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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.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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10 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    December 24, 2013, 12:49 pm

    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.


    All the best.

    • December 24, 2013, 2:25 pm

      Isn’t Israel now saying they won’t continue with peace talks unless the US lets Pollard go?

      • W.Jones
        December 24, 2013, 4:41 pm


      • Citizen
        December 25, 2013, 6:03 am

        Will Brennen say no like Clinton’s CIA director did? We will see.

        The Knesset is discussing the Pollard condition to Kerry’s peace talks, and as well, NSA spying revelations given by Snowden.

        Just what we need, free Pollard, the Jewish-Israeli hero and American traitor for Zionist cash, and condemn Snowden, the ultimate American patriot and spear for Informed Consent, for actual democracy.

      • Walid
        December 25, 2013, 8:26 am

        Maybe he should be released and sent to Israel where he’d be welcomed as a hero; they deserve him there. If that happens, the Zionists would maybe stop pressuring the French from releasing the jailed George Abdallah, the Lebanese communist activist framed for killing an Israeli diplomat that has already finished serving his 30 year sentence. The French justice system had issued his release order earlier this year but hours before his actual release, American and French Zionists pressured French Interior Minister “Israel-firster” Vals to not sign the final release form on the grounds that once released, he “may” kill other Jews, so Abdallah remains in French jail for no valid reason other than my guessing that it’s to be used as a bargaining chip for the release of Pollard.

      • December 25, 2013, 8:32 am

        Maybe he should be imprisoned in Gitmo?

  2. mcohen
    December 25, 2013, 5:20 am

    On Christmas let us begin begin to reverse the process of fragmentation
    Marc H. Ellis on December 24, 2013 3

    ” that transmogrifies common understanding of Palestinian rights and claims and reformulates the conflict as a border dispute.”

    the borders were quite clearly laid out in the chumash before 1948.centuries before.

  3. Citizen
    December 25, 2013, 7:14 am

    Edward Snowden’s 2013 Christmas message to all of you:

  4. amigo
    December 25, 2013, 7:58 am

    Slightly OT but here is a gem from nietanyahoo “singling out Israel,s “Christian Citizens” for defending “The Jewish State”.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his holiday blessings to the Christian citizens of Israel on Tuesday, in which he stressed the importance of the community’s contribution to the Israel Defense Forces – accidentally stopping just short of uttering the word “Jewish” state.

    The video, released on the prime minister’s official channel, was widely distributed to Christian communities around the country. Calling them “loyal citizens”, Netanyahu commended the efforts of those active in recruiting Christians citizens to serve in the army.

    The prime minister stopped himself in the nick of time from saying the word “Jewish” and instead quickly said “the state and our society.”

    Gee, I wonder what Abe F and co would say if POTUS was to thank “Jewish” American Citizens for defending the Christian State”.

    Or if he/she thanked them on behalf of the “Whole American People” as did Peres.

    “”It is my pleasure to bring you the greetings of the whole people of Israel, a holiday for one religion is a holiday for the whole county,” Peres said. “As a state, we are responsible for your safety, freedom and holy sites and for your feeling as free and equal citizens that carry with them the hope that unites us for peace and a better world. “peres.

    They just cannot keep their utterly innate racism hidden , can they.They do mirror the larger part of Jewish Israeli society.

  5. Walid
    December 25, 2013, 8:47 am

    “… since Libya wasn’t an (officially) American-led intervention…” (Marc Ellis)

    Maybe it wasn’t official but going under the name of “Operation Odyssey Dawn”, the US launched 110 cruise missiles at Gadaffi’s forces near Benghazi, prior to NATO coming in for the enforcement of the no-fly zone which in reality turned out into another NATO turkey shoot that killed mostly civilians.

    Still unofficially, it did not prevent Obama from authorizing (unapproved) tens of millions of dollars to buy arms to equip the rebel forces in Libya. America should be there under Marc’s Christmas tree along with the other Western (and Gulf) barracudas that went all out to overthrow Gadaffi for a reason that’s still really unknown.

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