(Caution: This blog contains graphic information.)
President Trump has decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He wants to move the American Embassy there.
There’s a huge problem with Trump’s decision: the entire region of Jerusalem is not Israel’s to be had. Western Jerusalem is a part of the Palestinian Authority. No country has ever recognized Israel’s ownership of all of Jerusalem.
I am very concerned about Trump’s reckless action. His stand has already unleashed a firestorm of protest all over the world.
But, frankly, my concerns about Israel transcend the issue of where the capital is located. As a person of Jewish ancestry, it haunts me how the state of Israel came to be, in 1948. (1) There was a forced removal of about 3/4 million people from their ancestral homes, as well as mass brutality.
About 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land, what the Palestinians call, “The Catastrophe.” Not only did people lose their land (with the destruction of olive groves that had been there for centuries), but many lost their lives and were permanently exiled, with no right of return.
The most horrific example of the carnage at that time was the infamous Massacre at Deir Yassin. According to a physician at the time for the International Red Cross, over two hundred innocent people were brutally killed.
The Red Cross found decapitated victims, 52 dead children, and 25 slaughtered pregnant women, with their fetuses cut out of their bodies. At the time, Menachem Begin, a party leader and the future Israeli Prime Minister, praised the Massacre, saying that it was the turning point for Israel achieving statehood.
Begin applauded the massacre partly because it put the fear of death into the Arabs, who abandoned villages in droves and ran for their lives. Hundreds of villages were then easily seized, ransacked, and controlled.
While few people refer to the Massacre anymore, at the time, several influential Jewish figures, including Albert Einstein, signed an open letter to the NY Times condemning the attack. The statement read, in part: “Terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, killing 240 [the number was later increased] people, mostly women, children, and elderly men.”
The encroachment into Palestinian territory only increased via the l967 War, as more and more land was coopted by Israel. And Israel has seized Palestinian land ever since. Many Israeli leaders over the years have stated unabashedly that they won’t be satisfied until they control the whole region.
I realize that my strong words here may alienate some readers who lean right. However, I must be bold and forthright here. Israel’s unchecked land grabbing and marginalization of people is not acceptable to me. And I don’t believe that the US should be aiding and abetting it.
Now many people will declare that the US has to arm Israel with trillions of dollars worth of weapons. We have to do this even though Israel has, for decades, defied any conditions put on the funds, for instance, to stop settling in Palestinian territory and to cease human rights violations.
Many Americans will assert: since Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, we must support them –regardless. But does Israel meet the criteria for a democracy? Doesn’t a true democracy afford all citizens equal rights?
In Israel proper, there are numerous laws that discriminate against Arabs. Some people put the number of discriminatory laws as more than 60.
For instance, Jews and non-Jews may not marry. Arabs have a limited right to own land. There are restrictions on Arabs’ claims of inheritance. While most Arabs can vote, many cannot.
The Rabbinical Courts can severely discriminate against Palestinians. In an (in)famous case, a religious Jewish man refused to help a dying Arab during the Sabbath. The Court ruled that while the man must break the Sabbath to assist a dying Jew, he does not have to this for a non-Jew.
Schools in Israel are segregated. Arab children attend their own, inferior, schools. Arab citizens may not attend the numerous, excellent colleges and graduate schools in Israel.
Towns can discriminate against potential newcomers based on “social suitability.” Freedom of expression is severely limited for Arabs, who can, for instance, be arrested for speaking or writing about the Catastrophe. A legitimately elected Arab member of the Knesset can be barred from official meetings because of something that he said or because of someone with whom he visited.
Human rights groups all around the world have long decried the torture of Arabs in Israel prisons. A Jewish human rights group estimated in 1998 that most Arab prisoners are tortured. And many humanitarian groups have documented the countless number of people who go missing a year, particularly in the Occupied Territories.
Speaking of the Occupied Territories: things get even worse for Arabs living there. In Gaza, the poverty is some of the worst in the world. Most people do not have clean drinking water — while clean water is often rerouted to settlers.
Settlers have displaced Palestinians, as the latter’s childhood homes and olive groves have been razed. Israel allows the ruthless practice of bulldozing Palestinian homes if a family member has been accused of terrorism.
The one airport in Gaza was razed by Israel, leaving residents practically prisoners in their own land. And they must endure humiliating security checkpoints — and go hours out of their way — to go to work or to church. Some priests and nuns are unable to get to their own churches because of the Wall.
President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is not just a bad choice — it is a dangerous one. For Jews, anti-Semiticism, always unacceptable, may indeed increase.
For Moslems and Christians, it is a disaster in every way: humanitarian, economic, and religious. The most precious mosque to the Moslems is in this part of Jerusalem. For Christians, Jerusalem houses the sacred Church of the Holy Sepulchte, believed to be the site where Jesus was crucified.
What will happen to those holy sites now? (2)
For President Trump to make this disastrous decision — despite international law and despite the pleas of our allies — is disturbing, to say the least. It shows that whether the President is Left or Right, Democrat or Republican, ultimately the Israeli lobby, APAIC, calls the shots.
1. I am a person of Jewish ethnicity. My grandparents on both sides immigrated to this country from Eastern Europe. I became a Christian a few years ago.
2. It is disturbing to me that very few Christian leaders will speak out persecution towards Christians, and Moslems, in the Holy Land. Some examples: new churches cannot be built in the Holy Land. And the New Testament is banned in Israeli schools. As I understand it, Jews who become Christians are severely persecuted at work and can be targeted for violence.
For some Christian preachers, the silence is, in my opinion, self-serving. Many evangelical churches believe in Dispensationalism: that is, all the Jews must return to Israel in order for the Messiah, Jesus, to return. This controversial doctrine is rejected by the mainline Christian denominations, as well as the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Here is an excellent article on the subject of Christians in Israel and the Occupied Territories: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/12/11/we-must-not-forget-the-plight-of-the-palestinian-christians/
By the way, if you are interested in reading a very well-documented and heartfelt book on the conflict in the Holy Land, I refer you to the book, The Crisis of Zionism by a Jewish Zionist and professor. I would also invite you to take a look at this movie: The Occupation of the American Mind, which painstakingly elucidates the American media bias on the Middle Eastern conflict. http://mediaed.org/occupationmovie/ I believe that you can watch this on Youtube.