For whom the Bells of Bethlehem toll

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Mohamed Khodr’s Column

As Israel launches its most massive military onslaught against the occupied Palestinians the impotence and silence of the entire world to the spilling of Christian and Muslim blood confirms the post-Holocaust fact that an Eleventh Commandment,  “Thou Shall Not Criticize the Children of Israel”, has dominated the conscience of humanity.   No more evidence of this enshrinement and silence than is the shameful guilt ridden reaction of Christians worldwide who despite watching the horror of American funded Israeli tanks and machine guns attacking the holy sanctuary of Jesus’ birth, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, can only anguish and cry in private.   Blood from Palestinian Christians and Muslims was flowing inside the church as a testament of Israeli Jewish anger, zealotry, arrogance, disrespect for shrines and humans, and perhaps revenge against Christians for 2000 years of persecution and murder.   The Israeli army was on a search and destroy mission with the cold callousness Jews experienced in Nazi Germany.  They neither differentiated between priests or imams, between churches or mosques they destroyed, between ambulances and army vehicles, between civilians and armed men, between children or adults, between killing humans or allowing the wounded to bleed to death forbidding even the simplest human mercy of allowing an ambulance or doctor to save them, nor allowing for the human dignity of last rites and a decent burial.  The wounded died where they were shot remaining for days inside family homes or homes of strangers while young children watched in horror.    Not even during World War II were ambulances or medical help ever denied, not even by the Nazis or Fascists.   Reminiscent of the Holocaust the wounded Palestinian civilians had to be buried in mass graves. 

Such is the Israeli nation, born of the violence of the Holocaust, born of the violence of terrorism against the British, Palestinians, and even Jews, born of American support with hundreds of billions of dollars, military weapons, and embarrassing vetoes in the United Nations, the very institution that founded Israel but now shunned by its bastard child as an Anti-Semitic organization.    Such is America’s “strategic ally, only democracy, that shares America’s values”.  If my nation, God forbid, shares anything with the most terroristic nation on earth that has lived by the bomb and unleashed its military against several Arab nations and civilians, than my country must be a “terroristic” nation as well.  Thankfully, I know and love my country of America and know first hand that it’s people are indeed the most generous, caring, and giving people on earth.  I should know.  I am in this great land because of the love, nurturing, and support of many, many Americans who bestowed upon me unconditional love throughout my life since the age of six.

Yet, there is a truth about our people that historically has and always will be, unless changed, been a national disgrace.   We Americans are self centered around the “me life”, separated by two vast oceans, detached from our next door neighbor much less foreign lands, and tragically uninformed about the world and thus wholly dependent and easily swayed by the media that fills our thoughts and hearts with images and words deliberately woven to sway our opinions and open our wallets.   The American paradox is that although we despise the media, we believe its information on subjects we’re keenly ignorant of, we easily trust “experts” and think tanks, we are mindful of people with degrees who speak with confidence, and we easily forget and forgive, while our disgraceful educational system is designed for the “job du jour”, an education of superficial information not designed to develop independent thought, keen analysis, curiosity and research for truth, knowledge of world history, culture, or religions, or instill in our youth a deep sense of morality, ethics, respect for all humanity, humility, patience, and an abiding sense of “first do no harm”.    Respect for teachers, elders, authority, and studious hard work has been lost.  Avoid the “nerd” and act dumb is the acceptable social behavior.   

America the Beautiful has become America the Beautiful Teflon mind, a nation without a conscience, without a purpose, and without a vision for itself or humanity.  

So why is this dangerous to ourselves, the world, and our national interest?

Simply put, our national intellectual vacuum regarding world events and our foreign policy makes us susceptible to the “media wizards” who become our national surrogate educators fostering their corporate greed while supporting their political agendas.  The fact that six media conglomerates control over 80% of all our news outlets, including the publication of school textbooks, allows for rich, powerful special interests to dominate our political agendas and opinions “du jour”.  Is it possible that such media power can even take our nation to war?  Perhaps, as is the current case with the call to attack Iraq. 

Our obsession with national polls that drive much of our domestic and international policies are the most dangerous form of conducting politics since they simply reflect the regurgitation of the media opinions and agenda just spoon fed us prior to taking the polls.    Most Americans couldn’t identify Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, or Rwanda on the map much less have a thoughtful opinion on the subject, but, after our media saturates our conscience with “expert” opinions and reports, a poll is immediately taken and our responses are the inculcated knee jerk responses we were just fed.   Is that why polls are done immediately after an event not giving us time to even digest what we heard or read?  What do you think?

Case in point:  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

For the past 25 years I’ve spoken on this conflict to many warm, kind, and welcoming American audiences who don’t have the foggiest idea of the history, background, or context of the conflict.  Yet everyone of them from New York to Louisiana to Washington State regurgitate the same five or six “sound bytes” about Israel and the Palestinians they’ve heard on the media.   These are the same clichés you find in every letter to the editor, every editorial, every punditry column, and every news talk show with the “experts” who just happen to be Jewish, Israeli, or Pro-Israeli Christians.

Given that our politicians are elected by pandering to money, the media, focus groups, and national polls; is it any wonder that our Congress and President always support Israel whether it kills Americans, such as in attacking the USS Liberty in 1967 killing 34 Americans and wounding 171, or spying on us, stealing our industrial and military secrets, selling our advanced technology for a buck to our enemies, support Anti-America Governments in Latin America or the Apartheid white South African regime?   Out of sheer fear and intimidation our government is left with covering up Israeli’s atrocities, paying for its invasions and withdrawals, paying for the illegal Jewish squatters who confiscate land from innocent Palestinian farmers adding to more violence and refugees, and covering its spying and domestic terrorism in America such as that conducted by the terrorist organization the Jewish Defense League that seems to escape John Ashcroft’s attention or his freezing of its assets. 

Thus our nation, America, the world’s most powerful nation that can move the world to war and peace is itself pushed around by the “little nation that could”–Israel.   Ask any American why we’re supporting Israel and they freeze, although in private whispers they do say they don’t like Israel or the immense power Jews have over our government and media.   But guilt, fear, and apathy prevents Americans from the courage to reclaim our government, our nation, and our manifest destiny as a beacon of hope and democracy to the world, not as the doormat supporter of the real rogue state, Israel. 

Thus President Bush supports the murderer Sharon, condemned by the entire world except us, in his madness to kill and destroy the Palestinian authority, its police, its infrastructure, its hospitals, roads, schools (even a school for blind children was attacked), its orphanages, its elderly homes, its mosques, churches, its roads, its ambulances, its electrical and water supplies (85% of all the Palestinian water already has been diverted to Jewish Settlers to water their lawns), its media, its single runway airport and seaport, not allowing any food, water or medicine to 3 million civilians, while shooting any journalist who dares show the annihilation of Palestine to the world thus ensuring a silent pictureless death of the Holy Land.

Apparently Bush had agreed to give Sharon two weeks to complete his “business” and rage and to finally kill Arafat.   Therefore Bush on April 4 announced he’s sending Powell to the region and asked Israel “to begin” withdrawing from re-occupied Palestinian territories without setting a timetable.  Given that Powell won’t go to Israel for another week, Sharon is under pressure to “wrap things up” with Arafat and his genocide of the Palestinians.

No nation but Israel can tell the United States of America to go to hell while demanding our billions of tax dollars.  No nation can tell our envoy, General Anthony Zinni, to stay put in the hotel and be “quiet” and refuse to allow him to meet Arafat (today Sharon relented but he can change his mind).  No nation can tell our President “NO” we won’t do what you “ask” and allow Arafat to go to Beirut for the Arab Summit.  No nation can tell the European Union officials “NO” you can’t meet with Arafat and send them home.

NO nation can stick it to the world like Israel while the world “begs, pleads, asks, implores” for a lessening of the daily murder toll.  NO nation can so cleverly manipulate media “words” so that the victim is to blame for being alive in front of a sniper scope.  NO nation can so blatantly violate American laws by using our weapons against civilians and yet have the body that passed such law, our Congress, come out in support of Israel right or wrong.   It’s as if Israel is the Nazi regime and we’re the German people blindly following a madman to a new potential world holocaust between the West and the Muslim world as predicted by Samuel Huntington, a Jewish American, in his “Clash of Civilizations”.

Finally, to my American Christian brothers and sisters I ask:   What must Israel do before you get angry enough, get active enough, or care enough to let our government know that we DEMAND a final peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on what our Government, the Arab League, in fact the world has demanded since 1967:  ISRAEL WITHDRAWS FROM ALL OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY AND EAST JERUSALEM CAPTURED BY ITS PREEMPTIVE WAR IN RETURN FOR A TOTAL COMPREHENSIVE NORMALIZED PEACE WITH ALL THE ARAB AND MUSLIM WORLD.  Do we Americans have the will and courage to fight for peace for us, Israel, the Arabs, and the world with the same vigor and passion we fight for our taxes, properties, sport teams and pets?

For America’s Christians, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is being attacked yet you are silent.   Is Jesus dead in your hearts as well?

Today a Palestinian Christian knowing the risk he’s taking risked his life to climb the steeple and “ring” the bells of the Nativity Church to plead to the world, especially the Christian world for help and assistance for the dead and wounded inside the church.    He defied all danger to proclaim a message from the birthplace of Christ.

Israeli soldiers shot him dead, silencing the bells of the holiest Christian church.

It seems with the death of this Christian bell ringer Israel silenced the voice of the entire Christian world.  For whom the Nativity Bell Tolls, it Tolls for thee, oh follower of Christ.  I ask the God of Abraham that He awakens our hearts, minds, conscience and voices that we proclaim peace and mercy for all Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Holy Land.

Blessed are the Peace Makers.

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