Where’s the Prophetic Outcry Against Israeli Settlements in Palestine?

Photograph Source: Friends123 – CC0

In November 2019 I wrote an article about US Trump administration support for illegal Jewish settlements in Palestine that was published in Baptist News. As I mentioned in the article, an occupying power that inserts members of its civilian population into occupied territory violates international law and commits war crimes:

The Israeli government recently announced plans to move forward with more than 4000 new Jewish units in the occupied West Bank. Here’s an article from Al Jazeera on that development. Notice the statement from the UN decrying ongoing Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank as the driving factor for current tension and violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants.

US foreign aid enables Israel to support the settler invasions. A February 2022 summary by Jeremy M. Sharp, a specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs with the Congressional Research Service proves this point. According to the report, titled “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. Here are some other details.

+ To date, the United States has provided Israel $150 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.

+ In 2016, the US and Israeli governments signed their third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid, covering fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the US pledged to provide – subject to congressional appropriation – $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel.

+ Israel is the first international operator of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Department of Defense’s fifth-generation stealth aircraft, considered the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever made. To date, Israel has purchased 50 F-35s in three separate contracts, funded with US assistance, and has taken delivery on 30.

+ For fiscal year 2022, the Biden Administration requested $3.3 billion in FMF for Israel and $500 million in missile defense aid to mark the fourth year of the MOU. The Biden Administration also requested $5 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance humanitarian funding for migrants to Israel.

When did you hear, see, or read a news report on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, or PBS that the US government is underwriting the Israeli settler invasion of Palestine?

How many settler units will Israel be able to insert into the West Bank under the guise of “Migration and Refugee Assistance humanitarian funding for migrants to Israel”?

When have you heard, seen, or read news reports about this from “Christian” news outlets?

The illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a peace and justice concern. Israel is an occupying power. Israeli-backed Jewish settlements in the West Bank are war crimes under international law. They amount to state-sanctioned theft of land and water from indigenous Palestinians. The settlements are invasions that occur with the blessings of the Israeli government. They have taken place since Israel’s Six Day War in June 1967.

Every US presidential administration since that time has known about the illegal settlements. Every US religious denomination has known about the settlements. Every US media network has known about the settlements. If US religious congregations and entities deny knowing that Israel is conducting a multi-generational illegal policy of resettling Jewish people on occupied Palestinian land, the denials are due to pro-Israeli bias and hostility toward Palestinian justice, willful ignorance, Christian nationalism and pro-Zionist notions of the Bible, cultural incompetence, white supremacy, and US imperialism and support for militarism across the world.

Check the news media reporting about Israeli settlements and violence associated with settlement incursions. How many news reports and articles have you viewed, heard, or read?

How many of the reports and articles have come from media outlets that are not controlled by US corporate entities that support Israeli occupation of Palestine?

How many reports and articles have come from “Christian” radio, television, and online programs?

How many have come from outside the United States?

The news articles and reports from US media outlets typically focus on Israeli military engagements with Palestinian militants without attention to the illegal Jewish settlements. Doing so allows news organizations to depict Palestinian militants as aggressors, not defenders of their homeland and people from invading settlers. The pro-Israeli reporting from US media outlets leads US readers to think of Hamas as a threat to peace because the articles seldom focus on that invasion.

U.S. pastors, theologians, and other social commentators almost never speak about the Israeli settlements. People who decry the Russian invasion of Ukraine are ignorant and speechless about the decades long invasion of Palestine by Israel under the guise of illegal settlements subsidized by US foreign aid. Their silence in the face of explicit statements from Israeli officials calling for Palestinian towns to be “wiped out” or “erased” adds to the irony:

State sponsored violence (land theft, water theft, and militarized attacks) by the Israeli regime against Palestinians is happening with US financing. People in the United States are funding it. Religious leaders are not protesting and condemning it.

This is wrong.

Wendell Griffen is an Arkansas circuit judge and pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Ark.