Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's Time To Love Your Neighbors ... all of them

President Obama's close friends and key advisers have reportedly helped him shape the toughest line against the continued expansion of Israeli settlements since the administration of President Jimmy Carter. I applaud him!

It has resulted in a confrontation with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that surprised the Israeli government and many analysts. I missed Netanyahu’s major speech in which he was expected to respond to this new American pressure.

According to the Washington Post (Kessler and Shear, 6-13-09), Obama's aides are steeped in the complex issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in U.S. attempts to resolve it. Many of them bring long memories of difficult dealings with Netanyahu when he served as prime minister more than a decade ago.

Obama's advisers reportedly concluded that peace in the Middle East will require an end to the construction of new Israeli homes on occupied territory that Palestinians claim for a new state. Obama, in his Cairo speech earlier, made it clear he had reached the same conclusion. Forcing Netanyahu to relent on settlements would offer the U.S. administration leverage in persuading Arab states to engage in peace talks.

Supposedly, "There is a strong consensus in the White House that the status quo is not going to produce progress and that the moment could slip away here for a real, just, lasting peace that would bring Israel the security it needs," said David Axelrod, one of Obama's top advisers.

On the other hand, several senior White House officials described the president's views on Israeli settlements as years old and not the product of recent events or discussions. "It would be a mistake to suggest that anyone led him to this position," a senior adviser said. "It's one that he generated himself."

In Chicago, long before becoming president, Obama's closest confidants included staunch supporters of Israel whose tough views on the need to stop settlements mirror his current public position. Abner Mikva, an Obama mentor and former law professor, was one of them.

"There has to be realistic talks about how the two states will get along together," Mikva said, describing Obama's thinking on the subject of Middle East peace before being elected to the U.S. Senate. "You can't do that if one state, as you're talking, is picking up more land."

White House aides say the president has been careful to insist that Palestinians must also act to fulfill their responsibilities, such as bolstering security and ending anti-Israeli incitement. “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered," Obama told his Cairo audience.

Obama's recent language about settlements is called the starkest of any U.S. president in three decades, and tougher than most of his public rhetoric since emerging on the national scene.

I cannot show the AP photo of Palestinian workers at the construction site of a housing project in the Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumin, in the West Bank near Jerusalem, altho it was part of the original story.

I can, however, continue to wonder how so many American Christians can support the premillennial theology that gives Israeli's the right to so totally deny the civil rights of Palestinians. Israel obviously misunderstood God’s concern for all people when World War One powers provided for the re-establishment of the Israeli nation in 1948. Moreover, they quickly forgot the lessons to be learned from their own misfortunes under the Nazi holocaust.

At Warner’s World, I wonder, will anyone ever take seriously the words of Jesus about loving one’s neighbor?

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