By Tom Compton
After the Palestine Chronicle published my story, ‘Would Jesus Concur or Weep?’ just over a year ago, I assumed that people would probably respond in one of three ways:
1. They would agree that Jesus would weep at the death of the innocent Palestinian children killed by the Israeli attacks on Gaza in December, 2008/ January, 2009.
2. They would be ambivalent and not care one way or the other. Or, they would not want to even talk about the subject.
3. They would say that I was not balanced in my statements because I didn’t mention anything about the deaths of innocent Israeli children. Never mine that there were no Israeli children killed during the 22 day siege on Gaza.
I never heard from any of the “Type 2” readers but did from the “1 & 3 types”. So what do Alan, Bob and Henry have to do with my reflections on the story? These three Jewish men represent three different and divergent opinions on questions related to the state of Israel. The "Alan" in my rhetorical question is Alan Dershowitz, well known Harvard Law professor and ardent Zionist gadfly. "Bob" is Bob Simon of CBS News & the 60 Minutes show. And, "Henry" is Henry Herskovitz of Jewish Witnesses for Peace & Friends a very active, anti-Zionist. Granted, Henry Herskovitz, is not a well known Jewish personality outside of his home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the first two men.
Professor Alan Dershowitz was so moved by my article that he responded to an email we at We Hold These Truths sent out to the subscribers of our “Pharisee Watch” & “Unheralded News” newsletters. The email contained the story published in the Palestine Chronicle. Dershowitz wrote us: “Subject: Re: Would Jesus Concur or Weep? These deaths were not collateral. They were deliberately intended by Hamas by its wilfull (sic) use of human shields. Anuyone (sic) who supports Hamas is complicit in the death of these babies–you included!”
It’s clear from this short exchange that Professor Dershowitz fervently believes that Israel’s use of excessive force against the people of Gaza is necessary and proper. The professor’s comments were not surprising because he is an unabashed supporter of Israel. What was surprising was that I heard the same defense, “Hamas was using their children as shields” from a Christian friend. Never mind the logic that would tell us that Palestinian children are just as precious to their parents as Jewish children are to their parents. She had heard that thought from a Christian commentator that she trusted. The commentator confirmed that it was “true” because he had heard it directly from a source inside the Israeli Defense Force.
Because I am an American citizen and taxpayer, I must admit that I am somewhat “complicit” in the affair as charged by the professor. My tax dollars have been and are being sent, to the tune of billions of dollars per year, to countries like Israel and Egypt. Egypt is culpable because they have helped Israel by severely limiting the flow of goods into Gaza. And, Israel has the American weapons and aid to enforce the “peace” in Israel.
I’ve had no such interaction with Bob Simon of CBS News. However, I was fascinated by two shows that Mr. Simon appeared on that revealed the gamut of Jewish opinion in Israel on the Palestinian question. Mr. Simon was interviewed on the Charlie Rose Program on PBS aired on January 7, 2009 as the Israelis were carrying out their deadly attacks on Gaza. In the program, Mr. Simon described the Gaza strip as "the world’s largest prison". He expressed the opinion that the "Two State Solution" was not possible because of the large areas of land taken by Jewish settlers from the Palestinians in the West Bank to create settlements with over 280,000 Jewish settlers. Mr. Simon thought that the only realistic solution left would be "apartheid" which is what is, in effect, has been practiced by Israel for some time. As we know, apartheid governments don’t fare too well. Recall South Africa. Mr. Simon’s piece on the CBS 60 Minutes show entitled, "Time Running Out For A Two-State Solution?", aired on January 25. 2009, showed in detail the dilemma facing Israelis with the huge number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Henry Herskovitz’s views may not represent a majority of his Jewish brethren, but they are valid and should be considered. Henry is against Zionism, a political not religious, ideology. Some of the signs Henry and his supporters carry in front the synagogue he used to attend tell his side of the story: "The Former Victims Have Become the Victimizers", "Is Ethnic Cleansing a Judaic Value?", and "End The Israeli Occupation".
The Jewish world is no more unified on the question of what Israel should do with the Palestinians then are Christians of the traditional or Christian Zionist flavor. Here in the United States it has been “official” policy to stand by Israel whether it is killing over 300 innocent children in Gaza or killing aid workers on a Turkish ship in international waters. Fortunately, a wind of awareness is blowing here in the US and Israel. In March, the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that “U.S. General David Petraeus said on Wednesday that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fomenting anti-American sentiment due to the perception of U.S. favoritism towards Israel.” Also, recently, Haaretz, reported that: “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan said on Tuesday that Israel is progressively becoming a burden on the United States. ‘Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden,’ said Dagan, speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.”
And, Christian Zionism is being challenged here in the United States. Christian Zionists believe that the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that Christians must support Israel no matter what Israel does, and, support wars in the Middle East to protect Israel. A recently introduced documentary, With God On Our Side (www.withgodonourside.com) , and We Hold These Truths’ new documentary, Christian Zionism: The Tragedy and Turning, help expose and explain why Christian Zionists hold to such religious dogma that allows them to turn their backs on the suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel with the support of the United States government. We must pray to God for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Israel but work as if it depends on us alone. After all, it was Jesus who said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)
– Tom Compton is an American Christian who is one of the founding directors of We Hold These Truths ( http://www.whtt.org). WHTT’s mission is to challenge evangelical Christians in America and around the world who cling to the idea that the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and that Christians must do nothing to hinder Israel, no matter what Israel does. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.