The Wisdom That Comes with Age and Moral Courage

In a rare foray into U.S. domestic politics, Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said there was a not a Jew in the world who “hasn’t dreamed of Jerusalem,” and Sanders words were so severe that he had no choice but to retort.s

“We don’t intervene in the internal American electoral process, which is splendid,” Katz told Army Radio, before noting that Sanders had a long history of attacking Israel and the things most sacred to its identity and national security.

“Naturally, people who support Israel will not support someone who goes against these things,” he added.

Notice, if you will , that the Foreign Minister speaks for all Jews, no questions asked, and no implications that there are millions of Jews who would disagree with that branding of Jewsish identity. I thank the minister for the opportunity to contrast  Sander’s wisdom as it offers the people of the world what this elderly gentleman witnessed as a youth and took to heart, the wisdom imbedded in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its Charters, agreed to by 194 nations and signed by all, including Israel in 1949. Unfortunately, Israel decided to withdraw its signature when its ideals no longer agreed with the UN. It preferred to create AIPAC and a tribal identity that demanded adherence to follow the dictates of the Zionist controlled government. Consider this as

A Tale of Two men: the Foreign Minister of Israel and the Senator from Vermont

An International contest certainly: sophisticated European vs Rural Vermonter

No doubt the international community finds this spectacle entertaining, the Foreign Minister afterall represents a constituency of close to 6, maybe 7 million while our Vermonter corrals a bit more than 700,000 close to the Capitol, Montpelier, not counting domestic and foreign students attending the university system colleges.

I would suggest that these men from these countries bring focus to the principle that Bernie brings to his campaign offering it to the voters across America, in Europe, and in all locations around the world where American service men and women serve, a campaign focused on Truth and betterment for all peoples around the world.

But Mr. Katz has found much wanting in Bernie’s critique of Israel: a socialism that hearkens back to Russia and Communism, an abandoning of our only true friend in the Mid East, the only democratic nation in the area, and the potential of dismantling our special relationship with Israel that has provided it economic and military support in the billions of dollars for decades to create a nuclear arsenal (by deception), with the threat of discontinuing that special relationship that makes it possible for Israel to demand American support should Israel be attacked by Iran.

Bernie was born before WWII ended, born in Brooklyn I believe. Now, I am meaningfully older than Bernie, born in the underlip of New York, Newark, NJ. in the middle of the Great Depression. But my two younger brothers were born in Brooklyn; Bernie knew nothing of this relationship. I mention it only to give context to my desire to help present this tale of two men, both Jews.

I have written five books dealing with the Israeli/Palestine conflict (how meaningless that word). In 2010 Palgrave Macmillan published The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction. Dr. Richard Falk, Raconteur for the Palestinian people, wrote a new Introduction for the paper back edition. He, too, understands why the Foreign Minister is upset. I edited this volume that provided 32 chapters by world renowned experts on the genocide in Palestine. That volume makes clear that the Zionists never intended to share Palestine with the Arabs and other residents of the land. The second book is titled The Rape of Palestine, 2008, that has a cover displaying the years 1946 -2005, and the theft of the land and destruction of a people. (See Chapter 1 in The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction for a documented study of the illegal actions taken by the Israeli state and the actions taken by the United Nations against Israel from 1948 to the present day, for failure to accept the rights of all humans, including the Palestinians.

Curiously, some pundits have questioned Bernie’s failure to “move on” from his activist days in the ‘60s and ‘70s by retaining his belief in the basic wisdom of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights. Perhaps we must give thought to the wisdom of keeping the UN UDHR as it provides the most concentrated response to global rights ever undertaken, from 1944 to 1948 as a concerted response to unending wars, destruction caused by colonialism imposed by empires across the globe, and the ruthless actions of corporate power and unlicensed greed of inequity in income. Seventy years ago the birth of the UDHR offered the world community a consciousness of human rights across the globe that has inspired a demand for justice and dignity for all. Place Yisrael Katz opposite Bernie and ask him if Israel is in fact a democracy, a lawful adherent to HDHR, and a teller of truth when it attempted to purge Arabs from the land of Palestine. The answers to those questions are revealed in Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, The Rape of Palestine.

I would prefer that Bernie explain his move to Vermont. I assume life in Brooklyn during the war years was not peaceful for most Jews as they became pawns in Truman’s administration  to defeat Dewey. But it must have been time well spent digging deeper into the League of Nations and the United Nations and its development of the Universal Declaration of Independence.

This year as he runs again for the Presidency, he holds forth a full understanding of that document and its total unity of purpose and recognition of its potential. And he does not hesitate to bind its promise as a guide for all to follow. Even Yisrael Katz. Bernie must reject everything Katz stands for.

Today the people of the world have overwhelmingly declared that the occupation and oppression by Israel of the people of Palestine must stop. It’s time for resolution: does the world community stand indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians or does rule by international law determine that moral rights, engraved in the conventions of the UN charter, determine human rights.

We are faced with determined fanatics that are in control of the Knesset, a situation not unlike what the US faced under the rule of President George W. Bush when a similar force of far right Evangelical fanatics controlled the government. Both groups impose their beliefs on the governing administrations. The Neo Cons of the Bush administration bolstered by the evangelicals determined it was God’s truth the US must bring to the world as expressed in the book of Revelation. The Settlers and their party in the Knesset under Netanyahu cried that the land was a gift to them as recorded in their book of Genesis. Both groups, the extremists and fanatics, are the products of pathological minds indifferent to all others who must suffer the consequences of their dementia.

Survival of the beast, not survival of the fittest.

What fuels slavery, ethnic cleansing, land theft, and genocide? What enables a mind to justify imprisoning another without cause, without trial, without rights of due process and assumption of innocence until proven guilty? What enables a soul to accept dominance over another, to degrade and humiliate other humans, to participate in or acquiesce to genocide?

Condoleezza Rice stated “History is made by men and women of conviction, of commitment and of courage, who will not let their dreams be denied.” Her statement resurrects the past of Christian ideology; civilized Europe is on the march; its dreams of God’s mission to bring His gift of “freedom” to all the peoples of the world will be executed whether or not they are the dreams of all the peoples who will accept them or die. What mind decides, “We are on the right side of freedom’s divide”?  What mind declares it will impose its righteousness on all the peoples of the earth? What soul will succumb to the will of its leaders to slay the infidels who deny the “right” as determined by an elite group of fanatics driven by a self-determined superiority and a zeal to impose their beliefs on all?

Let us note that the Secretary of State did not say history is made by those seeking oil to ensure its military dominance, nor did she say that history is made by the nation that supports America’s and Israel’s interests in the mid-East; she said, most emphatically, what the Zionists of the Christian right claim to be “right,” that God gave this land to a Christian nation, to be a “City on a Hill,” a beacon to all the world that they might see what God expected His creatures to do on His behalf, and in that covenant, the responsibility to bring that gift to all the world.

Imbedded in that belief resides the spirit of superiority of God’s chosen, an awareness that they alone possess the truth, and, consequently, are the most civilized creatures on the planet. Indeed, refusal by a people to accept conversion to Christianity became a mark of irrationality and subhuman status. Now, this most Christian of nations brings God’s gift to the nations of the world judging them fit to join the “advanced, civilized, and developed” nations of the West if they adopt willingly or by force America’s form of Democracy, a form dominated by Corporate power and control, where “advanced and developed” means in reality new markets for Capitalism and new resources to fuel its continued growth. Strange how the “bread of heaven” has metamorphosed into a euphemistic “freedom” for all if they become cooperative consumers for extended Christian Capitalism. Both trends that give rise to genocide swirl beneath the rhetoric of “freedom and liberty,” a virtual whirlpool of Zionist Christian fanaticism and neo-con covetousness for land and resources, and will erupt in a tsunami of devastation for those who oppose the will of this administration.

Genocides and holocausts arise out of unchecked zeal, unquestioned duty, and silent acquiescence. They are fueled by blind belief, personal fear, and a sense of superiority that gives license to slaughter. Both the United States under Bush and its clone under Sharon and his successors exemplify the presence of racism resulting in genocidal devastation as they impose their respective wills on Iraqis and Palestinians. The facts alone demonstrate the rampant racism running unchecked as Israel shackles the Palestinian people in chains as grotesque as any imposed by America’s plantation owners on their property in the old south; and the United States, not to be outdone, occupies and oppresses the Iraqi people in methods learned from their Israeli tutors who teach them how to subdue, intimidate, humiliate, torture, and eradicate a people considered inferior to their oppressors.

After 70 years, we celebrate not the rebirth of Judaism in Palestine but the aborted triumph of an amoral Nation that, in its Zionist arrogance, from its conception through its infancy to the present day defies not just the secular codes of International conduct agreed upon by the member states of the United Nations but the very principles, morals and values of Judaism. That is the conundrum the Diaspora Jew must face: to embrace those who rule in Israel by imposing on Jews everywhere defiance of International Law – illegal and inhumane acts of collective punishment, eradication through extrajudicial executions of the principles of a state founded on equality before the law, occupation and theft of another people‘s land and natural resources, the imposition of daily humiliation of an oppressed people by economic deprivation, harassment, and visible identification based on Arab lineage as Palestinians, acceptance of torture that in effect denies the humanity of its victims, forced imprisonment without charge or due rights, approval of and complicity in a slow but insidious genocide of the Palestinian people by imprisonment behind an inhumane, illegal Wall, and constant military attacks of a disproportionate kind against a virtually defenseless people – or to embrace the moral fiber that nourished the Jews century after century sustaining their humanity as they came selflessly to the aid of others faced with discrimination and racism that often resulted in death for those they protected and themselves.

Let‘s be blunt: the anniversary of the Day of Independence in Israel is a day of death not of birth. Any state conceived in terror, nourished with the blood of massacred civilians in the Nakba, and delivered of a land made empty and barren by forced expulsion of its inhabitants is not and cannot be a child born to the community of nations that seeks the rights, the respect and integrity of all its brothers and sisters. It is rather a deformity, an abnormality, in the words of Jeremiah, ―”Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!” (15:10).

How conceived in terror? ―When the Zionist movement started its ethnic cleansing operations in Palestine, in early December 1947 …; so begins Chapter 3 of Dr. Ilan Pappe‘s book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006, only to offer a passage from ―Plan D of that movement‘s operations in Chapter 4. “… From the very beginning, the Zionist movement that effectively controlled by forceful means the total Jewish community of over half a million in 1948 regardless of their desires, had determined that the UN partition plan was moot; the Jewish state had no borders other than what it could take by force (Mss. Medit. 20. Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters, the Palestine Police, Jerusalem, 31st July, 1947, p. 4, 7, Top Secret, Rhodes Library, Oxford). Despite protestations to the contrary from that day to this – the myth of the Jews as victims of annihilation by superior forces – the reality is that the Jews faced Arab forces of less than 50,000 troops, ill trained and equipped as a result of the British devastation of their forces in 1936, while Jewish forces numbered over 80,000 well trained troops (As noted by Pappe from Jewish documents and the investigative reports and evidence of the British Mandate government in the Rhodes infuriated the Zionists who would tolerate no limits on immigration. Terrorism followed.Library).

From conception to nourishment in the womb of Nakba, how the blood flowed. I should begin here with the massacre at Deir Yassin because it was beneath a tree in the field outside the mental hospital now placed there that I heard about the atrocities committed in this town and felt the anguish that hung like a pall over the land. Deir Yassin had an agreement with Hagana, a non-aggression pact, but unknown to its residence it lay in a predetermined path of destruction and ethnic cleansing that sealed its doom.

On April 9, 1948, a little more than a month to the UN date that removed Britain from its Mandate responsibilities in Palestine, and the date that gave Israel its right to its segment of Palestine, the 55% allotted to the Jews, their forces ― … burst into the village, the Jewish soldiers sprayed the houses with machine gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of the women were raped and then killed.

Pappe continues his recital of this massacre with this comment: “―One only has to be told that thirty babies were among the slaughtered in Deir Yassin to understand why the whole –quantitative exercise – which the Israelis repeated as recently as April 2003 (that the number killed cannot be considered a massacre) – is insignificant. Indeed, at the time the Jewish forces greedily accepted a much larger number of dead as a “―warning to all Palestinians that a similar fate awaited them if they refused to abandon their homes and take flight” (Pappe 90-91).

“―The voice of your brother‘s blood crieth unto me from the ground,” cries the Lord, and so the act must be judged and justice done. All humankind will don the robes of justice to condemn the fratricide; all 12 tribes of Israel will sit in judgment on their own; and God Almighty will cast the ultimate curse — the very ground Cain tilled, the land he stole from his brother, will no longer yield fruit and, as a consequence, he will be a fugitive once more and a wanderer on the earth. Thus will Cain‘s intent — satiating his selfishness, appeasing his jealousy, releasing his aggression – reveal the disconnect between his inherent evil and his higher nature. In time these are the birth gifts Israel will inherit from a world that is witness to its wanton killing of its brother, the Semitic people of Palestine, who die daily one by one in the scorching heat of the noon day sun, forgotten and alone. No candles light the darkness now, no songs are sung, no ribbons adorn the gifts, no laughter greets the guests, for the Nakba is not a day of celebration, it is a mark of catastrophic wickedness that tolls the death knell of the Jewish soul even as it blares to the world the power of indifference to one‘s brother, the ultimate birthright that severs the very blood of the family. And so will the words of Isiah ring on this day: “―Ah, sinful nation, people laden with iniquity, offspring who do evil, children who deal corruptly, who have forgotten the Lord.”  May all of us who hear that cry not forget, that evil may be purged from the earth.



William A. Cook is the  author of Decade of Deceit and Age of Fools.