The PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network sinks yet deeper into the muck of anti-Semitism on its Facebook page today. It links to an article from left-wing site Common Dreams from a guy named John Whitbeck, a lawyer who has advised the Palestinian Authority in negotiations with Israel.
Now, here’s the thing: on its Facebook page, this is what the IPMN chose to highlight in its comment on the article:
Quote: Western politicians and the western media customarily apply the term “international community” to the United States and whatever countries are willing to publicly support it on a given issue, and apply the term “rogue state” to any country that actively resists Israeli-American global domination.
Israeli-American global domination? Folks, we’re talking Protocols of the Elders of Zion territory here. I mean, American domination I can see–superpower, world’s biggest economy, etc. But Israel? Of course, the paranoids of both far left and far right think Israel essentially runs the U.S., that everything America does it does because it’s been ordered to do so by its Zionist masters, so….
We’re also talking about that strange, schizophrenic condition that I think of as “John Birch Syndrome,” because I first encountered it years ago researching the John Birch Society. On the one hand, the IPMN repeatedly links to articles trumpeting Israel’s growing isolation in the world, then on the other it links to stories that warn of Israeli plans for world domination.
So how much more of this is it going to take before the PCUSA realizes that the IPMN is an excruciating embarrassment and cuts it loose as an official denominational organization?
The PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network is again linking to an anti-Semitic web site. This time it’s Salem News, which claims to be news of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, but which is actually run by the same people who run the anti-Semitic sewer Veterans Today. The article in question is by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit universities.
Qumsiyeh is an interesting character. He is a Palestinian Christian who has taught in the U.S., and says that he is or has been an adviser to the National Council of Churches and Sabeel-North America, has served on the steering committee of the mainline church-supported U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and was a co-founder of Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (an organization with ties to, among others, the Stalinist-controlled International ANSWER). He is also an advocate for the dismantling of Israel, and its incorporation into a single state in the Holy Land that would be dominated by the Palestinians, having even written a book about it. He is also (surprise!) a contributing writer to the anti-Semitic VT sister-site My Catbird Seat.
His piece in the Salem News is about what you’d expect. It’s about Bethlehem, and it’s “apartheid wall” this and “racist settlers” that, the usual stuff. It also contains a couple of howlers:
Christmas day was spent mostly in Hebron old city including in a demonstration against the racist settlers who continue to attempt to destroy the old city.
There are 120,000 Palestinians living in Hebron. There are 500 Jewish settlers (who, I will readily grant, have no business being there, and are among the nastiest members of the settler tribe). How 500 Jews are going to “destroy” Hebron is beyond me. Maybe just by being there.
We are the descendents of those first believing Shepherds who saw the star and believed in Jesus. Jesus born in a country called Palestine was thus Palestinian by birth but when he grew up he also challenged a Jewish ruler (Herod) put in place by a Western government.
So the shepherds of the Christmas story were Palestinians, and Jesus was a Palestinian–despite the fact that the Palestinians are Arabs, and Arabs didn’t live in the Levant until after the Islamic invasion of the 7th century. Whatever.
This is the second time in less than a week that IPMN has linked to a VT staff writer at a site other than VT. Apparently they think that if they don’t link to the sewer directly, they won’t come up smelling like garbage. Nice try, folks.
For those of you whose blood pressure is a little low, a reminder of the kind of people IPMN is associating itself with. This is from a piece by J. Bruce Campbell, a staff writer for Veterans Today (he hasn’t been published by Salem News yet, but it’s only a matter of time), whose latest screed includes the following:
In an essay called Jewish Rule, I wrote that American men have to accept responsibility for what the Jews have maneuvered our government to do to the rest of the world. One reader thought this was an outrageous idea and that it was in conflict with my accusation of the Jews for all their crimes against humanity. Yes, the Jews are responsible for all the death and destruction, but we are responsible for allowing them to have it done by our government, in our name. Either we are men or we are slaves to the Jews. Which one would you say we are?
The Jews destroyed Lebanon again, just a few years ago. That’s what the Jews do. The Jews stole over two trillion dollars from the Pentagon. That’s also what they do. The Jews knocked down the World Trade Center because they didn’t want to pay to demolish it legally. That sort of insurance fraud is known as “Jewish lightning.”
The most responsible man in the world right now is an Iranian engineer named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That makes him the most powerful man in the world. He is the role model, the man we need to emulate. Not only is he the president of Iran, but he has been accused for years of being one of the revolutionaries who took the 52 American embassy personnel hostage and held them for 444 days.
All American diplomats are spies whose jobs are to subvert and undermine the countries in which they work, and to place paid stooges in power. What our government did to the Iranians was so outrageous, but it took them about twenty-five years to get even a little.
The Iranians are perfectly within their rights to attack the United States based on the many reports of our and Israel’s plan to attack them. The fact is, though, that Moslems do not engage in unprovoked action. They generally don’t engage in very drastic action even when they are provoked, although they have flexed their muscles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, purely in self-defense. But we have driven them into a corner, and even a rabbit will bite you if you give it no way out of a corner. If Moslems were as murderous as the Jews claim, Israel would no longer exist as a Zionist entity. It is the Jews and Judaized Americans and Englishmen who attack without provocation, as they continue to prove. Jews are the masters of murder, as they proved with the USS Liberty, 9/11, in Lebanon, not to mention their genocide of Palestinians, of Russians and Ukrainians – and Germans.
(Hat tip: Viola Larsen.)
It is no secret that far left Gentile despisers of Israel use Jews as cover. Check the web sites of organizations such as the mainline church-supported U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, or the PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network, and you will find lots of articles quoted and linked to written by the likes of Jeff Halper, Gilad Atzmon, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, Gideon Levy, and the like. The thought is, “If there are Jews who hate Israel and everything it does and stands for, then it’s OK for a Gentile to feel the same way.” Supposedly it muzzles the charge of anti-Semitism: Jews can’t be anti-Semitic, after all, can they?
Alan Dershowitz examines the phenomenon of the Israel-hating Jew in a column in the Jerusalem Post (sadly, behind a paid-subscription wall) that is available at Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He looks at the matter through the lens of a recently published novel called The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson, but first he lays out the issue:
The question I’m most often asked is why so many people, especially Jews, are so obsessed with Israel’s imperfections and so sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. I’m not referring to critics of some Israeli policies – such as the building of civilian settlements in the West Bank. I myself share some of those criticisms. I’m focusing on Jews who compare Israel to Nazi Germany and analogize the situation of the Palestinians to the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust. No rational person could seriously believe such absurd exaggerations. So something beyond rationality and truth must be at work.
Any objective assessment of Israel’s actions over the 62 years of its existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people would rank it near the top in compliance with human rights, civil liberties and efforts to minimize civilian casualties. The Israeli government has repeatedly offered statehood to the Palestinians: in 1948, in 2000-2001 and in 2008. Each time the Palestinian leadership rejected these offers. The current Israeli government is now offering to negotiate, without any precondition, a two-state solution and an end of the occupation of the West Bank. (Following the end of the occupation of Gaza, Southern Lebanon and Sinai.)
There is much to criticize in Israel’s actions, as there is with regard to the actions of every democracy. But no nation in history, faced with comparable threats, has ever behaved any better than Israel. Nor has any nation in history, in so short a period of time, contributed as much to humanity in terms of life-saving medical technology, environmental achievements and fighting global terrorism. Israel’s actions deserve, perhaps, no better than a B in a world of C’s, D’s and F’s. Yet it is regarded as a singularly evil pariah state by so many. This requires an explanation beyond the rational.
The extraordinary sympathy for the Palestinians, in a world with so little sympathy for the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Chechnians and other dispossessed people with strong claims to statehood, independence and human rights, also requires explanation. The hard-left and the international human rights establishment have become obsessed with the Palestinians, to the prejudice of other more deserving causes. The Palestinians have repeatedly rejected the two-state solution in favor of violent efforts to destroy Israel, terrorize its civilians and make alliances with some of the world’s worst human rights offenders. They have suffered to be sure, and deserve sympathy along with others who have suffered, but much of their suffering has been self-inflicted. The Palestinian leadership-Arafat, Hamas, even the current Palestinian Authority-has been among the worst human rights offenders in the world: targeting civilians; hiding behind human shields; denying religious freedom; stifling dissent; executing political opponents with no semblance of due process; inciting hatred against Jews, Christians and others; and denying equality to women, gays and non-Muslims. And yet the Palestinians have become the darlings of the hard-left-the cause de rigueur of the human rights establishment.
When the best is regarded as the worst, and the worst regarded as the best, something is surely wrong. When I am asked the question: Why is Israel so demonized and why are the Palestinians so glorified, especially by some Jews, I am used to responding that the answer is beyond my pay scale: it is more in the domain of Freud, Sartre and others who are capable of deeply exploring the human condition.
He raises some excellent questions, and I think that at least some of the answer is found in his references to the “hard left.” There are some Jews whose loyalties to far left politics are much greater than their loyalties to the Jewish people, or certainly to Israel. There is an amazing unity of opinion on the far left about a variety of complex issues, but none more than on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Regarding that, there are no complexities on the far left: Israel is solely responsible for the current state of affairs. Israel doesn’t want peace; Israel is imperialist; Israel is racist; Israel is unjust, and uniquely evil (well, along with the United States) in the annals of international relations. Palestinians, on the other hand, desire only peaceful relations with everyone, have a just and democratic society (or would, if only Hamas were allowed to take control of the West Bank), bear no responsibility for creating or sustaining the current situation, and are victims of a historic and unparalleled injustice. This is the view of the far left, and it is a mindset every bit as prevalent among Jews as non-Jews in that part of the political spectrum. (Dexter van Zile provides some excellent evidence for this here.)
Alvin Rosenfeld, director of the Institute of Jewish Culture and Arts at Indiana University, provides another window on this that incorporates not only the political but something of the psychological. He explains this in an interview with the Jerusalem Post:
Prof. Alvin H. Rosenfeld’s 2007 essay “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism” triggered an international debate over a largely neglected phenomenon: anti-Zionist Jews who are waging fierce polemical and organizational campaigns against Israel’s existence. Many of them employ language that fulfills the criteria of both the European Union’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism and the US State Department’s definition of contemporary anti-Semitism.
Professor Rosenfeld, is there Jewish anti-Semitism? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
On the face of it, Jewish anti-Semitism does sound like a contradiction in terms, but unfortunately the phenomenon exists and has a long history. Some even claim to find reference to it as far back as the Bible and interpret a verse such as Isaiah 49:17 as an example: “Your destroyers and they that make you waste will come forth from among you.” Isaiah was a farsighted prophet, and while I claim no direct line of continuity between ancient and medieval Jewish enemies of the Jews and the people that Henryk M. Broder has rightly been exposing as implacably anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, some of the parallels are chilling.
Jewish intellectuals like Tony Judt, Noam Chomsky and Alfred Grosser strongly deny being anti-Semites. They claim they are simply formulating severe critiques of Israeli policy that have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. What do you think of that claim?
In and of itself, criticism of Israeli politics and actions need not be anti-Semitic. Like all countries, Israel is far from perfect and should not be exempt from criticism, even sharp criticism. But too often what passes as criticism of Israel is no more than a code term, or rhetorical cover, for what is sometimes transparently a form of verbal aggression – an impassioned denunciation or vilification of the state itself and even its right to continued existence. If one attends carefully to the language of some of the people you name, one finds that it has an edge to it – an extra note of enthusiasm, anger, bitterness: an overwrought quality – that goes well beyond what one normally thinks of as political commentary or criticism. Something perverse is going on here, something that one almost never finds when critics turn their sights on other countries, unless that country happens to be America.
When does criticism of Israel become anti-Semitic?
Natan Sharansky’s “three Ds” test applies here: Whenever so-called criticism of Israel demonizes or delegitimizes the Jewish state or holds it to a double standard in passing judgment on it, we have crossed a line that distinguishes legitimate criticism from anti-Semitism. There are other measures as well, but Sharansky’s are surely apt.
The European Union has had a working definition of Anti-Semitism since 2005. The US State Department’s definition mirrors the EU definition. The American historian Jeffrey Herf commented that “the State Department definition is okay, but I would add that the most dangerous form of anti-Semitism accuses Jews of waging wars with the intent to exterminate others. This was the central Nazi accusation and key justification for mass murder. Related to it is the accusation that Jews have seized control of a nation’s foreign policy and led it to war against its own national interests. The accusation that an Israel lobby was responsible for the war in Iraq is of that sort.” How do you view the definitions? And is Herf’s criticism justified?
The EU’s working definition is helpful, as is the US State Department’s which resembles it closely, but neither is exhaustive. Herf’s additions focus on some current, concrete examples that are justified and help to drive home the reality of a resurgent anti-Semitism.
In your essay “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” you write: “The extreme anti-Zionism is not driven by anything remotely like reasoned historical analysis, but rather by a complex tangle of psychological as well as political motives that subvert reason and replace it with something akin to hysteria.” What political and psychological motives do you mean?
The political motives behind present-day hostility to Jews and the Jewish state spring from both right-wing and left-wing circles, but on the intellectual level, most of it is situated among people who identify with the Left. To proclaim oneself an anti-Zionist today is to seek validation as a member in good standing of so-called progressive opinion. To my mind, such gestures illustrate nothing much more than the ritualistic aspects of a weak political identity and point up the poverty of much of what passes today as “progressive” thought.
As for the emotional content or psychological motives at work here, that’s complex and cannot be adequately covered in a brief interview. Sander Gilman has analyzed some of this complexity in his major study of Jewish self-hatred. Theodor Lessing’s earlier study exemplifies as well as clarifies some of the mental/emotional turbulence at play.
In your essay you do not address Jewish self-hatred. Does the phenomenon exist? And if so, how do you asses it?
You are right, I don’t deal with Jewish self-hatred in that essay, and not because I am skeptical about its existence. Sadly, it does exist, especially among Jews who are beset by a disturbed or deeply conflicted Jewish identity. Gilman’s book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to learn more.
Let me just say this much for now: No one who knows the Jews well would mistake them for being a normal people. They are not. The Jews date back a long time – we are now in the year 5769 – and in different ways see themselves as part of a long, accomplished, but often difficult history. Threatened with total annihilation by Nazi Germany and its allies just the day before yesterday, as Jews count time, some Jews do not want to see themselves or want to be seen by others within this line of descent.
Add to these anxieties and rejections the revival of Jewish national sovereignty in the State of Israel after millennia of national political disenfranchisement, and you can begin to see how complex Jewish identity can be. It is impacted by numerous factors – family, community, country, culture, history – some of which make Jews feel uneasy or inadequate or embarrassed or vulnerable.
One way – not a healthy way – to deal with the tangle of pressures that accompany such a multifaceted identity is to deny it altogether or turn aggressively against it. When that happens, and especially when Jews internalize the external charges against them and adopt the negative stereotypes in which these charges crystallize, you get something like Jewish self-hatred. Most Jews are not afflicted by it, but some are.
The phenomenon of Jewish anti-Semitism (or at the very least an anti-Israelism that is so virulent as to be indistinguishable from it) would be inconsequential if it weren’t for the way that genuine Gentile anti-Semites–of whom there are obviously far more than their Jewish co-haters–use it to give their own views a patina of legitimacy. If for no other reason than that, it’s important to understand it. But for those who are seeking to expose and defeat the growing anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred in the mainline churches (at least among the leadership and activists), it’s especially important to recognize the tactic, and to call it what it is: a fig leaf to cover up naked bigotry.
Christmas in the words of the greatest of all Christian preachers:
BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.
What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.
Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.
Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature’. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.
For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.
Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.
Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.
To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.
–John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople
The PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network has done it again–linked to the work of a member of the staff of the anti-Semitic site Veterans Today. This time it’s a guy named Stuart Littlewood, whose article “No Such Thing as Justice in the Holy Land” appears at both the Palestine Chronicle (to which IPMN linked, and which includes several other VT staff writers on its own contributors list) and VT. His article, about the visit of three senior clerics to Ireland, includes stuff like this:
Archbishop Theodosius Hanna (Greek Orthodox Church), Monsignor Manuel Musallam (Latin Catholic) and Mr Constantine Dabbagh (Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches) are courageous human rights defenders and spiritual leaders from Palestine. They have just completed a tour of Ireland to raise awareness of the situation in their homeland under Israeli military occupation and the plight of the dwindling Christian community there.
During their visit the churchmen described the Israeli occupation as the “crucifixion of the nation of Palestine,” and made a plea to all of Ireland’s leaders to “act and intervene, or nothing will change”.
That’s a common Sabeel trope, too: equating the occupation with the death of Jesus Christ, both of which are laid at the feet of the Jews. The Romans had nothing to do with crucifying Jesus, and Palestinians have nothing to do with the state their people and society is in.
Fr Manuel Musallam told the committee: “I was in Gaza during the war [Operation Cast Lead] and suffered with my people for 22 days. I saw with my own eyes a phosphoric bomb in the school yard. I saw people injured by these phosphoric bombs, although these bombs are forbidden. These crimes against us were ignored by all the people of the world. No-one was courageous enough until now to say ‘No’ to Israel or ‘No’ to America or to say ‘Stop killing’ and ‘Stop making war’.
“What happened in Gaza was not a war. A war is a clash between soldiers, aircraft and weapons. We were victims, just victims. They destroyed Gaza. I was there and saw with my own eyes what happened. We in Gaza were treated like animals… We are not terrorists. We have not occupied Israel.
“We do not want to die to liberate Palestine. We want to live to build Palestine…. We are asking the world to give the Palestinian people their rights. The question is whether peace is possible. Despite all the difficulties, the crimes and the war, we as Palestinians say peace is possible if justice is possible.”
Very moving. Yet as James Wall reminded the world in his most recent screed, the people of Gaza overwhelmingly voted into power Hamas, which is sworn to the destruction of Israel, and has been acting on that oath for most of the last four years. He even mentioned that Hamas has an army, an unusual accessory for a mere political party, but one that gives the lie to Father Musallam’s claim that Israel wasn’t fighting against an armed foe.
At some point a state should be recognised, he says. “From 1948 to the present, our state has no borders. It is the only country state without borders… They refused to discuss borders. They refused to end the state of war. Europe and America were partners in this war and all the crimes committed against us, because they set up Israel in Palestine. People were gathered from more than 20 countries….”
The good father also seems to have forgotten that between 1948 and 1967, the Palestinian territories belonged to Jordan and Egypt. There was no talk of a “Palestinian state” during those twenty years; Egypt and Jordan would never have voluntarily given up those lands to form a new nation, and there was no agitation for them to do so. Instead, the energy was all directed at destroying Israel, at which point maybe a third state would have been set up, or maybe Jordan and Egypt would have simply divided it among themselves. And as late as 2000, Israel made a concrete proposal that would have ended the state of war, and given Father Musallam the borders he craves. Yasser Arafat said no, and preferred to start the second intifada.
Sad to say, the three clerics showed themselves in this article to be beaten down dhimmis in total denial regarding the state of their own communities:
What Constantine Dabbagh said to the committee was clear and simple. “We want to live as Palestinians and for the two-state recognition to be applied in accordance with UN resolutions. This would mean that the Palestinian state would have the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, lands which were occupied in 1967.” He expressed appreciation for the world-wide support for justice but, he said, it evaporates when it comes to the rights of the Palestinians and the vetoes which are imposed by the United States and other governments.
“The occupation within Gaza has ceased but we are cordoned off and are living in a big prison… A population of 1.5 million people includes 2,000 Christians but we are part and parcel of this community. We have no problem with our Muslim compatriots but it is true that the extremists are growing and I repeat the warning on this point from Monsignor Musallam. This is as a result of the occupation, the oppression and humiliation and the poverty. These factors are making more people side with the extremists and this is what we want to stop. This will only happen with the support and help of the international community and the United States in particular.”
No problem with their “Muslim compatriots?” An member of the Irish Dail said otherwise, only to be contradicted:
At question time it emerged that even the Irish government has its ‘Zionist Tendency’. Deputy Alan Shatter argued: “I find it extraordinary that a group such as this should make a presentation to the committee on the plight confronting Christians on the West Bank and Gaza and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without any particular mention or emphasis on the substantial difficulties that fundamentalism in the Muslim world has created, of the major difficulties in Gaza created by Hamas and of the significant problems for the Christian community posed by extremists within Gaza…
“It is my understanding that there have been a number of incidents in Gaza. When I met President Abbas he detailed many deaths that occurred in Gaza in the context of the Christian community. Fr. Musallam commented on one of the events, which was an attack and looting on the Latin Catholic church in Gaza and a nearby school run by nuns in 2007. From my knowledge of having visited Gaza, pressure has been put on the Christian community. There has been a series of attempts to impose a fundamentalist Muslim perspective on the workings in Gaza.
Archbishop Hanna was able to quickly put the Deputy in his place. “Deputy Shatter’s speech was full of inaccuracies and non-factual statements,” he said. “We are not here as politicians; we are men of spirituality and are talking about peace.”
Right. So I guess this is just made up out of thin air:
Or perhaps Palestinian Media Watch simply made up the embedded video here. Or maybe these incidents simply didn’t happen.
[Archbishop Hanna] admitted there may be some Palestinian extremists who use religion in the wrong way, but he emphasised that the Church and its community stood against terrorism or violence wherever it comes from. Israel, he pointed out, has a violent attitude towards the Palestinians as a matter of state policy.
You’ve got to wonder what alternative dimension these guys are living in. The government of Gaza is sworn to the destruction of Israel, and regularly seeks to kill civilians. But I guess that can’t be a matter of “state policy,” since Gaza isn’t a state. It’s a lunatic asylum.
[Father Musallam said,] “As for the church, Christianity in the region has been destroyed not by Muslims but by Israel. Israel destroyed the church of Palestine and the church of Jerusalem beginning in 1948. It, not Muslims, has sent Christians in the region into a diaspora….Christians in Palestine are not suffering persecution, because we are not considered to be a religious community, but rather the people of Palestine. We have the same rights and the same obligations.
“Islamic fundamentalism… came about because of the occupation of Palestine and the different wars we have suffered. It is a fact that there is fundamentalism in Palestine, yet if the occupation continues it will explode and destroy the world, not just us.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which lies behind all of the Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, was founded in 1928, but let’s not quibble about dates. The important thing here is that these clerics are one with their Hamas masters in blaming everything, including the evils that befall their own community from Islamic radicals, in Israel. Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, has a much more reality-based description of the situation throughout the Muslim world:
At the time of Saddam Hussein’s fall, the number of Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Armenians, Syriacs, and other Christians in Iraq was estimated at 1.4 million. Half of these Christians have since fled, and some observers speculate that this may well be the last Christmas in Iraq for the half remaining.
The majority are Egypt’s Copts, numbering between 8 and 12 million. A year ago, Coptic worshippers were massacred during a Christmas Eve attack on their church in Naga Hammadi in southern Egypt, and several Coptic villages have been targeted by pogrom-like mob violence. In recent decades, Lebanon’s Christians have seen a sharp drop in their numbers, down from the majority there to one-third of the population, about 1.5 million. Syria has about 1 million; Jordan, about 185,000. The West Bank has about 50,000, and Gaza, 1,000 to 3,000. In Turkey, the site of Constantinople, which was the center of Byzantine Christianity from the 4th to the 15th century, some 100,000 Christians remain, less than 0.2 percent of the population. Iran counts about 300,000 Christians. Not all those who have fled from Iraq have left the region. About 60,000 have found refuge in Syria, for example. However, their presence is tenuous: They are barred from working and aid from abroad is scarce; some of the women have turned to prostitution, according to the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, SJ.
The Persian Gulf region and northern Africa have long since been “cleansed” of their indigenous Christian churches. Native Christians — mostly evangelicals, probably numbering in the thousands — worship largely in secret; Saudi Arabia has only one publicly known native Christian, the oft-imprisoned and extremely courageous Hamoud Saleh Al-Amri. Foreign workers, including over a million Christians, now living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf are denied rights of citizenship and, in the former, even the right to have churches. Morocco summarily deported scores of foreign Christian educators and social workers last spring.
This religious cleansing of the Muslim world isn’t going on because of Israel, or Zionism, or anything else that can be blamed on the Jews, as the three traveling clerics, Stuart Littlewood, Palestine Chronicle, Veterans Today, and apparently the IPMN would have you believe. I’m not suggesting that Musallam, Hanna, and Dabbagh are anti-Semites, but there’s no doubt that they are being used by them as tools of their war against the Jews–just like IPMN.
What are we to do with the Virgin Birth? The doctrine was among the first to be questioned and then rejected after the rise of historical criticism and the undermining of biblical authority that inevitably followed. Critics claimed that since the doctrine is taught in “only” two of the four Gospels, it must be elective. The Apostle Paul, they argued, did not mention it in his sermons in Acts, so he must not have believed it. Besides, the liberal critics argued, the doctrine is just so supernatural. Modern heretics like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong argue that the doctrine was just evidence of the early church’s over-claiming of Christ’s deity. It is, Spong tells us, the “entrance myth” to go with the resurrection, the “exit myth.” If only Spong were a myth.
–Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
(Via Stand Firm.)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is in a dither over a proposal by the state of Kentucky to issue a license plate with the motto “In God We Trust” on it. Sandhya Bathija claims there’s a constitutional problem with putting the national motto on a license plate. Really:
“The cabinet often receives comments from people out in the state expressing interest in having something like this,” cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “The cabinet believes there’s a sizable group of people who would like to have this choice.”
Wolfe told the newspaper that there are no church-state concerns with the new plate. “In God We Trust” is the national motto, he said, and motorists can choose an alternate plate for the same price.
I don’t know if Wolfe is right about the legal issue. Courts do sometimes uphold generic expressions of religion. But regardless, the proposed new plate is a bad idea.
And why is that?
The Rev. Paul Simmons, president of the Louisville Americans United Chapter, explained.
“It’s the kind of deism, a general God, that’s offensive to people who take religion seriously, and to those who take separation [of church and state] seriously,” he told the Courier-Journal. “I dislike this sort of bumper-sticker, license-plate religion.”
Right. Those would be the hordes who have taken pitchfork in hand to storm the U.S. Capitol and demand that “In God We Trust” be replaced as the national motto by something that represents all Americans, like “Party On, Dude!” or “”Shop ‘Til You Drop.” Look, I get his point about civil religion, and I agree that this kind of expression is meaningless from the standpoint of genuine Christianity, but let’s get real–virtually the only ones who will be breaking down the doors to express outrage at this are strict separationists of the AU variety. Most Americans, including most devoutly religious ones, recognize this as just as harmless as the national motto.
Plus, the Constitution requires the government to remain neutral on religion, and issuing these tags is certainly not a good example of that.
So what she is essentially saying is that states can’t put the national motto on a license plate, though the courts have repeatedly held that the federal government can put it on money. Good luck making that argument stand up in court–either the legal one or the court of public opinion.
For anyone for whom it might not have been clear, I couldn’t care less whether Kentucky does this or not. It makes not one whit of difference in any realm I can conceive of, is not in any way supportive of Christianity, and has as much to do with genuine faith as a “God Is My Co-Pilot” bumper sticker. Why Americans United thinks that such trivia requires them to view-with-alarm is anybody’s guess.
If ever there was doubt that an awful lot of evangelical preaching and teaching has been hopelessly ineffective, the Christian Post dispels it:
The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell.
Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.
Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.
When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.
I haven’t read the book in question, so I don’t know what the questions were that were asked of those surveyed (what does “when prodded further” mean?). But those numbers are so high that it’s fair to believe that even if the actual figures are half of what the article presents, there are millions–maybe tens of millions–of “evangelicals” who have no clue what Scripture and their faith actually teach. What’s more, because they think that “good people” can be saved, it means that they have no incentive (other than obedience to Christ’s command, which probably won’t impress folks who have such a deficient understanding of Scripture) to witness for Christ. Is it any wonder that the evangelism efforts of so many evangelical churches is so anemic?
No, your browser isn’t broken. That’s “Merry Christmas” in Klingon, in case you aren’t up on your foreign languages. They don’t observe Christmas on Kronos, of course, but that hasn’t stopped some super-nerds from celebrating the holidays in true warrior style. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Across the country this week, productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” are warming hearts. In this city, one version poses this question: What if Charles Dickens were a Trekkie? [That's Trekker to you, Qatlh (slime devil).]
The answer runs an hour and 20 minutes and includes three fight scenes, 17 actors with latex ridges glued to their foreheads and a performance delivered entirely in Klingon—a language made up for a Star Trek movie.
For those not fluent in Klingon, English translations are projected above the stage.
The arc of “A Klingon Christmas Carol” follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.
For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character’s quest is for courage.
We’ve all seen Shakespeare transported to other times and places–A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in 19th century Italy, for instance (very good) or Richard III set in 1930s Britain (not so hot)–but for literary reimaginings, this one takes the Rokeg blood pie.