After being in Israel and Palestine for ten days, I am a bit shocked. I don’t think it is just jet-lag. The situation there is much worse than I imagined.
I’ve decided that the relationship between the United States and Israel is much like the relationship Penn State had with one of its popular coaches before he was accused of being a child molester. This particular coach has been in the news for the past few days. Word is: He adopted foster children, set up a foster care home that became a chain of homes around the state, used Penn State facilities for activities, and then it was discovered that he had a decade or more of illicit sexual relationships with some of the boys in his homes for “at-risk” children. School officials apparently knew about the behavior and covered it up. Joe Paterno himself may have known all about it and did not inform the police. It looks like they really love the guy and can’t bear to admit he’s a blackguard.
I’ve never thought of Paterno and Obama as similar, but maybe so. The United States knows all about Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians who live in the occupied territory that Israel does not admit is occupied. It knows that the security barrier is ruining the lives of Palestinians. It knows that the wall is grabbing land and depriving farms and whole towns of water. It knows that the settlements which the sixteen-foot-high “security fence” encompass violate international law. It knows (at least Jimmy Carter knows) that Israel is creating another apartheid system. Even Moshe Dayan’s widow was lamenting the sorry state of affairs this week in Newsweek – it must know about her! It looks like the government really loves Israel and can’t bear to admit it is a perp.
As a Christian, I don’t have much faith in governments beyond what they are ordained to do under God’s direction. Since I don’t think most of them are much interested in God’s direction, I leave them to God. I don’t think I can sort out what to do about the United States cutting UNESCO funding because Palestine became a member. Why in the world would the U.S. government protect the manifestly weird and cruel policies of Israel? It is mind-boggling.
But as a Christian, and as a Christian who now has some first-hand knowledge of the “facts on the ground” in Israel/Palestine I have some responsibilities. Here are a few things I am doing.
1) I keep talking and so should you. We should tell the truth as far as we can presently see it and engage in the dialogue so we can find out more. For instance, military aid to Israel is budgeted already at 3.09 billion per year from 2012 to 2018 – talk amongst yourselves.
2) I keep recruiting people for Shalom House. We’ve created enough stir
lately that I think gifted and available people are about ready to take the leap to join the community and make a difference. I am collecting a list of people who can recruit further members on our behalf, too, since I know peacemakers are out there, we just have to connect with them.
3) I keep doing my part to build the Lord’s antidote. I am enthused to, I am aching to, be a part of creating an alternative community called Circle of Hope, in which we can speak the truth in love and not cover up things we find unlovely. Last night at BW we were alive with people talking about what Jesus is doing in their lives. At the Cell Leader training Saturday I was thrilled to hear how quickly people could testify to how God had met them on retreat. At the BW Men’s 9PM I was amazed at how we could talk about our sexuality with compassion and honesty. We have a great opportunity to invest our spiritual wealth to buy back people who have been kidnapped by the world with its constant talk of economics and security.
I know I have very meager-looking weapons. The Penn State Football program is to Circle of Hope as Israel is to Palestine as the United States is to Israel. But as 2 Corinthians 12:9 was teaching us again last night, our weakness may be our biggest advantage in the cause of truth and love.