Sunday, September 23, 2007

HOLY LAND FOUNDATION TRIAL: Where were American "progressives?"

American "progressivism" troubles me.

I am deeply troubled that many "progressives" (Christian or otherwise) are so determined to find a "fair and balanced" approach that they refuse to "take sides" in the "conflict" between Palestine and Israel. However, the struggle in the Holy Land is NOT a mere "conflict." It is a mortal combat between self-determination for the Palestinians and the imperialist claims of the Israelis. One side in the combat is not "terrorist" while the other is the "victim" of terrorism. Any mortal combat has at least two combatants.

The "progressives'" determination to be "fair and balanced" is, I am afraid, evidence of the power of the Israel lobby. Even people who should know better have been hoodwinked by the constant barrage of propaganda. We must, they think, always be "fair." Yes! However, being "fair" would require an immediate end to support for Israel. Nothing our country has done for sixty years has been "fair." When my Christian brothers and sisters and my "progressive" friends tell me that I'm so "obsessed" that I can't have a balanced view, I say they are the ones who do not have a balanced view. The scales have been so weighted in favor of Israel that there is no resemblance to "justice" or "fairness;" there is no balance.

I know many people who have been to Palestine/Israel---not simply jaunts to Israel such as members of Congress and candidates for President take. These are Americans who have been willing to see. They have been through the Ramallah checkpoint; they have been led by permanent refugees through the maze of alleys in the Rafah camp, walls pockmarked with bullet holes from Israeli guns fired into homes, and streets running with sewage because the Israelis have destroyed drainage systems and pumps; they have talked to Palestinian mothers in Hebron who must scale a wall (at risk of being shot) simply to go shopping for food for their families; they have seen the rape of the land at Jayyous where the accursed wall has been built---all of those things and more, as I have seen. Not one person I know who has been willing to see thinks what is needed is a "fair and balanced" approach.

I am tired of liberals, "progressives," and Christians being unwilling to see that there is, in fact, RIGHT and WRONG in the world. It is not "relative." Israel has done everything it could over the last sixty years to destroy the Palestinian culture, to make it impossible for the Palestinian people to have a homeland---and to take for itself what the world could not in good conscience give it in 1948. And nothing Israel has done has ever given the US government pause to think maybe we should not support Israel.

American "progressives," even those in the anti-war movement and such groups as, will not, cannot, see that the Iraq war, the looming military action against (invasion of?) Iran, the so-called "war on terror," even 9/11 itself would have been different (I'm not saying any of those would not have happened) if the US had ever viewed the Palestinians as the equals of the Isarelis, had ever acted with "fairness and balance" toward them.

There was a time, 1967-1987, that, had the US demanded that Israel end the Occupation, the people of the Middle East might have had a chance to settle the "Middle East Conflict." But twenty years later, the wounds have become so deep, the world has changed so much, and the political situation has become so complicated, that even an end to the Occupation will not solve the problems of the region. However, those problems will NEVER be solved as long as the Occupation continues. Struggles in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria---even the power struggles among the royal family of Saudi Arabia---are all related to and exacerbated by the illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestinian territory.

American "progressives" and Christians, by refusing to stand up to Israel are taking sides. As Harvey Cox famously said in another context, "Not to decide is to decide." One of my seminary professors used to point out that sentence is not complete, that what Cox really meant was, "Not to decide is to decide not to decide." Not deciding is NOT a default position. It is an active choice NOT to be involved. All Christians and "progressives" who decide not to work for the oppressed, who decide not to care for the widows and orphans, who decide not to stand with the people of Palestine to prevent their annihilation, have not merely abdicated their responsibility or taken the easy way out. They have decided not to be responsible.

A verb can be transitive or instransitive, that is, either having or not having an object. "To decide" is a transitive verb; one must decide "something." Christians and "progressives" who make up their minds not to support the Palestinians are deciding something. They are deciding actively to participate in the Israeli Occupation and ethnic cleansing and Apartheid. Their decision is transitive---it has an object. The object is to support tyranny and the destruction of an entire people.

If American "progressives" and Christians truly want an end to "terrorism," if they truly want peace, if they truly want justice, then "fair and balanced" must be a thing of the past. Progressives and Christians must DECIDE to stand with Palestinian brothers and sisters who live under the most crushing and dictatorial regime in the world and whose homeland has been torn from them by overwhelming military force.