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No Place Like Home

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Just like some whites feel they can't say anything negative about a black person without being called a racist, well, it is extremely uncomfortable for me to say anything negative about Israel's policies in the Middle East.

I think it's my religious background. I'm Baptist, and our preachers and teachers have pounded home the message that Israel is the chosen people of God. No matter what, as Christians, we must always side with Israel. That makes sense in Sunday school.

But the never-ending conflict between the Arab Nations and the Jewish State is forcing me to examine that teaching.

During my visit to Israel, I got a chance to tour the Kiriatshmoma area, a town of about 24,000 people. Kiriatshmoma sustained some damage during Israel's 34-day war with Lebanon, Our guide, a woman who once lived in Jersey City, proudly pointed out that about 4,500 of the residents were new immigrants from Russia.

The families inhabiting the neat three-story residences were described as being "hard-working" and "doing well."

But when I asked her why thousands of Palestinians are still living in refugee camps--I'm talking about tents set up on barren rocks--she described them as "not wanting to work" and "not wanting to do anything."

I practically had to bite my tongue to hold my peace.

But how do you criticize Israel's policies without being branded an anti-Semite?

The fear of being misunderstood has kept many of us from expressing our views on the Middle East conflict. Because we are silent, the Middle East--one of the most beautiful places on earth--is also among the scariest.

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29 Comments

Bravo Mary!! More people need to review, challenge, and rethink what Israel is doing to Palestinians.

While I too believe they are God's people, they are not showing God's mercy and love to many of the other people (Muslims, Palestinians, etc.) in the region!!


Mary-

While I think the Israeli response was a little heavy handed, the Palistinians are the one's who send woman and children to blow up inocent people as suicide bombers. I'm Irish Catholic so I don't have any politcal or religious agenda. I know what you were thinking about what your guide said about the Palistinians being lazy and not wanting to work. But read too deep into that. I don't think she was making the comparison you were thinking of.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

What do you think she meant?

The former Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu summed up these conflicts the best when he said "If Israel's enemies laid down their arms, there would be no war. If Israel laid down it's arms, there would be no Israel"- What more needs to be said.

Mary,
I hope you took time to enjoy the middle east and didn't work the whole time. It truly is the cradle of civilization and a beautiful place. That being said, your second paragraph sums up the problem rather neatly. The Old Testament, written by Jews, claims that they are the chosen people, just as the tenets of all other religions feel their followers are. I have always had a problem wrapping my mind around the fact that if not for America's enslavement of our people, we would all be cast out of heaven as heathens because we would not know Christ. Were our noble ancestors not worthy of Salvation? What then is the fate of generations of Native Americans? Your Baptist teachings also say that Jews, who are the chosen people in the Old testament, will miss the Kingdom of God if they don't convert (New Testament). There is only one way to get to heaven in the eyes of Christianity - accepting Jesus as your savior. If that is the case what is to become of the rest of the world's great citizens who do/did not subscribe to those teachings? Are Gandhi & Malcolm X doomed to an eternity in hell? Doubtful. I think Man's religions of all types are an outdated crutch used to justify a natural superiority complex and to keep common folks scared and oppressed. Jewish people are not above using that tactic.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Thanks for sharing your stimulating observation.

Mary,

Please be more clear. What policy of Isreal is causing the plight of the Palastinians.

Hasn't the whole world cut off the Palestinians because their new elected government(Hamas) won't change their stated direction of eliminating Isreal?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Isn't that like cutting off the Republicans because they won't get out of Iraq until Osama Bin Ladin is dead?

I totally agree with the actions of Isreal. You have to defend your country at all cost. I actually thought they should have taken the fight a little further into the country and wiped out hezbollah all together no matter who got in the way. The citizens of that region know what's going on and they should've stayed out of the way or better yet help Isreal. The nation of Isreal were the victims, not hezbollah or the "innocent" people who were hurt. Like I said they didn't have to be there. Oh by the way, I'm not jewish!

MITCHELL COMMENT:

The smell of death burns your nostris. Have you smelled it on a large scale? If so, I can't imagine you'd write anything so cavalier.

I'm just thoroughly impressed you made the effort to go see how people completely different from yourself are suffering.

You are really a wonderful person, I hope you get the resources to keep this blog going (which seems to be a full time job!).

That's an interesting thing. If you say anything that is not pro-Israel, you are an Anti-Semite. Even if Israel is wrong, unless you're Jewish, you can't say that they're wrong without getting that brand of Anti-Semite.

It reminds me of here in America the complaint many whites have: that any criticism of any minority is immediately branded racist.

But it doesn't surprise me in the least. Israel's just doing to their neighbors what the US did to people in America all over the world in the name of imperialism, manifest destiny, so on and so forth. America's been the professor, and Israel is America's best student.

They've got our government's unwavering support for anything they may do, right or wrong. And our government's giving them the money to do it.

Of course, the only thing is, I feel that America should be afraid of what it has helped to create, which is basically a country who does what it wants, when it wants, and doesn't care about anyone who isn't one of their own. Israel has repeatedly bitten the hand that feeds them and our government is afraid to criticize Israel for anything.

Mary,

The mess in the middle-east is the result of policies and practices not just by Israel, but by the surrounding Arab nations, other nations including the U.S. and the Palestinians themselves. There's more than enough blame to go around for everyone.

As I see it, the real issue is land. The Israelis have it. The Arabs want it. There's no real room for compromise. How do you reason with people who want to kill you?

What's happening is abominable, but it seems that all are willing to live with it because no one can come up with an acceptable compromise.

Israel's enemies have stated over and over that they will not be content until ALL of Israel is pushed into the sea and ever last Jew is dead. What is Israel to do Mary, roll over and die? Would you and your Black brothers and sisters? I think not.

I'm not the least bit surprised that you've returned with those pro Palestinain sentiments you've stated. The moment that woman stated those Palestinians were lazy and not willing to work you related to them because of the way Blacks here are perceived.

Someone with as much baggage as you should probably stick to judging pies and cakes at a State Fair. Leave the heavy lifting for those who are up to it. Jeesh.

Mary,

We support Israel because it mirrors American history. A persecuted religous group left Europe, "settled" this land and slaughtered the indigenous (non-European)population because it was our "manifest destiny." Israel is simply repeating that pattern.

Lets remember a few things. It was the liberals who pushed for the recognition of the State of Israel. Not some republican or rightwing thing. Harry Truman was no republican. Having said that, the Israeli's agreed to share (split) the land in 1948 as requested by the nations of the world and the newly formed UN. It was the Arabs who said no. And who invaded the Israeli's. It was the leader of the Arab world, Gamal Nasser of Egypt, who said,"we must drive Israel into the sea." THOSE WERE HIS EXACT WORDS. It was arabs who murdered Israeli athletes at an international peace and sporting event (the 1972 Munich Olympics). As far as treating the Palestinians bad, yes they could improve. But lets mention that in past recent history Syria itself under Hafasel Assad killed 20,000 Palestinians. Lets mention also that King Husseins Royal Jordanian Army killed more than 15,000 Palestinians. These are there arab brothers. WHY ISN"T ANYBODY BRINGING THIS UP? Yes, the Israeli's DO NOT have a halo over their head. And its a tragedy that civilians died from an Israeli bombing which they had thought was a Hezbollah stronghold. And they apologized for it. But where are all the critics demanding Hezbollah stop sending rockets into Israeli villages into civilian neighborhoods? And not at military targets. Nobody cried about that. HOW COME MARY? How come nobody questioned how the Palestinians use there money? There folks are starving but they give Yassar Arafats wife a stipend of in the neighborhood of $12 million to $16 million a year every year so she can be comfortable shopping the stores of Paris and have a nice jet-set lifestyle. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE ON THAT? Make the blame be a 2-way street and not a biased prejudice opinion.

I think the woman's comments showed a disdain for Palestinians that is bred from fear and hatred. I don't think it is a racial superiority issue. The plight of the Palestinians is more the result of Arab leadership than it is of the "heavy-handed" Israelis. The Palestinian people have been used by the Arabs as a pawn against Israel since its inception as a country. I would advise everyone interested in learning more about the clash between these two cultures to educate themselves by reading as much as possible on the issue, starting with the organization "Flame" (Facts and Logic About the Middle East). It is a Jewish organization, but I have found them to be more historically accurate than the mainstream media. As to the Jews and the Palestinians; Jews don't kill Christians, Muslims do. Nuff said.

Would the Palestinians in those camps be related to the ones who sell alcohol, rotting meat and outdated foodstuffs at inflated prices in stores all over Chicago's South and West Sides?

Hmmmm..

You know, Mary - most folks who talk about the Middle East and what's going on over there have never set foot over there, much less left the United States. Kinda funny, don't you think?

I have the gift of weighing in on issues by being unilateral - making good points that both sides can use, check it: Until you can talk about the plight of ANYONE over there, go over there and walk their walk for a while and see what the deal is. Go to Dubai (UAE) or to Doha (Qatar), really beautiful places - then head out to Jacobabad (Pakistan) and Kandahar (Afghanistan) and try walking in the streets of Pro-Taliban provinces. It's easy to talk that garbage of the plight of folks far away when the average American wouldn't know a plight if the television remote control hit them upside their their heads. Israel isn't doing anything that hasn't been done since the beginning of time. What will happen, and what will folks say if Israel ever gets its clock cleaned? Then what? You reap what you sew. It seems the only folks who have anything to fear from Israel - is Israel itself. It is never wrong to defend yourself, but call it what it is when you go invading someone's back yard..and not divine intervention. I have the stripes to speak on stuff like that because I've been to ALL these places I have named.

..and yes, Mary I have the misfortune of experiencing the smell of death on a large scale: The UN and Red Cross bombings in Baghdad in the summer of 2003? Yeah - I was there, too.

That, and I grew up in Englewood and the low end. =)

Just over sixty years ago, Europe was awash with DP's (displaced persons) who had been uprooted by the iniquities of the Second World War. Now, they are for the most part, settling into a comfortable retirement having accepted an unpalatable situation as an unwelcome but unalterable reality, and gone on to make useful, productive and happy lives in countries other than their own.

Just under sixty years ago, the Palestinians were forced out of their homes, but instead of trying to improve their lot, they immediately set up camp on Israel's borders, begging bowls extended.

They and their children and their grandchildren are still there, still with their begging bowls.

I hold no brief for either the Arabs or the Jews, but surely a little credit should be given where it is due. Perhaps I am missing something, but it does seem to me from my admittedly cosseted existence in Europe, that the Palestinians, although hard-done by in 1948, are largely, through their own idleness, the authors of the own present-day misfortunes.

Anyone with any gumption would have got on with their lives.

ITs true. Palestinians dont want to work. They are too busy listening to their "leaders" tell them that their poverty is due to something else. Just like a particular group of minorities in the U.S., who insist they are "entitled" to whatever they want...They both need politicians and "leaders" who will tell them to get a work ethic rather than sitting around protesting and pretending that their poverty is due to some other force rather than their own crooked aldermen, church leaders (such as Meeks and Farrakhan) and politicians.

Israel has a very effective lobby in America. And though I don't begrudge them for their advocacy, I do think that Israel is allowed to be as heavy handed as they want to be without regard to the fact that they are culpable in the deaths (of physical body and of personality/possibility) of so many INNOCENT Palestinians.
As the Israeli government kills/isolates/& starves them, generations of Palestinian young men and women are drawn to the ranks of Jihad and Hamas, they feel that they have no recourse. How can they be asked to be peaceful when there is no tradition of peace and every response form Israel is violent and heavy handed. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Israel, has no doubt been under tremendous threat from its inception. But it is not, in my eyes, a fairly (or legally) chartered nation. It gives no consideration to the self-determination of the Palestinian people.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Isn't that like cutting off the Republicans because they won't get out of Iraq until Osama Bin Ladin is dead?

Huh?

I have to admit Mary you have completely lost me on that comparison.

Again you completely do not address the question. What policy of Isreal is causing Palestinians to live in Tents?

You seem suddenly sympathetic towards Hamas and Hezbollah. To my knowledge these are two terrorist groups. Are you thinking if we give terrorists what they want they will quit being terrorist.

And if they will, is then terrorism a legitimate form of war fare for some groups in your opinion.

Try to actually address the questions this time and not just give a confusing one line answer.
Thank You!

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Huh?

Mary -

Your references to your religious upbringing and obeyance to scripture reminded me of a recent chat I had with a neighbor about the Curse of Canaan, found in Genesis.

Noah had three sons, from whom sprang all of the people of the earth, and the three races that were known at the time of the Bible's writing. Ham (whose name literally means "black") was the father of all of Africa. Shem (whose name means "dusky"), was the father of the Semetic nations of the Middle East, including Assyria, Arabia, Syria, and what is now Palestine, Lebanon and Israel. Japeth ("fair") was the father of all of Europe, Persia and Afghanistan.

In Genesis 9:20-27, Noah curses Ham's youngest son Canaan over a slight, stating: (25) And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. (26) And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (27) God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

For over 2,000 years, this small passage in the Old Testament was used to justify slavery, by everyone from the Jews to Mormons.

By the way, it's interesting to note that the "Palestinians" aren't Palestinian at all. Ancient Palestine was named for its Philistine inhabitants (like Goliath), who were wiped out. The current residents of Palestine are in fact Arabs, descendants of Shem, and Semites. So, those who criticize Israel's "Palestinian" policies may be many things, but the certainly aren't anti-Semitic, and there are some who believe that the rest of the Middle Eastern world continues to agitate the conflict because they fear the result if these two related tribes are one day united.

As someone who has travel to the region, an has many friends on both sides, I thought I had some insight into this conflict. But the more I talk to them the less hopeful I am that there will ever be peace. While arabs blame america, it doesn't matter if we support Isreal or not, there still would be war. The wounds are so deep and raw, an anger so intense, that the only solution would be that they have no contact at all, which we all know isn't possible.

Imagine if you had a home. You and your neighbors got along well for years and years. At some point, your neighbor pissed off the local authorities and the sheriff came in and evicted them. You had nothing to do with the eviction. After they left, your family bought their home and lived in it for generations.

Years/centuries later, the descendants of the evicted family decides they want their home back, even though you bought the home and lived in it for years. They get some big politicians to back them and they come and throw your family out of the home. To make matters worse, they tell you not only to leave the home, but to leave the country, breaking up families and neighborhoods.

How would you feel about them and about the people who helped put you out of your home?

This is what has happened in Israel. Chosen people? According to their scripture they are, but not everyone reads their scripture.

They intimidate and guilt-trip everyone who dares to say anything against them and their actions, and the Christian world has bought into it, not even thinking about the fact that, if the Jews are the chosen people, then Christians are second class like all the rest of the world...

As for the comments about the Palestineans not wanting to work, that's the same crap the people in power always say when they want to put people down. They never mention the roadblocks they put in the way of those who want to work...

I lived over there also and I saw first-hand. It is inhuman what the Israelis do to the Palestineans. When the South Africans were doing it to the Blacks there, we screamed to high heaven. This is the same kind of situation here, but we don't say a word because Israel is our FRIEND and we don't want to come across as Anti-Semetic, which means whatever the Jews want it to mean.

And I am Jewish....

David were was white people thinking when they had slaves?Were they too lazy to work themselves?Blacks dont need "anyone to tell them what to do,Unlike neo-con(artist)caucasians who have followed Bush's illegal antics with relish.I noticed you didnt add corrupt cops(stealing,murdering and kidnapping) and mostly white corrupt politicians when you were ranting about bogus "entitlements"(racist codewords).Whites over the years have expected to be given a pass on alot of issues,it is not strange they are siding with Israel mostly because Muslims remind them of African-americans!people are not stupid (well most people)it is just amazing how neo-cons/right wingers make thousands of crucial mistakes) running the country ,stimulating terrorism(on purpose,security lapses,failing economy)then they try to spin things as if though they are patriotic while at the same time selling out our country(Dubai ports,borrowing 2billion dollars a day from chinese etc.)And making profits on the blood of our military(whos leaders follow Bush without question)Companies like Halliburton/Blackwater have made Billions off Iraq etc.and many of our govt."officials')have interests in these companies.The latest state of the union address by Bush turned out to be a pathetic lie fest filled with rightwing discredited rhetoric in which he attempts to mislead the country again about his complicity in the leadup to the bogus "war on terrorism"so david know your history,Whites have been in the forefront of abuse of power,racism and feeling they are entitled to do whatever they want or whenever they want to do things ,no matter how evil it is.I am glad someone in blog pointed out that the so-called palestinians of present day Palistine are actually Arabs,semites descended from shem how can they be anti-semite?Alot of disinformation is put out to keep people blind from the truth,while both sides of the conflict in the middle east has their own share of atrocities.believe me "WAR" is much more profitable then peace..ask Halliburton and Cheney about it!

Simple scenario. You have been living in your home for years, you love it. Done several improvements and are proud. The Chicago Police come in one day and tell you it's not yours anymore. You are resticted to a bedroom. You can only come out of the bedroom when told. You have no access to the kitchen, and all your children must stay in the room with you. If you complain, we come in and kick the living hell out of you.You should be happy you get the bedroom. By the way, the billy clubs used to beat you and you children are supplied by someone who doesn't even live in your area.
But they hate us for our freedom and lifestyle. Yeah right.

With all respect to Christina, Tsgtm, Salim, and others, they speak as if everything is a one-way street. Hey, will they explain to me this rhetoric coming out of the mouth of the President of Iran? Its there for the whole world to see. He says he wants Israel wiped off the map and all jews wiped out. And that the Holocaust never existed. Mary, is everybody denying he didn't say it? The people I mentioned above amaze me. They mention Israel being rough on Palestinians. And the Israeli's do not have a halo over their head. I know that. But they don't say one stinkin' word about the Arab muslims killing Black Africans by the MILLIONS. There is some estimates that in the 1990's they may have killed as many as 3-5 million. Thats 3-5 MILLION, not thousand. Where was everybody? Come on, I knew about it. I contributed to popular African-American radio host, Joe Madison in Washington DC, as he, former congressman Walter Fauntroy, and others, went to E. Africa and freed hundreds of thousands of Black slaves. Thats right--slaves ! These arabs whose heads you put 'halo's' over, have had a very profitable business enterprise with 'chattel slavery of blacks'. Tell me, why was the Clinton Administration so quiet and looked the other way? As they were when a million innocent human beings were being slaughtered in Rwanda. Where was the 'left? The ones who only criticize Israel. Where was the Congressional Black Caucas? They never opened there mouths. Why? I'm am a everyday average Joe. Your typical lower-middle class blue-collar white guy. I contributed the best I could to stop this genocide in Africa. So why did all these congressmen, administrators, etc. do absolutely NOTHING? Mary, I hope this is shown so they can answer me. Only fair. And these folks only point there fingers at Israel. Have an open-mind please.

"If Israel's enemies laid down their arms, there would be no war. If Israel laid down it's arms, there would be no Israel"

Dan Terpstra, I don't think I could have said it better. You simple comment speaks more than all the other comments combined!


Jews have been in the land of Israel - a sovereign nation more than 3000 years ago - all along. They suffered occupation and exile (though not complete exile), and always dreamed of returning (i.e., Zionism). It's no different than the French would feel had they been expelled from France. The "Palestinians" are a "people" the world never heard of until 1967 (something fishy there, huh?). They have been used as political pawns by their Arab brothers, confined in those camps by their Arab brothers, and force-fed an education of hatred and radicalism which has produced the troubles the world is presently dealing with. The Jews suffered through the Holocaust and managed to rebuild their lives productively in their own land - not somebody else's - and have blessed the world with technology, artistic achievement, medical breakthroughs and so much more that the world couldn't get by without any more (your cell phone was invented in Israel, so were the Intel Pentium and Centrino microprocessors. Many high-tech companies have their R&D divisions in Israel because of their superior educational levels and creativity. What have the Arabs given us since algebra and the concept of "zero"?). Mary, your post reeks of antisemitism, ignorance of history, and a profound misunderstanding of the Bible. Have a great life, but leave Israel and the Jews alone. We have enough problems without you!

MITCHELL COMMENT:

If it makes you feel better to blame for the Middle East problem, then go ahead. But as far as antisemitism, why is it that any discussion of Israel that questions their treatment of Palestinians ends with a charge of antisemitism? That's ridiculous.

Israel is not fighting Arab states. It is fighting terrorists who have been given government sanction throught their NGO status.

It would be the equivalent if we had given NGO status to Al Capone and the boys. The Palestinians problems stem from their own refusal to peacefully participate in the political process. They have been radicalized and indoctrinated into a hatred of the Jewish people and Israel. This goes back to the Forties and can be laid at the feet of people like the Mufti of Jerusalem and other groups formed at that time.

The Palestinians created their own problem and have to live with it. There is no comparison to what happens here.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

I'm unsure about what you mean by "There is no comparison to what happens here." I agree about Israel fighting Hezbollah, but nonetheless the buildings I saw were apartment buildings inhabited by women and children.

India: Why are so many Muslims in prison? Can anybody explain it?

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on September 7, 2006 4:04 PM.

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