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Opinion: License to Kill – Morgan Strong
01/08/2014 10:08:00
“At Shifa Hospital, a girl who looked about nine yeas old was brought into the emergency room and laid on a gurney, blood soaking the shoulder of her shirt. Motionless and barely alive, she stared at the ceiling, her mouth open. There was no relative with her to give her name. The medical staff stood quietly around her. Every now and then, they checked her vital signs, until it was time. They covered her with a white sheet, and she was gone.

A few moments later, a new patient lay on the gurney. At one point in the dying girl’s final moments, a half-dozen journalists with television cameras crowded around the gurney. In the next bed, a small girl smudged with blood cried, “Mama! Mama!” (N.Y. Times, July 20,’14)

"All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts." This was the religious opinion issued by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank.

In an article published by numerous religious Israeli newspapers, and run by the liberal Haaretz on March 26, 2009, Rosen asserted that there is evidence in the Torah to justify this stand. Rosen, an authority able to issue religious opinions for Jews, wrote that Palestinians are like the nation of Amalekites that attacked the Israelite tribes on their way to Jerusalem after they had fled from Egypt under the leadership of Moses.

He wrote that the Lord set down in the Torah a ruling that allowed the Jews to kill the Amalekites, and that this ruling is known in Jewish jurisprudence.

In January of 2009 Israel invaded Gaza in force. After the conflict ended – with some 1,400 Palestinians dead, including many children and other non-combatants – the Israeli government investigated alleged war crimes by its army and heard testimony from Israeli troops that extremist Rabbis had proclaimed the invasion a holy war.

Gaza Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, called for the dismissal of the military's head chaplain, Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, a brigadier general. The group claimed that he had distributed a booklet to the troops saying that it was "terribly immoral" to show mercy to a "cruel enemy" and that the soldiers were fighting "murderers”.

In the 2009 election right-wing and religious parties won the majority (65 out of 120, or 54%) of the seats in Israel’s Knesset. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the conservative Likud party established a coalition government that included right-wing parties, Yisrael Beiteinu, the ultra-orthodox Shas, and United Torah Judaism, the religious Zionist Jewish Home, and centre-left Labour Parties. The increasingly xenophobic and extremist nature of Israel’s political structure encouraged efforts in the Knesset to expel the Israeli/Arab parties. The Israeli Arab populations comprise 20% of Israel’s total population, but are represented by only 5 seats in the Knesset.

(Haaretz, January 23, 2014) “The Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta'al and Balad from running in next month's parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Both parties intend to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. Members of the CEC conceded yesterday that the chance of the Supreme Court's upholding the ban on both parties was slim.

Arab faction delegates in the CEC walked out of the hall before the vote, shouting, "This is a fascist, racist state." As they walked out, CEC deputy chairman MK David Tal (Kadima) and the Arab delegates pushed each other and a Knesset guard had to intervene and separate them.”

The Orthodox political parties, the ultra-orthodox parties, and the nationalist parties are adamantly opposed to any peace with the Palestinians, which would require surrendering any portion of the occupied territories of Palestine, or Gaza, in order to create a Palestinian State.

The orthodox parties in the Knesset proposed legislation in March of this year to amend the Basic Law of Israel, effectively Israel’s constitution, for the first time in 22 years, to require approval by the Knesset and a public referendum on any transfer of land to Palestine for a state.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, has made it abundantly clear in recent statements that Israel will not remove its forces from the West Bank. That would create an untenable situation for Israel’s security according to Netanyahu. Gaza poses an equal, or a substantially greater, threat to Israel’s security.

There is clearly no possibility for a sovereign state of Palestine that can emerge by this reasoning. That idea, the concept of independence for Palestine would never be permitted by Israel.

There are other forces at work to encourage Israel’s increasing belligerence toward the Palestinian population, and the creation of an independent, sovereign state. That influence comes from the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a gathering of Christian Zionists in Jerusalem on November 3, 2013. In his speech to the Evangelicals he praised them unabashedly. “time after time, through thick and thin you have stood shoulder to shoulder with our state, and I have come here tonight to thank you for your unwavering friendship”

The potential power of Christian Zionists’ is significantly greater than that of the Jewish Israel lobby in the US This is largely due to their astonishing size. The majority of Christian Zionists and Evangelical Christians make up 26.3 per cent of the total US population (Pew Research Centre 2008). In comparison, the Jewish population makes up only 1.7 per cent.

The size of the evangelical population provides Christian Zionists with significant voting power; their population is four times that of nonreligious voters, ‘and twelve times the number of Jewish voters’.

The potential power and scope of the Christian Zionist lobby makes them an unhealthy influence on US foreign policy in regard to Israel and Palestine. They contribute millions of dollars for Orthodox Jewish resettlement on the West Bank as well.

The Christian Zionists population is largely centred in the rural areas of the southern United States, and in the far west of the US They were instrumental in founding the “Tea Party” generally understood to be an anarchist group opposed to a variety of federal and state programs they regard as socialist or populist.

The Evangelicals disguise their membership in the Tea Party because of the negative connotation of Christian Evangelicals by the majority of Americans. But they provide the funding and engage the political opportunism of the Tea Party in a number of states.

The electoral power of the Christian Evangelicals forces the political establishment in the US to be cautious, and timid in dealing with Israel’s demands. Politicians are unwilling to engage the displeasure of the Evangelicals, or the Tea Party, and will support Israel no matter how dreadful the uncivilized excesses that Israel can engage.

(US Foreign Aid to Israel, Congressional Research Services, April 13, 2013) “Since 1973, Israel has received grants from the State Department’s Migration and Refugee Assistance account (MRA) to assist in the resettlement of migrants to Israel.

Funds are paid to the United Israel Appeal, a private philanthropic organisation in the United States, which in turn transfers the funds to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Between 1973 and 1991, the United States gave about $460 million for resettling Jewish refugees in Israel. Annual amounts have varied from a low of $12 million to a high of $80 million, based on the number of Jews leaving the former Soviet Union AND OTHER AREAS FOR ISRAEL.

Congress earmarks the Migration and Refugee funds for Israel; the Administration usually does not request specific amounts of Migration and Refugee assistance for Israel. “

They Evangelicals support Orthodox resettlement in the firm belief that a reconstruction of biblical Israel will summon forth the Messiah, or the return of Jesus, to fight the final battle of Armageddon. The battle pits the forces of good, Israel, against the forces of evil. In their delusional version of the final battle Jesus appears and summons forth the armies of god who destroy the devil’s army.

The down side for the Israeli’s is that most are thrown into a fiery pit for their failure to recognise Jesus as the Messiah following his first appearance. The few remaining Jews repent, and are converted to Evangelical Christianity and forgiven.

The evangelicals truly believe this, and are as aggressive as the Orthodox Jews in their obsession to remove the Palestinian’s from their lands and homes. This self-indulgence serves to ensure their individual salvation, and to reward them a blissful eternity.

President Obama is ever mindful of the political, and financial power of the Christian right. He is reluctant to demand Israel halt its brutal invasion of Gaza in fear of antagonizing the Christian Zealots. The President is focused on the mid-term elections for the House and Senate.

The November elections seem of utmost concern. The Evangelical political activists have already caused problems for the Democratic Party in a number of primary contests throughout the US. They have used their Tea Party cover to create challenges to long standing Democratic and Republican, party office holders in both the House and Senate. They are attempting to replace them with their own fanatical candidates.

President Obama could, if he chose, stop Israel’s continued barbaric invasion of Gaza quickly. A simple refusal to provide any further aid to Israel would have that effect. He simply lacks the political courage to do so.

The US Senate voted to provide Israel with $225 million in additional funding in an emergency bill on July 23, 2014.

The United Nations monitors in Gaza report that one child an hour has been dying in Gaza from Israeli bombardment and gunfire.

As of the morning of August 1, a ceasefire is under way in the Gaza Strip, after Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour pause in fighting. The truce started at 8am local time on Friday, just hours after 14 more Palestinians were reported killed by Israeli tank and air fire in the coastal enclave.

Let us see if it holds and what its outcome would be.

(Morgan Strong is a former professor of Middle Eastern History, and was an advisor to C.B.S. News, Sixty Minutes on the Middle East.)


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