Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thinking About Israel

In a recent post, Tim brought up some of the tragic events occurring in Israel and challenged his readers to think about Israel. . . So I did. Here goes.

I am fully aware that the majority of the Christian community will disagree with my perception of the Middle East. But please bear in mind that my 'perception' is based on history, and the ideals of mercy and justice for all. Let me explain.

I agree that Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, et al should be eradicated. And I would support the Sharon tyranny if that was what he was doing. But it is not. He is targeting the averagePalestinian as well. Bulldozing houses of accused collaborators and the homes of their familiy members, leaving those who had nothing to do with terrorism homeless and helpless. This includes small children and the elderly. The problem with this policy is that it throws the baby out with the bath water. You punish the guilty as well as the innocent. This is just not right. I will go further and say that Israel has a right to defend itself and was right to fight back in all the attacks from Arab nations in the past. I am even glad they won. But Isarel's behavior over the last 35 years is in many ways indefensible.

I draw the line in 1967. After the Six Day War, Israel took territory from Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The U.N. ruled and the U.S. supported the resolution calling on the formation of a Palestinian state from those lands and that Israel would be violating international law by colonizing it. Palestinians used to live on the land that is now Israeli strip malls and housing developments. Sharon, the father of the settlement movement, has taken land that was internationally set aside for Palestinian development. The Palestinians were under the 'care' of Jordan and Egypt in the West Bank and Gaza until a formal Palestinian state could be formed. Unfortunately the Arab states attacked Israel several times before that could be done. The Arabs should not have attacked Israel. Israel had the right to defend itself. Sharon does not have the right to violate international law. After all, this guy commanded troops which were responsible for taking Jerusalem from under the United Nations authority in the Six Day War. This was after they had previously voted to allow the U.N. to administer it as an international city, open to all.

Furthermore, if Sharon were really interested in peace he would be building his defensive wall along the pre-1967 border known as theGreen line. He is not. After 1967, the conservative party, led by Sharon spearheaded the settler movement to consciously movePalestinians off land that they had occupied as long as the Israelis had in their absence. Sharon figured that once there were too manyIsraelis in the West Bank, you couldn't move them off. Guess what, he was right. Yes, he ordered 7,000 Israelis out of Gaza. Good start. Besides, Israel has never had an historical claim to Gaza in the first place. Palestinians have.

To make sweeping generalizations about the people in the region is shortsighted. We cannot lump all Palestinians into one group. Just like some Islamic fundamentalist should not lump all Americans into one evil category. I'm not saying that many Palestinians like Israelis. But by this point in the game, many more just want Israelis off their land so they can build something of a state. They want stability and leadership among their people and they too, probably want to see an end to terrorism. Some Christians believe that the media skews things against Israel. I submit the Christian community turns a blind eye to the harsh treatment of the average Palestinian and then blindly supports Sharon and his regime. I am fully aware of God's promises to Israel. I'm also fully aware that the Diaspora happened for a reason. Please remember that modern day Israelis are not living for God anymore now than the Palestinians we so easily condemn. Sharon is not a religious man, neither are the majority of Israelis. In times past God has blessed and will continue to bless Israel when they lived for him. However, while God will always preserve them doesn't mean He supports their aggression or doesn't mean they will inhabit part of the land they were promised. I understand and defend the idea that Israel should defend itself. But in part, Israel needs to stop doing the things that perpetuate terror like bulldozing Palestinian homes to make way for a new Starbucks or building new tracts housing where Palestinians have been living for centuries. There is no new mandate from God for any of these things that I can see in Scripture.

I am not defending terrorism. But I do refuse to blindly support the Sharon government and condone its behavior. Our tax dollars go to help build those settlements. When Arabs see Israelis driving American made Caterpillar bulldozers, they rightly make Americans complicit in Israeli crimes. We should be ashamed of ourselves, yet many never give it a thought. Not surprising from a country that never thinks about the thousands of deaths it is responsible for in Iraq. Why should we care as long as we can continue to watch TV, surf the web, go to McDonalds and drink lattes until we puke?

Knowing history the way I do and current events the way I do, I'm sorry I cannot support what is going on. I don't know how anyone can. We need to know our Scripture and some history as well as get our news from several different places around the world.

Would God approve of Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people? I don't know, God will do what God will do and my job is to be thankful that I am a recipient of his Grace. May God bring peace to both Israelis and Palestinians.

Be well.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What I'm Afraid of. . .

I honestly don't live in fear. But it has been a bad week, it's late, I don't feel good about my students right now and I'm tired.

So, here is the short list. I'm afraid of:

Getting to the end of my life and realize that I never became the man God wanted me to be.

Not being the husband my wife deserves.

The prospect of raising two boys into the right kind of men.

Being irrelevant.

My students not learning.

Being average.

Being department chair, and liking it too much.



George W. Bush.

Courageous people falling silent and cowards becoming more vocal.

Forgetting how to laugh at myself.

Taking myself too seriously.

Forgetting past lessons learned.

The volume level on my iPod.

Waking up one day, be 40, and not know where the hell the years went.


Being stuck in California.

Ah, to ramble on my own cyber-talk radio show.

Peace to all.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Word of Mouth

Here is a list of words my 19 month old can say:

baff(as in bath)
chicken (though it comes out 'chichen')
nigh nigh(bedtime)
budder (in reference to his older brother)
ouside(when he wants to go outside)
buzz (as in the Buzz Lightyear toy he carries around frequently)
something that almost sounds like 'triangle'
thank you

and my all time favorite. . . fuck.

He has a hard time with the word 'frog' and for some reason whenever he sees a picture of a frog it comes out as 'fuck'. I guess it should be more embarassing, but I just can't get passed the humor of it all.

Oh, the joys of parenting. Peace to all.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Finally, Some Good News

From Yahoo news.

Poll: Bush Presidency Judged Unsuccessful
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - For the first time, more people say George W. Bush's presidency will be judged as unsuccessful than say it will be seen as a success, a poll finds.

Forty-one percent of respondents said Bush's presidency will be seen as unsuccessful in the long run, while 26 percent said the opposite. Thirty-five percent said it was too early to tell, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

In January, 36 percent said successful and 27 percent said unsuccessful. The increasing pessimism about Bush's long-term prospects comes at a time when many polls have found the public increasingly is negative about Bush's performance and the direction of the country.

Seven in 10 said they want the next president to offer policies and programs that are different from the Bush administration's.

Only half said they wanted the next president to offer different policies in 2000, at the end of the Clinton presidency. By a 2-1 margin, people said the Bush administration has had a negative impact on politics and the way government works.

People were inclined to say Bush's policies have made things worse on a wide range of issues such as the federal budget deficit, the gap between rich and poor, health care, the economy, relations with U.S. allies, the tax system and education. By 47 percent to 30 percent, those surveyed said Bush has improved the situation with national security.
Republicans give the president mixed reviews in many of these areas. Almost half of Republicans said Bush's policies have made the deficit worse and just 12 percent say he has improved that situation.

The poll of 1,500 adults was taken Oct. 6-10 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Now were talking!

Suddenly, my day has gotten a lot better.

Monday, October 10, 2005

That Dreaded Moment

So we're all sitting at the table tonight having dinner. Just your average, middle class, suburban family of four breaking bread and sharing the highlights of our day.

My eight year old starts talking about how they've been learning in health about how bad drinking, smoking and drugs are. He was going into great detail about exactly how many minutes a cigarette takes off your life. He passionately discoursed on illegal drugs like marijuana and how it is worse than cigarettes and wondered why anybody would ever hurt their bodies or risk going to jail by doing any of these things. I nodded my head emphatically and extolled the virtues of clean living and how it is better not to even try any of the things we talked about. He agreed.

And then, he asked the dreaded question.

"So, basically dad, you never smoked or done any of those things right?"

Prolonged, dramatic pause.

I froze as I reached for my glass of water. My wife lovingly looked at me. I knew the 1980's would eventually catch up with me. Heck even the baby stopped and looked at me as he had a baby carrot stuck to cheek. All eyes were on me for what seemed like an eternity. The entire dinning room froze and spun 360 like a Matrix fight scene, with me stuck in the middle.

"Uh, well, son, you see drugs are really bad. . . "

And just then, much to my relief, he asked something about Grandpa smoking and I was able to quickly shift the conversation to Grandpa and all his vices, thus removing the spotlight from me. Temporarily.

Now, in my defense the enitre decade of the 80's is kind of blurry. In fact, 1985 is almost a completely lost year. So remembering some things will be difficult. But there are plenty enough memories and good people around me who are more than willing to fill in any gaps in my memory. So eventually, when my boy asks again, I'll have to come up with a better response. I have no intention of lying to my kids about my past mistakes. I just wish the list were not so long and incriminating. I thought I would'nt have to worry about this until I caught him trying a cigarette in the backyard late at night. He's only eight and he's already asking these questions. What'll I do when he's thirteen?

Pray for me people.

I suddenly have the urge to listen to Pink Floyd and consume an entire bag of Doritos.

Friday, October 07, 2005

To Not Be Israel

I don't know about you, but I'm messed up.

More so in some areas of life, but in general, messed up.

This got me to thinking about Israel. Stay with me here people.

You see I've been reading through the Old Testament for the past year or so and I found my kindred. Many people who read this poor excuse for a blog know their Bible better than I, so I won't bother you with details. But suffice to say, Israel was given everything and still they screwed things up for themselves.

God: "I've brought you out of the bondage of Egypt, I am the lord your God"

Israel: "It's too hot here, the food sucks and the accomodations could be better"

Talk about your whiners.

God: "I've given you a land flowing with milk and honey, filled with cities you did not build with your own hands. Trust in me, I have great plans for you."

Israel:"We want a king to rule over us, just like everyone else."

You get the point. God was content to use this group of people as his 'chosen' people to show the world how to live. I mean, these people saw water parted, walked through on dry ground, bread fell from the sky and quail appeared out of nowhere, water from a rock even. And still they behaved just as badly as I do. They would disavow sin one day and fall back into it the next. Once chastised by God for a collective offense, they would committ to following only Him. Yet soon thereafter they would be worshipping Ashtoreth or building an alter to Baal. They were given everything and it still was not enough.

Sounds like somebody I know. Yeah, you guessed it. . .me. It just seems that the harder I try not to whine, complain, be unhappy or discontent, the harder it gets to do so. I too, have been given everything. Yet I find myself following Israel's path. It turns out that Israel is the perfect example of all humanity. We are never content, always wanting more and frequently dissastisfied with what is right in front of us. Maybe that is also something God wants us to see. His 'chosen' people are really like all people and everyone therefore is in need of his discipline, grace and love. I'm no great theologian, but some things seem more obvious than others.

Peace to all.