Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections by Father Donald Imming Someone remarked after my homily on Sunday that it was provocative. I took that as a compliment. But upon reflection that might have been rash.

What I had done was talk about the aftermath of the multiple bombings this past week with the astronomical casualties suffered. I use the word bombings because that's how the planes with full fuel tanks were used. I suggested that the aftermath is a time for some soul-searching on the part of us, the American people.

I cited a brief little news story I had read in the Omaha World Herald while in Nebraska last week. It was posted from Afghanistan. A person on the street at random was interviewed by the reporter. Yes, he replied, he had heard of the atrocity. He called its perpetrators "enemies of God." But he went on to add that he hoped that Americans would ask ourselves why anyone would kill so many people and themselves in the process.

Why, indeed, I asked? I have spent several months in the Middle East during the past 20 years, mostly in Israel, but some in Jordan and Egypt. Everyone in the Moslem world, certainly the Arabic world, knows why. And it is strange that we don't even have a clue. I can attest from my own conversations with Arabs, and from what I have read over the years about how the Moslem world feels about us, that the answer is at least in part because these people were angry with us, as is the whole Islamic world, over what has been happening to the Palestinian people under the Israelis. They are very angry over what they perceive as a gross injustice being done to their fellow Arabs and Moslems, that has gone on now for decades, and about which they feel helpless to alleviate.

What is the perceived injustice about? Most people, like my mother, can't understand why these two countries, the Palestinians and the Israelis, can't get along. But of course the first mistake is thinking they are two countries. Actually there is one country, but two people.

Ever since the 1965 war, the Israelis have been occupying the whole of the country. The Palestinians have been taxed for decades, now heavily, and have virtually received no services in return. Moreover they have no civil rights. They can be arrested at any time and held indefinitely without trial.

Israel's law permits torture to get information, and everything that goes along with the military occupation of one people by another. The United Nations more than once has condemned the occupation, which I believe is a violation of international law as well.

But how does this involve us? The Arab world knows who is behind Israel. Not that we are calling the shots. But that we provide Israel with its military hardware � its state-of-the-art air force, its tanks, its guns. In addition, they know that we finance the state of Israel. Almost all of our foreign aid budget goes directly or indirectly to Israel. Without us Israel would collapse overnight, literally.

The president has called a war against terrorism. But terrorism is an abstraction. You can't bomb an abstraction. Fighting such a war, defending ourselves against terrorism with armaments is going to be extremely difficult. What is imperative is that we remove reasons for people hating us unnecessarily. As long as a fifth of the world population hates us, and is angry with us, we are going to be vulnerable to terrorism.

Ensuring the continued existence and well-being of the State of Israel, I believe, history will say was a noble undertaking. But enough is enough. It is time we told Israel to come to terms with the Palestinians who are asking very little from the Israelis and make peace. If not for justice sake, for our own preservation.

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