Israel is an occupying power that actively oppresses millions of Palestinians through discrimination, a different set of laws and movement restrictions that resemble apartheid. Israel has brazenly defied international law by building illegal settlements throughout Palestinian land over the last few decades. These repeated incursions and the oppressive treatment of the Palestinian people have compelled the Palestinians to fight back with unconventional means.. after all, Israel does not allow Palestine to have a conventional army, so they have to fight back using whatever means available. Since the Palestinians feel backed into a corner and do not have the firepower to threaten the Israeli army, they have chosen to target civilian populations with their rocket attacks and suicide bombers.
All that to say this: BOTH sides are wrong. Bullets never solve anything.. they just create more problems in the future. However, since Israel has the complete upper hand in military power, finances and international backing, I consider them the “adult” in the situation. They need to be the bigger person and pull out of their illegal settlements and actually write a constitution that treats everyone living in their sphere equally. It’s ridiculous for Israel to expect that ANY Palestinian government will be able to control and manage all of the disparate factions from Fatah to the PLO to Hamas. Instead, Israel needs to take the first steps itself.
Here’s a stat that might interest those who support Israel in this area: Over the last eight years, between 10 and 20 people have died from Gaza rocket attacks. That’s it. 10 to 20. Since the beginning of the recent offensive against Gaza, over 1100 Palestinians have died including more than 500 women and children. Is this just? Is this proportional? Furthermore, there have been numerous recent reports that have shown Israel shooting Palestinian civilians and even targeting schools, hospitals and other venues where they know there are women and children. Israel is now doing the same thing as the Palestinians.. but since Israel has a conventional army and the support of the US, they are justified in the eyes of many.
The point is that the ONLY solution for Israel long-term is to find a way to live peacefully and civilly with their neighbor. At this point, people generally argue that Israel can’t live peacefully when Hamas doesn’t want them to exist. These people don’t know history very well. Hamas has only existed since 1987! That means they just turned 22 years old. So much for centuries-old conflict, eh? Hamas was formed as a SOCIAL-WELFARE organization within Palestine because no other entity was taking care of the third-world Palestinian people. Again, this is Israel’s own fault. A cursory reading of history informs us that terrorists and extremists are ALMOST ALWAYS found in some sort of impoverished condition. Thus, if a country chooses to create and perpetuate an impoverished people next door, said country should not be surprised when they end up with a severe problem on their hands.
So, the solution is a simple one. Israel needs to start doing for the Palestinians what they should’ve been doing all along: Providing infrastructure support to build their economy, actively engaging in talks for a two-state solution where Israel actually concedes what they need to concede (Jerusalem as a shared city, for one) and directly helping the Palestinian people with housing, food, clean drinking water and any other resources needed to pull them out of their extreme poverty.
Here is a fact of which all should take note: When extremist groups are pulled out of poverty they don’t continue to be extremists. Poverty breeds extremism.. I don’t know how else to put it. This, combined with the lack of civil liberties afforded to Palestinians by Israel, creates a perfect storm that will continue backfiring on Israel until they change course.
“Hope breeds moderation.” This is not some campaign slogan or buzz phrase.. these are words spoken by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine. It is incumbent on Israel and the West to provide hope for the Palestinians.. this is the only path toward making Israel safe and prosperous while also further ridding the world of terrorism.
The US government has historically treated Israel with kid gloves while refusing to actually engage them on these tough issues. Unfortunately, this carte blanche rubber stamp of US approval is the opposite of what Israel needs to truly be safe and prosperous. Israel’s prosperity and security are intimately tied to the prosperity and security of the Palestinians. Until Israel embraces this and implements far-ranging policy to change course, their problems will only worsen.
Click here for more evidence of Israel’s reckless and indiscriminate tactics on the battlefield.. heavy use of weapons that are illegal to use when civilian populations are present. As you can see, Israel cares about the Palestinian civilians just about as much as the Palestinians care about the Israeli civilians.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here. That was kind of intentional, I suppose.. just trying to avoid the political clusterfudge that inevitably takes hold every 4th year around November.
Well, here are a few highlights since we last spoke:
1) Jodi and Mike are married! Yay!
2) Hannah got a job as a therapist at Lifeline here in Indiana.. we’re both very thankful for that development.
3) Our friends LL and Foxy have unexpectedly found themselves happy potential-relationship situations.
4) Hannah and I had our engagement photos taken in Columbus by Jess Heath! For a few previews, check HERE.
5) Hannah and I have entered pre-marital counseling with Kondo Simfukwe, an associate pastor at Christ Covenant Church.. Truly an incredible man.
6) We have become obsessed with “The Settlers of Catan” and the “Ticket to Ride” franchise.
Good times for sure.
Life has been not only interesting, but very fulfilling. A couple of weeks ago a group of us saw Slumdog Millionaire in Fort Wayne and left feeling a pull toward India.
I’m not sure exactly what that means.. but we (Hannah & I, Jodi & Mike, LL, Foxy) have been praying for practical steps we can take to love India.. to make a difference in some way. In that vein, we have sponsored a couple of kids from India through World Vision: Mahendar and Rathan. We’re very excited to see what God teaches us through this experience.. Pray for open doors through which we will be bold enough to walk.
Though I certainly miss Columbus and many aspects of city-life, I have found my time here in Warsaw to be fulfilling and refreshing in so many ways. The pace of life is just different here.. and while I thought I would resent that, I have found myself enjoying it quite a bit. Could I see myself here for years and years? Nope. But it does feel like an extended vacation where I can be refreshed and revived before heading off to the next adventure.
It has been a season of good friendships too.. while I feel disconnected from many dear friends in Columbus, I have found a small community of kind and loving individuals with whom I have much commonality.
Unquestionably it has been a season of blessing in all the expected ways (engagement) and many more UNexpected ways.
This letter-to-the-editor of TCPalm comes courtesy of a Daniel Smith:
After Tuesday, who will the liberals have to blame for the demise of the United States?
The Democratic Congress writes and passes the laws, and Barack Hussein Obama will sign them, so how will the liberals blame George W. Bush when we are attacked again and our economy collapses?
We will be attacked again — it’s a given. The Islamists have been waiting for a liberal to get into office so they can have their way. They supported Obama just for that reason. Liberals will hand all of our freedoms over to the whiners and the terrorists because they have no interest in the safety and security of America.
Liberal/socialist support of the Hamas terrorists will allow them to overrun us. Hollywood freaks will rejoice when the terrorists destroy the American way of life, and then pass the blame when real Americans finally stand up and say no to the selling out of America.
I thank God that America is a strong enough country to endure the next four years, so that true Americans can see that a grave error was made. To elect someone with zero experience just because he looks good on TV is a joke.
Obama has reversed almost every promise he made on the campaign trail, yet liberals rejoice. His only resolve is to one day realize the socialism that liberals so desperately crave.
America was built on hard work and perseverance, yet liberals are so lazy they want the government to pay for everything they want so they can sit and whine about how bad things are.
Liberals are all about blame, and not solutions.
Just thought I’d share what “good Christians” are writing about today. Thanks, Daniel!
by Shane Claiborne.
God of Abraham, Miriam, Hannah, Rizpah, and David…
God of Elijah, Amos, Ruth, Isaiah, Deborah…
God of Mary, John the Baptizer, Peter, Paul, Philemon and Onesimus…
God of Anthony, Ambrose, Dirk Willems, Teresa of Avila, and Francis of
God of Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, William
Wilberforce, and Oscar Romero
and God of love, grace, and hope…
Thank you for creating a perfect world.
Forgive us for the mess we have made of it.
Thank you for creating Jubilee, gleaning, and Sabbath as patterns to
ensure that the poor are cared for, the earth rests, and inequality is
Forgive us for choosing the patterns of empire.
Thank you for using the weak things to shame the strong and the
foolish things to confound the wise.
Protect us from becoming too strong or too wise.
Protect us from ourselves.
for the groaning of creation
for the millions who die of hunger and curable diseases
for warehousing people in prisons and using them for labor
for the scandal of billions wasted in war
for worrying about tomorrow and storing up more than this day our
for an economy that mirrors the seven deadly sins
for our Caesars and our Herods
for the violence and greed in our own hearts
Save us from ourselves.
from the arrogance of power
from the myth of redemptive violence
from the tyranny of greed
from the ugliness of racism
from false hope and counterfeit change
from the cancer of hatred
from the seduction of wealth
from the idolatry of nationalism
from the paralysis of cynicism
from the ghettoes of poverty
from the ghettoes of wealth
from the blood-stained pages of history
and from the legacy of slavery.
Deliver us oh God.
Give us the courage…
to bless the poor in a world that blesses the middle class.
to bless the meek in a world that admires aggression.
to bless the hungry in a world that feeds the already fed.
to bless the merciful in a world that shows no mercy on evildoers.
to bless the pure in heart in a world of clutter and noise.
to bless the peacemakers in a world that baptizes bombs.
Give us imagination…
that we might not conform to the patterns of this world.
that we might shatter indifference and interrupt injustice with grace
that we might choose the cross over the sword
that we might be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves
that we might consider the lillies and sparrows as they shame Wall
that we might choose the dream of God over the dreams of nations
that we might cling to the God that so loved the world, not just America
that we might allow our Jesus to change America rather than America to
change our Jesus.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Amen a thousand times, brother.
Posted in justice, kingdom, love, politics, pray, race, redemption | Tags: America, Change, Christian, Creation, Cynicism, Daily Bread, Disease, Empire, Evildoer, God, Grace, Greed, Hatred, History, hope, Hunger, Inequality, Jesus, Jubilee, justice, Life, Middle Class, Nationalism, peace, Peacemaker, Poverty, Power, Prayer, Prison, Racism, Sabbath, Shane Claiborne, Slavery, Violence, Wall Street, War, Wealth, Wisdom
We stand on the precipice of an historic Presidential inauguration. In the spirit of conciliation we must begin moving forward to address the great challenges of our day. Below are three open letters addressed to President-Elect Obama by Christians for whom I have great respect.
“We Will Be Measured by Our Treatment of the Least and the Last”
by Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor of Vineyard Columbus
President Obama, on behalf of the Vineyard Church of Columbus, I offer our sincerest congratulations and encouragement as you assume the awesome task of providing leadership for our country and our world. As a Jewish-Christian pastor of a congregation that includes blacks and whites, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans, the able-bodied and the disabled, old and young, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, we come together now to support you as our president. We pledge to pray for you. Without God’s help we cannot succeed; with God’s help we cannot fail.
The greatness of our nation will continue to be measured by our treatment of the least and the last. In our country the least and the last surely include the unborn and their mothers, immigrants, the medically uninsured, and those who still go to bed hungry in this land of abundance. Our congregation urges you to fulfill your commitment to reduce the number of abortions in our nation. Around the world, America is our brothers’ keeper of those suffering in the Darfur and the Congo. Please work on behalf of those enslaved by global sex trafficking, the billion people who live on less than $2 a day, and those who are the victims of religious persecution. As you lead, remember Jesus’ words: “As you have done to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me.”
America has an extraordinary capacity to reinvent herself, rarely more so than in this election. We remain the screen upon which the world projects its greatest hopes and its most noble aspirations. Live a life worthy of our hopes. Be a reconciler. Be a peacemaker. May God bless you and your family. And may America bless God and the world.
President Obama: Honor Your Call to the Common Good
by Lynne Hybels, wife of Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church
While my friend, Christine, sent me iPhone photos of the thousands of ecstatic Chicagoans she partied with last night in Grant Park, I pondered what I would write to you this morning. As a pastor’s wife, a mother, grandmother, and advocate for global engagement, I’ve decided to make a simple request: that you honor your commitment to call the American people to sacrifice and selfless giving for the common good. Last night you called it “a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.” I love that! In churches and faith-based organizations across this country, Christian leaders are calling their congregations and constituencies to do just that.
As I write, Christians across all denominational lines are praying for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan; donating money for refugees in the Eastern Congo and Darfur; restocking food pantries throughout the U.S. and sending food to Zimbabwe and Ethiopia; producing films about the impact of climate change on the world’s poor; sending medical kits to African volunteers who care for people with AIDS; rescuing women and girls from sex trafficking; calling on wealthy Christians to establish emergency funds for Americans who are losing their jobs or homes.
Centrist and progressive Christian leaders believe we have been called to advocate for peace and justice and to protect the vulnerable—from the unborn to senior citizens, from the poor in American cities to the desperately poor in African villages. Even during this financial downturn we are calling our constituencies to give generously of their money and their time. We ask and pray that you will similarly call your constituency—the American people—to wholehearted and personal sacrifice for the good of this country and the world.
Intellectual Rigor and Vigor
by John DiIulio, Professor at Princeton, former Director of the White House Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Office
Dear President-Elect Obama:
Probably the hardest single thing for any modern president to maintain amidst the daily storms, both real and media-manufactured, that surround and pound the White House is the personal quality that former Secretary of State Colin Powell cited when he endorsed your intellectual rigor and vigor.
Loyal and talented, wise and well-meaning though they may be to an individual, your White House senior staff will, by degrees, and before the “first 100 days” have elapsed, succumb to diverse daily pressures to simplify the complex, ignore inconvenient facts, and, in what they will sincerely believe to be yours and the nation’s best interest, shrug off or silence even the most constructive critics.
Neither the electronic press nor the print media (what’s left of it) will long suffer complex answers to complex questions, not even if delivered by a master rhetorician and great communicator. And your own supporters in Congress will be among your worst enemies when it comes to delays justified only by your determination to deliberate a bit longer (he’s indecisive!), gather more facts and perspectives (he doesn’t truly respect or trust us!), or craft creative alternatives (he’s actually still wet behind those big ears!).
But, come what may, you will be a great president if, and only if, you retain, against odds no less long than those you faced as a candidate, the intellectual rigor and vigor that, more than any other single trait, got you into Oval Office and into the history books forever.
Posted in politics, pray | Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Hybels, Change, Common Good, Congo, Darfur, Immigrant, Intellectual Vigor, Intellectualism, Jesus, John DiIulio, justice, Last, Least, Lost, Lynne Hybels, Obama, peace, Peacemaker, Poverty, President, President-Elect, Reconciler, Rich Nathan, Rigor, Sex Trafficking, Unborn, Uninsured, Vineyard, Willow Creek, Yes We Can
A song by David Bazan:
Though reticent to represent
They waive as their
Beloved republic bleeds
The victim of insatiable greed
Dressed up in the flag
For too many centuries
Then went crack the camel’s back
It started out in front of the capital
A hundred coming down from their flagpoles
It’s gotten so bad
Even blue white and red
Refused to take it anymore
Are hunting the fortunate sons
To swallow them up
And bury them deep into the ground
Present tense the president
Is calling for diplomacy or a truce
A dozen more are filling the room
Now down on his knees
“Lord they’re coming for me
For doing what you told me to”
The following is an editorial published in the Iraqi newspaper Kitabat and translated into English by Watching America. I would urge all of you to engage with these words in fear and trembling.. your preconceptions and ideas will be challenged to the very core. The article is titled, “America, Get Out Today And Not Tomorrow!”
A few days ago, one of my colleagues sent me news confirming the recent bombing of residential areas in the Al Doura district by US planes which killed at least eight members of one family, most of them children under the age of ten.
I do not know how long we have to bear the tax of our liberation from Saddam and his dictatorial rule? How long will America make us the scapegoat for Al Qaeda and mercenaries of the Third Word? How long will the government remain deaf to the killing of families, the poor, and the innocent under the pretense of eliminating terrorism?
How long will we wait for our death either under the wheels of a US tank or by the missiles fired by its planes or until we our crushed between Al Qaeda’s hammer and the anvil of American terrorism? Killing people in their homes in the middle of the month of Ramadan is justified because of the presence of terrorism; is this the government’s explanation?
You ensure safety for some of us and you accept the death for everyone else!!! God is Great. Is the US Congress content to suppress the American people with the threat of terrorism in the US? Is it that fighting terrorism in our homes, our streets, our schools, our mosques, and our monuments is an easy and acceptable situation, or that our blood and our flesh are cheap like the meat of a dead dog left rotting in the open, being eaten by worms?
Get out of our country, you killers, today and not tomorrow. You and all that came with you are among the followers of Al Qaeda, the international terrorists, and the mercenaries who sell their parents for a cheap dollar.
Leave us be. You killed enough in exchange for false freedom and democracy that granted us utter destruction, disgrace, shame, and moral and administrative corruption and breaking up the Muslim Brotherhood.
Your democracy, which we applauded, turned us into those bereaved of children, widows, and orphans of the street begging for mercy and a piece of the bread from a government that has made itself deaf to our hunger and our eternal subjugation.
Get out of our land and set the innocent free so that they can return to their hungry families whose needs are not met and who are humiliated by their poverty. Return our oil and our land to us and keep your hands off, those hands with which you once extended to us help and then extended to us death, humiliation, and shame a thousand times.
Go to your families, American soldiers, victims of George Bush and Saddam and international interests. Your families need you. Go to your homeland. Wash your hands of our blood. Acknowledge your crimes so your conscience can rest.
Our weariness and your promises, which do not fatten and do not sing from hunger, only benefit members of parliament and their relatives.
Our weariness which we live with every day and every night is dark and without water or electricity or food to satisfy the mouths of our children! Our weariness is the tears of our orphans who dream of a game or new clothes or a piece of candy. Our weariness is cancer, hepatitis, and cholera. These are the exotic diseases that followed your great liberation of us! These serious diseases, which were transferred to us, consumed the bodies of the poor and those with disabilities and injuries. We either die of a disease or hunger or under bombs of your planes.
How long must we wait for the life that you are creating for us? Whatever the case may be, we are like pet dogs or monkeys that you experiment with in order to triumph over the feeble.
America, get out from our country and give us a chance to heal our wounds and remedy our pain and to build our shacks and provide for our orphans. We are totally incapable of confronting you with the sophisticated weapons which you have used to killed us. But we will confront you with our words, which must penetrate your dead consciences, as they are transmitted through the long history read in published newspapers and through your mouths and your media!
The bombing of the innocent during the month of Ramadan confirms your lack of respect for Islam and for the Iraqi people in general. Get out of Iraq and Al Qaeda’s mice will catch up to you in your homes and there you may fight!
It is not our fault that we are poor Iraqis, making us the scapegoat until there are not many of us left. You killed most of us, you and Al Qaeda and the mercenaries. You abandoned brilliant minds to return us to the era of Neanderthals!
You have divided us between Sunnis and Shiites, between Kurds and Arabs, between the children of God, and between members of a single family to the point where children are killing their own mother or father. You have ruined our daughters. And you have renounced our ethics and customs.
Saddam and his empire no longer exist. Those who survived escaped like mice; only the poor, old, and disabled did not survive. You filled our hearts with pus, shame, and disgrace. Leave us to raise our orphans without the fear of a stray bomb or fire of a lost aircraft driven by a drunkard.
Get out America today and not tomorrow. We are fed up. If you don’t leave, every Iraqi will indeed be a terrorist to you and to your followers.