Common Grounds

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

January 04, 2024


Holier-Than-Thou Missed Opportunities


The Hague, The Netherlands 5 January 2024 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.




Despite a constant tug-of-war among its diverse ethnicities, look what Malaysia has accomplished since its independence from Great Britain in 1957, nine years after the State of Israel declared its independence with a modus operandi to steal, kill, and destroy.

Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!

Our friend took the iPhone family snapshot in Kuala Lumpur on 28 November 2023. Meet my wife to my right and our two daughters to my left. Our son, our daughter-in-law, and our two granddaughters were at home. In 2024, my wife and I will be 75 and 74. We’ll celebrate our 40th Anniversary this year.


By Abraham A. van Kempen
5 January 2024


It still isn’t peaches and cream among the primary ethnic groups in Malaysia – indigenous Malays, Chinese, and Indians (from India). But they’ve been working for a better tomorrow since their independence from British, Dutch, and Portuguese rule. And look what they have accomplished: a lesson for the world, especially Israel-Palestine.


Malaya gained independence from the British on 31 August 1957. At midnight, the Union Jack was lowered, and the Malayan flag was raised in its place at what is today Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) in Kuala Lumpur. The crowd, led by the first Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman, then chanted "Merdeka" seven times.


On 16 September 1963, Malaysia was formed by merging Malaya with the British colonies of North Borneo (now known as Sabah), Sarawak, and Singapore, with Brunei deciding not to join. The first several years of the country's history were marred by the Confrontation (Konfrontasi) —a series of acts of aggression by Indonesia that ultimately ended in her defeat and a formal peace that has held ever since — and claims to Sabah from the Philippines.


Singapore was officially expelled from the federation on 9 August 1965, after several bloody racial riots as Singapore's majority Chinese population and the People's Action Party, led by Lee Kuan Yew (later the long-ruling Prime Minister of Singapore), was seen as a threat to Malay dominance.


There were further racial riots in 1969, which led to the forced resignation of Tunku Abdul Rahman, his replacement by Tun Abdul Razak; changes in the Malaysian Constitution that sought to prevent the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) from ever being defeated in a future national election; and the start of the New Economic Policy, which sought to aggressively promote the economic interests of the generally poorer Malay community (and also the non-Malay indigenous peoples of East Malaysia) over those of the generally less poor Chinese community (with the poorest major ethnic group, the Indians, and also to a considerable extent the Orang Asli [aboriginal people] in the Peninsula primarily ignored in the process).




Malaysia is a multicultural society. While Malays (a branch of the Austronesian group) make up a 52% majority, 27% of Malaysians are Chinese (who are especially visible in the cities), 9% are Indians, 12% are members of aboriginal peoples (often called Orang Asli, Malay for "Original People"), and there is a miscellaneous grouping of 1.5% "others," including Thai communities in northern border states and the Portuguese clan in Malacca. The majority of the population (including virtually all Malays, as well as a significant minority of Indians) adheres to Islam, the state religion. There are substantial minorities who practice Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and animism, which are allowed under the Constitution, subject to the supremacy of Islam — for example, it is illegal to proselytize other religions to Muslims.




Due to their common history, Malaysia shares many cultural similarities with its neighbors, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore. As the first great kingdoms to emerge in the region were Hindu kingdoms with much influence from India, Malay culture has substantial Indian influences. This is most visible in Malay cuisine with its relatively heavy use of curries, albeit local instead of Indian spices, meaning that Malay curries often have a uniquely local flavor different from their Indian counterparts. Malaysia's minorities also continue to maintain their own distinct cultures, with the Chinese and Indian communities continuing to preserve the traditions brought from their ancestral homelands. In particular, Malaysia's ethnic Chinese community is considered to have preserved Chinese culture and language the best among all the overseas Chinese communities of the world. Moreover, as Malaysia was unaffected by the Cultural Revolution, the ethnic Chinese community of Malaysia has preserved many elements of traditional Chinese culture that have been lost in mainland China.




One of the significant characteristics of Malaysian culture is its celebration of various festivals and events. The year is filled with colorful, exhilarating, and exciting activities. Some are religious and solemn, but others are vibrant, joyous events. One exciting feature of the main festivals here is the 'open house' custom. This is when Malaysians celebrating the festival invite friends and family to come by their homes for some traditional delicacies and fellowship.


Multicultural Malaysia celebrates a vast range of festivals, but the ones to look out for nationwide are Islamic holidays, most notably the fasting month of Ramadan. During its 29 or 30 days, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and having sex from dawn to sunset. Not all Muslims follow the tradition or sustain the entire period of Ramadan fasting, but most do make an earnest effort. Pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women are not expected to fast, nor are the elderly, the infirm, or travelers. People get up before sunrise for a meal (sahur), take off early, and return home to break fast (buka puasa) at sunset.


At the end of the month is the festival of Eid ul-Fitr, known locally as Hari Raya Puasa or Aidilfitri, when many locals take one to two weeks off to 'balik kampung' or return to their home towns to meet family and friends. Accordingly, this is one of the many times a year when major cities like Kuala Lumpur have virtually no traffic congestion.

Another important festival is the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Adha, known locally as Hari Raya Haji or Aidiladha. During this festival, Muslims perform the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. In local mosques, cows and goats are donated and sacrificed by the faithful, after which the meat is distributed to all. Family reunions are also celebrated during other main festivals, where locals usually wear traditional costumes and finery, as these festivals are an integral feature of Malaysian society.


During Ramadan, non-Muslims are expected to be considerate of those fasting. Non-Muslims, as well as Muslims traveling (musafir), are exempt from fasting, but it is polite to refrain from eating or drinking in public. Public school systems also require non-Muslims to refrain from eating in front of those who are fasting. Many restaurants close during the day, and those that stay open maintain a low profile. Business travelers will notice that things move rather slowly than usual. The upside for foreign travelers is the Ramadan bazaars in every city and town, bustling with activity and bursting at the seams with great food. Hotels and restaurants also pull out all the stops to put on massive food spreads for fast-breaking feasts. During Ramadan, meals at the end of fasts are usually considered grand feasts. Worldwide fast-food chain McDonald's is known for holding several all-you-can-eat Ramadan feasts.


Other major holidays include Chinese New Year (around January/February), Deepavali or Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights (around October/November), the Buddhist holiday of Wesak (around May/June), and Christmas (25 December). During the Chinese New Year, George Town and Ipoh became significant cities as many local Chinese working and living in Kuala Lumpur originated there. However, this situation is changing gradually as more people make Kuala Lumpur their hometown. While visiting such festivals, travelers will experience many beautiful celebrations, but the downside is that many ethnic shops/eateries will be closed. The best option is to visit just after the first two days of the major festival (Hari Raya/Chinese New Year), when shops will open, and the festive mood has still not died down.


Deepavali, another major celebration, is celebrated by the Malaysian Hindus as the festival of light originating from classical India and one of the main cultural celebrations in Malaysia. Locals practice this tradition by wearing new clothes and receiving token gifts of money. This practice has been adopted by all Malaysians regardless of their religion. They distribute red packets or ang pow during Chinese New Year, green packets or 'duit raya' for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, and multi-colored packets during Deepavali.


Some uniquely Malaysian festivals of note include the Harvest Festival at the end of May each year and the 'Pesta Gawai' in early June, both thanksgiving celebrations held in East Malaysia.


Thaipusam is a Hindu festival that falls in January or February and is one of the must-see events. The largest procession in the country takes place at Batu Caves, Selangor. Male devotees carry decorated altars or kavadi up a flight of 272 steps toward the temple, all this while also having religious spears and hooks pierced through the external surfaces of their bodies. The ability is attributed to divine intervention and religious fervor. Female devotees join the procession carrying pots of milk on their heads instead.


In short, Malaysians enjoy freedom of movement and equality under the law, and they love to party.


The people of Israel-Palestine enjoy partying, too, but only among themselves. For over a century, freedom of movement and equality under the law have remained works in progress. Unlike the multi-cultural Malayans, the European Jews and the Palestinian Muslims do not share holidays. Worse, the Jewish Zealots in Israel intend to rebuild the Temple by destroying the Dome of the Rock located inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, which shares the site of the Jewish Temple Mount. Ironically, most Jews no longer believe in God. The minority of far-right religious fanatics tyrannize the majority in Israel-Palestine. Shamefully, approximately 70 million of the far-right radical Christian Nationalists in the United States, supported by their 600 million Evangelical followers worldwide, aid and abet the Jewish extremists. They, too, pray for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, one of Islam’s holiest sites.


The Jews who wandered into the Region starting in the late 1900s and culminating after World War II were the European colonists, contrary to the Malayans. These Europeans did what the Dutch, British, Spanish, French, Belgian, Italian, and Portuguese colonizers did before the Jewish colonists invaded and conquered the land. They stole, killed, destroyed, and dispossessed the inhabitants from their properties, displaced the indigenous from their land, caged the indefensible into unbearable living conditions, and sentenced the confined to a life of servitude.


Most Jews and many Palestinians now living in Israel-Palestine are cut from the same cloth. They stem from the House of Israel. The Apostles and Jesus himself describe the presumptive, holier-than-thou pedigreed Judeans of 2,000 years ago as obnoxious, power-hungry, and untouchable elitists who believed in their chosenness with an air of superiority and arrogance against their half-breed blood cousins, the remnants of Israel, at the time, segregated and detached in Galilee and Samaria.


Christians take note! The remnants of Israel and the half-breeds, segregated in Galilee and Samaria and parts of Judea, were Israelites. Many rank among the first and most loyal followers of Jesus as opposed to the pure-bred Judeans who viewed Jesus as a threat to the status quo. Of course, even the Judeans could not have possibly been pure-breeds. During their 400-years in Egypt, the Israelites intermarried with Egyptians. Joseph married an Egyptian. Moses married outside the faith. Abraham and Rebecca were born in present-day Iraq. Today, they would be considered Arabs.


Why is this so significant? Many Palestinians today descend from the remnants of Israel, Israelites ‘quarantined’ and cut off from the self-ennobled Chosen Judeans. Then and now, Judeans would not want to be in the same space as the other.


When the Romans expelled the Judean aristocracy and priesthood from the land, they proselytized pagans to convert to Judaism. During the next 1,900 years, they intermarried with their pagan converts. Over time, their presumed racial purity diluted. They also became half-breeds, remnants of Israel, just like their cousins in the 1st Century CE. The former Judeans, eventually referred to as Jews, gradually became more European. Because they fiercely defended their Jewish faith and maintained their ghetto mentality, fanatical Catholics, Protestants, and Fascists of all stripes and colors ruthlessly and mercilessly persecuted the Jewish minority.


The more than 2 million remnants of Israel who endured Roman rule in the 1st Century CE continued to till the Land. Many persisted in the Region. Gradually, they started to reflect Palestine's rich cultural and genetic heritage. In 132 CE, the Romans changed the country’s name from Judea back to Palestine. Palestine had always been a magnet that attracted people from all over the world. Of course, some indigenous Palestinians have evolved into becoming more Arab, as are many Mizrahi 9 or Oriental Middle Eastern Jews.


But most Palestinians, an admixture of Israelites and Gentiles, are an amalgam of humanity from all over. For millennia, the Region greets and meets East and West, with merchants traveling back and forth between Europe and Asia. Many have settled in the Land. Because of this vibrant genetic blend, Palestinians rank among the highly intelligent, the best looking, and the stunningly beautiful. Some have blue eyes and bronze skin. Others have blond hair yet are dark-skinned, and a handful are likely descendants of the Crusaders with red hair.


What most Israelis-Jews still deny, a history not taught in Israeli high schools, is that during the 7th Century CE, many indigenous people of Palestine – Jews and Christians – converted to Islam to please their new Arab overlords. As converted Muslims, they are exempt from paying the exorbitant extra surtaxes required of People of the Book. However, the gene pool remains intact. A DNA test will reveal that the indigenous Palestinians are genetically linked to the land. Conversely, the Jews from the diaspora in Central and Eastern Europe will reveal a genetic heritage – the genealogy – of where they’re from.


Consequently, many indigenous people of Palestine are more Israelite than many present-day Jews who have wandered into the region from Europe. David Green, aka David Ben-Gurion, and Itzhak Ben-Zvi wrote in 1918:


               “The local population in Palestine is more genetically related to the Jews than to any other people. It is quite probable that the fellahin10 [native peasant in Palestine] in Palestine are direct descendants of the Judeans and Canaanite rural population, with a slight admixture of Arab blood …” 11


David Ben-Gurion and Itzhak Ben-Zvi continue:


               “The fellahin are not descendants of the Arab conquerors, who captured Eretz Israel and Syria in the seventh century CE. The Arab conquerors did not destroy the agricultural population they found in the country. They expelled only the alien Byzantine rulers and did not touch the local population. Nor did the Arabs go in for settlement. Even in their former habitations, the Arabians did not engage in farming … They did not seek new lands to settle their peasantry, which hardly existed. Their primary interest in the new countries was political, religious, and material to rule, to propagate Islam, and to collect taxes.”


Tel Aviv University historian Professor Schlomo Sand states unequivocally: “… the ancient Judean peasants converted to Islam … they had done so for material reasons – chiefly to avoid taxations. Muslims are exempt from paying the sur-taxes imposed upon the People of the Book. They were in no way treasonous. Indeed, by clinging to their soil, they remained loyal to their homeland … In addition to the Muslim law, there was, for a long time, a code of ‘fellahin laws, or unwritten customary judgments known as Shariat al-Khalil – the laws of the patriarch Abraham.’”


The people of Israel-Palestine must and are meant to be living side by side within one homeland inside two borderless zones, rejoicing freedom of movement and the right of passage, sharing Jerusalem and the Region to become a light among nations.


The first task is to heal the traumas and to commit to understanding each other. So, let’s get radical! Be kind! I am challenging the noble and proud Palestinian Resistance 27 to combine forces with the noble and proud Jews with conscience 28 and deploy kindness as their stealth weapon. Friendship destroys enemies 29. Yes, there is an Israeli ‘underground’ 30 consisting of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. They, too, despise the present Israeli regime.


More than anything, they want a democratically invoked regime change. Can and will the Palestinian Resistance and the Israeli Underground come and work together to reach common goals? Is there another choice? And will a Nelson Mandela 31 type come out of the ashes? 32


Walking the tightrope requires balancing, dealing cautiously with tension and compromise.


               "We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed, words to consider, reconsider," 33 as cited by Poet Elizabeth Alexander at the first Presidential Inauguration of Barack H. Obama in January 2009.


And light outshines darkness. Help galvanize the world to defeat tyranny! People on ALL sides of the Divide want more than peace. They want freedom and equal rights.


And let’s work together to replace the present regimes with new leadership. The Region needs dedicated and creative leaders bolstered with moral courage and moral imagination to hammer out reconciliation and negotiate restitution to effectuate the Israeli-Palestinian Quest to co-exist.


Don’t fall anymore for hate, fear, and war-mongering. Don’t cede to your worst instincts, hatred, and fear against an enemy you don’t know.


Van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, 2nd Edition, (Kindle Locations 59-60, 217-239, 2882-2897).


What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.




Kill, Steal, and Destroy! To most Israelis, a suitable punishment


A Palestinian boy sits on the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, December 29, 2023. Credit: Fatima Shbair /AP

By Amira Hass
Haaretz Israel
1 January 2024

In our living room, in live broadcast, the Israel Defense Forces are grinding into dust the homes of 1.9 million internally displaced Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In the language of the news anchors and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, it's called: "The IDF is doing outstanding work."

In their full support of the pulverization, Israelis are saying: That's the suitable punishment for the despicable rapists.

'I never dreamed there would be among us, the Palestinians, people and organizations for whom rape is part of the struggle.'

The friend who called Friday began crying right after saying hello. She read the New York Times investigation into the rape and brutality against women by Hamas gunmen and their adjuncts on October 7.

               "Tell me it's not true," she asked me rhetorically. She continued: "I never dreamed there would be among us, the Palestinians, people and organizations for whom rape is part of the struggle. Where does this barbarism come from," she asked.

               "From the anti-depressants to which many young people have become addicted? From being imprisoned in a narrow territory and cut off from the world? From fiery sermons? From porn sites? From the protruding rifles? From the approaching death? From all of it together?"

She has seen and experienced a great deal in her 70 years: poverty and hope in the refugee camps; wars; women and children killed by Israel; children in dance and art groups; young adults who adhered to the armed struggle; siege, displacement, and exile. She joined the PLO long before Hamas was established.


An injured woman stretches her leg as she sits outside a tent at a camp housing displaced Palestinians outside the European Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 31, 2023. Credit: - - AFP

She expressed her disgust at the violence against civilians on October 7, when she still hoped that the reports of rape were untrue. From the barrage of abuse that was hurled at her, she, like other Palestinians, came to understand that public discussion of the heavy price the Hamas attack is exacting from the Palestinians themselves and of the limits to the struggle for liberation from Israeli oppression must be postponed. Right now, the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants are being shredded, and what's most important is to stop the fighting immediately.

Not in our living rooms, but in the living rooms of millions of others, 2.3 million human beings are being crowded into an increasingly small area, humiliated and tortured to the point of thirst, hunger, and disease. In the Hebrew of Minister Benny Gantz, it's "a long, reality-changing campaign."

And most Israelis are saying, in their implied support for thirst and starvation as tools of combat: That's the punishment for the murderers who murdered our children and our elderly and our women.

Someone I don't know personally, the son of Holocaust survivors, wrote words of encouragement to me: "You don't give a pass to us Israelis who want more than anything to deny that the Palestinians are human beings like us. .. We have become Sodom."

A displaced woman I don't know, who had lived in one of the neighborhoods in Gaza City that we have already destroyed, wrote this to me: "

               We're in a UN Relief and Works Agency school [in the central Gaza Strip). I need diapers and milk for my daughters: One is 18 months old, and the other is three months. A month and a half ago, when we obeyed instructions and went south, my husband was detained [as part of the IDF mass detentions of Palestinians in the Strip]. I have not heard from him since. Maybe we'll go to Rafah [in the southern Strip, at the border with Egypt]."

A reader calling himself Gilis commented on my article [in Haaretz Hebrew; publication of the English version is pending] about some 1,800 Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip who have lost multiple members in Israeli airstrikes:

               "Wow, I'm enjoying reading your articles lately – the suffering and the pain of these rotten people is my fuel. The greater their sadness, the greater my optimism for a better future.

               In their death, we shall be comforted."


Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip sit in their makeshift tent camp in the Muwasi area on December 31, 2023. Credit: Fatima Shbair /AP

Why should readers of Haaretz (and "Gilis" is not alone) be forbidden to say what Arab affairs analysts are allowed to say on a live television broadcast?

               A Palestinian posting a similar comment, or one even less bloodthirsty, would undoubtedly be arrested and tried for incitement if not for calling for genocide.

               If a European, American, or South African citizen were to write like that about Israelis, the diligent hunters of Jew haters would add his comment to their graphs showing an increase in antisemitism and then be interviewed about it on every news program.

The facts are laid one next to another, like the bodies wrapped in sheets of white plastic that we don't see in our living rooms. Horizontally. Not one on the other, not one instead of the other. Hamas attacked, abducted, and killed soldiers; it humiliated an army that considered itself invincible; it raped; it murdered and abducted unarmed civilians, including babies.

Thousands of families will bear their suffering forever. Armed Hamas men are now fighting on the soil of the Strip against Israeli soldiers and occasionally firing rockets into Israel. Both armies are incurring losses.


The Israel Defense Forces have already slain about 8,000 babies and children
and more than 5,100 women,
out of a total of about 21,000 Palestinian fatalities that have been recorded.


The number of older adults slain by the IDF and the number of bodies that are still under the rubble are not yet known. Hundreds of thousands of families will bear their suffering forever, with more to come from the pilots and the operators of combat drones and bulldozers. In the Hebrew of President Isaac Herzog, this is "the war of the family of nations, of all those who seek justice, peace and liberty."

Most Israelis are saying: This is the appropriate punishment for the fact that one day, the murderous Hamas expelled us from the Garden of Eden in which we lived.

And I shall continue to say:

               They were expelled from the illusion that one can forever live in happiness, prosperity, and safety while ruling cruelly over an entire people and depriving them of life, freedom, space, land, and hope in their homeland.

'The suffering and pain of this rotten nation is my fuel,' one reader commented about my reports on Gaza Palestinians.




Editor's Note | In war, what is true?


Here is an eyewitness report:


There are so many videos of hostages being released with testimonies of how well they have been treated. They were allowed to form their own communities for communal interactions with access to women's sanitary kits, antibiotics, and medicine.


There was even testimony of Hamas soldiers covering the hostages with their bodies so as not to get them shot by the Israeli army. It's not right what Hamas did. But they follow Islamic principles in taking care of hostages.


There was even an interview where the lady said the Hamas soldier played "arm wrestle" with her because he was saying she's staying strong through exercise. She said he even took a cloth and covered his hand because men aren't supposed to touch women unless they are family.





A New York Times story claiming a pattern of gender-based violence on October 7 hinged on the story of Gal Abdush. But the Abdush family says there is no proof she was raped and that Times reporters interviewed them under false pretenses.


New York Times Headquarters


By The Short String
3 January 2024


On December 28, the New York Times published an "investigative" report on gender-based violence allegedly committed by Palestinians during the October 7 attack. The newspaper says the story was based on over 150 interviews conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jeffrey Gettleman, along with Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella. The story concludes that Hamas fighters engaged in systematic rape and sexual violence against Israeli women.


The story repeats the October 7 testimonies previously published, debunked, and discredited. Still, the Times investigation hinges predominantly on one central story, the story of the rape of "Gal Abdush," who is described by the Times as "The Woman in the Black Dress."


Although claiming its story proves that "the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence on Oct. 7," the integrity of the New York Times story was undermined almost as soon as it was published, including from the Abdush family itself who says there is no proof Gal Abdush was raped and that the New York Times interviewed them under false pretenses.

Continue reading!





The Germans sentenced Louvain on Wednesday to become a wilderness, and with the German system and love of thoroughness, they left Louvain an empty and blackened shell.”



Reported by Richard Harding Davis from Louvain, Belgium

The New York Tribune
August 31, 1914


London, 30 August 1914 | I left Brussels on Thursday afternoon and have just arrived in London. For two hours on Thursday night, I was in the city of Louvain for six hundred years. The Germans were burning it and, to hide their work, kept us locked in the railway carriages. But the story was written against the sky, was told to us by German soldiers incoherent with excesses, and we could read it in the faces of women and children being led to concentration camps and of citizens on their way to be shot. The Germans sentenced Louvain on Wednesday to become a wilderness, and with the German system and love of thoroughness, they left Louvain an empty and blackened shell.


The reason for this appeal to the torch and the execution of noncombatants, as given to me on Thursday morning by General von Lutwitz, military governor of Brussels, was this: on Wednesday, while the German army commander of the troops of Louvain was at the Hotel de Ville talking to the Burgomaster, a son of the Burgomaster with an automatic pistol shot the chief of staff and German staff surgeons. Lutwitz claims this was the signal for the civil guard, in civilian clothes on roofs, to fire upon the German soldiers in the open square below. He also said the Belgians had quick-firing guns brought from Antwerp. As for a week the Germans had occupied Louvain and closely guarded all approaches, the story that there was any gunrunning is absurd. Fifty Germans were killed and wounded. For that, said Lutwitz, Louvain must be wiped out. So, in pantomime with his fist, he swept the papers across his table. "The Hotel de Ville," he added, "was a beautiful building; it is a pity it must be destroyed."


Ten days ago, I was in Louvain when it was occupied by Belgian troops and King Albert and his staff. The city dates from the eleventh century, and the population was 42,000. The citizens were brewers, lacemakers, and manufacturers of ornaments for churches. The university was the most celebrated in European cities and still is, or was, the headquarters of the Jesuits.


The Town Hall was ancient and beautiful, an example of Gothic architecture in detail and design, more celebrated even than the Town Hall of Bruges or Brussels. It was five hundred years old and lately had been repaired with great taste and at significant cost. Opposite was the Church of St. Pierre, dating from the fifteenth century, a very noble building with many chapels filled with carvings of the Renaissance in wood, stone, and iron. In the university, there were 150,000 volumes. Near it was the bronze statue of Father Damien, priest of the leper colony in the South Pacific, of which Robert Louis Stevenson wrote. All these buildings are now empty, exploding cartridges. Statues, pictures, carvings, parchments, archives -- all are gone. No one defends the sniper. But because ignorant Mexicans, when their city was invaded, fired upon our sailors, we did not destroy Vera Cruz. Even had we bombarded Vera Cruz, money could have restored it. Money can never restore Louvain. Great architects, dead these six hundred years, made it beautiful, and their handiwork belonged to the world. With torch and dynamite, the Germans have turned these masterpieces into ashes, and all the Kaiser's horses and all his men cannot bring them back again.


When we reached Louvain by troop train, the entire heart of the city was destroyed, and fire reached Boulevard Tirlemont, which faces the railroad station. The night was windless, and the sparks rose in steady, leisurely pillars, falling back into the furnace from which they sprang. In their work, the soldiers were moving from the city's heart to the outskirts, street by street, from house to house.... In other wars, I have watched men on one hilltop, without haste, without heat, fire at men on another hill, and in consequence, on both sides, good men were wasted. But no women and children were in those fights, and the shells struck only vacant stretches of veldt or uninhabited mountainsides. At Louvain, it was war upon the defenseless, war upon churches, colleges, shops of milliners and lacemakers; war brought to the bedside and fireside, against women harvesting in the fields, against children in wooden shoes at play in the streets. At Louvain that night, the Germans were like men after an orgy.


Outside the station in the public square, the people of Louvain passed in an unending procession, women bareheaded, weeping, men carrying the children asleep on their shoulders, all hemmed in by the shadowy army of gray wolves. Once, they were halted, and a line of men marched among them. They well knew their fellow townspeople. These were on their way to be shot. And better to point the moral, an officer halted both processions and, climbing to a cart, explained why the men were going to die. He warned others not to bring down upon themselves a like vengeance. As those being led to spend the night in the fields looked across to those marked for death, they saw old friends, neighbors of long-standing, and men of their household. The headlights of an automobile illuminated the officer bellowing at them from the cart. He looked like an actor held in a spotlight on a darkened stage. It was all like a scene upon the stage, so unreal, so inhuman, you felt that it could not be true, that the curtain of fire, purring and crackling and sending up hot sparks to meet the kind, calm stars, was only a painted backdrop; that the reports of rifles from the dark rooms came from blank cartridges, and that these trembling shopkeepers and peasants ringed in bayonets would not in a few minutes die, but that they and their homes would be restored to their wives and children. You felt it was only a nightmare, cruel and uncivilized. And then you remember that the German Emperor has told us what it is. It is his Holy War.

A cable sent from the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs under date of 8 August 1914:


Above: A German postcard showing the "Attack on German troops by Belgian civilians" at Louvain.

"On Tuesday evening, a body of German troops who had been driven back retired in disorder upon the town of Louvain.


Germans guarding the town thought the retiring troops were Belgians and fired upon them. To excuse this mistake, the Germans, despite the most energetic denials on the part of the authorities, pretended that Belgians had fired on the Germans. However, all the inhabitants, including police officers, had been disarmed for more than a week.


Without any examination and without listening to any protest, the commanding officer announced that the town would be immediately destroyed.


All inhabitants had to leave their homes at once; some were made prisoners; women and children were put into a train of which the destination was unknown; soldiers with firebombs set fire to the different quarters of the town; the splendid Church of St. Pierre, the markets, the university, and its scientific establishments, were given to the flames, and it is probable that the Hotel de Ville, this celebrated jewel of Gothic art, will also have disappeared in the disaster.


Several notabilities were shot at sight.


Thus, a town of 40,000 inhabitants, which, since the fifteenth century, has been the intellectual and scientific capital of the Low Countries, is a heap of ashes.


Americans, many of whom have followed the course at this illustrious alma mater and have there received such cordial hospitality, cannot remain insensible to this outrage on the rights of humanity and civilization, which is unprecedented in history."




Before the turn of the century, the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga wrote that “nationalism, the exaggerated and unjustified tendency to emphasize national interests, has produced in our time the abominable curse of this century.” 8



By Abraham A. van Kempen
5 January 2024


Would the United States and the European Union risk World War III
and risk nuclear retaliation if Tel Aviv becomes another Aleppo?


Who wants a nuclear crater in their backyard?

After 1848 and up to World War II, militant, emotion-laden, and self-centered ‘sacred’ collective egotism superseded the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.


Nationalism equated to superior race, cultural supremacy, blood dominance, obsessive possession of land rights, manifest destiny, chosen people, redemption, and power, together with arrogance stemming from ignorance and disdain and condescension against the other. This vile, malicious, and criminal form of ‘patriotism’ became predatory and depraved. 9


‘Jewish’ nationalism, cloaked as ‘Zionism,’ a thundering consequence of the worst kind of European fascism, urges:


               “If the welfare of our Fatherland should require conquest, subjugation, dispossession, and extermination of foreign nations, we must not be deterred by humanitarian qualms,” which, according to T. H. Tetens, author of ‘The New Germany and the Old Nazis,’ is the code of Pan-German political nationalism. 10


Richard Silverstein: “This toxic romance with fascist ideals on both the Zionist left and right has led us to where we are now. It has led to an Israeli state that worships power and military might. A state which finds moral values and international law not just expendable, but inimical to the national interest; a state which upholds the supremacy of Jews over non-Jewish citizens.” 15


The Israeli House of Cards, fabricated and shaped on ideas envisaged during post-revolutionary Russia that also trickled into the ideological mindset of post-World War I Germany 26, can and will eventually collapse, preferably democratically from within; otherwise, inescapably from without.


If only the people of Israel were mature and free enough of the frenzy of nationalism to vote their self-perpetuating, inveterate Government out and choose humane, conscientious, and peaceful representatives who would come to terms with the harsh realities, the growing power and tempers of the 137 nations worldwide that support the indigenous Palestinians.


A shift of balance of power, a secret military alliance, a new lethal weapon; and then, given an atmosphere overstrained because of some border incident—a shepherd, a dam, a water pipeline, fishing rights or marsh draining, and the Ben Gurion to Binyamin Netanyahu jingoists rushing in with their heartless One Thousand-Eyes-for-ONE-eye surprise attacks – a brush fire may turn into a holocaust.


Israel-Palestine is the world’s most dangerous powder keg. 27 Enemies who are enemies against a common enemy could become, geopolitically, comrades in arms.


Van Kempen, Abraham. Christian Zionism ... Enraptured Around a Golden Calf, 2nd Edition, (Kindle Locations 2065-2148).



Many pieces are moving around the board on this second day of January 2024


An Israeli artillery unit in October near Netivot, Israel, firing toward Gaza. Credit...Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images


By Heather Cox Richardson
2 January 2024


On February 4, 2021, just after Secretary of State Antony Blinken took office, Biden spoke at the State Department and said, “The message I want the world to hear today” is that “America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.” In a New York Times article from December 31, Peter Baker, Edward Wong, Julian E. Barnes, and Isabel Kershner emphasize that Biden and his team have been engaged constantly in diplomacy with Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Since the October 7, 2023, attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Israel, Biden has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 14 times and visited Israel; Blinken has traveled to the region three times and visited Israel five times.

On December 22, in the Christian Science Monitor, Arab political journalist Taylor Luck and correspondent Fatima AbdulKarim reported that Arab Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan, the US, and the European Union have created “[a] massive postwar reconstruction plan…for the besieged Gaza Strip.” The plan is to “rebuild the coastal strip, unite and overhaul Palestinian governance, and create a Palestinian security force in Gaza to ensure Palestinian and Israeli security.”

Arab diplomats insist the reconstruction of southern Gaza, including alleviating suffering, rebuilding housing and infrastructure, and restoring jobs, must be “rapid”; Gulf states have set $3 billion a year for ten years as the first budget. The plan calls for a “revamped and revitalized” Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza and the West Bank with current president Mahmoud Abbas as a figurehead and an apolitical unity government running affairs.

The plan is still developing, but already the main obstacles are Israel’s governing coalition, led by Netanyahu, who refuses the ideas of a two-state solution and of a Palestinian Authority in charge of Gaza, and Hamas, which Gulf states as well as the US reject as a participant in the future governance of Gaza. Other Iran-backed militias also oppose such a solution.


Continue reading



Related Articles Recently Posted on




Our Friday News Analysis | 29 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 5 of 5): Cut from the Same Cloth.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 22 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 4 of 5): Defiling God’s Covenant of Righteousness and Justice.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 15 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 3 of 5): Defying the Priesthood of Memory.'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 8 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 2 of 3).'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 1 December 2023, 'A Shared Identity (Part 1 of 3).'.


Our Friday News Analysis | 24 November 2023, 'Shooting Themselves in Both Feet. Soon, There Won’t Be Any Feet Left.'


Our Friday News Analysis | 17 November 2023, 'We, Too, Choose ONE side – JUSTICE!'


Our Friday News Analysis | 10 November 2023, 'Will Humanity Ever Learn, "You Reap What You Sow?"'


Our Friday News Analysis | 03 November 2023, 'How Do You Love Your Enemies? HAVE NONE!


Our Friday News Analysis | 27 October 2023, 'Tafasta Merube lo Tafasta – If You Grab Too Much, You've Caught Nothing.'


Our Friday News Analysis | 20 October 2023, 'BREAKING NEWS! The NEIGHBORS Want PEACE.'


Our Friday News Analysis | 13 October 2023, 'Will the People of the Region Ever Greet Each Other with, "Welcome Home?"




Our Wednesday News Analysis | 27 December 2023, '‘Are we the baddies?’ Western support for genocide in Gaza means the answer is yes'.


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 27 December 2023, 'Our Wednesday News Analysis | Israel-Palestine war: How Gaza changed global politics'.


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 20 December 2023, 'Opinion | Israel Killed Thousands of Children in Gaza. How Can So Many Israelis Remain Indifferent?'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 13 December 2023, 'Israel-Palestine war: For Netanyahu and his political allies, peace is more dangerous than war.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 6 December 2023, 'Israel has a long history of taking Palestinian children captive.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 29 November 2023, 'Behind the mask.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 22 November 2023, 'Dear President Biden: The Elders' open letter on Israel and Palestine.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 15 November 2023, 'Condemn if you wish, but Palestinians will pay a heavy price.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 08 November 2023, 'Why Israel wants to erase context and history in the war on Gaza.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 01 November 2023, 'Israel's Long-Held Plan to Drive Gaza's People into Sinai is Now Within Reach.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 25 October 2023, 'Israel-Palestine war: Israel is caught lying time and again. And yet we never learn.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 18 October 2023, 'A Textbook Case of Genocide.'


Our Wednesday News Analysis | 13 October 2023, The West's hypocrisy towards Gaza's breakout is stomach-turning.'




The Evangelical Pope | 'God is On the Side of Justice: Compassionate and Merciful for the Oppressed and Oppressor', 1 January 2024


The Evangelical Pope | 'The Message of Christmas', 25 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'The Gospel of Life is for Everyone.', 18 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'Let's pause and reason together.', 11 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'The Dream of God, The Dream of All Humankind', 4 December 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'Don't Get Discouraged So Easily!', 27 November 2023


The Evangelical Pope | 'Mistaken Ideologies Mislead Humanity', 20 November 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'The Fullness of Joy,' 13 November 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'Where Are the Good Samaritans,' 6 November 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'The Word is Reconciliation,' 30 October 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'Freedom!,' 23 October 2023.


The Evangelical Pope| 'Suffering for Doing Good,' 16 October 2023.






The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of the Building the Bridge Foundation, The Hague.


Fill in the field below to share your opinion and post your comment.

Some information is missing or incorrect

The form cannot be sent because it is incorrect.


This article has 0 comments at this time. We invoke you to participate the discussion and leave your comment below. Share your opinion and let the world know.






Latest Blog Articles