by Tony Magliano
Every Christian should have a deep respect for the religion of Judaism. When we consider that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the twelve apostles, and the very first disciples were practicing Jews, and that our New Testament is firmly rooted in the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament, how can we fail to respect Judaism?
But Christians do not have to respect the often unjust policies of the state of Israel.
Israel, like any other nation, must earn respect, by tirelessly working for peace through the promotion of just policies and laws which guarantee the full range of human rights for all.
But sadly, that is just not the case. Regarding its terrible mistreatment of the Palestinians, the state of Israel deserves failing grades – not our respect.
During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza– land that was designated by the United Nations to form the Palestinian nation. Although Israeli troops have withdrawn from Gaza, Israel continues to enforce a land and sea blockade – significantly restricting food, medical supplies, and fishing rights.
Israel’s goal to put pressure on its enemy Hamas is amounting to what the U.N. condemns as collective punishment on Gaza’s population. According to ONE magazine (Sept. 2010) – a publication of the papal agency Catholic Near East Welfare Association – The Israeli blockade of Gaza has devastated its economy.
“Two out of every three banks have closed. Half of Gaza’s residents are unemployed. More than three-quarters of the population live at or below the poverty line…”
In the West Bank, the Israeli-built separation barrier prevents many Palestinians from normal access to their farms, olive groves, jobs and extended families. And when complete, 10 percent of the West Bank will be on the Israeli side. This new land grab will be in addition to the rich land and water aquifers already controlled by approximately 121 “official” West Bank Israeli settlements. The 1947 U.N. partition plan allocated only 22 percent of Palestine for the Palestinians. The Israeli government is determined to keep much of even that.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent address before an applauding Congress, asserting that Israel will never return to the pre-1967 borders, further confirms Israel’s lust for Palestinian land.
The International Court of Justice has ruled that both the separation barrier and Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territory – including East Jerusalem – are violations of international law.
“Israeli authorities exercise full civil and military control of 61 percent of the West Bank and the 150,000 Palestinians who live in that area. Classified as a high-risk area by international humanitarian organizations, it lacks safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities… ” reports ONE magazine.
Palestinians deserve an independent, viable nation. And Israel deserves security and acceptance. But Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad – Israel’s intelligence service – said in a New York Times report that Israel had failed to put forward a peace initiative with the Palestinians and that it had foolishly ignored the Saudi peace initiative promising full diplomatic relations between the 22 nation Arab League and Israel in exchange for Israel’s return to the 1967 boundary lines.
This two-state solution has wide backing from the U.N. General Assembly and the Holy See, as well as the Israeli – Palestinian organization OneVoice, the Jewish American association J Street, and the ecumenical coalition Churches for Middle East Peace.
For a real eye-opener go to www.johnpilger.com, click video and then click “Palestine is Still the Issue.”
Tony Magliano is a columnist whose work appears in diocesan papers throughout the United States. If your diocesan paper does not carry his column, we encourage you to call them and request that they do.