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17 March, 2011 By Rev. Ted Pike and Harmony Daws

As the world empathizes with Japan for its massive loss of life, it remains appropriate to remember the tragedy visited on Palestinians over the past 60 years. This has not been an act of nature but a catastrophe engineered by misguided Christian evangelicals and Zionist oppressors.

Last week, according to a Palestinian testimony, 20 ultra-Orthodox settlers invaded Arab land to cut down trees. Destroying centuries-old olive trees, a mainstay of the Palestinian economy, is the vengeance settlers demand against Arabs who resist new settlement on their land. Several dozen Palestinians resisted, armed only with knives, and began throwing rocks at the settlers. The settlers (unlike the Palestinians) are entitled to carry assault rifles. Along with intervening police, they sent nine Palestinians to the emergency ward, seven with gunshot wounds. One Israeli was “lightly wounded” by a rock. The settlers claim they were attacked by the Arabs, with no choice but to shoot them. (This sounds a lot like Israel’s defense of its “innocent” commandos who shot about 50 defenders of the “Free Gaza” flotilla last spring!)

The police are investigating; but, typically it is very difficult to prosecute settlers occupying outposts bristling with hostility to police and the government of Israel. Marching over Palestine and the West Bank, the “haredim” defiantly claim virtual autonomy to expropriate and do violence to Arabs who resist. Increasingly, Haredi settlers are emboldened to even kill Palestinians. Their authority comes from ultra-Orthodox rabbis who claim the theological right to literally apply as “halacha” (binding Jewish law) the Talmud’s frequent encouragements to kill Gentile “beasts.” (See Top Rabbi: 'Gentiles Exist to Serve Jews')

Media Silence

Did you hear of the above incident from either secular or Christian media last week? Of course not. Except for a brief Ha’aretz article it even seemed absent from most Israeli media. Justice to Arabs and their suffering makes only a tiny blip on the radar screen of issues in which the western public and media are interested.

What about those relatively rare instances when Jews suffer at the hands of Palestinians? It becomes international news, especially dramatized by the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed shock and outrage at the brutal murder of five members of the Fogel family at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.

Ruth and Udi Fogel, 35 and 36, respectively, their 3-month-old baby daughter, Hadas, and two sons, Elad, 3, and Yoav, 11, were stabbed to death in their home in the middle of night of March 11 in the Jewish settlement of Itamar; their other children survived. The Palestinian terrorist group Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades has reportedly claimed responsibility for the murders.

There are no words to sufficiently express our outrage, horror and sorrow over this heinous attack. While condemnations from the international community and the president of the Palestinian Authority are appropriate, they do little to counteract the prevailing atmosphere in Palestinian society of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement to violence.

Those who committed the horrendous murders of the Fogel family deserve only condemnation. Yet the settlers must recognize that illegal seizure of Arab lands, expropriating its lawful inhabitants, cannot but stimulate even more Arab hostility and retaliation. In Israel last week widespread anger and even violence erupted over the Fogel murders.
Palestinian sources in the northern West Bank claim that extreme right-wing activists set five vehicles on fire and stoned other Palestinian cars in the Nablus area as revenge for the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar on Saturday. Also Sunday, small groups demonstrated in support of the settlement enterprise across the country.

One protestor said:
"We are here for the sake of national unity and to show that seculars, Tel Aviv and central Israel residents too know that settlers are part of Israel. We are not indifferent."

Also Sunday, several dozen right-wing activists protested at the entrance to Jerusalem. They shouted "revenge" and "death to Arabs" and carried signs reading "The government destroys communities – the Arabs murder Jews."

Predictably, one of the most highly influential rabbis who supported the widely read King’s Torah, which advocates killing non-Jews, calls for Jewish violence.
Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, president of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar issued a statement calling for anti-terrorists attacks. He called for the destruction of houses in a village near Itamar every 30 minutes until residents turn the terrorists who committed the attack in. "Kill the murderers immediately after they are turned in," the statement noted." (West Bank: Palestinian vehicles stoned, set on fire)

Do not think these influences are fringe. In January USA TODAY reported that one third of Jewish babies in Israel are now born to Ultra-Orthodox families. An insecure, rigid and challenging place, Israel naturally attracts hardliners. The Ultra-Orthodox live and dress as dictated by eastern European Jewish traditions. Popular Israeli radio host and author Kobi Arieli told USA Today “The haredim have set up a state within a state and have a conflict with the state of Israel, which is now on the eve of an explosion. There is no chance that this situation can continue.”

In the romanticized view of evangelicals, Judaism is at worst a benign, vanilla-flavored religion and, more commonly, the venerable, living grandfather of Christianity. To people with one eye on Moses and one eye on Christ’s white-robed return—and very little appreciation of what has really happened in between—the Ultra-Orthodox are attractive as most recognizably Jewish. John Hagee and his followers support Haredim demands for all of Israel and Jerusalem. The haredim are devoted enough to live in poverty—nearly 60 percent below the poverty line—yet command the political power to evade the military draft and receive stipends for studying Talmud. With every year that passes, more Ultra-Orthodox receive professional training and joining the military—portending only more Jewish fundamentalists in a position to be armed not as outlaws but as trained representatives of Israel.

Ultra-Orthodoxy’s supremacist teachings lead to hostility not just against Arabs and Gentiles but even against secular Jews. YNet News this week reports that four secular Jewish teens were beaten severely by Haredi teenagers for playing soccer in an Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. One victim remembers, “After two or three minutes about 30 Haredim arrived there, maybe more. They bound our hands, and dragged us to some warehouse, where they covered our eyes. They spilled bleach on us and said that they would set us on fire. The whole time they hit us and said, 'today you will die' and 'this is your end.'”

This rejectionist rage is not limited to teenage boys. An LA Times article this week provided a perfect image of Haredim hostility to the outside world. The government erected a fence across the middle of a Jerusalem playground, separating the slide from the sandbox, to please Ultra-Orthodox parents who didn’t want their two-year-olds to interact with secular toddlers or parents. If Haredim are this superior and insular in relation to non-Orthodox Jews, how do you think they feel toward Gentiles? This image makes it easier to understand what is done to Arab Palestinians.

Hagee Funds Haredi “Wild West”

Authoritative sources in Israel increasingly agree that the violent and civilly disobedient settler movement has become a law unto itself. Government efforts to restrain or prosecute lawbreakers are clearly half-hearted and, as a result, ineffectual. Writing in Haartez, Zvi Bar’el says, “There, beyond the Green Line, there are norms taking root that render Israeli courts impotent. Over there, the new real estate laws and symbols of the State of Israel are being created.”

Pastor John Hagee’s Christian United for Israel (CUFI) continues to funnel huge donations from evangelicals to some of the most extreme ultra-Orthodox settler groups. Richard Silverstein writes the liberal Jewish blog "Tikun Olam." He reports that Gush Katif, which received $200,000 from CUFI,, financially supports settlers who resist the Gaza withdrawal. Another $150,000 went to Young Israel, “one of the most virulent U.S. Orthodox groups supporting the most extreme of the settlers and settlements.” CUFI gave $100,000 to Shurat Ha-Din, a group that "hosts “Intellitours” to Israel which include meetings with Shin Bet assassins who’ve perpetrated targeted assassinations.”

Last July, the New York Times published an article revealing that (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have received $200 million in tax-deductible gifts from at least 40 American groups in the last decade! The Times says the financial gifts, much of it from evangelicals, didn’t just pay for housing. It was used for “guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied territories.” Understand? American Christians are paying for rifle scopes to take aim at Palestinians on their own land.

The paper writes that even small donations help cement the presence of settlements. It quotes Kimberly Troup, director of the American office of Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, who says frankly that her organization works to make illegal settlements permanent. She says, “the more that we build, the more that we support and encourage their right to live in the land, the harder it’s going to be for disengagement, for withdrawal.” This is the predominant evangelical mindset of Palin, Huckabee, Hagee, and others: Palestine should revert entirely to Jews. Whatever is necessary today to drive out the remaining Arabs, even theft and violence, is sanctioned by God.

At least $58 million by 2009, the Times adds, has been donated by Hagee.

Expect More Violence from Settlers

Expect only increased violence in Israel and its territories in the days ahead. Expect searing atrocities, reprisals, and accusations from both sides as adherents of two great religions, without the light of Christ, hit and hit back. The heightening conflict and controversy will put every pressure on the whole world to be embroiled and take sides. But, when the Mideast blame game becomes so tangled it is nearly impossible to sort out, please try to remember who started the “final war of Arab expulsion” in the first place. It was crazed Talmudic rabbis who gave license to kill Arab neighbors; a government in Israel which covertly approves of the settler movement and its concomitant violence; and last but emphatically not least, the wholehearted, uncritical, moral and financial blessing of tens of millions of evangelicals who tenaciously hold their conviction that Israel can do no wrong.

Ed. Note: The murder of members of the Fogel family, being called an “atrocity,” is an outrage, a tragedy. But the full measure of the word "atrocity" belongs to politically and religiously motivated crimes of a much greater magnitude. In this category Israel has excelled since its founding through its first major atrocity – the slaughter of more than a hundred Palestinians in the sleeping town of Deir Yassin. Take this link to my Truthtellers article citing many such Israeli-inflicted attacks on Arabs. It will reveal what “atrocity” in the Israeli context really means. See "Israel: Founded on Terror."

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