“The Occupation Has Corrupted Israel”
© Jordan White Enterprises
January 12, 2000
Thus reads the title of an ad placed in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, January 7, 2000. “Even at the very beginning of the occupation, there were those who warned us:”, the ad goes on to say, “The occupation will corrupt Israel, and a long occupation will corrupt it absolutely. Now, 32 years later, we see the consequences. The occupation has changed the face of Israeli society. It has increased the corruption of the establishment, the general brutality and lack of civility, violence and crime, the indifference toward the fate of the poor, the sick and the old, the contempt for law and democracy, conscience and morality. We must liquidate the occupation-- in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. Only thus can we build a new, progressive and flourishing Israel, to cleanse the establishment and put an end to poverty. Peace is an urgent Israeli interest. Without peace, there is no remedy for our social ills.”
Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace organization which placed this ad, is headed by a courageous, 77-year-old patriot, Uri Avnery. Mr. Avnery is a journalist, writer, and peace activist, three-term member of the Knesset [Israel’s Parliament], and, by his own definition, a “convinced atheist”. Yet, as I read this ad, I did not see just the opinions of an “atheist”. I did not see just the opinions of a man who has lived in what is now Israel since the age of 10, who has fought for Israel in a commando unit and now fights for peace. ( He has been wounded in both types of struggle.) Instead, I saw the opinion that should be the opinion of every living, breathing creature on the earth. And that is this: If a nation calls itself a democracy, and is founded on the principles of democracy, it must behave as a democracy. If it claims to care about the welfare of the Israeli people, regardless of their age or state of health, then it must care for the welfare of all humans within its borders, and beyond. If it deplores violence against its own citizens, and decries the spread of brutality and indifference to suffering, yet wages campaigns of terror (including unjust imprisonment and home demolitions) against others, it is accomplishing nothing. The Bible states that one reaps what one sows (Gal. 6:7).
World peace and security will not come about through the negotiations of fast-talking lawyers and slick deal-makers. It will only come about when everyone is truly committed to peace, starting with making peace with those closest to us, initiating cooperative efforts with them to build neighborhoods instead of apartheid-like townships. It will only come about when Israel is willing to forgo the idea of a “Pax Hebraica” and start working for a true, just and lasting peace.
Mr. Avnery says he prefers to think of himself “primarily as a human being and then as a Hebrew-speaking Israeli of Jewish descent”. What would, or could happen if all Israelis could put aside religious fanaticism and misplaced idealism and share Mr. Avnery’s vision of a united, prosperous Israel re-dedicated to true democracy for all?
And what if American Christians would join with his call and realize that they are helping to support a nation which disregards human rights and principles of justice and democracy by displacing and dispossessing thousands of innocent people?
Christians, re-read the opening statement of this article, the quote from Gush Shalom. In it you will hear the echoes of the voice of One who was called the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6). He summed it all up in these words:
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)