To: RaeLynn Ricarte, editor, regarding your recent Opinion piece “Did Haley handle UN correctly?”

Ms. Ricarte, 
like you, I am critical of the United Nations, but for different reasons. My criticisms center on the UN backed Occupation of Palestine that began 70 years ago. Your criticisms are aimed at the UN’s more recent actions.

I have a proposition for you. I will be your personal guide for a 5-day fact-finding tour of Israel and Palestine. You and I will spend all day, every day with Israeli Jews and Palestine Arabs and Christians, some religious, some secular.

People who have gone there and learned for themselves what’s really going on, as opposed to what they’ve learned here in the US, are shocked. It’s a trip I’ve taken 14 times since 1998.

This particular trip may not be necessary. Maybe all those things you said about the U.N. and Israel and Palestine were just to stir people up? But if you believe what you said, here are just some of the points I beg you to consider:

• Any discussion about Israel that doesn’t begin and end with the word “Occupation” is fatally flawed. This isn’t a war. It’s an occupation. There is only one occupier, Israel. And there is only one occupied people, the Palestinians.

• Israel is not, as you stated “…the only genuine democratic nation in that region.” Israel is clearly not a democracy, unless you think requiring the practice of one religion for full citizenship rights is democratic.

• Whenever an Israeli Defense Forces soldier kills a Palestinian teenager the Israeli government says it was the unfortunate result of an atrocity carried out by that Palestinian youth.

An action, for example, of throwing rocks in response to seeing his home demolished, or shoving an armed soldier upon seeing a relative shot, or arrested and taken into custody.

We can let go for now, any discussion about the fairness of using a live bullet from a soldier’s automatic rifle to stop a teenager’s rock throwing. If this sounds unlikely click on http://mailchimp/18d7sa.3f1a51/update-ahed-tamimi-khalida-jarrar

Back to our educational journey. If at the end of our five days together, you haven’t changed your mind about the correctness of Haley’s comments, I’ll pay for your trip. Yes, that’s what I said. And I mean it. If on our return, you don’t feel the need to do some serious updating of your original Opinion piece I will pay your expenses!

I’m not overly concerned. Since 1998 I’ve taken 49 people on a similar educational journey and each one of them came home with their opinion (and heart) changed. They could no longer support Israel’s Occupation and treatment of Palestinians.

Not insignificantly, if you’re like most people, you will come home saying this was one of the best vacations of your life. The food is scrumptious and healthy. The people are engaging, fully human and fully alive.

Finally, a brief word about “chosenness.” It may come up. It’s often used as a fallback position by people struggling for a way to explain the abuses the Israeli government has been responsible for since the UN partition in 1948.

People who have not one religious bone in their bodies will say that Israel is “chosen.” And in fact, the Hebrew Scriptures do state very clearly that God chose the Israelites to inherit the land.

The question is, were they chosen to be good stewards of the land and the people in it? Or were they, on the other hand, chosen to devastate the land and the people in it?

An honest discussion about this issue requires remembering that almost every bad thing that’s happened in Israel and Palestine over the last 70 years is the result of the Occupation of Palestine by Zionist interests. Of course it all happened with the blessing and backing of the United Nations.

P.S. Anyone who wants to join us is welcome. We can process their travel costs through our non-profit corporation, Americans Committed to Justice and Truth.

— John Newton Hickox left a 36-year career as a financial consultant in 1994. After four years in a Presbyterian Seminary he was ordained in the United Church of Christ, then, after a one -year residency at the Portland VA Medical Center, he became a Board Certified Chaplain. He is now retired, living in Dufur, where he sings the National Anthem at football games.

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