June 17, 2010

Chuck Colson: Evil or Just Stupid?

An open letter to Chuck Colson

Mr. Colson:

Are you evil or just stupid?

I’m not trying to be disrespectful here. I really want an answer. Are you a charlatan, one who uses Christianity for your own nefarious purposes, or are you just woefully ignorant of reality?

In a recent Breakpoint Commentary, you said some horrible things about the people living in the Gaza Strip (“Israel and Gaza,” 10 June 2010). Now, of course, lots of people say horrible things about the people of Gaza. Today, forty years after Dr. King’s tragic death, Americans seem to be as racist as ever.

But as a Christian you ought to know better. As a Christian, you claim to follow a man who told us that we have an obligation to love one another, to help the least among us. And yet you have the audacity to defend Israel’s blockade of Gaza, repeating that old lie that that the blockade’s goal is “to stop weapons from getting to Hamas,” that Israel is simply defending its own citizens.

Well answer me a question then. If Israel’s goal is to prevent arms from reaching Hamas, then why did it spend two years preventing clothes and food from entering Gaza? Why for a time did it not allow pasta to enter? Why has it prevented toys and hearing-aids from entering? If Israel’s goal is preventing arms from reaching Hamas, then why won’t it allow building materials to enter Gaza? Why won’t it allow medical equipment to enter? Why won’t it allow the parts necessary for Palestinians to maintain the Strip’s water and sanitation facilities? (“The Gaza Flotilla Massacre, cont’d,” 2 June 2010)

Just this past week, the International Red Cross declared that “[t]he whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law” (“Gaza closure: not another year!” ICRC, 14 June 2010). Even the Israeli government has admitted that, far from being about security, the blockade is an act of “economic warfare” against Hamas (Sheera Frenkel, “Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn't about security,” McClatchy, 9 June 2010).

And before you defend this “economic warfare,” keep in mind that the average person in Gaza is only seventeen years old. Forty-four percent of the population is under fourteen years of age (“Gaza Strip,” CIA World Factbook). So most of those suffering in Gaza are children who never even had the opportunity to vote for Hamas.

“Christians,” you say, “have an obligation to all persecuted people, but especially the Jews.” Now this is probably the most ridiculous, racist thing I’ve heard all week, and, trust me, I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous and racist things this week. Where exactly did Jesus, or Paul for that matter, say anything that would lead you to this conclusion?

As support for your racism, you cite Genesis 12.3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse.” But as you must know, Yahweh spoke those words to Abraham. Not to Abraham’s descendants, not to the modern nation-state of Israel, not to Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, but to Abraham.

Now I don’t go to church. I’m not even sure I’m still a believer. But I do know that if there’s a god, and if this god is good, then he wouldn’t just look the other way when a nation, even a self-described Jewish nation, ravaged hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children. No, I think this sort of thing would really piss God off. And I think it’d also piss God off to see pathetic little men, men who claim to speak for him, defending such atrocities.

But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe you’re not this evil. Maybe you’re just stupid. Tell me you’re just stupid.

Don Emmerich Jr.


Anonymous said...

Well, most of the "why did Israel" questions you are asking never happened, so "why do you, Mr. Emmerich beat your wife"?

Israel did not keep food and clothes out. The malls of Gaza (know a lot of "prisons" with air-conditioned shopping malls, do you?) are full of clothes and food, and have been through the blockade. There are poor people in Gaza who can't afford to buy enough food, but since Israel sends plenty in, they are in much the same position as impoverished people everywhere. Though, there are fewer hungry people in Gaza per capita than in most of the surrounding Arab countries. Israel lets in building materials when an international organization (like the U.N.) is able to track their use, they don't allow free flow of building materials because the same concrete that can be used for civilian purposes can be used for military purposes. The toys and other random items are generally bureaucratic snafus, cutting down on the amount of searching of shipments, or in some cases, brief delays. As in "not today, someone just tried to bomb the crossing and we're busy right now".

Israel is obligated to allow enough basic foodstuffs and medicine in for the enemy population that is at war with Israel. It is not obligated to allow them luxury items.

And yet, somehow, the poor deprived Palestinians manage to have stores overflowing with food and designer clothes, luxury restaurants, shopping malls, and oh, yeah, a newly built Olympic sized swimming pool. That's about half a million gallons of water, give or take, and a lot of building materials.

The idea that Gaza is suffering because Israel doesn't let enough stuff in is a myth. To the extent that people are deprived, it is because of unequal distribution of resources. Fat Hamasniks eating four times their share.

I dare you to post this with an outraged "show me the stores". If you do, I'll track down the pictures.

Don Emmerich said...

“Israel did not keep food and clothes out.”

From Reuters, March 29, 2010:

“Israel will allow a shipment of clothes and shoes to be delivered to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for the first time in its almost three-year-old tight blockade of the enclave.”


Don Emmerich said...

“The malls of Gaza (know a lot of ‘prisons’ with air-conditioned shopping malls, do you?) are full of clothes and food, and have been through the blockade. There are poor people in Gaza who can't afford to buy enough food, but since Israel sends plenty in, they are in much the same position as impoverished people everywhere.”

Yes, there are many basic goods in Gaza. I don’t deny this. I’ve written about this. But let’s be clear about a couple things.

First, many of these goods were smuggled in through the tunnels. Don’t tell me that “Israel sends plenty in.” Before the blockade, Israel was allowing about 600 truckloads of goods to enter Gaza per day. Once the blockade began, Israel cut this number down to 100 (Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip,” Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory, August 2009).

Second, Israel has banned almost all exports from leaving Gaza. And this in turn has devastated Gaza’s economy. Small economies like Gaza’s depend upon foreign trade. By stopping exports, Israel has forced approximately 95% of Gaza’s “industrial establishments” to shut down (Ibid.) Consequently, 55% of Gazans are unemployed, and most of those who have jobs barely make enough to get by. 80% of Gazans live in poverty, 61% of households suffer from food insecurity (Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, 14 May 2010; Socio-Economic and Food Security Survey Report in the Gaza Strip, World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization, November 2009).

So, in other words, yes, Gaza’s grocery stores have food in them, but it doesn't really matter because many in Gaza have trouble providing their loved ones with the essentials.