In early December the security situation had improved enough in Bethlehem for busloads of tourists to come back to visit the birthplace of Jesus and other holy sights in Israel and the West Bank. That was about the only the good news from the Middle East. In the Gaza Strip, the standoff continued between the Israeli government and the Palestinians.
Remember Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio), the Democratic presidential candidate who brought a refreshing note of reality to the early primary debates? You don’t remember him? In the memorable words of John Wayne: “Think back, Pilgrim.” It was Kucinich who reminded primary and caucus audiences that Palestinians live under an oppressive Israeli military occupation.
An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz (April 15) sharply criticized Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert for Israel’s “boycott” of Jimmy Carter during the former president’s recent trip to the Middle East. Olmert refused to meet with Carter; Israeli security personnel were not available to assist Carter’s Secret Service detail.
By mid-March, Democratic presidential candidates will have participated in 20 debates, while the Republican candidates will have debated 21 times. None of these debates offered any substantive discussion of Israel and Palestine.
Wiley S. Drake, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California, who was notified last month by the IRS that it was investigating his endorsements of Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, has again urged his followers to pray that heavenly wrath should befall Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The 7.9-million-member United Methodist Church is poised to become the next U.S. denomination to consider divesting from companies said to support Israeli military-security goals, a topic so controversial that it prompted the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to redefine its own divestment program two years ago.
Two men from two different worlds, separated by a street, a checkpoint, a wall and, until recently, a worldview. One was a tall, slim young Israeli Ashkenazi Jew named Guy. On this night he entered the Old City of Jerusalem through Jaffa Gate the way an American walks into a familiar neighborhood in Boston or Chicago.
The local public library asked me to introduce and discuss the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia. The screening happened to coincide with the day of the multinational Annapolis Conference on the Mideast, so I could not resist showing a segment from the final moments of the film.