Let’s make sure we all understand this. It is against international law according to UN mandates for Israelis to continue to create new settlements in any disputed territories, including East Jerusalem. Yet, in every instance in which the UN attempts to hold Israel accountable for these violations, the US casts the deciding vote not to allow this to happen. And it is this continued theft of land and homes that sparked this latest round of hostilities. Now, I do agree that the Jewish people were and are entitled to a homeland. This became necessary following the Holocaust during WWII. The world needed to be reconciled to the fact that, if the Jewish people did not have a homeland, then they would continue to be systematically persecuted, oppressed, and even murdered, all over the world. However, in creating this homeland, we have inadvertently created unforeseeable problems that continue to persist today. I think it is fair to say that no one really realized how the creation of Israel would destabilize the region because, at that time, the area that was made into Israel was not a very desired place to live. However, there were people living there who have been systematically displaced as time has gone on. They called this land their home. Yet their rights are roundly ignored, especially by us. The ironies are myriad. A people who were persecuted and oppressed the world over for generations, now oppress others. Religious leaders (especially evangelicals) and politicians in the US support Israel – a Jewish nation – while ignoring the plight of Palestinians, the majority of whom are actually Christians. If war breaks out anywhere else in the world, you can bet it will be the leading event on every newscast. But, when it’s Israel, we try to ignore it until it becomes too big to ignore. Televangelists howl that “God” is going to judge and potentially destroy America because of our supposed sins of homosexuality and abortion! Yet, when confronted with the fact that in Israel both are legal and accepted, well, I will just make this point by citing a broadcast of “Frances & Friends” from last week. When a caller asked how they could support Israel when both are legal there and at the same time condemn their own nation for the same supposed sins – the panel’s basic answer was that Israel is the only true democracy in the region. Yes, you got that right. Apparently “God” must favor Israel because it is a democracy, regardless of its “sins”! But the same somehow doesn’t go for us. And what does democracy bring to the region? Well, just look for yourself. If there is a corrupt government in the world, it’s that of Israel. And we support them with military and economic aid. If we didn’t, they would not survive. Now, I am not by any means suggesting that Israel does not, even now, have a basic right to exist. But, if for no other reasons than humanitarian ones, a Palestinian state also has a right to exist and Israeli settlements must come to a complete end. Full stop. And let’s make no mistake, condemnation of Israel for the things that nation is doing is NOT anti-Semitism. Some people have tried very hard to equate the two, and they are in error. One can, and should, support the Jewish people in their very reasonable need for security and safety while at the same time standing against the unconscionable actions of the government of Israel. Televangelist-types, such as those on the panel of “Frances & Friends” have come out stating that the ONLY solution is a one-state solution – that one state, naturally, being Israel. Supposedly, such a state would grant full rights to Palestinians and others who also resided there. But we already see that such a scenario clearly does not work because non-Jews are marginalized, at best, in Israel even today. So, how would it be any different in the future? If Jewish settlers have the right to displace others who have lived there for generations, even against international law, then this is no solution. Their actions are creating future terrorists, not mitigating terrorism. Many years ago when I was first attending college, I briefly had a room mate who was a Palestinian Muslim. We got along fairly well even though we were both, at that time, rather fanatical about our religions. I was an evangelical Christian then. But, that came to an end when I inadvertently interrupted this guy during important rituals one day. Without going into detail, it was at that time that I cane to realize just how unhinged – how truly crazy – this guy was. But, all these years later I can see why he was. He would tell me how he hated Israel and America because his family had been displaced. I couldn’t understand that then because of my religious beliefs. But I can now.