A Nation of Fences (05.23.08)

I have heard several Israeli residents complain of the unwanted attention their nation receives from the U.S. media.  The most hated countries in the world, they realize, are the ones to which America pays the most attention: Iran and their own.  They want sovereignty and independence–they want to be left alone–but they seem fairly disinterested in learning the means toward that end. 

They are more than willing to accept U.S. aid.  It is unreasonable to accept the aid without expecting the attention.  With regard to Israel, the U.S. acts as a parent holding a child’s allowance.  Certainly the parent chooses its expenditures on a whim, but when it betroths a portion of its revenues to its begotten, the parent becomes overly concerned with how the child appropriates those funds, and the child reacts as children do, ill-tempered and irrational, and unable to realize its own potential to raise revenues.

Economic independence and national sovereignty are inseparable–one follows the other as obediently as night follows day–and until Israel votes for the former, it should expect the latter will never exist.  Both, moreover, are essential for any country that wishes to be free, which appears may not be one of Israel’s goals.  Based upon every conversation of policy I have had in this country, I can only conclude at this time that the collective political tide of Israel disdains true freedom, and seeks only to be Jewish and secure–two words with varying definitions from Israeli to Israeli.  In simpler terms, the nation of Israel can say not what it hopes to be, or for which principles it stands; everything is correct as long as it exists.

There is nothing free about a fence.  I have said before (and will probably say again) that a nation of five million free souls is far preferable to one of ten million living in servitude to an authority created by humans.

Our leader Yossi says, “All Israelis would like to see a time when the fences could be taken down, but for security, we need them now.  We pray for peace.” 

Peace, however, is less dependent on prayer than it is on tolerance and principle.  To the argument for “temporary” security measures, I refer to the philosophy of Ben Franklin, who wrote, “Those that would sacrifice essential liberty for a little temporary security, will have neither liberty nor security.”  Additionally, it is folly to believe that a free nation requires such an extensive military operation.  In its true form, freedom secures itself, because a constitutional republic that limits itself to the protection of rights, will find its enemies disappearing with remarkable rapidity.  Israel has no such government, and it appears to me an affront to the natural gifts God gave humankind.

I cannot believe that God simply despises certain humans, and wishes to see them suffer where others relax.  My heart and mind tell me that most of the misfortune in this country occurs on the other sides of these fences, and as it is the nature of compassion to associate with misfortune, I feel a Jewish association with the Palestinians.

But it would be unpardonably short-sighted for my compassion to expose only one side of the fence.  The only authorities more absurd than those of the Israelis are those of the surrounding Arab lands.  It would be wise for Muslims to reject their own various despotisms and learn the freedom intended clearly within the patchwork of our one human creator.

The struggles for power over other individuals by the fanatics on both sides of these fences, must inevitably end in a true revolution for liberty, and it must be done in partnership by people of all types, against the faulty powers that be–both Israeli and Arab.

“They are us. We are them.”

Rachel Corrie

“It is the nature of compassion to associate with misfortune.” – Thomas Paine

The true words of an American child–a human child: “they are us; we are them.”  It was the simple yet profound statement of Rachel Corrie during a speech she gave while in fifth grade in the State of Washington:

“I’m here for other children.  I’m here because I care.  I’m here because children everywhere are suffering, and because 40,000 people die each day from hunger.  I’m here because those people are mostly children.  We have got to understand that the poor are all around us, and we’re ignoring them.  We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.  We have got to understand that people in third world countries think, and care, and smile, and cry, just like us.  We have got to understand that they are us.  We are them.  My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.  My dream is to give the poor a chance.    My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.  My dream can and will come true, if we all look into the future, and see the light that shines there.”

Rachel died five years ago, when she was run over by a bulldozer in the Gaza strip.  She was 23 years old, and she was living her long-time dream, standing for the poorest people in the poorest regions of the world.  Her death was an unnecessary result of bad government, and her dream is still being processed. 

Nations want peace and prosperity.  Their governments do not.  No regular human wants another to suffer, and no government that creates human suffering should be allowed to persist.  How simple it is, “if we all look into the future, and see the light that shines there.” 

For a thousand who look into the future and see darkness, there is one who sees light.  Humankind would do well to listen to those ones.  As for compassion, Rachel Corrie was the term personified.

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