Sunday, October 31, 2010

IPMN: questions we have been avoiding?

During the early years of the Holocaust, when Jews were attempting to find safety in other countries, rejection and tragedy occurred over and over. At least two ships filled with fleeing refuges were turned aside by many countries including the United States. The ship, the St Louis, returned to Europe where “only France, Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands” would receive them. As Germany conquered three of those countries the Jewish refuges fell, once again, into Nazis hands. Another ship, the Struma, loaded with Romanian Jews was refused entry into a Palestine port by the British. In the end the ship sank and only two people survived.[1] (Picture: Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis look out through the portholes of the ship while docked in the port of Havana.)

By 1947 and 48, many Europeans and Americans understood with maddening clarity the great evil of the Nazis. Using a lie that German citizens were in harms way because of the Jews the Nazis attempted to murder all Jewish people. Insisting that the Jews were the cause of all their troubles they perpetrated the Holocaust.

But still some mainline church people of the United States, who know that Jewish people, persecuted for too many years, need safety, believe the State of Israel should just disappear. Yes, they do suggest that this should happen for the safety of American citizens. They suggest that if Israel would just disappear and/or America would stop supporting her, all radical Arab terrorism would cease.

And, yes this is the position of at least some members of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)!

There is an article at the on-line magazine, The Daily Beast, entitled “Does Israel Make Us Safer” by Thaddeus Russell. The article was placed on the IPMN Facebook site by Rev. John Morgan, who was an IPMN representative in 2009. While it wasn’t IPMN who posted the article they state: “Thanks for posting this-asks questions we have been avoiding.” And Noushin Framke chair of the IPMN’s communication working group clicks that she likes the article.

The article’s main idea is that Arab terrorists have never attacked the United States or its citizens for any other reason then the fact that the United States supports Israel. The plea is that we should quit supporting Israel for the safety of the citizens of the United States.

The article starts by explaining that historically some of President Truman’s advisers tried to discourage him from helping the newly emerging Jewish State:

They argued that if the United States helped to set up an independent Jewish nation it would provoke terrorist attacks on Americans and inaugurate an endless war between Arabs and Jews. “There are 30 million Arabs on one side and about 600,000 Jews on the other,” Forrestal told those in the administration who favored recognizing Israel. “Why don’t you face up to the realities?”
At least the author admits that historically it was David against Goliath. The author also writes:

The history of Israel and its relationship with the U.S. is infinitely complex, but there’s one damning fact that’s ignored as often as The Question: There was not a single act of Arab terrorism against Americans before 1968, when the U.S. became the chief supplier of military equipment and economic aid to Israel. In light of this fact, it’s difficult to credibly sustain the argument that Arab terrorism is spawned by Islam’s alleged promotion of violence and antipathy toward American culture or by a “natural” Arab anti-Semitism.
It also suggests that no matter what policies Israel enacts to protect itself—even a withdrawal from the occupied territories or a two-state “solution”—it must be a perpetual wartime state.

But it is a sinful anti-Semitism which drives many terrorist groups. The author continues:

…some 15,000 Israelis and nearly 5,000 Americans have been killed by Arabs opposed to the existence of Israel. Not one of those Israelis would have died had they lived in New York or Los Angeles, and it is reasonable to argue that many more Americans would be alive today had the United States never given aid to Israel.

Citing the death of Senator Robert Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan and the attack promoted by Ben Laden, Russell writes:

This evidence, these arguments, or even The Question itself will never move those who believe—for religious, political, or emotional reasons—that a Jewish state must exist in the Middle East. They will not change the minds of Israelis who would rather live in perpetual war than leave the land they say belongs to them. But they might very well convince Americans, and even some Jews, to no longer participate in what now is clearly an act of self-destruction.

And evidently the IPMN, or those communicating for the IPMN, agree with this assessment, let all the Jewish people in Israel be exiled or destroyed, and then the citizens of the United States will be safe?

Insisting that the Jews were the cause of all their troubles they perpetrated the Holocaust ….

[1] For the complete story of those who perished and those non-Jewish people who helped see “Holocaust: an end to innocence,” by Seymour Rossel. See also and many, many other articles on the web.


will spotts said...

Thank you for posting this, Viola.

It helps to clarify some of the issues. Other IPMN statements (as well as several by other PC(USA) officials, employees, and spokespersons), have also taken this line. The argument is ultimately that Jews are responsible for evil acts committed against the Jewish people - in essence giving them a supernaturally evil character.

However, another problem is apparent here: the author and the supporters of the article you mention seem to display an appalling unfamiliarity with history. What might a person call the actions of the Barbary pirates? How exactly would these differ from acts of terrorism? And was this a product of presidents Jefferson's and Madison's support for the state of Israel 200 years ago?

It's a shame that the people who mindlessly support the IPMN's statements and actions don't seemed to be bothered by the facts.

Will Spotts
North East, MD

Viola Larson said...

Thank you! You have added important information to what I have posted.
I am fairly sure that some of the people making comments and even posting on the IPMN web site and Facebook page do not have a background with any complete history of the issues. But not all and ignorance is not an excuse.

Anonymous said...

Viola and Will, the issue is not ignorance of "history" or "facts." Reasonably and unsurprisingly, the Palestinians don't agree with your premise that the problem of anti-Semitism is "solved" by depriving them of their land and human rights. You support self-determination for the Jewish people in a Jewish state, yet it costs you nothing to do so. At the same time, you condemn Palestinians as "intransigent" for not accepting the imposition of a society in which they are outsiders and second-class citizens or exile and dispossession. Who wouldn't?

Viola Larson said...

First of all you know our name we would like to know yours: ) Please leave your name, city and state.

I am not suggesting that the Palestinians be deprived of either land or human rights. I believe in a two state solution. Also one thing that is often not clear in these debates is that there has always been a Jewish presence in the Holy Land. In fact the Arabs, if you go back far enough were the invader, before them the Romans. And for a very short time (about a hundred years) the Crusaders.

I take it you do not agree with a two state solution?

Anonymous said...

Viola, as you know unless you have been tuning out unwelcome information, the Palestinians have been deprived of land and human rights, both historically and as an ongoing matter of present-day Israeli policy. I'd like to hear you acknowledge and condemn it. Palestinians inside Israel's 1948 borders demand equality and reject the religious discrimination they face as non-Jews. Do you condemn religious discrimination against non-Jews as you do against Jews? Do you respect and uphold the Palestinian connection to the land on which they and their ancestors have lived?

Viola Larson said...

Anonymous I do not answer questions of people with blank faces. And on top of that you did not answer mine. Either leave your name, city and state or do not write here again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
will spotts said...

The "ignorance of 'history' or 'facts'" to which I self-evidently refer is that displayed by some of the IPMN commended resources. To me, that is very large issue. It makes any concept of justice impossible to see clearly. In some cases this ignorance is deliberately fostered; in others it is accidental. In either case, more accuracy is needed from any group claiming to be Christian and/or to be committed to justice.

I have never suggested that the problem of antisemitism can be solved by depriving anyone of land or human rights.

I have said and do say, however, that antisemitism is encouraged by the conveyance of false information, by the propagation and legitimation of anti-Jewish attitudes among churches and others, by the one-sided rehearsals of history common in this debate, and by the posture of scapegoating (that seems to be the main point of this article).

Viola Larson said...

That is the purpose of this article Will.