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National Prayer Network

THE CONSCIENCE OF HONEST ISRAELIS

By Rev. Ted Pike
1 Feb 10

If anti-Semitism is “strong criticism of Israel,” as the Anti-Defamation League and the government of Israel now insist, then some of the world’s most outspoken anti-Semites exist where one would least expect them—in Israel. Increasingly, Jewish writers for Israel’s largest dailies, the Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz, vilify Israel’s inhuman treatment of Palestinians. They use language which would arouse a chorus of outrage as “anti-Semitic” in any American church, university or legislative body. Christian evangelicals, it’s time to listen.

For the past century, relations between Jews and Arabs in the war-torn Mideast have not been governed by the golden rule. If they had, the Mideast would be unrecognizable for its calm and cooperation. But in a refreshing article in the Jerusalem Post, Larry Derfner does what he claims is unthinkable for most Israelis. He requests Israelis to consider how they would feel if the inhabitants of Gaza treated them as despicably as Israel treats the Palestinians.

“The question we have to ask ourselves is this: If anybody treated us like we’re treating the people in Gaza, what would we do? We don’t want to go there, do we? And because we don’t, we make it our business not to see, hear or think about how, indeed, we are treating the people in Gaza. All these shocked dignitaries, all these reports, these details, these numbers—thousands of destroyed this and tens of thousands of destroyed that, rubble, sewage, malnutrition, crying babies, humanitarian crises—who can keep up? Who cares? They did it to themselves. Where to for lunch?

But is that how we would react? Is that what Israelis would do if a foreign army did to this country what the IDF did to that one a year ago? If another country sent F-16s, Apache helicopters, white phosphorus, drones, tanks and battalions into Israel, if any nation bombed and killed over here like we bombed and killed in Gaza, then rubbed our noses in it afterward, would we want to make peace with them?...what we make 100% sure to forget is that we do all sorts of hateful things to Gaza that they don’t do to us, and that this is the way it’s been since 1967…We have to dare to put ourselves in those people’s place. And we have to stop doing to them what we would never allow anyone to do to us. Otherwise, we Israelis have no conscience, and little by little we become capable of anything.” (Rattling the Cage: A taboo question for Israelis, Dec. 30, 2009)

In Haaretz’s article, “Israel’s 10 Worst Errors of the Decade,” Bradley Burston lists “The siege of Gaza” as number one through number ten. He says,

It was a decade framed by a fundamentalist Palestinian belief in salvation through suicide and a fundamentalist Israeli belief in salvation through brutality. The decade ends as it began, clueless, hopeless, exhausted. For having lived through this, we are, all of us, somehow much more than ten years older, yet none the wiser…The effect of this siege has been to focus and intensify Palestinian anger against Israel…In the eyes of the world community, the overwhelming collective punishment—and the relative silence of Israelis in response—has gutted Israel’s claim to the moral high ground…The fact that the siege has failed so completely in achieving its stated aims reinforces the impression that its real purpose is punitive…The siege corrupts the moral values of all Israelis, who, whether or not they are aware of what is being done to the people of Gaza, bear ultimate responsibility for all acts being carried out in their name.” (Israel’s 10 Worst Errors of the Decade, Jan. 6, 2010)

The title of Akiva Eldar’s Ha’aretz article asks, “Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?” He cites a study by Daniel Bar-Tal, “one of the world’s leading political psychologists and Rafi Nets-Zehngut, a doctoral student, which alleges,

Israeli Jews’ consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their sufferings…the public practices self-censorship and accepts the establishment version, out of an unwillingness to open up to all alternative information—they don’t want to be confused with the facts. We are a nation that lives in the past, suffused with anxiety and suffering from chronic closed-mindedness. (Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?, Jan. 30, 2009)

Gideon Levy, in Ha’aretz, takes the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day to preach, not against a hostile world but against increasing Israeli oppression of the Gazans, which he alleges fans the flames of anti-Semitism.

Wednesday was international Holocaust Remembrance Day, and an Israeli public relations drive like this hasn’t been seen for ages…It won’t help much. International Holocaust Remembrance Day has passed, the speeches will soon be forgotten and the depressing everyday reality will remain. Israel will not come out looking good, even after the PR campaign….Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at Yad Vashem. ‘There is evil in the world,’ he said. ‘Evil must be stamped out at the beginning.’”

No remembrance speech will obliterate the xenophobia that has reared its head in Israel…We have a prime minister… who speaks about evil but shares the crime of the Gaza blockade now in its fourth year, leaving 1.5 million people in disgraceful conditions…a prime minister in whose country people perpetuate pogroms against innocent Palestinians…against whom the state does nothing…How beautiful it would have been if on this international day of remembrance Israel had taken the time to examine itself, look inward and ask, for example, how it is that anti-Semitism has reared its head in the world precisely in the past year, the year after we dropped white-phosphorus bombs on Gaza…A thousand speeches against anti-Semitism will not extinguish the flames ignited by Cast Lead, flames that threaten not only Israel but the entire Jewish world. As long as Gaza is under blockade and Israel sinks into its institutionalized xenophobia, Holocaust speeches remain hollow. As long as evil is rampant here at home, neither the world nor we will be able to accept our preaching against others, even if they deserve it.” (Holocaust remembrance is a boon for Israeli propaganda, Jan. 28, 2010)

Antony Loewenstein, in Ha’aretz, underscores that:

The decades-old ability of Zionist groups to manage the public narrative of Israeli victimhood is breaking down. Damning [Israel's] critics has therefore become a key method of control.

‘But,’ writes Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald, a leading Jewish-American blogger, ‘whereas the smear tactics once inspired fear in many people, now they just inspire pity. They no longer work.’

“Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal Israeli occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza.

“Mainstream Zionism wants to completely shield Jews from the uncomfortable facts of the Israeli occupation and Palestinian self-determination.

“But facts have an uncomfortable way of seeping back into view. Colonel Itai Virob, an IDF brigade commander in the West Bank, recently told an Israeli court that, “a slap, sometimes a punch to the scruff of the neck or the chest, sometimes a knee jab or strangulation to calm somebody [a Palestinian] down is reasonable.” (Why aren't Jews outraged by Israeli occupation?, June 17, 2009)*

*Virob’s admission barely scratches the surface of the fact that the most widespread and fiendish Israeli tortures of thousands of Palestinians have occurred over at least the last 40 years and are still being inflicted in Israel’s prisons today. An average of 10,000 Palestinians, including women and minors, largely arrested and incarcerated without due process, are vulnerable to unspeakable cruelties at the hands of IDF and Bet Shin, Israel’s secret police every year. Such inhumanity, worthy of a Nazi concentration camp, is blacked out by the Israeli military, police, and media and Western media (including Christian). But it is extensively documented in my six-page article, Torture in Israeli Prisons at www.truthtellers.org.

It is well known that Israeli torture experts were on the scene during American torture of Iraqis at Abu-Ghraib. There can also be little doubt that the same Israeli influence, as partners with the US in the “War on Terror” during the George W. Bush administration, led to very un-American and shocking incorporation of Israeli-style torture into US interrogation of Muslim prisoners.

 


 
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