U.S. Duty to Report on Israel

After being in Israel and Palestine for ten days, I am a bit shocked. I don’t think it is just jet-lag. The situation there is much worse than I imagined.

I’ve decided that the relationship between the United States and Israel is much like the relationship Penn State had with one of its popular coaches before he was accused of being a child molester. This particular coach has been in the news for the past few days. Word is: He adopted foster children, set up a foster care home that became a chain of homes around the state, used Penn State facilities for activities, and then it was discovered that he had a decade or more of illicit sexual relationships with some of the boys in his homes for “at-risk” children. School officials apparently knew about the behavior and covered it up. Joe Paterno himself may have known all about it and did not inform the police. It looks like they really love the guy and can’t bear to admit he’s a blackguard.

I’ve never thought of Paterno and Obama as similar, but maybe so. The United States knows all about Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians who live in the occupied territory that Israel does not admit is occupied. It knows that the security barrier is ruining the lives of Palestinians. It knows that the wall is grabbing land and depriving farms and whole towns of water. It  knows that the settlements which the sixteen-foot-high “security fence” encompass violate international law. It knows (at least Jimmy Carter knows) that Israel is creating another apartheid system. Even Moshe Dayan’s widow was lamenting the sorry state of affairs this week in Newsweek – it must know about her! It looks like the government really loves Israel and can’t bear to admit it is a perp.

As a Christian, I don’t have much faith in governments beyond what they are ordained to do under God’s direction. Since I don’t think most of them are much interested in God’s direction, I leave them to God. I don’t think I can sort out what to do about the United States cutting UNESCO funding because Palestine became a member. Why in the world would the U.S. government protect the manifestly weird and cruel policies of Israel? It is mind-boggling.

But as a Christian, and as a Christian who now has some first-hand knowledge of the “facts on the ground” in Israel/Palestine I have some responsibilities. Here are a few things I am doing.

1)    I keep talking and so should you. We should tell the truth as far as we can presently see it and engage in the dialogue so we can find out more. For instance, military aid to Israel is budgeted already at 3.09 billion per year from 2012 to 2018 – talk amongst yourselves.

2)    I keep recruiting people for Shalom House. We’ve created enough stir
lately that I think gifted and available people are about ready to take the leap to join the community and make a difference. I am collecting a list of people who can recruit further members on our behalf, too, since I know  peacemakers are out there, we just have to connect with them.

3)    I keep doing my part to build the Lord’s antidote. I am enthused to, I am aching to, be a part of creating an alternative community called Circle of Hope, in which we can speak the truth in love and not cover up things we find unlovely. Last night at BW we were alive with people talking about what Jesus is doing in their lives. At the Cell Leader training Saturday I was thrilled to hear how quickly people could testify to how God had met them on retreat. At the BW Men’s 9PM I was amazed at how we could talk about our sexuality with compassion and honesty. We have a great opportunity to invest our spiritual wealth to buy back people who have been kidnapped by the world with its constant talk of economics and security.

I know I have very meager-looking weapons. The Penn State Football program is to Circle of Hope as Israel is to Palestine as the United States is to Israel. But as 2 Corinthians 12:9 was teaching us again last night, our weakness may be our biggest advantage in the cause of truth and love.

6 thoughts on “U.S. Duty to Report on Israel

  1. An enormous percentage of Palestinians living in Israeli occupied territory, about half, are children (under 18). Half of these children are chronically malnourished. Psychological disorders from witnessing or experiencing violence are widespread among them. These children have restricted access to housing, water, educational and medical resources in Israel because of their ethnicity. Thousands of Palestinian children have been subjected to arrest and imprisonment in Israeli adult prisons (yes, children, starting at age 12). Thousands more Palestinian children have been injured by armed conflicts, raids, and Israeli bombings in the past decade, and hundreds upon hundreds were killed. The US government budgeted $3 billion in military aid (mostly weapons) to Israel this year, knowing that US weapons are in use against the Palestinians- who are, again, largely children. The $200 million in US medical/social aid to Palestinians was halted today. This is quite literally like the US government is acting as a knowing accomplice to a massive child abuse scheme.

  2. Fascinating take on things, Nate. Like I said, I don’t trust any of the governments to get it right until they are right with Jesus. So I did not write to be one more red state/blue state diatribe and get your angry response to my supposedly “polar” opposite view from yours. If I unwittingly lost track of the third way I am trying to tread, I apologize. But I will say that you don’t hear much about the Palestinian Peace Movement because they are a rather invisible people — I didn’t really know about them until I went and met them. it was kind of shocking. It is hard to organize when your occupiers make it almost impossible to have any civil society at all.

  3. I think the analogy is completely wrong. The houses this coach built sound as if they were done so with an evil intent. The walls that Israel has built were done so with a specific concept in mind, that of security, which you ellude to as devoid of spiritual wealth. How easy for you to say that, as we all live within the confines of this much more secure wall, a great deal further from the range of rockets wielded by those who teach their children death to America. The walls of Israel and the policies that have been enacted did not occur without cause, nor has that cause gone away. Rockets continue to fly and Palestinian children are still taught to hate Jews, as has been true since before the walls were constructed. That behavior is in stark contrast to innocent children who are molested.

    The skewed perspective of your analogy is troubling, and your one-sided understanding of this “dialogue” which completed leaves out, or possibly ignores, the plight of the other side. It’s baffling that you decry the lack of coverage of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, when it is readily available in every mainstream news venue worldwide. What I personally find elusive is the coverage of the Palestinian Peace Movement. Where are the Palestinian groups calling for their brothers and sisters to stand down and reconcile with Israelis? Are there any Palestinians asking the “democratically” elected Hamas governement to change its party charter? (which calls for the death of Jews wherever they may be found) Do these Palestinian peace groups even exist? I haven’t heard about them. But until they start organizing and making a difference, I suspect the walls will remain as tall and enforced as ever.

    Can we please have real dialogue that leads to real reconciliation, rather than this polarizing demonization, likening the people we disagree with to child molesters and worse?

    1. Here are links to three peace organizations with which Rod, myself and other members of a Mennonite Central Committee learning tour delegation recently had the opportunity to meet while in Israel-Palestine:


      There are many more, of course, but this will give you an idea about some of the non-violent social justice work that Palestinians are doing.

  4. I agree… the analogy unfortunately seems apt. I am experiencing some pain today because Art and I went to high school with two of the coach’s sons. I also remember two boys I knew who were part of our church there and lived at the Second Mile community. So tired of evil and its accomplices! Please pray for the unwitting people affected by this madness, here and abroad.

  5. Good analogy. I would add that like Penn State kept that coach because they needed his services in the football program, the US keeps funding Israel (which would, if not for foreign aid, have an economy the size of Guatemala’s) because it performs an important function in the region. The US needs a local watchdog state that will act on behalf of its interests in the region– especially now that so many US-supported puppet dictators (like Mubarak) are being toppled or at least seriously challenged all over the Middle East. They can’t afford to have people in oil-rich states deciding democratically what to do with their own oil, after all– that’s not how to run an empire!

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