Noah’s arc

Israel/Palestine
on 64 Comments

Last Friday at NYU, Noah Feldman, the terrifyingly-successful Harvard Law School professor and former Iraq war apparatchik, raised one of the central points in the pro-Israel argument when he said in essence that the Palestinians are not ready for democracy. I’ll get to his argument in the body of this report, but I wanted to flag it at the top. This really is the key issue for a lot of Israel lobbyists and their fellows, and it has a real logic. Look around at the Arab world and there are countless big men and dictatorships. Why do you think you can plant a democracy in Palestine?

The occasion was Feldman’s speech on American religious freedom at an NYU Law school conference about the First Amendment under attack. A friend, sending along the info, said, “Noah gets to be a liberal at home” – in distinction to his hawkish foreign policy positions.

I wanted to see Feldman because I like to study Establishment success, sometimes with a clothespin on my nose, and Feldman didn’t disappoint. He is a small guy with a confident, kinetic but slightly aggressive manner, very attractive, a strong profile under the well-known pouffe of blonde hair. He looks very young. For 20 minutes, he spoke about the political reaction against the Islamic center in lower Manhattan and what it reveals about a “grave” shift in American political culture, and then he answered four or five questions. He was on and off in 30 minutes. He is facile in the best and worst senses of the word. I saw a few flashes of brilliance, a hint of arrogance, no no no passion, and he made one joke. He said that Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t really belong to any political party, because he’s a billionaire. Good joke. The speech was inoffensive, and you had little idea where Feldman’s heart lies. The most interesting moments in the performance were the asides.

The speech was premised on what Feldman said was Madison’s initial opposition to the First Amendment because he believed that unless there was a vibrant and diverse political culture, no constitutional provision would guarantee freedom of expression and worship. And Madison was right about the structure of democracy, but this diverse tradition, Feldman said, was now at risk. The battle over the Islamic center in lower Manhattan had become partisan, and the claim that there should be limits on Muslims’ freedoms had entered the mainstream public discourse, the two-party structure. Grave and serious. 

Let me get to the asides.

Aside 1 came when Feldman was saying that the argument against the Islamic center had begun at the periphery of the political discourse till it was responded to by two “significant” figures, Mayor Bloomberg and Barack Obama. The first opposition “began as an argument that was politically acceptable”: that this specific location was “inappropriate” for a mosque. But then it had snowballed into a larger anti-Muslim sentiment that was not acceptable.

Feldman didn’t unpack these ideas, and I don’t think he wanted to. He wanted to stay on the easy/valiant political ground that Muslims have the right to free religious practice. He wanted us to glide right by his view that it was OK to argue that Muslims couldn’t build near Ground Zero. I don’t know what that means. I need to say frankly here that I have good friends who said in July or so that it was inappropriate that the mosque be built there, and I admit that I wondered if they were right; and then I watched them change their position, to one of vigorous support for the right of the Park 51 to be built there, due to the leadership of people like Mike Bloomberg. To me this was actually the revelation of the episode. That when leaders like Mike Bloomberg stood up for their right to do so, what Feldman had styled a “politically acceptable” argument vanished. But it took moral leadership to draw that line. I remember other folks like Ali Abunimah and Steve Walt and MJ Rosenberg speaking out forcefully on the question and leading. So I felt that Feldman was less than sincere. If it was really a “politically acceptable” argument that the mosque not be built near Ground Zero, well, he should have explained this belief and stood up for it. But the speech was dry. There was really no personal exposure in the speech.

Aside 2 was that the U.S. had maintained religious diversity because there is no single majority religion and that even the “made-up religion, Judeo-Christianity,” was made up in the ’50s for a good reason, in order to be inclusive, “to try and communicate the message to a Jewish minority that they weren’t wholly excluded and they would be honored with the great privilege of being associated with Christianity.” Laughter.

Aside 2 upset me. Feldman and I are both beneficiaries of this wonderful process of inclusion; and there was no acknowledgment of what this had really meant, what a boon it had been to our little 2 percent, the Jews, and actually there was a kind of chippiness towards the Protestant establishment in his comment rather than an awareness of the social revolution that lifted Noah’s arc, and mine, way below his. And out of that spirit of inclusion, is the American experiment finished? No no. We Jews were once other and lesser in many ways; what extension of spirit is now demanded of us in the Establishment?

Aside 3 was the most important aside. It came during the Q-and-A. Someone asked him about the degree to which Republicans demonize the Other, and Feldman had a really interesting answer, interesting because it had such scope and knowledge, and even touched on the Jewish rise into the Establishment (at the end of the answer), and his sense of anti-Semitism (at the beginning). But the answer was also assumptive, and in the end, disturbing.

Here’s a partial transcript: 

It’s a fair and legitimate question…There has traditionally in the United States been substantial nativist sentiment coming from the left, not the communist left, but the progressive labor left but also from the right… No one has a monopoly in the American political context on these issues.

Notice the sensitivity to Jewish oppression. Feldman is referring to anti-Semitism among the isolationist LaFollette types, the time when Minneapolis was the capital of anti-Semitism.

Feldman then moved to George W. Bush’s commitment to religious liberty and then to the “compatibility” of Islam and democracy.

In my own view, very far from being purely instrumental is [Bush's] defense of religious liberty, he was actually saying things that he truly believed….And he and others on the conservative side were far more open to the argument of compatibility than was anybody on the Democratic side, certainly in the foreign policy establishment.  Now you might say about Bush he believed that as a pure article of faith, he didn’t believe it as a matter of cold rational logic…What I think is indisputable is that he believed it and said it many times, and it often led to very bad policy decisions. You know, his view for example that holding elections in Iraq in particular but one could add Palestine and some other examples, his belief that having such elections would not have any negative consequences for politics, because, you know, democracy and Islam are perfectly compatible, I think is a view that he unquestionably sincerely believed.

Feldman then took the question back to the field of religious tolerance in the U.S. And again we have a sense of the Jewish presence in his comments.

So I think it’s very complicated in the American context. It has to do specifically with the way that different religious denominations in the United States have seen themselves as in or out of power, and there there are plenty of circumstances where religious minorities have been conservative in American political history and have therefore have stood up for the general principle of religious liberty and indeed have embraced the idea of religious difference from the right

The answer offers what Feldman offered throughout– a clinic on power, where it lies, how to find it. It touches on his earlier statement that the debate on the Islamic Center had gone on in “fairly peripheral” places till “significant” figures, Obama and Bloomberg, picked it up. Well actually the debate had gone on among very smart people before Obama picked it up. They just didn’t have nearly his power.

As Feldman would not say publicly, because he lacks intellectual courage, Jews are a religious denomination that are now “in … power.” And there was throughout his speech not the least acknowledgment of that power, nor of Madison’s famous fear in the Federalist papers about factions dominating our political life: “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

Madison’s warning anticipates the Israel lobby, and what you see in Feldman’s description of the Palestinians is the Israel lobby in action. I even think there’s some Jewish superiority buried in his statement. Think about it, the Israelis– citizens of a country that a majority of the residents did not want established in the first place– have been able to hold elections for many years, and have lately elevated a rightwing government with fascistic leanings, and meantime the Palestinians have had no rights of self-determination for more than 60 years and have lost land and rights again and again. 90 years ago the British Mandate was established in part because British lawyers believed that the Palestinians “are not able to stand alone” (as Strawson tells us) and Feldman is merely the American version of that legal condescension, a century on. 

I don’t know how you accept such a double standard and meantime exalt the 1950s inclusion of Jews in America–Jews being a fractional minority. I imagine that Feldman is a secret Bernard Lewisite, that he would say that US political culture and Islamic political culture are two different animals. And there’s obvious truth there; but does that justify oppression and a complete absence of democracy? Palestine has been shattered politically again and again because it has no political representation. If you don’t like Hamas, or the Jewish-supremacist party, Yisrael Beteinu, maybe the answer is to actually imagine a full democratic transition in Israel and Palestine, with an undivided polity, in which the reasonable middles on both sides would then have to find one another in campaigns, and support centrist candidates. As it is, the two sides are divided, and they are led by their extremist bases. 

What you see in Feldman is high intelligence yoked to the most conventional ideas. He is wed to the standard Establishment (read Israel-lobby) take on Islamic political culture and on that basis can justify what we’ve seen forever in Israel and Palestine, the denial of democracy for everyone but Jews.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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64 Responses

  1. Chespirito
    November 8, 2010, 4:08 pm

    I remember sitting in on some meeting of the Democratic Party-oriented American Constitutional Society at NYU Law back in the Fall of ’03 or Spring of ’04… Noah Feldman, faculty sponsor of the ACS, solemnly told us he thought our invasion of Iraq was “probably not in our national interest, but morally the right thing to do.” He seemed to get a little choked up in the middle of that last phrase.
    He then lectured us that we should never, ever compromise our moral values for political gain.
    Somehow I managed not to burst out laughing during this meeting.

  2. hophmi
    November 8, 2010, 4:52 pm

    “Aside 2 upset me. Feldman and I are both beneficiaries of this wonderful process of inclusion; and there was no acknowledgment of what this had really meant, what a boon it had been to our little 2 percent, the Jews, and actually there was a kind of chippiness towards the Protestant establishment in his comment rather than an awareness of the social revolution that lifted Noah’s arc, and mine, way below his. And out of that spirit of inclusion, is the American experiment finished?”

    Maybe we should say “thank you, Christians, for not persecuting us as bad as everyone else did. Thank you, 1950′s America for only keeping us out of country clubs and excluding us from big law firms. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in particular thank you.” In the 1950s, Jews were far from included in Christian society, and inclusion that did come came largely in the form of assimilation into Christian society. Too many Jews act like honorary Christians instead of Jews. I don’t consider becoming a JASP any great achievement or anything to be thankful for. We’ve more than pulled our weight in this society. We are owed as much thanks or more than we owe to others. I love America for providing opportunity for Jews to prosper. And I love its people. But this kind of thanks to the Protestant Establishment is unbecoming. We exercised our rights on behalf of ourselvs and others. We didn’t get them from the Protestants.

    Have you been reading too much Dennis Prager? He’s just like you on this point, except that he genuflects before the fundamentalists instead of the Episcopaleans.

    Did you ever consider that maybe you were equally the beneficiary of the tradition of Jewish learning that preceded you? Or that maybe you owe your place in society as much to Jewish civil rights leaders as you do to conditional Protestant acceptance?

    “As Feldman would not say publicly, because he lacks intellectual courage, Jews are a religious denomination that are now “in … power.” ”

    Or maybe it’s because the topic was the First Amendment and Feldman is not obsessed with Jewish power like Phil Weiss is.

    “”a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”…Madison’s warning anticipates the Israel lobby.

    No, it doesn’t. It anticipates both tyranny of the majority, as we’ve seen in the way the community center issue was treated and the calls for Muslims to be effectively deprived of their rights, and tyranny of the minority, in the way, say, Southern politicians used their influence in the Senate to defeat civil rights legislation supported by the majority. Those who are pro-Israel are not acting adversely to the rights of other American citizens anymore than those who are pro-life or pro-choice are.

    “Think about it, the Israelis– citizens of a country that a majority of the residents did not want established in the first place”

    Just like the Americans. And the Palestinians could have had their own state. They declined the opportunity, and then Jordan and Egypt declined it for the next 19 years.

    “What you see in Feldman is high intelligence yoked to the most conventional ideas. He is wed to the standard Establishment (read Israel-lobby) take on Islamic political culture and on that basis can justify what we’ve seen forever in Israel and Palestine, the denial of democracy for everyone but Jews.”

    Wow, did you run this take by Feldman yet, you who criticize his presumtuousness?

    • Shingo
      November 8, 2010, 7:36 pm

      If it’s been such a nasty experience for you hophmi, then why don’t the majority of the world’s Jews leave these Christian states?

      • hophmi
        November 8, 2010, 9:04 pm

        Typical. I didn’t say things were bad. I quite clearly said I love America and its people. I said success has come with a big price and that minorities do not need to say thank you for basic rights. I think to say that Jews gained entry to this vaunted WASP society in the 1950s is well, a baffling statement. It happened in ’60s, and again, the price was assimilation. The real heros are those who joined American society on their own terms, not someone else’s.

        • Shingo
          November 8, 2010, 11:27 pm

          I see, so you consider assimilation into a society to be a bad thing Hophmi? Clearly, you regard it as a high price to be paid.

        • hophmi
          November 9, 2010, 10:56 am

          No, I don’t consider assimilation to be bad. **SIGH** I don’t identify with the separatist philosophy that prevails in very religious communities, where interaction with the outside world is limited and outsiders kept at arm’s length.

          I consider complete full assimilation, where you completely submerge your own identity to be bad. Modern Orthodox Jews are mostly assimilated into American society. They work in the professions, participate in the culture, and are fully participating Americans. But they still go to shul and give their kids a Jewish education.

          The assimilation Phil speaks about, the kind of complete assimilation where Jews do not pray, marry out of the faith not because they believe that it’s good for Jews to diversify but because Judaism is simply not something they give a rat’s ass about, and give their kids nothing in the way of spirituality is not something to be especially proud of, and certainly not something to be thankful for.

          Muslims like the developer behind Park51 are assimilated. You don’t see them saying, “Hey, let’s give up our Islam to become more like the Protestants!” You don’t see them saying, “Hey! We really need to thank America’s Protestant culture for giving us freedom, especially given where some of us come from.” Nor should they.

    • Citizen
      November 8, 2010, 9:15 pm

      Hophmi, the Americans theft from the natives ended in the 19th Century.
      Two world wars occured in the first half of the 20th Century. An International Tribunal drew a line in the World’s sand in 1945, a universal consenus of what constitutes war crimes was made universal law, and Colonialism was banned from the future; finally the UN resolved Israel’s borders in 1947 via R 181. Joshua and his God would be war criminals today. It’s called human progress, the rule of law, the advancement of civilization over survival of the fittest and might makes right. Israel’s policies are in the way of world society’s advancement. They are a throwback to Goering’s philosophy. The reality is too many American Gentiles act like honorary Jewish Zionists. It’s not a coincidence that the Nazis worked hand in glove with the Zionists. But you cherish the Rosenbergs and Pollard. That’s your thanks to the American people. We’re touched.

      • hophmi
        November 9, 2010, 10:57 am

        “But you cherish the Rosenbergs and Pollard. That’s your thanks to the American people.”

        That’s a nasty thing to say. I guess you supported their execution, including Esther, who was not a spy at all.

        Like I said, there are a lot of antisemites around here.

        • Mooser
          November 9, 2010, 1:49 pm

          “Like I said, there are a lot of antisemites around here”

          Then what the hell are you doing here? Okay, hophmi, let’s say there are, what the frick are you going to do about it.
          Did God ever promise us that everybody would like us?
          Are you so shattered by not receiving universal Gentile approval?
          But mostly, it’s that goddam sense of entitlement and self-righteous satisfaction with which you say it.

          Anti-Semites have never bothered me, Hophmi. Just think, if a person is an anti-Semite, and dislikes me because I am Jewish, he will be denied the ineffable, yet so indelibly satisfying experience of being my friend. And could any punishment be greater?

          But I can certainly understand if your Jewish self-dislike makes you neurotically crave the approval of Gentiles. It happens all the time.

    • RoHa
      November 9, 2010, 6:23 am

      “And the Palestinians could have had their own state. ”

      Not the point. The point is that their rights were denied, and they were driven from much of their land.

  3. Gellian
    November 8, 2010, 5:03 pm

    Phil,

    You’re flirting with a point at the end here that you (and I, and most of us) ought to be more vocal about, if we think it. We want justice for the Palestinians. Definitely. No more discrimination, deprivations, torture, expropriations, etc. etc. etc.

    Justice, yes. But not their culture.

    That’s why it’s continuing to prove so hard to win justice for the Palestinians.

    • Citizen
      November 8, 2010, 9:19 pm

      Gellian, so all of Palestinian culture is unworthy? Really? Why have I noticed that much of the Palestinian familial culture is the same as those “ethnic” cultures so much praised in the USA, e.g., Greek, Jewish, Italian?

      • Citizen
        November 8, 2010, 9:24 pm

        And Chinese, etc–tight, warm, loving, loyal, extended “ethnic” American families. And, oh the cuisine! The Palestinians even appear to have a more open quality to them, and they certainly revere higher education. We don’t like, e.g., the Mafia, nor Jewish terrorists though–please don’t be so general about Palestinian culture as somehow not a fit in the USA. Indians are fitting in and they hold cows sacred. Many American Jews despise the pork chop Homer Simpson craves. Get the point?

  4. thankgodimatheist
    November 8, 2010, 6:29 pm

    “Justice, yes. But not their culture.”

    What’s wrong with the culture, may I ask? Do you accept the idea that democracy is incompatible with Palestinian culture?

    • thankgodimatheist
      November 8, 2010, 6:52 pm

      I find it upseting somehow that this line has gained so much credence. That for some reason Democracy is alien to the Palestinians/Arabs culture..This is a complicated issue, yes but a cursory look at the situation and conditions in which the Palestinians found themselves from the outset should be enough to understand as much..
      Here:

      Palestinian democracy
      By Diana Buttu

      Democracy has always been an essential part of Palestinian political life. Soon after the start of Israel’s 1967 military occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Palestinians were casting their ballots in municipal elections. During the first Intifada, Palestinians were determining the leaders of the Intifada and, in prison, Palestinians continually determine their representatives through the electoral process. After the signing of the Oslo Agreements, Palestinians were casting their ballots in legislative and presidential elections.
      Yet, internal Palestinian elections have always been plagued by Israeli interference. During the first Palestinian mayoral elections in 1976, Israel attempted to block the participation of candidates supported by the PLO. Israeli interference did not stop there: in June 1980, Israel attempted to assassinate three of the elected mayors and later deported two other mayors to Jordan. During the 1996 elections, the Israeli government attempted to prevent Palestinian East Jerusalemites from exercising their voting rights. Later in 2003 and in 2004, and in spite of Israel’s demand for “reform,” Israel barred Palestinian elections from taking place. Furthermore, despite overwhelming international support for Palestinian presidential elections in 2005, Israel again blocked the free exercise of democracy by hindering Palestinian Jerusalemites from freely voting and through the erection of military checkpoints throughout the West Bank. …..

      …..Nonetheless, while Palestinians have been able to overcome Israel’s attempts to block elections, one thing stands in the way of their true exercise of democracy: Israel’s military occupation. What appears to be lost on many (though not lost on Palestinians) is the irony of exercising democracy while living under Israel’s military rule. While Palestinians may be able to cast their ballots to determine their own leaders, they are not able to cast their ballots to determine their own future. Public opinion polls indicate that the issue of concern to Palestinians is not healthcare, education or taxes but Israel’s military occupation and denial of freedom. The very candidates who will be elected in this month’s election will still live under Israel’s thumb, needing to obtain Israeli permits to be able to travel from one Palestinian area to the next. In short, no number of elections, no number of candidates and no number of political parties will be able to change the fact that Palestinian democracy will not be complete until Palestinian freedom is obtained.
      link to thisweekinpalestine.com

      • thankgodimatheist
        November 8, 2010, 6:56 pm

        Mustafa Barghouti on Palestinian democracy:

        The Palestinian struggle for democracy has been long and painstaking. Against long odds, we succeeded in constructing a remarkable civil society in order to survive the oppression of the Israeli occupation and to fill the void left by the lack of a central government. We developed parallel nongovernmental health and educational systems, built 17 universities, and established thousands of local community organizations. We even developed grassroots, community-based rehabilitation programs for disabled citizens, which received worldwide recognition.

        The Israeli government has long paid lip service to Palestinian democracy while simultaneously crushing initiatives that produced results it didn’t like. In 1976, then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres offered the illusion of local leadership by launching municipal elections, which were meant to dilute the authority of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
        link to foreignpolicy.com

    • Gellian
      November 8, 2010, 7:11 pm

      Nope. I don’t think democracy is incompatible with Palestinian culture. But I do think much about Islam is. (ditto that for Christianity, by the way; and it’s obvious from Israel that Judaism is incompatible with democracy.) And I obviously am not making any kind of racial argument or anything silly like that, so let’s nip that in the bud.

      But democracy or no isn’t what I’m talking about. I mean the more mundane stuff. Dress, food, extended families, arranged marriages, artwork, architecture, dance, all that sort of thing — that stuff is alien to the American way of life that I and I bet a lot of others like. When I was in Israel, I felt a bajillion times more comfortable in Israel than when I crossed over into Jordan for a day, mostly because Israel looks a lot like Manhattan. I’m sure Jordanians are nice people in the same proportions that all other peoples are. But it was definitely an alien culture and I didn’t like it.

      I don’t like what Israel is doing to these poor people. But I would hate to see Israeli culture (at least the secular variety that is by far the majority) subsumed by Palestinian culture. That seems to be the major sticking point a lot of people are having with supporting the Palestinians.

      What’s the way out?

      • Antidote
        November 8, 2010, 7:42 pm

        “I felt a bajillion times more comfortable in Israel than when I crossed over into Jordan for a day, mostly because Israel looks a lot like Manhattan.”

        And why exactly should the entire world look and feel like Manhattan? So that you can travel wherever you want and feel like you’re at home?

        • Gellian
          November 8, 2010, 8:07 pm

          No, silly. Not for my benefit. But so that an admirable culture doesn’t get replaced with one that I dislike. The same would be true here in the U.S. It’s obviously the arguments that the Europeans are having, too.

          That’s the damned sad thing about this whole dispute. Israeli culture has a million things in it to admire. Its state policies and subjugation of the Palestinian metics is definitely, and I mean definitely, not one of them. But man, they have some so many other things to admire that it does cause some concern. Phil has this problem, too; you can see it in his post.

          My only point is, a lot of us should be honest about this struggle within ourselves. We want justice, I guess, but not really more — and by more I mean ‘a different culture’.

        • janisary
          November 8, 2010, 10:26 pm

          And what of those like me who do not admire Israeli culture. Israel today depends upon imported labor and, despite the intention of its founders, has not developed any real working class or land based culture. In fact, when I was in Israel, all I read about how Jews have developed a culture similar to what the Zionists originally set out to escape: a paper pusher, modern capitalistic culture which depends upon manipulation, requires no hard work, but rather the mind. It requires new founded means of tricking and stealing from others (and let’s not talk about at least 3 billion dollars from the US). All this while looking down upon Arabs and Palestinians who use their honest labor to sustain themselves.

        • Antidote
          November 8, 2010, 10:34 pm

          “No, silly. Not for my benefit. But so that an admirable culture doesn’t get replaced with one that I dislike. The same would be true here in the U.S. It’s obviously the arguments that the Europeans are having, too.”

          True enough. You do remind me of my European (German) mother. “Look at this nice old building,” she said once to me, looking at the Toronto TD Center, “why did they tear it up, leave the front, and build this big ugly American skyscraper around it!” – “Well, mom, that was actually designed by a German architect, the last director of the Bauhaus before the Nazis closed them down and he emigrated to the US. A lot of Americans didn’t like his style either. You should see Chicago.”

          link to galinsky.com

          I hear Israelis make the best humus in the world.

        • janisary
          November 8, 2010, 10:49 pm

          “no hard work” should be read as “no hard physical work”

        • tree
          November 9, 2010, 1:05 am

          “No, silly. Not for my benefit. But so that an admirable culture doesn’t get replaced with one that I dislike./i>

          Then what you are asking for is for your benefit. You don’t like one culture so you don’t mind it being repressed.

          Here’s a real mind-blower for you. A lot of people aren’t real fond of Manhattan. Does that mean that its OK to repress Manhattan culture? No? But its OK, and not at all just for your benefit, that Palestinian culture should be repressed? You are mistaking your personal preferences for innate value, as well as assuming that everyone agrees with your assessment of cultural value.

          Shorter version: Your cultural concept is bigoted.

        • Antidote
          November 9, 2010, 9:39 am

          sorry, one m slipped away: hummus

      • Mooser
        November 8, 2010, 9:19 pm

        Gellian, that has to be one of the most ingenuously dumb comments I have ever read. I’m sorry the Arabs don’t come up to your standards.
        And I’m even sorrier you seem to have no idea how bigoted you are.

        • Gellian
          November 9, 2010, 5:55 am

          Mooser,

          Name calling seems to be your trademark. I realize it may sound bigoted to you, though I’ve experienced much of Arab middle eastern culture in travels and such so it’s not like I’m just shooting from the hip. I also realized it would be incendiary when I wrote it. (If you want to see bigoted, read the above comment about how Israelis don’t do any hard work, they simply manipulate and steal and such. Seems like I’ve heard that one before…)

          It’s not that ‘the Arabs don’t come up to my standards’. It’s not a matter of standards. It’s a matter of reality. My point is simply that the Palestinian issue is failing to gain traction, it seems, because even the most ardent non-Arab activists on their behalf don’t really, honestly, want to live in a society based on a culture like what I saw in Jordan or Egypt.

          Do you really think those nice ladies from Code Pink would prefer to live in Palestine than Israel (we’re talking culture, mind you, not politics)? Do you think Phil does? I know it’s fun to dress up in keffiyehs and such at rallies or in tour groups, but I just don’t see it.) What about you?

          So this isn’t so much an issue of bigotry as one of experienced preferences and political realities. As I say, it’s just something we ought to be more honest about. Noah Feldman seems to have been all but saying that in his talk. Whatever you think of his politics, at least it’s a point worth discussing.

        • Mooser
          November 9, 2010, 1:52 pm

          You can take an ass around the world, but he won’t come home a donkey. More to the point, you can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

      • Sumud
        November 9, 2010, 7:29 am

        But it was definitely an alien culture and I didn’t like it.

        Some peoples minds are opened by travel, and others are closed, even more so. You seem to fall into the second category Gellian.

        I’d actually be embarrassed to admit it publicly if I felt as you do – even online which is relatively anonymous. Please don’t think you’re speaking what we’re all thinking – you’re not.

        • Gellian
          November 9, 2010, 8:44 am

          Why is it close minded to say you dislike something?

          I don’t follow that.

        • janisary
          November 9, 2010, 10:19 am

          Then what problem do you have with my comment above?

        • Mooser
          November 9, 2010, 1:55 pm

          Who in the hell is forcing the “Palestinian culture” on you, or anybody else?

          Besides, whatever is not kosher about the Palestinian culture will only be improved and refined by egalitarian contact with Israelis, right? Or do you figure Israel’s culture (cough, cought) will just collapse before the onslaught of Palestinianism? What the hell are you so afraid of?

        • Sumud
          November 10, 2010, 2:52 am

          Why is it close minded to say you dislike something?

          It’s your comments in full that are unpleasant Gellian. Maybe you don’t realise it but you come across as a particular sort of western traveller who goes to foreign lands only to continuously complain that it’s nothing like home. Hey – that’s the idea, no?

          I look at the categories of things that made you feel uncomfortable (“Dress, food, extended families, arranged marriages, artwork, architecture, dance, all that sort of thing — that stuff is alien to the American way of life”) and can only wonder what sort of sheltered life you must lead in America if you find a woman in hijab or a plate of hommus (no it’s not an Israeli invention) threatening. I say threatening because you mention your fears that Israeli culture will be “subsumed” by Palestinian culture. Your words, not mine.

          I really don’t see Palestinian or arab/muslim culture (as such) as the reason Israel has gotten away with it’s vast injustice for so long. I’d say it has a lot to do with politicking and propaganda (which has however shamelessly exploited western fears of “the other”). What do you have as evidence cultural differences are preventing people from supporting the Palestinian cause? Are they in fact not supporting Palestine, or is BDS growing in leaps and bounds as hasbara myth after hasbara myth are demolished?

          Finally, your other comment about people playing “dressups” with keffiyeh because “it’s fun” are just rude. People are fighting for justice for Palestinians because Israel’s behaviour is deeply offensive, not because it’s “fun”.

          FYI I’d choose Palestine over Israel any day as a place to live. By way of disclosure I’ve lived and worked in the (Persian) Gulf and have travelled in that region, in the Levant (Jordan but not Israel or Palestine yet, and the Maghreb (North Africa).

  5. Kathleen
    November 8, 2010, 7:18 pm

    “Establishment success” connections. Who supports whom?

  6. Avi
    November 8, 2010, 7:24 pm

    I need to say frankly here that I have good friends who said in July or so that it was inappropriate that the mosque be built there, and I admit that I wondered if they were right; and then I watched them change their position, to one of vigorous support for the right of the Park 51 to be built there, due to the leadership of people like Mike Bloomberg.

    No offense to your friends, Phil. But, this confirms my experience. Jews in the U.S. and Canada follow their Zionist leaders like sheep, if the leader says something, the sheep bleat in unison. They are ignorant, misinformed, clueless and detached from reality, which is why so many continue to regurgitate worn out talking points.

    I saw a few flashes of brilliance, a hint of arrogance, no no no passion, and he made one joke.

    He won’t last long.

    • Kathleen
      November 8, 2010, 7:39 pm

      “They are ignorant, misinformed, clueless and detached from reality, which is why so many continue to regurgitate worn out talking points.”

      And if you dig just a bit below the surface more often than not bigots and racist.

    • hophmi
      November 8, 2010, 9:06 pm

      Why are you so full of hate, Avi? Jews do not follow their leaders like sheep. Most Jews I know have supported the community center.

      • Shingo
        November 8, 2010, 11:30 pm

        “Jews do not follow their leaders like sheep.”

        Oh really? Why then did Obama’s popularity is Israel fsll to single digits after his Cairo speech?

        “Most Jews I know have supported the community center.”

        You obviously don’t know Pam Geller or Abe Foxman.

        • hophmi
          November 9, 2010, 11:03 am

          “You obviously don’t know Pam Geller or Abe Foxman.”

          You obviously don’t understand that Pam Geller and Abe Foxman are not every Jew or even most Jews. Pam Geller’s a fringe extremist. Abe’s position, which reflects the position of most New Yorkers, actually, represents Abe, not most Jews.

          You obviously forgot that the biggest proponent of the community center was Mike Bloomberg, who, unfortunately for the people here, also Jewish.

          I guess, based on your logic, most Muslims are terrorists because Osama bin Laden is a Muslim.

          And I guess you missed the American Jewish Committee’s position, which supported the community center, not to mention me, though I don’t have a big platform like Abe does.

          And maybe, since I actually live in NY, and Avi lives in Canada, I might know a little bit about what I’m talking about.

        • Chu
          November 9, 2010, 11:34 am

          Hmph, You dont need to live in New York to be informed about this issue (weak argument), and Abe’s position is more representative of his entire organization, than his own position. He just stated that in a recent interview in Israel. These positions are discussed by the ADL board. Didn’t you work for the ADL indirectly? I would think you should know what you speaking about.

        • hophmi
          November 9, 2010, 12:49 pm

          I was active in the ADL a while back. Not everything Abe says is approved by the board. Abe is known to do his own thing. I don’t think the board was especially pleased when he decided to make a big deal out of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”, for instance.

          But you need to understand that the ADL, while visible, does not represent most Jews in New York, and that what Abe says may not always represent the views of the ADL members. Abe is a talker. He likes to keep the ADL in the paper. But he’s not representative of the Jewish community any more than William Donahue and Catholic League are representative of the Catholic community.

          I think the American Jewish Committee position is closer to what most NY Jews think. But I don’t think anyone has actually polled Jews on the topic. I think you’d see most secular Jews for it, and most religious Jews opposed to it. Most people think Pam Geller is a kook.

          For the record, I was very unhappy with the ADL’s position and wrote Abe and the head of the New York office to tell them so. I am sure I was not the only one.

          Also for the record, the press release reflects the plurality view in New York, which is that Muslims have a right to build wherever they want, but that using that particular location is insensitive. Abe sees it as similar to the fight over the crosses at Auschwitz. I disagree. But I don’t believe Abe is an Islamophobe.

      • Avi
        November 9, 2010, 12:02 am

        hophmi November 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm

        Why are you so full of hate, Avi? Jews do not follow their leaders like sheep. Most Jews I know have supported the community center.

        julian/hophmi

        Is that a new spin on the “Self-Hating” shtick? “Full of hate”, eh?

        Why don’t you stick to “racist”? That label applies more universally and we all know how universal are the ideas which you espouse.

        Speaking of genuine ideas…..oh never mind.

        • hophmi
          November 9, 2010, 11:05 am

          Hey Avi,

          Quit the Julian crap. I really have no idea who Julian is and I am not him. I write under one name here.

          You seem to hate your fellow Jew, Avi. “They are ignorant, misinformed, clueless and detached from reality”

          Your words.

          And you’ve uttered worse.

          I guess you just have a big chip on your shoulder. It’s good you’re in Canada, where you have lots of space to carry it around.

        • Bumblebye
          November 9, 2010, 11:37 am

          Q: How can we tell that Hophmi’s level headed?

          A: He has a chip on each shoulder!

          Boom boom!

        • hophmi
          November 9, 2010, 11:56 am

          Good one, Bumblebye. You’re SOOOO courageous. Don’t bumblebees die after they sting?

        • Mooser
          November 9, 2010, 1:56 pm

          Yup, he’s “Julian”. No doubt about it. Just got huimself a new handle when “Julian” got banned.

  7. Kathleen
    November 8, 2010, 7:37 pm

    “The battle over the Islamic center in lower Manhattan had become partisan, and the claim that there should be limits on Muslims’ freedoms had entered the mainstream public discourse, the two-party structure. Grave and serious.”

    The debate entered the “mainstream public discourse” due to the insane rantings of Pam Geller and other anti Islam bigots
    Pam Geller is a nut case bigot

  8. Kathleen
    November 8, 2010, 8:19 pm

    “the denial of democracy for everyone but Jews.” And the Bible tells us so

    Geller goes on and on about the Koran. When will she start examining the promotion of violence, bigotry and racism in the Bible (you know written by Jewish men)
    Pam Geller ” Islam inspires Nazism. Hitler would be proud of his Muslim army. It seems fitting that Muslims would kick of their Jewish genocidal campaign in Austria. Land of Hitler’s youth and rise to power”

    EXODUS
    34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

    34:12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

    34:13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

    DEUTERONOMY
    4:1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.

    7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

    7:2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

    7:5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

    7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

    7:16 And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them:

    7:21 Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.

    7:23 But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.

    7:24 And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.

    11:23 Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.

    12:2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:

    12:3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

    12:29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;

    13:12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,

    13:13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;

    13:15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.

    15:1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.

    15:2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD’s release.

    15:3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;

    15:6 For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.

    17:14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;

    17:15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

    17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

    19:1 When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;

    20:15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.

    20:16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an
    inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

    20:18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.

    20:20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

    23:20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

    28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

    28:10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.

    28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

    ISAIAH
    60:10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee:

    60:11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.

    60:12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.

    61:6 Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles . . .

    • thankgodimatheist
      November 9, 2010, 7:08 am

      I had never seen/read these passages before and needless to say that I’m dumbfounded, speechless and good for nothing now..I need some time out to let it all sink in..

      • Shmuel
        November 9, 2010, 7:41 am

        Don’t sweat it, TGIA. First of all, you’re an atheist. Second of all, see my explanation below. You might want to check the Bible out some time. It’s far more entertaining from an atheist perspective.

        • thankgodimatheist
          November 9, 2010, 8:26 am

          Listening Shmuel, listening..What appalls me is not the violence and the cruelty, nothing original or new here… I can easily understand the context and put this into perspective, historical and otherwise..What shattered me is to see, “noir sur blanc” (if I may) sanction of the theft and the dispossession that we’re witnessing today as if it was happening at the time these passages were written..Those who today are committing these despicable acts in the OT must be surely guided by some writings of this nature..In this regard, those texts aren’t benign as they serve as guiding lines to crimes committed on a daily basis today..

        • thankgodimatheist
          November 9, 2010, 8:46 am

          What should I make of the settlers who last week approached an olive grove where Palestinians were harvesting their olives, waited for them to finish filling the bags, attacked them and simply took the bounty and got off back to the settlement? Just like that!! Those are not violent street thugs! Those are obedient, religious members of a community, fathers, husbands, respected (or not) members in their groups..I had always failed to understand such a behaviour..Not the violence itself as much as the idea that it’s ok to take what doesn’t belong to them..

        • Shmuel
          November 9, 2010, 9:39 am

          TGIA,

          As the Talmudic saying goes, “delve into [the Torah] and delve into it, for all [can be found] therein”; and another one, “man is shown what is [already] in his heart”; and yet another, “do not make [the Torah] a pickaxe with which to dig” (i.e. an instrument to serve one’s own ends). And one final reference before my computer bursts into sacred flame: Jewish tradition recognises the concept of “a scoundrel within the boundaries of the Law/Torah” – one who has not overstepped the technical boundaries of religious mores, but is nevertheless a scoundrel.

          All religions, traditions and cultures constantly evolve, absorb, reject, elaborate and re-elaborate. Not only do the traditions themselves evolve, but the ways in which previous traditions are perceived evolve as well. Judaism (like all religions/cultures) has negative as well as positive elements in its past and its present. It also has built in mechanisms for dealing with changing values and mores – without necessarily casting aspersions on earlier, by-now objectionable positions (I’d give an example, but the keyboard is already starting to smoke). This has been going on at least since Talmudic times, and probably much longer.

          Do some of those (religious or not) who seek ancient justification for modern, racist-colonialist actions turn to the Bible (and other sources)? Sure. But why does that make those actions (or the cherry-picked ancient sources they hang their hat on) any more shocking? Did you believe that the Torah was all wholesome goodness?

          These issues have been addressed at length by the late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an Orthodox Jew and harsh critic of Israeli racism and brutality. He rejected the term “humanist”, but was in fact a great humanist – undoubtedly “within the boundaries of the Torah”.

        • Shmuel
          November 9, 2010, 9:49 am

          TGIA,

          Such men are little more than arrogant, racist thugs and thieves, who have dehumanised the other to such an extent that they can do what they like and still stand before the Holy Ark, wrapped in their prayer shawls, eyes closed, swaying like a willow in the wind, and believing that they have done “God’s will”.

          They are an aberration, hypocrisy incarnate, wilfully ignorant of their own traditions (the bulk and spirit of those traditions – not the decontextualised, anachronistic and self-serving nasty bits) and historical experience. The last time I was forced to pray with them, I was outraged, and could barely keep my breakfast down.

        • Mooser
          November 9, 2010, 1:59 pm

          “The last time I was forced to pray with them, I was outraged”

          “Forced to pray with them”? Sure, okay Shmuel, whatever you say. You mean like ‘if I don’t pray they won’t have a minyan’ or ‘if I don’t pray they will beat me into disability’

          Besides, couldn’t you keep your fingers crossed beneath your prayer shawl?

        • Shmuel
          November 9, 2010, 2:10 pm

          I mean like I was compelled, for family reasons to attend a prayer service on a settlement.

          link to mondoweiss.net

        • thankgodimatheist
          November 9, 2010, 5:39 pm

          Thanks for the clarification Shmuel, always a pleasure to read..Just to make myself clear, my problem is not as much with these texts, archaic, reflection of the mores prevalent at the time of their writing….My problem really is with those who abide by them, who have internalised them as the right path to take in dealing with their non-Jews neighbours. My problem is with those, a majority as it seems, who consider the Golan for example, to keep as fair game..”We won it, we keep it, no problem”..I’m not sure why that is but reading those passages cited above, it dawned on me that maybe, maybe there’s something else to it..

        • Shmuel
          November 10, 2010, 10:42 am

          Funny you should mention the Golan in this context, TGIA. Ask Israelis about the Golan, and mostly, they’ll tell you about wine and skiing and fruit and cattle and waterfalls and strategic significance (“the country’s eyes”) and horseback riding and hiking and Syrian snipers and greenery and water and snow and boutique B&Bs and “salt of the earth” liberal-secular pioneers (not like those freak settlers in the WB) and how Syrians on the shores of the Sea of Galilee would threaten Israel’s water supply.

          No God, no Bible, no chosenness, no wrath, no contempt. Just the good life and security concerns.

          You’d be surprised how many “good Israeli leftists” are truly surprised when I turn down Golan wine, explaining that the Golan is no less occupied than the WB.

    • Shmuel
      November 9, 2010, 7:28 am

      Of course these books (Bible, New Testament, writings of the Church Fathers, Talmud, Quran, Hadiths, etc.) have nasty bits when viewed from a liberal 21st-century perspective. They were written hundreds/thousands of years ago, for God’s sake (literally and figuratively). They have been interpreted and reinterpreted countless times – even by those who fancy themselves “fundamentalists” – and evolved greatly since they were they were first put on parchment, papyrus, wax, clay or whatever.

      Taken in and of themselves, these quotes (like Pipes’ and Geller’s quotes from the Quran) are practically useless in understanding contemporary religious or religiously-inspired behaviour.

    • Psychopathic god
      November 9, 2010, 10:05 am

      Pam Geller ” Islam inspires Nazism. Hitler would be proud of his Muslim army. It seems fitting that Muslims would kick of their Jewish genocidal campaign in Austria. Land of Hitler’s youth and rise to power”

      heh

      from the video on Gilad Atzmon’s site that someone on Mondoweiss recommended yesterday: The Antisemitic side of zionism

      [Herzl's family] moved to Vienna. Herzl, educated in the spirit of the Enlightenment and of progress, which was prevalent in Vienna, admired the culture of the gentile and longed with all his being to be a part thereof. . . .

  9. Kathleen
    November 8, 2010, 9:19 pm

    “and the claim that there should be limits on Muslims’ freedoms had entered the mainstream public discourse”

    Pam Geller took her racist rantings into the “mainstream public discourse”
    Pam Geller ranting at the Tennessee Tea Party

    Pam Geller “It is in the Koran that the Jews must be annihilated”
    link to youtube.com

    Pam Geller

  10. MRW
    November 9, 2010, 12:40 am

    From my email from jewsonfirst: Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak:

    A Muslim Community Center? Why Not? Why Should Jews Care? What is at stake in the fierce debate over Park51, the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero? Who are the players and what do they want? In our new paper, A Muslim Community Center? Why Not?, we analyze the arguments and counterarguments in the context of longstanding national conversations about the meaning of religious freedom and what sort of country we are and want to be. Click here for the rest. Well worth reading.

  11. Psychopathic god
    November 9, 2010, 10:34 am

    The first opposition “began as an argument that was politically acceptable”: that this specific location was “inappropriate” for a mosque.

    There’s a video titled (something like) Jewish Legacy in Pittsburgh, that includes discussion of the building of the first synagogue in the city. A rabbi explains it, in a measured, soft voice: “The wealthy elite of Pittsburgh — the Carnegies, the Mellons — were building their grand mansions along Fifth Avenue. So we Jews bought a piece of land and built a building bigger and grander than them all, to demonstrate that we had arrived, we Jews were a force to be reckoned with.”

    I’ve not done the research to find out if any protests had been lodged against the Jews, telling them it was “inappropriate” for them to build their temple just there . I suspect the rabbi would have mentioned it if it had occurred.

    As well, I recall reading a book about Catholics, specifically Irish Catholics, attempting to gain a toehold in the US. The priests/bishops who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC designed it to be as grand as possible (iirc, some parts remained unbuilt because funds were not available) in order to show that Protestant Establishment that Phil so dearly loves to hate, that Irish Catholics were a force to be reckoned with. Not sure if there were objections to THAT construction project, either, but I suspect there were: I believe there’s an Episcopal cathedral very close by.

    Drive through any medium-sized town in the US that was established in the early 20th century or late 19th century: churches dominate street corners, across from each other, Presbyterian across from Catholic; Episcopal next door to Lutheran; Methodist around the corner from the Baptist church. People planted their flag. And they all got along, somehow. In my youth, the mantra of the day was, “You take the high road and I take the low road but we will all go to church together.”

  12. Psychopathic god
    November 9, 2010, 10:39 am

    the “made-up religion, Judeo-Christianity,” was made up in the ’50s for a good reason, in order to be inclusive, “to try and communicate the message to a Jewish minority that they weren’t wholly excluded and they would be honored with the great privilege of being associated with Christianity.” Laughter.

    The National (Episcopal) Cathedral in Washington, DC, spearheaded a program to reconcile “the Abrahamic faiths.” Less cumbersome than “Judeo-Christian-Islamic,” wouldn’t you say?

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