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Palestine ­ In Need
Of A Just God

Terrell E. Arnold
Last week, a mobile billboard appeared on the streets of Washington, DC. That in itself was no novelty, but this billboard was designed for the first time to confront DC residents and politicians with the Naqba. The word means catastrophe, and it refers to the beginning stage of Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
While Israelis and their supporters began a celebration on Washington's Mall of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Israel, the Naqba billboard was meant to face Americans with the grisly cost of Israel's birth: The expulsion, including many killings, of nearly 800,000 Palestinians from their homes, farms, towns and villages. While the Palestinians fled to surrounding territories and neighboring countries of Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, the Israelis set about destroying the evidence of Palestinian culture, taking over and literally erasing   towns and villages.
The Naqba catastrophe started in 1947-some say in the 19th century, but it never has ended. Slowly but inexorably the Palestinian people have been crowded into less and less of their historic homeland. Today they occupy less than 10% of it, and the process goes on. New Israeli settlements spring up in Palestinian parts of Jerusalem, in Palestinian towns and farmlands, while more Palestinians are harassed, killed, wounded or imprisoned. Those who object in any way violently are treated as terrorists.
All of this happens in a world that seems insensitive to the plight of the Palestinians. Few people criticize; none interfere with Israeli operations. And the United States facilitates Israeli repression of the Palestinians by (a) providing no-strings-attached grant aid of $3 billion a year along with (b) even larger loans of military assistance funds. Those loans-which are routinely forgiven-are used by the Israelis to buy and sustain the modern weapons, aircraft, helicopters and bulldozers they employ to control the Palestinians while confiscating the tiny remainder of  the Palestinian homeland. Nearly 40% of America's economic aid goes to Israel, and at $10 billion or more a year, Israel is the largest US military aid recipient. Contrary to US law, but without US objection, Israel uses US military equipment to pursue its unrelenting takeover of Palestine from its people.
It is worth remembering in this context that in the past sixty years only two American Presidents, both Republican, have put the screws to Israel for doing things we did not like. Eisenhower ordered the Treasury to put financial heat on the Government of Israel until they caved and got out of the Sinai. Much later George Herbert Walker Bush roughed up Prime Minister Shamir in a set to over loan guarantees. Compared to the damage that blind support for Israel has done to the US reputation and interests in the Middle East, those examples would appear to be small recompense.
To be fair, the United Nations has tried on numerous occasions to get governments to agree to condemn and restrain this Israeli campaign, and most governments have been receptive, but the United States has always said no. Over the years the United States has vetoed over 40 UN Security Council resolutions that targeted Israeli misconduct. Various US officials have tried what they call "quiet diplomacy" to persuade the Israelis to conform to international law and humanitarian practices. These entreaties, seldom if ever publicized, are invariably ignored, while officials who persist often find their jobs terminated and/or their career prospects stunted.
Numerous commentators have noted the captive, at times openly slavish behavior of the United States where the subject is Israel. All list one or more reasons why that is so. High in the roster are the so-called "Jewish vote" and access to Jewish sources of campaign financing.  Since all major US presidential candidates find it necessary to make obeisance to Jewish community and Israeli leadership--as they have once again in 2008--those arguments seem compelling. As Barack Obama has discovered, competing candidates and their supporters do not hesitate to suggest that he is not a "strong enough supporter of Israel." This argument can and has been made to sound anti-Semitic. As various Internet blog sites show, Obama has done considerable damage control around this allegation. One of his first speeches after winning the nomination was to tell AIPAC how much he loves Israel.
On support for Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lurks in the background, along with the Anti Defamation League, ready to pounce on anyone who may be made to look non-supportive or anti-Semitic, or especially on any so-called "self-hating" Jew who objects to Israeli policies or conduct. Those ideas package nicely with a powerful AIPAC suggestion that any lack of support for Israel is anti-Semitic. The US Congress recently showed how captivated it is by such arguments when it voted almost unanimously for a resolution saluting Israeli statehood. Only one member bothered to mention Palestine's plight, and no member voted against the resolution.
There are holes in the case. There are dissenters both in Israel and in the United States. Among several Israeli groups, Peace Now is a large non-governmental group in Israel with a sizeable popular base. It works to achieve an independent Palestinian state within boundaries defined by Israel's 1967 borders. In the United States the landscape has been virtually unchallenged pro-Israel until quite recently. Now the unpretentiously named "J Street" group has emerged as a challenge to AIPAC and an American pro-Israeli peace group. The websites for both of these groups (peacenow.org and jstreet.org) are well worth studying.
Polls show that most American Jews vote on the basis of candidate positions on bread and butter issues, national security, welfare, and basic governance matters. In short they vote like most other Americans. Moreover, all American Jews do not vote for one candidate, although in eight out of the last nine presidential elections they voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. The exception was 1980 when the vote was split pretty evenly between Democratic and Republican, which helped give the election to Reagan. Some observers suggest a similar Republican bunching of Jewish votes could occur this year.
However, this is not merely about the Washington clout of Jewish voters or Israel lobbies. When George W. Bush met with Ariel Sharon at the White House in March 2001, he brought to the meeting a great deal more than support for Israel in the narrow Washington political sense. He had behind him the political backing of his Christian base.
That Christian base is not important as a beneficiary of Israeli/Jewish political clout or financial "largesse". It has played no significant role in the recent debate about the Israel lobby and the undue influence that lobby has on Washington political decisions. But parts of that base appear to have a direct spiritual, if not operational, alliance with the Zionists. That alliance is much less interested in the health of the State of Israel or its political clout among American politicians than it is in the preconditions for the End of Days. The driver of this alliance appears to be a basic religious deference to the Israelis because of their role in biblical prophecy. The net effect across much of Christendom is reluctance, if not outright refusal, to criticize Israeli policies and actions.
A genuinely perverse feature of this American Christian outlook is that it ignores the situation of a sizeable number of Arab Christians in the Holy Land. That number is said to be diminishing as many of them realize there is no future for them where they are. It is perverse indeed when the Holy Land itself has become unsafe for Christians. However, those who remain are subject to either religious persecution or to treatment as second class citizens. The latter is their precise situation in Israel.
There is no broad agreement in Christendom on the End of Days. But critical to those who believe strongly in the book of Revelations and the prophecies of Daniel is a sequence of events that require that the Jews rebuild the temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. To do that, they have to be in charge of Jerusalem's Temple Mount.  There is considerable difference of opinion across the Christian world as to how important the temple is to the unfolding of the End of Days. However, the central argument is that the Antichrist who appears on the scene must stand in the temple, assert that he is God-a false god to be sure, and put an end to sacrifices that conventionally occurred in the historic temple and presumably would be occurring in the new one. The Antichrist obviously cannot fulfill this prophecy if the temple has not been rebuilt. Therefore, interest in rebuilding the temple is strong at least in parts of Christendom, and efforts reportedly are being made to do so.
Efforts have gone so far as to establish that the original site of the temple can be used to rebuild at least the inner court-where the Antichrist must stand to assert his authority--without disturbing the Al Aqsa Mosque with its sacred Dome of the Rock.  Al Aqsa has standing in Islam behind only the Kaaba in Mecca and the mosque in Medina, the burial place of Mohammed. In religious terms, all of this is important because the End of Days is of equal importance in Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions, even though that fact is seldom mentioned in Christian discourse.
The prophecies of Daniel have given the Zionists a hold on American fundamentalist Christian loyalty that is blind to the humanitarian costs of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians or to the human costs of the End of Days scenario.   To be fair, a number of denominations, for example, the Presbyterians, as well as the National Council of Churches have sought to distance themselves from Israel by such actions as persuading firms to stop doing business with Israeli organizations that take part in repression of the Palestinians. However, that campaign is hardly visible to most Americans. The core of Christian right support for the Bush administration appears to want no part of it.  Bush apparently feels he can count on the Christian right commitment as he blindly supports the Israelis and ignores the Palestinians.
Most, if not all Palestinians are sons and daughters of Shem. In strict biblical terms therefore, they have equal rights to dignity and respect with any other person in Israel, greater Palestine, or, for that matter, anywhere on earth. But in the eyes of many Americans and Europeans, the Zionists have constructed the narrative of Middle East history cleverly to saddle the Palestinians with a collective guilt. Many Americans simply have bought the notion, cultivated by media, that the word "Palestinian" is a near synonym for "terrorist". Americans widely have also bought the assertion, central to the Zionist narrative, that every violent objection of any Palestinian to having his home invaded, his family members killed or imprisoned, or his entire tribe herded into an open air prison like Gaza is mere mindless terrorism.
Recent US official posturing has reinforced that image. Bush can justify current policy to his base because he has the Palestinians under Mahmud Abbas cooperating with the Israelis. That means Palestinians in the West Bank are at least not actively interfering with preparations for the End of Days. Meanwhile, throughout the sketchy landscape of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, Israeli settlers are taking more land, slowly but surely eliminating the last vestiges of Palestine.
On the other hand, Bush support for confinement of Hamas supporters and other Palestinians in Gaza can be presented as avoiding interference with long term plans for Israeli ownership and control of all of Palestine. That open air prison can remain full and its people desperate and many Americans will not care, so long as Gaza does not interfere with Israeli control of the Temple Mount or with work toward rebuilding the Temple.
There may be other ways to explain why the western world remains so blatantly insensitive to the needs of the Palestinian people. However, no conventional political argument makes any sense. Palestine is in desperate need of help, and that help simply is not forthcoming from civilized society. Feeding the hungry is a humanitarian act, and that mostly is occurring, but merely feeding people because they are the victims of deliberate confinement and punishment-without doing anything to relieve their situation-is a perverse and inhuman strategy.
The Palestinians surely are in need of a just God. Perhaps hard to believe, that is not the God around whom Christians contemplate the End of Days. As conceived by egocentric true believers, that God chose to honor the Christians by assumption, while punishing Jews by killing them if they did not convert to Christianity, and ignoring everybody else on the planet. In this formulation, the Palestinians are already largely ignored by the true believers who want the Temple Mount in Israeli hands at whatever cost to others who may actually have historic rights to the real estate. Those, in essence, are the Palestinians who don't count in this self-serving fundamentalist calculus. But then there are only about two billion Christians out of the world's nearly seven billion people. In principle, under the typical End of Days scenario, those non-Christian folk would simply not be considered in the assumption. If this is the scenario that actually plays itself out, a more just God is surely needed to see to the interests of most of mankind while the world destructs in cataclysmic Armageddon  as fundamentalist Christians are lifted up to heaven.
The Zionists actually have calculated this scenario pretty carefully. Their hold on the loyalty of American fundamentalist Christians has more to do with immortality than with religion. By hewing faithfully to the importance of control over the Temple Mount, the Zionists have captivated the Christian right and, in principle, the Zionists can do no wrong so long as that control is assured. This imperative seems so compelling as to obliterate virtually every humanitarian consideration of the appalling human conditions created by Zionist repression of the Palestinians. In a perverse way, support of Israel by American politicians puts them on the side of the angels where the Christian right is concerned. Thus US Congressional actions that uncritically support Israel pass as good political judgment, while the shambles that is American Middle East policy continues to mock long term American interests in the region.
It is vital to look directly at the results. American standing in the region has never been lower. Out of 500 million people in the region we can count on about 5 million as friends. Egypt and Jordan, who receive a third of total US economic assistance for their recognition of Israel, are allied with the US in the War on Terrorism because that helps them control their political opponents. America's much touted democratization program is actually frustrated by the War on Terrorism, because that war allows virtually every oligarchic regime in the region to suppress its opposition groups by labeling them as terrorists. Cooperating actively with Israel in bottling up Palestinians in the West Bank and confining those in Gaza in an open air prison makes the United States part of the problem, in no way part of the solution. In essence we spend two-thirds to three-quarters of all US economic assistance to help Israel keep its control of the Palestinians from coming unglued. Ultimately we do much more to promote dissension and the accumulation of human grievances that lead to terrorism than we do to promote real American interests.
Fortunately for the Israelis, for other regional peoples, and for us, the Palestinians continue in overwhelming degree to suffer in silence. Primitive rockets into Sderot and other areas of the Negev, occasional body bombers and rock-throwing children are a surprisingly small human reaction to Israel's slow dispossession, murder and confinement of the Palestinians and constant harassment of them. To remind people of what is happening here, we are watching the slow and painful repression and dispossession of nearly 5 million Palestinians. Anywhere else on earth this would be genocide, and the political as well as practical consequences of it would be enormous.
In a world driven by rules of justice and equity, this simply would not be happening. Only the sheer arrogance of power allows it. And only a political system as open as ours to blatant and corrupt orders of manipulation allows it to go on. Such orders of power and corruption nearly caused the end of human civilization on several occasions in our ancient history. Part of the problem in those days was the arrogance and corruption of the gods themselves. Christianity emerged from that experience as an escape from chaos by discovery and adherence to a just God. The Palestinians now need the services of that God more desperately than any other people on our planet.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning. He will welcome comment at wecanstopit@charter.net

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