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The Other Side of the Tracks blog by Word Press

Not So Sleight of Hand

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

September 27, 2011

By Perry Redd

My concern for the people of Palestine goes back to my discipleship and pastoral training in the mid-90’s.  I grew to question the contemporary mainstream American Christian teaching of the history of the region currently know as Israel.  I was displeased with the imagery that showed white people as the inheritors of that land.  I especially questioned how the prophet—and to some, savior of the world—Jesus could be white.  I suspected some superiority demonry going on.  I am pleased today.

I am pleased because, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did the improbable—against admonitions and threats from the United States.  Abbas stood before cheering crowd Sunday upon his return from the U.N. General Assembly, where he had launched a controversial bid for Palestinian statehood.  Under Barack Obama, the United States vows to veto any bid for statehood for the  Palestinians—though the U.S. is a nation that values and embraces democracy and freedom (i.e., sovereignty).

With that said, my question to you is how can Americans reconcile being the “land of the free” when America is supporting the bondage of the Palestinian nation?  Bondage and freedom are not synonymous.  How is it that Israel can paint the picture being “victims” when they have occupied Palestine for decades.  They build settlements where Palestinians have resided for centuries.  What type of sleight of hand is this?

At the U.N. General Assembly, Abbas mentioned the creation of the Israeli state in 1948.  Why is it that Israelis fail to bring that fact of history up when this issue of statehood comes to the surface?  Why do we support this unequal dispensation of justice?  I think it’s chiefly because of the Evangelical Christians—who coincidentally combine church and state—err in this support for Israel. They believe that from the very beginning, Israelis and Americans have had a kinship that goes beyond politics. They both see themselves as “chosen peoples,” selected by God as different, exceptional, and separate. That exceptionalism will surely make you despised by just about anyone you encounter.  That’s the mindset of slaveholders of early America.

Jews trace this concept to the Book of Deuteronomy, in which God calls the Israelites “treasured people out of all the people on the face of the earth.” For Americans it begins with John Winthrop, an early leader of the Puritans, who declared the New World the “city upon a hill”—itself a reference to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  I don’t recall Jesus mentioning American while he was on the Mount.  I definitely don’t recall Jesus mentioning cities on the hill oppressing cities not on the hill.  Show me that one.  Oh, the “make you a footstool” verse, huh?  Then maybe I need to re-think Christianity.

I’m Black, by birth and by choice—not that white America would give me one.  For centuries in America, Blacks have had to live with that same superiority complex from whites.  In any scenario, we all know that these imaginations are those of the group of people in power.  If you subscribe to the notion that you are a “city on the hill” or that you are “most treasured out of all people”, then that means that everyone else is of less worth, maybe even meaningless.

America’s legacy of treating me, as a Black person, in that vein, does not endear me to Israel, who treats the Palestinians in that manner.  So when you bring that conversation to the table, understand that Israel (especially with America’s backing) will not get my support.  No, it doesn’t make me un-American, but it does make me anti-racist.  For my Jewish readers, which are you?

To be for liberty and freedom, is to be against bondage and oppression; to be for justice and equality, is to be for autonomy and sovereignty—for all mankind.  To masquerade as the only ones who want peace is for Israel to be disingenuous. Though they’re the pink elephant in the room, the Palestinians in Gaza want peace too.  It’s been inhabited since as least the 15th century, so they aren’t new to this.  It’s about time for recognition as a state.

Just this week, Newsweek has revealed the Obama administration has secretly sold Israel 55 deep-penetrating bunker buster bombs, which could be used in any future military strike against Iran—or Palestine. We say we want peace but we’re demanding that Palestine disarm, while fortifying Israel.  What part of equality is that?  The bombs were sold to Israel in 2009 just months after Obama took office. The Israelis first requested the bunker busters in 2005, only to be rebuffed by the Bush administration.  For conservatives to claim that Obama has not been a friend to Israel is disingenuous as well; but that’s another commentary.

I want to talk about the hypocrisy of this statehood debate, but that tire is out of tread; we’re pretty much aware of that.  There is a faction of Americans who’ll remain loyal no matter how wrong it is to do so.  I challenge that faction.  It’s like if you saw your parent kill your baby brother, would you tell?  Is the issue loyalty or morality?  If they got away with it once, do you think they won’t do it again…and maybe to you?

With America sure to veto a security council resolution that favors Palestine, the only means of justifying that action is by doublespeak: piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining…like a magician, I would say it’s a sleight of hand, but it’s really not.  They’re doing it in your face! America is selling freedom, while Israel is delivering occupation and telling you it’s the other guy’s fault!  This is a bad magician’s trick with not so sleight of hand.

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3 Responses to “Not So Sleight of Hand”

  1. I am going to leave a comment. No one have ever calmly talked to me about the ‘ Israeli Issue’. Even in typing they are yelling. I’ve read it three times so far and I keep gleaning things from it. I’ll get back.

    • It is rare that people talk calmly about this issue. That’s generally because of the selfishness that roots the conversants. The self-interest of religious upbringing usually takes precedence and then the ear is turned off. Factual analysis and honest self-examination are the cheif tenents that will bring this issue to some semblance of resolution. Let us talk–calmly–and hopefully, Palestinians and Israelis will follow suit…

    • Thank you for your reply; no need for us to yell–even in print. There has to be room to debate, though many believe there is nothing to debate. I look forward to hearing your viewpoint.


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