the boycott movement against our Dutch brothers in S. Africa in the 1980s). I too, used to think it was an extremist stance to take. No more. It is nonviolent, powerful and able to get "results", but only in the long run. The letter of the 15 denominational leaders was a great opening salvo to the Congress of the US, to restrict US funds if terms of their use is not adhered to (support for human rights). We need to build on that initiative.

The powerful do not give up their power willingly. Not unless they are seized by what Thomas Chalmers called "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection"-- power-sharing with the oppressed. Yes, in truth, there is One State now, and the present coalition will continue to pillage and fight to maintain the Status Quo, at the expense of the Palestinians.

I'm attaching a three-column Three Visions statement (which I sent out many months ago). It still accurately summarizes the current mixed up stew of visions that are in competition. The only view I left out is the view of Hamas, which is totally committed to the One State, with a Muslim majority that excludes "Jews" and runs the country by Sharia law. With the Brotherhood out of power in Egypt, that vision has grown dimmer of late. [Write me at for a copy]

I'm picking up discontent with the Palestinian Authority (PA) from highly respected people like Mazin Qumsiyeh, Estephan Salameh and others; and, of course one can find much criticism of the present Israeli ruling coalition among many Jews.

Again Shadia, thank you for sharing your views with all of us. We all agonize with you and the wretched state of affairs in your native land. We want things to change, for the better, with liberty and justice for all. John Kleinheksel for FPI

Thursday, September 12, 2013

6th Report from the ground (in I/P)

I/P Study Tour report, (the 6th), From the Ground
John Kleinheksel Sept 12, 2013
Presently, The U.S. is torn between 1) a punishing military strike against the Assad regime and 2) giving diplomacy another chance (controlling “chemical weapons” by the international community).

But I want to dig deeper into the reality of Israeli/Palestinian and our commonly experienced human relationships. One of the perennial issues for us as mortals is the issue of inclusion and exclusion.

For us as persons (and in I/P and U.S. society as a whole), we wrestle with who to let into our lives and who to keep on the margins. Will “they” have their own space; or do we have to make room for them with us, here? This is not an easy matter to decide, for Israelis, Palestinians or US!

Among followers of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad is the perennial tension between those who adhere to the mindset: “Come apart and be separate from the outside world”; and those who (like Jesus) insist on being more inclusive of “outsiders” (think of the immigration issue in the U.S.).

Especially since 1948 when Israel declared its independence, the guiding principle of the Israeli State seems to be: Palestinian Arab residents are not our neighbors, they are our enemies. They refuse to accept our presence and rule here. If they do (20% accepted Israeli citizenship, albeit as second-class citizens), they will do well. Those who refuse to accept us as a Jewish State belong here no longer and should leave or be further marginalized. This land is your land. This land is my land (a Jewish democracy).

If they stay (God forbid), we will make life increasingly difficult for them. We will confiscate their homes, drive them out of their habitat, their villages and their orchards. We will squeeze them especially out of E. Jerusalem which will no longer be theirs. When they are unwilling to leave peacefully, (demanding their ‘rights’), we will call them terrorists, harass and discriminate against them, incarcerate and execute them (often with no judicial oversight).

Lest we in the U.S. think we are exempt from this attitude, think of how often we have gone to war against groups or even nations we perceive as “security threats” to our way of life or those of our “friends” – think Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria. We demonize them, rob them of respect, degrade and punish them.

Overt warfare against “enemies” is an extremist response to human conflict. It compounds and intensifies the difficulties in resolving long-standing and underlying disputes between the ruling class and the under classes in a country. We emphasize that turning the other cheek doesn’t mean being a doormat.

Jesus once told a story that mirrors what can happen in all religious and cultural traditions. He used the image of life-giving seeds and death-dealing weeds (read it in Mark 4:1-20). Good seeds symbolize life, potential for growth, multi-cultural connections, the possibility of nourishment for the hungry, jobs for harvest hands, the coordination of sunlight, rain showers, good soil, freedom from weeds and wholesome interaction with the environment.

When hearts are hardened toward “the other”, good seeds don’t take root and flourish. When relationships are shallow and superficial (too many fences), real life-changing interactions don’t take place. When people are overwhelmed by security issues, making money, keeping outsiders out of our settlements and subdivisions, we get distracted from the structural changes that need to take place between insiders and outsiders. But among the “good earth” people, life-nourishing seeds take root, leading to human flourishing beyond our wildest expectations.

Those of us in the Western world have an iconic picture seared in our memory bank. It is the photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the little Vietnamese girl running naked and screaming from a napalm fireball on June 8, 1972, dropped by American forces.

Americans are still in denial about our guilt in perpetrating atrocities, but that is another matter. Almost beyond belief, there is now a fruitful harvest coming from that atrocious event. In 1996, Kim Phuc was approached by a US military officer who confessed to involvement in the bombing that enflamed and scarred her person.

Love had taken hold of her being. The love God has for her, the love that could now brim over from her to others, even “the enemy”. She forgave him. Here is what she said at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. in 1996:

“It was the fire of bombs that burned my body. It was the skill of the doctors that mended my skin. But it took the power of God’s love to heal my heart” (Presbyterian Mission Yearbook, July 13, 2013).

Religious devotion can be demonic, divisive and destructive. Fanatics think they are doing “God” a favor in destroying “The Enemies of God” (See John 16:1, 2). This is true in Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism (and explains why many secularists spurn “religion” altogether). However, the love of God in each of those traditions CAN BE powerfully angelic, unitive and restorative.

Last Sunday, during and following worship, I realized we needed to do more to include minorities in our congregation. I sought out Willie Watt, an African American member of our congregation, who was mentored by a former pastor in our congregation. Willie has long been doing terrific work with ex-prisoners (former addicts like himself) and their children, potential gang members here in Holland, MI (my hometown). During my conversation I embraced him, pledging my support in giving him greater access to the mainstream congregants through our Contemporary Issues Adult Church School class. (Read more about it here:

As we come upon Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we begin by admitting injustices have actually occurred (and continue to occur into the present!) Where is the sense of humanity that admits our vulnerabilities and our tendencies to inflict pain on others?

What of the “talks” now sputtering along between representatives of Israel and the Palestinians? Are the parties truly interacting? Is trust being rebuilt? Are confessions parts of the discussion? Are toxic elements being purged from the soil? Can we look at the grievances and continue to deny the truth in the grievances? Will weeds distract, choking out good seeds? Will minorities be allowed their space in the Garden? Where? How? When? Is there an End Point to the “talks”? Will the “Occupation” end? Can it be admitted, confessed, adjudicated?

The “power” imbalance still exists between the two parties. U.S. and European (the EU) pressure points are coming to bear right now, but there is still much heavy lifting to be done. I think Ziad Asali is right when he concludes a Huffington Post op-ed with these words: The long-term objective must be to help empower open-minded, tolerant Arab groups to develop their own path to modernity based on the consent of the governed, job-producing economies, the rule of law, and respect for the rights of all citizens, including individuals, minorities and women.

We should do everything in our power to ensure Palestinian-Israeli peace, and never stop trying to achieve that vital goal. Meanwhile, we would do well to rethink our fundamental approach to the Middle East, and systematically help Arab societies transform their political cultures. Otherwise the black hole will continue devouring everything within its reach, harming not only the region but also our national interests.

Simple, honest, humble people can get it done. Simple people, not the walking dead, but the wounded living, who steer clear of detours, distractions and dead ends, who don’t let thistles and thorns thwart us, but lead us forward towards a fruitful future for all.

Which way will I be for us?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Say NO to US military against Syria!

Dear Friend,

Please be part of the US groundswell of OPPOSITION to a military "strike" against Syria! Read or scan the articles that have been assembled in this PCUSA mailing I'm forwarding to you (PCUSA responds to Syria). Middle East followers of Jesus are uniformly AGAINST unilateral US military intervention in this civil war!

Here is the relevant material from the Presbyterian Church Office of Public Witness:

from the Washington Office of Public Witness

The U.S. Congress is expected to vote early next week on authorization of military force against Syria. While the use of chemical weapons should be unequivocally condemned, regardless of who perpetrated the attack, it is also the case that many states have helped fuel the armed conflict in Syria by sending weapons to the region. Instead of exacerbating the conflict with military strikes, the United States should seek an international agreement on an arms embargo and back dialogue that alone can end the horrific violence.

As Christians we are called to be disciples of peace.

Contact your Senators and Representative today to oppose U.S. military action against Syria. Tell them to:

1.Vote against an authorization of military force against Syria. U.S. military action would mean the U.S. government is taking sides in a civil war, would cause further destruction, and would push the Syrian people further into relentless civil war.

2.Support an alternative response to the conflict through vigorous peace negotiations among the Syrian government, rebel groups and civil society; provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria fleeing the conflict; and work through the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to bring those responsible for use of chemical weapons to justice.

We must use extreme caution in implementing policies that might escalate the conflict. Limited engagement is never truly limited and any military option the President might choose will result in the deaths of more Syrians, including innocent civilians.

Please urge your members of congress to have the courage shown by other strong leaders in the past to hold off on military action and renew the efforts for a diplomatic solution. We must work with the United Nations and other governments to contain the violence, restore stability in the region, provide humanitarian assistance, and encourage the building of an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens.

It is only through nonviolent means that we can hope for radical change that leads to a just peace.

JRK again: Deeper US military involvement in Syria would perhaps spread to our region (I/P). There is no international backing for this unilateral move by the US. There will be unintended consequences, fighting violence with more violence, using extremism only inflames extremists (not tame them, as asserted by Sec. Kerry!)

There is no good outcome for this action. There are other ways to do the right thing. JRK for FPI

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Sculpture for our Time. 5th report from the Ground

Dear Friend,

The next round in the "talks" is scheduled for this Wednesday, in Jerusalem.

Here are my thoughts. Thanks for your interest in our region. Stay informed. Inform others in your world.

A Sculpture for our Time: (5th Report from the Ground)

August 12, 2013, John R. Kleinheksel Sr.

Some time ago, Sharon and I visited the Art Institute in Chicago. In the Roger McCormick Memorial Center we found “The Solitude of the Soul”, a huge sculpture by Lorado Taft (1860-1936).

Four figures in his sculpture are only partly freed from the marble. They are either side by side or back to back. The figures are holding hands or draped over each other, yet not looking at each other.

An official interpretation, given at the sculpture, is that even though we can be physically close, it is still possible to be emotionally disconnected. “The thought is the eternally present fact that however closely we may be thrown together by circumstances. . . . we are unknown to each other”.

Beginning again this Wednesday, representatives of the Palestinian and Israeli leadership will be physically close, but emotionally disconnected. Israelis still fear Palestinians will never accept them in the region while Palestinians suspect that Israelis want to dominate all of the land. Each is frozen in the marble, draped over each other, but not looking each other in the eye.

One of the deeply held hopes of the Palestinians is that Israelis acknowledge their responsibility for creating the refugee problem and all that goes with it. One of the deeply held expectations of the Israelis is that Palestinians acknowledge their responsibility for terrorizing Israeli civilians with reprisal attacks filling them with security fears. Israel is in denial and Palestinians are running out of patience.

There is evidence the Palestinians have officially stopped campaigns of violence, even in the Hamas- governed prison camp of Gaza, though an occasional rogue rocket heads toward Sedorot settlement. There is no evidence that Israel has officially stopped its campaign to dominate the whole country. On the contrary, the alienation of affection is more acute especially now as Israel has, on Sunday, August 11, published bids on the construction of about 1200 housing units in seven different settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, on land Palestinians previously lived on, on which they want to establish their own State. And this development, just three days before the start-up of official “negotiations”, this time in Jerusalem.

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on August 9, 2013, three Israeli leaders have disagreed with the Housing Department decision.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday slammed the decision . . . saying that solutions to the housing crisis must be implemented in "desirable" areas and under the authority of the government's housing cabinet.

"Using resources intended for middle class housing in order to prove a useless defiant point to the Americans and throw a stick into the wheels of peace negotiations is wrong and ineffective for the process," Lapid said [and he is the leader of one of the parties making up the ruling coalition].

Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On also lambasted the decision as a "roadside bomb rigged by the Israeli government to destroy the peace process before it has even begun. A deal with the Palestinians will not be reached as long as construction in the settlements continues.” The only way to achieve a peace accord, she added, is based on the pre-1967 cease-fire lines with land swaps and the partition of Jerusalem.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich denounced the decision as “violently damaging” any international credit Israel has received for agreeing to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

"Netanyahu has to decide what government he is leading – a government seeking a peace agreement or one seeking to prevent any possibility of such deal," said Yacimovich, who chairs the Labor Party. Such announcement is like "sticking a finger in the eyes of the United States, Europe, Palestinians and the majority of Israelis who want peace,” she said.

It's all pretty transparent. The Prime Minister (Mr. Netanyahu) is trying to keep both the left and right of his shaky coalition happy. Yes, we'll "talk", but we will continue to colonize ALL the land!

This is why so many of us are so deeply skeptical that underlying attitudes and behaviors have not changed enough to bring about a “new day” between the Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians are sick of crumbs from the master’s table. Israelis are upset that the “international community” does not recognize that ancient dictum: “To the victors go the spoils”. That community wants to hold the parties to the “partition” idea of 1947/48: That is, one part for Israelis and another part (equal and autonomous) for the Palestinians. This is the old fashioned notion for which Kerry/Obama are carrying the torch. As Jonathan Cook in Nazareth puts it, (I paraphrase) these talks have as much chance of success as a snowflake in hell.

There are systemic issues to be resolved that better one-on-one relationships will not solve. But systemic issues will not be resolved until real people realize what other real people are feeling and experiencing. There are at least two peoples frozen in that gigantic marble slab. What is hidden and obscure needs to be brought out. Look me in the eye. Let me tell you what it feels like. I want to be free. Free of fear. Free to be. The Artist is still at work. Thank God for that! Faithfully yours, JRK

John for FPI ()
There is no PEACE without JUSTICE; there is no justice without LOVE.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Talks" Resume. 4th Report from the Ground

Dear Friend,

With the next step in "talks" upcoming, I want to give you my latest "Report from the Ground", my visit to I/P from June 15-30, 2013. JRK

4th Report “from the ground”

Talks between Palestinian and Israeli “negotiators” will resume again soon, this time in Israel. The assumption is that the “Two State” solution is still possible. Within nine months we should begin to see whether a viable, autonomous, identifiable Palestinian State can be carved from the land Israel has gobbled up for itself, with borders and “land swaps” to everyone’s satisfaction.

A friend “on the ground” sent me this op-ed that appeared in Haaretz, a leading newspaper in Israel on August 4, 2013. Below is the main gist of it.

We can’t lose a democracy we never had (by Tsafi Saar)

The illusion of democracy in Israel is just one of the many illusions that we Israelis have been educated to believe.

For Israel's entire 65-year existence it has not been a democratic state. From its founding until 1966 Israel imposed martial law on the Arab communities in its territory. Since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 until today, Israel has ruled over millions of Palestinian inhabitants in these territories – an occupied population with its basic freedoms and rights abrogated.

There has been an illusion of democracy here, or alternatively, a democracy for Jews only. . . .

These are bothersome thoughts. Is it possible that everything we were raised on, or at least most of it, is mistaken? What is the significance of this? And does asking these questions undermine the fact of our existence of here? If our existence here must be based on a strong fist, on pushing out others, on nationalism, chauvinism and militarism, then the answer is yes. But is this really the case?

In the history of Zionism there were other options besides that of Ben-Gurion-style force. For example, the path shown by professors Zvi Ben-Dor Benite and Moshe Behar in their recently published book "Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture." Jewish intellectuals of Middle Eastern origin at the beginning of the 20th century warned against adopting a European arrogance to the land's inhabitants and called for respectful dialogue with them. But their words fell on deaf ears. The Brit Shalom faction of Hugo Bergmann and Gershom Scholem also proposed another way in the 1930s that was not accepted. [One could add that General Peled argued that the “victory” of 1967 would be a good opportunity for Israel to grant Palestinians their own State. That idea too, was rejected ---JRK]

The state established here was not, despite its pretensions, "the sole democracy in the Middle East." It appears that the first condition for really fixing this situation, if that is still possible, is the recognition that we did not lose democracy now. It never resided here.


The Zionism practiced by founder Ben Gurion and his successors was based on dispossessing the native people of the land, trampling on their rights and human dignity. This is the reality that must be addressed by Israelis before any substantive changes can take place.

I finally met a long-time email correspondent, Deb Reich (No More Enemies, Amazon, 2011). She met four of us in the Study Tour group in a Tel Aviv restaurant, just before we returned to the US on June 28, 2013. As an American-born Israeli Jew, she openly wonders whether the father of Zionism Theodore Herzl ever foresaw the transformation of large Arab population centers into open air prisons where upwards of 3.5 million ordinary men, women and children are warehoused indefinitely in a precarious parody of normal life, while too many jailers—ordinary Israeli Jews—carry on, expressing themselves as eternal victims.

Herzl surely never foresaw that the eventual price to be paid, for transforming Jews from downtrodden residents of ghettoes surrounded by hostile gentiles, would include creating ghettoes for gentiles-surrounded by hostile Jews (ibid, p. 117).

When she is repeatedly asked why she is not willing to point out “sins on the Palestinian side”, she responds, I say that, as an Israeli Jew, I am not responsible for their sins, only for ours (Ibid, p. 119).

Then, on p. 126 she expresses her sincere hope: I would hope that Jewish Israelis and Jews around the world will be able to see that they are making the same kind of mistake about the current meaning and future potential of the Zionist movement. Because it grew from an unsustainable premise (A land without people for a people without a land), the Zionist enterprise was destined to face a hard choice somewhere down the line: reinvent itself, or crash and burn. I am one of those who would like to see it reinvent itself and, necessarily, rename itself as well, in some generous and creative way that brings the cousins back into the family.

It appears as though Prime Minister Netanyahu is beginning to see the “handwriting on the wall” (to borrow a phrase from the Hebrew bible, the book of Daniel, chapter 5. The reality of the EU (European Union) withholding aid to the settlements in Palestinians territory has gotten his attention. (Israel is retaliating by withholding EU aid to Gaza, already being strangled with and Israeli blockade). Whether he (and his Likud party and the present ruling coalition) can confess to grievous offenses done to the native people is another matter. The Palestinians want the facts to speak for themselves. Kerry and Obama are aware of what needs to be done. The Israelis have been paying lip service to the Two State solution, but with no heart, head, hands or feet. Do we dare to hope that the US will be determined to hold both parties’ feet to the fire? What “pressure” the US might bring to bear during these “talks” remains to be seen.

Israel is caught between a rock and a hard place. Absent a viable Palestinian State, the only alternative is a bi-national State with Palestinians gaining more citizenship rights (which will threaten the Jewish character of the present Israeli State). Bibi surely doesn’t want that. What will he (and Israel) do?

Especially since 1967, we have written them a blank check to be filled in as they see fit. Will that ever change? We will learn soon enough. Faithfully yours, John Kleinheksel, FPI, (Friends of Palestinians and Israelis)

There is no PEACE without JUSTICE; there is no justice without LOVE.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Will "Talks" Lead Anywhere?

"History is not made by cynics."

Dear Friend of Palestinians and Israelis (FPI),

I'm forwarding a "forward-looking" update by our friends in the "Churches for Middle East Peace" (CMEP). At least scan through the brief synopses of the articles that are linked in this post.

It is significantly more upbeat (hopeful) than the history of the "peace talks" deserves. Whether there is enough trust built up to deal with the (true) underlying issues is doubtful. (Facts could be cited, overflowing with bitterness on both sides).

The CMEP is not exactly on the cutting edge of reflection/action for our region, but it aspires, under Warren Clark, to be alert to trends.

The unhurried meeting of the main disputants over at least the next nine months is significant. No doubt about that. But whether it will lead to an independent Palestinian State (Ending the Occupation of land that the International community sees as Palestinian) is truly problematic, given the convictions of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud party platform. Likud's desire to keep its settlement-happy coalition in place is (perhaps) the deciding factor, unless Likud taps into (promised) Labor support to form a new coalition.

There is so much that is not known at this point in the process. It is hard to be hopeful. Why now? Why is Israel even doing this "talking"? There is one overriding factor. The Prime Minister (and Likud) fear a multi-cultural, bi-national State (with full citizenship for Palestinians) even more than they detest a Palestinian State side by side with Israel. The sticking points will be "security" for Israel and the "Right of Return" and definable borders between the two peoples.

Many argue that Israel is decidedly past the point of a viable Two State solution and will only want to "manage the conflict" rather than give the Palestinians what is their due: justice, compensation, their own capital in Jerusalem, etc., etc.

Friends, keep following developments in the mainline media and remember that the major news media is still slanted toward security for Israel rather than justice for Palestinians.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Churches for Middle East Peace
Date: Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 3:38 PM
Subject: [CMEP Bulletin] "History is not made by cynics."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

3rd Report from the Ground

Dear Friend,

Are We Closer to Real Engagement?

A Third Report from the Ground, by John Kleinheksel Sr.

Secretary of State John Kerry is working hard to get the two parties to sit down and talk. There is skepticism and cynicism on all sides. Will Israelis and Palestinians truly interact, hear each other’s grievances, address them honestly and take steps to resolve the issues?

Let’s put it this way: Has the ground been prepared? Have life-giving seeds taken root that can bear fruit for peace? Are life-giving structures ready to take the place of death-dealing realities? What will bring about changes in personal relationships and institutional dysfunction/disease?

Upon my return from another exposure to a variety of spokespersons from both sides, I’ve been plunged into reflective meditation about our region and how we can “move forward” toward resolution of basic issues.

I have made no secret of my profound discouragement when I reflect, yet I was encouraged when the New York Times (July 13, 2013) published a great article by Rina Castelnuovo about the “Parents Circle-Families Forum”. Entitled “Bereaved”, she writes:

They are Palestinians, and they are Israelis. They have lost their sisters and brothers and children, lost them in terrorist attacks, clashes, suicide bombings and military service.

They understand that the only way to break down the barriers and come out of their darkness is by recognizing one another.

They are dreaming of reconciliation . . . .

They say it is critical to learn the other side’s narrative, because the only hope for ending the bloody struggle is through empathy and reconciliation.

In sharing the pain of bereavement, many have bonded and work closely together. Reconciliation with the enemy has become the purpose of their lives in the name of their dead.

After more than 30 years of photographing war and funerals, I find hope in meeting the bereaved families and witnessing their reconciliation process. If they can do this, everybody else should.

I attended their meetings, reconciliation sessions and activities. They devote much of their time to lecturing both Israeli and Palestinian youth about the sanctity of life. By appearing together at high schools and in public venues, they are living proof that there is another way. There are many activities to nurture their friendships: tours, field trips, cultural events. But forgiving is not forgetting (some refuse to use “forgiving” in their vocabulary.)

Many of the parents talk about the difficult progression to reconcile and befriend the enemy, and their own commitment is tested over and over again when they face hostility from their own people, or their own family members.

Bushra Awad, a 48-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, lost her 17-year-old son, Mahmoud, during a protest against Israeli soldiers in 2008. He was a high school student . . . . [After Mahmoud was buried] I wanted so much to go out and take revenge for my son. I wanted to go out and kill any Israeli. I’m a mother; I did not know I possessed such feelings of wanting to take somebody’s life. I was so full of pain and hate . . . .

I knew I had to do something, anything that would save my other children from a similar fate. But how? Then a friend, a woman who lost her family member in same circumstances, invited me to a meeting in her home with other bereaved. She told me there would be Israeli mothers present as well. I would not hear any of that; she was inviting me to meet my enemies! Those who caused us such great pain.

For two years, she kept inviting me, telling me it was important for our children, it was important to save more lives. I decided to go but I would not look at the Israelis or shake their hands, I would just listen. There I met an Israeli mother. She showed me a picture of her dead son; I showed her a picture of my son Mahmoud. We both cried for our loss.

Ever since that meeting, I’m part of the circle of bereaved mothers. We share a pain, and we share a hope to end the bloody cycle and maybe one day our leaders will negotiate peace . . . .

Then Ms. Castelnuovo tells about Ben Kir, a 65 year old Israeli from Ashkelon, who lost his 22 year old daughter Yael, in a Palestinian suicide bombing in 2003. Here is part of his story:

I could not stop crying for days, and I was so full of anger that I could explode. I was angry at the Palestinians for killing my child. I was angry at the army for not preventing the attack. I was angry at the leaders for not reaching a deal. And I wanted revenge.

I started planning it into particulars. I was lying in bed for days planning my revenge. I thought it was either revenge or I die; there was no meaning to my life any longer.

I was fantasizing how I would walk over to the construction site near my house where Palestinians were working and shoot them.

I was planning it in such detail that I even knew what clothes I would wear to do the killings. The more I planned, the more I realized that, while achieving my revenge, my acts would bring more death to my people.

The families of the dead workers would surely seek revenge on Israelis, the army would retaliate in Gaza, and the circle of death would never end.

Desperation overcame me because I also realized I was only thinking of myself and my immense pain. I thought there was no other way, that I should just die.

In those awful days I received a pile of condolence letters which I hardly looked at, I was so immersed in my grief, anger and quest for vengeance. But I read this one, from a woman named Hagit, a bereaved mother.

I called her and we cried a lot. She invited me to a gathering of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians.

I hung the phone up on her.

But then, I just went. I did not know why, I went. I sat and listened to some 60 people, Israelis and Palestinians, and I was not alone in my grief any longer.

Those wonderful people gave me a reason to go on living. I realized that the Palestinian stories and my story are no different. Our tears taste the same; our blood is the same color. I feel more comfortable with a bereaved Palestinian then with a regular Israeli citizen. We know what loss is, the shadow of our dead following us every day, every moment of our lives. But I’m not a walking dead any longer.

I live for a cause, and this is what I am saying in every lecture. Whether Israelis or Palestinians, revenge is not an answer. It will only bring more and more death. It is not easy to open up your wounds and expose yourself in front of so many people every day, but I believe today that only through mass reconciliation can we make peace one day . . . .

What can we learn from bereaved families? Can we apply these lessons to the larger society?

The unjust death of a family member triggers pain and outrage. If anger seethes long enough without being harnessed, it leads to revenge and the cycle of violence spirals downward.

These parents have gone through purging fire, refining them to arrive at the essence of human existence: making room for each other; ending the spirit of revenge; sharing common pain, even with the enemy; and sincerely seeking reconciliation.

There have been many Israeli and Palestinian deaths. Both peoples have suffered. It is hard to face the truth about actions that have brought outrage: 1) doing violence to Palestinian villagers and villages; 2) doing violence to Israeli buses, restaurants and schools in retaliation.

It takes “grace” to admit we are all flawed human beings in need of undeserved favor. Yet, the world does not look with favor on those who mourn. To be vulnerable and subject to criticism is to be weak. And we want to be seen as “strong” and in charge. Never admit you might have been in the wrong!

As you read these words, the “basis” for talks between the parties is being “formalized”. Each side has its precious shibboleths (settlements are OK; there is no Occupation) and historic positions to defend and protect (restitution is a must; and the right of return). Each side wants to avoid betrayal (again)!

Can we break out of predetermined “roles” that we are expected to play?

Can’t we just sit down and talk about what’s bothering us? Please . . . .

Will the parties truly interact? Can we be frank with each other?

My devotions today included Jesus’ Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:1-20). I wondered what kind of soil we have in I/P now? Is it “good soil”? Do life-giving seeds have a chance to take root, be free of distracting weeds and bear fruit for the flourishing of all the people in that tortured land? Or are hearts hard, ears closed, hands clenched into fists, and feet paralyzed?

Bushra Awad and Ben Kfir and the bereaved parents are working on it. Simple people, not the walking dead, but the wounded living, who steer clear of detours, distractions and dead ends and lead us forward toward a hopeful future for everyone, Israelis and Palestinians alike.