I Am American, Jewish and … Banned From Israel 

GUEST WORDS--This month, the Israeli government announced that activists affiliated with 20 organizations, including my organization Codepink, would be banned from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories because of our support for the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. (Photo above: Author Medea Benjamin, center, demonstrating for Palestinian rights.)

As a Jew, this causes me tremendous sadness because I have a lifetime attachment to Israel and Palestine. It also deepens my commitment to working for peace and equality for all the peoples of the region.

I first went to Israel 50 years ago, right after the June 1967 war. I was 16 years old and spent the summer living on the kibbutz Ein Gedi, right on the Dead Sea. I loved the kibbutz, where I learned about farming, communal living and socialism (yes, it was a socialist kibbutz at the time). I also learned, however, about the contempt and racism many Jews exhibited towards Palestinians and other Arabs.

GUEST WORDS--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "Give Us the Ballot" speech in 1957 advocating for voting rights for African Americans.  

When African Americans faced racist Jim Crows laws, and a Congress and president who failed to take action to protect Americans from discrimination, Dr. King had this message for people fighting for Civil Rights: 

Keep going today. Keep moving amid every obstacle. Keep moving amid every mountain of opposition. 

GUEST COMMENTARY--Not a lot of people remember this, but George W Bush actually campaigned in 2000 against the interventionist foreign policy that the United States had been increasingly espousing. Far from advocating the full-scale regime change ground invasions that his administration is now infamous for, Bush frequently used the word “humble” when discussing the type of foreign policy he favored, condemning nation-building, an over-extended military, and the notion that America should be the world’s police force.

Eight years later, after hundreds of thousands of human lives had been snuffed out in Iraq and Afghanistan and an entire region horrifically destabilized, Obama campaigned against Bush’s interventionist foreign policy, edging out Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries partly because she had supported the Iraq invasion while he had condemned it. The Democrats, decrying the warmongering tendencies of the Republicans, elected a President of the United States who would see Bush’s Afghanistan and Iraq and raise him Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, along with a tenfold increase in drone strikes. Libya collapsed into a failed state where a slave trade now runs rampant, and half a million people died in the Syrian war that Obama and US allies exponentially escalated.

GUEST WORDS--I am old enough to know there is no Santa Claus, so I am writing to Jesus with my wish list. It’s only been 2017-8 years since Jesus was supposedly around, and the Church of Rome was supposedly founded by his acolytes and continued since that time, so that only about 96 generations have passed between then and now, with much history written and unwritten that suggests maybe there is some truth there.

Also, I have had the good fortune of having met many people who profess to be followers of Jesus and they are really amazing people, feeding and clothing the poor, ministering to the sick, visiting the imprisoned, resisting war and struggling for peace, that I have decided having faith that Jesus will respond is a better bet than Santa.

So, here goes: Jesus all I want for Christmas is 1.6 TRILLION dollars.

That’s all. Nothing else. I can live with just the one gift, thanks.

GUEST WORDS--In order to prove he doesn’t have dementia, as alleged in a recent book, President Trump called a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday — and requested that it be televised.

Ivanka: Show them at your best, Daddy!

He then proceeded to completely sell out the base and actually added to his problems by appearing senile.

In a half-dozen exchanges — which, again, he wanted televised — Trump responded to remarks as if he had no clue what the person was saying. One senator would talk — he’d agree. Someone else would say the exact opposite — he’d agree with that, too.

Actual exchange:

GUEST WORDS--There is a Facebook group dedicated to promoting the infamous blood libel—the story that Jews, now or in the past, have ritually murdered Christian children. It's a myth that has been used to justify violent persecution against Jews for centuries.  

Since Facebook bans hate speech based on religious affiliation, every couple of months I like to report the blood libel page for violating Facebook's community standards. In fact, I and many others have been reporting it for years, as the group slowly grew from around 500 followers to over 1,200. Every time, within hours or days, Facebook responds: The page can stay. 

DEAR KRIS KRINGLE--I hope you don’t mind me writing you at the California beach house address you slipped me when we met at that Mattel corporate event. I would have mailed this to the North Pole, but I don’t have any international stamps.

I know that most of the letters you get are from kids. So let me start out by saying there is no toy I need. And while I’m on the subject, please don’t get my 6-year-old the hot tub he asked you for—those things are dangerous for little kids, and our house is so small that there’d be no place to put it.

But there is something I want for Christmas—not just for myself but for my state.

What does California need? We’re a relatively rich place with nearly 40 million residents, which you might think would be more than enough people. Except that it’s not.

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