Distressed Over Israeli Conduct
Last week I received two strongly conflicting messages: one from Ronald Lauder, the honorary board chairman of the World Jewish Council (WJC) Foundation, the other one from Tent of Nations, an organization of Palestinian Christians, headquartered in the Bethlehem Bible College, promoting peace and reconciliation with Israel. Both the WJC and the Tent of Nations had disturbing news, and both wanted support, monetary or otherwise.
Lauder urged me to continue my thirteen-year membership in the WJC because “the continued global campaign to de-legitimize the State of Israel is growing and continues to pose grave danger to Israel and Jews all over the world.” Lauder pleaded: “Please, for the sake of Israel and for Jews around the globe, return your WJC renewal gift today.”
Then, however, I heard from Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian Christian and member of Tent of Nations, who lives with his family on 100 acres of fertile land west of Bethlehem. His grandfather bought the land in 1916, and the Nassar family has farmed there ever since, growing olives, almonds, grapes, pears, and figs.
He wrote: “Today (Thursday) at 2.00 pm in the afternoon, 2 officers from the Israeli Civil Administration guarded by Israeli soldiers came to our farm and gave us NINE demolishing orders for nine (structures) we built in the last years without a building permit from the Israeli Military Authority. The demolishing orders are for tents, animal shelters, a metal roof in front of both old houses, the restrooms (shelters), a water cistern, a metal container, and 2 underground renovated cave structures. One officer was writing the demolishing orders and the other was taking pictures with two cameras, Israeli soldiers were following them everywhere and pointing their guns on us.
The demolishing orders were written in Hebrew, and I refused to sign receiving them. We have 3 days only to react against those demolition orders. The timing for delivering the demolition orders was planned purposely on Thursday, in order to make it difficult for us to try to stop those orders by the Israeli court within 3 days, because of the Jewish weekend (Friday and Saturday).”
Since then, however, Israel’s Supreme Court has granted Nassar his petition to deny the demolition order. Yet, the military still has 60 days to appeal this decision.
Whom should an American support in such a situation? Our Israeli friends or the Palestinians whose land Israelis have been occupying and whose people they have been tyrannizing in numerous ways since 1967? Lauder may be right when he complains about growing worldwide impatience with the unwillingness of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow the Palestinians to live in their own state free from Israeli occupation and control.
Netanyahu persists in complaining that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is asking for an end to more Israeli settlements before peace negotiations can begin. Yet, Netanyahu stubbornly insists on a precondition that is unacceptable to both Christians and Muslims: “Jerusalem is Israel's capital, will never be divided, and will remain the capital of the State of Israel, the capital of the Jewish people, for ever and ever.”
After the 1967 war, the United Nations Security Council in its Resolutions 242 and 338 called for Israel to withdraw to its prewar borders. Yet, with continued U.S. forbearance, Israel’s governments have ignored not only those two but all Council resolutions and thus persistently violated their obligations as U.N. members.
Netanyahu cannot have it both ways: insisting on Israel’s international recognition as a law-abiding state but exempting itself from the principles of international law in relation to its Arab neighbors. Netanyahu also cannot demand that Iran, a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, abstain from producing nuclear materials for peaceful purposes but that Israel be the only country in the world exempted from signing and adhering to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, even though recently again all 189 signatories, including the United States, ask for Israel’s compliance.Maybe Netanyahu does not recognize the parallel between the suffering of the enslaved Israelites under the Egyptian Pharaoh long ago and the suffering of the Palestinians under his oppressive regime today. According to the Bible, God told Pharaoh: “Let my people go!” One wonders how often God already told Netanyahu to let the Palestinians go.