Muslims, Murder and Media Bias

With the tragic murder of three young Muslims at Chapel Hill University, apparently by an avowed atheist, it will be interesting to see the reactions from the media, politicians and the public. Let us consider some possibilities, based on recent history.

* A new hashtag, #wearechapelhill will flood the Twittersphere, and people around the world will ‘tweet’ their solidarity with the victims.

* Thousands of people will march at Chapel Hill, all carrying placards reading ‘We are Chapel Hill’.

* World leaders will gather at Chapel Hill, far away, of course, from any of the little people, and march together as a show of solidarity against non-religious-motivated terrorism. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu will not be invited, but will show up anyway, and will push his way to the front of the crowd.

* President Barack Obama will decry this as a terrorist act, saying that while not all atheists are violent, those with violent tendencies must be stopped.

* The media will proclaim that Chapel Hill is now the frontier in the war against atheist-inspired terror.

* Atheists around the world will be the targets of harassment and violence.

Now, perhaps we can return to reality for a moment, and give this more serious consideration.

CNN, in its initial report on the crime, said this: “Police haven’t said what may have compelled the accused, Craig Stephen Hicks, to allegedly carry out the attack Tuesday evening. He turned himself in to police later in the night. But given the victims’ religion and comments the alleged shooter apparently left on a Facebook page, many social media users wondered what role, if any, the victims’ faith played.”

Preliminary, unconfirmed reports indicate that the accused gunman knew the victims, and had some conflicts with them over a parking space. Well, that seems to be a far better reason to kill a person than if he or she made a cottage industry out of insulting one’s religion. It will be interesting to see what the media does with this information, should it be confirmed. Will murderers who have twisted parts of a religion to suit their own bizarre beliefs and killed journalists who insulted their religion be seen as worse than a man who kills three people because of a parking-space dispute?

With the flames of hostility towards Muslims constantly being fanned by the government and media, with prominent right wing extremists even calling for their deaths, can this crime be surprising? Following the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013, the following Twitter exchange, between FOX News contributor Erik Rush and an individual named Bill Schmalfeldt occurred:

Rush: “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them.”

Schmalfeldt: “Sweet God are you ALREADY BLAMING MUSLIMS?”

Rush: “@bloodonthemike. Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.”

Another FOX News political analyst, if such a term can reasonably be applied to a FOX News employee, Andrea Tantaros had these pearls of wisdom to say in August of 2014: “If you study the history of Islam. Our ship captains were getting murdered. The French had to tip us off. I mean these were the days of Thomas Jefferson. They’ve been doing the same thing. This isn’t a surprise. You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand. And all we’ve heard from this president is a case to heap praise on this religion, as if to appease them.”

Well, one assumes Ms. Tantaros is gratified that three Muslims from Chapel Hill each did, indeed, receive a bullet to the head. Three down, only 1.8 billion to go.

Prejudice against and corresponding fear of Muslims is nothing new. USA Today reported in 2013 that “Many widely believed Muslims were behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, until American militiaman Timothy McVeigh was convicted of the crime.” And following the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, violence against Muslims around the world spiked.

It is still, as is said, early days in the investigation and reporting of this crime. Perhaps it will be seen as just another U.S. campus shooting, so common now as to be hardly newsworthy. Perhaps the religion of the victims and the atheism of the alleged perpetrator will be ignored; after all, when a parking space is at stake, all other considerations pale.

So while the media is to able to paint all Muslims with the same brush as a few extremists in Paris, when Muslims are murder victims, it is merely coincidence. When a Muslim stands on one side of a gun, he and all Muslims are terrorists. When on the other side, they are merely individuals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It will be interesting to see who is asked to apologize for this crime; perhaps there will be calls for all atheists to do so, although this is, of course, highly unlikely. Atheism is a respected concept in the west, and we all know that atheists, unlike Muslims, are individuals capable of independent thought. It will also be interesting to see how right wing journalists and so-called ministers respond; they are quick to condemn Islam with every invented opportunity, and since they are no fans of atheism, they will have to engage in some interesting verbal gymnastics to condemn atheism without somehow expressing sympathy for Muslims.

It may be some time, if ever, before the motivation for this savage crime is known. But if stories from the lives of the three victims, who by all accounts appear to have been compassionate, promising young people, can be publicized, perhaps prejudices against Muslims can be somewhat reduced, thus giving the deaths of these three young people some meaning.

 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/13/muslims-murder-and-media-bias/

 

 

Islam: The new invented enemy

As many writers, including this one, have mentioned more than once in the past, the United States always needs an enemy. For much of the last seventy years, this was dominated by Communism, starting with two world wars and then accelerating with the infamous witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R- WI). The U.S. was able to build and expand its vast war machine by scaring the populace into the belief that there was a Communist hiding behind every door, just waiting for the right opportunity to wreak all kinds of havoc. It was this manufactured fear that enabled the U.S. to decimate Korea, and leave military basis there for over 50 years (and counting), and to kill millions of Vietnamese people prior to fleeing that nation in humiliating, well-deserved defeat.

Once the Berlin Wall fell, and many eastern European countries had violent or non-violent revolutions, somehow the glamour of fighting Communism faded. Oh, here and there the leader of a nation that was, perhaps, taking his nation too far to the left had to be eliminated, and this was always done under the lofty banner of freeing an oppressed people, although if they were genuinely oppressed, the U.S. never said it was simply changing their repressive leader for another repressive leader, more to the U.S.’s liking.

But fear-mongering is a tried and true method of operation in the U.S. In 2010, when the government, under Democratic President Barack Obama, decided to elevate itself from Third World status in the context of health care, the opposition party invented the concept of death panels. Here, they proclaimed darkly, government-appointed personnel would determine who was worthy of health care, and who must simply be placed on the side of a mountain to die. The elderly, the infirm, all of society’s most vulnerable citizens, the Republicans warned, would be weeded out by government mandate.

Despite the fact that there was never anything remotely resembling death panels in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act, these myths persist as reality in the minds of some. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who screamed the loudest, protested that an ‘end-of-life’ counseling provision, that was eventually dropped, was simply a euphemism for death panels. This program, which helped dying people write wills, decide on hospice care, etc. was exactly the same as Ms. Palin signed into law when she was governor. It was fine when proposed by a Republican, but deadly when proposed by a Democrat.

In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush and his minions terrified U.S. citizens into believing that al-Qaeda, the organization that had hijacked passenger jets and crashed them into various locations in the U.S., was working closely with the government of Iraq, and it was only a matter of a very short time before unspeakably horrible weapons would be decimating U.S. cities. The fact that al-Qaeda had only a minimal presence in Iraq, and that a bipartisan U.S. Congressional commission said there was ‘no credible evidence’ of Iraq’s complicity in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the fact that United Nations’ weapons inspectors were finding no evidence of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ didn’t matter when fear-mongering couples with war-mongering. Iraq was invaded, with disastrous results for that country and the U.S.

And now that target has been crystallized, with Islam being the new enemy. An ignorant population that understands little beyond white, Anglo-Saxon Protestantism is more than ready to see Muslims as frightening people, little better than savages, who hate the U.S. because of its cherished, if really negligible, freedoms. They wear hijabs and kufeyahs, attend houses of worship without crosses on them, and speak a language that no self-respecting high school ever teaches. They are all, somehow, in the narrow minds of many U.S. citizens, associated with Sharia law, which, in its strictest interpretation, can be harsh. And government officials and right-wing pundits have not hesitated to exploit that concept.

January 29, 2015 marked the eleventh annual Texas Capitol Muslim Day. This event is billed as ‘an opportunity for community members to learn about the democratic political process and how to be an advocate for important issues.’ This does not seem to be anything that should be particularly controversial in any nation that purports to be a democracy. But this was not the case. One state representative, Molly White (R- Belton) disgraced herself by leaving instructions with her staff that any visiting Muslims must renounce terrorism and proclaim their allegiance to the U.S. To add insult to injury, she left an Israeli flag on the reception desk in her office.

Despite considerable criticism, Ms. White persisted in her ignorant display of Islamophobia. She later posted this on her Facebook page: ‘I do not apologize for my comments. … If you love America, obey our laws and condemn Islamic terrorism, then I embrace you as a fellow American. If not, then I do not.’ It seems for Ms. White, every citizen, or at least every Muslim, must wear an American flag label pin (and possibly an Israel flag lapel pin), go around singing the national anthem, and discuss nothing but the horror of Islamic terror. She doesn’t seem particularly concerned about U.S. drone strikes whose ‘collateral damage’ is often innocent people who happen to be Muslim, or the mass killings by Christians of Muslims in Africa. Murder, apparently, is abhorrent when done in the name of Islam, but not when done in the name of Christianity, or by the U.S. government.

The U.S. has unlimited examples of fear mixing with ignorance and begetting violence. Look no further than Ferguson, Missouri, for a recent example of a white police officer, seeing an unarmed black youth and not hesitating to shoot him. Similar incidents would fill volumes to document. And now violence against Muslims, never far beneath the surface but seldom reported, is being condoned and encouraged by a media rabid for an enemy, and a government content to let it do so.

In 2006, when Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress, he took the oath of office with his hand on the Qur’an. This did not sit well with some of his new peers. Rep. Virgil Goode (R–VA) wrote to his constituents about the horror of this event. Such behavior, he intoned, is a threat to “the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America…” Further, he predicted that more Muslims would be elected, and would swear in on the Qur’an. Said he: “…if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Qur’an”. Mr. Goode’s fear of ‘more Muslims elected to office’ apparently resonates with a significant number of voters.

His proclamations are not isolated incidents. Former Arkansas governor and periodic presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has stated that U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration are ‘incapable of knowing the difference between good and evil’, and are ‘bending over backwards to do everything possible to accommodate Muslims but they don’t mind stomping all over Christians and they do it regularly. This is just the most astonishing reversal of true American tradition that I’ve ever seen.’ More of the ‘us vs. them’ mentality that is necessary when inventing enemies.

Arch-conservative commentator Erik Rush, columnist of the radical right’s World Net Daily, last year tweeted that all Muslims should be killed. In an article of January 30, 2015, he said that there is no ‘distinction that exists between Islam and ‘radical Islam.’’ He further said that ‘all Muslims are part of this diabolical design of supplanting Western civilization with an Islamic one.’

These are just a few examples of rampant Islamophobia morphing into hatred and encouraging violence.

There seems to be some general feeling, as articulated so ineloquently by Ms. White, that every Muslim must actively condemn violence done in the name of Islam. As a Christian, this writer feels no need to apologize for the bizarre proclamations of the so-called Christian right, some of which are mentioned above. The peculiar rantings of radical right, Bible-thumping ministers, or the paranoid ravings of extreme rightwing columnists and broadcasters have nothing to do with this writer’s understanding of Christianity. Even more importantly, they have nothing to do with this writer.

Being ‘sorry’ takes two forms. One can be sorry, as this writer is, that Muslims are being harassed, beaten and killed in many parts of the world. However, this writer does not apologize for such behaviors, because he is not perpetrating them. Muslims may be sorry that people were shot and killed in the offices of a French magazine, without apologizing, since they had nothing to do with that crime. The actions of a few do not represent the feelings of the many. This writer may be sorry that so-called Christian pundits declare that marriage equality will bring an end to civilization as we know it, but he does not apologize for those statements, since he is not making them.

But what is any of this? When the media, with complete government consent, views Islam as the enemy and everyone else as the victim, what is the point of logic? Why let facts get in the way of self-righteous hatred? Who is this writer to attempt to deprive the U.S. of the new enemy it has invented?

Yet he will criticize and work to defeat this behavior, so prevalent now in the U.S. and throughout much of the world. It is this Islamophobia, in part, that enables Israel to commit crimes against humanity with impunity. It is this same Islamophobia that enables the U.S. to perpetrate unspeakable terror against countries in the Middle East, all, incredibly, in the name of peace and freedom. That it is all unjust, unreasonable and unsupportable with facts is clear to anyone who will look beyond flashy hashtags and the popular sound bites of the moment. Convincing a population more interested in waving a flag than in human rights and justice is not an easy task. Yet it must be done.

 

http://www.iiprc.org/islam–the-new-invented-enemy-1.html

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is an all-important doctrine for followers of the Savior. Each Sunday, Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) partake of the Sacrament (bread and water), and ponder on the suffering of the Savior in the Garden and on the cross. The emblems of the sacrament symbolize His body and blood, sacrificed for all mankind, and one recalls His resurrection, all combined in the incomparable events known as the Atonement.

In John 17:3, we read: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Why do we need to know Jesus Christ, and why do we need to know that God has sent Him? Because Jesus Christ is actually the Son of God, and He atoned for our sins.

What is the Atonement?

The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides a way for us to return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father and the Savior after our mortal life ends. Through the Atonement all mankind will be resurrected and receive immortal bodies like God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. However, in order for us to live in the presence of God and Christ, we have to keep the commandments to the best of our ability. The Atonement  is a gift that we can qualify for through striving to keep the commandments of God and through the mercy and grace of our Savior.

As humans, we all sin, and because no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of heaven we would remain alienated from God. In order to qualify us to be able to return to His presence, an infinite sacrifice was required. Alone, we are unable to pay the price of  redemption, so Jesus Christ paid it for us. That is the foundation of the Atonement; it enables us to repent. Only He could do it. An infinite sacrifice was required, because nothing else could reconcile us to God. Had Jesus Christ only been a righteous man, a gifted teacher, or even a prophet, His sacrifice would have been meaningless. As the literal Son of God, His sacrifice was a divine gift to us, and He was foreordained to make this sacrifice for each of us.

The word “Atonement” is defined as the setting ‘at one’ (at-one-ment) of those who have been estranged from God. Sin is the cause of the estrangement. The Atonement of Jesus Christ, therefore, corrects or overcomes the consequences of sin and enables us to become more ‘at-one’ with God.

In the eternities, justice must be satisfied. Once we have transgressed, there is no way we could—by our own efforts—ever become clean again. The stain of that transgression would always remain, even if we were never to sin again, which, for any human, is simply not possible. Without an intermediary, we would never be able to return to live in the presence of God. By sinning, we violate divine rules, and the only way to compensate is through the grace of a divine redeemer.

A Common Analogy

A common analogy to the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that of the young couple who gets deeply into debt. Credit is easy, so they buy a fancy house, furnish it expansively, purchase a new car, and so on. At some point, their creditor comes to them, demanding payment. They’ve been enjoying their luxuries, and haven’t thought much about this day of reckoning. But now that time has arrived. The creditor tells them that if they cannot pay, he will repossess everything. There is nothing they can do; they simply do not have the money. Even though they could plead for mercy, justice must be served. The creditor must either be paid or be allowed to repossess the financed possessions.

Fortunately for this young couple, a dear friend offers to help pay off their debts. The creditor does not care where the payment is coming from. Justice demands that he be paid in full, so when the friend pays him, he is satisfied. But the friend has put some conditions on his payment of the young couple’s debt. He will pay it, but they must agree to do certain things and follow certain instructions that he will set out for them. And he will help them carry out those directives he now requires.

In the context of the Atonement, that friend is Jesus Christ. All mankind has a debt that we can’t pay by ourselves. Justice demands that it be paid, so He paid it for us. In return, He asks, as His stipulation, that we keep the commandments.

In a manner that is beyond human comprehension, Jesus Christ took upon Himself the penalty for our transgressions. This is basic to the plan of salvation. We knew, as spirit beings before our mortal birth, that we would make mistakes in mortality, but we had the assurance that the way back would be provided. The Savior’s sacrifice is that way back.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome all things. The Savior knows everything we experience  – illnesses, sorrows, temptations – because He has borne them all.

Overcoming our Mistakes

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not only for repenting of very serious transgressions. We can and should utilize this great gift always, to assist us in overcoming the little habits we want to rid ourselves of, as well as, when necessary, repenting of more serious sins. We can and should utilize the gift of the Atonement whenever we feel we need extra help with any of life’s challenges, large or small. In Luke 11:11, we read: “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” Heavenly Father and the Savior are not going to turn us away if we ask in genuine need for assistance, regardless of how large or small that need may be.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Only He, as the literal Son of God, could satisfy the demands of justice, by providing us, God’s children, with the mercy we require. The infinite Atonement—the full comprehension of which is beyond the ability of any mortal to grasp—is His great gift to us.

More about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

 “The Atonement of Jesus Christ” was written by Robert Fantina. “The Atonement of Jesus Christ” is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links:

 

 

Palestine, Israel and International Law

By Robert Fantina

On December 30 of 2014, the United Nations, in a very close vote, refused to set a time frame for the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The United States, true to form, voted no, saying, incredibly, that the resolution didn’t adequately address Israel’s security needs, and that recognition could only happen through negotiations.

Both of these reasons are simply lies, presented to an unbelieving world so that Israel can maintain the status quo, which means its incremental genocide of Palestine.

To continue reading this article, click here.

 

Introduction to ‘Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy’

Despite what is taught in public schools across the nation, the U.S. is not unique in the road it took to become a world power. The happy thought of the founding fathers, finding themselves in an unpopulated land, rich in natural resources, and only needing to shed the oppression of Britain in order to fulfill the manifest destiny of the United States, is similar to the myths of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Pleasant, whimsical, but void of any truth.

Yet unlike other fairy tales, this one hides the horrendous crimes of murder, land theft and blatant and shocking disregard for human rights, all in the greedy pursuit of wealth and power. From the extermination of the ‘Indians,’ natives who’d lived on the North American continent since time immemorial, through the barbaric murders of Filipinos defending their nation from U.S. invasion, to the killing of ‘insurgents,’’ Iraqi freedom fighters, the U.S., often under the guise of freeing an oppressed people, has caused those very people far more suffering than the governments they were supposedly being freed from.

The irony of an imperial U.S.A. is striking.
“… here is a government created in the fires of bourgeois-democratic revolution against colonialism, and a government whose success in revolution served as an inspiration for scores of similar efforts in many parts of the world in subsequent years; at the same time, this very government, as the U.S. economy became monopoly capitalist – towards the close of the 19th century – itself entered upon a career of colonialism and in our own day stands as the main bastion of what still remains of colonialism.
“The anti-colonialist nature of U.S. beginnings and the inspirational character of the American Revolution have been among the elements helping the American ruling class obscure the pro-colonial and therefore anti-popular essence of its foreign policy.”

In the early part of the twenty-first century, the myth of a freedom-loving people, spreading American-style democracy everywhere, began to be cracked. The U.S. invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq in March of 2003, in order, the world was told by U.S. President George W. Bush, to protect the U.S. from the imminent threat that Iraq posed to the U.S. With these lofty and frightening ideas, Congress, always wanting to appear strong against whatever current bugaboo ‘threatened’ the U.S. (e.g. Communism in the 1950’s; terrorism in the early 2000s), granted the president broad powers to wage war, powers he wasted no time in exercising. Although the war ravaged Iraq; killed hundreds of thousands of its citizens and thousands of U.S. soldiers; displaced millions of Iraqis and left at least hundreds of thousands of them homeless, many languishing in refugee camps in neighboring countries, no weapons of mass destruction, believed by many Americans, based on the statements of Mr. Bush and his cohorts, to be aimed at the living rooms of middle America, were found. In his memoir, published in 2008, Republican economist Alan Greenspan, who’d served as chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve for nearly twenty years, said this about the Iraq war: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

Like that war, most, if not all, of the U.S.’s wars have had more to do with the accumulation of wealth and the increase of power than forcing U.S.-style democracy on foreign nations, whether they wanted it or not. Even during World War II, which established the U.S. as an undisputed world power, and defeated the horrific Hitler regime, the U.S. granted special permission for some U.S. companies to deal with the Nazi regime. Despite Hitler’s savagely cruel trek across Europe, the idea of making a buck from his activities was too enticing for the U.S. to avoid.

An investigation of the nation’s past wars shows stark similarities to those it currently wages. Certainly, the means of invading a nation, overthrowing its government and killing its citizens has been made far more effective with modern weaponry. President James Madison may have been happy to have had heat-seeking missiles when he invaded Canada, but he had to manage with horses. But the reasons for the wars have changed little, and the lies that are used to convince either the populace or Congress, or both, to invade sovereign nations, are alarmingly similar.

From the War of 1812, where Canada was the target, through World War I, the ‘war to make the world safe for democracy,’ all the way to Iraq, the war to rid that nation of weapons of mass destruction that it did not have, the underlying goal has always been empire. In some ways it is subtle; the U.S. fought in Korea ostensibly to prevent a takeover of that nation by Chinese Communists, but sixty years later the U.S. maintains a strong military presence in that nation, again ostensibly for its own protection. U.S. military bases span the globe, ‘protecting’ those nations from their enemies, real or imagined, and also ‘protecting’ the U.S. from its self-defined enemies. This defining of enemies is vital for the government to gain the support of the citizens to fight its wars, thus fueling the continuation and expansion of what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. And once a nation is invaded, the disillusionment of the citizens of the U.S. does nothing to bring about the war’s end; starting a war is far easier for the U.S. than ending one.

The country that proudly proclaims its own success in shedding the yoke of imperialism does not hesitate to exploit, or even create, opportunities to build empire. In the early nineteenth century, when Britain and France were embroiled in war, the U.S. found it convenient to invade Canada. Nearly 200 years later, after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. of September 11, 2001, the nation’s leaders fanned the fears of a frightened populace to inflame hatred for, and justify an invasion of, an oil-rich nation that was in no way associated with those attacks.

Like most nations, the U.S. writes its own history to serve its own purposes. How willing, one might ask, would young men and women be to go to Iraq to fight and die for the benefit of U.S. oil company profits? How willing, generations ago, would they have been to leave their homes to fight in the Philippines, to help ensure profitable trade routes between the U.S. and China? Will they be willing, in the near future, to fight in Iran, so that U.S. politicians’ reelection campaigns can continue to receive the generous largess of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)?

It is beyond the scope of this work to study over 200 years of foreign policy in great detail; such a work would require volumes. But there have been similar, over-arching policies that are manifested in very different foreign-policy decisions. All of them have as their foundation either increased wealth, increased power, or both.

This book is divided into three distinct sections (shown below), although there is much overlap between them. Events and policies from one section do not cease with the start of the one following. The divisions are created simply to show the general, imperialist evolution of the U.S.; there has been little if any significant change in motives, although increasing power has brought increased suffering at the hands of the U.S. There may be information from one section included in one following it, when those policies accompany ones reflecting the new period.

Each chapter includes information about the U.S. economic considerations for the war; the conditions in the U.S. that enabled the government to wage war; the reasons each war was, at least initially, favored by the citizenry, and the blatant disregard for the freedom, dignity and basic human rights of the U.S.’s self-identified ‘enemies’ and, in many cases, its own citizens.

Period 1: 1750 – 1898. Manifest Destiny
– Chapter 1: Native American Oppression
– Chapter 2: The War of 1812
– Chapter 3: The Mexican-American War
– Chapter 4: The Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars
– Chapter 5: Other Foreign Policy Activities of this Time Period

Period 2: 1899 – 1953. A New World Power
– Chapter 6: Early Twentieth Century
– Chapter 7: World War I
– Chapter 8: Between World War I and World War II
– Chapter 9: World War II
– Chapter 10: The Korean War
– Chapter 11: Other Foreign Policy Activities of this Time Period

Period 3: 1954 – Present. Fighting Invented Enemies
– Chapter 12: The Vietnam War
– Chapter 13: The Gulf War
– Chapter 14: The Afghanistan War
– Chapter 15: The Iraq War
– Chapter 16: Israeli-Palestine Conflict
– Chapter 17: Other Foreign Policy Activities of this Time Period
– Chapter 18: Summary and Analysis

The author recognizes that the material in this book brings into question some of the United States’ most cherished principles, and sheds a less-than-flattering light on them. Yet the facts speak for themselves; the U.S. is, and always has been, an imperial nation, far less concerned about human rights than corporate profits; less interested in peace than in power.

Christians and the Christian Right

Christians and the Christian Right           

It is with a feeling of near-despair that one sees how completely the concept of Christianity has been successfully co-opted by a radical fringe group that Jesus Christ would surely not recognize as being even marginally acquainted with his teachings.  A review of some of the recent, bizarre teachings of the so-called Christian right is disturbing indeed to anyone who calls him or herself a Christian. A few salient points are of interest:

  • One prominent right wing editor, Joseph Farrah, proclaims in his column on December 23 that the ‘War on Christmas’, waged, apparently, by warriors in departments stores masquerading as sales clerks, who assault unsuspecting customers with the vile greeting of ‘Happy Holidays’, reminds him of terrorists in the Middle East. He refers to the ‘secular jihadists of the American Civil Liberties Union’, maintaining his ‘Middle East’ theme while misusing the term jihadists. But what does that matter?  While the news media generally refers to jihad as a holy war, a more common definition, at least in the context of Islam, is that of a person’s spiritual struggle in devotion to the religion. But, let’s use the more commonly-known definition. The word sounds foreign, so it must be evil.
  • None other than that most illustrious of (outgoing) Congresswomen, Michelle Bachmann, best known for her noble quest to maintain freedom of light bulb choice, laments that President Barrack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are calling for war against Israel. Would that it were so! But regardless of the fact that the president and secretary of state will jump through whatever hoops Israel holds, Ms. Bachmann sees this fictitious call to war, the product of her own limited brain power, as clear evidence that the world is in the last days, as prophesied in the Bible.
  • The acceptance of marriage equality and other gay rights by Christians is, one Deryl Edwards of Liberty Counsel tells us, a clear indicator that the end is near. Pastor Dwight McKissic proclaims that ‘the Anti-Christ would be a homosexual, or certainly unmarried’. One is puzzled by this latter pronouncement. It would seem that the sexual orientation of the Anti-Christ is important to Mr. McKissic (why he concerns himself with anyone’s sexual orientation other than his own is a mystery to this writer). What, one asks, does the marital status of the Anti-Christ have to do with it? Does he equate the perceived, in his narrow little mind, ‘abomination’ of homosexuality, with being unmarried? Are single people, in his view, as evil as gays are in his view? But we will not ponder these questions here; they are probably unanswerable.
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, preparing for his prayer rally next month, sees natural disasters as God’s judgment on the U.S. for such things as marriage equality.
  • Last, but certainly not least, the link that televangelist Matthew Hagee makes between the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and the Biblically discussed Mark of the Beast seems patently clear to him, even if the connection completely escapes this writer.

So what is a Christian in this environment to do? How should those of us who strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ respond to the nonsense spoken in our names? Before answering these questions, let us look at some of our ‘crimes’, as judged by those most rigid of judges, members of the Christian right.

  • Accepting holiday greetings in whatever form they are offered. This writer is often wished ‘Happy Holidays’ in a local store. He smiles warmly at the clerk and offers his own greeting, whatever that may be (‘Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, etc.). He does not find the proffered greeting offensive; try as he might, he sees no reason to do so.
  • Welcoming gay people who might attend church with us. Recognizing the rather universally-known Christian belief that we are all sons and daughters of God, not caring about someone’s sexual orientation would seem to fit in with that concept. We don’t care if the person sitting in the pew next to us is black or white; we also don’t care if they are gay or straight.
  • Supporting Palestine. No, support for the basic human rights of all people is not an unchristian act. Rather, it is the epitome of Christianity, following Jesus Christ’s admonishment to help the poor and the downtrodden.
  • Associating with Muslims. Christians are aware of a fact that the Christian right either doesn’t know, or denies. Muslims are people, not at all unlike Christians, Jews, atheists, or anyone else. They grow up, marry, have children, go to school, are employed. Their children enjoy playing in parks, coloring in books, watching movies. Their goals are no different than anyone else’s: providing for themselves and their families, serving in their community, loving and being loved. They, like Christians, seek a relationship with God, and to follow his direction.

Now, the complex matter of response. Do we hesitantly say, fearing the worst, that we are, indeed, Christian? Won’t most people then assume we are narrow-minded, bigoted, elitist, prejudiced and ignorant? Shouldn’t we hide our Christianity to prevent these misconceptions about ourselves?

The answer to all of these questions is ‘no’. By living the lives we do, happily accepting holiday greetings, however they are offered, treating gay people as if we are unaware of their sexual orientation (this writer, for one, does not quiz people about this topic when he meets them, or at any other time; it is of no concern to him); proudly supporting Palestine in thought and deed; not crossing the street if we see someone approaching wearing a kufeyah or hijab, we demonstrate who we are.

Perhaps two simple verses in the Bible may lead to some clarity.  In Matthew 7, verses 22 and 23, Jesus Christ talked about some who professed to follow him:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

It is not this writer’s place to judge, but he must stand up for Christianity against those who pervert the name of Christianity. As a Christian, it is his duty. It is equally his duty, as a Christian, to assist any oppressed people, support equality for all, combat prejudice and serve the less fortunate whenever possible.

 

Chapter 16 of ‘Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy’

Chapter 16: Israeli-Palestine Conflict

Like most of the U.S.’s foreign policy initiatives, a complete study of this issue would take volumes.  This work only attempts to portray the conflict in its place in U.S. foreign policy since the founding of the state of Israel, which was accomplished only through the shocking displacement of several hundred-thousand Palestinians.

On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild what came to be known as the Balfour Declaration. This officially proclaimed British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Sadly, this declaration didn’t consider the wishes or rights of the millions of Palestinians who were to be driven out of their homes to accommodate this new nation. The U.S. media at the time seldom mentioned the Palestinian people, and portrayed their struggle for independence as opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state. In the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinians were only referred to as ‘existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.’

“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”[1]

This was only the start of the long-standing, globally-perpetrated injustices to the Palestinian people, injustices that the U.S. has been instrumental in fostering.

Zionist had long wanted their own nation, and looked to Palestine as its sight. The Balfour Declaration came about after years of negotiations with various world leaders.

The unspeakable hypocrisy of the United States is highlighted when looking at the establishment of the nation of Israel in Palestine. The right of peoples to self-determination, recorded as early as the city-states of Mesopatamia, Greece and Rome, was incorporated into the U.S. Declaration of Independence:  “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….” On May 27, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson said that “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”[2]

Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, saying on February 11, 1918, that “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.”[3] Further: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”[4]

While these principles are continually expressed from the White House, regardless of its occupant, and reiterated from the halls of Congress, they are no more than meaningless platitudes, empty words spoken to foster, at least in the minds of U.S. citizens, the myth of the U.S. as a nation seeking to further the independence and democratic aspirations of people worldwide. However, “The prolongation of conflict in the Middle East is mainly caused by Israel’s denial of the right of the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination in their historic homeland. The United States, because of its unconditional political, moral, economic and military support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, must bear heavy responsibility for the continuing state of unrest in the region.”[5]

On January 8, 1918, President Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress, and presented fourteen points, a statement of basic principles outlining the goals of the post-war global environment. Point Twelve reads as follows:

“The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.”[6]

These lofty goals, of course, could not be expected to stand in the way of U.S. strategic interests; self-determination and human rights are all well and good, as long as they don’t in any way inconvenience the United States. Mr. Wilson’s Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, was acutely aware of this. He arrived in France in December of 1918, and the President’s use of the term ‘self-determination’ troubled him greatly. “In his private notes he wrote that it was loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the President into strange contradictions. ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’ he asked himself.”[7] Heaven forbid the ‘Mohammedans’ rely on a promise of self-determination. In January of 1919, Wilson’s legal counselor, David Hunter Miller, advised the president that “the rule of self-determination would prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.”[8] And such a state had the firm backing of the president. On March 2, 1919, Mr. Wilson advised that he was “persuaded that the allied nations, with the fullest concurrence of our own government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundations of Jewish commonwealth.”[9]

This ‘foundation of a Jewish commonwealth’ would only come at the appalling cost of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and the murders of countless thousands of them. And the numbers of displaced Palestinians would climb into the millions with the passage of time, as their right to self-determination continues to be thwarted by the United States.

“Contrary to Wilson’s public utterances contained in his point Twelve…Palestine was, in fact, handled precisely ‘upon the basis of the material interest’ and ‘advantage’ of other nations and was not based upon ‘the free acceptance of’ consultation with  ‘the people immediately concerned.’ The fate of Palestine was determined in accordance with what the Allies had already planned, in contradiction to Wilson’s publicly declared opposition to the implementation of secret treaties arrived at during the war.”[10]

The Anglo-American Convention of 3 December 1924 cemented the U.S.’s dominant role in the future of the Palestinian people. It stated that any change to the status of Palestine by the British be approved by the U.S., although any such change could be made without any input from the Palestinians. It further emphasized that the rights of U.S. missionaries in Palestine would be protected, but said nothing about protecting the rights of the Palestinians. “As the political and military status of the United States began to rise to preeminence in the global arena, the American government began to play a more and more substantial role in the denial of Palestinian rights.”[11]

Following World War II, the newly-formed United Nations, wanting to make some compensation to the international Jewish community for the unspeakable horrors it had suffered during the war, established the United Nations Special Committee for Palestine (UNSCOP), comprised of members with little experience in conflict resolution, and almost no knowledge of Palestine’s history. On November 29, 1947, General Assembly Resolution 181 was passed, recommending the partitioning of Palestine into two states.

“It is clear that by accepting the Partition Resolution, the UN totally ignored the ethnic composition of the country’s population. Had the UN decided to make the territory the Jews had settled on in Palestine correspond with the size of their future state, they would have entitled them to no more than ten per cent of the land. But the UN accepted the nationalist claims the Zionist movement was making for Palestine and, furthermore, sought to compensate the Jews for the Nazi holocaust in Europe.

As a result, the Zionist movement was ‘given’ a state that stretched over more than half of the country.”[12]

In order for the new Jewish settlers to enter, Palestinians had to leave. This was done with the consent of U.S. President Harry Truman.

Mr. Truman formed his opinions and polices on Palestine based on three aspects related far more to U.S. domestic polices than foreign needs.

1)    Lobbying by the Zionist movement. There appears to have been “…a concerted effort by American Jews to persuade Truman to ignore or override the advice of officials in the departments of State and Defense who opposed unequivocal American support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.”[13] And while this probably had a significant impact on the president’s policies, he did eventually grow tired of the almost ceaseless lobbying efforts on behalf of partition. “As the pressure mounted, I found it necessary to give instructions that I did not want to be approached by any more spokesmen for the Zionist cause.”[14]

2)    Financial and electoral support for the election of 1948. The president, who came to office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, did not appear in a good position to be elected for a term on his own merits. Democratic Party leaders felt that a supportive U.S. policy towards the establishment of Israel would benefit the president.

3)    Conflicts about partition and related issues among top Cabinet officials and senior staff. Mr. Truman seemed to vacillate between one group and the other, depending on domestic policies, global events, or even the strength of the arguments made by his advisors.

In the end, these forces compelled U.S. policy toward support for the creation of the Jewish state, with complete disregard for the rights or interests of the area’s majority Arab population. “It is questionable whether Truman thought through the long-term international consequences for American interest of his position on Palestine or if he simply responded to the pressure of the moment….[T]he president did not demonstrate any awareness of the humanitarian problems his policies were creating for the indigenous Arab inhabitants of Palestine.”[15]

In December of 1947, approximately 75,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, most of them into refugee camps, all of them without any compensation for lost homes, farmlands, etc. By April of that same year, an additional 250,000 had been forced from their homes, carrying whatever possessions they could with them.  During this time, the Dier Yassin massacre took place. “A combined IZP and LHI (Zionist paramilitary groups at the time) unit, supported by Hagana (another Zionist paramilitary group that formed the basis for today’s Israeli Defense Forces) mortar fire, attacked and conquered Deir Yassin, an Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, not far from al-Qastal. During the takeover of the village, which up to that moment had remained out of the fighting, the Jewish forces massacred some 120 men, women and children, and the survivors were expelled to East Jerusalem. [David] Shaltiel [military commander of Jerusalem] objected to the operation, as the village was peaceful, and had not been involved in the fighting.”[16]

By the end of 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians had been forcibly displaced from their homes, with thousands killed.

John Foster Dules, later Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “…was no stranger to the intractable problems surrounding the question of Palestine. His sympathetic attitude toward the Jews there was reflected in the active role he played in the adoption of a plank in the Republican convention platform of 1944 calling for the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine and the protection of Jewish political rights in the area. He also supported and urged U.S. backing of the UN partition resolution of November, 1947.”[17] Not surprising, this set the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.

This support for Israel by Mr. Eisenhower was not always the case. Although providing humanitarian support to Jews after World War II in his role as military governor of Germany, he was not enthusiastic about the establishment of a Jewish state. Later, as president, he spoke to Philip Klutznick, the president of B’nai B’rith. He expressed “… his doubts as to whether he would have favored the establishment of Israel. But ‘now that it was done,’ said Eisenhower, ‘we’ll have to live with it.’”[18]

Mr. Eisenhower was concerned about the vast oil reserves that the Middle East had, as well as the Soviet ‘threat,’ as was the case with several predecessors and successors. He wanted ready access to the oil, expressing the need for it for both military and civilian purposes. He also felt that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict provided an opportunity for the Soviets to exploit the situation, and get a strong foothold in the Middle East.

The foreign policy of the Eisenhower administration was rooted in two basic goals: 1) protecting the oil supplies of the Middle East, and 2) minimizing any Soviet (read: communist) involvement in the region. Palestine had no direct control over any oil resources, and was not strong enough militarily to be seen as a target of Soviet interests. This might, one may think, exempt it from unwanted attention by the U.S. However, “Finding a resolution to the Arab-Israeli dispute and the Palestine issue…was important only insofar as the failure to do so might damage U.S. and Western relations with the Arab world, make Arab states susceptible to Soviet influence, and risk the security of Middle Eastern oil resources. In the 1950s, many in the Foreign Service felt that ‘the question of the future status of the Palestinians was one that, unless it were resolved promptly, would pose a far greater threat to the U.S. and Western influence in the area than would any overt moves by the communist bloc.’ Yet the polices made in Washington did not reflect this sense of urgency.”[19]

Eisenhower wanted to develop strong ties with all anti-communist countries in the Middle East, rather than simply favoring Israel, as President Truman had eventually done.  In the spring of 1953, Secretary of State Dulles went on a fact-finding trip to the Near East and South Asia. In a radio address following this trip, he addressed the American people via radio.

“Closely huddles around Israel are most of the over 800,000 Arab refugees, who fled from Palestine as the Israeli took over. They exist mostly in makeshift camps, with few facilities either for health, work or recreation….

The United States should seek to allay the deep resentment against it that has resulted from the creation of Israel. In the past we had good relations with the Arab peoples….

Today the Arab peoples are afraid that the United States will back the new state of Israel in aggressive expansionism. They are more fearful of Zionism than of communism, and they fear lest the United States become the backer of expansionist Zionism….

We cannot afford to be distrusted by millions who could be sturdy friends of freedom….

Israel should become part of the Near East community and cease to look upon itself, or be looked upon by others, as alien to this community. To achieve this will require concessions on the part of both sides.”[20]

While these sentiments would be proclaimed for years, recognition of Palestine as a national group was never considered.

The administration of President John F. Kennedy ushered in a new epoch in U.S.-Israeli relations, and consequently, in U.S. – Palestinian relations. Mr. Kennedy was concerned about the problem of Palestinian refugees, and sought to alleviate it. The basis for his efforts was Paragraph 11 of United Nations General Assembly Resolution of December 11, 1948. It reads as follows:

“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”[21]

Mr. Kennedy wanted the refugees to decide what they wanted: a return to their homes, or resettlement with compensation.

His efforts were opposed by Israel, which saw the return of the refugees as a threat to their national security. Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion told the Knesset that “Israel categorically rejects the insidious proposal for freedom of choice for the refugees, for she is convinced that this proposal is designed and calculated only to destroy Israel. There is only one practical and fair solution for the problem of the refugees: to resettle them among their own people in countries having plenty of good land and water and which are in need  of additional manpower.”[22]

The Palestinians and other Arab states, too, were not impressed with Mr. Kennedy’s efforts. They worried that a resolution of the refugee problem would cause their national aspirations to be ignored. Egyptian President Abdul Nasser saw Mr. Kennedy’s proposal as a possible trap. “The trap, he warned, was that Arab states were invited to take the initiative in proposing a solution of the refugee problem ‘on the assumption that that would lead to the disintegration of the Palestine Question altogether.”[23]

President Kennedy was also the first U.S. president to praise Israel in emotional terms. In addressing the Zionist Organization of America in August of 1960, shortly before his election, he said that “friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”[24]

Mr. Kennedy’s electoral victory three months later may also have influenced his policies toward Israel, and certainly played a role in his successors’ policies. In the November, 1960 presidential election, Mr. Kennedy garnered an astounding (at that time) 80% of the Jewish vote. U.S. politicians, always with an eye on the next election, do not want to alienate such a lucrative voting gold mine; again, human rights, and the lofty talk of self-determination take a distant back seat to political expediency.

With the November, 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, his vice-president, Lyndon Johnson, assumed office. President Johnson had no interest in resolving the refugee problem that Mr. Kennedy had worked on; the Democratic Party platform on which Mr. Johnson was elected the following year included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.”[25] Work by the U.S. towards any kind of an equitable resolution for the refugees, such as it was, died with Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Johnson, kindly disposed to Israel, was surrounded by advisors who had that nation’s best interests at heart. These included Arthur Goldberg, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations; Eugene V. Rostow, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and John Roche, a speech-writer and close advisor. Additionally, Israeli Ambassador Avraham Harman and Ephraim Evron, Israeli Minister at the Embassy, were personal friends of Mr. Johnson, and had easy access to the White House.

Mr. Johnson’s biggest investment in the Palestinian-Israel conflict was the June, 1967 War. The detailed causes of this war are beyond the scope of this work. Suffice it to say that years of hostility between Israel and its Arab neighbors culminated in deep suspicion and distrust on both sides. From 1965 – 1967, Israel staged countless provocations along its border with Syria. There was a strong belief by the Syrians and the Soviet Union that Israel was planning to overthrow the government of Syria. In April of 1967, an incident in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria let to military action on both sides.

The following month, Israel threatened military action against Syria, for that country’s alleged support of Palestinian guerillas. At the end of the month, Egypt and Jordan signed a formal defense pact and the following day, the Iraqi army began deploying troops and armored units within Jordan, at Jordan’s invitation.  Israel, on June 5, launched an air strike, thus starting what became known as the Six-Day War.

President Johnson did not appear to be in much of a dilemma about how to respond. “The line of least resistance in the Middle East ran to Israel, as always since 1948. Pressure from the pro-Israel lobby encouraged Johnson to approve arms deliveries to Israel. His attempts to arrange third-party suppliers suggest that he might not have approved unpressured, despite his own personal concern for Israel’s safety. Pro-Israel pressure made it impossible for him to apply strong sanctions to prevent a preemptive Israeli attack in June 1967. In this instance, Johnson probably did not need the pressure to act as he did, since he sympathized with Israel’s predicament.”[26]

In 1968, with the Vietnam War raging out of control and U.S. universities and streets burning with opposition to it, the president decided not to seek what would have been his second full term. In November of 1968, Richard M. Nixon was elected president.

President Nixon entered office with less obligation to Israel, and less knowledge about Palestine, than most of his predecessors. He received only about 15% of the Jewish vote, and seemed pleased to tell visitors that “the Jewish lobby had no effect on him.”[27] In his memoirs, he wrote of his concern about Israel’s arrogance, especially as demonstrated following the 6-Day War. He described “…an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”[28]

Mr. Nixon, at least privately, espoused a more balanced approach to the Middle East. “It is apparent that Nixon, as president, was not only acutely aware of the incestuous triangle between Israel, its American supporters, and the White House, but that he was determined to steer his own course.”[29] With this in mind, he sent former Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton to the Middle East, ostensibly to study the situation, but actually to gauge the reaction to a change in U.S. policy toward the Middle East, and to introduce the idea of such a change. Mr. Scranton publicly stated upon his return that a more ‘even-handed’ approach was required.

“As predictable as Scranton’s conclusion was the uproar the remark incited from Israel and from Jewish Americans who considered such a ‘more even-handed’ attitude as anti-Israel, even as proof of anti-Semitism.”[30]

Unfortunately, this new, ‘even-handed’ approach was not meant to be. Mr. Nixon had envisioned a figurehead secretary of state and, in appointing William Rogers, he got exactly what he wanted. Mr. Rogers had little ambition, and even less experience in foreign affairs, and the president instructed him to tame the agency’s “recalcitrant bureaucracy,”[31] and leave the running of foreign affairs to Mr. Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger.

Mr. Nixon had his hands full with Vietnam, but he was also concerned about Russia and China, and Japan’s growing influence. The Middle East wasn’t much of a concern, and that is the only area of the world that he assigned to Secretary of State Rogers. Mr. Rogers’ efforts were mainly to counter “… the intransigence of Israel, a country of only 3 million or so people, a country, moreover, that was totally dependent on the good will and economic support of the United States.  Finally, Rogers had much to bring to the problem: honesty, integrity, objectivity, and experience in government, if not in the Middle East.

“But he was lacking two essentials: the trust of the Israelis and the respect of Nixon’s new National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger.”[32]

Mr. Kissinger had little knowledge of the issues of the Middle East. However, his parents had fled Germany shortly before the Holocaust, and his bias was plainly towards Israel. He had never visited an Arab country, and had been to Israel only three times. This bias was plainly manifested in his dealings with Secretary Rogers. He encouraged U.S. and foreign ambassadors to go directly to him, completely bypassing the State Department.

It must be remembered that President Nixon was a hard-line anti-communist, who saw all world events in this context. Every conflict on the globe was somehow related, in his mind, to the struggle between the U.S.’s rather loosely-defined version of freedom and democracy, against communist encroachment and aggression. Mr. Kissinger shared this skewed belief. Both believed that the Soviets wanted a strong presence in the Middle East only for oil, land and power, rather than any sympathy to Arab nationalism.

Also, reference to Palestinians only appears three times in Mr. Nixon’s memoirs. Focused on the perceived aggression of the Soviets in ‘Arab’ lands, he had little interest in the finer points of the conflicts.

In order to counter what he saw as Soviet advances in the Middle East, President Nixon wanted to improve relations with Arab nations, relations that had been tenuous at best prior to the 1967 war, but were shattered at that time. It was on this point that he and Mr. Kissinger differed.

The U.S. at this time only had relations with Israel, and that suited Mr. Kissinger. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington.”[33] He later wrote: “I thought delay was on the whole in our interests because it enabled us to demonstrate even to radical Arabs that we were indispensable to any progress.”[34]

Those knowledgeable about the Middle East didn’t agree with this analysis. Global issues of communism versus capitalism were, if anything at all, a very minor part of conflicts caused by issues about local control of land and water. Middle East experts saw the dispossession of the Palestinian people and the expansion of Israeli settlements as a major source of conflict in the region.

Mr. Nixon wanted to encourage greater cooperation and diplomacy with the Middle East; Mr. Kissinger preferred to keep things the way they were, with Israel the U.S.’s only ally in the region.

In September, 1970, so called ‘Black September,’ civil war erupted in Jordan. Palestinian guerrillas in Jordan, many refugees from the dispossession of 1947-1948, as well as the 1967 war, sought to take power. Syria, siding with the Palestinians, eventually sent tanks into Jordan to support them. The Palestinian population of Jordan at that time exceeded that of Jordanians. President Nixon, characteristically, saw this conflict through the lens of communist aggression, although there was no evidence at the time, nor has any come forth since, to indicate that the Soviet Union anticipated this conflict any more than the U.S. did. It was this conflict, perhaps, that was a turning point in U.S.-Israel relations. Mr. Kissinger requested Israeli assistance in the war to include a reconnaissance mission, and the possibility of air and land strikes against Syria.

Israel was hesitant to do so, without some very specific assurances from the U.S. Israel demanded, and received, U.S. promises that the U.S. would protect Israel from any Soviet or Egyptian aggression. They also wanted additional weapons, and this, too, was granted. Israel did deploy forces along its borders with Jordan and Syria, but no other action was needed by that nation. Before Israel was asked to make land or air strikes, Jordanian troops pushed Syrian troops back into their own country, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven out of Jordan, going mostly to Lebanon, and the conflict ended.

For Mr. Nixon, this was a clear victory in the U.S. – Soviet conflict that consumed him. Said he: “We could not allow Hussein to be overthrown by a Soviet-inspired insurrection. If it succeeded, the entire Middle East might erupt in war…the possibility of a direct U.S. – Soviet confrontation was uncomfortably high. It was a ghastly game of dominoes, with nuclear war waiting at the end.”[35]

Messrs. Nixon and Kissinger publically proclaimed this a global crisis that was resolved by the U.S., with assistance from Israel, and one that thwarted the efforts of the Soviet Union. “This distorted beyond recognition Moscow’s role, which most analysts now agree was limited to cautioning Syria, and greatly exaggerated Israel’s contribution.”[36]

Despite Israel’s very limited contribution to the war, Mr. Kissinger was effusive in his thanks to Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin. “The President will never forget Israel’s role in preventing the deterioration in Jordan and in blocking the attempt to overturn the regime there. He said that the United States is fortunate in having an ally like Israel in the Middle East. These events will be taken into account in all future developments.”[37]

Those events, or at least Mr. Kissinger’s interpretation of them, were indeed taken into account. “During 1971, U.S. aid to Israel was dramatically increased to nearly five times the largest amount and close to fifty times the smallest amount given in any previous year.”[38]

After President Nixon’s resignation, his successor, Gerald Ford, was too busy with trying to keep the country together, and overseeing the end of the Vietnam War, to spend much time on the Middle East. His short administration ended when he was defeated for election by Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Carter campaigned on a pro-Israel, anti-Palestine platform that had gained so much popularity in the U.S.  Yet as president, he demonstrated in the eyes of some, more openness toward the Palestinians than his campaign rhetoric may have intimated. “Indications that the administration might be moving away from a completely pro-Israeli stance and toward consideration of Palestinian rights elicited a predictable reaction from the Zionist lobby. Most Zionists viewed the struggle as a zero sum game in which recognition of the Palestinians – on any level – was a loss for Israel; recognition of, or negotiation with, the Palestinians was therefore totally unacceptable.”[39] Yet their concerns were unfounded; as president, Mr. Carter never seemed to consider the feasibility of a separate Palestinian nation.

This attitude was not uniform among the Carter Administration. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski certainly supported the president’s view, but in a letter to Mr. Brzezinski from the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James E. Atkins, Mr. Atkins said this: “…there could be no peace in the Middle East unless the rights of the Palestinians are recognized; that this includes the right of self-determination; and that everyone knows the Palestinians want a state of their own.”[40]

A Harris poll administered in 1979 asked the U.S. public to agree or disagree with this statement: “As the most powerful force among Palestinian Arabs, the PLO should be in on negotiations about Gaza or the West Bank, even if the PLO are terrorists.”[41] The bias in this statement is apparent, but it serves to highlight the general attitude toward the Palestinians during this timeframe.  Fifty-seven percent of respondents disagreed with the statement, while 34% agreed.

Mr. Carter presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-framework agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

With multiple problems plaguing him both domestically and internationally, Mr. Carter was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1980, and former actor and governor of California, Ronald Reagan, became president.

Reagan, like President Nixon before him, saw any global conflicts as somehow a manifestation of the Soviet ‘threat’. One way he felt that that threat could be countered was by strengthening U.S. ties with Israel, thereby preventing the Soviet Union from gaining a strong foothold in the Middle East. As a result, his policies were often conflicting. He declared early in his administration that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories were not illegal, despite years of global condemnation of those settlements, including by the United Nations.  In 1982,”He sought to reassure Israel by declaring that the United States would ‘not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the west Bank and Gaza,’ and would endorse Israel’s request for changes in the 1967 territorial lines so as to ensure its security. But he also tried to reassure the Palestinians by declaring that ‘we will not support annexation of permanent control by Israel,’ and by calling for ‘the immediate adoption of a settlement freeze by Israel.’”[42]

The first sustained diplomatic efforts to resolve Mid-East problems during the eight years of the Reagan Administration resulted from the intifada of 1987. The U.S. recognized that the long-stalled peace process had led to the uprisings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Secretary of State George Shultz created a plan to hopefully resolve the underlying issues. He called for 1) the convening of an international conference; 2) a six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; 3) a date of December, 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”[43]

During this time, support for U.S. policies toward the Israel-Palestine conflict began to shift. A Gallup survey in 1988 showed that 30% of Americans viewed Israel less favorably than had done so prior to the intifada. Also, as contrasted to the Harris survey of 1979, respondents in a February – March 1988 Gallup survey indicated that 53% favored direct U.S. talks with the PLO, with only 26% supporting official U.S. policies.[44]

President Reagan was succeeded in the White House by his Vice President, George H.W. Bush. President Bush’s administration saw the strengthening of U.S. – Israel ties, and further marginalization of the Palestinians.  This was done in a variety of ways:

  • Blocking the PLO from membership in multiple international organizations;
  • Complete disregard for unspeakable human rights violations committed by Israel against Palestinians living in the occupied territories;
  • A vision of peace based solely on Israel’s terms;
  • Opposition to U.N. resolutions addressing Israel’s violations of international law in crimes committed against the Palestinians;
  • Support for massive Jewish immigration to the occupied territories, and
  • Increasing financial assistance to Israel, despite that country’s pursuit of policies that contradicted U.S. principles.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush Administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”[45] The ‘bonuses’ provided by the Reagan administration, given for Israel’s refusal to support U.S. policies, continued unabated.

Mr. Bush’s administration is perhaps best remembered for the Gulf War, the invasion to ‘liberate’ Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion. “The Provisional Government of the State of Palestine refused to join the so-called Coalition put together by President Bush Sr. to attack Iraq, but instead did its levelheaded best, working in conjunction with Libya and Jordan, to produce a peaceful resolution of this inter-Arab dispute. For their policy of principle and peace, the Palestinian leadership and people were and still are unjustly but predictably vilified by the United States government and Western news media sources.”[46]

President Bush served one term and was defeated by Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.  President Clinton appointed people to high-level cabinet positions who had definite pro-Israel biases. CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon chief Les Aspin had long served both the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake had served in the Carter administration, but his deputy, Sandy Berger, had some association with American Friends of Peace Now, thus raising red flags in Israel. This represented a breach in the wall of Zionist organizations that stridently purported to represent Jewish voices in the U.S. In referring to these organizations that did not reflect the Zionist view, The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman said that “…their monopoly on representing Jewish positions is being broken.”[47]

In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the occupied Palestine territories, Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians.  The Clinton Administration chose to look the other way, as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.

The U.S. press during this time toed the U.S. party line. Said The New York Times: “So far in the quid pro quo that is part of negotiations, the concessions have come from Israel. Next week, Israeli and American officials say, it is time for a significant gesture from the Palestinians.”[48] These concessions from Israel included allowing a prominent Palestinian to join the Palestinian delegation, and allowing several Palestinians expelled from Palestine to return. No one seemed to ask why Israel was in a position to allow either of these ‘concessions,’ since both seem to be issues for which the Palestinians alone should decide. Additionally, one might consider that the Palestinians had already made sufficient concessions by surrendering, at gunpoint, a large section of their country.

Following President Clinton’s two terms as president, George W. Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court, after losing the popular vote to Vice President Al Gore. Irregularities in polling in Florida caused the election to be brought before the highest court in the land, and Mr. Bush became president.

Like his predecessors, Mr. Bush was beholden to the Israeli lobby, and paid proper homage to it. Also like previous occupants of the White House, he saw human rights through the skewed lens of the U.S.’s definition of democracy. When Hamas was elected to power in the Gaza Strip in 2006, Congress approved a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. Outside observers generally saw this as a relatively free election, not encumbered by vote count fraud as experienced in the U.S. in 2000, in the election that brought Mr. Bush to power. “Noam Chomsky commented on this situation: ‘You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we (the United States) says….’ An exchange between Hearst White House correspondent Helen Thomas and then White House spokesman Tony Snow is also enlightening. Ms. Thomas asked about the foreign aid ban.

‘Well,’ Mr. Snow replied, ‘the U.S. role is one of working with Israel and, when possible, with the Palestinians to try to generate a peace, the same it has always been, Helen’.
‘Then why is it bankrupting the Palestinians?’ she interrupted.
‘The Palestinians are not being bankrupted, Helen. What’s happening, as you know, is that Hamas is a terrorist organization. We do not give money to terrorist organizations. What has happened is that this government has tried in a number of ways to make humanitarian aid available to the Palestinian people. We draw a distinction between Hamas, which is…’
‘And they were democratically elected,’ she interjected.
‘They were democratically elected, and they’re still a terrorist organization,’ Mr. Snow persisted.”[49]

 

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t bring about the promised ‘hope and change’ on which he’d campaigned, and nowhere is that more apparent than in U.S. relations with Israel and Palestine. Although the U.N. has passed numerous resolutions over the years condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the U.S., under President Obama, has chosen to veto them.  On February 18, 2011, a Security Council resolution came up for a vote. This resolution condemned all Israeli settlements built in occupied Palestine since 1967, saying that such settlements are illegal under international law. The resolution was co-sponsored by more than 120 of the U.N.’s 192 member states, and was voted affirmatively by 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council. Only the U.S. voted against it, effectively vetoing the resolution. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said after the vote that, while the U.S. agrees the settlements are illegal, the resolution harmed chances for peace talks. Incongruously, she emphasized that the U.S. opposes the settlements: “On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace…”[50]  The inherent contradiction within her statements is evident.

In October of 2011, the United Nations voted to accept Palestine as a member of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with 107 member nations voting in favor, 14 voting against, and 52 abstaining from voting. This was despite the U.S. threat to stop all its funding to the organization (22% of UNESCO funding). “The U.S. government is legally required to cut funds to any U.N. agency that recognizes a Palestinian state.”[51] As of October of 2012, this left UNESCO with a shortfall of $152,000,000.

On November 29, 2012, the United Nations again defied the United States, when it voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine. This time the vote was 138 in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstaining. The U.S., naturally, condemned this vote, and threatened to cut aid to Palestine as a result.

Again, human rights are a distant second to the political interests of the U.S. government.

 

 

 



[1] Michael A. Dohshe. ‘American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947.” Ph.D Diss., (Mississippi State University, 1966), 240.

[2]  Congressional Record, 64th Congress, 1st Session (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1917), 54, pt 2:1742.

 

[3] Congressional Record, 65 Congress, 2d session. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1918), 56, pt 2, 1952-53.

 

[4] Albert Shaw and Woodrow Wilson, The Messages and Papers of Woodrow Wilson – Vol. 1,( Review of Reviews Corporation 1924), 475.

 

[5] Suleiman, Michael W., ed. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Page 31.

[6] Michael S. Neiberg, The World War I Reader, (New York University Press, 2006),292.

 

[7] Frank E. Manual, The Realities of American-Palestine Relations, (Review of Reviews Corporation 1924), 217.

 

[8] Harry N. Howard, The King-Crane Commission: an American Inquiry in the Middle East,  (Khayats, 1963), 27.

 

[9] Arthur Walworth, Wilson and His Peacemakers: American Diplomacy at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, (W.W. Norton, 1986), 481.

[10] Suelieman, Michael W., ed., U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton, (Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., 1995), 35.

 

[11] Ibid. 49.

 

[12] Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (One World Publications, Ltd., 2006), 31 – 32.

[13] Suleiman, 59.

 

[14] Robert Silverberg, If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem: American Jews and the State of Israel, (William Morrow, 1970), 372.

 

[15] Cheryl A. Rubenberg, Israel and the American National Interest, (University of Illinois Press, 1989), 31.

[16] David Tal, War in Palestine, 1948: Strategy and Diplomacy, (Routledge, 2003), 92.

 

[17] Isaac Alteras,  Eisenhower and Israel: U.S. – Israeli Relations, 1953 – 1960, (University Press of Florida, 1993), 55.

 

[18] Ibid. 30.

 

[19] Sulieman, 87.

[20] Suleiman, 88.

 

[21] Francis O. Wilcox and Thorsten V. Kalijavi, Recent American Foreign Polciy: Basic Documents 1941 – 1951, (Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1952), 576-577.

[22] Suleiman, 117.

 

[23] Ibid. 115.

 

[24] Ibid. 551.

 

[25] Ibid. 126.

 

[26] H.W. Brands, The Wages of Globalism: Lyndon Johnson and the Limits of American Power, (Oxford University Press, 1997), 262.

 

[27] Henry Kissinger, The White House Years, (Simon and Schuster, 2011), 564.

 

[28] Richard M. Nixon, Memoirs of Richard Nixon, (Buccaneer Books, 1994), 283.

 

[29] Suleiman, 134.

 

[30] Ibid.

 

[31] Nixon, 339.

 

[32] Suleiman, 138 – 139.

 

[33] Ibid. 143.

 

[34] Kissinger, 354.

[35] Alan R. Taylor, The Superpower and the Middle East, (Syracuse University Press, 1991), 84

 

[36] Suleiman, 149.

 

[37] Taylor, 84.

 

[38] Ibid.

[39] Suleiman, 164.

 

[40] Ibid. 169.

 

[41] Ibid. 171.

[42] Ibid. 179.

 

[43] Ibid. 185.

 

[44] Samih K. Farsoun and Christina E. Zacahari,. Palestine and the Palestinians, (Westview Press, 1997), 242 – 243.

 

[45] Thomas Friedman, “A Window on Deep Israel-U.S. Tensions,” The New York Times; September 19, 1991.

 

[46] http://globalresearch.ca/articles/BOY204A.html. Accessed on January 16, 2013.

 

[47] Thomas Friedman, “Clinton Nominees Disturb Some Jews.”The New York Times; January 5, 1993.

 

[48] Steven A. Holmes, “Israeli Concessions Said to Revive Peace Talks.” The New York Times; May 2, 1993.

[50] Brad Knickerbocker, “‘If Obama Opposes Israeli Settlement Activity, Why did US Veto UN Vote?’” The Christian Science Monitor, February 18, 2011.

 

Right-Wing Christianity vs. Biblical Christianity

            With each passing day, the howling histrionics of the so-called religious right grow louder and more hysterical. Initially railing against abortion, they eventually began to see the growing acceptance of marriage equality, and other rights for gay individuals and couples, and this was almost more than they could bear. And as their strident cries for a return to some bizarre interpretation of the Bible increased, they condemned such ‘evils’ as food stamps for children, a livable minimum wage for working people, and that most abominable of all Satan’s work: health care.

A closer look at some of these issues is interesting.

Sincere opponents of abortion value all life, and so also oppose the death penalty and war, and support efforts to enhance the quality of life for all. This could be seen as biblically-based, in the commandments of ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’.

Yet if the ‘right’ wants to reduce abortions, there are certainly many ways to do it. Comprehensive sex education is a start. Unlike what the right may believe, this does not mean discussing human sexuality in kindergarten. But it does mean helping young children to know that parts of their bodies, often described to them as the parts covered by a bathing suit, are private. As children grow older, more specific information is provided, including, during their high-school years, information about birth control. Yet sex-education is seen as yet another horror being forced upon society by a secular, godless government.

Birth control is another area that would certainly prevent unwanted pregnancies, and thus, abortions. If a young woman’s parents are away, she may invite her boyfriend over. Isn’t it far better if she is on the pill, or he has a condom in his wallet, than otherwise? The old Nancy Reagan remedy for preventing substance abuse – “Just Say No” – will be far less efficacious in preventing sexual activity than it was on stopping drug use, and that wasn’t much. So as long as teens are saying ‘yes’, they should be equipped with the knowledge and tools to prevent a devastating pregnancy. But no, says the religious right, heaven forbid young people be allowed to know about birth control, let alone be able to purchase such devices. If someone is truly ‘pro-life’, wouldn’t they be at the forefront of efforts to provide teens with this information, and access to birth control?

As far as war is concerned, it doesn’t seem as if the right is leading in supporting diplomatic efforts to prevent it. Quite the contrary: whenever there is a march toward war, it is led by the so-called Christian right.

Now onto the issue of homosexuality. Many on the fringe right say this is simply a choice. This writer often wonders at what point these pundits reached a crossroads and had to decide for themselves whether or not to choose heterosexuality or homosexuality. It only makes sense that if some people ‘choose’ to be gay, others must ‘choose’ to be straight.

So what of that? Choice or not, isn’t it a violation of God’s sacred laws? Scriptures talk about the union of man and woman, but Jesus Christ never discussed, one way or the other, the union of same sex couples. However, two scriptures come to mind. The first is Luke 6, verse 37 which reads as follows: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” These are the words of Jesus Christ, who the ‘right’ purports to follow. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of clarity in this declaration.

The second scripture, also the words of Jesus Christ, comes from John 8, verse 7. Here we read, in part: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” This, of course, was when the learned Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery, a capital crime at the time. Mightn’t today’s religious right zealots take a cue from this very clear and direct statement? Can any of them claim to be sinless?

The contempt and disdain in which the religious right holds the poor is also puzzling when viewed in a truly biblical context. James, 2, verses 1 – 6 seem very clear on this point.

1.  My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons

2.  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man, in vile raiment

3.  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit there here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

4.  Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thought?

It seems clear in these four verses that the poor are as worthy in the eyes of Jesus Christ as the rich. Somehow, much of the ‘Christian’ right seems to overlook this fact.

Matthew 25, verses 33 – 40 might also give some on the ‘Christian right’ food for thought:

  1. 33.  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34.  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35.  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36.  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38.  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39.  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40.  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

This writer doesn’t see anywhere in these, or any other verses in the Bible, where the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, ill or imprisoned person was to be ignored or, worse yet, condemned for their hunger, thirst, illness, crimes, or inability to purchase other needed goods.

So why do those who spew such hatred and yet claim to be Christian have a following? This is extremely puzzling to this writer. Why do so-called Christian leaders condemn the poor, support draconian anti-gay laws, wish, in the name of Jesus Christ, to deprive millions of people of health care, and still manage to have credibility? Why does anyone with even a cursory familiarity with the Bible listen to a word they say?

The only reason that makes any sense is the need for people to hide their ignorance and bigotry in some kind of respectable façade. Wrapping it in the garb of their own twisted brand of Christianity, pulling one or two scripture verses out of context and ignoring the rest, seems to work well for them. Call anyone who has or performs an abortion a murderer, but support government leaders who send soldiers and bombs to kill people. Why not hate gay people, if one can find an obscure verse in the Old Testament that seems to support the idea of homosexuality as sinful? We’ll all just ignore the verses about stoning adulterers and wayward children, and not getting tattoos. Why not criticize the poor, when one can find a verse or two that says the righteous will be rewarded, and the wicked punished, ignoring the many verses about the faith of the righteous being tried? And certainly, let’s not look at all at those pesky verses about loving one’s neighbor, or not judging.

True Christianity is not hatred-fueled, intolerant, cold or condemning. It is accepting, inclusive and non-judgmental. Once the so-called Christian right accepts that fact (this writer is not holding his breath waiting), and starts expending its considerable energy and resources on the less fortunate, real progress can be made toward the peace on earth promised by Jesus Christ to all mankind.

 

 

Foreign Aid, the U.S. and Palestine

Foreign Aid, the U.S. and Palestine

Let us, for a moment, take a look at a part of the world where suffering is rampant. Here are some of the conditions the residents there experience:

–        Very limited potable water.

–        Electricity for six hours a day, at a maximum.

–        Children have to walk through areas destroyed by terrorist bombings to get to school. Many schools have been destroyed.

–        Unemployment is in the double-digits. It rose to 32.5% over the second quarter.

–        Food is lacking; few people have sufficient to eat, due to import restrictions.

–        With new restrictions on the importing of cement, construction activities have all but come to a halt. The construction sector is the largest source of employment in the area.

–        Imports of natural gas and oil are greatly restricted, if allowed at all.

–        Foreign trucks carrying goods into the area decreased by over 50%.

–        It is one of the most crowded places on earth.

One might think that the U.S., which is always rushing off to assist far-flung locations, whether or not they want U.S. assistance, might intervene in this location. Unfortunately, it has not been as quick to send its money, supplies and soldiers to this place, as it has to many other locations suffering from similar conditions.

One need not wonder for long why this is. The U.S., which presents itself as the world’s foremost beacon of peace and freedom, standing with the oppressed and downtrodden throughout the world, does have a few caveats. It will assist any people anywhere, as long as their government does exactly what the U.S. wants it to do. It will spare no expense to help suffering people, as long as those people have not had the temerity to elect a leftist government. And no limitations will be put on assisting anyone, as long as they haven’t displeased Apartheid Israel.

And here we come to the crux of the matter: Palestinians in Gaza, the people suffering as described above, cannot be assisted, because the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) owns the U.S. Congress. While the U.S. can afford to give Israel $8,500,000.00 each and every day of the year, it will not assist starving children in Gaza, living without electricity or potable water, because doing so might dry up some of the campaign contributions funneled to Congress’s members, through the efforts of that disgraceful, racist organization, AIPAC. And, as always, the financial bottom line trumps anything else in U.S. government and politics.

The Gaza Strip has been described as the largest prison on the planet; Apartheid Israel controls all its borders – land, sea and air – and allows few imports or exports. Fisherman attempting to make a living in the waters off the coast are often shot, and their small boats sunk. And now, due to Apartheid Israel’s total blockade, and the overthrow of the democratically-elected Egyptian government of Mohamed Morsi, even clandestine tunnels from that country have been destroyed, further aggravating the suffering of the Palestinians. Without fuel and/or electricity to operate pumps, sewage spills in the streets. And this is how the men, women and children of Gaza must live.

In the U.S., it is no secret to anyone who bothers to look that human rights take a distant back seat to political expediency. The unholy mantra of ‘national security’, for both the U.S. and Apartheid Israel, is chanted with the hope that, if said often enough, it will be believed. Few citizens in the U.S. pay much attention to the Middle East anyway, except when the U.S. decides to invade it, or when such an invasion is prevented, such as was recently done by that upstart Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Then, it is not praise for restraint that is heard, but criticism for allowing a foreign power to influence U.S. policy.

So what of Palestine? Ragged, homeless children and families there do not appear on U.S. news programs. Flooding in city streets is ignored by the western media. The near-starvation of the populace gains no notoriety, since those pulling the media strings have more allegiance to Apartheid Israel than to truth, justice and human rights. And the U.S. Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, bow to the wishes and whims of Apartheid Israel. And President Obama, like his predecessors at least back to President John F. Kennedy, toes the AIPAC line.

And while these disgraceful elected officials mouth worthless platitudes about national security, for the U.S. and Apartheid Israel, from one side of their mouths, and spout about helping the downtrodden of the world with the other, Palestinians in Gaza continue to suffer, with little help in sight beyond their own resiliency.

That, however, seems to be changing. With the ‘Boycott, Divest, Sanction’ (BDS) movement gaining traction around the world, and more artists refusing to perform or appear in Apartheid Israel, perhaps the tide of racism is turning. This cannot happen soon enough for the people experiencing unspeakable suffering in Gaza, suffering that the U.S. government not only ignores, but also is actively complicit in causing and continuing.

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Also posted on Warisacrime.org.   http://warisacrime.org/content/foreign-aid-us-and-palestine

 

Romney’s ‘Predictions’ about Obama

          A new video is making the rounds, showing statements former Governor Mitt Romney made during his campaign for the presidency, about what would occur if President Obama was re-elected.  This, some of his more ardent followers are implying, shows almost psychic powers on Mr. Romney’s part.             

It is not unusual for the party and/or candidate who lost an election to use the multitudinous statements made during the campaign, to say ‘I told you so’. However, there is little value in doing so, because all the losing candidate can say is what is currently wrong, but not what he/she would have done about it, because he/she would be working with the same Congress.

It is interesting to look at some of Mr. Romney’s ‘predictions’ a little more deeply.

  • The Affordable Care Act would mean that some people would lose coverage they currently had that they liked.  Yes, this is true; now that ‘Obamacare’ is being implemented, some people are having their coverage cancelled. Mr. Obama has taken responsibility, and proposed a means of fixing this problem. It remains to be seen if the Republican – controlled House of Representatives, determined to deprive millions of people of health care, will allow the resolution to the problem to become law.
  • Foreign policy, specifically Russia, Syria and Iran, and Mr. Romney’s claim that the U.S. should take the leading role on the world stage.  One has a short memory indeed if one has forgotten the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan. By all objective measures, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan were better off before the U.S. invasion. In Iraq, they generally had electricity twenty-four hours a day, now a thing of the past. Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds lived for generations in relative peaceful co-existence; that is now as rare as electricity. Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven from their homes in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and are now languishing in refugee camps.

Additionally, President Obama seemed close to waging another war, this time against Syria, and was only stopped due to diplomatic efforts made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S., as a world power, should work cooperatively with other world powers to find peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.

In this current video, Mr. Romney talks about how Russia supplied Syria with chemical weapons it has used against its own people. The U.S. has supplied Israel with chemical weapons it has used against the Palestinians. The U.S. has no moral superiority over Russia when it comes to chemical weapons.

Also in the video is mentioned Russia’s granting asylum to Edward Snowden, who revealed the widespread wiretapping of the personal emails of U.S. citizens. The U.S. positions itself as a  haven for those from other countries, including Russia, who flee due to fears for their personal safety. Russia has done no more than the U.S. would have done, were the situations reversed.

  • Working with Congress. Yes, as Mr. Romney said, Mr. Obama is having difficulty working with Congress, especially the House of Representatives, the leader of which said, two years into his first term, that the goal of the House was to deprive him of a second term. This is the same legislative body that has voted over forty times to repeal the Affordable Care act, despite the sure knowledge that it would never be voted on in the Democratic-controlled Senate. One could understand one, or even two symbolic votes, followed, perhaps, by bills to improve the legislation.
  • The debt ceiling. Raising the debt ceiling is not a new concept.  Thus far it has been raised on three occasions under President Obama. Under President Bush it was raised seven times; under President Clinton, four times; under President George W. Bush, four times; under President Reagan, seventeen times. Mr. Romney can hardly been seen as a psychic for predicting that it would be raised again under President Obama.
  • Government shutdown: It was ironic that the government shutdown, the sole purpose of which was to hold the government hostage, demanding the repeal of the Affordable Care act as ransom, began on the day that major parts of ‘Obamacare’ went into effect. The shutdown was the brainchild and baby of Republican Senator Ted Cruz. He and his fellow Republicans are fixated on ending affordable care for millions of Americans. Mr. Romney’s prediction that the government would be shut down was long seen by many political commentators, since the GOP had long said it wouldn’t fund the government unless funding for the Affordable Care Act was rescinded.

It might be worthwhile to consider what a Romney presidency would have looked like in the context of the points raised above.

  • Mr. Romney said he would cancel the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office. One wonders how any president can cancel a law without the consent of Congress. And he would certainly have had a fight with the Democratic Senate.
  • Regarding international efforts, U.S. soldiers would certainly be dying in Syria now, along with Afghanistan, and possibly again in Iraq and in Iran. The reputation of the U.S., damaged so badly under President Bush, and revived to some degree under President Obama, would again be greatly damaged, as the U.S. would again be seen as the world’s major source of terror.
  • Following the bitter campaign, one wonders how Mr. Romney would mend fences with the Democratic Senate he would need to work with to get anything accomplished.
  • The debt ceiling may not have been raised. In return, many of the ‘47%’ that Mr. Romney dismissed during the campaign –  retirees, families of active-duty soldiers, the working poor and others who don’t pay income taxes – would lose what little assistance they have in the form of food stamps and other subsidies. The model Mr. Romney followed as a business man –  buying and raiding smaller companies,  closing their doors and depriving their now-jobless former employees of their pensions – would be replicated on a national level, as corporations and their owners would be further enriched, as the rate of poverty skyrocketed.
  • The government shutdown would still have occurred, as the Senate, rather than the House of Representatives, would have refused to fund the government unless the Affordable Care Act was funded.

Partisanship in the U.S. has reached such proportions that nothing is accomplished. The infrastructure in the country is in great need of upgrade, the school system has fallen far behind that of other nations, and no jobs bill has been introduced. A Romney presidency would have changed none of that. The only substantial change would have been an increase in poverty, a further shrinking of the middle class, and more wars to further decimate the economy as they cause untold suffering throughout the world.