Tag Archives: Israel

9/11/2021

How to remember twenty years—9/11/21…

My final draft of An American in Palestine is in the hands of Saqib Arshad, my best-in-the-world formatting pro. If everything goes according to plan, I will self-publish on Amazon and Kindle on September 11.

“Why 9/11?” My friend Nikki asked me a couple days ago. “I don’t get the connection.”

Here is my reply. And, yes, it may stir some emotions, positive and negative.

Yes, 9/11/2001 was one day of infamy in American history. On that morning, I was in the refectory of Julian House Monastery in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was my week to cook for the community of monks and nuns. I was preparing noon meal.

Sister Scholastic entered the room and announced to me the news of planes striking the Twin Towers in New York City. Normal activity was suspended for the morning. At noon, we gathered in the chapel for our precious Noonday Prayer for Mother Julian. Prayer was earnest. Tears were abundant. Scant portions of my noonday meal were eaten. Who could think or pray or share about food on that day?

In the twenty years since 9/11, America has responded with anger and aggression. For twenty years we have been fighting back—getting even with “them” for what “they” did to “us.”

My An American in Palestine chronicles two visits and three months that I lived in West Bank Palestine in 2013/2014. I shared life and food and comaraderie with a people, who are perpetual victims of Israeli aggression, hostility and oppression. Israel does this with the aid of U.S. tax dollars. It is “WE” who oppress Palestine.

Remembering 9/11, America has spent twenty years playing victim on the world stage. How dare they do that to us!

On 9/11/2021, I will publish An American in Palestine. In touching and heart-felt stories, I will ask, “How dare WE do that to THEM?”

Your thoughts….???

Only “Us”

“We act in Gaza according to our interests.”

“There is no ‘them; there is only ‘us.’”

Two quotes I heard on public radio this morning while driving to my Honolulu Write Team workshop. It’s hard for me to imagine two more contradictory quotes, uttered about two minutes apart and sending my eardrums (and heart) into spasm.

Yes, I will elaborate. That’s why I’m here. I need to elaborate. I HAVE to elaborate—make some ??? of this. (I was going to write the word “sense” there, but I already know—there won’t be any sense to this.)

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It was the on-the-hour news break. Remember? Yesterday, the new Israeli prime minister met with Joe Biden at the White House. The sound bites are about “establishing a personal relationship” and “affirming our common interests.” This morning Israel fired rockets into Gaza. That killed how many innocent, nameless (Who cares?) Palestinians? 

And today as prime minister Bennett was preparing to board his plane, he spoke, “We act in Gaza according to our interests.”

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Before leaving home to attend my Sunday writers’ workshop, I had determined to write a short memoir about Palestinians. I am weeks away from publishing my second book, An American in Palestine. So the topic is in my face—seething inside my heart.

Here were the kernels of thought I had determined to share:

Question to American Jews: So are you comfortable knowing that the millions/billions of dollars contributed by your fellow people are used to commit a new genocide against Israel’s “them?”

Question to American Christiians: So are you even aware that in today’s world, saving the Holy Lands means wiping out and eradicating the “them” of Palestinian blood?

Question to American Democrats: So are we comfortable knowing that our beloved (thank God for Joe!) president is cozying up to Israel’s new mass murderer?

Question to Americans All: So are we sitting cozy with the knowledge that our nation’s #1 recipient of foreign aid is Israel?  That Israel is using OUR money and OUR power and OUR influence to disenfranchise, impoverish, and exterminate an entire people? A people that they (and by association, WE) label the bad “them?”

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A minute after the news played Bennett’s murderous quote on air, “On Being” began a morning interview with Mexican writer, ​​Luis Alberto Urrea. The program opened with a quote by the author, “There is no ‘them;’ there is only ‘us.’”

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…which means that this morning in Israel/ Gaza, WE lobbed bombs into Gaza, killing OURSELVES. If there’s only “us,” then we committed murder and were murdered today in Gaza. Happy Sunday worship, America. Happy Sunday cruise/ picnic/ baseball/ mall shopping/ couch potatoing, America.

My dark side, yes. I’m pissed. At the same time, I embrace Urrea’s impassioned wish that “it really could be.” I’m gonna play John Lennon’s “Imagine” now. Be well, my friends.

Israel for Whom???

Last week I heard another statement from Israel that curdled my blood. Some politician (I don’t think it was the new right-wing Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett.) decreed that God chose the Jewish people as His chosen and gave them the land of Israel. Israel is meant for Jews and no one else.

 Such a statement is the very reason that I quit reciting daily monastic prayer, where we cycle through the 150 psalms every month. The Psalter is riddled with verses claiming that Israel is God’s chosen people, favored above all others. After my three-month visit to Palestine in 2014, I simply could not continue to flush such nonsense through my brain four times a day.

I am disgusted to hear and know and realize that anyone in today’s world would suggest that one people are God’s chosen, above all other people. (Naive, I know. But nonetheless, I am disgusted and outraged.)

Today I have two favorite theologians and their quotes.

,Michael Curry, the Archbishop of the U.S. Episcopalian Church said in his sermon in Honolulu in 2018, “If it ain’t about Love, then it ain’t about God.”

Amen to that one.

Any my personal all-time favorite, Mother Julian of Norwich, always gives me hope and sustains my cultivated naivete.

“All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.”

Amen to that one too.

Neither statement leaves one sliver of space for “Israel for Jews and nobody else.”

Palestinian Anonymity

A disclaimer is needed as I begin to share my stories from Palestine. I have changed all names in my stories. The memories, the places, the foods, the sights, the experiences–all of these are real and I describe them as I remember them. But I have deliberately disguised the people in my stories. I will share nothing about the unique circumstances of my two visits to West Bank, Palestine in 2013 and 2014.

Indeed, authorities in the state of Israel will not welcome these stories. They would not respond kindly to learning the unique and clandestine circumstances that allowed an American visitor to live inside Palestine and learn the intimate humanity of the people they persecute and imprison inside their own home.

I will refrain when possible from dwelling on the political story. Yet, that cannot be ignored. The state of Palestine, West Bank and Gaza, are prisons. Decades after the International Court declared the intention of creating a Palestinian nation, Israel holds these human beings in a state of poverty and disenfranchisement. Every people longs for freedom. The people of Palestine ask for nothing less.