Palestinians Deserve Help from the World

It was last week that my blood began to boil at what is going on in Gaza.

The news report said that Israelis had dropped leaflets into Gaza, warning them that they were going to attack and telling them that they should leave their homes.

Leave their homes? Where are they supposed to go?

I went to a place of recollection on how, in this country, minorities, most often blacks, have been displaced over the years because some project is going to be developed in their neighborhood. The message has been, “move.” The question has always been, “move to where?”

According to reports, the mortality rate of Palestinians is rising at a horribly rapid rate on a daily basis. Israel says the deaths are regrettable but that it is necessary because Hamas will not stop firing missiles into Israel…and that Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel further says that while Israel values human life, Hamas doesn’t, as evidenced by its non-regard for Palestinians. If they cared about their people, Israel says, they would stop firing missiles into Israel.

Both Palestinians and Jews say that Hamas is NOT good for Palestinian, but that being said, there is still no justification for this mass killing of innocent Palestinians.  A report issued by the United Nations in 2012 said that the population in Palestine is “increasingly desperate.” Housing is horrid; the unemployment rate is about 40 percent; that rate amongst young people rises to 60 percent; there is a rising suicide rate. The population is booming, but the infrastructure is crumbling …and though Israel is in control of much of what happens in Palestine, Israel reportedly offers little help. Israel stops most exports from Palestine to the Israel and the West Bank …and by extension, to the world, and Israel controls what can be imported.

From what is described, the people in Palestine live much like blacks in South Africa live, in shantytowns, with little regard for their lives or livelihood. As is the case with most cases of oppression, the Palestinians have been dehumanized by the Empire. When Secretary of State John Kerry said that what is going on in Gaza could turn Israel into an apartheid state,, he was quickly criticized and pulled back his comment …but it seems true. http:// The only way an oppressor can carry out cruel, unfair and unjust policies is to see people not as people but as objects. Surely that is what seems to be the case in Gaza. http://–the-living-cartoon-of-the-war-in-the-30239275.html

If anyone dares say that what Israel is doing, he/she/it is labeled anti-Semitic. It’s the same old game oppressors have used for decades. Back in the Civil Rights struggle days, if a white person helped a black, spoke up and spoke out about racism and white supremacy, or challenged laws that were clearly unjust for black people, he or she was called a “nigger lover,” and was threatened by the Empire (white power structure) with being fired or worse. Empires are bullies by nature and rule by and with fear.

The world, it seems, has been afraid to speak up and out about what Israel is doing to innocent Palestinians. I daresay that few people know what is going on in Gaza, and what life is like for Palestinians. Nobody wants to be labeled anti-Semitic…and to speak up about what is going on is not anti-Semitic. That’s what we don’t understand. To speak up is NOT to speak against Jews but to speak up for justice for “the least of these.”

I am still stuck on the pictures of the Palestinian families leaving their homes…going to…where? I see, in my mind’s eye, people of New Orleans being forced out of their homes by Hurricane Katrina…going ..where?

What is equally as troubling about all of this is that we the public don’t really know what’s going on. News reporting is not objective, especially on controversial issues. The object of the Empire, whatever that Empire is (United States, Israel, Japan…) is to maintain power.  The media, unfortunately, too often seems to want to please the Empire and not report the truth. To do so means that journalists risk losing their jobs…and we all have to eat. It’s the same fear that runs rampant amongst the populace. Those in power will do whatever they need to do to maintain power. Truth, then, suffers. It is ignored and not reported, and “the least of these” suffer.

Racism and injustice don’t go away by ignoring them.  We have to face them…so we can fix them. Just as we need to face racism and white supremacy in America and what those issues are still doing to our country, we need to find out and face what is going on in Israel. Ella Baker, an icon in the Civil Rights movement, said it best: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

Clearly, there is no freedom or dignity for the Palestinian people, which means that we “who believe in freedom” need to speak up and out on their behalf. No oppressed group attains freedom without help from others. A friend of mine said that a person cannot call him or herself an advocate for justice and be concerned only for his or her own situation. Until all of us are free, none of us are free …

A candid observation …

Will The Real Church Please Stand Up?

In this new year, I wonder how many religious people, or “the Church” will have the nerve to be brave?

I have long been saddened at the Church’s silence on issues like racism, antisemitism, militarism,homophobia and materialism. In fact, the Church has been complicit in many of these “isms,” something which is troubling because the silence and complicity seems so out of alignment with what holy documents would want its followers to do.

How is it that the world is in such disarray, with “believers” going at each other in the name of God, or oppressing other people, in the presence of a loving God who would demand justice?

It takes guts to speak up and speak out against oppression. I remember in seminary a friend of mine saying that his father, a pastor, was afraid to speak against racism because people would leave his church. Or I think of how pastors advised Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to not be so eager to change a racist system; they were “in bed” with an oppressive government and could not, in spite of their belief in God, condone a fellow Christian minister to right some amazing and long-standing wrongs in our society.

I wonder if they were trying to appease their congregations?

OK, I am making some very broad generalizations. There were and have been representatives of  “the church” who stood up for civil rights, for the rights of  Native Americans, for women, for gay people … But it seems that the broader picture of “the church” is that it has been largely silent as social viruses have ravaged our society and our world.

What brings me to this is my personal belief that “the church” has been afraid and unwilling to speak up and speak against what might be going on Israel. It seems that the Palestinians may not have been treated too well, but everyone is afraid to speak up, including the church. Why is it impossible to speak up for the Palestinians, and still be supportive of Israel? Why is it that “the church” cannot seem to support a people, the Palestinians, who seemingly have few people to speak up for them, and still support Israel?

Is the religion of our God that impotent? Doesn’t the Christian God demand that followers speak up on behalf of the oppressed? Does it make us “less Christian” if we speak up on behalf of a people who have nobody to speak for them?

The silence of the church today as regards Palestinians reminds me of the silence of the church during slavery, during the persecution of Native Americans, during the horrible mass extermination of the Jews under Hitler. Not only was the church silent during some of these events, but in some cases, it was complicit.

What is “the church,” anyway? Is it a mouthpiece and representation of and for God, or is it a network of social clubs?

I would hope that more churches will speak up against oppression of any kind in 2012. It seems that it is time for a new paradigm, a new demand that “believers” stop being so comfortable and be encouraged to lean on the God they believe in in order to bring about change in this world.

Surely, a change is needed. There is just way too much chaos – in spite of God.

A candid observation …