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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

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Home arrow Blog arrow July 2007 arrow July 31, 2007

July 31, 2007

July 31, 2007

"There is a very clear and powerful connection between how much time you serve in the territories and how F#%@&D in the head you get." -Former Israeli Soldier

[East Jerusalem, Occupied Territory, 27 July 2007] On the last day of my fifth trip to Israel Palestine, a religious Jew and former Infantry Lieutenant in the Israeli Defense Force/IDF who served six years in the occupied territories of Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jenin and the Gaza Strip addressed over forty youth and a few committed middle aged and elderly supporters attending Sabeel's http://sabeel.org 2nd International Conference: 40 Years in the Wilderness...40 Years of Occupation...

Mikhael Manekin, discharged from the IDF in 2002 is now the Foreign Relations Manager of Breaking the Silence www.breakingthesilence.org.il  which documents former IDF soldiers testimonies about the occupation and oppression of Palestinians, "I am a practicing Jew and in two weeks we go into the month of repentance; which requires acknowledging our sins. We cannot change things until we acknowledge our culpability.

"The problem is government policy that is implemented by young soldiers and whenever religion is involved, we will have fundamentalism. The Israeli peace and justice activists are less than 1% of Israeli society and anybody who is an activist is an optimist. You cannot do anything if you do not believe you can do something to change the situation. We have to remind ourselves that we are the minority; [it appears that] we are loosing, but we remind ourselves we are right!

"Everybody in Israel knows somebody who has served in the occupied territories. The situation in 2007 is worse than 2006 and it looks worse for 2008, but more and more activists-like Anarchists Against the Wall and Tayoush are actively working with Palestinians against the occupation, they are not afraid to travel in the occupied territories and are learning Arabic. Two, three years ago you wouldn't have heard anything; but now every week Israelis are getting arrested for fighting the occupation.

"A few years ago, the soldiers you have encountered at the checkpoints would have been me. Soldiers like myself who served during the second intifada, got our education on the job. You all have visited more places [the past nine days] than most Israelis ever have. Israeli's have no idea what is happening in the occupied territories. But, so far in 2007 we have given more Israeli's a tour through Hebron than we did in 2005 and 2006 combined. Hebron is a ghost town, the settlers are unbearable and every soldier who is stationed there understands the 600 settlers there are psychotic; insane. 

"I became very opinionated while in the army, but I kept it all to myself. Nobody talks about it in the army and I was the commander and did not know until after I got out that one of the other soldiers in my unit was feeling the same way, until he gave his testimony. Israeli society wants you to believe you are a bad apple for speaking out because unless you trust the system, it will fall apart. Most Israelis who get out of the army leave the country and are probably all drugged out. They suffer post traumatic syndrome but we are the victimizers. My age group is getting the hell out of here or walling themselves off from society and are not involved in anything.

"Over 450 former soldiers have now given their testimonies and we don't publish any stories without the corroboration coming from another former soldier and the testimonies are kept anonymous.

"You have to understand you must preach to your own people; we want to shake up the comfortable people who may agree with us in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but are not activists yet."


 What Breaking the Silence does is break down this barrier of denial and they began with stories from Hebron, the most painful place I have ever been and one time through Hebron will last me my lifetime...

In June 2005, my guide was Jerry Levin, full-time volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who had once been CNN's Middle East bureau chief in the 1980's. Jerry was a secular Jew married to Sis, a Christian, and since his miraculous escape from captivity he and Sis have dedicated their lives to the Palestinian cause for human rights.


Jerry was captured and held hostage in Lebanon by the Hezbollah for nearly a year, and experienced a mystical Christmas Eve, and was never the same. Jerry is lightly built and sprouts bilateral hearing aids and he told me, "Every time I get ready to return to Palestine, everyone asks me, 'Aren't you afraid?' I reply, Of what, the Palestinians? No way! But when it comes to the Israelis soldiers, you bet I am!"


Hebron is where a few hundred Israeli settlers/colonists/squatters have disposed the indigenous Palestinians and are surrounded by three thousand IDF. The eighteen- to twenty-one-year-old soldiers patrol the streets with their weapons at the ready and turned Jerry and I away at the first checkpoint we came to. Jerry smiled as he told me, "Most of the soldiers don't like the CPTs. Whenever they won't let us through, we just go another way, and always, eventually, get where we want to go."

The narrow, winding stone streets of Hebron are centuries old, but in the 21st century, one side is Palestinian and the other Israeli, but their only connection to the other is a thick, deeply sagging netting strung above ones head that catches the huge rocks, shovels, electronic equipment, furniture, and all manner of debris that have been flung onto it by the settlers/colonists/squatters.

I asked Jerry if it ever gave way and hit Palestinians on the head and he responded, "That's the intention, but it gets cleaned out about every year or so. Come back in a few months, and this netting will be much closer to your head. The settlers just throw whatever they want onto the netting; they do what ever they want and get away with it. The CPT's run interference by nonviolent resistance; we get the children and woman to where they need to be going and back again. Sometimes, the settlers curse and stone us all; it keeps it interesting."

Jerry pointed out all the formerly Palestinian homes that the settlers have painted graffiti, such as "GAS THE ARABS" and Stars of David upon.  The oppression affected me viscerally and I was nauseous all day and threw up all that night. I felt as if I had entered into every movie set and photograph of the Jewish ghettos before the Holocaust.

Ever since my first journey to Israel Palestine in June 2005, I have tried to break the silence about the undemocratic state of Israel -and my governments aiding and abetting of it-on the world wide web.


My target audience has always been the mis-and uninformed and apathetic Christians, for as Mikkael said, we must preach to our own, even when our own will not listen.

The former Israeli soldiers in solidarity with Breaking the Silence who are trying to wake up their fellow citizens wrote:

"Since our discharge from the army, we all feel that we have become different. We feel that service in the occupied territories and the incidents we faced have distorted and harmed the moral values on which we grew up.


"We all agree that as long as Israeli society keeps sending its best people to military combat service in the occupied territories, it is extremely important that all of us, Israeli citizens, know the price which the generation who is fighting in the territories is paying, the impossible situations it is facing, the insanity it is confronting everyday, and the heavy burden it bears after being discharged from the IDF, a heavy burden that hasn't left us.

"That's why we decided to break the silence, because it's time to tell. Time to tell about everything that goes on there each and every day.

"We all served in the territories. Some served in Gaza, some in Hebron, some in Bethlehem and the rest served in other places. We all manned checkpoints, participated in patrols and arrests and took part in the war against terror. We all realized that the daily struggle against terror and the daily interaction with the civilian population has left us helpless. Our sense of justice was distorted, and so were our morality and emotions.

"The reality we experienced was made of: Innocent civilians being hurt, Kids not going to school because of the curfew, and parents who can't bring food home because they can't go to work.


"This reality has stayed us and will not go away. After discharge from the army, we decided that we shouldn't go on. We shouldn't forget what we ourselves did and what we witnessed. We decided to break the silence."


One of those who has testified also said, "There is a very clear and powerful connection between how much time you serve in the territories and how fucked in the head you get."

http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/about_e.asp


LEARN MORE:

http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/evidence_interview_e.asp



PREACHING To Your Own:

July 30, 2007


Churches for Middle East Peace thanks the 34 Christian evangelical leaders who have written President Bush offering support for his efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and to correct the view that evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution. The letter, dated July 27, is included below.  It was reported in the New York Times on Sunday, July 30.

CMEP's June 2007 newsletter, "Christian Advocates Compete for Ear, and Heart, of Policymakers," explained the Christian Zionist approach of Christians United for Israel and provided background information on evangelical support for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, including the efforts of Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action who lead the letter-to-the-President initiative.

Corinne Whitlatch, CMEP's director, called Ron Sider this morning with appreciation for this important evidence of public support among evangelicals for a fair solution to the conflict and with suggestions for bringing their letter to the attention of members of Congress and other key people in the Administration.

In January of this year, a number of these evangelicals joined Orthodox, Catholic and mainline Protestant church leaders in a letter organized by CMEP urging President Bush to make Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking an urgent priority. 

 
 
 
Full Text and Signers of Evangelical Leaders' Letter to President Bush

July 27, 2007
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:


We write as evangelical Christian leaders in the United States to thank you for your efforts (including the major address on July 16) to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a lasting peace in the region. We affirm your clear call for a two- state solution. We urge that your administration not grow weary in the time it has left in office to utilize the vast influence of America to demonstrate creative, consistent and determined U.S. leadership to create a new future for Israelis and Palestinians.  We pray to that end, Mr. President.

We also write to correct a serious misperception among some people including some U.S. policymakers that all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. Nothing could be further from the truth.  We, who sign this letter, represent large numbers of evangelicals throughout the U.S. who support justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope this support will embolden you and your administration to proceed confidently and forthrightly in negotiations with both sides in the region.

As evangelical Christians, we embrace the biblical promise to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you." (Genesis 12:3). And precisely as evangelical Christians committed to the full teaching of the Scriptures, we know that blessing and loving people (including Jews and the present State of Israel) does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted.  Genuine love and genuine blessing means acting in ways that promote the genuine and long-term well being of our neighbors. Perhaps the best way we can bless Israel is to encourage her to remember, as she deals with her neighbor Palestinians, the profound teaching on justice that the Hebrew prophets proclaimed so forcefully as an inestimably precious gift to the whole world.

Historical honesty compels us to recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other. The only way to bring the tragic cycle of violence to an end is for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a just, lasting agreement that guarantees both sides viable, independent, secure states. To achieve that goal, both sides must give up some of their competing, incompatible claims. Israelis and Palestinians must both accept each other's right to exist. And to achieve that goal, the U.S. must provide robust leadership within the Quartet to reconstitute the Middle East roadmap, whose full implementation would guarantee the security of the State of Israel and the viability of a Palestinian State.

We affirm the new role of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and pray that the conference you plan for this fall will be a success.

Mr. President, we renew our prayers and support for your leadership to help bring peace to Jerusalem, and justice and peace for all the people in the Holy Land.

Finally, we would request to meet with you to personally convey our support and discuss other ways in which we may help your administration on this crucial issue.

Sincerely,

Ronald J. Sider, President
Evangelicals for Social Action

Don Argue, President
Northwest University

Raymond J. Bakke, Chancellor
Bakke Graduate University

Gary M. Benedict, President
The Christian & Missionary Alliance

George K. Brushaber, President
Bethel University

Gary M. Burge, Professor
Wheaton College & Graduate School

Tony Campolo, President/Founder
Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education

Christopher J. Doyle, CEO
American Leprosy Mission

Leighton Ford, President
Leighton Ford Ministries

Daniel Grothe, Pastoral Staff
New Life Church (Colorado Springs)

Vernon Grounds, Chancellor
Denver Seminary

Stephen Hayner, former President
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor
Northland Church
Member, Executive Committee of the NAE

Jo Anne Lyon, Founder/CEO
World Hope International

Gordon MacDonald, Chair of the Board
World Relief                           

Albert G. Miller, Professor
Oberlin College

Richard Mouw, President
Fuller Theological Seminary

David Neff, Editor
Christianity Today

Glenn R. Palmberg, President
Evangelical Covenant Church

Earl Palmer, Senior Pastor
University Presbyterian Church Seattle

Victor D. Pentz, Pastor
Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Atlanta

John Perkins, President
John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development

Bob Roberts, Jr., Senior Pastor
Northwood Church, Dallas

Leonard Rogers, Executive Director
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding

Andrew Ryskamp, Executive Director
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

Chris Seiple, President
Institute for Global Engagement

Robert A. Seiple, Former Ambassador-at-Large,
International Religious Freedom
U.S. State Department

Luci N. Shaw, Author, Lecturer
Regent College, Vancouver

Jim Skillen, Executive Director
Center for Public Justice

Glen Harold Stassen, Professor
Fuller Theological Seminary

Richard Stearns, President
World Vision

Clyde D. Taylor, Former Chair of the Board
World Relief

Harold Vogelaar, Director
Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice

Berten Waggoner, National Director
Vineyard USA



 



   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
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If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
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The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
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The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
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People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
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Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
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