Tuesday, May 15, 2018


The heart breaks, the stomach churns, the mind reels when confronted by yesterday's reports from Jerusalem. The juxtaposition of images of the savagery of the Israeli response to Palestinian protests and the self-congratulatory smiles of American and Israeli officials at the opening of the US embassy is quite simply an obscenity.

With all pretense of even-handedness abandoned, Trump's America submits to the fanaticism of Israel's religious right and sends its evangelical bigots to bookend the celebration with their "prayers." Does the grinning Netanyahu understand that these ministers of an Old Testament God see these events in the light of their publicly avowed belief, that the hegemony of Jews in the Holy Land is nothing but a prelude to their annihilation in the promised end times? Perhaps he is able to dismiss their beliefs as merely delusional, in his eagerness to co-opt American power to achieve his purposes. If so, he is himself delusional.

This will not end well. If nothing else, the statistics of birth rates and population growth militate against it. To maintain the status quo in years to come, Israel will need to reinforce an already incipient apartheid system with ever-increasing force and ruthlessness. The truism, that Israel "has a right to protect itself," will not stand against the reality of numbers. No amount of military might is powerful enough to contain the anger of vast hordes of the suppressed forever.

Israel was founded with the best of intentions and its early years were marked by its devotion to  democratic, egalitarian and humanitarian ideals. It would be well advised, now, to reconnect with those roots, to find compassionate accommodation with displaced Palestinians and its Arab neighbors, and to explore ways to live in peace, and justice, and respect for the humanity of all concerned.

The course of human history--and especially the history of the Jewish people--teaches that tyranny, no matter how successful in the short run, inevitably ends in disaster for the tyrant. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." In betraying the professed ideals of its founders, who themselves fled bleak tyranny to create a hopeful future, Israel now acts the oppressor and risks finding itself on the wrong side of history. Sadly, given everything that is happening under its current administration, the same is true of an America that places its heavy thumb on one side only of the scale of justice.

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