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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2011 arrow April 28, 2011: The Power of the Internet and Compassion

April 28, 2011: The Power of the Internet and Compassion
April 28, 2011: The Power of the Internet and Compassion





There are only two feelings. Love and Fear. There are only two activities. Love and Fear.

There are only two motives, two procedures, two frameworks, two results. Love and Fear. Love and Fear. Love and Fear.-Michael Leunig

 

 

Because of the Internet I have had the blessing to connect with a fearless author whose book was just reviewed by the fearless journalist Helen Thomas.



 

NEW BOOK REVIEW BY FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT HELEN THOMAS:

 

 

Hats off to Richard Forer who courageously and truthfully examines an alternate viewpoint in his book, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.




Available in paperback or as an ebook

 

Forer who grew up in a secular, unaffiliated Jewish home, is the identical twin of a prominent member of an ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, and was himself a member of AIPAC, America’s Pro-Israel lobby. He knew where his allegiances lay – anything Israel did was justifiable in his mind. During the summer of 2006, Forer visited the Middle East and underwent a profound spiritual transformation. He saw destroyed villages, displacement, land confiscation, imprisonment without trial, torture, and other inhuman treatment of the Palestinians, and knew he needed to share his truth.

 

So many Americans of Hebrew heritage cannot face the truth of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians in the land they conquered, and now occupy. Richard Forer emerged from the painful struggle and realization that he could have been wrong. The truth hurts. But it takes brave people who are willing to abandon long held beliefs that the Israelis could do no wrong. Somehow their victimhood justified their ruthless behavior toward the Palestinians.

 

The trouble is the Israeli military have taken their revenge out on those who are only defending their land and rights. Revenge has been inflicted on the helpless and the innocent.

 

The power of the Israeli government is one-sided because no American President has dared to speak out against their inhuman tyranny, except for former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. For this he has been demonized and called anti-Semitic by supporters of Israel.

 

Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, posted a book review of Carter’s book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” on the Anti-Defamation League website, shortly after it was published. In Forer’s book, he spends 41 pages meticulously discussing Foxman’s review of the book and says, “The review illustrates how unexamined fear and prejudice occlude natural intelligence. It also illustrates how insensitive to the suffering of others a man can become when faced with an issue that directly challenges his identity, even when that man has been an undeniable champion of human rights in other areas of his life.”

 

Forer isn’t afraid to speak out in his book. Forer recounts the story of 10 year old Palestinian Ahmed Musa who asked after drawing a picture of two flags, one Israeli the other Palestinian, “Why can’t we live together in peace?” His fellow students all cheered. “On July, 29, 2008, at a peaceful demonstration against the separation wall, Ahmed was playing with a camera. An Israeli border police officer shot him in the head. He died a few days later.”The Israelis did indict the officer for negligent manslaughter. But only a small fraction of violence toward Palestinians is ever investigated. The Israeli record of brutality is overwhelming.

 

The pro-Israeli Americans in our universities have made a joke of academic freedom. Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University was essentially denied tenure for his compassionate views of the suffering of the Palestinians.

 

Forer comments, “The condemnation of Israel is not a product of anti-Semitism. Rather, the behavior that elicited the condemnation fans the flames of anti-Semitism worldwide. ..Israel has been maintaining an illegal occupation, replete with land seizure, collective punishment and settler-instigated and military-enabled violence for over forty years. Yet, it continues to deny that it has violated international  humanitarian law. By persisting in ‘acts of madness’ Israel will alienate itself more and more from the global community.”

 

People need to be informed so we can make good decisions regarding our involvement in the Middle East, and ultimately support the right governments. Forer offers a viewpoint that is not available in the mainstream.

 

I personally have experienced the backlash of publically speak out against Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. The President of Wayne State University in Detroit took my name off of a scholarship fund because I denounced Israel’s brutality against Palestinians. The Society of Professional Journalists, headed by an Israeli-born President, has retired a lifetime achievement award given in my name, because of my pro-Palestinian views. The White House Correspondents Association “firmly dissociated itself’ from comments I made last May to a Rabbi at the White House – these were my opinions, I wasn’t asking anyone to endorse my statements. All of these organizations have bowed to pro-Israeli lobbyists such as Ari Fleischer, and Abe Foxman of the ADL, who have displayed incredible influence against our first amendment right to speak freely.

 

A rabbi who spoke at the Martin Luther King March on Washington in 1963 said that the greatest sin of all during the Nazi era was “silence”. He had been in a German concentration camp for years.

 

I admire Forer’s courage to not being silent. He openly shares his personal transformation, and encourages the reader to be willing to “assess one’s beliefs with honesty and to follow wherever the facts lead”.

 

For all of that, we are witnessing great courage in the Middle East and North Africa these days. The truth cannot be silenced.

 

 



On January 30, 2011, I wrote:

Education leads to Compassion, Compassion leads to Change: An Interview with Richard Forer and the Arab Awakening  




Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, was born in 1957 in Beit Sahour, a suburb of Bethlehem. He became a Professor of Genetics and taught at Yale University School of Medicine and Duke University. He is currently teaching at Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine and his main interests are media activism and public education, human rights and international law. In a 30 January 2011, email he wrote:

 

 

"Arabs everywhere (yes even here in occupied Palestine) are talking about a transformation and about revolution.  But all such transformations carry pain. Over 200 Egyptians were killed, thousands injured, and there is much destruction. Yet in a nation of 85 million people this is still a relatively peaceful transformation…I know most politicians like to feel 100% safe (mostly for their position of power) and are afraid of any change. But I wish they would realize that daring politicians make the history books and those who hang around trying to protect their seats will be forgotten. Cowardice is never a virtue…Clearly, the era of ignoring the masses is gone." 

 

 

 

Richard Forer, was born in New Jersey in 1948 and attended Sunday school at his reform synagogue from the ages of five through fourteen. In 2006, Forer zealously supported of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. At about the same time, he became a member of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S. When a Jewish friend challenged him on the ‘facts’ he used to justify his support for the invasion, he began an intensive study of the history of Israel Palestine. That led to a crisis of identity as he discovered that his attachment to the State of Israel had blinded him to the heart of Judaism and to the universal truth that lies beyond all labels and beliefs: there is no exclusive or separate self. We are all connected.

 

 

Regarding Islam, Richard said, "Many who've been influenced into forming enemy images of Islam will find the fact that all but one of the Koran’s 114 chapters mentions compassion infuriatin­g because their identities require an attachment to a belief that Islam is evil. In my book, Breakthrou­gh: Transformi­ng Fear into Compassion - A New Perspectiv­e on the Israel-Pal­estine Conflict I describe my awakening to True Compassion­.

 

 


 

"Briefly, True Compassion only arises when one gives up his/her core identity. Once that relinquish­ment occurs the world is no longer seen as a realm of Us against Them. That is because the attachment to a separate/i­ndividual identity requires the creation of the 'other.'

 

"The other is a person, society, religion, idea that does not fit within the boundaries of how an individual­, consciousl­y and unconsciou­sly, defines his/her identity. Thus, the other is a threat to the 'reality' of one's self-image or identity. Additional­ly, I assert that Clarity always accompanie­s True Compassion­. True Compassion­, unbounded by labels or definition­s and the influence exerted upon one's belief structure by a presumed identity, can see from a 360 degree perspectiv­e and, therefore, understand or be willing to understand all points of view. Thus, I can also say that although I find the brutal violence carried out by extremists abhorrent I understand that deep in their hearts even these extremists want the same things we all want - self-deter­mination, freedom and peace."

 

 

Regarding particular Christians, Richard wrote: "Christians who ignore the suffering of human beings by using the same justification as the more fundamentalist of Jews – that 'God gave the land to the Jewish [or chosen] people'– need to take a closer look at the teachings of Christ. Did Christ single out some for his blessing while ostracizing others? Did he teach hatred or did he teach love and compassion? And they need to look more deeply into their own hearts. Then they will discover that in denying the humanity of some they deny their own humanity...Separative thinking is never divinely inspired. It is always narcissistically inspired; it is, in fact, the very antithesis of the unifying and all-encompassing nature of the divine." [1]

 

Regarding the fundamentalist fire and brimstone preacher, John Hagee and his Christians United for Israel/CUFI cult, Richard said:

 

"Hagee raises millions of dollars annually for Israel’s settlement enterprise on Palestinian land. He believes that the boundaries of Israel are set by God, that Judea and Samaria, otherwise known as the West Bank, are within these God-given boundaries and that these lands must be inhabited by Jews. This, of course, would require the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. One can argue that this viewpoint obstructs the chances for peace but it certainly doesn’t qualify as anti-Semitism.

 

 

"Unfortunately, though, Hagee is an exponent of the 'End of Days' when Jesus will return to Earth and non-believers, Jews included, will have to either convert to Christianity or fall into a lake of fire (Hell). Hagee further believes that the Jewish people are guilty of deicide – the murder of Christ – the one unpardonable sin. This belief has been at the heart of anti-Semitism for nearly two thousand years. Without this belief, Adolf Hitler might not have been able to rely on both the hatred and the silence of those who supported or closed their eyes to the evils of the Holocaust. But most perniciously, Hagee has stated that the Nazis had operated on God’s behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and ‘shepherd’ them to Palestine. And, Hagee continues, Hitler was a 'hunter' sent by God to expedite His will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel."

 


I was born in Greenwich Village, New York in 1954 and up until that day we call 9/11, I never gave a thought beyond my family, friends and local community. That day transformed me and I began to research about the Middle East and traveled seven times to Israel Palestine beginning in 2005.

 

On 6 November 2007, I attended a John Hagee cult event in Miami and was astounded by his mastery of manipulating the fears of Christian Zionists and south Florida's right wing Jewish community.

 

As the shofars blew in the packed to the rafters James L. Knight Center, Hagee blew idiot wind that brought the crowd to their feet, "Israel was re-born by an act of God and Israel lives! God Jehovah will bury Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran! The flag of Israel will fly over the undivided Jerusalem and be the praise of all the earth! It's 1938 again and the new Hitler is Ahmadinejad! Radical Islamists are threatening to develop nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel and then the USA! But we are indivisible and we are both here forever!"

 

                                                           John Hagee Zionists

The oft repeated comment ascribed to President Ahmadinejad, that "Israel must be wiped off the map," was addressed by Virginia Tilley, Professor of political science who wrote:

"In his October 2005 speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad never used the word "map" or the term "wiped off". According to Farsi-language experts like Juan Cole and even right-wing services like MEMRI, what he actually said was "this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."

"In this speech to an annual anti-Zionist conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s (a period when Israel was actually selling arms to Iran, so apparently it was not viewed as so ghastly then). Mr. Ahmadinejad had just reminded his audience that the Shah's regime, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein had all seemed enormously powerful and immovable, yet the first two had vanished almost beyond recall and the third now languished in prison. So, too, the 'occupying regime' in Jerusalem would someday be gone. His message was, in essence, ‘This too shall pass.'"[2]

 
Tikkun is Hebrew for mend, repair and transform the world.

 

Tikkun is also an American Jewish progressive political and spiritual community and organization, that researched and discovered that there are three distinct elements energizing the Christian Zionists:

1. A strong commitment to conservative and ultra-nationalist American politics (so strong, I believe, that if the U.S. were to decide to break with Israel, this part of the Christian Zionist leadership would go along with that and drop its defense of Israeli policies).

2. Dispensationalist religious commitments that lead many of the Christian Zionists to yearn for a cataclysmic “end of history” eschatological war in the Middle East that will precipitate the second coming of Jesus and the Rapture in which all true Christians will go to heaven and all Jews who have not yet converted to Christianity will burn in hell for eternity.

3. A widespread understanding among many Christians that atonement and repentance is needed for 1700 years of murder, rape, and oppression of Jews that was frequently generated by the Church (though, of course, the Evangelicals do not recognize that church as their church). In this category are many Christian Zionists who genuinely feel terrible about what has happened to the Jews and genuinely want to help the Jewish people. Their philo-Semitism is real and sincere. [3]

But in Miami that night, I witnessed multitudes of misled and misinformed Christian's celebrating military occupation, violence, power and control but they ignored the gospel/good news that Jesus promised, "It is the peacemakers who shall be called the children of God." –Matthew 5:9

Hagee repeatedly cited that all worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but neglected to mention that the first mention of Israel is in Genesis 32:22, when Jacob was renamed Israel for having wrestled and struggled with the Divine. This Christian Anarchist [meaning I take Jesus very seriously but all the rest is commentary for me] contends that anyone who wrestles and struggles with the Ultimate Mystery of the Universe is also Israel, for Israel is not just a State but a state of mind, spirit and soul.

Hagee threw out the names of Hebrew prophets, but neglected the fact that God raised up prophets to speak truth to power, to confront arrogance and to remind the people, "What does God require? He has told you o'man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord." -Micah 6:8

God also raised up prophets to remind the people that they cannot know the mind of God for "His thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."- Isaiah 55:8

God also raised up prophets to admonish the "stiff necked people" [Exodus 34:9, Proverbs 29:1] and warned them that, "My people are fools, they do not know me! They are skilled in doing evil, they know not how to do good."-Jeremiah 4:22

 
Hagee also invoked the "Torah Way" but the Torah commands:

"From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught...that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, 'vomit you out' if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah [command]: When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself' but also 'you shall love the other.'" [4]

 

A Brief History of Christian Zionism:

In 1891, Christian fundamentalist and lay-preacher, William Blackstone appealed to President Benjamin Harrison to help establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Blackstone was a disciple of Dwight L. Moody and the father of premillenial dispensationalism, John Nelson Darby, influenced them both.

Darby had great success in connecting with the post-Civil War survivors and was able to transmit his new heretical theology into the heartland of America. Despite the horrifying news of Czarist pogroms that could have been the catalyst to establishing a Jewish state before the Holocaust, the Christian fundamentalists moved onto the Scopes Trial and forgot about the Jews-for a while.

Fifty years later and after millions of Jews and other innocents who had been deemed outcasts by the Third Reich were tortured and murdered and the British Mandate ran out, the land we call Holy was partitioned by the United Nations to make a home for Jewish immigrants.

Most evangelicals interpreted the establishment of the state of Israel to be the fulfillment of -how they understood and interpreted- certain prophetic scriptures. They interpreted the Israeli victory in the 1967 War and the capture of Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights to be an act of God but neglected to consider the fact of Israeli superior military might.

The American Bi-Centennial in 1976 was a watershed year for the religious right. While mainline churches declined, evangelical and fundamentalist churches became the fastest growing sector of American Christianity. TIME magazine named 1976 as The Year of The Evangelical and suddenly they became a political force.

Following the War of 1967, Israel gained an increased portion of USA foreign aid and military budgets, becoming the ‘western pillar’ of the USA strategic alliance against Soviet incursion into the Middle East.

 

During this period AIPAC and other pro-Israeli lobby agencies began their ascent to power in shaping USA foreign policy. The Roman Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations began to develop a more balanced approach to the Middle East, bringing them closer to the international consensus on the Palestinian question but Pro-Israel organizations interpreted this shift as being Anti-Israel and in turn began to court conservative and fundamentalist Christians.

In 1977, when President Carter stated "The Palestinians deserve a right to their homeland," Christian fundamentalists and the Israeli lobby responded with full page ads stating: "The time has come for evangelical Christians to affirm their belief in biblical prophecy and Israel’s divine right to the land...and affirm our belief in the Promised Land to the Jewish people."

The Reagan White House hosted a series of seminars from the Israeli lobby and Christian right. This was when Hal Lindsay, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the Moral majority infiltrated the West Wing.

 
Falwell received a Lear Jet from the Israeli government for his personal travel. When Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981, Prime Minister Begin called Jerry Falwell -before he called Reagan- to ask him to explain to the Christian public the reasons for the bombings!

In 1996, Netanyahu and Likud ideology dominated Israeli policy and 17 evangelical USA pastors pledged their support of the illegal colonies in the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and full support for a Jerusalem under sovereignty of Israel.

The Christian Zionists launched a PR campaign under the banner: "Christians Call for a United Jerusalem."

 

They ignored the fact that they were in conflict with American policy and the Oslo process as well as a direct attack on Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant unity with the Churches for Middle East Peace that called for a Shared Jerusalem.

In 2006, Hagee wrote for the Pentecostal magazine Charisma, "The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. Israel and America must confront Iran’s nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons. For Israel to wait is to risk committing national suicide."

With the publication of the fictional Left Behind series many more Christians were mislead and a major reason I wrote KEEP HOPE ALIVE was to challenge its escapist heretical theology.

 


 

274 years ago on 29 January, Thomas Paine was born a man before his time; but his wisdom and spirit speak to the NOW:


"Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion...The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."



 

Thomas Jefferson penned The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth which weeded out the miracle stories as it illuminated what Jesus’ was about:


Always work for PEACEFUL resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with COMPASSION.

Consider valuable the things that have no material value.

Do not judge others and do not bear grudges.

Give out of true generosity; not because you expect to be repaid.

 

Being true to your self is more important than being loyal to ones family/tribe.

 

Those who think they know the most are the most ignorant.

Jesus said that his mother, sisters and brothers were those that did the will of the Father and again, the Hebrew prophet Micah summed it up best: "What does the Lord require? He has already told you o’man: Be Just, Be Merciful and walk humbly with your God."

To be just is to be fair and reasonable.

To be merciful means to treat all people the way we want to be treated.

To be humble is knowing oneself; and good and evil cut through every human heart.


Jesus taught that the only way to resist evil is with good. Jesus was a nonviolent Palestinian devout Jew who was mocked, whipped and nailed to a cross and his final prayer was, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."

 

Education is the way to compassion and compassion will bring in the change we all really want to see in this world for we all desire this same trinity; self-deter­mination, freedom and peace.


When the people Rise Up/Intifada to seize their RIGHTS governments had better get out of their way and let them have them.

 

 

 

Hear Richard’s latest interview here:

http://www.radio4all.net/files/ /1752-1-totw012611rforer.mp3

 

 

Very RELATED:

God's Side and The 9th of Av: Number 9, Number 9, Number 9



 

 

1. http://www.richardforer.com/writing/jewish-support-for-anti-semitic-theology-dooms-israel-to-endless-conflict/

2. http://www.counterpunch.org/tilley08282006.html

3. Rabbi Lerner, Tikkun Magazine page 9, Nov/Dec. 2007

4. Rabbi Lerner, Tikkun Magazine page 35, Sept./Oct. 2007







 

 


   
 
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