On Tuesday President Trump announced his Israel-Palestine “peace plan” that would firmly establish apartheid by way of a disjointed Palestinian state surrounded by Israel and granting Israel most of what it has demanded over decades of conflict.
By Eileen Fleming
Mr. Trump claims his “peace” plan is the solution to decades of bloody strife while Palestinian leaders rejected it sight unseen because they played no role in its drafting. The plan would grant Israel license to incorporate Jewish settlements and maintain “security” on land it already occupies.
With tacit support of the White House, Netanyahu plans to move forward with annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and parts of the Jordan Valley as soon as this weekend.
As he stood side by side with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Trump presented his proposal as the best Palestinians could hope to get.
“HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it.”-St. Augustine
Dear CMEP Community,
“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14
Earlier this afternoon, the Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) staff gathered around a laptop in our office–just a mile or so from the White House–to watch the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu announce the much anticipated “plan” for Israelis and Palestinians. As I listened to the speech, I was devastated. I was heartbroken as I thought of all the pain, suffering, and injustice that this plan will perpetuate.
The plan presented by President Trump and further fleshed out by Prime Minister Netanyahu is nothing less than a recipe for endless oppression and injustice. Palestinians for far too long have suffered under Israeli military control, a reality which today was denied and ignored.
The proposed plan would further entrench the Israeli security establishment, ensuring that generations of Israeli young men and women will serve in a military tasked with continuing control of the Palestinian people. The inevitable result will be more human rights abuses, trauma, and violence.
This cannot stand.
In addition, as Christians, we must not stand by and let our faith be perverted. It is clear that Christian values are being weaponized in an attempt to give a veneer of moral legitimacy to a plan that is, in fact, meant to facilitate further Israeli control over Palestinian lives, land, and resources.
The use of Judeo and Christian religious and spiritual imagery to justify political aims and agendas is idolatry. Referring to the modern geopolitical state of Israel as “a light unto the world,” and glorifying “places inscribed in the pages of the Bible,” without seriously addressing the injustices suffered by those who have lived under decades of occupation, flies in the face of what the Prince of Peace taught us. This appropriation of religious ideals diminishes the true spiritual significance of the land we call Holy and is a betrayal of the Christian faith.
At first glance, some of the language of the plan sounds promising. For example, we heard, “No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.” Certainly a good thing! However, when the repercussions of the plan are understood more fully, it becomes clear that another reading is possible. Palestinian citizens of Israel might not be moved out of their homes, but it is very possible that they would be disenfranchised, and the territory their homes are on would be deemed a part of the triangle communities of the “future Palestinian state.” This would be a part of the proposed “land swap” meant to maximize the amount of land under Israeli control while minimizing the number of Palestinians living on the land.
Speaking of “opportunities for Palestinians” to have a prosperous future without recognizing the root causes of the suffering experienced by generations worldwide obfuscates the problem and presents a distorted “solution.” While Palestinians at times have not contributed constructively toward peace, we must be clear: the root of their despair is decades of dispossession, violence, and lived humiliation — a perpetuated dynamic that is not without consequences for Israeli society. For Israelis to have hope for a future without fear, where their legitimate security needs are met, there must be a peace plan where U.S. and Israeli governments recognize and commit to just resolutions in response to the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.
What we also did not hear was an articulation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom, equality, and dignity in a land to which they have centuries-old ties — something that money can’t buy.
So where do we go from here?
We must redouble our efforts to advocate for a durable and just peace that, unlike this and other plans of the past, centers justice, equality, human rights, and freedom for all in Israel and Palestine. Please join us in prayer. Let us know your thoughts and desire to stand in solidarity with all people in the Holy Land, especially those who were not present at the “peace table” today. Please stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for positive actions you can take to engage in advocacy as part of the CMEP community and in your networks. As we prepare for the work ahead, I offer this prayer:
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
“Peace, peace, peace. God’s peace be upon you. But living today in a time of war, crying out peace, peace, peace, where there is no peace. Fearing age and death, pain and darkness, destitution and loneliness, people need to get back to the simplicity of Brother Lawrence”, Dorothy Day advised; because Brother Lawrence Practiced the Presence of God in every situation.
During one of my eight trips to Palestine since 2005, Mohammad Alatar, film producer of “The Ironwall” addressed my Sabeel group on an Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions tour through Jerusalem and to the village of Anata and the Shufat refugee camp, in the very area where the prophet Jeremiah critiqued the violent conflicts in the Mid East in the 6th century B.C.: “I hear violence and destruction in the city, sickness and wounds are all I see.” [Jeremiah 6:7]
After we broke bread and ate a typical Palestinian feast prepared by the Arabiya family in the Arabyia Peace Center, Mohammad Alatar told us:
“I am a Muslim Palestinian American and when my son asked me who my hero was I took three days to think about it. I told him my hero is Jesus, because he took a stand and he died for it. What really needs to be done is for the churches to be like Jesus; to challenge the Israeli occupation and address the apartheid practices as moral issues. Even if every church divested and boycotted Israel it would not harm Israel. After the USA and Russia, Israel is the third largest arms exporter in the world. It is a moral issue that the churches must address.”
Before my first trip to Israel Palestine I taught youth Sunday school in a rural community in central Florida, but I never returned to it or any USA Church because during my first trip to Palestine my Jesus morphed into a social justice radically non-violent Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up/intifada against a corrupt Temple and taught the people no need for ritual baths and sacrificing livestock to get OK with God; because God already loves every one just as they are and God is already within every one!
“Let us move now from the practical how to the theoretical why: Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence and toughness multiples toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”-Rev. MLK, Jr.
During my first trip to Palestine I also received within this spin on the Beatitudes:
When Jesus was about 33, he hiked up a hill and sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people;
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and ‘sins’ honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.
How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.
God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8
Jesus proclaimed: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”
In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8
“Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”
In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’
“For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you” Christ warns his disciples as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”
In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.
“Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”
And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other.
“He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.” – Aquinas
Eileen Fleming produced:
- USS Liberty Survivors of The Six-Day War Read and Write - August 2, 2020
- Annual Update for Vanunu Mordechai, Israel’s nuclear whistleblower and Captive - June 6, 2020
- A Covid-19 USS Liberty Remembrance Day - May 29, 2020