Sunday, May 24, 2009

The prophet Amos and the King's man Amaziah


     Some time ago, a letter attacking two colleagues and friends of mine, Rob Prince and Tom Farer, appeared in the Intermountain Jewish News.  People are often belligerent who do not have reasons but only powerful sentiments for their position, who wish to shut up those who notice, for example, that Palestinians are human.  The lobbying group AIPAC and its supporters (including the Democratic Party up until very recently) likes to refer to Jews who recognize the humanity of Palestinians as “self-hating Jews.”  At a gathering to protest the Israeli government’s murderousness in Gaza, I recently evoked a counteranalogy: of Jews who speak the truth like Isaiah against the empty words of the King’s man, Amaziah.  It is interesting that in a long response that mentions three letters critical of the original letter, Dick Wisott, the author of the original letter, chose not to discuss mine.  Perhaps the aptness of the analogy leaves only silence as a response.

To the Intermountain Jewish News,

     Among Jews, it is an old tradition that some blindly defend the powers that be and denounce others who are said not to be Jews.  Thus, Amaziah and Amos or Isaiah.  The latter who are also Jews speak the truth – those things which the powerful refuse to acknowledge. Looking back, it is not hard to sympathize with Isaiah and Amos.

       Dick Wisott says that two of my colleagues and friends are anti-Israel without giving a single argument that any judgment in the columns is wrong.  Is it wrong to say that Gaza is not a state, but a kind of outdoor prison?  Or that Israel alone has an army and air power to carry out terrible carnage against the inhabitants?  Or that the civilians only crime was the status of being Palestinian as the innocents in the Warsaw ghetto the crime of being Jewish?

       Hamas has fired rockets into Israel and killed civilians.  In the recent exchange, it murdered 7, including a 7 year old boy.  Some large number of Palestinian children, perhaps 300 were murdered by Israeli weaponry, and many more injured. If we see that every child, Jewish and non-Jewish, is of equal value and holy, and pray that they may be spared from slaughter, can we as human beings and as members of a people who suffered pogroms and the holocaust, not speak the truth? When Tom Farer asks whether there was not some alternative to this wanton killing by the occupying power, he offers several options for a decent Israeli government policy.  Are these not worthy of consideration? How are any of them “anti-Israel”?  If Mr. Wisott offered a single fact or reason against any of  these arguments, one might be able to see whether Tom’s particular options are plausible or implausible.  He doesn’t.  For now, the words of Amaziah are, sadly, his.

Alan Gilbert, John Evans Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

1 comment:

stephanie tolle said...

Hi, Alan, this is an interesting article! the Israeli-Palestine conflict is heavy pressed on my heart, and I am seeking truth on the matter and developing perspective. i did a search 'interview with prophet amos' to see if anyone else has had this idea that came to me today. I started a blog a couple days ago themed, 'Maté Time with the Prophets.' My first two posts are about Occupy General Strike, prophecies in Isaiah, and Noam Chomsky's new book, 'Occupy.' I'm no scholar. I have only been, more adamantly, studying ancient Jewish scripture for the past several years. I'm super intrigued by ancient mysteries and prophecies and finding parallels between their societies and our societies. So, what I want to attempt to do is as strikingly, accurately, humorously, and entertaining as possible 'interview' the prophets of old and parallel them with modern day prophets, compare their societies and social issues with our's today, and build an awareness of what's to come according to old and new prophets. I'm starting with Amos. =) I'd love your feedback, input, and any suggestions or ideas you might have about this inspired venture!

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