On Christmas let us begin begin to reverse the process of fragmentation

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

It’s irresistible, the Christian claim of salvation, but Christians shouldn’t be surprised when they’re blindsided by the unredeemed world. After all, they keep insisting on Jesus as the savior.

Israel’s war on Christmas isn’t what I’m thinking about. Every group, even in Israel, has a right to parade its (pagan) symbols as an identity marker.

Funny thing about religions is that contradictions to their assertions are endless. Like Muhammad being the last prophet. As if there aren’t plenty of prophets living right now. Or chosenness highlighted by Jews. As if the behavior of Israel isn’t the ultimate contradiction to that claim.

Give a drone for Christmas? Sure, you’d have to have a pretty big Christmas tree. The Christmas tree at the White House might do. Lay it right under its branches with a red bow – a nice decorative touch.

How about American interventions gift-wrapped in the flag colors of each nation intervened upon? Don’t know if you’ve been following Libya lately. It seems that with the nefarious Gaddafi gone, Libya has descended into anarchy.

Speaking of the French, and since Libya wasn’t an (officially) American-led intervention, we have to include European intervention presents under the Christmas tree. Think now of French forces in the Central African Republic. Even with the (almost) apocryphal one day appearance of Samantha Power with her extensive security detail, the reassertion of French power in the African continent isn’t going to be a cake walk.

On Christmas 2013, the colonial powers of our world haven’t changed as much as they think. They’re still on top.

Take a look at Iraq and, soon to be bereft of US forces, Afghanistan. Everything is quite disordered in both countries after hundreds of billions of dollars spent, thousands of American lives lost and, if we can speak of it during our wished for “white” Christmas, the intervened countries have mostly experienced massive dislocation of its citizens, with injuries and deaths galore.

But we’re not talking about Iraq this Christmas. Nor Afghanistan. Forget Libya. Syria?

And now Norman Finkelstein has weighed in on what I wrote about several weeks ago – the possibility of a signed agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and what that might mean for activists in the future:

In this scheme of things, one of the most acute dangers is the gradual emergence of a new international as well as regional consensus that could further restrict and obstruct the ability of Palestinians to achieve their rights, particularly if it is anchored in new United Nations resolutions and endorsed by other regional and international bodies. Those who base their political activity at least in significant part on international law, irrespective of the solution they promote, need to consider the consequences of an agreement, ratified by a recognized Palestinian leadership, endorsed by the international community, and legitimized by new United Nations resolutions, that transmogrifies common understanding of Palestinian rights and claims and reformulates the conflict as a border dispute. It is one thing to mobilise against a West Bank Wall that has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, quite another when it is a recognized international border. It would be foolish not to prepare for such scenarios.

That’s a thought for Christmas – the possible end of things, legally speaking, on the Israel/Palestine front. Call it what you will – I called it the revival of the Jordanian option. Nonetheless, in the coming months a signing is likely. We are unprepared.

Preparing for the political end is different than theological statements on the salvation front. At stake is history, the only place where salvation can be properly (un)thought.

But if politics is the place for (un)thinking salvation, this means our journey is ongoing. Signing away Palestine isn’t the place to begin. Rather the opposite. On Christmas let us begin again. Reverse the process of fragmentation and division and began to think how Jerusalem and the rest of Israel/Palestine can be shared.

Then we could enter the theological arena with a clean slate.

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and www.newdiasporabooks.com

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