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Getting ticked about the “little things”: How Daily Injustice in Israel/Palestine Should Piss Us Off

August 23, 2011

Israeli citizen Aziz Abu Sarah, arrested without cause.

Think back to the pre-civil rights movement in America. Did black people in the South really have it that bad?
For the most part, white people just let them be, right? In other countries, racial/ethnic tensions often lead to wars and genocide. But in the South, black people did not have the fear the white population mounting a militarized attack against them.

Black people just lived their lives like everyone else…. except, they had to drink from “colored water fountains” and use the “colored restrooms.” They had a special place at the back of the bus on their ride home to the neighbor where black were “allowed” to live. No matter how old or educated they were, they could anticipate being called “boy” by some (possible uneducated, red-neck) white stranger in the street. Police had the freedom to illegally mistreat black people without any fear of reprisal from the “justice system.”

It’s the little, everyday things (like using the restroom, riding the bus, being detained by police for no reason and then let go—-5 hours later; some bigot calling you “boy” in the grocery store) that can be so unjust and dehumanizing.
Some people critiqued my paper “Towards a New Pro-Israel,” claiming that it fails to decisively demonstrate the oppressive nature of the Israelis. I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t even begin to describe the oppression.
1) PLEASE take some time to read this brief post by Aziz Abu Sarah, who was recently illegally arrested by Israeli soldiers while giving a tour. Aziz is the co-founder of MEJDI, the tour company that lead us around Israel back in June.

2) Then contemplate:

The little things in life. Like being…

arrested for no reason.

prevented from doing your job.

humiliated in front of a tour group that you were leading.

detained by people who hate you and are carrying M-16s

Imagine losing your I.D./work permit, which will cost you several hours to reapply and possibly days/months to receive.
Imagine the powerlessness, of being arrested illegally, and having no recourse…no authority that you can report the incident to.

Where is the oppression? Do we really need to hear the stories about tanks and guns and the loss of houses and human life
or can we just talk about human dignity. The everyday, small things.

Would that be enough to piss you off?

If not, I would encourage developing your Moral Imagination, as well as the art of placing yourself inside the story of someone else. There was Jew who some also regard as Divine. He placed himself inside our story, becoming the “powerless”….arrested without cause…having no recourse. But there is an authority higher that than that of the Israeli Government, or the U.S. Government or even the U.N. There is an authority who created all authorities. Who always sides with the oppressed and the powerless. In the book He left us, he gives us hope, that one day, everything will be made right and every man will be judged for his actions. On that day, American imported M-16s will be of little value.

The Parable of the good Sam Aritan

August 18, 2011
Sam Aritan

Sam Aritan

The Good Sam Aritan

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A young black man was going down from one Los Angeles neighborhood to the next, when he was attacked by a neighboring gang. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

A Sociology professor happened to be going down the same street. (He always voted Democrat, favored all government programs that helped the poor, volunteered twice a month a food bank, listened to NPR, recycled, and was a vegetarian.) But when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

So too, an old head (a respected member of the community, a deacon at the Missionary Baptist Church, who worked two jobs to get all three of his kids through college) came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.[1]

But a white man named Sam Aritan (a bank executive, from Beverly Hills, who voted for Tea Party candidates), drove up to the man in his BMW; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on peroxide and Neosporin. Then he put the man in his own car, brought him to a hospital and took care of him. The next day he took out his credit card and gave it to the nurse. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of gangs members?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


I enjoy re-imagining the parables to fit modern-day situations.

Who would you substitute for the victim, the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan? There are a number of ways to rethink this parable for every possible context.

The first two categories of people that walk by are supposed to be people who everyone in society recognizes as “good.” Chances are, many of us identify with one of the first two.

For the first category, I chose the “professor type” because that is who I often identify with most. I do a lot of talking about helping the poor and social justice, but what am I doing practically to serve others? Could it be that our podcasts (about how we can fix the world) are playing so loud in our ears that we don’t hear the man on side of the street who was just beaten by gang members and needs medical attention?

For the second category, I chose someone who many in the first category would see as good: the old head. He is a hard-working man, providing for his family and probably surviving many injustices. He has overcome prejudice, racism, and stereotypes. He helps his children circumnavigate teen-pregnancy, drug dealing, and violence (all the things that keep their peers from making to the “next level”). If only more people in his neighborhood would listen to his wisdom.

But compassion comes from surprising places. It’s the rich bank executive (who never even pretends to be a friend of the marginalized) that stops to help the victim and even goes the “extra mile” to see that he gets proper attention. The victim’s neighbor should have been the “old head” who perhaps lives in close proximity, or the professor, who constantly rails against the government for not doing enough to provide social programs and healthcare. However, the “individualist” from Beverly Hills turned out to be the real neighbor to the victim.


Why does Jesus tell the “expert in the law” that he can inherit eternal life by loving God and loving his neighbor? Is this consistent with Reformation theology? How might Calvin respond to this story?

It seems that certain “law experts” were trying to limit the term “neighbor” to apply only law-practicing Jews. This would justify their lack of compassion towards non-Jews. What then would be the implication of Jesus using a Samaritan (who isn’t fully Jewish and doesn’t keep fully keep the law) to explain what the Torah means by “neighbor”?



[1] “The notion of the “old head” has emerged as a formidable social type in studies of African American, low-income, urban communities. The term refers to men who have had stable work histories and who reflect “mainstream” values concerning work ethic and social conduct.” The old head sees it as his job to “teach, support, encourage, and in effect socialize young men to meet their responsibilities with regard to the work ethic, family life, the law and decency.” (first quote from Alford Young, Jr., second quote is from Elijah Anderson)

welcome to Theoblogicus_Californicus

July 19, 2011

Library Study Room = cold, quiet

Greetings from the Fuller Library,

After three years of not blogging, I have decided I might just have something to say and someone to say it too.

So here it is. Theoblogicus Californicus: the name says it all.

I’m fresh back from a class on peacemaking in Israel/Palestine and now I am writing a paper about what I learned. The following blogposts will be excerpts from the paper. The posts will be written from the perspective of Christian Americans. Why should we care? Because we have played a major part in the conflict (not to mention our tax dollars, military might, and UN Veto). I hope the following posts will generate discussion as well as greater understanding and awareness of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.