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I am not loathe generally to share my opinions, but over the years I've been hesitant to make public statements about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In part, this is because I think that the entwined strands of enmity, of attack and retaliation, in this tragic collision of two societies both suffering from historically induced PTSD, create a situation so complex in all its dimensions as to render otiose any outsider's attempt to understand let alone grapple with it. The difficulty of entering into an imaginative state of empathy with any of the participants is multiplied to the brink of impossibility by the dreadful inadequacy and bias of nearly every journalistic source of information about them available in the United States. I also think that meddling by outsiders has had and will continue to have little but inflammatory, unhelpful effect.

Nevertheless, certain basic truths seem unavoidable. The current state of extremity in Israel throws them into stark relief. One is that Israel's ongoing oppression of Arabs and Palestinians is both illegal and morally reprehensible. I do not recognize the Judaism that steals land, murders children and innocent adults, deprives whole demographic sectors of equal rights, and flouts international law intended to protect occupied populations from discrimination and displacement. There may be reasons for all of this, but there are no excuses for any of it.

I am prompted to say so by the Israeli government's nightly invasions over the past several days of the Al Aqsa Shrine in Jerusalem, sending police into one of the Muslim world's most sacred sites, where they beat, terrorize, and eject worshippers. (See These acts of desecration are attempted to be justified by the claim that a small group of "activists" had barricaded themselves in the building with a stockpile of stones and fireworks, thus representing a threat to public safety. It is unlikely that this claim is factually true, but even if it were the case, it seems to me an overreaction of almost demented proportions to meet the "activitists" desecration of Al Aqsa with the even greater desecration of conducting a police riot within its precincts. Would not the saner response have been to cordon them off and wait them out? Let the "activists" be the ones responsible for entering the shrine with the tools of violence and interfering with others' innocent worship. Don't play their game. Must every confrontation become another Waco?

Sadly, Israel's government at present exists almost entirely for the purpose of protecting its head, Benjamin Netanyahu, from the criminal corruption charges for which he is standing trial. Netanyahu is a phenomenally skilled politician whose principles begin and end with his own self interest. To help keep him out of jail, he has assembled a governing coalition of religious zealots, fascists, and racists. With this crew unleashed upon the nation, I am afraid that the answer to my question about Waco is "yes."

Jewish religious extremists like to appeal to history as a basis for their actions in the present. It is reported, for example, that one group of them wants to have regular access to Al Aqsa, concurrently excluding Muslims from the shrine, so as to be able to bring goats there to sacrifice to their deity (although it is doubtful that this practice was conducted in this location at the times in question, thousands of years ago). Ironically, at this Passover season, I will be hoping for the liberation of Israel once again from the evils of tyranny and oppression.