Monthly Archives: March 2016

I have been carrying a troubling in my soul for some time. It’s about the presidential election.

businessinsider.com

businessinsider.com

Ted Cruz 1

Specifically, my trouble has been that I am not excited by any of the candidates. Well, that is not entirely accurate. I am excited, in a negative way, about some (you can probably guess their names, but if not their last names begin with T, C, and K, this last one at least seems sane).

Governor John Kasich businessinsider.com

Governor John Kasich
businessinsider.com

No, the trouble is a lack of enthusiasm for either of the other two, Clinton and Sanders.

Bernie Sanders slate com

As I read, and ponder the choices, and the pluses and minuses of each, I just kept wobbling.

Recently, I stopped wobbling and came to a conclusion: I want President Obama again.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington.

I know, I know, third terms are prohibited (I used to tell Republican friends that if they had not been so eager to stop another FDR, they could have most likely had a third Eisenhower term and no Kennedy/Johnson administrations which really changed things in ways they didn’t like).

Here are some of the reasons I want Obama again.

  • He’s thoughtful and careful about invading all over the place (a big worry about Hillary Clinton), and he likes building alliances and even getting former enemies to work with us.
  • He’s committed to getting things done, even if means significant compromises with the other side (I just can’t see Sanders doing this), and I think he has the best shot of building on his own domestic legacy (Sanders, I fear, will end up undermining it). In that light, I admire his choice of Judge Merrick B. Garland for the Supreme Court; it shows that he wants to work within the situation as it exists, namely a hostile Senate, so that the Court can continue to function (interesting that some observers say Garland could just as easily have been nominated by George W. Bush in similar circumstances–which means he is hardly the rabid liberal some are claiming).
  • I admire his dignity when Prime Minister Netanyahu acts like a bully (all too often).
  • He and Michelle bring a lot of style to the White House–despite being treated shamefully by many.
  • Oh yes, there’s one more reason: I want us to have more Black Presidents. (and between you and me, I want to stick it to all those Republicans who have disrespected him so much, and all the racists who have been stockpiling guns because they are afraid of every Black man, even one wearing a suit and sitting at a desk in the White House).

I certainly don’t agree with everything President Obama has done, or even will do. He is not perfect. But it has been a long time since I could say I was really proud of a President. I am saying that today, and expect to keep on saying it, because in seven-plus years he has not caused me to feel let down or disrespected by him, not once (even when I have disagreed with him); the man has class and intellect and character.

absoluterights.com

absoluterights.com

Character counts. And I think Barack Obama has a lot of character, great integrity, going deep. When I think about how much of the country has treated him, and how he has maintained his dignity through it all, I am in awe. And this shows, I think, in the latest public opinion polls that show his approval rating at more than 50% (for an interesting article about Obama and Trump, and a diagnosis of our national mood, see “The Great Trump Distortion” by E. J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post–may have a different name online).

Yes, I wish he were more personable, more easy-going, and more willing to be social with people who seem to despise him (Sen. McConnell, e.g., and Speaker Boehner/Ryan — have you noticed much difference, except that Ryan doesn’t cry and he is better looking than Boehner?). And I wish he used the bully pulpit of the presidency more, and that he talked more about white privilege (not talking about did not stop people from saying he did–because of course for many his very presence in the headlines reminded them of how angry they are that he, a Black man, was elected, twice).

And I will be up front. I really do want a woman president (see “Genitalia, Breast Size, Facial Hair Don’t Count ). For that reason, I may vote for Hillary Clinton in the Maryland primary on April 26. And I know she is up to the job. But the emails bother me (seems like entitled behavior). Or I may vote for Bernie Sanders who is progressive, and more nuanced on Israel/Palestine and other foreign matters, too. The trouble for me with him is that I keep hearing about his temper and I think he is very unrealistic about what can be done.

better a third termer than a third rater ebay ie

ebay.ie

So I am back to President Obama–at least until the law won’t let me vote for him (can you use a write-in in a presidential primary?).

History records that in 1940, when FDR was seeking an unprecedented third term against the Republican Wendell Willkie (a renegade like Trump in many ways, but actually sane and responsible, unlike Trump), the Democrats had a slogan: Better a Third Termer than a Third Rater.

That’s where I am right now.

 

Today, March 30, is Palestinian Land Day, a day set aside to mark a horrific moment on this date in 1976 in relations between Israeli citizens (both Jewish and Arab) and Palestinians.

I had not intended to write today in this series (see previous entries on March 3, February 8,  and February 4), but when I learned of the significance of this date, I felt it right to acknowledge history. I make no claim to expertise on this event or its celebration, but given the fact that few news outlets in the United States report much news about nonviolent events among Palestinians, and because I did see some shocking disparities in land and water allocation (with Palestinians at considerable disadvantage) during my visit in 2014, I decided to share this information.

Here is an excerpt from a post of two years ago in the +972 blog…..

On that dreadful day 38 years ago, in response to Israel’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of acres of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes,” a general strike and marches were organized in Palestinian towns within Israel, from the Galilee to the Negev. The night before, in a last-ditch attempt to block the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur’an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee. The curfew failed; citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations.

Palestinians from the Galilee town of Sakhnin commemorating Land Day, March 30, 2013. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about 100 wounded and hundreds arrested. The day lives on, fresh in the Palestinian memory, since today, as in 1976, the conflict is not limited to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip but is ever-present in the country’s treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.

You can read the rest of the blog here. And here is a link to Wikipedia on the subject of Land Day, and here is a link to the report in today’s Haaretz daily newspaper in Israel about the strike being carried out by Israeli Arabs.

As I continue to learn more about the land, its history, and the current situation, I will offer other information.

What remains clear is that contest between these two portions of humanity is far from over. And my prayer remains, on this day and every day, that there be no more martyrs of any type for any reason. There is already enough blood to go around.

Baalbek,_Holy_Land,_ca._1895.jpg  wikimedia org

wikimedia.org

[A continuing exploration of the painful situation in Israel/Palestine; see two earlier posts, “Whose Land Is It Anyway? and “Whose Land Is It, Anyway? Part 2]

Land, for many, if not for most, people can be a loaded term. In one sense, it is ground beneath our feet, the ground on which our home stands or the ground on which we raise a garden, or the ground on which our town or city stands, or the ground of our state or nation–a physical “thing” of soil and rocks and sand and muck.

In another sense, however, it is something less tangible and more emotional–and thus very powerful. Land is for many not only about where we stand or sit, but where our heart, our soul, feels at rest and even at peace (while guns may be firing all around us). Land is home, that is, a particular piece of land, a particular patch of ground, is home, is where we belong.

Private_Road_Dead_End_Landowners_Only_Sign_large.jpg  salagraphics com

salagraphics.com

And because we belong there, it is easy to begin to believe, to know, that that ground, that land, belongs to us, belongs to me and the people with whom I identify and among and by whom my identity is forged and maintained. Of course, land in the tangible sense is finite, there is only so much land on the globe, and it cannot expand. Thus, it often comes to pass that we, or some others, say, out of what seems like necessity (because there is not enough room for everyone), “if this is our land, then it cannot also be their land.”

As I wrote in Part 2 of this series (see link above), this became the situation in the United States as regards the conflict between European settlers and their offspring on the one side and the native peoples already here on the other.

There is another story about land and conflict that is well-known, and powerfully formative, for many of us, namely the mission of the ancient Hebrews to take possession of the land they were promised by their God. It is a story that begins with Abram who becomes Abraham as he follows God’s direction and whose son and his sons and beyond them get the people to Egypt where, alas, they become slaves. And then their God, the God whose true name is not to be said by humans, called Y H W H (Hebrew has no vowels, but often pronounced YahWay, more or less, and often written today as Yahweh), best translated from the ancient Hebrew as “I AM WHO I AM” (see Exodus 3:14-15), seeing their oppression and distress, told them to leave Egypt and go to a new land, a land of milk and honey. This is the Exodus, as inspiring a story as any people could want, the story on which other oppressed peoples have grounded their own struggles and journeys for liberation ever since.

Exodus route a possible way lds org

One idea of the route of the Exodus lds.org

The Hebrews wander for 40 years and many die. Many also are born. It is this people, those who were slaves in Egypt and their offspring, who, without the leader who brought them out of Egypt, enter the new land, their land, the land promised by their God.

There was a problem however. People were already living there. So, according to biblical texts, the Hebrews were told, by God, to drive them out, to make room for the keeping of the divine promise. These peoples, maybe native to the land or maybe they too came from somewhere else and claimed the land, were often called Canaanites (and there were other peoples as well).

According to the Book of Joshua, the Hebrews under his leadership bested the Canaanites, killing many of them and driving out the rest to settle in other locales. This is the same Joshua who led the destruction of the walls of Jericho and the slaughter of all its people.

archaeological dig alluae ae

alluae.ae

However, much of this story is now in doubt. Archaeologists have dug extensively throughout the region and there is good reason to doubt the historicity of much of the conquest. It is even possible that those we call Hebrews who came into the land were people already living in Canaan. And it seems clear that many of these Canaanites were incorporated into Israel (seemingly totally “melted” into that pot without retaining any part of their previous identity).

Of course, facts discovered by later scholars do not eliminate the power of the narrative to shape history. Most of us read biblical stories without intellectual and historical companions at hand. And we have to remember that land is more than ground, that it also is the emotional, filial and familial, and national, bonds buried deep in the ground–and that history is more than facts.

Robert Allen Warrior pbs org

Dr. Robert Allen Warrior pbs.org

In view of the persistent power of the narrative, some Native American liberation theologians, most notably Robert Allen Warrior, have raised issue with using the Exodus story as a master narrative, or template, for the liberation of oppressed peoples. He writes,

…the narrative tells us that the Canaanites have status only as the people Yahweh removes from the land in order to bring the chosen people in. They are not to be trusted, nor are they to be allowed to enter into social relationships with the people of Israel. They are wicked, and their religion is to be avoided at all costs. –from Warrior’s essay, “A Native American Perspective: Canaanites, Cowboys and Indians”

canaanite_tribes soniclight com

soniclight.com

Why is this so important to Warrior and other native writers? As people descended from those living on, thriving in, this land when Europeans arrived and began their push to own all that land, they see themselves as Canaanites. Thus they see not only liberation but also conquest, with themselves as the conquered.

As we go forward on this journey of wrestling with the contemporary question of Israel/Palestine, “whose land is it, anyway?” all the layers of that ancient story (and the subsequent historical archaeology discoveries)–and the interplay of liberation and conquest–must echo in, and touch, our thoughts.

Stay tuned.