The President Who Stole Christmas

James M. Wall writes:

Below is an email from a close friend, Laurie Salameh. She lives in Jerusalem with her  husband Estephan, and their three children. I asked Laurie for permission to share her email, which she had circulated to friends. She gave her permission. 

Guest Posting by Laurie Salameh

President Trump stole our Christmas. And he did it standing in front of Christmas trees.

In what was an unusually polished speech (for him), President Trump announced the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has plans to relocate the U.S. embassy to there from Tel Aviv. We sat on our couch watching, our hearts pounding and our fists clenching, wondering whether it was ignorance, lunacy or plain hubris that drove him to make this announcement.

How can one man decide to take our historical capital away and give it to another country? How can he do that without acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in Jerusalem? Who live in the city of their birth without access to services, without basic human rights, who live unacknowledged? What happens to them?

Prior to this announcement, we were in the first week of what was proving to be a joyous Christmas here in the Holy Land. Though we make up less than 2% of the population, Christmas is in full-swing in Palestine. Christmas trees in every shop and restaurant, Santa hats in cars and Christmas carols sung everywhere. Giant Christmas trees lit in the main squares of the cities with tens of thousands of Christians and Muslims celebrating together.

My son sang “Deck the Halls” in a performance for the Ramallah Municipality with his classmate Ahmad. And this is my point – while Muslims don’t practice Christmas traditions as part of their faith, they give Christians space and time to celebrate it and many even celebrate with us.

I’ve had lengthy conversations with my Muslim friends on who sells the best parts for gingerbread houses, who bakes the tastiest Christmas cookies, where to find the prettiest ornaments or the best church bazaars. We may constitute less than 2% of the population but we are 100% part of the community.

And that’s what makes President Trump’s pronouncement all the more sickening. With his declaration, the Christmas lights turned off. The Christmas music has quieted. The Christmas tree in Nativity Square in Bethlehem has gone dark. The Christmas spirit has been drowned out with the mourning of our stolen capital.

About a week ago in front of a crowd in Missouri, President Trump said “I told you we’d be saying Merry Christmas again.” I don’t know who hasn’t been saying “Merry Christmas,” because we sure have here in Palestine. But I can tell you this… we will celebrate Christmas this year, because Christmas is obviously more than the trees and lights and music… but it won’t be a merry one.

The Whovillians in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, understood Christmas ‘came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.’ But at least they were able to celebrate Christmas in Whoville, their city, their home. President Trump stole our Christmas in Palestine right along with our capital, our history and our rights.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Trump Speech “Irresponsible and Reckless”

by James M. Wall

Avi Shlaim, a Jewish scholar now based at Oxford’s St. Anthony’s College, was interviewed on BBC after President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was designating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

Shlaim, who left Israel for a more open academic environment, calls the announcement by the President, “irresponsible and reckless”. (See full interview below.)

Trump has no right to set himself up as The Namer of capitals. But to him, he can do whatever he wants. Bibi Netanyahu knows that. Bibi got the Gift he has long coveted, his very own special electric train he can now send running around the floor, as he shouts, “Mine, mine, my precious Jerusalem is My capital.”

Standing in front of a Christmas tree as he gave Israel its capital, the President gave no indication he had considered, or cared, that Jerusalem is packed with meaning to Christians and Muslims, as well as Jews.

Palestinian American scholar Rashid Khalidi described this common connection to Jerusalem in The Guardian:

Jerusalem is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the entire Palestine question. It has been central to the identity of Palestinian Muslims and Christians as far back as the founding moments of both religions, and has become even more so as the conflict over Palestine has become fiercer.

The rivalry over this holy city is exacerbated by the fact that the same site – the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, the Temple Mount to Jews – is sacred to both. Because of its explosive nature, this is an issue that no Palestinian politician, and few Arab leaders, would dare to trifle with.

For someone such as me, whose family has lived in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, Trump’s announcement does not just mean that the US has adopted the Israeli position that Jerusalem belongs exclusively to Israel.

He has also retroactively legitimised Israel’s seizure and military occupation of Arab East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, and its imposition of discriminatory laws on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living there. The damage he has done will be permanent: the US cannot undo this recognition.

This act completely disqualifies the US from its longstanding role as broker, a position that Washington has monopolised for itself. So much for the pitiful “peace plan” that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was cooking up and hoping to impose on the Palestinians.

Khalidi is right, the “pitiful peace plan” was never serious. It was a holding pattern of pretension.

The Prime Minister and his predecessors, have had their way for decades with the city Trump thinks he just gave to Israel. Balderdash! Israel has treated Jerusalem as its kept capital since 1967. For six decades, IDF soldiers have roamed the city at will, arresting citizens like so many wayward children who skipped school to throw rocks.

Netanyahu and his right-wing government got what they wanted, a recognition that covers crimes of oppression.

What Trump has just done is far more significant than Naming. He has announced that Jerusalem is not open to negotiations. It is not a “contested” city in which Muslims, Christians and Jews live by an agreed-upon understanding.

It is now, named as such by the Grand Poobah across the great ocean, a Jewish city that is the capital of a Jewish nation.

It was this Grand Poobah who was given authority by voters of the United States, to not only give away electric trains, but to set up an oligarchy in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where freedom is defined by the Grand Poobah and bravery can be a ticket to jail.

Israel got more from the Namer than a new title for the Holy City. That new title is “capital”, which gives a permanent American blessing to a nation which has now been rewarded for its decades of occupation.

The Namer could care less what the world thinks. He is now the Man, who runs a nation through tweets. What are you gonna do about it? Wait until the next election to start cleaning up what’s left after the storms?

Our current U.S. Congress, created by gerrymandering, prepared for this theft of a Name by the Namer, with votes of its own, votes that revealed nothing more than the puppet strings that, when pulled in Tel Aviv, make Congress dance the Israeli way.

Stephen Zunes responded to Trump’s “big give away” in a piece for The Progressive.

Zunes, a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, describes the strings:

Trump’s announcement is actually the culmination of years of pressure by a large bipartisan majority of Congress and leaders of both political parties towards the White House. It represents the fulfillment of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which mandates that the United States move its embassy to Jerusalem, though the bill allows a president to waive that requirement every six months if deemed in the national interest.

In the Senate, the bill was cosponsored by such prominent Senate Democrats as Joe Biden and John Kerry and only one Democrat (the late Robert Byrd) voted no. On the House side, just thirty out of 204 Democrats voted no, along with the independent then-Congressman Bernie Sanders.

Since then, every President has taken advantage of the waiver to prevent such a provocative move, despite continued bipartisan pressure from Congress. As recently as this past June, just days after Trump issued his first waiver of the requirement, the Senate voted 90-0 in favor of a resolution re-affirming the 1995 law and calling on President Trump “to abide by its provisions.” Co-sponsors included such leading Democrats as minority leader Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Tammy Baldwin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden.

Schumer has openly encouraged Trump to move the embassy and previously criticized his “indecisiveness” on the issue.

Support by Congressional Democrats and party leaders for moving the embassy is not due to demand from their constituents. A recent poll shows that 81 percent of Democrats oppose moving the embassy while only 15 percent approve.

The Congress and the President are co-conspirators in the gift of Jerusalem to Israel. The blame is theirs to share. The response to the gift in the region and in the world will be far-reaching. The American public is not with them. Elections in 2018 and 2020 are near-at–hand. 

Voters in those elections will need education. A good place to start is to listen to the quiet voice of Avi Shlaim in this seven-minute BBC interview. Click below.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rqo26gtjraryfh5/BBC_News_Channel-2017-12-06_17-37-15.mp4?dl=0

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Religious Faith, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

U.S. Bill Would Target Israeli Military Child Abuse

by James M. Wall

In this, the first week of the second month of my 90th year of life, I take computer
in hand. I am committed to reflect, search for words, and begin a new blog post.

When I first began as a published writer, I took manual typewriter in hand to write a column for my junior high mimeograph newspaper.

That paper, The Signal, gave me the platform to share youthful thoughts with
classmates. I commented on events I read about in the two Atlanta, Georgia, newspapers, the Constitution and the Journal.

One that I vividly remember was my response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. I
was 13.

Not much has changed since that dark attack day, other than the computer replacing the typewriter. Inhumane acts are still with us. Peace and justice are still shoved aside by deceit, fear and violence.

Fortunately, beacons of light do break through the darkness, beacons like Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman (left) of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim in Madison, Wisconsin.

Her thoughts are entitled “American Jews must condemn Israeli detention of Palestinian children”. Her blog was published by The Times of Israel, a conservative Israeli media outlet.

Her words convey an impatience, and a call for action, in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets. She demands that the state of Israel stop its brutal treatment of Palestinian children, a brutality, were it taking place in the United States, would evoke outrage.

Rabbi Zimmerman has traveled through the West Bank where she talked with families. She  writes about the impact of violence and military control on children. She began her blog posting by describing the fear instilled in Palestinian parents by their Israeli military occupiers:

A mother and father panic as soldiers burst into their home, pull their teenage son out of bed, handcuff and blindfold him, and drive away with him, leaving them with no information about where he is going, what he is accused of, or when they will see him again. The soldiers interrogate him for hours with no access to a lawyer or parent present.

His requests for food and water, or use of a toilet, are denied. Terrified, he is subjected to physical and verbal abuse and he is detained for weeks or more in pretrial detention. He has no knowledge of his rights, and he signs a confession written in a language he does not understand. He will do anything to return to his family.

In her posting, Rabbi Zimmerman welcomes the news that for the first time in congressional history, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives which calls for action against civil rights abuses by the Israeli military.

The bill was introduced on Tuesday, November 14, by Minnesota’s Democratic Congresswoman Rep. Betty McCollum (right), who described the situation that led to her bill in The Nation magazine. (updated 12/11/17)

The bill, if passed, would “prohibit the U.S. from funding the detention and prosecution of Palestinian children in the Israeli military court system”.

The bill currently has 17 co-sponsors. (updated 12/11/18). Its introduction comes “several weeks after a report was released by Israeli rights groups, with the support of the European Union, which revealed ‘broad, systemic abuse by Israeli authorities,’ against Palestinian teenagers detained in occupied East Jerusalem.

The 11-page bill is entitled, “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act”.

Writing in Mondoweiss, Sheren Khalel details “the provisions laid out by the the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by both the U.S. and Israel in the 90s (the U.S. signed the treaty, but did not ratify it, while Israel both signed and ratified the treaty into Israeli law)”.

The treaty required, among other things, that ‘‘no child shall be subject to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” as well as requiring arrests and detentions of minors be used as a last resort and that said detentions should instituted for the shortest period of time possible. It also requires that children have access to fair and speedy trials.

The bill lists other requirements of the convention, and challenges that the Israeli government fails to protect Palestinian children in accordance to its own laws as well as the treaty.

Khalel notes that “the bill does not request any adjustment or cuts to the amount of money already officially allocated from the U.S. to Israel, instead it requests that none of the funding go toward any of the following practices against children:

  • Torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. Physical violence, including restraint in stress positions. Hooding, sensory deprivation, death threats, or other forms of psychological abuse. Incommunicado detention or solitary confinement. Administrative detention (detention without charge or trial under “secret evidence” Denial of access to parents or legal counsel during interrogations. Confessions obtained by force or coercion.

That is an important point to make to our Zionist-controlled Congress. The bill proposes no change in the amount of tax-payer funds going to Israel. What it does do is demand that moral standards to which Israel already claims it adheres, be followed in the use of your tax funds.

The bill had 17 co-sponsors through December 11.  For their names, click here. If your member co-sponsored this bill, a word of appreciation would be in order.

Those 17, plus the bill’s author, Rep. Betty McCollum, leaves 419 members of the House who have thus far failed to stand in favor of a bill which is, quite simply, a no-brainer.

Then follow the bill’s progress toward success or failure. Which side will you and your member of Congress choose? Before you answer, look again at the list of “practices against children” listed above. 

In the picture above, Israeli border police officers detain a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem’s Old City, Monday, July 17, 2017. The AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean is from Mondoweiss.

 

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Remembering Paul Findley and Yasser Arafat

by James M. Wallbook

On the day Yasser Arafat died, November 9, 2004, former Illinois Republican Congressman Paul Findley wrote an article to describe the relationship he had with the Palestinian leader.

Paul Findley knew then, and he knows now, that if enough members of Congress had joined with him in favor of talking with Yasser Arafat, Israel’s control over American policy might well have shifted in a different direction.

His article was published in the Daily Star, a Beirut, Lebanon, publication, on the occasion of Arafat’s death, 75, in a Paris hospital. Arafat had been under essential house arrest in his Ramallah headquarters. When he became ill, Israel moved him to Paris.

The failure of Findley’s newsworthy piece to find significant American exposure was further evidence of just how much Israel and its American allies fear an influential man like Paul Findley.

It is an article that reveals the irenic spirit and courageous political strength of Paul Findley. A political figure who has refused to yield power to non-American forces, frightens Israel. They need total control to keep Congress in check.

That is why BDS is such a threat to conservative Israeli governments. When people recognize deception as a false narrative, and are offered a way to take nonviolent action, that action must be put down by Israel and its loyal American allies. 

Memo to Congress from Tel Aviv: BDS is a danger, shoot it down. Don’t ask why, just do it.

Findley was that rare member of the U.S. Congress who ignored memos from foreign governments. He understood the danger of allowing the state of Israel to control American foreign policy in the Middle East.

At great political and personal cost, Paul Findley acted on that understanding while his congressional colleagues absorbed the narrative myth of “brave little Israel”, and pocketed the money, votes, and favorable media coverage that was their reward.

Paul Findley wanted to enlighten an American public that was ill-informed about Israel’s unholy alliance with American decision-makers.

In 1982, Paul Findley lost what had been a safe Republican seat in Congress, ending a political career that began when he was elected in 1960. His victorious opponent was Richard Durbin, now a U.S. Senator from Illinois.

The New York Times reported that Findley “narrowly lost his bid for re-election for a number of reasons: a competent opponent, redistricting, the economic recession, and pro-Israel groups’ support to his challenger.”

As Findley wrote in 2004:

During my years in Congress, Yasser Arafat’s name was often mentioned in committee meetings and on the floor of the House of Representatives but rarely without an ugly prefix. “Terrorist” Arafat led the “terrorist” PLO consisting of “terrorist” Palestinians. Observers unfamiliar with the Arab-Israeli conflict might have mistakenly assumed that the adjective “terrorist” was actually a proper part of these names.

The loss of his political platform did not deter Paul Findley. It inspired him to continue to expose and resist that unholy alliance.

Now 96, and living in his hometown of Jacksonville, Illinois, Paul Findley is no longer as active as he once had been.

He has, fortunately, left us a rich legacy of books, articles recorded interviews and memories from a career of service. 

Years before Arafat’s death, as Israel was driving forward with its plan to conquer all of the land from the sea to the Jordan River–still the plan, by the way–I interviewed  a member of Israel’s foreign ministry in Tel Aviv.

The ministry official conspiratorially told me at the end of the interview, “You should watch this Hamas organization. They are doing good things for the Palestinians”. This was, of course, in the months before Hamas emerged as a political force. To Israel, Hamas was a pawn, a movement that could be used to challenge Arafat’s PLO.

This is standard colonial-invader 101: Divide the people against themselves and then conquer them.

Finley’s article, in the Daily Starshould be read in full. Here, in a single
paragraph, Findley explains why:

One evening years ago, during one of my periodic open discussions with citizens in my hometown, Jacksonville, Illinois, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce wondered out loud about my willingness to associate with Arafat, a “person widely considered more evil than Genghis Khan.” My answer: “Arafat is a powerful leader in the Middle East, and a major power, like the United States, should have the best possible communication with him.”

For a member of Congress to communicate with Arafat, and see him as a man with his own non-violent plan, is not in Israel’s “best interest”.

With the assistance of Jewish organizations like AIPAC, Israel maintained a steady propaganda campaign that tied “terrorist” with “Arafat”. American media bought into Israel’s plan, because Israel wanted it to.

Labels drove the plan and labels become fixed in the public’s collective mind. Remember when Native Americans were called “savages”?  And how about those “Redskins” now playing football in the nation’s capital city?

And don’t get me started on the language white Americans hang on Muslims. 

Empires are built and thrive on deception and the manufactured fear of “others”. The U.S. and its mini-empire, Israel, did not want American political leaders to see the “other” as capable of negotiating in good faith.

Any hint that Yasser Arafat was an admired leader of an oppressed people, was a danger to Israeli’s false narrative. For Findley to treat Arafat  with respect, and do so as a member of the U.S. Congress, was anathema to Israel.

Findley recalled his contacts with Arafat on the day Arafat  died.

While in Congress, I met personally with Arafat twice, both times in his quarters in Damascus. The first was in January 1978 while I was a member of a congressional group on a tour of the Middle East. After I promised never to mention their names, two other members of Congress joined my wife and I on the unscheduled, unofficial side trip to meet the controversial PLO leader. Both to and from his quarters, our cars were escorted by heavily armed escorts. After a discussion of more than two hours with Arafat, we joined him for a late meal.

I returned alone in November for a long follow-up discussion, during which Arafat authorized me to report to the White House his terms for living at peace with Israel: As chairman of the PLO executive committee, he pledged that the new Palestine would live at peace, have de facto political relations with Israel and renounce all violent efforts to enlarge the country, provided that Israel accept an independent Palestine consisting of the West Bank and Gaza district, with a connecting corridor.

It was a concise pledge which still stands as a reasonable and just outline for peace.

Yasser Arafat continues to be honored in the land he sought to lead toward future statehood.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA, reported that the 13th anniversary of Arafat’s death, November 9, was recalled by thousands of Palestinians on a march through the streets of Ramallah. 

They carried portraits of Arafat, waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans celebrating Arafat’s life.

The rally started from Ramallah Secondary Boys School, moved through the main street of the city, and ended at the presidential headquarters (Muqata’a), where senior officials laid wreaths at Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum.

Speaking on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, Deputy Fatah Chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul told the marchers: “Not only was Yasser Arafat the leader who inspired the Palestinian revolution, but also the one who inspired liberation movements worldwide.”

How did Paul Findley feel about the man he befriended, and who cost him his seat in Congress? The former congressman answered that question in the Daily Star.

Did I regret being Arafat’s “best friend in Congress?” Never, not for a fleeting moment, even though this association clearly was a major factor in my defeat in 1982. 

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Politics and Elections, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Lord Balfour’s Letter Was 1917’s “Fake News”

by James M. Wall

Thursday, November 2, will be the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

To commemorate that event, the current British Prime Minister Teresa May, will attend a London dinner party at the home of Lord Rothschild, heir to the recipient of the infamous letter from Arthur James Balfour, Britain’s then Foreign Secretary.

She will be joined at the dinner by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current Prime Minister, along with the dinner host, Lord Rothschild, and the current Lord Balfour, a descendant of Arthur James Balfour.

The Balfour Declaration (it was actually a letter) was issued November 2, 1917.

It is that 1917 “declaration”, which this 2017 London dinner party celebrates.  

The letter was sent from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour (left) to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader in the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

The pertinent segment exposes its Zionist bias:

His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”  

This was not a British governmental action. It was a 1917 version of what President Donald Trump enjoys calling “fake news”, a neologism he uses when a statement or action is contrary to reality as he wants it to be.

The president claimed this week that he coined the term, fake news. Not true. The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers reported:

Trump rewrote history when . . . in his conversation with [Lou] Dobbs: “I think one of the best names is — you know, I’ve really started this whole ‘fake news’ thing. Now they’ve turned it around and then, now, they’re calling, you know, stories put out by different — by Facebook ‘fake.’”

Borchers refutes that claim. “Trump posted his first-ever tweet containing the phrase ‘fake news’ on Dec. 10, 2016, more than a month after Election Day”. By then, the press had reported extensively on the way social media platforms such as Facebook facilitated the spread of fake news articles.

More than a year before the war ended on November 11, 1918, this version of “fake news” arrived on the scene. It emerged in the form of Lord Balfour’s letter, which “promises” the creation of a Jewish state, and the protection of Arab rights. 

The letter was one-half false, the Arab side, a “fake news” promise from November 22, 1917.  The letter was designed to reassure the Zionist movement, then, as now, a strong influence in British policy-making. 

The promise to the Arab tribes was a lie, a spin that pretended justice for the Arabs. The Sykes-Picot secret agreement signed on May 9, 1916, by two French and British agents, reveals what the Allies intended for the Levant.

Britain had experience in such matters, having ruled the Indian subcontinent since 1858 “when the rule of the East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria (who in 1876 was proclaimed Empress of India)”. (Wikipedia).

That rule lasted until 1947, “when the British provinces of India were partitioned into two sovereign dominion states: the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan”. (Wikipedia).

The Turks had been more passive in their role as empire rulers. They respected, for example, the Arab customs that allowed for the development of tribal structures. 

The Jewish minority in Palestine, 10 per cent of the 1917 population, had strong backers in Britain and the United States, a benefit the Indians of the India subcontinent and the Arabs of the 1917 Levant, did not possess. 

When Lord Arthur James Balfour, former British prime minister and in 1917, the foreign minister, sent his letter to Lord Rothschild, the letter promised that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. 

This reveals an attitude of superiority toward Arabs, a blatant racism that describes the Arabs as “existing non-Jewish communities”, who were promised only civil and religious rights, not political.

That fake lie in the 1917 letter was written to reassure British citizens that their rulers knew “we” are superior to non-whites, but like whites dealing with black slaves in 19th century America, “we” will be fair and kind.

The truth was that Britain officialdom cared little for the Arabs in Palestine. They actually viewed them as inferior and a “problem”. Britain’s goal was to help the Zionists establish a Jewish “homeland” on territory which was home to Arabs. 

Aided by reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, the Zionists finally got their state in 1948. The promise not to prejudice “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” was left to the new colonial government of the state of Israel.

These promises about Palestinian “rights” were as fake as a magician’s rabbit. The new state even codified the lie-promise in its Declaration of Independence, adopted in May, 1948. It was a promise that has consistently been broken: 

“The State of Israel will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. 

Tim Llewellyn is a former BBC Middle East Correspondent and author, and now an associate of the UK-based Balfour Project.

He writes in Mondoweiss this week that the League of Nations imposed on Britain a “sacred trust” when it gave Britain “the mandate to rule Palestine after the First World War”.

Llewellyn writes this stinging analysis of the anniversary that united May and Netanyahu for their dinner party:

 The 100th anniversary of Mr. Balfour’s great deception is not, after all, turning out to be the unalloyed celebration the Zionists and their stooges in Westminster and Whitehall had planned.

Rather the reverse: a continuing parade of British self-examination, throughout society, and the intention to put matters right at last for the Palestinian people.

He then points to a series of counter-events in Britain denouncing the May-Netanyahu dinner celebration. The Balfour Declaration is being understood in Britain for what it was from the beginning, a deception designed to create a new state on stolen land.  

Samia Khoury, an indefatigable Palestinian activist and blogger, has lived in the West Bank her entire life. She understands colonizers.

The latest posting on her blog, Reflections from Palestine, exposes the latest ploy of Prime Minister Netanyahu to deny Palestinian freedom.

Khoury (left) begins:

Colonizers are supposed to be experts on the “Divide and Rule” policy.  We have not only  read about it in history books, we have watched it, and lived through it.  So it is not surprising that Israel is now putting conditions for resuming negotiations with the Palestinians after the agreement of reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas has taken place. 

What is surprising is that Israel continues to claim that it has no peace partner, and it cannot resume negotiations with the PA when there is a split between Fateh and Hamas. Now that the Palestinians are in the process of reconciliation, Israel is putting its conditions. It is very clear that Israel is not interested in peace.  It is simply interested in being left in peace [on] . . .Palestinian land.

Fake news in any era, like Netanyahu’s newly-minted “conditions”, has a limited shelf life.

Over time, the contents of the shelf begin to smell. The good news is that more activists and bloggers like Samia Khoury, are asking the world, “Do you smell what is decaying on that shelf? “

In the picture at top, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May greets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. at Downing Street in London, Feb. 6, 2017. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP). Lord Balfour’s picture is from Wikipedia.

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

One Final Perilous Journey For Gertrude Bell

by James M. Wall

The film, Queen of the Desert, begins with a distant image of a small group of travelers moving across a vast desert. Two sentences flash across the screen, setting the stage for what is to follow:

The onset of the First World War hastened the demise of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the Middle East for five centuries. The colonial powers set their eyes on dividing the spoils. 

The film then moves to a small room in which British army officers gather around a table with a minister from the War office, the future British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

The officers and Churchill  are looking at a map of the colonial “spoils”. Churchill asks: “How do we delineate the borders?.  . . Who knows best about the tribes? . . .Who knows best about the Bedouin tribes?”

The officers reluctantly agree among themselves, “That woman”.

“That woman” is Gertrude Bell (left), a British archaeologist, writer, traveler, and a diplomat, who worked in a time of intense Western colonialism.

After a delay of two years, the public finally has a limited DVD access to a motion picture that rescues Bell from the history books and should introduce her to a wider public.

The film is Queen of the Desert, based on the real-life story of Gertrude Bell  (1868-1926)(Nicole Kidman), a humanitarian among those human colonialist scorpions who were roaming the deserts in search of prey and profits. 

To the indigenous people of the region, Bell is better known, and far more appreciated, than T. E. Lawrence, portrayed by Peter O’Toole in David Lean’s 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia. 

The difference between the two? Bell was a woman and a natural diplomat, while Lawrence was a male warrior, glamorized through David Lean’s film.

Lean’s film rescued Lawrence from oblivion, which Queen of the Desert should have done for Gertrude Bell. It has failed to do so, not because of its lack of merit, but because the film industry determines what it thinks will sell.

Our popular understanding of history is shaped through popular culture, where films, television and now, social media, play definitive roles.

Military exploits have a greater popular appeal than diplomacy, while a film depicting Arab history as it really was, colonial exploitation of indigenous populations, goes against the popular narrative.

Gertrude Bell was an exception to the norm.  She actually cared about the people of the Levant. Her books, and books about her, underscore this. 

What was it that kept the film Queen of the Desert from the public for two years and then only grudgingly granted it very limited distribution? No one is saying. The fact remains, however, that Hollywood knew the story of Gertrude Bell violated a narrative written and protected by Zionism.

Levant history before 1947 was of little consequence, a period best left unexamined. 

Queen of the Desert was initially screened in 2015 at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival. It was nominated for the festival’s highest award, the Golden Bear. Directed by noted German director Werner Herzog and beautifully photographed on locations in Jordan and Morocco, the film was a natural for American “art house” screenings.

With Nicole Kidman (above) as the film’s star, and a script by Herzog, which examined the role Gertrude Bell played in modern history, film companies should have battled for U.S. distribution.

They did not. Films that violate the conventional historical narrative do not sell, or so it is assumed by the historically ignorant decision-makers of Hollywood.

The film focuses on a Middle East before Israel entered the historical stage. Could that reality play a role in Hollywood’s reluctance to embrace Queen of the Desert?

I am reminded of a West Wing episode in which President Bartlett was given an authentic map of the Levant from 1709, the region which Gertrude Bell came to love centuries later.

President Bartlett’s staff members all had the same reaction to Bartlett’s plan to frame and post the map in the White House:

“You can’t do that, some people will be offended because Israel is not on the map”. Puzzled, Bartlett said Israel did not exist when the map was made. “Doesn’t matter, some people will be offended”, was the insistent response. (click below to see a short clip).

The Desert Queen covers history in the World War I era. Israel did not exist then. Israel did not exist until the United Nations yielded to Zionist pressure and declared Israel a state in 1947.

That could explain why after its 2015 festival showing, Queen of the Desert dropped from sight. A Nicole Kidman film was shelved for two years.

When Queen of the Desert had its limited run earlier this year, it finally surfaced. There was still money to be made so the film now has DVD exposure. On October 3, Netflix and sites like Amazon, began renting or selling copies.

Gertrude Bell was there when the modern Middle East was formed. Because of her personal and caring knowledge of tribes and their leaders, she was used by the victorious nations after World War I to draw borders and choose leaders who became kings.

A sensitive film which examines the life of one of the most significant women of the 20th century, is ending its journey deep into the archives of film history, a journey noticed by only a few.

The picture above of Gertrude Bell between Winston Churchill (left) and T.E. Lawrence, was taken in Cairo, Egypt, in the early 1920s.

It is an unfortunate fact of history that this photograph is viewed as one of a future  British Prime Minister, the real “Lawrence of Arabia”, and “that woman”.

The film industry missed its chance to give Queen of the Desert, the story of Gertrude Bell, the same prominence it gave Lawrence. Is there yet another perilous journey to be made that would jar Western culture and its leaders into the reality of the Levant?

The answer is yes, but not until Zionism loses its grip on its version of the region’s narrative. And not until humanitarians in the spirit of Gertrude Bell, reshape our understanding of history back to what really happened.

Posted in -Movies and politics, Middle East, Movies, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

October Arrives With Martin Luther at 500

By James M. Wall

October Sky begins on the night of October 5, 1957. Residents of the town of Coalwood, West Virginia, peer into the October sky, some with binoculars, searching for a brief glimpse of Sputnik, the first Russian-launched satellite.

The film is based on Rocket Boys, a memoir written by Homer H. Hickam Jr. The memoir tells the true story of four boys in a coal-mining town in Appalachia, each determined to build a rocket that will soar into the sky. It is a serious project. The boys want to help get America back into the “space race.”

At the film’s conclusion, we discover what their experiences as “Rocket Boys” prepared them to do as adults.

The celebration of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union is the first of two anniversaries in October, 2017.

The second will arrive October 31, preceded by other events, all pointing to the day 500 years ago when Martin Luther, according to one account, nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

These celebrations look back at one contest between nations, and a second struggle between a church hierarchy and a growing demand for theological openness.

The “thesis” is a list Luther offered to debate with church authorities.

Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517. (For more, click here.) 

It is notable that these two events were of a peaceful nature, though, as sinful nations and institutions are wont to do, subsequent events in those contests turned violent.

In the space race, from commanders like John Glenn to the African-American women who under the burden of racial segregation provided crucial technical assistance, a large number of individuals acted positively to give the U.S. an edge.  

The African-American contribution to the space race is creatively portrayed in the recent film, Hidden Figures.  

Key to both, however, is that at turning points, key individuals emerged to provide practical and inspirational leadership for movements long in gestation. 

For the Reformation, which Luther’s defiant 95 thesis moment indicates, a single man provided a key movement, and drove it forward.

Daniel Graves, webmaster for the Christian History Institute, discusses Luther at a critical moment in the reforming process:

Most famous of all Luther’s quotable words are those from the Diet (Assembly) of Worms (1521). Commanded to repudiate his writings, he stood alone with his conscience against an array of powerful clergy and statesmen.

The official transcript quotes him as saying, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. So help me God. Amen.”

Luther’s collected works, issued later under his supervision, give the closing words as, “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.” It is that version of his speech that has come down so memorably to posterity.

The Concordia Publishing House blog, The Word Endures, shares the painting below of Luther Before the Diet of Worms by Anton von Werner (1843–1915).

In the space race, the two nations in contention for space superiority, have spent decades threatening and preparing for conflict, but on the night of October 5, 1957, it was a non-violent, competitive struggle. 

The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, is currently engaging a bellicose North Korea in negotiations to reduce the tensions between the two nations. His boss appears to be playing a good cop-bad cop game with him. 

In the space race, which has led to joint space projects for the U.S. and Russia, talk produced positive results. From the 95 thesis moment, the Christian Church emerged stronger than it was as an autocratic institution. 

Anniversary celebrations are in order for negotiations over violent conflict. 

Posted in Movies | 4 Comments

Two Speeches at Fulton, 71 Years Apart

by James M. Wall

Bernie Sanders went to Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, Thursday, and delivered a policy speech in the same academic setting that brought former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to Fulton, 71 years ago, March 5, 1946.

Churchill’s historic “Iron Curtain” speech. is seen as the opening salvo in the Cold War. This week, Bernie Sanders had a different focus.

The 2016 Democratic primary candidate who opposed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, came to Fulton to lay out a U.S. foreign policy not for war but for peace and equality. 

The Nation magazine editors commented:

[Sanders] reminds us that hundreds of millions live in poverty, dying of preventable diseases, while arms makers rake in trillions from weapons of war. He reminds us that America’s history of interventions—from Iran to Chile to right now in Yemen—have a habit of having devastating results.  ​​

It was a different time when Churchill spoke in 1946. The U.S., Great Britain and its allies had just emerged victorious from World War II.  The Soviet Union, the U.S. and Great Britain were pawing the ground like two bull moose eager to fight.

The Churchill speech March 5, 1946, is remembered by historians as “one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period”.  In his famous oratorical style, the former Prime Minister etched these words into history:

 “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

It was a call to a war-oriented future.

In his speech at Westminster College, Senator Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, drew  “a direct link between the United States’ foreign policy and his own longstanding message of economic equality”.

He stressed that “the planet will not be secure or peaceful when so few have so much and so many have so little.”

Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own country. There is no moral or economic justification for the six wealthiest people in the world having as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people.

Churchill was bellicose; Sanders pleaded for equality. One pointed to future wars; the other called for peace.  

Jason Hancock wrote in the Kansas City Star:

The goal of Sanders’ speech was to lay out a progressive vision for foreign policy that focuses on international collaboration, humanitarian concerns and the promotion of democracy. The key must be building partnerships, he concluded, not just between governments, but between people.

“Our safety and welfare is bound up in the safety and welfare of people throughout the world,” he said. “Every person on this planet shares a common humanity. … Our job is to build on that common humanity and do everything we can to oppose the forces who try to divide us up and set us against each other.”

Far too often, the use of American military power has resulted in incalculable harm, Sanders said, pointing specifically at the war in Iraq. America must not recede from the world stage, Sanders said, but it must rethink its priorities.

“The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world. Nor is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of ‘America first.’ Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership rather than dominance,” he said.

Aware that he was speaking from the site of Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, Sanders said:

The United States’ actions during the Cold War in supporting “murderous regimes” around the world continue to make the nation less safe. Fast forward to the Iraq War, which Sanders said was a huge mistake, and he said it’s clear that U.S. aggression helped create Islamic State and other threats that are still bedeviling the nation.

Even today, Sanders said, America’s support of “Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen” dramatically undermines “America’s ability to advance a human rights agenda around the world.”

That also means the United States cannot only preach its values, he said. It must live its values.

“If we’re going to expound the virtues of freedom and democracy abroad, we need to practice those values here at home,” Sanders said. “That means continuing the struggle to end racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia in the United States.”

How good was the speech? Fox did not like it. Not surprising.

John Nichols, in The Nation, called it one of Sanders’ finest speeches. Nichols wrote: “Borrowing from the wisdom of great American legislators such as Wisconsin’s Robert M. La Follette, Nebraska’s George Norris, and California’s Barbara Lee, Sanders spoke for the view that America leads best when it leads as an advocate for peace and justice rather than as a bully”:

It was 71 years after Winston Churchill’s speech that Sanders said:

The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world. Nor, on the other hand, is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of “America First.”

Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership, rather than dominance. This is better for our security, better for global stability, and better for facilitating the international cooperation necessary to meet shared challenges.

Do I hear an amen on that?

The picture above is a screen shot from Westminster College

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Israel Lobbies Shaping Illinois Governor’s Race

by James M. Wall

A foreign nation is having an impact on the Illinois Democratic 2018 primary campaign for governor.

Israel’s lobbies, led by AIPAC, are demanding absolute loyalty to Israel from all leading candidates.

Few Illinois voters know the difference between Ramallah and Ramla.

Israel’s lobbies do not care what voters know.

What they do care about, is that the Illinois Democratic nominee for governor, must be loyal to Israel.

The leading Democratic candidate in the March 20, 2018, primary, is J.B. Pritkzer, one of the nation’s richest men. The winner will face incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in the 2018 general election.

Running further down in the Democratic primary pack had been the team pictured above on the campaign trail, State Senator Daniel Biss (left), candidate for governor and Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, candidate for lt. governor.

Now the two have split over BDS, a litmus test AIPAC uses to measure loyalty.

Biss and Ramirez-Rosa had been favored by the state’s Progressive voting bloc, until the split.

As Robert Mueller and congressional committees dig into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, the Biss and Ramirez-Rosa progressive candidacy was smashed by Israel’s intervention in Illinois politics.

What’s the difference between Russian and Israeli intervention?

One nation has a U.S. base in the form of lobbies. The other does not have a base, unless it is eventually proven that the Trump campaign served as a Russian lobby-agent for Russia. 

Ali Abunimah describes in his Electronic Intifada how the BDS issue has shaped the Democratic race.  

Pressure from the Israel lobby has forced a promising progressive politician out of the 2018 Illinois governor’s race.

Only a week ago there was much grassroots excitement when Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a member of Chicago’s city council, was named as the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, State Senator Daniel Biss.

Ramirez-Rosa, who was a Bernie Sanders delegate during last year’s Democratic Party convention, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

His selection was also a nod to the growing political role of Illinois’ Latino population; Ramirez-Rosa represents a diverse, majority Latino ward on Chicago’s northwest side. He has previously spoken about how experiencing discrimination as a gay person and a Latino has shaped his progressive politics.

DSA has seen a huge surge in membership since last year’s election, and just last month the socialist grassroots organization overwhelmingly endorsed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights.

But that support for Palestinian rights has come up against the hard reality of the Israel lobby’s continued grip on elite sections of the Democratic Party.

Biss initially had made a smart move for his candidacy, when he reached into a Chicago Latino ward and made Ramirez-Rosa his running mate. But after some well-reviewed campaigning, a difference on BDS surfaced.

Ramirez-Rosa revealed that his opposition to BDS was on the national level, not the state. AIPAC warned State Senator Biss, no wavering on BDS.

For that “sin” of his running mate, Daniel Biss was forced to capitulate to Tel Aviv. Ramirez-Rosa withdrew his candidacy on a Facebook post which announced his departure from the Biss campaign.

“While I was honored to be chosen as Senator Daniel Biss’ gubernatorial running mate, it became clear over the past few days that while we share a total commitment to peace, security, and statehood for the Israeli and Palestinian people, and both oppose pursuing BDS at the state level, the difference of opinion we have on the role the BDS movement plays at the federal level would make it impossible to continue moving forward as a ticket.: 

Ramirez-Rosa had to go. Biss knew what he had to do. He dumped his running mate.

How exactly did Ramirez-Rosa go wrong ?

Abunimah explained: “Ramirez-Rosa appears to be indicating that he does not contest the first-in-the-nation anti-BDS bill passed by Illinois in 2015, but does oppose pending federal legislation, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, that has been widely criticized as violating First Amendment free speech rights.”

Where will Illinois progressive go now? There are no leading candidates left who are willing to oppose the Lobby.

On Friday, still hoping to keep his Progressive base, Biss tapped an African American woman, state representative Litesa Wallace, from Rockford, to replace Ramirez-Rosa. In Illinois, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor must run as a team.

Currently leading in the race for governor, is Democrat J.B., Pritkzer, or J.B. as he calls himself in his already extensive TV ad campaign six months before the primary.

J.B. did not have to be recruited or threatened into loyalty to Israel. He is well-established in the Pro-Israel camp.

Abunimah describes Pritzker as “the billionaire scion of a prominent pro-Israel family, who has supported such anti-Palestinian causes as Friends of the IDF, an organization that raises tens of millions of dollars a year to support soldiers in the Israeli army.”

Pritzker’s philanthropic work is well known. It includes the Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie. He led the capital campaign to build the center.

The Pritzker family is one of the wealthiest in America. The family annually ranks near the top of Forbes magazine’s “America’s Richest Families” list. The family is well known for owning the Hyatt hotel chain. 

Pritzer’s sister, Penny, was a strong supporter of Barack Obama. She served in the President’s cabinet as Secretary of Commerce.

The other major candidate in the Democratic primary is Chris Kennedy, the nephew of President John F. Kennedy. He played a key role in the 2014 firing of Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois over tweets critical of Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Said Jilani reported for The Intercept, that the all out lobby pressure against the Ramirez-Rosa ticket began when

. . . .Illinois congressman Brad Schneider wrote a Facebook post on Sunday attacking Ramirez-Rosa for his “affiliation with a group that is an outspoken supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.”

Jilani notes that Ramirez-Rosa’s own statements on the question of Palestine “have been critical of the status quo but hardly extreme.” He has, for instance, pointed out that the US has “subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people” and stated that “people stand with Israel, but they also want to make sure that Palestinian people have [justice].”

Schneider, by contrast, has been an extreme supporter of Israel. According to Jilani, the congressman “has long been affiliated with the right-wing pro-Israel lobby, which tolerates little dissent on the issue.”

Pro-Israel money was a major source of funding for his 2016 election campaign – a whopping $318,000 dollars.

Illinois is just one state. Nor did Biss pose much of a threat to Pritzer or Kennedy, both with backpacks crammed full with Israeli bona fides.

Nevertheless, the Israeli lobbies takes no chances. No campaign is too small, nor too local, to assure that Israel’s control over American politics remains absolute. 

The picture at top is from Facebook. 

Posted in Middle East, Middle East Politics, Politics and Elections | 4 Comments

MLK Jr. Wrote From Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

by James M. Wall

Another day, another Donald Trump tweet. This one came Thursday, August 17, a few hours after a van plowed into a crowd on the Barcelona pedestrian mall of Las Ramblas, Spain.

The Islamic state claimed credit for the attack. President Trump tweeted, via iPhone:

Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017

The Atlantic debunked the story:

It seemed to be a reference to a story Trump told at campaign rallies during the 2016 primaries, which in turn was a garbled version of an Islamophobic meme that has made its way around the internet for years.

In the fable, the legendary U.S. General John J. Pershing once ended a wave of Muslim terrorism in the Philippines by executing prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. Other superstitious fighters were so terrified by the prospect of being killed while touching part of a forbidden animal, the story goes, that fighting immediately stopped, for some period of time.

(For 25 years, Trump said at a North Charleston, South Carolina, rally in February 2016; a few weeks later, in Costa Mesa, California, it had jumped up to 42.)

This story of General Pershing and Pig Blood, is not only false; it also reveals Trump’s ability to continually lie to evoke applause and cheers for himself.

The Pershing false story is also an ugly demonstration of Trump’s repeated use of Islamophobia as a political tool. It is a statement of injustice.

Polling indicates the base which provides the applause and cheers he craves, has dropped into the lower 30 percent approval rating.

Trump did not cause this moral collapse. He found it sitting there, waiting for someone with his bravado and narcissism to turn the public’s innate fear of others into a narrow political upset.

The metaphor which I find best addresses the phenomenon of Donald Trump, is the school yard bully who gains power through force and intimidation.

In my faith tradition, Joshua 24:15, gives the declaration of how best to confront and reject the school yard bully, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

Others, who follow a different faith, or no organized faith, find their moral center in different ways, choosing between  good and evil from a center that will not yield to easy exploitation of their weaknesses.

How Trump responded to Charlottesville, with his “both sides” comment, was the lowest point in a series of his political low points, beginning with the racist “birther” nonsense at the start of his presidential campaign.

CNN reported on Charlottesville:

A group of white supremacists — screaming racial, ethnic and misogynistic epithets — rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 19. One person was killed and 19 others were injured when a car sped into a group of counter-protesters.

This is what the President of the United States said about it:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

. . . It’s hard to imagine a less presidential statement in a time in which the country looks to its elected leader to stand up against intolerance and hatred. . . .

Both sides don’t scream racist and anti-Semitic things at people with whom they disagree. They don’t base a belief system on the superiority of one race over others. They don’t get into fistfights with people who don’t see things their way. They don’t create chaos and leave a trail of injured behind them.

We have reached a point in our national distress where we need a moral leader like Martin Luther King, Jr., ready to lead others into a revolt against the absence of a moral center in the nation.

The churches of King’s era, the 1960s, engaged with great strength in battles against the Vietnam War and for women’s equality. Racial inequality, in contrast, was treated gingerly. Church leaders were slow to confront the racial status quo.

On August 27, 2009, I wrote a Wall Writings posting which looked back to a time when  Martin Luther King, Jr., sat in a Birmingham, Alabama, jail cell, writing a letter on April, 16, 1963, to Protestant, Catholic and Jewish leaders in Birmingham.

In June 1963, the Christian Century was the first large-circulation magazine to publish the full text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

King addressed them as “My Dear Fellow Clergymen” since they were all duly recognized as clergy leaders (five of them were bishops) and they were all male.

In his letter,  he wrote:

“I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid. . . .

I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. . .

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.”

“Go slow; our people are not ready”. The church mantra of the 1960s was immoral then; it is immoral in 2017.

What can we do about Trump? We can start where we have leverage. With strong moral leaders we must begin to build a movement as passionate and active as Donald Trump’s base.

We need a collection of new Martin Luther Kings, Jr., leaders who believe “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice”, and are willing to go to jail in defense of that conviction.

♦ ♦♦♦

Finally, a personal note:

On August 13, my wife, Mary Eleanor Wall, fell on her side and suffered serious bruises. Fortunately, she has no broken bones. The bruises have landed her in a walker and wheel chair, which I push.

My role as care-giver will require that Wall Writings appear infrequently during her recovery period. 

The picture above of Martin Luther King, Jr., in jail, is from USINFO Photo Gallery.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments