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Time to divest to spur Mideast peace

By From page A8 | July 14, 2014

I’m a Presbyterian. Did you read that our General Assembly voted to divest our investments of three American corporations that assist Israel’s occupation of the West Bank? Lots of people in my church are up in arms as are several local Jews. “Churches should stay out of politics” they say.

I disagree. This was a good move. It follows on my denomination’s stated position that justice dictates that the West Bank and Gaza Strip should become a Palestinian state. That’s called the “two-state solution,” or years ago, the “land for peace” solution. Our government has long agreed – both parties.

Yet local Jews and Christians are furious.

You can’t understand today unless you understand yesterday. So let’s look into the past.

The United Nations voted in 1948 to create two states: Israel and Palestine. Today we have Israel, but no Palestine. That is the problem. Palestine has been deferred because the Arabs disagreed with the UN decision and have tried and tried to destroy Israel.

But due to Israeli pluck and American support, little Israel, like little David, has prevailed over Arab Goliath time after time.

Slowly, the Arabs have come around. First Anwar Sadat made peace and received land in return. Then Jordan, then Saudi Arabia have faced reality. Now the leader of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Mahmood Abbas, says that his group, the Palestinian Authority, is willing to live in peace. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas still recites the old shrill lines about destroying Israel, but whispers for all to hear, “But we could agree to a truce, like maybe for 50 years . . . .”

Everyone knows what that means: peace.

Now the problem is little Israel. Ruled by a cranky right-wing coalition led by the right-wing Likud Party, Israel has been swayed by a shrill minority of mostly West Bank settlers who have a vision of Greater Israel, the reconstructed state of ancient Israel which includes the West Bank. Annex it, they say.

What would happen to the Arab Muslim Palestinians? During his first term, President Barack Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden to Israel to ask that question. The Israeli government answered just as Biden’s plane touched down in Israel. They announced a new Israeli settlement in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

To this brutal insult, Biden should have left immediately, but instead he bowed and scraped. The American poodle’s chain had been yanked, and it heeled.

Everyone knows that annexation presents a monumental problem for Israel. The Arab population has grown at a faster rate than the Jewish, so that after annexation, there would be more Muslims than Jews in Israel. That would be unacceptable, of course.

So this year Obama sent Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel on a mission to spur the sides to a negotiated settlement based on the demographic problem and the two-state solution. This long process was ended when the Israeli prime minister ended it by refusing to release a group of Palestinian prisoners as agreed.

Why did the prime minister undermine Kerry? Why did he treat Biden so contemptuously? We are Israel’s only friend in the world. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu stiff its only friend who was only asking for peace and justice? The inescapable, ineluctable conclusion must be: He wants the West Bank, Greater Israel.

One can only shudder at the future. At some point, the Palestinians would have to be expelled. It’s called ethnic cleansing.

We must stand up to Israel now. Divestment sends that message. Palestinians are due life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as Israelis. They were promised a nation in 1948. Peace and justice should win over extremist dreams.

Little David, where have you gone? Gone to become Goliath, neighborhood thug.

Jack Batson is a former member of the Fairfield City Council. Reach him at [email protected]

Jack Batson


Discussion | 11 comments

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  • Larry WJuly 14, 2014 - 6:45 am

    Jack. While I do not believe that there is a quick solution to the Palestinian Israel conflict. I choose to stand by the one democracy in the Middle East. Israel should be free to survive without bombs being launched into their neighborhoods. Peace will only come to that region when Israel is no longer being attacked.

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 14, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Israel has many powerful lobbyists in Congress. And they are a great customer for our military industry, too. Thanks in no small part to Evangelical Christians, Israel has carte blanche to do as it pleases. Divestment will not happen. Too much money and spiritual capital are at stake. Good column, nonetheless, Jack.

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  • Anne SmithJuly 14, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Thank you, Jack. I am also very proud of the decisions of the Presbyterian Church. There are many Jews who agree, too. Go to the Jewish Voice for Peace website for information on their work for peace in the middle east.

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  • Larry WJuly 14, 2014 - 12:12 pm

    Anne. The Jewish voice for peace is located safely in San Francisco. They don't have to deal with frequent bombings murders and abductions. If a Palestinian is killed by a Jew the guilty party is arrested. I haven't heard about any arrests by thePalestinians in the murder of three Jewish teenagers.

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  • PornacJuly 14, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    Israel will bring us the end times. Be prepared with a big gun!

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  • rlw895July 14, 2014 - 10:40 pm

    Americans inevitably link the Palestinian conflict with our war on terror. If we favor the Palestinians, we are favoring the wrong side or at least the friends of our enemies. How do you break that link? We probably can't. So we should abandon the Palestinian peace process until we can declare some resolution to our war on terror. Not "mission accomplished," but some major milestone, including or after bringing al Zawahiri to justice. That's essential. Then maybe Americans will be in the mood to side with Arab Muslims over our Jewish allies.

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  • The SugarJarJuly 14, 2014 - 10:53 pm

    So terror equals what? Muslims, Arabs, Persians, ... ? Sounds like you are saying that Americans aren't very discerning.

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  • rlw895July 15, 2014 - 12:02 pm

    Yes, that's what I'm saying.

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  • The SugarJarJuly 15, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    well rlw895, in general that is my experience too--Americans *in general* are not very discerning. :( I think that needs to change. Arabs, Muslims, and so on, here, are part of the group "Americans" and auto-tagging them as "terrorists" is not useful. Takes away from the weapons of mass attraction and doesn't increase anyone's safety levels...

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  • rlw895July 15, 2014 - 1:24 pm

    It's something we need to fix, but just look at our history of discrimination against blacks. It probably won't be fast or easy, but it will happen. In the meantime, we need to deal with the reality of it. Hence my comment.

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  • Rick WoodJuly 15, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    Probably the fastest and maybe only way for the Palestinians to win this conflict is the same way the Indians and Pakistanis won over the British. But they had a transcendent leader in Mahatma Gandhi. What the Palestinians need is their equivalent, or one like our Martin Luther King, Jr. But such a leader is a gift from God; he or she isn't just waiting in the wings all the time.

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