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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2009 arrow April 4, 2009

April 4, 2009
April 4, 2009: Israel on Trial in the New York Times and What Happened to Jesus?  

Tomorrow I will post my take on what happened to Jesus and my letter to the editor within a few days-pending if they publish it in support of the following New York Times Op-Ed:

Israel on Trial
By GEORGE BISHARAT
April 3, 2009

CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:



Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.



Imposing collective punishment in the form of a blockade, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In June 2007, after Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed suffocating restrictions on trade and movement. The blockade — an act of war in customary international law — has helped plunge families into poverty, children into malnutrition, and patients denied access to medical treatment into their graves. People in Gaza thus faced Israel’s winter onslaught in particularly weakened conditions.



Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction. Yet an Israeli general, Dan Harel, said, “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings.” An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, avowed that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Israeli fire destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, factories, schools, a key sewage plant, institutions like the parliament, the main ministries, the central prison and police stations, and thousands of houses.



Willfully killing civilians without military justification. When civilian institutions are struck, civilians — persons who are not members of the armed forces of a warring party, and are not taking direct part in hostilities — are killed.

International law authorizes killings of civilians if the objective of the attack is military, and the means are proportional to the advantage gained. Yet proportionality is irrelevant if the targets of attack were not military to begin with. Gaza government employees — traffic policemen, court clerks, secretaries and others — are not combatants merely because Israel considers Hamas, the governing party, a terrorist organization. Many countries do not regard violence against foreign military occupation as terrorism.

Of 1,434 Palestinians killed in the Gaza invasion, 960 were civilians, including 121 women and 288 children, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, Richard Falk. Israeli military lawyers instructed army commanders that Palestinians who remained in a targeted building after having been warned to leave were “voluntary human shields,” and thus combatants. Israeli gunners “knocked on roofs” — that is, fired first at corners of buildings, before hitting more vulnerable points — to “warn” Palestinian residents to flee.

With nearly all exits from the densely populated Gaza Strip blocked by Israel, and chaos reigning within it, this was a particularly cruel flaunting of international law. Willful killings of civilians that are not required by military necessity are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes under the Nuremberg principles.



Deliberately employing disproportionate force. Last year, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, head of Israel’s northern command, speaking on possible future conflicts with neighbors, stated, “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction.” Such a frank admission of illegal intent can constitute evidence in a criminal prosecution.



Illegal use of weapons, including white phosphorus. Israel was finally forced to admit, after initial denials, that it employed white phosphorous in the Gaza Strip, though Israel defended its use as legal. White phosphorous may be legally used as an obscurant, not as a weapon, as it burns deeply and is extremely difficult to extinguish.

Israeli political and military personnel who planned, ordered or executed these possible offenses should face criminal prosecution. The appointment of Richard Goldstone, the former war crimes prosecutor from South Africa, to head a fact-finding team into possible war crimes by both parties to the Gaza conflict is an important step in the right direction. The stature of international law is diminished when a nation violates it with impunity.

George Bisharat is a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/opinion/04bisharat.html



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What Happened to Jesus?
by Walter Wink

Considering the weight the early church attached to the resurrection, it is curious that, subsequent to the empty-tomb stories, no two resurrection accounts in the four Gospels are alike. All of these narratives seem to be very late additions to the tradition. They answer a host of questions raised by the gospel of the resurrection. At the core of all these accounts is the simple testimony: we experienced Jesus as alive.

A later generation that did not witness a living Jesus needed more; for them the resurrection narratives answered that need. But what had those early disciples experienced? What does it mean to say that they experienced Jesus alive? The resurrection appearances did not, after all, take place in the temple before thousands of worshipers, but in the privacy of homes or cemeteries. They did not occur before religious authorities, but to the disciples hiding from those authorities. The resurrection was not a worldwide historic event that could have been filmed, but a privileged revelation reserved for the few.
Nevertheless, something "objective" did happen to God, to Jesus, and to the disciples. What happened was every bit as real as any other event, only it was not historically observable. It was an event in the history of the psyche. The ascension was the entry of Jesus into the archetypal realm. Though skeptics might interpret what the disciples experienced as a mass hallucination, the experience itself cannot be denied.

This is what may have happened: the very image of God was altered by the sheer force of Jesus being. God would never be the same. Jesus had indelibly imprinted the divine; God had everlastingly entered the human. In Jesus God took on humanity, furthering the evolution revealed in Ezekiel's vision of Yahweh on the throne in "the likeness, as it were, of a human form" (Ezek. 1:26). Jesus, it seemed to his followers, had infiltrated Godhead.

The ascension marks, on the divine side, the entry of Jesus into the son-of-the-man archetype; from then on Jesus' followers would experience God through the filter of Jesus. Incarnation means that not only is Jesus like God, but that God is now like Jesus. It is a prejudice of modern thought that events happen only in the outer world. What Christians regard as the most significant event in human history happened, according go to the Gospels, in the psychic realm, and it altered external history irrevocably. Ascension was an "objective" event, if you will, but it took place in the imaginal realm, at the substratum of human existence, where the most fundamental changes in consciousness take place.

Something also happened to the disciples. They experienced the most essential aspect of Jesus as remaining with them after his death. They had seen him heal, preach, and cast out demons, but had localized these powers in him. Though the powers had always been in them as well, while Jesus was alive they tended to project these latent, God-given powers onto him. They had only known those powers in him. So it was natural, after his resurrection, to interpret the unleashing of those powers in themselves, as if Jesus himself had taken residence in their hearts. And it was true: the God at the center of their beings was now indistinguishable from the Jesus who had entered the Godhead. Jesus, in many of the post-Easter son-of-the-man sayings, seems to speak of the Human Being (the "son of man") as other than himself. Was Jesus stepping aside, as he seems to do in the Gospels, to let the Human Being become the inner entelechy (the regulating and directing force) of their souls?

The disciples also saw that the spirit that had worked within Jesus continued to work in and through them. In their preaching they extended his critique of domination. They continued his life by advancing his mission. They persisted in proclaiming the domination-free order of God inaugurated by Jesus.
The ascension was a "fact" on the imaginal plane, not just an assertion of faith. It irreversibly altered the nature of the disciples' consciousness. They would never again be able to think of God apart from Jesus. They sensed themselves accompanied by Jesus (Luke 24:13-35). They found in themselves a New Being that they had hitherto only experienced in Jesus. They knew themselves endowed with a spirit-power they had known only occasionally, such as when Jesus had sent them out to perform healings (Mark:7-13). In their struggles with the powers that be, they knew that whatever their doubts, losses, or sufferings, the final victory was God's, because Jesus had conquered death and the fear of death and led them out of captivity.

Jesus the man, the sage, the itinerant teacher, the prophet, even the lowly Human Being, while unique and profound, was not able to turn the world upside down. His attempt to do so was a decided failure. Rather, it was his ascension, his metamorphosis into the archetype of humanness that did so for his disciples. The Human Being constituted a remaking of the values that had undergirded the domination system for some 3,000 years before Jesus. The critique of domination continued to build on the Exodus and the prophets of Israel, to be sure. But Jesus' ascension to the right hand of the Power of God was a supernova in the archetypal sky. As the image of the truly Human One, Jesus became an exemplar of the utmost possibilities for living.

Could the son-of-the-man material have been lore that grew up to induce visions of the Human Being? Could it have been a way to activate altered states of consciousness based on meditation on the ascended Human Being enthroned upon the heart? It was not enough simply to know about the mystical path. One needed to take it. And the paths were remarkably alike.
The ascension was real. Something happened to God, to Jesus, and to the disciples. I am not suggesting that the ascension is non-historical, but rather that the historical is the wrong category for understanding ascension. The ascension is not a historical fact to be believed, but an imaginal experience to be undergone. It is not at datum of public record, but divine transformative power overcoming the powers of death. The religious task for us today is not to cling to dogma but to seek a personal experience of the living God in whatever mode is meaningful.

Walter Wink is professor emeritus of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City and author of 16 books. He is best known for his trilogy on the "Powers" and his fascinating interpretation of Jesus' teachings on nonviolence.

   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
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The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
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Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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