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Dealing with the Ongoing Nakba and the Jewish Conscience
By Eileen Fleming
EXCLUSIVE to The Arab Daily News
Al-Nakba is not just about the destruction of Palestinian communities, civilization, culture, identity, and the expulsions and killings that began in 1948;
Nakba also encompasses the Jews who were already there, those that came in ’48 and those that continue to settle on Palestinian property.
In response, the 2014 annual congress of the University and College Union of Scotland voted unanimously to condemn the visit and other groups have called on Home Secretary Theresa May to deny Livni entry into the UK.
In 2009, Livni canceled a visit to London after an arrest warrant was issued because of her role in war crimes committed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, which slaughtered more than 1,400 Palestinians.
After learning how Livni will spend Nakba Day, I spoke with Richard Forer, a former member of AIPAC whose BREAKTHROUGH awakened him to the realization that his attachment to the State of Israel had blinded him to the human and spiritual dimensions of the conflict with Palestine.
In 2006, Rich was a devout member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee the most powerful pro-Zionist lobbying organization in the U.S.
Rich zealously supported Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and anything Israel did was justifiable in his mind.
When a Jewish friend challenged Rich on his ‘facts’ he responded with an intensive study of the history of Israel Palestine.
Rich’s awakening led to a crisis of identity into the Universal Truth that We are ALL connected.
During an investigative journey in the West Bank, Rich saw the remains of destroyed Palestinian villages and witnessed inhumane treatment Israel inflicts on ‘the other’.
Rich deals with the ongoing Nakba through speaking engagements, such as this recent talk in Denver about the only democracy in the Middle East, Hamas, anti-Semitism and that true friends admonish their friends when ever the others behavior is unsavory, rude, cruel, unjust—such as ignoring international law and the equality of all people…
Richard Forer is also the friend who introduced me to Helen Thomas.
After Ms. Thomas read Rich’s book: Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict she wrote:
People need to be informed so we can make good decisions regarding our involvement in the Middle East, and ultimately support the right governments.
Forer offers a viewpoint that is not available in the mainstream.
I admire Forer’s courage to not being silent. He openly shares his personal transformation, and encourages the reader to be willing to ‘assess one’s beliefs with honesty and to follow wherever the facts lead’.
The truth cannot be silenced.
The truth about my evening with Helen Thomas follows:
But I did not commit to attend the event until I learned that Helen Thomas was to be the keynote speaker.
By the time I booked my flight, Ms. Thomas had been “disinvited” because of the pressure from a few particular people who had still not gotten over her flaming honesty expressed on 27 May 2010, in a courtyard at the White House during that year’s Jewish Heritage Month, when blogger and Long Island Rabbi David Nesenoff approached Ms. Thomas.
Nesenoff introduced her to two young boys with him who were interested in a career in journalism.
Nesenoff asked, “So what do you think of Israel? Got any advice? Go for it” as he pointed his camera at Ms. Thomas like a “jackknife”.
Ms. Thomas readily replied, “They should get the hell out of Palestine.”
In an interview with Playboy, Ms. Thomas elaborated,
I knew I’d hit the third rail. You cannot say anything about Israel in this country.
But I’ve lived with this cause for many years.
Everybody knows my feelings that the Palestinians have been shortchanged in every way.
Sure, the Israelis have a right to exist—but where they were born, not to come and take someone else’s home.
I’ve had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians. Why shouldn’t I say it?
During my evening with Ms. Thomas on 26 May 2011, I brought up something else I am grateful Ms. Thomas said: Her first and last question to President Obama regarding Middle East nuclear weapons.
Mr. Nuclear Free World President Obama blew Helen off claiming he didn’t want to ‘speculate’ and despite the fact that the US State Department has reams of documentation about Israel’s WMD her ‘peers’ remained mute.
Ms. Thomas nailed it, “They have no conscience.”
I add their lack of integrity borders on treason and my reasons why are listed in my Challenge to the New York TIMES
After cheesecake, I asked Ms. Thomas what she would advise anyone who wanted to go into the field of journalism and she said:
Go for it! It’s the greatest profession in the world because you are always learning and you are aware of the world, so you just might be able to affect change.
You cannot have a democracy without an informed people.
Information is everything; it enlarges your intellect and that guides you.
The job is to follow the truth and report where it leads you!
Right and wrong is not relative. Empathy is fine but kindness and sympathy do not change the facts and conscience is everything!
Leaders are suppose to do the right thing and we should back up the president when he does the right thing; but drop him when he doesn’t.
The WHY is the most important question-not that something happened- but WHY did it happen?
Somewhere along the way America lost its soul.
People have to rise up but Americans have become so passive and power overwhelmingly abusive.
I responded, “So how do we fix this situation?”
Ms. Thomas replied, “It’s being done!”
I then asked Ms. Thomas if she had always wanted to be a journalist and her persistent smile broadened and the gleam in her eyes brimmed with unshed tears as she replied, “When my first article was published in the high school paper and I saw my byline, I was hooked!”
I shot back, “I had a similar but opposite experience!”
I explained that when I was a child, my dream was to grow up and become Brenda Starr, the red headed, ace investigative journalist and star reporter for the metropolitan daily, The Flash.
The fictional Brenda traveled the world solving mysteries and unearthing scoops and she intuitively knew when somebody was not telling the truth.
But when my first assignment for the high school newspaper was edited beyond my recognition and my name was attached, my Irish temper erupted and I immediately confronted the faculty member on the paper and inquired, “Why did you publish an article with my name but with words I did NOT write?”
I was told that it was just standard procedure for the faculty to edit all of the student’s work and I replied, “Not mine you don’t! I quit!”
Ms. Thomas pointed her finger at me and said, “That’s ethics!”
That remains the second highest compliment I have ever been paid in my life!
The first is the one Mordechai Vanunu graced me with when he said, I was “always good to remind” him “of JC” meaning Jesus Christ.
JC was never a Christian [the term Christian was not even coined until 3 decades after his martyrdom] but a social justice radically nonviolent revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up against a corrupt Temple and challenged the job security of the high priests by teaching the people there was no need to pay them for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already loved them just as they were…
I haven’t a drop of Palestinian or Arab blood within me, but my grandfather was a German Jew who came to America in the early 1900’s. He died before I could ask how many of our relatives may have been gassed or fried because good people did nothing as evil arose.
However, I immediately began dealing with the Nakba in response to hearing my first Nakba story from Dr. Khaled Diab, a ’48 refugee who made his way to the USA and into a Top Secret position in the Defense Industry during the Cold War.
Dr. Diab was Muslim but also one of the best at doing what Jesus commanded was non-negotiable for his followers: Forgive to be forgiven, Bless and Love your enemy [NOT torture, bomb or occupy them] and treat everyone as you want to be treated.
For the 66th anniversary of Nakba, I offer Dr. Diab’s memories of being twenty-one years old and fleeing in fear for his life from his generations old home in Majd Al Krum, as Zionist forces surrounded on a cold October night in 1948.
In 2008, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation sponsored a multi-media artistic competition to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nakba and this excerpt garnered Honorable Mention which can be read HERE
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Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" who founded WeAreWideAwake.org in response to her first of 8 trips to both sides of The Wall in Palestine Israel.
In 2012, Eileen ran for US House of Representatives District 5, in Fl.
Read her FREE eBooks and more at:http://www.eileenfleming.org/
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