Monday, January 15, 2018

Hanging It Up

I believe all writing is a combination of remembering and research.  Unfortunately, in my previous blog, THE PAULINE CAPTIVITY,  my memory went haywire and I went way off track. I “quoted” Paul as saying things he never said. I pulled an image from the Book of Revelation which was written long years after Paul was dead.

So, I have decided that it is probably time to hang it up and leave blogging to younger and sharper minds. I remember saying once that 85 year old men don’t write books and if they do, they shouldn’t. That also applies to blogs.

I am grateful to those of you who have hung in there with me in trying to keep the oppression of the Palestinian people before us.  That injustice continues and is even getting worse under Trump’s so-called leadership. 

Hopefully I can find other ways to add a little weight for the cause of peace through justice.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Pauline Captivity

We don’t know much about the Apostle Paul, but what we do know it significant. The Bible says that he came from Tarsus. Tarsus! Tarsus was the home of Mithraism, one of the many so called “mystery religions” that were popular during the first century. It is significant that Mithras was worshipped by placing a bull on a rack and cutting its throat. Initiates would stand under the rack and wash themselves “in the blood of the bull.”

In the rites of the bull-sacrifice, a bull was slaughtered on a perforated platform through which the blood poured down to bathe the initiate standing in a pit beneath. Afterward the initiate was considered “born again.” Poorer people made do with a sheep in which the sheep was sacrificed, and were literally “washed in the blood of the lamb.”[i]

Most people reading Paul’s talking about one being “washed in the blood of the lamb” assume that he was referring to Jesus and not some mystery savior.

In fact, the ancients worshiped a “Son of God” who was considered God made flesh, whose mother was a virgin. He was born on December 25th, visited by shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding ceremony, rode into town on a donkey while people waved palm leaves, dies on Easter as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, rose on the third day and his followers celebrate his death and resurrection by a ritual meal of bread and wine.   But few people have ever heard of this god-man, His name was Osiris-Dionysus, one of the many mystery saviors of the first century.[ii]

Does that mean that I think Christianity was just another mystery religion? No, I do not, but I think Paul did. He writes nothing about the life and teachings of Jesus or his commitment to social justice. Paul himself declares that his interest in Jesus was limited to the shedding of his divine blood as a sacrifice. Nothing about the commitment to the poor and oppressed.

Paul substitutes the faith of Jesus, what he taught and did, for a belief in Jesus, that he was the second person of the trinity, the “only” begotten Son of God. That little slip has dominated the fundamentalist branch of the church to this day.  It has even influenced our translation of the Bible.  The King James version says:

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. (KJV, I John 5:7)

Sounds very certain that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity. On the other hand, the Revised Standard Version, based on much earlier manuscripts says nothing like that:

And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. (RSV. I John 5:7)     

And why is any of this important?  The basic issue revolves around one question; are we faithful to Christ (Christian) by believing things about him, or to be a Christian, must we strive to live by his teachings and example?

Thomas Are
December 28, 2017

[i] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?” (Harmony Books, New York,  1999) p. 53
[ii] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?” (Harmony Books, New York,  1999) p. 5.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Israel's Right to Defend Itself

Activist/author Anna Baltzer writes:

There is nothing defensive about denying Palestinians water.  There is nothing defensive about preventing people from having materials to build their homes.

Avreham Shalom, from Israel’s Shin Bet (secret service) acknowledged:

We must once and for all admit there is another side…that it is suffering, and that we are behaving disgracefully - this entire behavior is the results of the occupation.[i]

Back in 1937, David Ben-Gurion stated the Zionist agenda. “We must expel the Arabs and take their places. In 1938, he stated, “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves.”  As recently as 1998, Ariel Sharon stated: “There is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”[ii]

And Philip Giraldi points out:

Over the past 50 years, an estimated 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel at one time or another, fully 40 percent of the adult male population.[iii]

These are not defensive actions. Expelling 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 might be called ethnic cleansing, but it could hardly be considered defensive. The robber who breaks into his neighbor’s house is not defending. Withholding medical supplies to an injured neighbor is not defending. Denying him, and his children, clean water, cutting off electricity and aggressively destroying homes, schools and hospitals is not defending.

Trump’s sending Jered Kushner to Israel to work out a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is a joke because Israel does not want peace. It wants freedom to steal more land and water until Israel has it all. If it takes demolishing homes, assassinating Palestinian leaders, road blocks and building an apartheid wall, and worst of all, bombing the unarmed people of Gaza. They simply declare it an act of self-defense and there is nothing in Israel’s moral code to object.

Even Israel’s army, known for its aggression and cruelty is called Israel’s Defense Force.

Yet, with all this clearly in Israel’s repertory, our US media and politicians speak of nothing but “Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Thomas Are
November 27,2017

[i] Penny Rosenwasser, Hope and Practice, Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite our Fears, (June Jordan Literary Estate Trust, 2013) p.171.
[ii] Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June, 2017, p.7.
iii Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June, 2017, p.12.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Shared Values

I am waiting for it to come up on Jeopardy. The answer is, “a nation run by barbaric beggars.” The question, “What is Israel?”

How much is it now? Netanyahu begs, “Give us $3.8  billion a year, and we won’t ask for any more,” unless Israel wants to fight another war, then it will be, ”Who knows?” And to keep the American tax-payer from rioting, we are told over and over again about our “shared values.”

Yet, Who values Israel’s program of occupation, the imprisonment of children, extrajudicial executions., the demolition of homes, and the stealing of land and water from a weaker people? Who supports an apartheid wall as in the West Bank and the deliberate starving of millions of people as in Gaza?  Unfortunately, we Americans do.

Jeff Halper tells it like it is:

This occupation is not perceived as an Israeli occupation. It’s perceived as an American-Israeli occupation. It is clear that Israel couldn’t maintain this occupation for a month without the political and military support that the United States offers.[i]

I condemn Israel for its brutal betrayal of human life. But I am an American which means that I also have my hand in that dish. Israel lives on my tax money and I object too little and too seldom. I ask myself, how can I enjoy my swimming pool when my neighbor, just over the wall, turns on his faucet and nothing…no water.

I am disturbed that so few Americans are disturbed by the gross injustice we blindly support.  One thing for sure. It’s not because we have shared values. I will never accept that.

Ilan Pappe points out how wrong it all is:

The official decision to colonize was a grave violation of international law. The Geneva Convention requires an occupying power to affect the existing order in the occupied territory as little as possible during its tenure. One aspect of this obligation is that it must leave the territory to the people it finds there. Another vital obligation, decreed in Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, states: The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies.[ii]

Of course, these guidelines were written for a nation seeking to be guided by moral values and with a desire to be considered civilized. Thus, it was not written with Israel in mind… or the U.S. One can’t claim moral values and be silent on Palestine.

Thomas Are
November 20, 2017

[i] Tom Hayes, Challenges and Changes in 25 Years Working on Israel-Palestine Issues, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2017, p.44.
[ii] Ilan Pappe, The Biggest Prison on Earth, (Oneworld Publications, London, 2017) p. 133.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Good for Iran

Yet again, we see on the evening news a flash reporting of Iranian students taking over the U.S. embassy and yet again it is totally void of context. Nothing about the Shah’s  billion plus dollar birthday bash he threw for himself while the average Iranian struggled to put food on the table. Not a word about the 70 students shot to death by the SAVAK for demonstrating against the Shah’s opulent life-style, nor the attack forty days later when funeral services became anti-Shah demonstration when the SAVAK killed an estimated 900 students.[1]  Yet, it was then that Jimmy Carter, and I love Jimmy Carter, embraced the Shah and pledged undying support for the Shah and his regime. Carter’s commitment to supporting the Shah as an ally and allowing him refuge in  the United States, exploded into the student’s take-over of our embassy in Tehran.

I don’t hold up Iran as the perfect society, but at the same time, I am distressed that our president rattles his saber toward them.

In over 200 years, Iran has attacked nobody. Even in 1982 when Saddam Hussein attack Iran using poison gas, Iran did not retaliate saying that in doing so, innocent people would die. In the same mind, Iran has ruled out the use of nuclear weapons. When the USS Vincines shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 280 innocent people, there was no retaliation.

In their view, nuclear weapons are forbidden by God and violate Islamic morality.

Also, Flint and Hillary Mann Laverett, whose job with the CIA was to keep an eye on Iran, explain that when translating the words of Amadinajad from the Farsi, he did not say anything about driving all the Jews into the sea. What he said was that “this Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem must disappear from the page of time.”[2] That is a moral judgement, with which I agree, not a physical threat.

We should also keep in mind that Iran is home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East, outside of Israel, and no one forces them to stay. Jews there feel secure and happy. Why else would they turn down Israel’s offer of money to bribe them into moving to Israel? Morsedegh, a 50 year old hospital surgeon says:

The fact is, Iran is a place where Jews feel secure and we are happy to be here. We are proud to be Iranians. I know this does not follow the Zionist script, but this is the reality.[3]  

It’s true, all over Iran one can see signs saying, “death to America.” But you can also hear taxi drivers saying, “death to traffic, or death to teen age drivers. In America, we would say, “Damn this traffic, or damn teen age drivers.” The cab driver in Iran is not literally wishing for the destruction of America any more than our drivers wish for all our young people to literally be killed and go straight to hell.

I wish we could tone down the rhetoric. Why, yet again, jump into a needless war that nobody wins? Why? Benjamin Netanyahu tries to sell Israel as the most feared bully in the neighborhood but, Iran is not buying. Good for Iran.

Thomas Are
November 14, 2017

[1] Check  out Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, (Alfred A. Knoff, 2000) p. 304-306.
[2] Flynt and Hillary Leverett, Going to Tehran, (Metropolitan Books, New York, 2013) p. 19
[3] Kim Sengupta, Iran’s Jews on Life inside Israel’s “enemy state”: We feel secure and Happy. The March 16, 2016.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The First Son-in-Law

I don’t like Jered Kushner.  There, I said it and I am glad. It’s not that he is Jewish. To dislike him for that would make me a bigot.  I don’t like him because he wears blinders.

Old time farmers in the south used to put “blinders” on their mules when plowing to keep them from being distracted by their context. Little leather flaps hung about an inch from each eye. Thus, without being aware of anything around it, a mule would respond only to the bridle and the sting of the whip.

Kushner, king of the lucky sperm club, was born into enormous wealth and privilege and moves through life unaware of his context.

He supports settlements on what little land Palestinians have left and he has no idea of how settlements on their land takes food from children whose bowl of soup comes around all too seldom and runs out all too soon. What does he care. He is the president’s son in law.

Israel’s blockade, which is in its tenth year has:

            Demolished over 48,000 homes;
            Confiscated over 586,000 acres of land in the West Bank;
            Created 300,000 Palestinian refugees;
Colonized the West Bank with over 600,000 Jewish settlers;
Enacted over 50 laws that discriminate against Israel’s Arab minority; and
Established an apartheid system with civil courts for Jewish settlers and military courts for Palestinians, including indefinite detention without trial and a conviction rate of over 99%,[1] all in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention;

And then there is Gaza. Abby Smardon, who has visited Gaza every year for the past six years says:

On my sixth visit, including a few months after Israel’s assault in 2014, I have never seen Gaza so devastated. Israel’s land, air and sea blockade has destroyed its economy and allowed for the near complete destruction of critical infrastructure.[2]

I can’t imagine being locked up in a land where electricity is available only a few hours a day, usually in the middle of the night, where raw sewage runs through the country side and empties into the sea, where most hospitals and health clinics have been closed due to power outages and  where an 11-year old child attempts suicide declaring that death would be a relief?

As American citizens, we own this occupation and I am grieved by it. On the other hand, Jered Kushner, blinded by privilege and protected by a battery of lawyers, prances around Israel like a rock star undisturbed. He is the chosen of the chosen…at least in his mind. And he is, after all, the president’s son-in-law.

Thomas Are
October 15, 2017

[1] References to these facts are too many to list.  Just google 50 years of illegal  occupation and take your pick.
[2] Abby Smardon, On My Sixth Visit, I’ve Never Seen Gaza so Devastated., 10/12/2017.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wolf's World

It’s really quite simple.  If it is critical of Israel, it is a myth. If it gives Israel a pass, it is fact.

Wolf Blitzer published a book, in which he promoted one piece of Zionist propaganda after another and denounced Palestinian views as “spurious myths.” It is a myth that Arab citizens were “massacred” at Deir Yassin, a “myth” that Palestinian refugees “were major victims of the 1948 war,” and a “myth” that “Jewish atrocities” caused the Palestinians to flee.[1]

I read his book.[2] He declares that “Arabs formed a majority of the population in Palestine in 1948 is a myth.”  Then once he gets rid of the Palestinian population, it’s anything goes; that Palestinians were the victims of the establishment of the State of Israel, that the Palestinian question is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, that Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens, it’s all a myth. 

In reality, at the founding of the State of Israel, numerous acts of violence were designed to frighten Arabs into fleeing for their lives. One of the best documented examples was the village of Deir Yassin.  On April 9, 1948, the Stern gang, headed by Yitzak Shamir, and the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, conducted the massacre of the Arab village of Deir Yassin.  Jews claim only 100 people were killed, Arabs say it was 250.  The commander of the Haganah, Zvi Ankori described what he witnessed:

I saw cut-off genitalia and women’s crushed stomachs. It was direct murder. Soldiers shot everyone they saw, including women and children. Parents begged commanders to stop the slaughter, to please stop shooting.[3]

No one denies that most of those slashed to death were women and children. Jewish terrorist shot people in their homes and threw their bodies into the streets as a message to neighboring Arab villages. Survivors of the raid tell stories of Israeli soldiers starting to kill early in the morning and continuing all day. They killed everyone they saw, including old people and children. One pregnant woman had her stomach cut open with a butcher’s knife.[4]

Rather than hiding its face in shame, Israel’s leaders promoted the massacre to frighten other villages into fleeing their homes and leaving them for Israeli Jews to occupy, “free of charge.” 

Yet, Blitzer claims that the massacre of innocent Arabs in Deir Yassin did not happen, It’s all a myth.

Blitzer, pro-Israeli lobbyist for AIPAC-turned-news-anchor, has become the face of CNN and CNN has become the propagandist for Israel.

The Day after the violent murders of four Rabbis in a Jerusalem synagogue, CNN hosted eight Jewish Israelis, three Jewish Americans but, not a single Palestinian to comment on the violence in Israel… the next day, CNN hosted seven pro-Israel guests including Alan Dershowitz, twice. While 15 pro-Israel guests were hosted in just two days, not a single Palestinian or Arab was asked to comment on the violence in Israel-Palestine. “This one-sided narrative allows the erroneous and self-serving assertions of the most right-wing and hyper-nationalistic government in Israel’s history to go unchecked.”[5]

I guess when Dershowitz said that Israel “has never attacked a mosque,” he forgot about the 73 mosques in Gaza that were completely demolished during Israel’s bombardment in 2014 and the 205 others partially destroyed when they were deliberately targeted by Israeli bombers.

So, I say shame on CNN for committing itself more to propaganda than to news. But, I say shame on us more if we allow CNN to dupe us with Wolf’s world.

Thomas Are
September 26, 2017

[1] Charlottesville is Moment of Truth for empowered U.S. Zionists (Who name Their Children after Israeli Generals.) Mondoweiss, 8/18/2017.

[2] Wolf Blitzer, Myth and Facts 1976, A Concise Record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict., Near East Research, Inc. 1976
[3].Lanni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revolutions From Jabotinsky to Shamir, (Zed Books, Ltd. 1984). P. 97. And Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism, (Veritas Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1988) p.33.
[4].Quoted in David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Root of Violance on the Middle East, Faber and Faber, 1977) p. 141. Cited in Clifford Wright, Facts and Fables: The Arab-Isreli Conflict, (London, Kegan Paul International. 1989) p.19
[5] CJ Werleman, CNN is Israel’s Biggest Cheerleader-in-Chief.  Middle East Eye, February 13, 2015.