Monday, February 12, 2007

The tide is turning quickly

From an opinion piece in USA Today (!) by Oliver "Buzz" Thomas (emphasis in red):

“I visited the West Bank City of Ramallah shortly after Israel began building its so-called security fence separating Israel from the Palestinian territories. I had been invited by a group of prominent Israeli and Palestinian women (including several members of the Israeli legislature) who are part of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. Although I had ministered in the roughest parts of New Orleans, what I saw in Ramallah shocked me. It looked like Berlin after World War II. As I listened to the stories of the Palestinian women gathered at our hotel, the pro-Israel lens through which I had always viewed the Middle East grew clouded. There were stories of the houses and olive orchards that had been bulldozed to make room for the new wall and of the hundreds of checkpoints that kept law-abiding Palestinians from getting to their jobs or to and from school. I watched as a young Israeli soldier harassed an elderly man who was trying to get his donkey cart through one checkpoint. I wanted to throw up.

One story in particular stood out, probably because the young woman who told it reminded me of my own daughters. The woman, in her early 20s, had recently graduated from Birzeit University and moved to Ramallah to pursue a career in accounting. Days before my arrival, she had come home to find Israeli soldiers occupying her apartment building. They told her that a suspected terrorist lived in the building and she would not be allowed back inside. Despite her protestations and pleas (finally just to retrieve her personal effects and pictures of her dead father), the four-story building was destroyed. Her furniture, clothing, even her accounting license, were gone.

"I am young," she said, "and I will recover. But for my landlord and his eight children, this building was the only thing they had. Now, they have no choice but to go to the camps."

As I lay in my bed that night, I thought of those eight children and their parents now living in a tent. Even if the Israelis had caught the suspect, someday there very well may be eight young recruits to take his place. Like our ill-fated war in Iraq, Israeli policy seems to create more terrorists than it destroys.

We turned our former Nazi enemies into friends by helping rebuild their war-ravaged nation. Palestinian roads, hospitals and schools have been destroyed. Would we not be wise to try the same strategy with them?

Wow!  He advocates withdrawal of the Israelis and a new American Marshall Plan for the Palestinians.  There is not the slightest question that such a move would do more to improve the reputation and position of the United States in the world, not to mention the wealth and safety of its citizens, than any other possible policy.   Thomas concludes:

“If God is on anyone's side in this mess, he's on everyone's side. Yes, he is moved to compassion for the jittery Israeli soldier who fears the next person through his checkpoint may be wearing a bomb. But if the New Testament is correct, he is even more heartbroken by the callous treatment of the Palestinians. ‘In so much as you did it to the least of these,’ Jesus said, ‘you did it to me.’ The wretched poor, squatting in the rocks and refugee camps, are God's chosen people, too. It's time we follow John Wesley's advice and start viewing them as such.”

Christians should always remember that the settlers boast that they killed Jesus.