Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 247 (since 2010-06-07 02:03:23)

Betsy

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  • Yale Protestant chaplain says Americans must curb Israel so as to curb anti-Semitism
    • @American -- to be clear. I wasn't referring to official statements from a church. The public statements by the church *are* based on big principles regarding sin, humankind, and universal rights, etc. However, my point was that in fact there are multiple webs of connection between Americans & the Middle East. It is this webbiness & complexity that is suppressed by the mainstream framework. But, it is real & it does deepen & sharpen thinking. For instance, Gradye Parsons statement for the PC(USA) against bombing Syria, directly mentions the conversations with Syrian churches that shaped the PC(USA) stand. I agree that the official frameworks should be based on broad, universal values, but it is also important to nurture real-life webs of dialogue, exchange and solidarity among people on the ground. For instance, the peace movements in the 1980s were shaped by all the webs of connection that Catholic religious had in Central & South America. These kinds of particularistic webs can synergize with the broad universal moral principles, to help ground them & make them more empathic to lived complexities, rather than being only abstract.

    • @ Henry Norr -- a lot of mainline Christian denominations have multiple connections to the Middle East, through international work & partnerships going back in some cases two centuries. E.g., Presbyterian networks with schools & colleges in Egypt, Lebanon etc. have been conduits for communication that shape the thinking & knowledge base. I have argued for a while that these long historic connections are under-recognized. And the Israeli Lobby in US has systematically tried to undercut these other webs of international connection, by implying that international linkages between Israel & self-professed groups claiming to represent "the organized Jewish community" -- should take precedence in US debates.

      While the average "mainstream American Christian" might not have these connections, they are, I believe, significant & underappreciated channels for diffusion of ideas.

      Also, re/ Shipman, he says that his dad worked for the World Health Organization & that was why he lived in Middle East. link to theday.com Unless you have some other info, I don't know if one should leap to calling this part of "the old tradition of elite Protestant Arabism"

  • 'Lesson: The Jews will defend themselves even if it means killing children'
    • Go Mooser!!

    • @OlegR-- that's pretty hilarious comment, considering that I was born in a country experiencing mass slaughter based on religious / ethnic identities. Since then, my real life experience is that that kind of slaughter is *prevented* by the kinds of values that Lozowick is trashing.

    • what an amoral barbarian! Yet another example of the collapse of universal humanitarian values. And the rise of vicious particularistic identities which imagine our common world to be merely a war of all against all, with no goals higher than mere survival.

      To me, his way of thinking is so basically flawed that I don't even know where to start to critique it. It reminds me of my latest run in with a crazed libertarian. Where do you even start?

  • 'I mourn my Jewish community, which seeks to justify these inexcusable acts'
  • Witnessing Gaza
    • @Marc -- this is the human condition. One of the oldest ethical insight is recognizing that humans commit evil, when they are bound together by myths of us/them. So, to accept that Israel is behaving like this, is to accept that such myths of exceptionalism & communalism lead to herd like behavior. I don't understand the angst about losing Jewish ethical traditions -- which have rich resources for combatting such myths (and therefore seem like prophetic traditions to cling to & laud & reclaim!). What is being lost is a naïve & exceptionalist belief that Jewish people aren't like other humans & aren't prone to such collective evil. It should be liberating to be free of this naïve belief! Welcome to the human condition! This belief of ethical exceptionalism was itself an ethical problem -- akin to the dangerous "innocence" that James Baldwin wrote about so eloquently in discussing a certain White consciousness.

      I sometimes get tired of this lament about having to change Jewish identity. It verges on whining about not being pure, not accepting membership in ordinary humanity. Isn't it more important to put ones shoulder to the wheel & build alternative forms of resistance & transformation? I mean, doh, States commit evil when based on ethnic / racial particularities -- this is old news & combatting it is a broad common struggle, for which we have all sorts of good ideas & skills & ethical traditions. This is not new ethical ground (as, say, combatting global climate change is). Isn't it time to get on with it, and not waste time on mere identity politics & personal anxieties about personal identity?

      Now if you were going to argue that there is something *inherent* to Jewish ethical traditions that has caused this current evil, than that would be an interesting argument. For instance, do the scriptural stories (of Christian & Jewish traditions) contain inherent imperial tendencies, e.g., Joshua invading & slaying? That is something to grapple with & change.

  • Blaming the Victims: A night with AIPAC in St. Louis and protesters in Ferguson
    • this article by Rania Khalek, at Electronic Intifada, shows direct linkages between Israeli military & security apparatus & individuals & programs that shaped the Ferguson response:

      link to electronicintifada.net

      e.g., here's a key point in the article

      At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years.

      but she also shows other direct linkages

  • The selected writings of Samantha Power
  • 'J Street has to change or die': Divestment battle exposes tactical rift among liberal Zionists
    • @Speedy -- could you elaborate on what you mean with "bring it on"? do you see this as some kind of cowboy Western?

      The PC(USA) has been approaching this as the opposite of cowboy duels -- our goal has been to work towards & in, interfaith solidarity & dialogue about profound moral challenges (for our nation & the world) -- that are preventing equality under the law for all humans, and encouraging lawlessness & military spending & nationalist jingoism. Core to our faith is the imperative to be peacemakers. So a 'bring it on' mindset is part of what we're obligated to critique.

      Or am I misunderstanding what you mean? are you making a threat?

  • 'I was a Zionist till I was 64. I want to hit myself'
  • Jeffrey Goldberg leads the charge on latest BDS smear: Presbyterian Church divestment is anti-Semitic because David Duke supports it
    • @traintosiberia -- the new govt of India is led by the BJP which is notably Israel friendly. I expect a strong turn towards Asia by Israel as the West gets more critical of Israel. Prime Minister Modi is probably going to take a hyper-nationalist approach (which some in India consider proto-fascist) w/ ethnic / religious supremacist tendencies -- in the service of fierce industrial development that could involve deepening crack-down on environmental justice movements. Many fear for minorities within India -- especially tribal communities in resource rich regions targeted by the race-with-China developmentalism. There's a possibility of a new bloc between India & Israel -- that should be watched closely, given the challenges of climate change, coming resource wars, energy politics (the material forces behind much of what's happening in Middle East, that gets reported as 'cultural' or 'tribal'.

    • whoa. I didn't know that @lysias

    • If people like Jeffrey Goldberg keep doing this kind of smearing, they are going to discredit themselves in the eyes of ordinary Americans. Hysteria gets old (unless one shares it) -- and I just can't picture mainstream America going hysterical over the Presbyterian Church.

  • 'Forward' editor says Presbyterian vote was anti-Semitic
    • @yonah -- what you're saying re/ not 'flattening others' experience into simplified labels is so incredibly important, especially now in our crazed postmodern media sensationalized culture. I hope you won't mind if I speak personally that for me this is very spiritual. We need some kind of *form* (like symbols, rituals, ideas) just as an artist needs material materials from which to create. But, we have to hold them very lightly & be willing to let them go at a moment's notice. That's the only way I can read the biblical scriptures -- as a *channel* for a spiritual encounter, but *not* as a map of what's true. There's so much in it that's clearly archaic & false & intolerant I'm now using a great version of the New Testament by Marcus Borg, EVOLUTION OF THE WORD, in which he puts the books into the order in which they were written & contextualizes them in their times - one theme is that at certain stages there were tensions between Jewish identity & emerging Christian identity -- which hard baked negative comments re/ Jewish practices & identity (a process that was both *within* Jewish communities & between different cultural groups -- it's confusing for me as I don't really know the historical contexts). What I take from this is that Christians have to be ever vigilant against the imagery / ideas left from this origin.

      But, at the same time, I've just over the past several years, decided that this is a 2 way street. I used to be, I think, philo-Semitic (or whatever Phil calls it) -- because of the extraordinary people & thinkers from Jewish backgrounds I knew or knew about. It's only recently that I've to really listen to some of the more intolerant (or self-enclosed & Other-stereotyping) parts of Jewish American life. I've started to periodically visit Temple with a friend. I learned that many people seem to have almost no understanding of the variety & reformations & historical changes within Christianity -- it seemed that a lot of what is taught is (for such a well-educated community) an incredibly thin & stereotyped view of Christianity. But, then I thought how much do I actually know about Judaism? I'm dismayed to realize that we as Americans can live so close together & know so little of each other!!

      but, I do want to ask my Temple going friend if there's discussion re/ how Judaism's origin story relates to the people conquered in early Jewish scriptures. Is there equivalent work re/ the 'supercession' of the peoples of Canaan by ancient Hebrews (and it's lingering effects now) -- with the efforts, say in PC(USA) to stamp out all bad traces of 'supercessionism' (sp?) in our theology?

    • @Shmuel
      :) the balancing of particular & universal in Reformed & always Reforming traditions depends on, springs out of, our legacy from ancient Jewish prophets...So, this good interdependence of faith traditions *is* something from the past to hold on to, celebrate & try to carry forward in a reformed American civic culture -- that moves (somehow) beyond the current crazinesses...

    • @Yonah -- thanks for wondering re/ being offensive. I'd say we tend to use "Presby" as a short hand, or PCUSA. I really appreciate your empathic attunement to how we might react to the labels put on us.

      It's been an extremely painful period for many of us. I've been reading the Jewish Forward and other periodicals that claim to represent Jewish American communities. I'm hurt and shocked by what I'm reading about Presbyterians! To me, much of it is both grossly distorting of who we are and our history. And, much appears to be simply ignorant. It's not just the many highly emotional comparisons of us to Nazis in the comment section. It's also that frankly I feel like our church & others like it have been at the forefront of building a tolerance in US for religious diversity. The principle of separation of church & State is basic to us -- and we have *fought* for inclusion of minorities (including Jewish Americans), *fought* against the idea of Christian ethnonationalism. So, I'm wondering what 'history' of Christians you are referring to? The Presbyterian church is part of a Reformed & always Reforming tradition, which is explicitly standing up *against* imperialism, religious / ethnic / racial intolerance & supremacy. If we are explicitly standing & working against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism -- how are we part of that past 'history'? I just don't get it. If you're arguing that our theological beliefs are based on anti-Semitism, I would counter that our theologians have been actively trying to undo any such imagery or ideas.

      anyway, thanks again, for your empathy concern re/ labels for Presbys!! It lifted my spirit in this dark & worrisome time for my faith community.

    • Eisner's piece is inaccurate on its key substantive points: (see FAQ link to pcusa.org)
      1) Israel is not being 'singled out'. The PC(USA) has practiced divestment before (e.g., South Africa under apartheid)
      2) it has also used various financial mechanisms to express moral concern on all sorts of issues, not just Israel / Palestine link to pcusa.org, such as boycotts of liquor establishments (1910s), child labor (1930s), businesses discriminating 'against Negroes' (1950s) to name a few
      3) the church has made repeated pronouncements about injustice in many parts of the world -- here's just last week's list link to officeofpublicwitness.blogspot.com (Cuba, drones, Haiti, persecution of Christians in Egypt & elsewhere, Congo, Western Sahara, sexual violence in the military) but if you look back over the last several years link to officeofpublicwitness.blogspot.com, you will see it's a very long & diverse list of issues engaged (with Israel being a small part -- and I can find no one else attacking the church for these critiques, in the way that Jewish Forward & others are on this issue. )
      4) the charge that PC(USA) does not care about "Christians" in the Middle East is bizarre and ignorant. First, we are not just focusing on our faith community -- the PC(USA) divestment from American companies was out of a concern for universal human rights, not "Christians". Second, we are very concerned about sister churches in the Middle East (along with every other human there). But, the situation in Syria is far more complicated than she's suggesting -- as is our relationship to it. In 2013, our leader, Gradye Parsons sent this letter to Pres Obama, re-stating & elaborating on the resolution on Syria from the 2012 General Assembly link to pcusa.org And, in Sept 2013, Parsons made another urgent call, which emphasized the views of the Christian churches in Syria link to pcusa.org
      5) the Presbyterian Church has taken a very strong stand against anti-Semitism, as it has repeatedly stated. I know of no concrete examples of anti-Semitic behavior towards Jewish persons (unless you go back centuries) or Jewish organizations, by the church or church representatives. We are only criticizing a nation-state that is occupying territory & violating human rights in that territory (as established by international law) -- and the American companies that are complicit in those illegal actions. A key part of our theology is that there is a big difference between a State, a faith community, and an ethnic community. The Hebrew prophets have been key to our theological understanding. To criticize a govt or a State, is a duty. And, to not put our church money into a corporation that violates our moral principles is a very well established church practice. We have all sorts of filters on investment portfolio (and many of us want even more, like against fossil fuels). It is our money & we should be able to choose to invest it where we like.

      Finally, I am not impressed by Jane Eisner's work as a piece of journalism (yet, her bio suggests that she has expertise) -- it shows no research into facts, and she does not address the substantive issues (are there human rights violations? what's happening to Palestinians?). *She's* the one making this a question of Jewish identity, that was never the intention of the Presbyterian church to focus this on Jewish people or issues -- in fact, the church has elaborately tried to prevent any such interpretation, based on mere ethnic or religious identity. These moral questions about human rights are far more important than that & should be engaged on their own, substantively -- she avoids engagement with the key issues at stake here.

      For the PC(USA) it's not about Jewish identity -- it's about universal human rights. She ignores the situation of Palestinians totally (is that moral blindness to people who are not of her faith / ethnic identity? is it only people of what she considers to be 'her community' who matter? if yes, what is the name for that?)

    • @ritzl -- good one!

  • Victory's unintended consequences
    • @richb: excellent description. The sense of shock, and sense that there's been bad faith & shunning behavior -- are important *emotional* realities that commissioners will be processing as they return home & try to explain the issues & the feelings to local churches & presbyteries all across the country...

  • 'Washington Post' suggests Presbyterians voted against Jews and peace
    • @Citizen: probably true stats (I didn't check them), but just wanted to make sure you were aware that that website is the organ for conservative The Layman (which has been trying to weaken the 'social justice' Presbys for decades). Sorry to go into the sorry weeds of Presby fissures (known among us as the "split Ps").

      The Layman broke away from PC(USA) in 1965, lead by "corporate leaders" -- here's their self-description-- saying they left because of:

      a new social agenda, encapsulated in the new phraseology, “The Scriptures are nevertheless the words of men ….”

      That phrase drew the battle line for the Presbyterian elders who first met in the office of George Champion, then president of Chase Manhattan Bank. They were shocked that the Bible was being reduced to everyday literature. At a time when “God-is-dead” theology was campus and seminary chic, the elders feared that the new confession would have a debilitating effect on the Presbyterian Church.

      The first Lay Committee members were lay leaders of the church, people of means and action. Besides being leaders in their churches, they were leaders in corporate America. They believed that decency and fair play would help their cause. Thus, they respectfully requested that the denomination’s leadership publicize their concern about the new confession. Their request was denied. They offered to buy space in denominational publications to publish their response. The denomination would not sell them space. Then they dug deep into their pockets and sponsored full-page advertisements in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications.

      they have continued to dig deep into their deep pockets to fund campaigns against feminist theology, gay rights, and most of the major PC(USA) work to date...with a particular gift for well-funded legal wrangles over church property. More choice quotes available at link to layman.org

    • Hi Mooser!

    • @ohiojoes: that's pretty fascinating theory in your local church!

      I'm only going by my impressions, so I could be way off...a lot of this is probably 'local'. What you're describing re/ 'leadership' just doesn't fit what I'm seeing (in a Southern & deep red state). The people who go to GA, are selected by Presbyteries -- and in my experience tend to be a "local leadership" or "regional leadership" -- e.g., they're congregational members who are leaders enough in their church & at the Presbytery level to get selected. These are not clearly a 'left' of the church. Some of them come from local elites (e.g., in my area, people who are connected to coal industry) and often are very socially cautious. They are more informed & better read than average (that's built into the PCUSA preparations). And, many of them are more activist (but that can go both ways, the conservatives sometimes mobilize to 'stack' GA debates). But, they're *very* different from the national staff & the mission co-workers, who do very much tend to be much more 'left' -- but don't 'lead' decisions at GA, tho' they might have influence (but a lot of the national staff are scared by cut-backs & are being cautious about not angering the base).

      In my own church, I'm feeling a noticeable shift on this issue -- it's a well-educated, but not a 'left' church. People who haven't been paying attention are starting to pay attention & don't think the Palestinians are being treated fairly. It would be interesting to do a poll on rank & file Presbys. I doubt it would come out at the national average -- because theologically, there's just not that attachment to 'land-fundamentalism' in a Zionist way, that you find among Christian fundamentalists. The Reformed tradition I think emphasizes the way God can take away 'land promises' if there's injustice -- so at best, it seems like there's a 'soft Zionism' -- which really doesn't go very deep.

      I really think that a more significant factor in local churches & presbyteries, has to do with numbers of Temples nearby & the kind of relationship with them. My parents' church is very 'left' in a big East Coast city, but includes *more* divisions on this issue, because the folks strongly against divestment, are deeply connected socially with Zionist Jewish networks -- and are facing off fiercely within the church against very strong 'progressives' on the issue. It's a very different dynamic than in my 'red state' & Southern & more conservative church -- where folks are mostly baffled & only now waking up to it. They won't like being called haters by guests on CNN, NBC, or by Netanayahu, I can tell you that...

      But, these are just my impressions, following this as very much a rank & filer myself.

    • As a Presbyterian, I have to say that this bullying reaction is not going to go over well among the rank & file. We greatly value civility, facts, reasoning together, empathy & clear organizational boundaries & transparency. This reaction feels like a mob reaction -- from people who should have more access to facts, habits of empathy, & diverse opinions. My church has handled this with deliberation & repeated statements of our commitment to continue working in inter-faith alliances with empathic awareness of the emotionality of this issue for many Jewish Americans. If PC(USA) continues to be slandered in this way, it's going to backfire in very mainstream communities across the US.

      Being lectured in this way by a foreign govt, for stands taken by US citizens vis a vis our money, and US companies -- is not a persuasive approach. The PC(USA) has deep connections with Middle Eastern churches going back almost two centuries. Key PC(USA) leaders have wide & deep experience within the region & don't need travel advice from Mr. Netanayahu.

      We are not impressed by the moral or intellectual caliber of this response.

  • In 'turning-point' vote, Presbyterians divest from occupation-linked corporations
    • the General Assembly is the ultimate authority in the church, so it's binding, and my understanding is that the folks who handle the funds are prepared to divest immediately. Sometimes, there's an uprising in the membership that topples GA votes in future years -- but it's very unlikely that any uprising will now be able to convince the church to actively *choose* to positively invest in the 3 companies -- you'd have to argue that you think it's a *positive* moral move to support Caterpillar, etc.-- ain't gonna happen...

    • @ ritzl -- good memory! no, I didn't make it as a commissioner. What I learned is that my Presbytery basically had picked its delegates 2 years ago, so last fall was too late to start my angling! We do move slow :( So, I'm politicking for 2016 :)

    • @LeaNder -- yes, the vote is a window into the heart, soul & mind of ordinary Americans from very diverse regions of the country. The rules are based on The Book of Order link to pcusa.org which keeps getting revised but has really old roots into the self-governance traditions in Scotland & then the unruly self-governance of pre-Revolutionary US.

      The Commissioners go through fairly elaborate, pre-GA training: link to oga.pcusa.org

      There are non-voting Advisory Delegates also, who can have a big impact on outcomes (and often have special expertise or commitments).

      The non-voting blocs also mostly are to hang with their voting Presbyteries. Here's what the official description:

      Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs) and Theological Student Advisory Delegates (TSADSs) are seated with the commissioners from their presbytery in the plenary hall. Missionary Advisory Delegates (MADs) and Ecumenical Advisory Delegates (EADs) have assigned seating in the commissioner/advisory delegate area.

      Many of these youth are doing volunteer work for the church. The MADs are paid church workers -- many of whom are serving all over the world as "mission co-workers". These people tend to be fantastically knowledgeable, having spent many years living in communities, speaking the languages, often in extremely difficult circumstances. They also are very well educated, as they periodically have really terrific sabbaticals/educational programs that are run by the best scholarship PC(USA) can muster (which historically has been top-flight). These are the people who are largely paid for by the church investment & pension funds that Marc Ellis keeps railing against (despite their very modest life-styles doing hard work in often low-tech & difficult settings). I always watch their 'votes' (which aren't included in official tally), because they are by far the most knowledgeable, the most connected with community-based networks (internationally & US). Their votes are usually prescient, showing where the church is headed.

      The sad thing is that these people & the national staff used to have much more influence than they do now. They & the national staff have drastically lost funding, because of a false 'democratization' that turns work over to local congregations (who are increasingly local focused & uninterested in national / global issues)-- yet these blocs are the best informed & the most attuned to real politics & policy making (e.g., their work against TPP & other bad global trade deals has been fantastic, but increasingly done on a shoe string). So, if PC(USA) followed Marc Ellis' advice & got rid of the church money, the part of the PC(USA) that is by far the most progressive, might largely disappear.

    • Commissioners are ordinary lay people from all around the country who are democratically nominated to attend the General Assembly, where the church votes on key policies. Individual churches are run democratically by Ruling Elders (lay members from the congregation). Churches within a region form a Presbytery. The Presbytery nominates the commissioners for GA (with input from member churches). Presbyteries also can submit "overtures" for the GA (e.g., put forward topics for voting). The GA appoints various committees & study groups to do in-depth study of difficult issues -- which is why GA votes can take so much time. E.g., difficult questions are put off into committees to clarify the issues. For instance, this year, there were a lot of overtures pushing for total divestment from fossil fuels. But, that has been sent to committee. It doesn't mean it's being sidelined -- it's just how things are structured in order to make sure debate is informed & inclusive.

    • thanks for thoughtful comments...I can see what you all are saying re/ the fearfulness. Presbyterians culturally, I think, tend to be very cautious people, who don't like to stand out & really really really don't like conflict. That trait bothers me too.

      And, you're absolutely right that there's suddenly been an internal marginalization of IPMN & BDS -- that is a huge problem that we need to work on within the church, going forward. My hope is in the blazing clarity of the youth vote -- and the fact that new policies within the church are giving youth leaders preference, so, hopefully, there will be a kind of internal reformation.

      That said, there is also real anger & hurt. Lot's of people are just shocked by how the mainline Jewish groups have behaved over the past decade-- but haven't figured out how to articulate our moral critique. (As I said, we're a slow moving body. I'm not applauding that. It's just who we are because of our history). We'd gotten used to irrational, hypocritical attacks from Christian fundamentalists, but somehow can't wrap our minds around what seems like a kind of fundamentalism from mainline Jewish groups (who had always been allies in our big fights). Part of what makes it so bizarre, is that I think many of us are realizing that there's a lack of organizational & financial transparency in overlapping groups that call themselves 'the organized Jewish community' -- but which don't transparently show the clear lines of decision-making, financial disclosure & organizational structure that we value so much.

      I wrote a letter of protest to a regional Jewish organization last year (about something that seemed Islamophobic) and got back a statement the "The organized Jewish community" didn't support [whatever it was]. And, I thought to myself: "what does that mean?" "Did all Jews vote on that?" "how can you say you represent and organized community?" It just seemed like a totally weird statement to me (as if Presbyterians claimed to speak for all Christians!). I wish more Jews of Conscience were directly tackling these problems of lack of *organizational* transparency...I see threads on Mondoweiss against such claims 'to speak for all Jews', but wish there were most sunshine shown on the organizations themselves...

      on a positive note, in my very cautious & Southern congregation, I've just talked the adult Sunday school into doing the "Zionism Unsettled" study guide next fall and I'm trying to figure out how we can get some dialogue with local Temple .

    • I think you're misinterpreting the emotions here. It's not as much about 'fear' as you're saying. Why & what should we Presbyterians fear? I think it's more accurate to attribute the slow & painful debate to these factors combined: a) ignorance: the PC(USA) is democratic, so the church leadership at GA are made up of ordinary American citizens & in many ways reflect the lack of information of ordinary Americans. Rather than blame the church for this, people should be trying to improve general awareness. Frankly, I think the church has been doing a far better job of outreach & education of ordinary Americans than any other institution I know b) awareness among the church leadership: the historic connections between the churches of Middle East & PC(USA) and the high-information awareness by the subcommittees & workers of the church means that a minority of extremely well informed people have been pulling this process along, but they have tried to do this by educating the wide lay membership of the church. That might seem like a slow process to outsiders, but I think that bottom-up consciousness raising could end up being the better strategy and c) there are in fact close personal relationship between Jewish & Presby faith communities in local & regional networks. Rather than us being fearful of Jewish 'organized' community -- there's a lot of anguish about the vicious & (to us) irrational & unfair accusations that have been personally hurled at us, by long time friends & allies (in multiple social justice that are grounded in our everyday communities. What some in this thread see as 'fearful' comments -- are actually how many Presbyterians show anger. Because we run through very slow democratic processes, we've developed a culture of slow deliberation & trying to avoid conflict. I think that what many people are trying to do is to signal that we've made every effort at peaceable & rational discussion with our neighboring Jewish faith communities -- and *still* there has been a lack of reciprocity & empathic communication in many ways. To state again & again that this is not an anti-Jewish or anti-Judaism vote, is a Presbyterian way of throwing down a gauntlet -- trying to frame the rules-of-the-game back home in home communities -- so that, if others don't reciprocate & walk away from inter-faith, then the fault is clearly on them. What seems fearful, is actually I think a form of shaming those who smear us. Trying to set a different moral framework, so that people have to focus on the question of injustice towards Palestinians, rather than get diverted into questions re/ PC(USA) & organized Jewish community (which should be secondary to the question as to whether what's happening in Occupied Territories is right).

    • @Slappy -- are you pulling a Colbert? Is this a self-satirization? As a Ruling Elder of my PC(USA) congregation, I found myself laughing at this twisted history of my community -- twisted by repeating Right Wing talking points & a cold-hearted lack of empathy for other faith communities' histories. In fact, the more PC(USA) stands up on these basic moral issues, the more young people return. A point that I hope my neighborhood & greying Temple notes.

      It's been fascinating to many Presbys over the past year to watch the focus on *demography* in the coverage of our community in mainstream Jewish presses. Almost every article re/ PC(USA) that I've read, has started with this actuarial frame -- population growth / decline & age. With a notable lack of transparency or equivalency. While PC(USA) has conducted it's business in public -- there's been a notable lack of equivalency. @Slappy -- in the name of 'balance' shouldn't you be asking equivalent questions of other communities? And are these really the frameworks (of sheer power or demographics) you should be applying to basic moral questions by a faith community?

  • Using Schwerner and Goodman and the Nazis to deny the Jewish moment (privilege)
    • Sloppy attributions of 'Nazism' seem to me to be problematic. It's complicit with a kind of blanket ethnicizing & stereotyping. Not all German words are part of Nazism -- a point that Victor Klemperer made repeatedly when he distinguishes between negative critique of Nazi cultural constructions & positive discussion of German culture. In fact, Klemperer's book embodies the point I was trying to make. The key argument in his book is that Nazism systematically constructed a new Weltanshauung through specific distortions of language over time. He specifically used the idea of 'world-view' (with all it's rich philosophic connotations in Continental & linguistic philosophy) as a useful analytic concept with which to dissect these distortions. Far from *equating* the use of Weltanshauung with Nazi culture, he *used* the idea as a tool to dissect Nazi distortions of German public culture. That was my point exactly. It's a critical analytic tool, which allows one to step back from Nazi propaganda in order to analyze its symbolic underpinnings & linguistic manipulations; but Nazi propaganda is the opposite -- it tries to collapse ones perspective, so that one cannot see the inner workings of cultural construction -- true believers do not question the inner workings of their ideologies. Nazi propaganda, liked Oz behind the curtain, does not want those inner workings exposed. For me, Weltanshauung has been a Toto of an idea, not fake Nazi wizard of an idea. I am an anthropologist whose first year of graduate training was filled with such German phrases (and French, etc) because they led us to the literatures that produced these useful tools. To say that we shouldn't use words from another language just seems to me to be a kind of American anti-intellectualism & ethnocentrism. Why shouldn't we mix up our languages...

      I worry that sloppy broad accusations of Nazi complicity are continuous with bad ethnic stereotyping, that makes it hard for people to think concretely about particular realities, in order to make ethical judgments in the real world. To make all things German bad & Nazi, or all German words bad & Nazi -- is to construct some pure Other -- which I think Zionism has done. Ethnicizing things & then creating moral polarities is a dangerous route. I'm not saying that everyone is doing that in this thread -- but I still haven't heard anything concrete that shows me that there's anything that links 'world-view' (in whatever language) with Nazism.

      @ Lysias -- word counts of Hitler's writing mean nothing. If he uses 'land' or 'blood' a lot, it doesn't mean to me that I should stop using those words -- it's *how* he uses them, and the context of meaning & line of argument that are important.

    • why is "Weltanschauung" irredeemably associated with Nazism? I've only heard it used in Continental philosophy & in the social sciences -- where it's a basic concept. It is widely used in these fields & in association with thinkers who have nothing to do with Nazism. It just means "world view". It is often used as a critical tool to analyze ideologies like fascism. Why specifically is it associated with Nazism?

  • Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?
    • what is a "nation"? what is a "people"? both of these are fuzzy 19th c. notions of identity that are logically flawed because you can't draw clear boundaries around either. If it's based on 'culture' (as the French tried to do in their imperialism) people from other 'nations/peoples' can attend the Sorbonne & suddenly the French have to deal w/ really well educated Others who are claiming rights within the French state. If it's based on 'religion' then Others can convert. And, these ideas of a 'people' that = a 'nation' ultimately tend to root themselves either in symbols of 'blood' (which eventually leads to deepening racism as political boundaries are confused or challenged or hard to maintain) or 'land' (which can justify any sort of land grab, without recourse to universalist principles of international law). But, beyond this, ultimately leads to magical thinking which needs to keep equating a "people" = a "nation" = a "state".

      this is an inherently violent equation -- leading to an inability to define the borders of the state in a rational manner consistent with international law, so the borders must be maintained with increasingly brittle, violent & magical cultural notions of emotionally charged 'identity', enforced with terror.

      it is also fundamentally opposed to American history & political philosophy that undergirds our State -- our State is based on a 'civic republican' ideal which understands citizenship as the fundamental quality that hooks people into the State (not their culture, not their religion, not their ethnicity or race). Granted we constantly fall short of that ideal. But, the US will be in very bad trouble if we honor NormanF's invocation of 19th notions of ethnonationalistic bases for the STate. We have enough troubles in the 21st c, without going back to such stale & diversionary ideologies to shore up our beleaguered State. Zionism as described by NormanF is fundamentally opposed to American values, but also distracts us from rebuilding our civic Republic based on free citizens claiming rights under natural & international law.

      Who woulda thunk that we'd have to be arguing about such questions in the 21st c??? Yet another reason that I/P & Zionism has become a huge & unnecessary burden!

  • Kerry says that Israel could wind up being 'an apartheid state'
    • AIPAC's fb page has this exciting announcement tho' -- under a theme of "I heart Israel" (even tho' it's mum on Kerry)

      Israel’s Latest Invention: The Heart-Shaped Cucumber!

      link to nocamels.com...

      Nothing says "I love you" more than a salad. No. Not really. But a new Israeli crop, the heart-shaped cucumber, is a good start. Grown in the Israeli desert using Spanish methods, the uniquely-shaped vegetable will soon be available in supermarkets throughout the country.

      Hmm, is such fluff a symptom of psychological denial? This fb page has a strange fixation on technological 'breakthroughs'...

  • Fear of Arab-Americans in the public square
    • good post -- except that there's a great danger in US of 'ethnicizing' inequality. America has a real problem facing it's own inequality -- and a chronic tendency to hide the realities of inequality by pretending that it's a racial or ethnic problem. The best analysis of this is the amazing book by Barbara & Karen Fields Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
      link to versobooks.com

      The underlying problem right now is the profound deepening of inequality. If we see this primarily as an 'ethnic' pattern, we won't be able to have a conversation about the causes & solutions to this inequality. The book by the Fields sisters is one of the most important books of the last several decades...I can't recommend it highly enough.

  • 'A Painful Price': The escalating war on Palestine solidarity at U of Michigan and beyond
    • @JeffB

      Jews are proud of “zionist”

      do you really mean to say this? "All Jews" are proud of this word? I'm curious as to how you got the right & the ability to speak for all Jews? You say that "Zionist" comes *after* the time of fear. Does that mean that Jews do not need to fear now? Hmm. I wonder why that is? Could it perhaps come from the democratic principle that citizenship is based on universal human rights, not ethnic identity in the US. If we are past the time of fear & in a time of pride in the US for people of Jewish background, doesn't that lessen your argument that Jewish students at U of Mich face an intimidating environment.

      Finally, why on earth do you single out Arab & Black youth, with your image of people googling specifically to find nasty words to call Jewish people? Your very language betrays a kind of racism I believe. Even as it shows that anti-Jewish language has largely disappeared from our common oral culture as Americans.

  • Iymen Chehade fights Chicago school's cancellation of his class
    • @JeffB: I am utterly fascinated that you follow this sentence:

      Teaching the societal norms doesn’t generally demand balance.

      with a sentence arguing that one should teach general relativity, rather than a scientifically unsupported theory. My fascination comes from the fact that there is no logical connection between the two sentences. The first sentence suggests that universities should promulgate social norms -- when, in fact, universities are founded on the principle that they should promote critical inquiry, which interrogates merely customary norms, while stewarding & transmitting the best in cultural legacies. The second sentence deals with the progress of science, which is based also on critical inquiry -- so that theories are taught when they are supported by a mass of good data & thoroughly critiqued experimentation. These scientific choices are the *opposite* of following "social norms".

      Finally, you often in your comments conflate the narrowest of legal arguments with broad ethical or cultural statements. It is certainly true that some academic administrators violate faculty freedoms of thought & expression (especially of contingent faculty) -- because those administrators believe that they can get away with it, because of their legal staff. But, that does not mean that the wider scholarly communities agree with those administrators. if medical experts follow the Hippocratic Oath, they are transmitting key societal values, that have upheld the social contract between healers & society for millennia. If academic institutions start thinking in the narrow terms you are advocating, rather than living up to the scholarly & ethical standards of professional communities -- it will be the death knell, not only of the academy, but also of our great traditions of critical inquiry.

    • @JeffB: adjunct faculty are entitled to academic freedom. They are teaching courses & are therefore not 'staff' in the sense that a parking attendant is 'staff'. See #9 of the American Association of University Professors standards:

      9. Academic Freedom and Protection against Discrimination

      a. All members of the faculty, whether tenured or not, are entitled to academic freedom as set forth in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, formulated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Association of University Professors. link to aaup.org

      Non tenure-track faculty are now 70% of the teaching staff in US academe link to aaup.org

      Non tenure track faculty have fewer *institutional* safeguards, but their professional rights as scholars are well established by AAUP & other entities that set professional standards. It is perfectly acceptable to call him a small-p professor. That is normal reference to his category of work, not to his institutional title.

      And, faculty serve as advisors for all sorts of student groups link to colum.edu, without that meaning that they are biased or somehow less 'academic'. If a student group has been approved by the college, they need a faculty member to advise the student leadership. To advise young people is not to endorse or promote everything that the young people do or say.

  • A War on Campus: 'Democracy Now' covers the Northeastern SJP suspension (Updated)
    • @JeffB -- here's the stated mission under the webpage of the "Members of the Corporation"

      Our Mission

      To educate students for a life of fulfillment and accomplishment.

      To create and translate knowledge to meet global and societal needs.

      narrow questions of law, might be decided on narrow grounds, but the whole structure of the law stands on broad societal understandings of public interest & justice. If we divorce "law" in its most legalistic sense from broader questions about our social contract, the very foundations of the law will be undermined...that's my point.

    • @JeffB -- universities are inherently public entities, in that they are stewards of knowledge, committed to serve the public interest and to intergenerational responsibility. If universities were to start to base their values in mere ideas of private property -- they are no longer universities. That would be suicidal for universities to go down this path -- they would lose every vestige of moral, intellectual, and civic stature within our commonwealth. Plus, there are standards of responsibility which are hard-baked into the culture and protocols of professionalism and the educational mission -- that would be deeply unsettled were a university just to operate like the mere title holder to a piece of property.

      Is this an example of the kind of mean-spirited turn away from universal & humanitarian values of public life, that seems to increasingly characterize a very defensive attack on what used to be taken-for-granted principles of free speech and civic deliberation about public questions in the public interest?

  • On John Judis's 'Genesis,' and its critics
    • But the Palestinians are not the Cherokee Indians: they have not disappeared, and they are hardly few in number

      This is a very problematic statement about Native Americans in US. The Cherokee have not disappeared. And, this line of argument implies a generalized dismissal the role & importance of Native Americans in US life -- that is also very problematic. There are well over 300,000 people in the official roles of the Cherokee nation, and many more hundreds of thousands who identify culturally or religiously. The official census roles show just under 3 million Native Americans in US -- and again, there are many more Americans beyond that who value their Native roots. Native American culture is very much alive. In several states (like Arizona, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, New Mexico) Native Americans make up sizeable minorities (from about 5-10%) which are visible and valued parts of the civic fabric of those states. While Native Americans have suffered much, they have not 'disappeared'. One of the things I hate about Zionism, is that it creates a discursive field that pulls one towards demographic comparison -- as if mere numbers are what matter. The number of Native Americans in US is not very different from number of Jewish Americans -- but mere numbers shouldn't be emphasized like this. This sort of demographization of our thinking about who 'matters' and who has 'disappeared', simply does not reflect the best of who we are as Americans.

      There is a persistent tendency on Mondoweiss to make analogies to indigenous experience (recurrent use of language re/ the 'tribal', problematic analogies to violence against indigenous peoples), while showing little concern for the living realities (or sensibilities) of indigenous communities.

  • Pelosi calls Israel's creation 'the most spectacular political achievement of the 20th century'
    • our national political 'leaders' have gone totally bonkers. Are they in a bubble floating so far from ordinary citizens that they don't understand how this sounds to us? (but good catch, Phil)

  • Shaking up Zionism: A review of 'Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide'
    • any suggestions re/ how to do this are appreciated. I'm thinking about organizing an interfaith, city-wide study group around this Study Guide, and am trying to figure out what best approach to get everyone to the table...

      I brought it up in church on Sunday & someone said we *also* need to have parallel discussion re/ anti-Semitism, so that critique of Zionism, doesn't propel a new anti-Semitism. So, any suggestions re/ short succinct readings on anti-Semitism appreciated --

  • Zionism Unsettled: Presbyterian network pushes a new dialogue on Zionism
    • @W.Jones -- it's amazing how hard it can be to navigate Presby websites (considering how much we strive to be 'orderly')! But, if you scroll almost to the end of the /study-resources/publications page of the Israel Palestine Mission Network page link to israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org

      you will find the GA approved version of "Tearing Down the Walls". However, before the GA there were numerous versions that circulated. I thought the earliest were the best, but they kept getting watered down, as it got fiercely condemned by pro-Israel groups (almost all non-Presbyterian, but getting very involved in internal church deliberations in remarkable ways). I don't know how to get the earlier versions. It was a huge fight going over many months.

      This looks like an interesting workshop on the theology of land -- btw link to israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org

      thanks for the ideas re/ names to use...:)

    • @richb -- whoa!! how cool!

    • @puppies -- I will be asking them....I know & love my friend & have worked with her on many many many causes of social justice (in which she's been a stalwart & courageous ally)-- I'm not about to judge her nor judge her views until I understand them better...I fault myself for being squeamish in the past about asking where she's at on Zionism...

    • Page: 2
    • I get lost in much of the intricate theological debate re/ Zionism of the last 10 to 15 years. But, here's another question re/ 'supersession' that seems to me to be crucial, but is not directly enough engaged. That is: should & can we critique the violent land grab in the Old Testament stories--which suggest that G_d is blessing the taking of land from peaceable indigenous peoples, with particular animus against Earth-based, pantheistic spirituality? To me that's possible without being anti-Judaism -- because there seems to me to be so much more to Judaism -- e.g. a wealth of spiritual revelation & ethics that rises above or transmutes the tales of taking other people's lands. All religions have an ugly particularity, that can & should be critiqued, while honoring the beauty of other aspects of the religion.

      In other words, it looks to me as if there is a kind of 'supersession' built into the theology of the Old Testament -- which is a violent attack on indigenous peoples & condemnation of religions that see divinity within places & natural entities (note that I do not use the word "Pagan" or "polytheistic" because I feel they have negative connotations after years of triumphalism re/ the so-called 'monotheistic' religions). There is a lot of sexism in this also -- because the 'monotheistic' gods tend to be described as 'male' & the 'nature' ones as 'goddesses'.

      As you all know, I'm a devout Presbyterian, but I'm increasingly uncomfortable with what I see as supersessionism in the Old Testament focused on an idolatry of "the land".

      The important PC(USA) document called "Tearing down the Walls" (about 10 years ago) was an attempt to reach out to Jewish interfaith networks -- but it was fiercely condemned by the big pro-Israel groups. In that document, there was a very mild statement re/ the pain & discomfort that one feels reading the Old Testament (or should I say Jewish scriptures? what's more respectful?) stories of slaughtering people to take their land. This was denounced as an anti-Semitic refusal to listen to Jewish theology & an inability to understand the special relationship to "The Land" -- in short as a kind of Christian supersessionism. I lack theological sophistication to say this right -- but to me it seems to be a legitimate query as to whether there's a kind of violent supersessionism built into some of these stories? And, isn't this a pervasive problem in Christianity & Islam & all monotheisms that condemn Nature-based & pantheism and claim to supercede them in universalizing ways (which have been immensely destructive of indigenous peoples)? At least, in interfaith conversations, shouldn't we be able to raise this issue?

      Btw, I've been periodically attending Temple with a good friend, so that I stay in community across faiths. The last time I went, I feel into conversation with my friend's friends in the pew (are they called pews in Temple?). All were older women. I was hoping to get educated on Judaism so asked something about G-d & was dazzled when one of them said "Oh, I belong to the atheistic branch of Judaism. I don't believe in God", then another said, "Well no, I believe in God as the Earth Mother, the whole earth is sacred" and *all* of the five grandmothers nodded happily & enthusiastically. I was stunned & fascinated. They seemed to relate to Judaism as a kind of ethical tradition & family history -- but have a separate diffuse Earth based spirituality. Since, this experience of God fits mine...we had a splendid discussion of our own spiritual experiences, but I didn't have the nerve to ask them how this fits into their Judaic theology...

    • @ritzl -- do you know the name of the editor? I dunno who it is, as I immediately tried to order it & it was *already* sold out, like instantly sold out, so I don't have any details. When you say managed, do you mean the fellow who moderated the debate in the General Assembly? PCUSA is governed a lot like Occupy (many rules, many committees, geeky fascination with process). The moderator is elected by the commissioners who are elected via multiple layers of participating churches & presbyteries. The 2012 Moderator was: Rev. Neal D. Presa, pastor of Middlesex (N.J.) Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Presbytery. The next General Assembly is Detroit June 14 to 21, 2014 link to oga.pcusa.org and I'm engaged in arcane church political maneuvering to get myself anointed as a commissioner :)

      @ritzl--let me know if I answered a question you weren't asking...

      Here's a list of folks who have endorsed this Guide -- a really impressive group! link to israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org

      @Annie ;) back

  • The self-hating goy
    • What's with the *watermelon*? Where I come from, that is rank with racist connotations. See link to en.wikipedia.org. So, images of someone being called something that sounds so like 'boy', and asked to step & fetch it, while totin' watermelons -- has connotations...

      Am I reading too much into this? it just seems like this watermelon came from nowhere & was gratuitous prop so one wonders...

  • Legislative efforts to punish ASA over boycott of Israel pick up steam
    • @LeaNder -- that's exactly right. Here's the link to Capilouto's statement link to uknow.uky.edu which avoids any engagement with the pressing questions of discrimination against Palestinians in higher education, or, questions re/ the lack of freedom of movement & debate for many scholars who are critical of Israeli policies. Capilouto rambles vaguely with many platitudes about 'dialogue' but he doesn't engage the substantive questions....Pretty sad, I think!

    • I would encourage folks to leave comments on a website link to therecoveringpolitician.com that has a petition to support the denunciations of the ASA by the presidents of University of Kentucky & University of Louisville. The petition was started by Jonathan Miller (former KY politician and self-described 'liberal' Zionist) who has a long history of smearing individuals and groups who are critical of Israeli policies -- E.g., see Russ Greenleaf's 2012 article in Mondoweiss on Jonathan Miller's outright lies about the Presbyterian church's debate on I/P link to mondoweiss.net

  • Arab-American scholars back ASA boycott as legal threats start pouring in
    • I just joined the American Studies Association, to show my solidarity with their important stand against discrimination (legal & structural) against Palestinian academics & people.

  • Netanyahu: 'There’s a problem the Palestinians are [in the West Bank] . . . I don’t want a binational state, and I don’t want them as citizens or subjects'
  • Editorializing
    • @yrn: RE/ AAUP: "denounce" is too strong a word for their statement. All they said is that they do not support boycotts in general & encouraged scholars who oppose Israeli policies to find other means to pursue their goals. See AAUP letter: link to aaup.org

      And, the AAUP stance got a spirited critique in this episode of Democracy Now! link to democracynow.org I think that Carey Nelson came off very badly, in his defense of AAUP. He looks like a fool & biased. His defense of AAUP's position had the paradoxical effect of showing it's conceptual weaknesses. (I say this as someone who admires much in Carey Nelson's career -- but here, he looks like his biases are preventing critical thought or the ability to listen. Plus, he makes really unprincipled, over-the-top attacks on others, that just made Nelson look bad).

  • Infiltrating the New Year
    • Good column!

      (But, rather than to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the link below goes to a YouTube re/ baking bread. Perhaps a typo?)

      Check out the Simon Wiesenthal 2013 Top Ten list of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs. You’ll find the rock star, Roger Waters, the Noble Prize winner Alice Walker, and the dogged Jewish journalist, Max Blumenthal, among the derided.

  • Unintended consequences
    • If Marc Ellis would ground his ideas in concrete practices of diverse spiritual communities, maybe he would not fall into such generalizations. When he critiques something in contemporary Judaism, he seems to feel the need to simultaneously set up a "Christianity" as its twin -- so bad or good things are equally said about both. The problem with that is that this dualism trends toward simplified broad brush strokes, that lose historical context. And, the great ethical challenges tend to be precisely in those historical particularities. @Parity -- my experience is similar to yours. Many mission co-workers [the word 'missionary' has been long abandoned, btw] supported anticolonial struggles. There's a lot of diversity within global Christianity. And change. And dialogue. The cross-cultural, international encounters that have emerged from the exchanges within Christianity over the past several centuries changed "Western" Christianity. It's been a mutually changing dialogue -- marked by inequalities & cultural misunderstanding, but in complex & always changing ways, with unforeseen consequences that are more multifaceted than he suggests. For a more accurate view of the sensibility of those he lumps together as 'missionaries', see link to amazon.com

  • Corasanti unknowingly affirms criticism of 'The Almond Tree'
    • Has Corasanti written from a *Jewish perspective* about Zionism & the dynamics within Jewish social life in Israel & US that create oppression of Palestinian people & occupation of their land? If her goal is to "shine a light on Palestinian suffering and help bring about peace [leading] to understanding and understanding lead[ing] to change" wouldn't that self-awareness be an important & necessary literary project? I would be more persuaded by her arguments if she is turning her gaze on her own social identities & political & historical contexts -- claims to empathy are most persuasive when they arise out of dialogue, out of a movement in consciousness that goes back & forth between self & other.

  • America has changed in the face of Zionism's frozen grimace
    • @Krauss: No room for progressive Christians in your categorizations? Also, you might want to check your statistics on the trends in "white demographics" in religious conservatism among young people.

    • China = "highly developed democracy"???

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • Jerome Slater's comments sound so much like the comments of white "liberals" in Baltimore during the civil rights struggles of my youth-- trying to talk my Presbyterian church out of marching with Rev Martin Luther King & trying to talk our ministers from getting arrested. Be gentle, don't alienate the center, go slow...

      It's amazing to me to hear the repeating patterns. I grieve to remember the importance of Jewish leaders in that struggle...and now how they are attacking their erstwhile comrades in struggle in other faith communities.

      A good time to reread Rev King's letter from a Birmingham jail -- which was written to religious MODERATES -- whom King viewed as a big part of the problem at that stage in the struggle link to africa.upenn.edu Note the importance in King's moral imagination of what Ellis calls the "Jewish prophetic" and also that the lesson of "never again" from the Nazi created Holocaust -- was that one should resist calls to "moderation" of this sort...

  • Journalists should tell their readers if they're Zionists
  • Jews turn away from Judaism, Jewishly
    • “There are only two or three human stories,” Willa Cather wrote, “and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

    • Marc -- are you saying that Judaism was 'pure' or not 'rotting' until after WWII? and then made a strategic mistake? Are you saying that the problem was that after WWII, Judaism & Jewish identity attached itself to a nation-state -- and that it then started to rot, because that State was inevitably part of Empire (because of the nature of it's historical founding as a settler nation, in a post-settler time)? I think people like Hannah Arendt took a longer view of Jewish history in Europe, which continues to be helpful -- discussing how the experience of being problematically disconnected from States in Europe (yet also connected) led to challenges -- and that the experience of connecting to Israel after the war, let to other challenges, but ones that built on the tragedies & contradictions of the European experience.

      If you make it sound like the problems of 'rotting' just started like a new reality w/ Israel, you lose so much of the prophetic. It seems like a key theme running thro most of the prophets is a brilliant, empassioned discussion of the ethical dangers in the relationship between Religion & State. That's the big lesson that I took from my (Christian) teachings -- that there's a difference between what we call the Beloved Community (in Christianity) & national or ethnic or state or Empire-based identity -- and that God gets angry when they are confused. Am I missing something about the prophetic?

      If you're locating the problem of Judaism as post WWII, then you're creating another problem (which I do think you're prone to) -- which is an essentializing of both Islam & Christianity. Both have had long running traditions of resistance to Empire & the State -- the 'rot' you talk about in Christianity & Islam is in some areas & not others. I frankly think Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and all religions have been both rotting & healing from their very beginning. It's a problematic exceptionalism, to say that the rot just started for Judaism post WWII & after the formation of Israel (if that is, in fact, what you're saying).

  • There Are No Facts: Excerpt from Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel'
    • @ W. Jones – your comments are not accurate descriptions of what’s happening in ‘mainline Christianity’ in US these days. Christians for Middle East Peace is *not* really the “main lobby or voice for the mainstream Churches in the US”. They were started in 1984 as an alliance of churches, but over the years have become less & less important for most of the churches.

      Above all, many churches felt that CMEP was not taking prophetic enough stands. After many years of internal debate, this came to a head last year, when 15 of the denominations who go to CMEP board meetings, felt that God was calling them to take much stronger action. There were about 6 denominations in CMEP who had kept vetoing proposals by those 15. Therefore, the 15 denominations formed an ad hoc group and issued a strong letter asking Congress to withhold military aid to Israel until it complies with US Law. This letter was extensively discussed on Mondoweiss last year: here’s Alex Kane on furious response from organized Jewish community link to mondoweiss.net and Marc Ellis saying that this letter represents a break in “the Ecumenical Deal” link to mondoweiss.net and Adam Horowitz on what this means for interfaith relationships link to mondoweiss.net

      It is true that these 15 denominations are still part of the CMEP, because they don’t want to break that conversation, but the CMEP is a shell of what it once was (in terms of money & importance & closeness to church policy & public witness). It is true that some Orthodox churches have to be careful not to irritate Israel powers-that-be – because they represent people and communities who are so vulnerable under the Occupation. But, that is not the whole story. There are old historic ties between many of the churches of the Middle East & North American churches – that are strong & dynamic now. (My uncle & aunt were the ambassadors from the Presbyterian Church to the churches of the Middle East & I have observed first hand, how deep & rich these connections are as I’ve traveled with them).

      It is true that the leadership & national staff of churches like mine (Presbyterian Church USA) are more knowledgeable & progressive on this issue, but there’s a ferment of self-education & volunteer social justice activism in my denomination on this issue, at the grassroots level. We are not at all as ignorant or discouraged or passive as you portray. Nor do we think that we lack power or influence. In any event, our faith teaches that we have to act, regardless of how powerful we are – and that the greatest truth often comes from the margins, from those outside the corridors of influence.

      For instance, I was at the “Big Tent” gathering of PC(USA) in Louisville in August – which is the national gathering that focuses on substantive programs (and takes place in the off years between our biannual General Assembly--where we pass resolutions & conduct the work of self-governance). At the “Big Tent” event the ‘official’ group re/ I/P in our church had a lively presence & was doing lots of great education of lay people from all over the country & is powered by volunteers. It is called the Israel/Palestine Mission Network & their website is the best place to get a view of what’s actually the position & activities of PC(USA) vis a vis I/P. link to israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org This group was founded from a resolution to form a network at the 2004 General Assembly. This is the General Assembly that started the divestment process rolling on Caterpillar. They are one of the 40 or so networks of World Mission, run by Rev. Hunter Farrell in the Presbyterian Mission Agency. There is another group that is pro-Zionist that calls itself Presbyterians For Middle East Peace but it is an independently formed advocacy group which is very much top down and barely has a grassroots presence. They include a few aggressive and influential leaders in the PCUSA and they would come together before every GA to protect Zionist causes – but they have virtually no grassroots presence, nor were they formed out of the GA or out of the usual Mission Agency programs (which is what it would take for them to be ‘official’—given the self-governing governance structures of the church).

      That is perhaps WAY more than anyone wanted to know about church structure! But, the point is that almost all the ‘mainline Christian churches’ in US have moved definitely away from the CMEP positions, which gave the most conservative groups on I/P a veto over others, because CMEP is run by consensus.

      I would say that my church was stalled several times in the past 15 years because many of us were totally shocked by the vicious & incredibly aggressive attacks that came from the organized Jewish community—attacks similar to what we’d experienced from the Christian Right in the prior two decades (in the refusal of reasoned debate based on facts & civility). After decades of working closely in communities with temples & Jewish organizations – on so many social justice issues – it was astonishing & disorienting to hear what we were hearing. Many of us went thro a period of soul-searching (*were* we anti-Semitic somehow?) & chilled our public witness for a while. But, I think most of us have come out of that bafflement, feeling stronger & clearer on the issues, feeling that our attackers were suffering from the all-to-human tendency to self-delusion & ethnocentric herd mentality that afflicts all collectivities periodically – we’ve had to grapple with our own historic & collective sins as Christians – so certainly can understand if our friends in the organized Jewish community have lost their prophetic clarity & wits for a period. We’ve done that also at times.

  • Our rabbis are afraid of their Israel shadow
    • @ Elliot -- yes, absolutely. And, they've been smearing folks outside the Jewish community...such as this false and vicious attack on the Presbyterian church last year link to engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org (my church -- and I know the folks they are smearing...so I have close knowledge of how unfair this was) an attempt to manipulate the free exercise of ethical debate in a faith community that has been close partners, with Jewish faith communities, in many social justice ventures over the decades of my adult life. I used to be hurt -- and have now decided to treat it as akin to the craziness of Right wing Christian attacks on my church -- a kind of collective herd behavior without spiritual or intellectual reflection or moral restraint.

    • Finally. Finally, this is being said. Over half a century too late, but at last it is being said.

  • 'Zionism has made us insiders' -- David Grossman tells Max Blumenthal
    • @Keith -- this are really interesting ideas. Do you have any links or readings to suggest re/ writings that go into this in depth? One of the strange things about the debate in US about Israel, is how few people are connecting the I/P questions to what it means for the American State & Nation. E.g., the Grossman argument above is so familiar (and disgusting & tiresome) to someone like me who was a teenager in Baltimore during civil rights era. E.g., Baltimore elite keeping Jewish families out of certain neighborhoods & schools & supporting Jim Crow because they argued for the cultural & civilizational value of enclaves of "people like us" --e.g., "insiders" based on some vague combination (in their stupid thought processes) of moral, racial, ethnic, cultural superiority. So, if people are supporting that kind of ethnically based enclaving in Israel, is it ok to now go back to that in the US? The 'golden age' of Jewish experience in US has had everything to do with anti-ethnonationalist, anti-racist movements in US. The ideology of Zionism legitimates ethnonationalism & the fusing of ethnic superiority with the State apparatus. What effect does Zionist ideology have on the US, and all our hard fought efforts to try to undo that merging of ethnic identity & elite power?

  • In Pew poll on American Jewish identity, 'caring about Israel' is way behind 'working for justice'
  • Sam Tanenhaus rebrands antiwar as-- 'isolationist'
    • the isolationist smear is an old old story in US. For good historical look, see Jackson Lear in a Nation review last year link to thenation.com

      It was used against the late 19th century anti-imperialists, against the 1930s peace movements--which were also anti-corporate, anti-big business. It is still repeatedly used (even in scholarly texts) as a negative label for rural, Southern & Midwestern radical populism (along with accusation of racism). Since the 19th c. it is one of the main ways that the Establishment has written off the grassroots Left in America. A friend (who is older, Progressive except Palestine, practicing Jewish) recently gave me an article, I think from Jewish Times, which laid out this whole (fake) history -- tracing anti-Israel feeling to 'isolationism' in American heartland & connecting it with Christianity, anti-Semitism, lack of education, complicity with Hitler, anti-progressivism, anti-internationalism. I was pretty unimpressed by this article (which seemed full of prejudices & poorly researched) -- but didn't say anything to her because I like her so much & she seems so out of touch with the lived realities of the times & places described in the article -- that I literally didn't know what to say. The internationalist, anti-imperial, peacemaking tradition in US might never have gotten power in the corridors of the Establishment. It might have been a minority (albeit a large minority or even majority in some places & times). But it has been an important current in American life. It *did* have connections to Christian socialism or progressivism at some times--but was also interfaith There is a rewriting of American history going on that is problematic here.

  • 'It is Zionist to think that American Jews have any connection to Israel'
    • it is really cool that this young fellow feels so free in his own identity -- able to practice his spiritual / religious life free of ethnic baggage. It's also great that to hear how he understands what it is to be an American. Very liberating way of being in some ways.

      That said, there's more to consider. He reminds me of women who ask why they should feel any ethical responsibility to work on 'women's issues'. It's fine for people to choose what issues they work on (inequality, etc.). But, saying he has a right to decide what ethical work to do, is different from saying that he's not implicated ethically in I/P -- or the highjacking of his religion by an ethnonationist project. For one thing, Jewish Americans can have much more impact on I/P questions than other Americans (e.g., note how stereotyped & sidelined mainline Christian churches have become on this issue). So, there's an ethical opportunity here, to do something important, with relatively little to lose or sacrifice (e.g., not like the hurdles & discrimination that Palestinian American or Muslim Americans face in trying to speak out). Also, there's a kind of cultural privilege that he has benefitted from. E.g., as a EuroAmerican, I feel a certain kind of responsibility re/ race issues because I've benefitted from 'white privilege'. That doesn't necessarily mean that's my top issue (just because one only has so much time or energy) but it also doesn't mean I can disconnect myself ethically.

  • 'AIPAC must be kept for consensus issues only': Israeli diplomat slams Israel lobby for engaging on Syria
    • Jodi Rudoren seems to have gotten this Israel govt talking point -- as her 9/9 article was a kind of apologetics for Israel lobbying -- suggesting that Israel govt was keeping a distance from AIPAC lobbying link to nytimes.com

  • Jews without Israel
    • the comments in reaction to Dennis Ross piece in the WashPo -- are mostly GREAT! Suggests a sea change in American understanding & attitudes link to washingtonpost.com;

    • @ seanmcbride -- yup - altho' it's not smart -- e.g., the interests of Israel would be much better served with peace-making.

      Re/ them Presbyterians, I must say that when I brought this issue up, during our prayers this Sunday in church -- many folks looked at me with scared looks, like I'd opened up something they'd rather not hear about. (I'm in a VERY conservative part of the country). But, afterwards, several individuals came up to profusely thank me. It felt like I was forcing a "coming out" process, breaking a taboo. This despite the fact that I was mostly reading the words of the church's top leader! The collective pressures to not speak about this stuff are huge in many faith communities -- in the Presby church the national 'establishment' is far more informed & committed on this issue than many rank & file.

    • @seanmcbride -- the mainline churches are coming out against strike on Syria (it's not just evangelicals). Here's the Presbyterian (USA) statement last Thursday -- link to pcusa.org

    • @Citizen -- it is a stereotype of "Western Christians" to describe as "totally" individualistic. For instance, within Christian communities over past half century, there have been repeated waves of wrenching struggles to balance collective identities against a call to stand against what is wrong in the collective (e.g., for mainline Christian churches -- this has meant struggles against imperialist "America-first" militarism vs. anti-war; gay rights; 'gradualism' in racial justice vs. civil rights movement, etc). There is a constant struggle in most faith traditions between collective feelings/identities & the scary process of taking a stand. The nature of ethics & morality is that there's a constant need for renewal & reform -- & usually the reform comes in the form of lonely "voices crying in the wilderness". To frame this as a uniquely "Jewish" issue is problematic. As Marc Ellis keeps reminding us -- there is the strong tradition of the lonely prophet who stops worrying about tact & social acceptance. I think that Corey Robin & others are beginning this conversation -- but if it gets framed as a particularly Jewish problem -- it could reinforce a kind of Jewish exceptionalism -- as if this is unique -- when in fact it's one of the most widespread tensions in any faith community. It's built into religion -- and gets framed in diverse ways, with some foregrounding on side or the other, at different times. The question of individualism in "the American Way" is a separate question...from what's happening in "Western Christianity" right now.

  • Anti-war groups press their case to halt impending Syria attack
  • AIPAC on an island: 'Politico' report says Israel lobby alone in pushing for war in Syria
    • meanwhile, the US mainstream media pays almost no attention to the underlying ecological, political-economic forces that will almost surely be the key drivers of what comes from the current crises -- like the devastating drought in Syria over past decade, with it's terrifying links to climate change link to climatecrocks.com

  • 'NYT' deletes references to AIPAC's role in pushing strike on Syria
    • the entire paragraph was in the hard copy of the second largest newspaper in Kentucky this morning -- the Lexington Herald-Leader (to my astonishment). But, seems to have disappeared from the website link to kentucky.com. Altho' there is a short AP article on the topic, saying "AIPAC wields significant influence in Congress, which is expected to vote on authorizing use of force against Syria" link to kentucky.com So, the story spread across at least some parts of the country in hard copy.

  • How do you celebrate the march on Washington? Fight Islamophobia
    • on Bill Moyers show last Sunday, the Boggs family had a cameo appearance in discussions re/ DC's class of "predatory mercenaries" -- in good interview with Mark Leibovich re/ his book THIS TOWN. link to billmoyers.com

  • In Egypt, fascist incitement
    • Whoa! I totally agree with everyone that it was very stupid of me to put up this problematic link -- SORRY! -- I pulled the link from a friend on Facebook whom I trust (who is very insightful & posting moment-by-moment reports) -- I didn't read it carefully enough, because I'm surfing too fast. Very irresponsible of me! @American -- great critique of Obama, I totally agree. That said, my Egyptian friends are furious about the US coverage of what's going on (in both the right & the left venues). ..I'm not going to wade into this any further because I'm not knowledgeable enough about Egypt to say much. My main point is that Marc Ellis is moving too fast when he labels the progressive forces as moving "into fascist terrain" when they call to stop the military aid from US & the foreign meddling -- as a way to reclaim sovereignty.

      Here's a link to Khalid Abdalla on BBC news that seems eloquent to me about what's fascist & what's not: Aug 16, 2013

      link to bbc.co.uk

      HERE'S A ROUGH TRANSCRIPT OF HIS KEY POINTS

      A very dark & very sad time…the first thing that has to be sad is an utter and complete condemnation of the killing and the killers. The thing about how to read what’s past & also how to read what’s coming is to…reject the binaries that we’re being forced into…about saying the Army or the Muslim Brotherhood is wrong…they’re both wrong. They’re both fundamentally & utterly wrong and they’re both fundamentally fascist organizations. And, what we’re in right now is a moment in which we are transitioning between two attempts to create a fascist future for Egypt. And I refuse both of those…the vision for the future has to be an inclusive one, has to be one inside which everyone is represented… We are in a revolution…what that means is that you are trying to build the state anew…we live in a context in which there are no checks & balances. The checks & balances are provided by the Street and until we have a new constitution. Until we have the organs of the State protecting the rights of people, we are going to keep changing from one power to the next. And they’re going to come in brutally…Everything is being framed as if it’s a binary of the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood. The real binary is between organized Fascism and disorganized social movements. Now those social movements have proved again & again that they will not accept authoritarian Fascism as a status quo. We’re in a very dark moment and it will take a very long time to get out of it… people will not accept to be brutalized in this way, whatever their background, whatever their political opinion…and ALL of those political opinions need to be included in the future of Egypt.

    • @ Marc -- I think we need to be very careful as American progressives not to pre-judge what progressives & democracy-fighters in other places are deciding. What I'm hearing from friends in Egypt right now -- is framed very differently from your language of

      When movements adopt the rhetoric of regaining “sovereignty” and ending years of “humiliation and political dependency,” we enter fascist terrain.

      . One of them has posted this link on facebook -- which bears careful read by Americans. link to theblaze.com

      In any event, our most important struggle is to confront our own govt's military expenditures in Middle East -- and our own war machine & its imbrication w/ plutocratic, authoritarian networks in Middle East...And, those countries HAVE been subjected to imperialist denial of their sovereignty for well over a century by Western Empires -- why shouldn't folks be explicitly calling the West out on that? How exactly is it 'fascist terrain' to do that?

  • Joel Kovel's Palesreal
    • yet another piece saying TRIBAL society = BAD. TRIBAL society = the underlying cause of the problem. E.g. this makes it sounds like the problem can be solved by cleansing so-called "modern" nation-state societies from the lingering nastiness of premodern, pre-State societies

      I disagree. I think the problem is EMPIRE (notably US military/industrial complex entanglements w/ military-driven authoritarian regimes elsewhere), RACISM & ETHNONATIONALISM (especially when ethnic identity is used by elites to fan enmity against opposition & solidarity w/ plutocrats & militarized authorities). This nasty complex emerges from the structures of nation-states It is very much a dysfunction of States. However, imperial states have consistently used the trope of 'tribalism' to smear the pre-state or non-state peoples that they are oppressing. I suspect this was an element of anti-Semitism in Europe in past. It's very ironic that now in US, how this discredited metaphor of 'tribalism' is used re/ Jewish ethnonationalism, or to describe Arabs. Something's wrong here.

      Elsewhere on Mondoweiss -- I've talked about how unfair this smearing of tribal societies is to the contemporary justice movements among indigenous peoples.

      link to mondoweiss.net

      link to mondoweiss.net

  • (Updated) For calling Israeli speaker a war criminal, Boca Raton school forces 3 students to take 'reeducation' program from Zionist org
    • the American Assoc of University Professors should get involved in this. It's a clear question of academic freedom...

  • David Brooks's track record on lesser cultures and religions that lack the 'democratic mentality'
    • Why if Egyptians 'lack the basic mental ingredients' do we keep hearing such eloquent statements about democracy and republicanism coming from ordinary people in Tahrir Square over the past 2 years?

  • Zombie Hasbara: 'World War Z' and Hollywood’s Zionist embrace
    • @yishai --
      I'm not seeing any hard data on levels of support in the links you gave. The first two are Wikipedia articles -- the first with some history of Christian Zionist ideology, the second on Christians United for Israel. The third is by Jennifer Rubin -- the controversial blogger for Washington Post (who is widely seen as not a real journalist, by any normal professional standards). The only point that is made re/ levels of financial support is that CUFI members tend not to have much money. The Right Christian leaders who promote Zionism tend to be promoting it to low-income folks in more economically marginalized parts of the American South....the last time I saw an Israel flag flying in front of an American home was next to a Confederate flag in front of beat up trailer in poor part of South Carolina. It's a mite hard to picture these folks producing 20 more than Sheldon Adelson...

      "many say its grown since then, to as much as 20-1 even",

      who be the "many" who say? actual citation very much needed & hard data...

    • But in the real world, Christian Zionists mainly in the US and also scattered throughout the settler-colonies of the West, contribute more than 10 times the funding to Israel than the much vaunted Jewish communal support machine does.”

      I too would be interested in sources & numbers on this -- I've heard the opposite figure (e.g., Christian Zionism = one tenth of Jewish Zionism) but don't have any real knowledge myself.

      Fascinating article! Very helpful. Thanks.

  • 'Arrested Development' creator says Jews are too 'beloved' to be stereotyped
    • a completely hilarious moment, was when Hurwitz was explaining that his family was not religious. Terry said something like -- so, were secular Jewish family. And, Hurwitz said something like "as I said, we were JewISH"...

  • A Jew, Jesus and Justice for Palestinians: An interview with Mark Braverman
    • @Citizen -- I know exactly nothing about that region or historical era, so really shouldn't say anything about Joshua of the tumbling down walls. In historical times when it's been possible to study actually existing tribal groups (rather than relying on the really nasty things said about tribal groups by "civilized" [e.g., living in cities, with state governance] groups), it's clear that before the emergence of states -- it was NOT a bloody war of all against all (based on "primitive", "kinship" based loyalties).

      Not knowing anything actually about what was happening in middle east in Joshua's time (when was that btw), I would hypothesize that it was a time of conflict between imperial states & surrounding proto-state groups. This is a pattern when one tends to find extreme violence. When an imperial state arises & colonizes around it, it sets off all kinds of disruptions to neighboring regions (while stigmatizing what the occupied regions are doing in response as "primitive" "barbarianism" or in modern parlance, as "tribalism"). The occupied areas, in these times of dislocation can give rise to new imperial states -- as they go thro a very turbulent process of proto-state building. E.g., the great new, often violent empires, often arise out of the discombobulated, no longer really tribal, but not yet states, fringes of the old empires -- e.g., Alexander out of Macedonia, Genghis Khan out of Mongolian steppes.

      The simple point I'm trying to make is that it's not right to impute nasty identity politics to "tribal" loyalties -- as if these ideologies are a remnant from a "primitive" past -- rather than the product of demagogic manipulation in the present. In fact, "tribal" societies were not MORE violent, more "territory" bound, more focused on particularistic defense of my family or kin group. There is some indication that they were LESS violent in relating to each other. The really nasty, violent, annihilating violence of group against group has come from "advanced" states, as groups jockey to control the state apparatus -- to get legitimacy. a group might claim the mantle of ancient particularistic identities -- but are those mostly not bogus claims?

      I can hardly bear to read the Old Testament any more -- and it used to give me the willies even as a child. But, I have to hear excerpts from it a lot in church -- mercifully the choices of excerpts tend to focus on the beautiful 'prophetic' -- but when I glance at things like Joshua's rampages -- it looks to me to be NOT a tribal situation, but a bloody unstable process of protostate formation, in which competing, fighting groups are calling each other all sorts of nasty names & making up collective identities for themselves that should be taken with a grain (or a pillar) of salt. The continuing use of the word "tribe" in the ancient scriptures does not seem accurate -- folks actually seem to be jockeying around & trying to form at least one, or more, states -- even while they were attacking & trying to take over land of other states. To now resurrect that word for use for the youth group in the Temple I am now occasionally attending (for interfaith community) -- seems to me something that should be handled with some critical thought.

      The fact is that there's a world wide struggle by indigenous peoples to reclaim their dignity & rights from within the nation-state system. One of the many injustices against indigenous people -- has been this repeated pattern in Western imperialism to paint the pre-state people (dependent for subsistence on a piece of land) as the violent, primitive ones -- even while the Empires are violently exterminating the land-dependent people AND taking their land. There is a binary symbolic system (which I've tried to critique at various times on Mondoweiss, with little success):
      GOOD: universalizing, post-tribal VS
      BAD: tribal, primitive, particularistic attachments to kin groups & land

      the point I'm trying to make is that nasty violent territory grabbing identity politics is as much (or more) a product of the present than it is a remnant of some "primitive" "tribal" past. Rather, I would agree with Chomsky that indigenous people have much TODAY to teach us re/ a right relationship to the land link to tomdispatch.com

    • Madrid,
      The Presbyterian Church (USA) has largely rejected "supersessionism" (or however, one spells this!) -- in the sense that Christians cannot claim a superiority to those of Jewish faith, cannot claim that Christianity replaces Judaism. The clearest statement of that was in the 2010 "Breaking Down the Walls" report.

      The theological complexities are beyond me -- but here's the full report link to pc-biz.org

      This report was fiercely attacked by pro-Israel establishment Jewish groups -- and PC(USA) called anti-Semitic.

      In my experience, attending PC(USA) churches, it is now regular practice, for ministers to repudiate anti-Semitic possible connotations of scripture, before reading New Testament excerpts that might create "supersessionist" feelings & ideas -- e.g., when the Pharisees are critiqued to say that this is a critique not of Jewish practices per se, but of overly rigid religious practice in any religion (including ours). Even as PC(USA) sermons & practices are getting stronger on fighting the injustices of Zionism (both Christian & Jewish) -- I think there's also more critical self-reflection re/ possible anti-Semitic effects of Christian scriptures...

    • this is a terrific interview & Braverman's ideas are fascinating & important & helpful. However, the bad side of Zionism is equated with tribal and primitive old stages of moral development which should be dropped for the new universalizing morality.

      It is a big problem to cast tribal societies in this light. First, it's inaccurate. Tribal societies have very diverse ways of connecting culturally to the land. Many, if not most of these ways, are much more fluid than modern nation-states (or ancient empire states). In many, there's not a focus on boundaries, but on rights to different kinds of uses (including ritual & sacred connections). So, that multiple groups can coexist within the geography. What he seems to be criticizing is a kind of violent territoriality, which defends boundaries, displaces other groups. This kind of exclusivist, aggressive & violent relation to the land is not 'primitive' or 'tribal' -- it's more characteristic of Empires (like ancient Rome) or modern nation-states.

      Second, this is a terrible disservice to actual existing tribal societies today. I can't emphasize strongly enough how tied in it is to Western imperialist notions of the primitive & tribal -- which were, ironically, used to justify occupations by settlers, who claimed the moral high ground -- because they claimed to be superceding the violent, immoral "primitives". This is the real 'supercession' I strongly suspect in the Old Testament -- and it's been used repeatedly in the biblical invocations by Western imperialists. In a triple & horrific irony, it's often used by the landless foot soldiers of imperialism -- the settlers who were at the bottom of the class rungs back home, who are hungry for the land of the 'so-called 'primitives. This is a kind of psychological projection, which runs through South African, US & Zionist settler occupations.

      The hatred & demonization of 'pagan', Earth worshippers, who venerate the land in non-territorial (bounded) ways -- is the most glaring 'supercession' in the Christian AND Jewish scriptures. It is hardly discussed. But, read the nasty diatribes against idol worshipping Canaanites, etc. -- and you see the ideological kernel of Western imperialism -- now so tragically & stupidly playing out again in Israel.

      What Braverman describes as an OLD "theology of territoriality and tribal privilege" link to mondoweiss.net is really something more recent -- and does disservice to Native American & other tribal groups now desperately struggling to invoke some rights under national & international law to their lands.

      This way of talking about 'tribal' as the problem, as something to supercede -- comes up repeatedly in contemporary discussions re/ I/P. It would be more accurate to speak of ethnonationalist imperialism or racism, which arises directly out of the ideology & contradictions of nation-states -- NOT of pre-state tribal societies. This projection of negativity & violence onto the 'tribal' -- is part of the problem & does not help actual tribal societies which are struggling to find some kind of justice within the contemporary nation-state system.

      Other than this stereotyping & negativity towards 'tribal' lifeways -- a wonderful discussion...

  • In electric atmosphere, Medea Benjamin takes over the president's speech
    • Let's not personalize this. I didn't hear Kathleen calling for chest ribbons, with dates on them. I hear Kathleen trying to ask about the big trends, the collective patterns in American Jewish life, and, in American collective life. Her questions are important at that level -- and, Phil has been at the forefront of asking them, through reflection on his experience, others writings, & what community norms allow to be said, and what unsaid. Kudos to Phil for this!

      It's not about blaming individuals. It's about trying to understand the collective forces & community patterns that shut down people's ability to question, to have doubts, to feel empathically. It was very important in the 60's & 70's that white liberals in the civil rights movement were pushed to not make their faces the face of the movement, to recognize their long complicity within structural racism. White women in the feminist movement also benefitted from being pushed to reflect on the structures of race & class that made them complicit in sidelining women of color.

      Given the incredibly positive contributions of Jewish Americans to America's ethical life -- the deafening silence (until recently) on I/P is actually fascinating. I think we can all learn a lot from understanding how this kind of collective silence comes about. It's an urgent question, so that we can learn to stop doing it. Why has there been so little open debate within temples & synagogues? I find it very hard to understand. It's almost as if now, that the Jewish voices of conscience are more likely to come from secular voices. For decades, those of us in the Christian Left have been toiling away on I/P issues -- & it's only recently, that we've been given cover, when we're smeared. As a social justice Christian, to keep interfaith community, I have been periodically attending temple with a good friend. It's been a wonderful experience. But, it feels like there's some kind of code of silence re/ I/P (and I'm sure not about to bring it up, as a polite guest).

      I hope that Kathleen & others keep bringing these questions up again & again -- and that they not get personalized, but get deepened into ongoing structural, collective reflection on how things can go so wrong collectively.

      Kathleen is lauding Medea as a person -- as when she says:

      Kudo’s to Medea a powerful and brilliant activist. So glad that she decided to get on the Palestinian solidarity band wagon in the last 10 years. This lady knows how to step up to the plate and be effective. Go Medea!

  • Christians denounce Israel's manhandling of worshipers at Holy Sepulcher on Easter weekend; Israel apologizes to Egypt
    • whoa! the SWEAT MEME again!

      this seems to be part of the dehumanization toolkit...Reminds me of Rudoren's notorious description of Palestinian funeral

      Sweat streamed through the beards of three men clutching the body of 7-year-old Jamal Dalu as they raced through the streets toward his final resting place link to mondoweiss.net

    • Excellent article, Annie! and, on a topic that is being ignored just about everywhere in the mainstream media...as far as I can tell...

  • Dershowitz calls Hawking an 'ignoramus,' a 'lemming,' and likely an anti-Semite
    • here are photos of Palestinians & the Nakba (that would make anyone with a human heart, care) link to jamalkanj.com

    • Dershowitz: Let me put it this way, I have never met anybody except perhaps Palestinians who really give one good goddamn about the Palestinian people.

      Who is Dershowitz to tell other people who they do & don't care about? He sounds insane. But, beyond that, this is a deeply condescending, inaccurate, and aggressive view of much of the world -- and an extraordinarily heartless & dehumanizing view of the Palestinians.

      What a strange choice of someone to put on a supposedly serious public panel...

  • Exile and the Prophetic: Throwing stones
  • Tribalism in the Jerusalem speech
    • the strain of blood-and-belonging tribalism

      Why not use "racist", "ethnonationalist", or "religious fundamentalism" instead of "tribal"?

      State sponsored racism or ethnonationalism (or religious fundamentalism based on Land) are very different from tribal culture. When you have the bureaucracy, military, police, plus economic expansionism & investment capital policies of a nation-state powering a blood & soil ideology of 'in-groupness' -- it's a totally different thing from tribal identity.

      In the US, it is in the context of American Jewish cultural identity that 'tribalism' is thrown around in this careless & demeaning sort of way (who talks about Latvian Americans or Irish Americans as 'tribal'?).

      Internationally, it was, of course, standard imperialistic language of British Empire -- see here for an excellent exploration of how that 'framed' non British subjects as primitives who should be dominated by the 'moderns' link to africaaction.org This word is not only deeply stained by racism, but it is just inaccurate -- it doesn't capture the complexities of African identities.

      It's also, notoriously, used by some Western corporate media to offer simplistic & false explanations for conflict in Middle East. See Timothy Mitchell's terrific book CARBON DEMOCRACY -- for extended history of how the West was unable to 'see' the secularistic & democratic processes, because of a need to frame politics as 'primitive' conflicts -- justifying the totalitarian regimes friendly & acceptable to Western oil companies. This is a process of fake tribalization in the service of corporate & imperial economic interests -- which he calls "McJihad".

      Finally, this usage is offensive to actual indigenous groups in US & elsewhere. Philip Weiss notes that the question of indigenous identities & rights comes up inevitably in I/P debates. link to mondoweiss.net I urge folks on Mondoweiss to consider whether 'tribal' is the best word to use.

  • Rand Paul's populism is purging the neocons
    • Rand = a 'lefty'? and 'building a populist movement'?

      Ya'll, I'm sitting here in Kentucky, where Rand (named after Ayn of course) is pushing the dismantling of the most basic govt services (like public health, education, school lunches, TANF, etc.). He is deeply embedded in the same crony networks that feed ol' Mitch. He's against even the thin shreds of environmental protection remaining in the coalfields. This in a state where people actually depend mightily on said public services, because of the deep poverty left by right wing politics.

      Kentucky might get a Sen Judd, and, has a Rep. Yarmuth. As well as a past history of real old-style populist politicians. Thanks to austerity, we've got a building crisis in the state that could bloom into some real populism.

      Rand is good on drones in US & should be applauded. But, he's mouthing extremely dangerous, right wing nonsense on almost all other points -- while being actually in the hip pocket of the crony networks that are actually feeding from the govt trough like crazy, thanks to the steady flow of govt pork via ol' Mitch & Hal Rogers, etc. Populist, my foot!! That is an insult to the long, real history of Southern populists...Rand is also dumber than his dad (who at least reads) and has far less personal integrity.

  • Israel lobby group gears up early to counter church divestment initiatives in 2014
    • it would be interesting to do some investigative reporting on why Auburn Seminary, under it's leader Katherine Henderson, has taken on such a major role in pushing a Zionist agenda in the Presbyterian Church. I note that Auburn does not seem to be a typical Presbyterian seminary. When I think of a Presbyterian seminary, I think of one that prepares ministers & gives theological & other degrees. It's a bit confusing, but Auburn does not seem to give actual degrees. It's really a hodge-podge of 'continuing education' programs. It does not appear to have normal democratic academic governance structures -- e.g., the 'faculty' do not seem to have the usual autonomy or rights of self-governance. In other words, the top administration seems to run things, without checks & balances. I could be wrong -- as I said the website is confusing. It looks to me like they might be pretty insecure financially -- and dependent on special funding. The Presbyterian church usually tries strongly to cultivate democratic self-governance, bottom-up decision-making & financial self-reliance & autonomy. I can't help but wonder whether the outsize role that Rev Henderson & Auburn are playing in anti-BDS, anti-Palestinian rights movements -- might have to do with an unPresbyterian fundraising & leadership style. Could it be that she's on-the-take -- as suggested by the reports on Mondoweiss several years ago re/ what she said at the New Orleans Jewish Federation conference? link to mondoweiss.net It seems that she was the development officer for years at Auburn, before she took over -- in other words, she's not taking the usual scholarly route to leading a seminary. She's certainly going against the currents in her church...and one doesn't see respected Presby scholars or other seminary leaders standing with her...I don't have the background to research her role -- but I wish someone would. She stands out...I could be wrong -- I don't have requisite knowledge -- but it sure looks fishy...

  • 'J Street' leader hints that 2013 is make-or-break for two-state solution
    • Does anyone have the citation for this Arendt quote? She said different things at different times of her life (she was always growing, changing, responding to emerging issues & different contexts. That was part of what's so amazing about her). It would be helpful to know when she said this & where...

  • '5 Broken Cameras' loses out to 'Searching for Sugar Man' for best doc Oscar
    • Sugar Man is an amazing film -- one of the best docs I've seen for years. I would have loved to see 5 Broken Cameras win also. But, Sugar Man was stiff competition. Like 5 Broken Cameras, it's the opposite of Hollywood, understated, unpretentious, devastating, haunting look at Detroit, economic class in America, entertainment/music corporate industry vs. real art. But, in surprising ways, it also grapples with South African apartheid & progressive white consciousness & white rebellion against apartheid.

      I was actually surprised Sugarman got nominated because it is so quiet & powerful & slow & deep. I spent years in Detroit as the city was collapsing -- this film captures something crucial about America that almost never makes it to the big screen.

      So, in very different ways, both films engage apartheid and identity politics. Both emotionally devastating & incredibly honest & clear-eyed.

  • 'You live or die based on your support of Israel' -- Christian Zionists are no nightflowers!
    • hey folks -- here's a quick report from the rural South. In my work, I travel around backroads in the rural South. Over the years, I have often listened to Christian radio (as a devout and very Left Christian, I love the gospel music, even as the theology grieves me).

      I'm here to report that there seems to be a considerable increase in the air play of bizarre Christian Zionist radio programs on ordinary religious stations. Just an impression, but would be interesting to investigate. Some of it seems unusually sophisticated in its production values, music, etc. There's more Hebrew & Jewish cultural content -- e.g., music, little radio dramas. One program stood out from Sid Roth http://www.sidroth.org but in addition, there were others with cultish & elaborate "End Times" speculation on current events -- e.g., showing that tornadoes, sudden disasters that smite anyone who criticizes Jewish people -- within days, or at most a week. Pervasive dreadful racist views of Muslims & others in Middle East.

      WWJD (what would Jesus do) to respond to this hatefilled speech? It's particularly disturbing that this kind of propaganda preys on people who are being hit hard by current US economy, in marginalized rural economies, where school & other public goods are hit by austerity. It's pretty glossy stuff being purveyed to people who aren't in a position to critically interrogate what they're hearing.

  • Hagel offers himself as secretary of Israel's defense
    • and they're dumb & getting dumber. All these diverse big money lobbies seem to be fueling a kind of madness in the elites & Political Establishment -- self-enclosed, cut off from reality, arrogant -- they seem to be losing critical thinking abilities. A little bit of FDR type noblesse oblige, they would have been able to chill us all out & save the system. But, nooooo. Self-destructive, boring, pathetic & clueless....

    • @flyod -- we are not hostages. We are watching a political Establishment destroying it's own legitimacy ...deeply corrupted by multiple Lobbies (of with the pro-Israel Lobby is just one of many). We are not hostages, we are citizens. We are many. They are few. They cannot continue to rule without some basic moral legitimacy. The system is not longer providing enough jobs, public goods for ordinary folks (I live in a really poor part of the country). They are destroying themselves as the corruption becomes ever more obvious. We need to fight back & ignore their "power" -- They are becoming paper tigers.

  • Kentucky paper publishes piece describing Palestinians as 'chosen people'
    • Yes, Ellen, good point. It is significant that the Lexington Herald-Leader was willing to run this op-ed. I do think it means that the 'frames' are shifting. This is a newspaper that is quite concerned not to appear 'out of the mainstream' because it has been vulnerable in past to accusations from Far Right of being 'liberal'. If the Herald-Leader runs a piece, it means that the topic has become part of what's acceptable debate in the 'mainstream'. It is not a conservative paper, but it's a very cautious one -- always striving for 'balance'. It is in a county that voted for Obama, but surrounded by 'red' counties -- and the Rand & Mitch forces are always on the prowl around it. I think that this piece would not have been accepted several years ago -- and I suspect the mainline churches recent stands are what legitimated this for the H-L. The author is a 'social justice' or 'left' Christian -- but the newspaper would have refused the piece if this perspective weren't now acceptable within mainstream debate.

  • 'Beyond Tribal Loyalties' -- new volume spotlights awakenings of 25 Jewish activists
    • @ Avigail Abarbanel – I look forward to reading your important book & so appreciate your comments here. I do want to express my concern over using the word TRIBAL . Have you reflected on how this word choice might affect people who identify as ‘First Peoples’, Native Americans, or ‘tribal’?

      In Canada right now, Chief Theresa Pence is on a fast (possibly to death), which is part of an extraordinary uprising called “Idle No More” link to idlenomore.ca of indigenous peoples against devastation of their lands & exploitation of their peoples.

      All around the world, native peoples are trying to band together to reclaim the rights of truly TRIBAL people (altho’ many reject that label as tainted, altho’ many, say in India, like it). I have several times commented on this in more detail on Mondoweiss – so if you google my posts under ‘betsy’ + ‘tribal’ , there’s more detailed explication as to why…

      You will notice that most of the comments (and this article) cast ‘tribal’ as bad, as tainted, as racist ethnonationalism. That is part of a very long history of stigmatizing peoples who are not (in important ways) part of nation-states. Your use of ‘tribal’ taints & effaces the reality of indigenous people – and makes it sound as if it is the post-tribal from which tolerance & mutual respect comes.

      I’m sure that you don’t mean to do this! Using ‘tribal’ to describe cultural Jewishness seems to be fairly widespread – e.g., ‘Tribefest’. I wish people would think critically about whether they want to do this – it’s not the usual pattern among American ethnic groups…

  • The chancellor's new clothes
  • The nonexistent 'Jewish lobby' sets out to destroy Chuck Hagel
    • Hi, Mooser...you're not troubling me. I'm finding all of this really really interesting -- don't say good bye!

      btw, I had post-posting anxiety -- cause I realized I should have noted how ignorant, insulting & arrogant Christians can be in not 'getting' other faiths...

      I'm learning a lot -- and realizing how clueless I've been...

    • @ritzl -- Your comments are pithy & helpful -- e.g.,

      As much as MJR gets right, I think he gets the level of integration or acquiescence of most Jews into the Jewish community structure that implements these smear campaigns completely wrong.

      if there is a kind of 'glue' that is connecting ordinary Americans (of Jewish identification) with the Israel Lobby -- one wonders how strong it is, & what it's made of & whether it could melt. Until about 10 years ago, I was one of those post-ethnic sort of Americans who hardly thought consciously about ethnic background of people I ran into -- so I was astounded & upset when the wave of ignorant insults started flowing in from Jewish affiliated groups, against my church (Presbyterian). So, I've been bothering any of my friends & colleagues (who have any kind of Jewish identity) to explain what's behind that.

      OK. Totally unscientific. But, what has struck me -- is that most of my progressive or liberal Jewish friends seem like what M.J. describes -- they *don't* really have much emotional attachment to Zionism -- but beyond that, the emotions seem to be sort of embarrassment (about the Israel lobby) & a state of denial -- like they're true non or anti-Zionist feelings are 'in the closet' -- and they've got some emotional resistance to bringing the topic up & getting into a dust-up with their Zionist parents or grandparents or something. Frankly, they seem to me to be in a state of moral paralysis...that seems totally strange, given their courage in other areas. Like its a question of decorum (they don't want to upset family members)...or everyone agreeing to not talk about an unpleasant & untraced episode of flatulence. Given the huge moral & geopolitical issues at stake -- I would think that these folks would be reachable -- and surely (especially among younger folks) they are a large number of people. (why is there so little hard data on these questions, one also wonders...e.g., really good surveys would help a lot). I'm truly perplexed by it, frankly. They seem strangely passive, like they don't think they can do anything --

      But, the second thing that has struck me -- is the level of sheer propaganda & malarkey that is being circulated. I've only found one friend who is really Zionist -- normally, he's incredibly sharp & critical on political issues, but on Israel he parrots ridiculous lines, including wild accusations of Christians (which are totally unmoored from scholarly history). Would a concerted, critical look at the intellectual quality of history being taught in Jewish Studies & temples be a doable project?

      Finally, I've only found ONE person of all my friends who actually attends a Temple. I periodically go with her to Temple, so I can keep a sense of direct interfaith fellowship. She's elderly, and wonderfully progressive, but terrified of her children & grandchildren losing their connection to her faith -- hence she's giving them life memberships in Hadassah & other such organizations. Again, if her primary emotional glue is this intergenerational love -- wanting to pass on a tradition -- couldn't she be reached on this level...

      I live right smack in 'fly-over' USA & my work leads me to travel in very hard-hit, poor rural, Southern communities. Communities which on the surface look captured by right-wing, reactionary populist lobbies of all sorts (not least, the NRA)...But, I think there are all kinds of fissures between these grassroots people & the national lobbies -- where there's room for more progressive & radical alliances. (I think we could kick old Mitch's sorry butt out next election). But, it requires progressive folks truly addressing the real emotional needs that lock folks in.

      I'm deeply ignorant re/ I/P & related questions, so this is but tenuous comments on my part...

    • how about a boycott movement among rank&file Jewish Americans -- against donating to groups that are misrepresenting them? and, asking for greater transparency re/ who is donating & what their agendas are? if, as some are suggesting, there are a small number of rightwing big donors, who are skewing the mission of groups (as happened w/ Christian rightwing lobbies).

    • So, shouldn't a broad mobilization among Jewish Americans be able to throw off the Israel Lobby? The Israel Lobby's only claim to moral authority comes from its claim to defend the interests of Jewish peoples -- and to hold off anti-Jewish forces. If a) they do not represent Jewish people and, if, b) anti-Semitism has largely disappeared in US (as a force that actively hurts people) and c) if ordinary Jewish Americans have lots of ways to take care of themselves, thank you, because they are not impoverished, stigmatized, powerless immigrants -- but rather solidly within middle class in a democracy (flawed, but not threatening to them) -- THEN THE KABUKI DANCE FALLS APART, even in our dysfunctional public sphere.

      The more I learn, the more I feel it is a paper tiger -- and, that a bit more courage and organization could undo it. The civil rights struggle was up against far more dangerous economic forces -- entrenched local & state elites reaping profits from oppression, coupled w/ deeply corrupted police forces that could wield terrible violence against protestors. The women's struggle was also up against many forces profiting directly from patriarchy & violence. Compared to our other major social justice problems, this seems an unusually doable project. The people involved bring lots of assets -- there is a pervasive philoSemitism I would argue, in America, a wide sense of respect for the achievements of Jewish Americans in many spheres -- there's a lot of social capital there to draw on. Many other justice struggles have to work from far far fewer assets -- e.g., communities up against the Fossil Fuel Lobbies are often dealing w/ multiple stressors, devastating unemployment, bad schools, local corruption & violence. Yet, plucky, scappy grassroots groups rise up, even with all the burdens they bear.

      e.g., look how much good Phil & Adam & posse have done with one website.

  • Gun lobby in the headlights (Israel lobby in the brush)
  • UC's new chancellor endorses the falsehood: Criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic
    • @Citizen -- are you assuming he comes from Jewish background? he seems to come from social gospel Protestant background. Here's his summary of his family influence:

      [FROM THE MOGULOF INTERVIEW link to newscenter.berkeley.edu You know, my father was the son of immigrant Germans who came to this country and homesteaded land in central Iowa. He grew up on a farm unable to speak English until he went to school. And he only left the farm because he had a very bad heart, which meant that he couldn’t be a farmer. He went to college to become a minister. It was the only thing that was understood as a possible thing to do outside of farming at that time.

      He went to college. He went to seminary. He went to graduate school. He taught for many years at the Yale Divinity School. And while he was teaching theology, he took me periodically to Battell Chapel at Yale while I listened to the sermons of William Sloane Coffin, who had just returned from Selma, Alabama, who was reflecting the issues of the day, but who himself was deeply committed to questions of social equality, to the end of racial discrimination, to the kinds of questions that, of course, he addressed throughout his long career.

      And I felt deeply influenced by both my father and by Coffin, and of course at the same time, by the fact that my mother, who was teaching in a high school and had a much less public life in that respect, was herself somebody who in their everyday life, teaching in inner-city schools in New Haven, Connecticut, teaching home economics to young girls at a time when home economics was still taught in schools, but with an eye towards thinking about their futures, as she thought about her own, as moving beyond the traditional relationships of gendered stereotype. All of that together I think probably made me the person I am. And I will take this opportunity to thank my parents for anything I do that’s right.

    • In 2006, Nicholas Dirks' wife, Janaki Bakhle, was viciously attacked by "Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum" because she was a "close colleague" of Joseph Massad. See their article on her -- "Crisis at Columbia: Janaki Bakhle" link to campus-watch.org

      This was part of the campaign against Joseph Massad, led by pro-Israel off-campus groups, which he describes in detail here link to solidarity-us.org

      Janaki Bakhle seems to have grown up in India, but moved to US, where she was a graduate student under Edward Said. She's a feminist theorist -- and I can hardly wait to hear what she has to say about all this, if she can ever get out from the special veil woven by gauzy machinations of the U of C PR team!

    • There is a furious letter to Columbia newspaper from faculty there (see below). It is signed by very heavy hitters -- big name, highly respected folks. It will be interesting to see whether Dirks has just sacrificed his honor & respect among his scholarly peers (especially in Anthropology, South Asia studies)-- circles within which his wife is also a player. And, whether, anti-Zionist heavy hitter scholars in the U of C system will get involved -- like Judith Butler (see her Mondoweiss article to the Jerusalem Post smear campaign against her) link to mondoweiss.net

      HERE'S THE LETTER FROM COLUMBIA FACULTY

      To the Editor:

      The undersigned faculty members of the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University feel outraged after reading the assertions made by Nicholas Dirks, our former colleague and the newly appointed chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, in an interview recorded by the Public Affairs office at Berkeley on the eve of a meeting of the Regents to approve his appointment ("In Conversation: Chancellor-designate Nicholas Dirks," UCBerkeleyCampuslife).

      While discussing the divestment petition at Columbia in 2002 (which, to set the record straight, called on Columbia to divest, not from "all things Israel," as mischaracterized by the interviewer, but from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other companies that supply military hardware used by Israel against the civilian population of the West Bank and Gaza), Chancellor Dirks referred to "all sorts of other controversies that developed about the climate for Jewish students on Columbia's campus." He described this climate as hugely not just anti-Israel, but by implication anti-Jewish, and anti-Semitic, and connected this issue with "the nature of instruction in the department of Middle East studies."

      Our sense of outrage stems from Dirks' denial of the fact that the very committee set up by then-Vice President Dirks found no evidence whatever for concerns about the climate for Jewish students let alone about the nature of instruction in our department. We feel affronted by the fact that the Chancellor's defaming the department means that he now rejects the committee¹s finding and seems instead to accept as true the false accusations leveled against us by an external hate group that has since been exposed and discredited.

      Signed (in alphabetical order):

      Muhsin Al-Musawi
      Gil Anidjar
      Partha Chatterjee
      Hamid Dabashi
      Mamadou Diouf
      Wael Hallaq
      Sudipta Kaviraj
      Mahmood Mamdani
      Joseph Massad
      Brinkley Messick
      Timothy Mitchell
      Sheldon Pollock
      Frances Pritchett
      George Saliba

      link to columbiaspectator.com

    • @Kathleen -- this is actually hilarious, in a sick way. He's the Executive Director of Berkeley's "Strategic Communications Team" -- name of Dan Mogulof . Their mission?

      Did protesters just arrive at your building? Have negative headlines about your department suddenly appeared in the news? Has tragedy struck your part of the campus today?

      Immediately call the Office of Public Affairs' Strategic Communications team – Dan Mogulof, executive director (510-642-3715), or Janet Gilmore, associate director (510-642-5685). They will gather facts, provide advice and come up with a quick and helpful plan for handling media inquiries.

      Similarly, if you are anticipating controversy in your department that might wind up in the news, contact Strategic Communications for help mapping out a strategy. Advanced planning pays off.

      Emergency communications

      In the event of a major earthquake or fire, or any other campus or regional emergency, the Office of Public Affairs plays a lead role in communications with the campus community and the public. In an emergency, up-to-date information will be available from these primary sources:

      link to berkeley.edu

      Must have been a dust-up & they had to call in the communications swat team...I wonder if that Masterpiece Theatre book-lined backdrop is really a roll up, canvas, portable screening booth, that they can rush to the site of an "emergency"?

      Obscene & ridiculous! This is what our premier universities have become? Dominated by lawyers & PR officials & run by toadyists?

  • In 'Dissent' debate, Walzer hints that leftists who focus on Israel are anti-Semitic
    • @Hostage -- amazing quote from Hannah! thanks!

    • @Rusty Pipes -- thanks. I read the Rosenberg article. It sounds from this like the 'lobbying' groups are driving the situation -- and have swallowed the mutual aid & religious & philanthropic missions of other groups. (as happened in 1980s & 90s w/ Rightwing Christian lobbies). But, it looks fragile -- like a bubble (or, like a scam directed towards scaring older people). E.g., if moral authority has been lost & they're 'hacks' trying to defend their own paychecks, who depend on patently false smear campaigns (of broad numbers of ordinary Americans) -- one would think that a broad campaign from within Jewish faith communities to take back power & get better representatives -- could sweep this away pretty quickly. Or, for youth to assuage the fears of older generations who fear that they are 'losing' the next generation...(a typical American fear, in this land of immigrants & diversity)

    • @Hostage -- thanks for your always data-rich reflections. Can you imagine -- renowned scholar Googling in such a silly way? One would laugh if one were not crying...

      He could have just phoned the headquarters in Louisville -- folks would have loved to explain. Part of what's going on re/ China -- is that Presbyterians in 20th & 21st century have moved strongly to work in partnership with faith communities & civil society in different parts of the world. The reason is, that in the 19th & early 20th century, mission workers too often were imperialist & high-handed -- coming into complex situations w/o understanding & pushing things based on narrow ideologies & ideas. In reaction, the US church tries to play a supportive role, to be a partner, not a pronouncer as if from on high. E.g., the recent PC(USA) statements against the govt in Sudan, or earlier ones against apartheid South Africa -- were in partnership & support of justice movements & campaigns. The condemnations of bad trade policies (which criticize many govts) are typically linked with support for webs of labor rights workers, hunger fighters, anti-globalization movements, debt movement Jubilee efforts, etc. So, the idea that PC(USA) is "singling out Israel' is both wrong -- it shows a self-enclosed, lack of interest in how Presbyterianism actually works...

    • Hold on. PC(USA) has been arguing on the basis of universal human rights, not to protect a particularistic historical connection to a specific patch of land.

      From 1940s, PC(USA) General Assembly resolutions have supported Palestinian rights to self-determination. And, since late 1980s here are most important GA resolutions:

      1988: “Cease the systematic violation of the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Specifically, we call for an end to the policies and (or) practices of administrative detention, collective punishment, the torture of prisoners and suspects, and the deportation of dissidents.....(Israel must) end the settlements policy and acquisition of
      land within the occupied territories....”

      1989, ’90, ’91: Continued to call for support of the peace process in Israel-Palestine including participation of the Palestinians and for Israel to stop constructing illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

      1992: (affirms) "policies in refusing loan guarantees for Israel until the building of settlements on the occupied territories has come to a halt.” Also “Calls for exploration and investigation of additional ways to reduce feelings of despair and abandonment that the Christian communities in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Lebanon are experiencing...” “Calls for the U.S. government to press for the end to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza and for the withdrawal of
      Syrian troops from Lebanon.” “Calls for reexamination of U.S. practice and policy relating to the sale of arms with the goal of the demilitarization of the Middle East.”

      1994: Reaffirmed previous GA resolutions (’74, ’84, ’88, ’90) affirming the status of Jerusalem; “Renewed efforts to make U.S. aid to Israel conditional upon the cessation of the appropriation of Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem and the establishment of new settlements in the occupied territories....” Rejects current legislative efforts to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that would do severe damage to the Middle East peace process.” Urged Israel to lift the military closures of Jerusalem that deny Muslims, Christians, and others access to their holy places....”

      1995: Called for Withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian troops from Lebanon; reaffirmed previous resolutions calling for a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, noting PCUSA concerns stem from 160 years of Presbyterian involvement in the Middle East and concerns repeatedly raised by Middle Eastern Christian partners.
      ...
      1998: Noted set-backs to peace process with assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and policies of the Netanyahu Government in Israel that favored violence and military solutions over “those favoring negotiations.” Called upon the US to monitor Israel’s fulfillment of the terms of the Oslo Accords with regard to continuity U.S. aid to Israel. Specific areas of accountability: “a permanent termination of (Israel’s ) efforts to expand the settlements.”
      ...

      2001: Urged implementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338; ...

      2002: Urged all parties to end all forms of violence, Implement the Arab League proposal, essentially the same as UN Resolution 242, calling for full Arab recognition of Israel and Israel’s withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Also affirmed the need for an international “protective force” in the occupied territories; “directs Israel to end the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.”

      2003: Called for a delegation to be sent to our partner churches in the Middle East and adopted an extensive resolution calling for “an end to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.” Noted the “occupation is growing stronger, and the threat to Palestinian rights,” and referred to Israel’s request for an additional $4 billion in military aid to Israel that helps sustain the occupation.” Called for a national study and prayer in churches across the country.

      2004: l. Adopted a Resolution on Calling for an end to the construction of the separation wall by the State of Israel in the West Bank; 2. Adopted a resolution on “Confronting Christian Zionism” as “inconsistent with reformed theology; 3. adopted a resolution affirming support for the Geneva Accord as a Means of moving toward peace between Israel and Palestine; affirmed the steadfastness of Palestinian Christians; reiterated the call for Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip now; condemned the violence and deadly attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers and by the Israeli military; noted the international community has an obligation to provide physical protection for those under occupation ; and “Refers to Mission Responsibility through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action.

      for more link to theipmn.org

    • @Mooser -- I sense many acronyms in my future.

      Can anyone suggest a short, fact-rich article on this -- e.g., what Mooser calls "how Judaism is structured (or not)" -- what are various strands & how do they relate to each other -- e.g., "the Israel Lobby", the do-good service organizations, the philanthropic organizations, training for rabbis, mutual aid societies for immigrants?

      It's not that I won't read whole books. But, is there perhaps a gap here -- a lack of straightforward, short summaries of what "the organized Jewish community" is. The first time I heard that phrase (from a representative of a local Jewish organization), it worried me. Maybe it's my Protestantism -- but our faith communities have become obsessed with making fine distinctions between governance in the spiritual, philanthropic, theological, service, prophetic, lobbying of actual governments, ethnonational identity realm. Protestants have behaved so badly in the past in mixing these forms of governance up -- so we've tried to build fail-safe mechanisms to try to separate them. E.g., John Calvin created horrors in Geneva, when he & his pals tried to run the govt in a purist theocratic way; the misbehaving Puritans in New England went to excess till they reformed themselves & flipped into the pluralist tolerance of Unitarians & Congregationalists / United Church of Christ; the fundraising efforts of 19th c 'mission' /philanthropic ministries created all sorts of racist views of people they were trying to serve; the Rightwing Christian coup d'etat of US in 1980s created crazy lobbying groups like Moral Majority etc. which are still distorting our politics. The ethnic mutual aid societies of Irish Americans got entangled in bad ways in IRA violence & Catholic/Protestant hostilities.

      My point. Do I have to become an I/P geek in order to get the understanding Mooser says I should have? Mooser of course, speaks like a many headed sphinx, with each head contradicting the other. But, somewhere he has spoken of the 'double duty' of anti-Zionist work. I think that it's a triple duty for pluralist Christians working on I/P -- that a bunch of hard work is being off-loaded unfairly onto critics of Israel. This means, first, that anyone who starts working for justice in I/P, is constantly getting waylaid by other labor-intensive tasks that they are told they need to do first (cleanse themselves of any faint slight echo of ignorance or prejudice relating to Jewish history/identity/ theology etc.; speak against every possible other injustice FIRST anywhere else in the world; follow rigid protocols re/ the ethnicity of truth-tellers -- e.g., only certain ethnicities can speak authoritatively about certain topics, expertise doesn't count, etc.) Second, some of the tasks that are being off-loaded really could be better done by people who are coming from within Jewish experiences & traditions. There is a depth of knowledge, an ability to be critical, an understanding of back stories, and deep emotions -- that comes best from those within a faith, or ethnic, or immigrant experience. And, non-Jewish Americans are so horrified of past tendencies toward conspiracy theories at the fringes of American political culture -- that don't want to touch questions about lobbies, etc. Third, pluralist Christians have a responsibility & necessity, I think, to deal with Rightwing Christianity -- this is a lot of work already.

      Given these other tasks, isn't there some kind of 101 type reading that could help both combat anti-Semitism & help build more aware interfaith dialog?

    • @Citizen -- yes, we have a small Mosque & small Hindu temple -- thank God. I live in a depressed "Red State", with a lot of needs for health care etc., so have attracted very talented professionals who have brought these faiths with them -- which is a blessing for us & is probably a terrible loss for their home countries, for which I should feel guilty, but it's such a relief in the flat terrain of insipid or Rightwing Christianity.

      I know that national & international work is important. But, I think it's also really important to link the broader levels with grassroots efforts. If one can get grassroots interfaith civic webs going -- it can be mobilized when crises or bigger campaigns come up...However, people still seem to be dancing around the big questions & not able to process feelings & ideas with each other. I was young during the civil rights struggle, but my memory is that (in equivalent networks of good faith, interracial networks trying to work together for change) there was more open, emotional discussion then, of race & prejudice -- as people could call each other out, reflect on themselves, change their ways of thinking, learn from each other.

    • We are fighting. We been fighting. And, how much have we accomplished? Precious little. That's why I think we need to think very carefully about what we are up against, to understand what it is, what it's sources of power are, and how to build broader alliances for a counter movement. I feel that, on Mondoweiss, there is not always enough attention to the concrete, grassroots challenges of this... Just to speak re/ PC(USA) -- we've been at this for decades...what have we accomplished? I don't mind being called names. I would like to figure out how to make a difference. I'm still going to keep trying to talk to folks of Zionist persuasion at grassroots level, because that's where I think change comes from first...but that's just me. Need other levels of strategy also.

    • I'm really confused by a lot of this actually. I'm looking at it from a grassroots level -- as someone who is trying to work within a congregation & in relationship to warm friendships & civic bonds that cross & criss cross multiple faith communities in my current town of residence. Whatever the Big People like Walzer actually feel -- I can say that the civic terrain on which little people like me & my pals are operating is charged with kinda crazy feelings...I've actually only been able to find one friend who actually attends Temple -- to take me to visit periodically. And, I'm working w/ some folks on an interfaith something-or-other. What I'm *feeling* to speak personally -- is that there is fear mongering which has caused my friends (of a Jewish persuasion) to have really strange ideas re/ what's going on in Presbyterianism -- at this grassroots level, I'm not seeing a clean distinction of Zionist/not Zionist -- but really wonderful people that I respect & care about who are getting fed a whole lot of malarkey about what's going on in PC(USA) -- for all the interfaith blah blah blah -- there's not a good terrain within which we can work this thro...there are strange emotional force fields & cul de sacs -- and I don't know what to do to break thro this.

    • I think most Presbyterians will welcome open dialog. Like Phil, I am grateful that Walzer expressed his fears. It's been an awful decade for us Presbyterians, with so much implied, but not on the table for open give & take.

  • Another 'NYT' reporter goes to Gaza and offers condescending anthropological observations on social media
    • @gamal -- THANK YOU! Zero Anthropology is an amazing & wonderful site... I hadn't known of it. What an intro!

      At its most basic level,ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY is about anthropology after empire, that is to say an anthropology that emerges from the decline of European and North American geopolitical hegemony, that crosses the zero line demarcating the point at which that hegemony nears complete collapse. It is not predicated on salvage, but on resurgence. The project does not lust after recognition and reward by the authorities, and therefore does not enlist itself in the service of dominant elites, and their various “humanitarian imperialist,” corporate, and militarist endeavors. It is fundamentally an anti-imperialist anthropology, an anthropology of empire, an anthropology against empire, and an opening to anthropology after empire. Zero Anthropology seeks to be toxic to power.

    • poor maligned anthropologists. Compare to what Smadar Lavie, a real anthropologist writes link to mondoweiss.net

  • Joseph and Mary can't make it to Bethlehem, on Banksy's Christmas card
    • @Mooser -- it's ok. To make up, I would like to share a scriptural joke with you.

      So, the weekend after the Nov elections, we were in Asheville NC & went to a wonderful New Agey church. Whilst trying to be non-partisan, yet joyful over dodging a bullet, the pastor said:

      This is the election when voters turned out, in large numbers, to support both marriage equality and marijuana liberalization. God must be pleased with this election.

      As it says in Leviticus, if two men lay down with each other, they shall be stoned.

      Let me tell you, that had people rolling in the aisles -- giving a whole new meaning to the phrase Holy Rollers. I've been looking for somewhere to repeat that joke, because it would deeply offend many of my circles -- so hope you find it funny.

    • Mooser -- you are baiting me. You asked me for links re/ the kinds of bitter, unfair attacks that my faith community has experienced for a decade -- suggesting that MondoWorld would be interested. I responded with links. You then suggest that these links represent *my* view of people of Jewish background or persuasion.

      And neatly proved my point.
      Okay, for you, Dersh speaks for the Jews. Got a pretty low opinion of us, dontcha?

      That is RIDICULOUS! That "us" pronoun, as is "the Jews" category -- are being concocted by you. I wasn't saying anything like Dershowitz speaks for "the Jews" -- the whole point of almost every post I've made in this thread, is that as a rabbi recently in an interfaith gathering w/ Presbys & other mainline faith communities -- "If someone claims to speak for 'the Jews', they aren't". You should be able to tell from my many comments on this site that I wouldn't think or feel such a stupid, stupid, stupid thing -- as you are trying to attribute to me! I am not the 'them' to the 'us' you're concocting.

      I have distinguished between the big lobbying groups, actual faith communities, and the other tangled strands of ethnicity & culture. Why are you doing this? You keep trying to twist what I'm saying to make me sound like an 'anti-Semite' (a problematic word IMO, btw) -- thereby, dodging the issue I brought up with MarionL -- which is that flip (and strategic rather than substantive) accusations of 'anti-Semitism' are undermining American public's capacity to debate these important issues carefully.

      I'm a flawed & frail human being -- but this is one evil that I am not.

    • Mooser please -- why me? Please, please, please. Do you notice how diligent we vote-lovin', committee-formin', democracy-mad Presbys have been in trying to explain these intricacies of Presby self-governance to MondoWorld? I'm actually really curious to learn answers to the questions you raise. But, why do I have to answer these questions? I googled the name you gave & found -- eagles & American flags rampant & waving in the breeze -- things flashing by saying "Women's Rights", "Hasbara Training Sessions", "Intelligence & Terrorism Training Center". I don't understand.

      To your questions, I would like to add -- What does this have to do with the Temple where I've been attending (sporadically) for several months to try to keep warm, real interfaith community bonds? This looks to me like a lobbying group, disconnected from real, living communities of faith. But, if it's an 'ethnic' group, not a 'religious' group -- I still don't see any clear lines of democratic accountability or boundaries to this group. How can you have democratic representation or right to speak for people if not?

      Btw, I'm not directing above questions to Mooser -- just to anyone who wants to answer it...

      Btw, this is an example of what comes up if you search under "Presbyterian" on this site:
      link to ajcongress.org

      "The moral blindness of the Presbyterian officials who met with these murderers was compounded by their statement of solidarity with Hezbollah and their complaints about American Jews who have urged Presbyterians to stop their divestment campaign against Israel...We also believe that deafening silence from Presbytery leaders opposed to Worley’s comments and actions is as shocking as the meeting itself. ...The meetings demonstrate that the Presbyterian ideologues opposing Israel and United States foreign policy know no moral bounds or political wisdom. ...these Presbyterians do not merely disagree with Israel policy, but harbor animosity toward the Jewish people around the world. ...They seek to legitimize terrorist enemies of the United States and Israel. [and]... erodes the moral credibility of the Presbyterian Church and contributes toward the church’s loss of stature in the eyes of Americans....The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged.",

      Nice.

      If you search the http://www.pcusa.org site with "Jewish" you get this link to pcusa.org -- with phrases like

      Interfaith Relations
      link to presbyterianmission.org
      All

      about 1060 results for jewish

      previous 1 2 3 4 ... 130 131 132 133 next
      Dabru Emet: Jewish statement on Christians and Jewish ...

      ... Ecumenical & Interfaith Resources. Thinking & Working Together: Study and Action Suggestions for Jewish and Christian Congregations. ...
      link to store.pcusa.org
      A Jewish Perspective on Israel, Covenant, and the Land ...

      A Jewish Perspective on Israel, Covenant, and the Land
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...
      Jewish Mysticism - JH Laenen : TheThoughtfulChristian.com

      Jewish Mysticism
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...
      The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity - John H. Hayes ...

      The Jewish People in Classical Antiquity
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...
      Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age - John J. Collins ...

      Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...
      From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God - Maurice Casey ...

      From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...
      Jesus in the Jewish World - Geza Vermes ...

      Jesus in the Jewish World
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...
      Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ - William Horbury ...

      Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ
      link to thethoughtfulchristian.com...

    • Moose, Moose, dear Moose -- not fair, not fair...I was talking to you about this because I was already in a thread talking to you about an idea you brought up in response to comments she made so I wanted to know what you thought of my idea about your idea in reaction to her comments and if you know any linguists who can help extricate ourselves from this pronomial spiral if not slippery slope I would appreciate it while I vociferously say I care not a farthing for these labels you're using because your particularity of being is much more interesting and important in its specificity and ungulation than any label you are imagining might connect you to the virtual being of one MarionL...help I can't get out of this sentence!

    • @Klaus -- you know, it's funny what offends one & what doesn't. I kinda liked that 'con man' comment -- I love how hard to pin down Jesus is -- with all of those strange parables -- as Emily Dickinson says "tell the truth but tell it slant". I love how trickster he can be.

      What's REALLY bothering me on this thread is MarionL -- dodging questions, not listening...

      Concerned about all this, I've taken to asking my practicing Jewish friends to take me to Temple services -- it's been great! I like the music lots & the liturgies are beautiful. Really good --- I'm going to keep it up...As I'd expected I knew lots of people already (mostly from social justice activism).

      The important stuff about faith, for me, is very mystical -- as you describe, beyond words. Experiences & presences that require 'talking slant'...I'm with Gandhi -- diverse spiritual paths converge in God in ways that can't be expressed rationally...

    • @Mooser -- ya wanted links, I gave you Dershowitz. But, if you want more sophisticated --- here you go. It feels to many of us in PC(USA) that we have been repeatedly slandered as anti-Semitic & pressured for the past decade -- ONLY WHEN WE TALK ABOUT US AID TO ISRAEL. These accusations are thrown around very lightly, as if this isn't a grave charge.

      A good view into how this works in my area, at the grassroots level, is conveyed by Russ Greenleaf link to mondoweiss.net I know & respect Jonathan Miller, we have family connections -- but he was astonishingly unethical I think in his HuffPost article. It was upsetting to Presbys here.

      But, at a more subtle theological level, let's talk about Amy-Jill Levine. MarionL has kindly explained above that Levine is the person to 'best' explain Christianity to us Christians. Levine has made important points, that I strongly agree with, re/ how Christian reading the Jesus story can get a negative view of "the Jews" (your & her language not mine, dear Moose). See the first part of:
      ‘Misusing Jesus: How the Church Divorces Jesus from Judaism,’ Christian Century
      (December 26, 2006), 20-25; excerpted reprint “C21 Resources: The Church in the 21st Century Center” (Fall 2008), 13-14.

      Her argument is that Christian sunday school classes don't show Jesus wearing the tzitzit & tallit & practicing kosher -- and other ways efface his "Jewishness". Good points -- fixing Sunday School books & posters would be an excellent local interfaith effort -- I like that idea. She also goes after liberation & feminist theologians -- saying that they portray "the Jews" as the old guard oppressors & Jesus as something new & prophetic -- that this creates anti-Semitism among Christians now. Yes, good points. But, this is widely noted & practiced now among Presbyterians -- this theme circulates in sermons. But, hold on. I would also offer, that Presbyterians strongly identify "the prophetic" (in Marc Ellis' sense) with, well, the prophets, as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. -- this strong respect for the prophetic & liberationist dimensions of Judaism goes along with the many webs of solidarity between temples & churches built up at local level over decades in common social justice fights. That's where I think there's a facile attribution of anti-Semitic ideas, without enough listening to what non-Jews actually think.

      Finally, this same article by Levine ends with several pages of slamming Palestinian & other liberation theologies -- as, surprise, surprise " prejudicial" " anti-Jewish" "commentary that divorces Jesus from Judaism and then uses the story of Jesus to condemn all Jews" & "is not a Christian message. It is, a recycled anti-Judaism that depicts Israel as a country of Christ-killers". She has a few wan sentences about her support for Palestinian statehood -- but really, don't you think she should grapple a little teeny bit more with the problems of Palestinians from their own perspective -- problems that are MUCH more pressing than what clothes Jesus wears in highly sentimentalized Christian Sunday School books?

      Finally, Levine co-authored an article "Habits of anti-Judaism:Critiquing a PCUSA report on Israel/Palestine" -- that was eagerly read by Presbyterians, in our earnest studious little way. In the first paragraph it begins "the old habit of bearing false witness against Jewish neighbors lives on. In recent years this practice has thrived especially in mainline Protestant statements on the Middle East." The minister of my parents' church urged me to read it, when I expressed concerns re/General Assembly votes. He said, essentially, we Presbyterians first have to cleanse our souls of any traces of historical anti-Semitism, before we can speak in public about US military support for Israel. All across the country, there were study groups on this article.

      I'm sorry, dear pastor, but having read it carefully, I say NO! this article claims very subtle "echoes" of historical anti-Semitism -- that become arcane. For instance the metaphor in PC(USA) report's title "Breaking down the walls" is anti-Semitic because...

      "The report's consistent lament that the time for a two-state solution is rapidly ending solidifies that impression. "Breaking down the walls" in order to form "one new humanity in the place of two" evokes old echoes of theological supersessionism and transposes them into a political key."

      And, they say, the

      "PCUSA statement that "the State of Israel is a geopolitical entity and is not to be validated theologically." Thus Israel, having neither special sanction nor special obligations, should be judged by the same standards applied to any other nation."

      is linked, they say, to explications that

      "draw upon old tropes of Christian anti-Judaism. The first describes the incarnation as a rejection of God's covenant with Israel. The second singles Jews out as a people condemned to wander, a people without "natural" ties to land like other people. The third follows a narrative in which Jews are replaced by others."

      In other words, PC(USA) critics of US military aid to Israel are in a Catch 22 to the third power. We're anti-Semitic if we follow our churches teachings that all nations should be judged by the same standards (because that violates the idea that *some* not all Jews, and our Right wing Christians, have that God covenanted a specific piece of property to "the Jews" whatever that means). But, on the other incompatible hand, we are unfairly 'targeting' Israel, if we employ prophetic scriptures to say that universal human rights & social justice should be respected by Israel. And, on the third hand, we are suggesting that Jews should wander the earth, if we caution that US military support for Israel's current policy could lead to the collapse of 2 state possibility & grave & destructive events in Middle East.

      The brilliance of this article & others like it -- was that it kept Presbyterians huddled in their dutiful little study groups, trying to purify their souls & their theologies -- FOR YEARS. While real people were gravely suffering in the real world in Middle East.

      I say, in response, that real racism or religious bigotry is not that subtle & arcane. People who are actually racist or bigoted show that in many dimensions of their lives. You see real people being discriminated against over real things (like housing, employment, political voice, etc.). The facile use of the "anti-Semitism" card is discrediting the users of it...And, too many mainline Christians have wasted time purifying themselves, when they should have been responding to urgent contemporary, concrete suffering & justice issues

    • @MarionL -- "a distraction"? are you reading the comments on this thread? are you listening?

    • haha! the dance of pronouns on this thread is dizzying. We need a linguist. It *is* like a game -- just grab an image, preferably from someone else's faith tradition, and then stick whatever meanings you want into it, while gaining the magical power to be the pope of "all the Jews" -- for like 2 minutes. Once you've got that hat on your head, you not only have the power to speak "for all Jews", you can put the dunce cap on others -- one is marked "all Christians from the old days of Jesus to this day" -- fortunately the person who ends up with the dunce cap is not allowed to speak & noone can respond to them...Game on! should be fun! wait, why am I not having fun??

      Mooser, re/ your comment up-thread re/ wanting links to anti-Presby bitterness. It never crossed my mind that such anti-Presby tirades came from folks who could speak for Jews -- I thought about listing groups -- but then thought, no, it's the principle that is important. That it's this linguistic free-for-all that is a huge problem -- where folks are passing around the "I'm the voice of all the Jews" hat in a way that's really destructive of moral debate in USA. Also, I decided to ignore & forget these anti-Presby tirades. The only one I remember clearly was the phrase "the mucky swamps of Presbyterian anti-Semitism"! (rather charmingly earthy don't you think? compared to more typical "white bread" and declining demographics comments). But, if you really want links you could start by searching the Committee on Accuracy in Middle East Reporting under "Presbyterian". Also, ADL, Simon Weisenthal Center, Dershowitz, Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) -- all made strong accusations of anti-Semitism & linked it to attributions of ancient & unbroken bigotry & persecution. This burst out around 2004 when PC(USA) was moving towards BDS. I followed some of the comments on these websites at that time. I won't say that I was shocked, because that word upsets your delicate sensibilities Mooser -- you worry too much about me...but pick any other word from the thesaurus under "shocked"...

      Mooser, maybe you can explain this to me. I'm getting so befuddled by MarionL. Can you help clear my addled mind? Didn't she suggest that this card scared her & that it implied deep Christian bigotry against Jewish peoples going back in one unbroken historical line to Jesus? Don't you think that this is a gravely serious fact, if true? Shouldn't all ethical Americans, jump up when faced by such concerns to change it? Why is she now calling "Mary & Joseph" on the card "a distraction"? Why did she drop the "anti-Semitism" concern just like that? I told her I was all set to start a movement among Christians in my home town to break this heinous sin...(which we thought we'd already done to a manageable, 'good enough' type level some decades before)

      Mooser, why hasn't MarionL responded to any of my questions? could it be that if you've got the dunce cap on, you're sent to Coventry?

    • @Bumblebye -- brilliant! we'll get on this...and add mirrors to the wall with little legends saying "Paid for by my tax dollars", so Americans can see themselves as co-builders...

    • @Klaus -- thanks for the straightforward statement. I will ponder this & try to understand -- and once again search my heart to see if I'm harboring unconscious prejudices.

      The reason that this is hard for me to understand -- is that it never crossed my mind to think "the Jews" built that wall. The only Jews in this card are Mary, Joseph & shepherds -- who seem to be hurt by the wall. I think of the wall has having been built by a whole matrix of military industrial security states -- if you wanted to put a nasty person in here, signifying who was 'behind' the wall -- it could have included W or Dick Cheney or any other the war-mongers from US who push military aid all over the world (not just in Israel). Heck, I see *myself* as complicit in building that wall -- insofar as it is my hard-earned tax dollars which fuels the Israeli war machine. In fact, maybe Banksy could add a little mirror to the card next year?

      All the Christmas sermons I have ever heard have emphasized that it was rich & powerful people who gave them 'no room in the inn' -- in other words, it is a parable of the mighty vs. the humble -- this story in particular, doesn't tie in w/ negative views of Jews. E.g., I can see that some of the descriptions of the Pharisees or of Herod could lay seeds for anti-Jewish prejudices (as theologian Rosemary Ruether I believe says) -- but still don't see how this does.

      For me, as a Christian, this is about peace & war -- the 'sin' or 'evil' that gives rise to it is not in only one 'people' -- we are all fallible, liable to violence & oppression. This is a collective problem -- no one is exempt. I don't think "Jews" are anti-Christian -- my life is too interwoven with people of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim & other faith backgrounds to generalize like that. The problem is the wall & the occupation -- and that does not break down neatly on ethnic, religious lines. Americans of all types are complicit, along with Israelis.

      It is a simple fact, that Bethlehem is barricaded & occupied right now in a militarized strip of land that has become like an open air prison for Palestinians -- yet it has also, for centuries been an icon for Christians of Jesus message of peace-making. I would think that anyone from the other faiths in the region, would understand why Christians would be motivated to meditate on Bethlehem, to grasp its various meanings. That doesn't mean that we might not ALSO spend time, trying to empathically understand what it means to Jews who ponder Rachel's tomb or other sites in Bethlehem which might have meaning for them.

      If I were trying to understand what Rachel's tomb or David's birthplace means to Jews (for whom Bethlehem has spiritual meanings) -- I would want to first listen to what they say it means, rather than tell them what it means.

      But, I will think about what you're saying. I just getting tired of being accused of anti-Semitism ONLY when critical of Israel.

    • How about we all dump on the Italians -- if we're digging up millenia of misbehavior -- shouldn't the Italians be held primarily accountable for reparations for the Roman Empire?

      I still don't understand what is 'insensitive' about this card. The heinous crimes of European Christianity in middle ages, early modern era against Jewish minorities -- did use ideas of deicide -- putting guilt for Jesus death on Jewish people. But, this was very focused on the death of Jesus, not the birth. If this were an Easter card featuring the crucifixion & minimizing the Roman soldiers & foregrounding Jewish authorities...I can see her argument. But, deicide is a doctrine that has been thoroughly repudiated by all of mainline Christianity. It wasn't about Jews "rejecting" Jesus -- I mean, for Pete's sake, were not all the main disciples Jewish? Christians were pretty much "rejected" everywhere for centuries -- if we were still worked up by that -- we would be glowering at folks all around the Mediterranean. I don't see how you can plausibly link that medieval doctrine of deicide to the Christians who are circulating this card. What is MarionL suggesting Christians do? Set the Christmas story in New Orleans, and change everyone's names?

    • @Annie -- ok. I like where you're going with this art thing. Art can mean many things to many eyes & that's the good & provocative thing about it...

      But, this isn't being used just as art. It's also resonating with spiritual meanings for living faith communities. Several commentators on this thread are dodging that. I appreciate that MarionL seems to be trying to be in dialogue -- and that Donald is trying to respond in kind.

      But, neither are getting to the immediacy of the burning issues for American faith communities. While accusing others of gross insensitivity, MarionL has made a string of remarkably negative & reductive & uninformed comments about Christianity -- it would take me too long to explain what's 'insensitive' on her part. I shrug it off...she seems ignorant & unable to empathically engage diversity in spiritual paths. (e.g., I imagine her saying to Native Americans practicing in Dine tradition -- "Spider Woman wasn't a historical figure! why do you want the National Park Service to give you access to Canyon De Chelley for your ancestral sites of worship!" as if Dine people had never had a complicated thought in their poor little heads about the relationship between sacred & 'historical' time. Thank goodness, she's found the 'best' scholar to explain this all to us poor benighted folks!)

      What matters is that she is dodging the realities of what's happening in US in interfaith dialogue about I/P. MarionL has not responded to the question of whether she is participating & complicit in, a widespread movement of disinformation & accusation against Christians who are critical of US military aid for Israel. Many on this site know that I'm a Presbyterian. My church has been bitterly & repeatedly attacked over the past decade by multiple groups claiming to speak for all Jews, and attributing heinous motivations to us. Linking us with unspeakable medieval ideas & practices. And, showing a staggering lack of interest in what the church believes theologically, or practices in real everyday spiritual life. I have concluded that this is a systematic campaign of propaganda -- because we hear the same, tired points made. It does not matter how often we counter with facts. The attacks on us, go directly to core tenets of our faith -- especially in our attempts to resist Empire & the military/industrial complex because of Jesus call (as we understand it) to be peacemakers. There are strong alliances in this attack on mainstream Christianity between Rightwing Christianity & the groups claiming to speak for all Jews.

      MarionL has not responded to my question re/ all this. This is an urgent question which is of real importance to millions of your fellow Americans. I say again, why, these days, do mainstream Christians only hear these accusations of anti-Semitism -- when we criticize US military support for Israel or Israel's actions or policies? If you think this card shows deep seated anti-Jewish prejudices, wouldn't those prejudices be appearing in many areas? If yes, where do you see mainstream Christianity engaging in such heinous behavior?

      As far as I can see, my church & other mainline American churches have been making strong & consistent efforts against anti-Jewish or anti-Judaism for many decades. For overview from the World Council of Churches from over 30 years ago see link to oikoumene.org WHAT MORE NEEDS DOING? Rather than these vague implications, you should spell it out. I'm ready to start & I can guarantee that my church will revv up it's justice work -- if you can show evidence that anti-Jewish behavior or beliefs are a pressing global or American issue. (Please do remember that it would have to be ranked on a list of our prime social justice priorities that includes: deepening poverty & inequality, global warming, collapse of health care/education/public services, military industrial complex, land grabs & displacement, neoliberal globalization & bad trade deals, hunger, women's & gay rights, etc., etc., etc., etc.)

    • @MarionL -- When people jump to accusations of anti-Semitism, when contemporary I/P is discussed critically -- ARe the comments about Christians so stereotyped, so tied to old history, so incurious about fellow Americans' (who happen to be Christian) actual faith & practices -- because folks *need* to see Christianity only as a dyadic Other -- in which Christianity is primarily defined by it's imputed hatred of Jewish people & faith -- and Christianity is an unchanging 'essence' -- that can best be understood by not listening to real persons who are practicing, pluralist Christians? As I have seen this card used -- it is as a Christmas card (by definition almost entirely between Christians -- I send "holiday" or Hanukkah cards to non-Christian friends around this time). It's primary context is the flood of sentimentalized images of Bethlehem in America in December -- it is designed to make people 'uncomfortable' -- the way many great spiritual myths do -- to force questions of displacement, injustice, violence. These are both specific -- e.g., to sweep away the mystified Hallmark, happy-wappy views of Bethlehem -- to wake Americans up to their complicity in funding the military machine that builds such outrageous walls (across landscapes filled with meanings for diverse faith traditions) & to wake American Christians up to what Rusty Pipes has called a "soft Zionism" -- that gets emotionally attached to vapid imagery, while dodging *precisely* the kinds of urgent calls for love, healing & justice which Jesus & other prophets made & make. In Christian liturgy, imagery -- the stories of Jesus birth are typically (in my experience) used & retold in all sorts of contexts in which poor teenage mothers & fathers have to struggle & are denied care/lodging/respect, etc. This is a use as a 'universal' moral allegory that needs to be redeployed in all sorts of historical contexts -- I've heard it retold in many ways -- poor unwed mother in Chicago, a couple in rural American south thrown off welfare. To insist that this must have, for others, the associations you make, misses the point. When Cornel West recently invoked the black Christian rhetoric -- that equates Pharaoh with forces of Empire against Moses of liberation -- that is not anti-Egypt in contemporary situations. Egyptians shouldn't feel insulted or scared by Dr. West. Nor, when he speaks of Pontius Pilate washing his hands, should Italian Americans feel that he is 'pandering' to deep-rooted anti-Italian prejudices in America.

      If you feel that anti-Jewish or anti-Judaism racism is a significant problem among American Christians -- please raise the call to work on that directly! I think many Americans of many faiths or non-faiths would be galvanized to join you! Put forth the facts, show that Christians are *nowadays* demeaning, discriminating, attacking, accusing Jewish peoples or faiths -- let's get a movement going to stop this now! But, separate that from discussions of Israels current policies & actions. And, separate it from discussions of American military support for Israel. If accusations of "anti-Semitism" ONLY come up when Christians talk about Israeli govt policies or actions, US aid to Israel -- it feels odd -- as if you aren't really worried about anti-Semitism in general & as if you're not actually interested in inter-faith dialogue, or pluralistic exchanges among Americans of diverse backgrounds.

    • Here's what the card says on the back

      The people of Bethlehem are asking for our help.

      Towering walls and militarized fences now encircle Bethlehem, turning the 4,000-year-old city into a virtual prison for its Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens. Bethlehem has only three gates to the outside world, all tightly controlled by Israeli occupation forces.

      Israel has confiscated almost all the agricultural land in the area for illegal settlements, making it impossible for many Palestinian farmers to continue tending their land. Outside the town, the fields where shepherds once watched their flocks are being filled by Israeli housing blocs and roads barred to the descendants of those shepherds.

      “It is unconscionable that Bethlehem should be allowed to die slowly from strangulation,” says South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Bethlehem’s residents increasingly are fleeing Israel’s confining walls, and soon the city, home to the oldest Christian community in the world, will have little left of its Christian history but the cold stones of empty churches.

      Though most Americans don’t know it, we are directly involved in Israel’s strangulation of Bethlehem. Fortune Magazine and other analysts consistently rank the Israel lobby as one of the most effective special interests in Washington; Americans give Israel over $8 million per day. In its just over 60 years of existence, Israel has received more US tax money than any other nation.

      As we seek peace and joy for the world, it is time to reconsider an expenditure that perpetuates injustice, tragic violence, and conflict. Please help.

      For more information: IfAmericansKnew.org

  • Journalist teaches students to join no party and sign no petitions for any cause -- oh except one
    • the logic of gang warfare. Plus, stupid & self-destructive. Welcome to Mad Max world!

      forget the ice caps melting & worry about important dangers...Your grandchildren will thank you for this...

  • NPR host Siegel serves as moderator for Avigdor Lieberman at Saban gala
  • How Israelis imagine their future
    • the Moose speaks like the sphinx -- one never can quite know what he means... Does Mooser means that the 20th c. was a violent bloody mess that inures one to shock. Or, perhaps he means that this sort of thing was typical & widespread, so why the shock? If yes to either, I beg to differ. I'm pretty familiar w/ the 20th c. -- but painting images like this on ones pregnant belly seems exceptional &, as others have suggested, unusual, disturbing as in weird & creepy. I can't think of images like this from said 20th c. Yes, there was the cult of motherhood under Naziism -- to build demographic power. And, when my father was in Palestine many years ago, someone spoke re/ birth rate & said that's what would change the balance of power with Israel.

      But, to me, there seems something distinctively disturbing about putting this on ones belly. I can't think of other examples like this (which could show my ignorance more than anything else). I do know of examples of enemies writing on the bellies of women they have killed -- but that only suggests how 'off' this is. It doesn't seem like the mother is in conversation with her unborn child here -- I strongly suspect that this is really an adult-to-adult conversation. It seems that she's flaunting her commitment to the security state to other adults. It feel creepy to me, because it feels like the epitome of a kind of 'group-think' that goes so deep that this absorption into the collective identity swamps any other role. It actually reminded me of the guards at Abu Ghraib or other facebook photos of soldiers doing disgusting things. Playing to the camera, doing 'hijinks' that express a kind of situational craziness because of their violent settings. Probably underpaid grunts ending up in bad job situations carrying out the imperialist imperatives of distant ruling elites -- flaunting their tough prison guard identity to each other. But, the fact that she's branding her unborn child into this imagery, locking that child like this -- to me shows a breakdown of individuality & ordinary parent / child bonds. Even in very extreme situations, there's usual a bit of space left around the role of parents -- so that they can have a kind of primal loyalty to their child -- to their own child's right to survive, to claim other futures. Most places, there's some recognition that this loyalty has unique power & is in tension with group identities. I agree strongly with Ellen -- that this is almost surely true even in ghastly totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany -- the dream of the patriarchal tyrants is that they have this kind of control over women's reproduction -- but I wonder how deep that went into many women's identities in relationship with their own children & their own bodies. I've lived for years in some of the most economically marginalized communities in the world -- & in places where parents could expect up to half of their children to die. My experience is that most people show an astonishing tendency to hope that their children will LIVE & get out of their hellholes. I feel like there are pretty strong taboos usually against 'marking' children in the womb -- I can't think of examples of women putting marks onto their bellies that 'brand' the unborn so deeply into 'cannon fodder' roles -- or their own bodies into the role of cannon fodder factory. Amidst the violence of the 20th c, this feels like a pretty strange kind of dehumanization. Of course, there have been much worse & more violent things -- but this is pretty distinctive in its creepiness. I'd like to know what the social setting was within which this woman decided to do this -- I bet it was a kind of group-think, where she was pulled into doing something as a kind of spectacle for adult others -- a group identity that swamped her relationship to her unborn child. If that's correct, it's a militarization of life that goes about as deep as it can go...I think it's a trophy for & by the military apparatus. To lose one's ability to feel shock at that kind of dehumanization of individuals would be a kind of dehumanization of oneself. Furthermore, that's an endless spiral to go into -- as Lily Tomlin says "no matter how cynical I get, I can't keep up with world developments". I think stability in the face of violence, comes FROM an ability to be shocked.

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