White Evangelicals Stifle Own Values For Trump

by James M. Wall

The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, the Susan D. Morgan Distinguished Professor of Religion at Goucher College in Baltimore, posed a question in an article she wrote for Sojourners:

“What values were really at stake for the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for a presidential candidate {in 2016} who uses crass language and admits to engaging in coarse behavior, and whose campaign was marked by vitriolic hatred of various people, particularly people of color?”

Brown Douglas served as Professor of Theology at Goucher College from 2000 through 2018. She gave up this post this month and is now the first African American woman to become Dean at an Episcopal Divinity School (EDS). 

The new dean is also the author of Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (book cover above). Her book was written in the aftermath of the racial upheaval following the Sanford, Florida murder of teen-ager Trayvon Martin, on February 26, 2012.

Alice Woodson described the Brown Douglas book for Religious Studies Review as “a thoughtful and provocative analysis of the Trayvon Martin story and subsequent deaths of other unarmed African Americans at the hands of police brutality”. Woodson writes:

Douglas, a mother of a teenage son, “highlights a mother’s perspective” throughout the book while contrasting her pain with a sociohistorical analysis of what she has named America’s stand-your-ground culture.

Brown Douglas does just that in her Sojourners essay, noting that the value proposition of the Trump campaign “was made clear in the campaign’s ‘Make America Great Again’ vision.  This mantra tapped into America’s defining Anglo-Saxon myth and revitalized the culture of white supremacy constructed to protect it”.

She continues:

The Anglo-Saxon myth was introduced to this country when America’s Pilgrim and Puritan forebears fled England, intent on carrying forth an Anglo-Saxon legacy they believed was compromised in English church and society with the Norman Conquest in 1066.

These early Americans believed themselves descendants of an ancient Anglo-Saxon people, “free from the taint of intermarriages,” who uniquely possessed high moral values and an “instinctive love for freedom.” Their beliefs reflected the thought of first-century Roman philosopher Tacitus (quoted above), who touted the unique superiority of an Anglo-Saxon people from the ancient woods of Germany.

In his treatise Germania, Tacitus describes these Germanic tribes as a people for whom “good [moral] habits” were more effectual than “good laws” and argues that they possess a peculiar respect for individual rights and freedom.

Brown Douglas notes that Germania has been called “one of the most dangerous books ever written.” His words were used, she writes, ” to undergird horrific movements, such as the Nazis’ monstrous program for ‘racial purity’.” She continues:

Considering themselves descendants of these mythic Anglo-Saxon people, the Puritans and Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic with a vision to build a nation that was politically and culturally—if not demographically—true to their “exceptional” Anglo-Saxon heritage.

They saw this as a divine vision. They traced their Anglo-Saxon heritage through the ancient woods of Germany back to the Bible. They considered themselves the “new Israelites,” carrying forth a godly mission. Central to this mission was building not simply an Anglo-Saxon nation but a religious nation—one that reflected the morals and virtues of God, which in their minds were synonymous with the unsullied ways of their freedom-loving Anglo-Saxon ancestors.

It is  unlikely that Donald Trump has read Tacitus’ Germania, but his “border wall” is straight out of Tacitus’ play book.

Mexicans are not white Anglo Saxon. They are a people of color from a different ancient community, a people invaded and colonized by white Anglo Saxons.

Trump lies when he describes Mexican immigrants as dangerous criminals. He employs lies which connect to the fears of white Americans who have been exploited through fear since their ancestors killed the first native American after the not-so-pure Puritans brought their “white superiority” to these shores. 

Kelly Brown Douglas’ Sojurner essay is entitled “How Evangelicals Became White“, with an added subhead,  “For much of American evangelical history, spreading the gospel meant spreading whiteness”.

This is a harsh conclusion, but “spreading whiteness” is clearly the hidden message in Donald Trump’s political modus operandi. Building the utterly-insane, useless wall, is the racist “dog whistle” Trump knows his “base” will hear.

Brown Douglas found a recent bit of history to “spreading whiteness” spelled out in the writings of the 19th-century church historian Robert Baird, who wrote, “our national character is that of the Anglo-Saxon race.” She adds that Baird argued further that “essentially Germanic or Teutonic [are] the chief supports of the ideas and institutions of evangelical Christianity.”

From that linkage, Brown Douglas concludes that:

Christian Anglo-Saxon whiteness has subsequently served as the criterion, spoken or unspoken, for determining who is a ‘real’ American, who is entitled to the rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ and who has the right to cross borders and occupy certain spaces. Essentially, whiteness provides the measure for what it means to be a legitimate citizen.

This “sacred witness” ushered this nation into the violence and hatred of slavery and segregation right on down to Charlottesville and racist laws like the “Stand Your Ground” Florida law.

And so it continues each time this President speaks or acts.

Brown Douglas is not condemning all White Evangelicals. She qualifies her analysis:

 To be fair, white evangelicals were not alone in their significant support of Trump’s campaign. Fifty-eight percent of nonevangelical white Protestants and 60 percent of white Catholics did the same. Researcher Robert P. Jones argues that the 2016 presidential election represented the “death rattle” of white Christian America’s attempt to protect the country from the consequences of a nonwhite America.

No one made this case more sharply than [former Congresswoman and presidential candidate] Michele Bachmann, who said to a gathering of “values-voter” evangelicals, “It’s a math problem of demographics and a changing United States. … [T]his is the last election when we even have a chance to vote for somebody who will stand up for godly moral principles. This is it.” The implication is clear: The more threatened the white demographic, the fiercer the defense of Anglo-Saxon white supremacy.

The bottom line is that in their support of Trump, much of white Christian America opted to support a white supremacist vision for the country. As for white evangelicals, far from abandoning their role as “values voters,” they simply made clear what they value above all else.

At the annual 2017 Values Voter Conference, Trump knew he had come home to his “base” as he became the first sitting president to address the annual Values Voter Summit.

The British-based Guardian reported on October 13, 2017:

Trump entered a ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington to applause, cheers and chants of “USA! USA!” He proceeded to cast himself as a man of God. “Everyone here today is brought together by the same shared and timeless values,” said the thrice-married socialite and reality TV star who was once recorded bragging about grabbing women “by their [private parts]”, yet who gained strong backing from Christian evangelicals in last November’s election.

“We cherish the sacred dignity of every human life.

“We believe in strong families and safe communities. We honor the dignity of work. We defend our constitution. We protect religious liberty. We treasure our freedom, we are proud of our history, we support the rule of law and the incredible men and women of law enforcement. We celebrate our heroes and we salute every American who wears the uniform. We respect our great American flag.”

This last point brought conference delegates to their feet amid whoops and whistles, making clear where their sympathies lie in the dispute between Trump and football players who “take a knee” during the national anthem in protest over racial injustice and police brutality. 

White Evangelicals who voted for Trump  had to stifle their evangelical values and their Republican belief in “personal character and moral integrity”.

As New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote Friday,

“It has not always been this way”. Brooks added that “In the decades before Trump, the Republican Party stood for an idea: character before policy.”

Where does this leave us? 

Donald Trump has desecrated Teddy Roosevelt’s “Bully Pulpit” by preaching hatred and bigotry. He has found Satan’s key to the door of racism. He has opened it and won an election which gave him enormous power to do evil. 

What are we going to do about it? We must fight back with what we have at our command to stem this tide of evil. Look around and you see people who are already fighting.

I see high school students forcing a reluctant Florida legislature to act against unbridled gun violence.

I see Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teen-age girl in an Israeli jail cell defying an Israeli military occupation force which fears her because she exposes their evil actions.

Whom do you see? What will you do? And when will you act?

Posted in Religion and politics, Religious Faith | 6 Comments

U.S. Politicos Embrace Israel’s Big Lie, “Oy Vey”

by James M. Wall

Lying to gain and keep power, is now officially the Order of the Day. The American voting public approved lying as an established form of governing, when it elevated an established liar as President in 2016.

The man’s name is Donald J. Trump.

Oy Vey.

Oy Vey is a Yiddish expression indicating dismay or grief. It derives its meaning from the German “ach weh”, which in English, is “oh pain”. 

I know, I know, lying has long been a staple of American politics, a staple which came in with the Constitution. But when we elected someone who made lying the Order of the Day, it went from being a dark shadow over American politics to a total eclipse. 

Those Americans who had any hope that peace in the Middle East might be possible with the support of the progressive/liberal wings of the Democratic Party, will not be encouraged to learn of the lineup of speakers arranged for the annual 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference, March 4-6.  

In a year when Trump’s election has provided Israel greater freedom to step up its oppressive military occupation of Palestine, AIPAC expects “more than 18,000 community and student activists from all 50 states, and more than half of the Senate, a third of the House of Representatives and countless Israeli and American policymakers and thought leaders”.

A partial speaker’s list is always released a week early. Take careful note of these expected AIPAC speakers. Click on this Mondoweiss link to read the full story.

Adam Schiff  is speaking, the big Russiagate congressman from California. So are Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s former top aide; Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Jane Harman of the Wilson Center; Tamara Cofman Wittes of Brookings; Ilan Goldenberg formerly of the Obama administration; Elizabeth Rosenberg ditto; Dan Shapiro ditto; Brian Katulis of Center for American Progress; Steven Cook of CFR, Ann Lewis the political heavyweight; Rep. Brad Sherman; Claire Shipman of ABC News; Yehuda Kurtzer the Jewish particularist; Emily Shire the feminist Zionist; Bakari Sellers the cable TV liberal; Michele Dunne of Carnegie; Yosef Abramowitz who is married to Rabbi Susan Silverman; and up-and-coming antiwar congressman Seth Moulton. (bold face added).

On February 27, 1968, CBS anchor Walter Cronkite broke with the standard Viet Nam War series of lies.

He did it by telling the truth in one dramatic moment.

Mark Bowden wrote an account of that Cronkite moment under this New York Times   headline,

“When Walter Cronkite Pronounced the War a Stalemate”

One of the enduring myths of the Vietnam War is that it was lost by hostile American press coverage.

Exhibit A in this narrative is Walter Cronkite, the CBS News anchor, billed as the nation’s most trustworthy voice, who on Feb. 27, 1968, told his audience of millions that the war could not be won.

. . . when Cronkite aired his bleak but decidedly middle-of-the-road assessment of the war 50 years ago, immediately after the Tet offensive, it was a significant departure.

It struck like revelation. From the pinnacle of TV’s primetime reach, he had descended to pronounce:

Below is the text of the statement above:

“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that were are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”

Mark Bowden notes that Cronkite’s words were not “radical”, but they resonated with President Lyndon Johnson, who “a few weeks later announced that he would not seek re-election and would devote the reminder of his term to reducing hostilities and moving ‘toward peace.’ Not victory, ‘peace’.”

Bowden continues:

Cronkite’s report was significant. It contributed greatly to the shift in public opinion against the war. But there was no immediate, radical turn. Most polls would continue to show narrowing but clear public support for the war for years to come. Richard Nixon was elected later that year, and vigorously prosecuted the war for six years more.

If Cronkite was wrong, if the war was in fact being won and winnable, there were ample resources, time and commitment to prove it. In fact, Cronkite was right. The war was not being won, nor would it be.

It took time, but Cronkite’s 1968 moment of truth-telling, and President Johnson’s decision not to run for another term, played major roles in ending the Viet Nam war.

Could it happen again?  We do not know. What we do know is Walter Cronkite was on a routine reporting trip to Viet Nam, when he “became convinced that he had been misinforming the public about the war’s progress.”

Cronkite might have ignored his doubts. Instead, he told his national audience, “It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.”

All the more reason we must not lose hope, as we remain alert to signs, large and small, signs like a single television broadcast 50 years ago.

The picture of Walter Cronkite at top, is a screen shot.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Friedman Visits and Vouches for Israel

by James M. Wall


Church of the Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem Lithograph

by Louis Haghe from an original by David Roberts.



When New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman travels to the Middle East, he brings with him a deep devotion to the state of Israel, and a longing for what he thinks ought to be.

In a recent column he addresses that longing in these opening paragraphs:

At the Syrian Border, Golan Heights — Who knew that the future of warfare would present itself with such serene beauty — like one of those warm 19th-century David Roberts landscapes of the Middle East.

How so? I’m traveling along the Israeli border road at the intersection of Lebanon, Syria and Israel, and off in the distance there’s a freshly snow-capped Mount Hermon, begging for skiers. It’s framed by Lebanese and Syrian villages nestled into terraced hillsides, crowned by minarets and crosses. The only sound you hear is the occasional rifle burst from Lebanese hunters.

With his quiet opening of what ought to be, Friedman sets a mood designed to lure his readers into a quiet David Roberts painting. As frequent travelers know, Roberts was the Englishman who captures a tranquility from the 1800s, a tranquility which Friedman quickly dispatches:

But this is no Roberts painting. It’s actually the second-most-dangerous spot on the planet — after the Korean Peninsula — and it’s the idyllic backdrop to what 21st-century warfare looks like.

Because hidden in these villages, hillsides and pine forests you can find a state — Israel — trying to navigate a battlefield with a rival state’s army (Syria), a rival regional superpower (Iran), a global superpower (Russia), super-empowered mercenaries and maniacs (Hezbollah and ISIS) and local tribes and sects (Druse and Christians).

Hold up there, Brother Thomas, do you expect us to buy this one-sided Friedman word- portrait that describes the state of Israel as a peaceful neighbor forced to live in “a tough neighborhood”, a favorite Friedman phrase?

Parse that “hidden in these villages. . . ” paragraph. View it “realistically”, as Reinhold Niebuhr should have done when he was alive.

The “battlefield” Friedman describes is filled with a “rival states’ army (Syria), [and] a rival regional superpower (Iran)”, two “rivals” that were established as states within borders drawn by the British. They were there long before invading Zionist colonialists arrived in the neighborhood and moved in with their peaceful Jewish villagers.

Friedman sounds like Donald Trump when he identifies Hezbollah and ISIS as “super-empowered mercenaries and maniacs”.  As for the Druse and Christians, they are tossed aside as “local tribes and sects”.

Come now, Thomas, “tribes and sects”? 

I have labored under the impression that the Christian community has a pretty strong religious claim on land where Jesus was born, lived, died and was raised from the dead, to save the world. 

Christians of the world provide Israel with tourist profits, and many of them deplore the treatment of Christians in Palestine by Israel’s occupation army.

Show a little respect, Thomas. 

I would also advise you, Thomas, that by lumping Hezbollah and ISIS in the same list of undesirables, you are exposing your Zionist bias. Hezbollah has a legitimate role in Lebanese politics. ISIS is a dangerous force distorting Islam in a quest for political power. 

Israel would have the world, with your help, see the Middle East as a potentially peaceful region, but only with the modern state of  Israel as its unchallenged power center. 

Your description of the players in your “tough neighborhood” omits one major player, Palestine, whose land Israel seized by force and on which it has grown into a world military power.

In your column, you tell us you rode “along the Israeli border road at the intersection of Lebanon, Syria and Israel, [where] off in the distance there’s a freshly snow-capped Mount Hermon”.

Brother Thomas, you looked at Mount Hermon, and referred to skiers, but you did not tell your readers that the state of Palestine is located just down from the heights of that famed Mount, which is on Syrian land.

You did not tell them that your beloved Israel has held on to that Syrian mountain land for “security” reasons. And you did not mention that the Palestinian people have lived in the grip of a military-enforced occupation for more than a half century.

During the visit which took you along the Israeli “border”, you would have benefited from an interview with a Palestinian peace negotiator who could give you a more realistic view of the state you ignored in your column.

Saeb Erekat (right), the leading Palestinian peace negotiator, is the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization. On Tuesday, he wrote an Op Ed for The New York Times under the headline: “Forget Trump’s U.S. as the Mideast’s Mediator”.

It is safe to assume Friedman has read the essay. It is also possible that he arranged for its publication.  But did he really read it. Here are a few pertinent parts of that Op Ed:

The Trump administration, which blames the Palestinians for the recent stalemate, does not mention that our president, Mahmoud Abbas, tried to constructively engage with the [Trump] administration. Last year, between Feb. 7 and Nov. 30 we had over 30 meetings with administration officials, including four between the two presidents. Throughout that period, a Palestinian team took initiatives in presenting detailed and thought-out positions, maps and responses to the other side’s positions.

It brought us little. Instead, President Trump broke with decades of American policy and stopped criticizing Israel’s human rights violations and continuous settlement construction. The administration’s excuse for not endorsing a two-state solution — that it would make Americans biased — changed quickly to a possibility of approval if both sides accepted one. But that was no concession; it gave Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, veto power over the two-state solution.

Further along, Erekat offers details for a brighter future:

[W]e support making Jerusalem an open city with free access for all, and a sovereign Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Instead, President Trump decided last month to take Jerusalem “off the table” — a step that encouraged Israelis to pursue policies in occupied East Jerusalem that seek to forcibly transfer the Palestinian population out of the city. 

President Trump, for the wrong reasons, has put the issue of Palestine back on the international agenda. If his administration’s inability to be an honest broker opens the way for other parties to become mediators, Palestine can engage in meaningful discussions on a just and final peace.

This must begin with a time frame for ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 border, with East Jerusalem as its capital — a proposal offered and reaffirmed often by the Arab League. Palestinians would attain their inalienable rights, and Israel would enjoy normal relations with the region.

Only such an international effort can address the unequal power balances, uphold international law and present a clear future of hope, freedom, justice and peace.

While in Israel, Thomas Friedman had to be aware of the pending trial of 17-year-old Ahed Tamini, who along with her mother, are in an Israeli prison for reasons related to the incident in which a frustrated Ahed tried to push Israeli soldiers from her front yard.

The family trials are being postponed for unknown reasons. The latest trial date is scheduled for March 11. 

From what we know, the only threat the Tamini family poses for Israel is the damage to Israel’s standing as a democracy. That so-called democracy is already on international bad paper for its continued occupation of Palestine. 

Are you listening, Brother Thomas?

The David Roberts watercolor is from Wikipedia. The picture if Saed Erekat is from Facebook.

Posted in Israel, Media | 4 Comments

Trump’s SOTU Reality Show Exposes His Dark Side

by James M. Wall

Halfway though President Trump’s 90-minute State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday, it suddenly struck me: This guy is good at this.

Of course he is. This is a man who spent 14 years as host of television reality shows, most notably, The Apprentice.

Standing at the podium in the House chamber, the President was in his element. He was the star of his reality show. Members of Congress and the nation, watched him perform.

Half the Congress cheered on cue. They rose to their feet in their enthusiasm. The other half remained respectfully sullen and subdued with only the occasional moan. 

What struck me halfway through the speech was the confident manner in which the President stayed on script and especially the way he read the description of guests chosen to illustrate his vision of the state of our union.

Trump followed the formula set by another actor-president, Ronald Reagan, the first president to recognize an invited guest during his State of the Union address in 1982.

Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, authors of The American Presidency Project, have recorded the annual guest list of those who have been introduced by presidents.

They note that President Bill Clinton, who delivered the only two SOTU addresses longer than Trump’s, spoke on February 4, 1997, and as his first guest, he identified the first Chinese-American state governor, Governor Gary Locke, a Democrat from the state of Washington. 

In his 1997 SOTU speech, Clinton highlighted his support of education when he highlighted two students from Illinois, Chris Getsler and Kristen Tanner, both of whom “were among the students who tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math in the Third International Math and Science Study”. Clinton also recognized their teacher, Sue Winski.

Clinton wanted the nation to understand him as welcoming to immigration and supportive of education.

The vision President Trump brings to the White House is dark in tone, white in racial color, and militaristic in style.  His “base” responds to the simplistic reality which his vision creates. 

President Trump is not subtle. He says what is on his mind at a given moment. He was following a script at the SOTU, which we must assume he rehearsed and knew what he wanted to say.

His speech writers had followed the formula used by presidents since Reagan, sprinkling his speech with introductions of guests in the hall. 

Kashana Cauley, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, writes what she saw behind Trump’s guest list.  ​​

President Trump made tokens of his minority guests, which underscored the point that he doesn’t quite consider nonwhite people to be on a par with white Americans. Corey Adams, a black welder, was brought out as cover for the tax cut his employers at Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, received under the Republicans’ tax plan.

Mr. Adams was in fact a reminder that working-class black people could reap minuscule benefits from tax cuts that will largely make the rich richer. But that’s not all: President Trump also needed to tell us that Mr. Adams was an “all-American worker” to assure his xenophobic base that Mr. Adams couldn’t possibly hail from somewhere else.

President Trump also introduced us to Celestino Martinez, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who led an operation on Long Island to track down gang members, including members of MS-13. Mr. Trump introduced Mr. Martinez right after saying, “Americans are dreamers, too,” to insult recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and illustrate that his American dream, instead of meaning the freedom to seek refuge on our shores and work toward a satisfying future, is based on arresting gang members. To make a Latino the face of ICE is a wink to Mr. Trump’s base. It also says that Latinos can be trusted to follow the Trump agenda and throw people who look like them out of the country if they need to.

The most egregious case of tokenism was that of Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, a couple whose daughter, Kayla Cuevas, was killed by MS-13 gang members on Long Island in 2016. Three days ago, Ms. Rodriguez said in an interview that she was happy to be invited to attend the State of the Union address but that her attendance wasn’t about immigration.

“I want him to ensure that we’re going to get the proper funding for the resources for our kids,” she said. “I’m not here for anyone’s political gain.” She added, “Everyone has the right to the American dream, and that should be there for them.”

President Trump ignored Ms. Rodriguez’s wishes. He pointed the couple out, claimed that bad immigration policy allowed the members of MS-13 who killed their daughter to come into the country and asked Congress to close “deadly” immigration loopholes that he blamed for her death. He used Ms. Rodriguez’s pain to call for policies that she opposes.

Kashana Curley opened her essay with what President Trump had told reporters would be the theme of his speech: American unity.

Before his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump invited news correspondents to the White House, where he told them, “I would like to see the country united.” But hours later, he gave a speech meant to rally only part of the country.

He complimented coal and welding in a love letter to the white working classes of Appalachia and the Midwest. By admonishing people who don’t stand for the national anthem, he reminded us that as president, he has picked fights with black NFL players protesting police brutality. He repeatedly disparaged nonwhite people during his speech.

Instead of unifying the country, President Trump made it clear, yet again, that he supports only white Americans — to hell with everyone else. ​

After listing “token” minorities that were on President Trump’s guest list, Curley concluded:

President Trump’s message is clear: Acceptable minorities work as ICE agents, help their employers take advantage of tax breaks and serve as visible reminders that people are killed by immigrants and foreigners.

This fatalist, white nationalist view of the world is a reminder that if Tuesday night was about unity, Mr. Trump cares to unite only white Americans.

Harsh words, but appropriate to the occasion. It also important to remember that the cheers and applause for the President’s speech came from congressional members of his party.

What exactly does that tell us about the state of our union?

Posted in Donald Trump | 3 Comments

Trump’s Racism “is a tragedy in a man and a disaster in a president

by James M, Wall

Say this about President Trump: His unfettered outbursts of vulgarity show no signs of being planned. They just erupt from the man as a revelation of who he is.

In the film, The Best Man, Henry Fonda’s character, Senator William Russell, says to Joe Cantwell, a presidential candidate who exists in his own bubble, “you have no sense of responsibility toward anybody or anything. And that is a tragedy in a man, and it is a disaster in a president.”

We know we are living with a disaster, when President Trump, sitting in a White House conference immigration meeting Thursday, described immigrants from Haiti and Africa, as residents coming from “s—hole” countries.

In response, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt puts it bluntly:

No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people. And that makes him a racist. 

There is nothing subtle about President Trump. In his narcissistic existence, he occupies a personal bubble where men dominate women and people of color are shoved aside into other bubbles of white-imposed inferiority.

Inside our president’s bubble nothing matters but Donald J. Trump.

This is not new to our politics, both fictional and real, but the inherent danger of such a bubble has reached a peak in our current White House.

The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, described Trump’s description of Haiti and Africa as “vulgar”.

The term vulgar is correct. It is also revelatory. Its use by a President in a meeting about legislation, gives this nation and the world nothing less than a portal into the emotional darkness and stunted intellectual development of the man this nation chose as its 45th president.

This man is blind to his own flawed personality. Did he not know, or did he not care, that he was exposing his own racial hatred mindset just days before Monday, January 15, when the nation he was elected to lead, will honor Martin Luther King, Jr., on what would have been King’s 89th birthday?

That day is now a federal holiday. Some background is in order if we are to grasp the meaning of January 15 for our present dark moment.

It is a day that evokes a past when hatred and racial bigotry locks people of color in a racial bondage a century after slavery was defeated in a bloody American Civil War.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated 50 years ago this coming April, for his leadership in the civil rights revolution that broke the back of racial segregation, a revolution that is still unable to root out the racial hatred that undermines our national character.

​T​he United States Congress ​established January 15 as a national holiday​ in 1983, in honor of ​the birthday of ​Dr. King​. The holiday is set on the third Monday of January, which this year marks what would have been his 89th birthday.

In light of the revolting Trump outburst, this year’s celebration demands an even more intense scrutiny of the mindset of a nation which continues to tolerate such an obvious negative bias towards people of color.

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS), is doing its part to remind us of the civil rights struggle that took the life of King. Scheduled, of course, before this week’s vulgar racist language from President Trump, the documentary set this week on PBS, should become a national teaching  moment.

PBS will air its opening American Masters production of 2018, Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, this coming Friday, January 19, at 9 p.m. CST. (Check local listings.)

This documentary will examine the life of Hansberry (right), whose 1959 drama, A Raisin in the Sun, was the first Broadway production written by an African-American woman.

The documentary will include video clips from the film version of A Raisin in the Sun, and will show Hansberry’s impact on the nation through both her writing and her political activism.

 African American writer Langston Hughes’ poem, ​”​Harlem​​, inspired Hansberry to write her drama.

The Hansberry PBS program and the easily available DVDs of the film, A Raisin in the Sun, should lead schools, churches and other organizations to engage in a discussion of racism and its destructive impact on our nation.

In an earlier Wall Writings posting, I discussed the film under the headline: “What happens to a dream deferred?”, 

The plot of the drama and the film, follow the family of Lena Younger (Claudia McNeil) is a mother who has raised a family in a crowded apartment on the South Side of Chicago.​ Her son Walter Lee (Sidney Poitier), works as a chauffeur​. He​ ​is ​intelligent and ambitious​,​ but​ also often impulsive and​ ​angry​.

When the film first opened in 1961, it was the beginning of the 1960s, when a younger generation demonstrated, and spoke out for racial justice, and called for an end to the war in Viet Nam.

Hughes’ poem, ​”​Harlem​”​,​ describes in a prophetic​ fervor​​ a key question of the time, asking,​​ “what happens to a dream deferred?​”​​ Hughes’ poetic answer:​ “​Does it dry u​p​ like a raisin in the sun?​—​ Or fester like a sore— And then run?​–​- Does it stink like rotten meat?​–​- Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet​.–​- Maybe it just sags​— ​like a heavy load.​—​ Or does it explode?​”​

The original drama, the film, and Hughes’ poem, remain even more relevant in a time when an incumbent American President is a man who speaks and acts in a racist, impulsive manner. 

We still dream of a nation where the evil of racism no longer “stinks like rotten meat”, but dries up “like a raisin in the sun”.

It has been 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. It has been 89 years since he was born. The words and actions of African American leaders and artists like Dr. King, Lorraine Hansberry and Langston Hughes, remain with us, inspiring us and calling us to action of our own. 

We must not allow a leader like President Trump, with his cabinet, staff and congressional enablers, stop us from necessary action. 

Posted in -Movies and politics, Donald Trump, Religion and politics, USA | 6 Comments

The Slap That Should Be “Heard Round the World”

by James M. Wall

A slap is a physical act not meant to wound, maim nor kill.  It is rather, an act born of frustration, of indignation and a stinging rebuke for unwanted action.

Ahed Tamimi is a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who lives in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh where villagers have resisted the Israeli occupation.

The Israeli occupying army functions as the military defenders of Jewish settlers in the nearby Jewish village of Halamish. This is a settler village whose residents steal the Nabi Saleh villagers’ water, and illegally confiscate their farm land to expand the settlement. 

I was introduced to the area in 1977 when Palestinian leaders encouraged a group of foreign journalists with whom I was traveling, to visit an abandoned “Tegart Fort,” one of a series of military installations placed on strategic hills, first by the British during the Mandate period and later used as police outposts by Jordan.

The Tegart fort above the village of Nabi Saleh had been empty until Israeli Prime Minister Begin authorized six outposts of Gush Emunim Orthodox Jewish families to move into occupied Palestinian land. 

Gush Emunim translates from Hebrew to English as “bloc of the faithful”. 

The fort overlooking Nabi Saleh later became the Jewish Orthodox settlement of Halamish. It was the most recent of the six outposts authorized by Prime Minister Begin. So we decided to drive north to visit with the Gush Emunim Jewish settlers living comfortably and secure on a hill above the village of Nabi Saleh. 

What we saw was that the IDF had established a tented military outpost within sight of the fort to “protect” the settlers. The obvious plan was for the families to be joined by other Jewish families in a future Jewish settlement (Halamish). 

I discussed this 1977 visit to the future Halamish in a posting for Wall Writings on April 3, 2010, which I called Nabi Saleh Has Endured Land Confiscation Since 1977″.

In one of the rooms I found an entire family recently arrived from Chicago. The mother had been born in Israel and then moved to Chicago. Now she was back, this time in the West Bank, land she believed was given by God to the Jewish people.

On that day in 1977 when we went to the Tegart Fort, we saw Jewish settlers occupying Palestine land by living in an abandoned Jordanian police post. We also saw the IDF standing guard.

It was on that day that we saw a carefully planned future for Israel’s invading settlers living under Israeli army protection. That isolated outpost appeared harmless enough to us in 1977. 

Now, flash forward to this new year of 2018. The IDF continues with its “protection” of Jewish settlements which are anything but “harmless”. The settlements are an established movement through which Israel plans to totally control Palestine.

What a small group of foreign journalists failed to grasp in 1977, was a dark future which Palestinians suspected and feared. 

Israel maintains tight control over the land that Orthodox Jewish mother told me was God’s gift to her family. When Palestinians resist using a religious document as a set of land deeds, they are targeted by the IDF. 

Nabi Saleh is one of the IDF’s prime targets because its weekly protest marches attract unwanted foreign media and political attention to Israeli crimes against Palestinian citizens.

Nabi Saleh is a long-established Palestinian farming village in existence since before the Ottoman era. It is 20 kilometers northwest of Ramallah, the current national Palestinian capital. 

Ahed Tamimi’s father, Bassem al-Tamimi, and her mother, Nariman Tamimi, are leaders in the Nabi Saleh weekly public acts of resistance. They are under constant surveillance and are frequently arrested. 

In the youtube video below, filmed in 2015, their daughter Ahed, was 14 and already a fierce resister.

It is a short video. It should be viewed and studied as a testimony to the courage of a family refusing to yield to the crime of occupation and a teen-ager who wants to someday become a lawyer who can help her people. Click and view. 

In the final week of 2017, two years after the release of this video, Ahed Tamimi has been arrested by the IDF in a standard Israeli procedure which demonstrates to those who will see and act, just how vicious the IDF can be.

Ahed’s West Bank home in Nabi Saleh was entered by a squad of IDF soldiers who broke into the house at four a.m. on Christmas morning.  They took her out of her bed, handcuffed her, and pushed her into a waiting paddy wagon which took her away to an Israeli prison.

Her “crime”? Two days earlier, two soldiers entered her yard. She and another girl resisted their presence on her private property and pushed them out. In the encounter, Ahed Tamimi slapped one of the soldiers.

The soldiers were not aggressive, knowing they were being filmed by Palestinians. They knew they would be back under the cover of darkness to arrest a 16-year-old girl.

When U.S. Army General George Patton slapped a soldier lying in a hospital bed in the closing days of World War II, he was expressing disdain for what he saw as cowardice. . The army made him offer a public apology directly to the soldier.

Early Monday morning, December 25, Ahed Tamimi was arrested for her slap.

Richard Silverstein, the American Jewish Tikun Olam blogger based in Seattle, describes what followed the arrest:

The girl’s mother followed her to the police station to protect her daughter. Instead, she herself was arrested. That morning, the police dragged Ahed to court where they demanded the judge extend her imprisonment.

Two days later, an Israeli military court extended her incarceration. She is being held without charge, without a lawyer and forbidden contact with her parents.

Silverstein further reports,

Bassem al-Tamimi, Ahed’s father, came to court in order to support his daughter. He then was also arrested. This is the way a regime of bullies and Mafiosi rule. They brook no opposition. If you resist, you will be made an example of so that other Palestinians don’t get any “big ideas” into their heads to join the resistance.

As 2018 begins, Ahed remains in one of the three different jails in which she has been incarcerated. 

Ahed’s slap should be “heard around the world”. It should be viewed as an act of resistance by a 16-year-old.

The world’s media, most especially the U.S. media, is so blind to any thing other than the Israeli narrative. that it refuses to see that Ahed’s slap evokes Ralph Waldo Emerson’s hymn Concord, which begins with words which celebrate an act of defiance by a shot against oppression.

In Ahed’s case, it is not a shot, but a slap. Concord begins:

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Those words are inscribed at the base of The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French, which stands at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. (see above).

The Minute Men of our American Revolution began a fight for freedom as a ragtag farmer’s army. Ahed Tamimi is fighting, in her own way, against the brutality and unjust oppressive Israel occupation. 

An UPDATE from Palestine:

Samia Khoury sends a video link (below) of a song and film honoring Ahed Tamimi. A translation of the words into English may be accessed by scrolling down through the comments below:

 Samia writes: “As a very sad year filled with a lot of suffering comes to an end, I
would like to wish you all a new year filled with hope and peace.
Here is a clip of a song in honor of Ahed Tamimi who needs all the
support as Israel is trying to use her as a lesson for all those who
dare challenge the occupation.” Samia

The 2015 video of a 14-year-old Ahed Tamimi, is from You Tube. The Minute Man stature is from Wikipedia. The video of the song honoring Ahed Tamimi at bottom is from You Tube. The translation of the original Arabic is provided in the comments  below by Samia Khoury. and Cedar Duaybis.

Posted in Israel, Palestinians | 14 Comments

That UN Vote: “How are the mighty fallen”

by James M. Wall

For those keeping score on the Trump Administration versus the United Nations, the final vote on the Status of Jerusalem resolution is recorded above.

The official count was 128 to 9 against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and his pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Thirty-five nations abstained, and 21 countries did not cast a vote. The eight countries voting with the United States were Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

On Thursday, the day of the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was busy dedicating a hospital in the coastal city of Ashdod. He responded to the UN vote pretty much the way former Judge Roy Moore responded to his recent defeat in Alabama’s election for a U.S. Senate seat. He rejected it.

Prior to the vote which rejected the U.S. President’s “gift” of Jerusalem to Israel, the U.S. Representative to the UN, Nikki Haley (below), warned nations that votes against the U.S. would be remembered. She added, “We will take names,” sounding more like a Mafia Don than a diplomat..

The New York Times reported that Riad Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, had a more civil response:

“History records names, it remembers names — the names of those who stand by what is right and the names of those who speak falsehood. Today we are seekers of rights and peace.”

He added that the Palestinians “will not be threatened,” and that the United States had insisted on “ignoring the dangerous repercussions of its decision.”

Ha’aretz reported on Netanyahu’s reaction to the vote:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution,” responding minutes after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

In a major diplomatic blow to Israel and Trump, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution rejecting the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with 128 member states voting in favor of the resolution and a mere nine voting against it.

“Jerusalem is our capital, always was and always will be. But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd,” Netanyahu charged in a live Facebook video.

The Times also notes that the UN vote “deepened Mr. Trump’s isolation over the issue”. It also “threatened to alienate Arab allies of the United States and may have further complicated prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

As for the impact of the vote on the U.S., the Times concludes: “The overwhelming rejection of the American shift of position on Jerusalem, on the world’s biggest diplomatic stage, was a setback for a president who is still looking for a major foreign achievement after nearly a year on the job.

If you are wondering where to find Ashdod and its newly dedicated hospital on an Israeli map, Ashdod is located 13.6 miles north of Ashkelon along Route 4.

Readers familiar with 2 Samuel 1:19-20, will recall Ashkelon as one of two cities cited by David on the day he learned of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan:

The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

“How are the mighty fallen!” is a statement that ranges far beyond Gath and Ashkelon. And it is repeated throughout the centuries as empires stumble and fall.

The UN General Assembly resolution states the world’s overwhelming opinion on the future of Jerusalem, a city sacred to three major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. 

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of the U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace, summed up the significance of the UN resolution:

Despite threats from the Trump administration, the UN General Assembly vote today showed once again that the U.S. and Israel are increasingly isolated from the global consensus regarding Israel’s appalling disregard for Palestinian rights.

She concluded: “We commend those countries that stood up to U.S. pressure, which could not obscure the urgency of speaking out against the recklessness and injustice of declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.”  

Winning is one of Donald Trump’s favorite words. By a vote of 128 to 9, this week he was not a winner. He was a loser at home and on the world stage. So, sad to say, was the nation that elected him President. 

The recorded vote tabulation at top is a screen shot. To enlarge it, click on the photo once. The picture of Ambassador Haley is a UN photo.

Posted in Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestinians, Religion and politics, Uncategorized, United Nations | 6 Comments

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 | 10 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.


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