Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 44 (since 2009-08-06 17:06:44)

Madrid

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  • Where you can donate to help Gaza -- Updated
    • Here is the link to United Palestinian Appeal:

      http://www.helpupa.org/

    • I think the Jerusalem Fund and the other charities listed are very good as well, but I advise people not to donate to UNWRA, which is in bed with the US gov't (Read Asad Abu Khalil on this if you doubt me), Chris Gunness' crying notwithstanding.

      Also, donate to the Electronic Intifada, which is the best source of news and advocacy in the US on Palestine.

      Finally, I've donated to United Palestinian Appeal, which does good work for orphans and disabled children in Gaza and WB:

      http://www.helpupa.org/

    • Here is the link to how to donate to Gaza through Catholic Relief Services, which I believe is the biggest Christian charity in Gaza:

      http://emergencies.crs.org/update-crs-responds-in-gaza-during-brief-ceasefire/

      (Given Phil's past expressions of hostility to the Catholic Church, not sure how welcome posting this will be, but I thought I'd post it anyway. In my opinion, its very important for prospects of peace in the Middle East for Christians to donate to causes like this. Catholic Relief Service is a very efficient use of money as well, unlike ICRC.)

  • It sure pays to support Israel!
    • Think about the fact for a second that these are non-profit organizations that are paying these types of salaries. So these are non-profits whose funding is solely through private donations, and the salaries that these charities pay is comparable to some CEO's at American companies.

      The obvious question: how is it that private donors can afford to pay these kind salaries? How loaded are these donors? Which leads to a mostly unspoken but still crucial realization: which is that your community is astronomically wealthy-- certainly multiple times more wealthy than any other ethnicity in the US, providing it with immense power to get its message across in the public square so that any and all competing voices have very few possibilities for responding in any meaningful way.

      There was recently a story about how the CIA was funding anti-Zionist propaganda in the 50's and early 60's, a story which was met with scorn by the MSM, and I generally hold the CIA in low regard, but in the end, one wonders what other entity could hope to counter such financial power other than those of the US government.

  • The new anti-Semitism, and the campaign to silence American critics of Israel
    • I didn't and don't deny that Anti-semitism existed in the US or that it was not serious in many cases. I denied that it was very serious at American elite universities from the 50s on, and I also noted that before the 50's, it was nothing like the Anti-Catholic prejudice that has historically existed at American universities and does exist to this day.

      I didn't say anything about African or Native Americans-- I was under the impression that we were discussion religious prejudice not racial prejudice.

    • Your problem, and the problem of most educated Americans, is that they know relatively little about the history of religion in the west or in the US. A review of that history shows that most of the charges of American anti-Semitism at elite American universities, while certainly valid in some cases, were exaggerated.

      Here are a few salient facts about the history of religious elites in England and the US after the seventeenth century that should make things clearer:

      1. After 1649, when the Puritans and the Levellers got control of England, the country became very philo-Semitic, something which did not change with the restoration of the king in 1660. It wasn't solely evidenced by Cromwell allowing free immigration of Dutch and German Jews. It was also that the Puritans thought of themselves as the New Jews-- the new Chosen nation. This was caused partly by the Erastian political theories that had begun in the earlier century, but it was also due to the new focus on the Old Testament by the Puritans, rather than the New Testament. The Puritans also viewed their own "anti-idolatry" tenets and their Bibliophilic nature as something that was similar to Judaism's reverence for scripture and iconoklastic approach to idol-worship as well as antithetical to Catholic reverence for saints and Catholic icons.

      2. During this period and later, it was often said by English and American Protestants of all denominations that it was far more important to fight the Catholics than the Jews or the Muslims. Indeed, even Queen Elizabeth had tried to establish strong diplomatic relations with the Sultan of the Ottoman empire, at a time when Europe was seriously threatened with wholesale invasion by the Ottomans. This is because Anti-papism was a fundamental aspect of Protestantism (and still is to some degree). In other words, it was similar to the trinity or belief in Christ's resurrection. It was a basic requirement of being a good protestant, and thus expression of anti-papism became a fundamental aspect of the religion. This never occurred with anti-Semitism-- in fact, many Puritan sects tried early on to emulate the Jewish prohibition on eating pork, for example, while everything to do with Catholic traditions was to be rejected.

      3. The reason why English and American Protestants discriminated against Catholics is that they considered the Pope to be another temporal ruler, which he was to a certain extent-- he governed the papal states, supposedly from the time of Constantine's Donation. And they thought that Catholics recognition of the Pope meant that Catholics were ipso facto traitors to the country. At least before the state of Israel was founded, there was no evidence of Jewish dual loyalty for American Protestants, so there was no reason to make accusations of dual loyalty during the first 5 decades of the 20th century.

      So while, yes, there was certainly anti-Semitism, Jews were accepted in the historically Protestant universities of the Northeast well before Catholics were accepted at those places. A good example of how serious anti-Catholicism was at the university level is the contempt that the University of Notre Dame encountered, when Knute Rockne tried to lobby for ND to join the Big Ten conference. Even though Notre Dame had rivalries with several of the Big Ten schools, administrators at Michigan and Chicago said very publicly that in no uncertain terms would there ever be a Catholic school in the Big Ten. There never has been such outward hostility to any other religion in the US, including Judaism, with the exception of recent hostility towards Islam.

    • Jews were never victims of anti-Semitism on campuses in the 70's, 60's, or probably the 50's either. Just a ridiculous statement. In fact, there were no real quotas affecting Jewish students during these years-- there were attempts at lots of elite universities to make them more nationally focused universities, by taking students from the other 40 states of the union, not huddled around the Northeast corridor. That is, there was positive discrimination for kids from the states that people in the Northeast have always hated (Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, etc), and as a result, many Jews living in the Northeast complained that this was pro-Christian discrimination or anti-Jewish discrimination in the same way that whites currently complain about affirmative action.

      There was and is only one true religious discrimination that has gone on at this country's elite universities and that is anti-Catholic discrimination, and Jewish professors and students as well as Protestant profs and students have done their part to stoke the flames against Catholicism and Catholics from the late 19th century to the present. More recently there is a fervent anti-Muslim fervor among lots of atheists and Jewish profs at elite universities-- the same type of people that are anti-Catholic are often equally anti-Muslim.

  • The morning commute (through the checkpoint)
    • Appalling treatment. Note that Bethlehem has a substantial Christian population as well.

      If any non-Christians need any evidence either of how ineffectual or how clueless Christians are politically (I can't decide which) in this country, here is exhibit number 1. I tend to lean towards Christians being incredibly ineffectual, given that I don't meet a fellow-Christian that is not aware of the deplorable situation in Bethlehem.

      On that note, Phil, are you ever going to do an accounting of the progress that this website has made in bringing this to the attention of the American people? Don't get me wrong-- you have obviously done incredible things here, getting together a terrific group of writers for this site, getting the money to run it, maintaining an interested readership year after year, but really isn't the state of American attitudes towards Israel largely unchanged, with those who don't know just as anti-Palestinian as ever and those who do too hesitant to risk being called anti-Semitic to speak up?

      Moreover, has there been one iota of change in the way that the American gov't responds towards Israeli settlements or blockades or even injustices that it perpetrates against fellow Americans? When are you going to take stock of your successes and not-such-successes? Now that we are going through another round of ridiculous peace talks, isn't this a good time to offer some historical context?

      Also, have you been able to write any longer articles on the evolution of this website and the evolution of your politics with regard to this issue to a magazine like Harpers or the Atlantic? After all, you used to write for those kinds of magazines? Might they be interested in your successes (and struggles) with this website?

  • The MSM tries to distinguish between Manning and Snowden. Don't let them
    • Phil: agreed, I'm a traditionalist that does not agree with you on a lot of stuff other than your work on Palestine and Israel, but I think the way that the MSM is using this guy to condemn Manning is deplorable. Manning is a hero-- all Americans owe him our profound gratitude for trying to show what the US military was really doing in Iraq and the violence and human rights violations it was perpetrating in the rest of the empire. Being right unfortunately is not the same thing as being popular. I'm hoping that by some miracle Obama might pardon Manning at the end of his term, but I guess this is not very realistic.

      If only there were other leakers that came forward now, there might be a perestroika moment for the US gov't that would raise all boats including Manning's....

  • A Jew, Jesus and Justice for Palestinians: An interview with Mark Braverman
    • There is no superiority of any one group in Christianity-- that is the point. In other words, Christians are not superior to Jews.

      Through Christ, every nation, every people of the world is equal. Everyone has the same ability to partake of Christ's body, to enter into communication with him.

      The main thing that changes is that the old Covenant with the nation of Israel dissolves, and is replaced by the universal covenant through Christ.

      Like other religions, Christian doctrine is mutually exclusive--i.e. there is no relativism in Christianity, although priests and ministers will always tell their parishes to be respectful of other Abrahamic religions.

    • I should note also that the term "replacement theology" is not the term that the mainstream Churches use, and I'm not sure they have ever used that term. I believe Pentacostals came up with that term to differentiate their own dispensationalist theology, which teaches that Jews still maintain a special covenant with God that is parallel to the one that Pentacostals have through Christ. Catholics don't really have a term for what I am describing above, because it is so essential a part of the Church-- it is in essence mainstream Christianity, but perhaps Catholics or Episcopalians or Lutherans might refer to it as Covenant Theology.

      So in my response above, I should really have put replacement theology in quotation marks.

    • Braverman is completely wrong about his explanation of replacement theology, and the changes that occurred with Protestantism and Vatican II have nothing to do with replacement theory, which is not seen as any kind of big evil or politically incorrect aspect of the church.

      Replacement theology, or supercessionism, still forms and will always form the foundation of every mainstream Christian denomination, and that has not changed and will not change. The reason is that replacement theory is the foundation of the Christian idea that everyone ,"Jew, Greek, woman, and man, slave and freeman, are equal before Christ," which is the basis of the universalizing aspect of Christianity. (It is also probably responsible for the secular humanist notion of universal rights.)

      The idea is that anyone, no matter their origins, their birth, their gender, their race, etc, can partake in the body of Christ. The New Covenant is that Christ forms a Covenant with people from every nation of the world-- this Covenant then replaces the old covenant, which God had with the nation of Israel. Jews are not excluded from the New Covenant nor blamed for anything-- they are just like everyone else, under the new covenant. Just like every other people of the world, Jews are seen as potentially in communication with the body of Christ.

      I don't want to minimize anti-Semitism in Europe, but Braverman's idea that replacement theology was responsible for the Nazi Holocaust is the worst kind of misunderstanding of Christian theology and the pagan origins of the Nazis. In the official theology of every mainline Christian denomination, Jews have never been blamed or singled out, and neither the Protestant reformation nor Vatican II changed anything on this score. Jews are viewed just like the rest of nations of the world before God, neither better nor worse.

      Religious education in this country is so poor, that I don't expect many people to notice Braverman's error here, but it is a very blatant error, and to be honest after that paragraph about the evils of a central-- perhaps the most important--tenet of Christianity, I could read no further.

  • Shared values?
    • No offense to this great blog and its contributors, including Phil, but Phil does seem to have problem with the Catholic Church. Not giving the Church credit for its history, going back to the sixteenth century (Las Casas, Francisco de Vitoria, Francisco Suarez, Antonio Vieira), of opposing slavery and segregation-- inspired by St. Paul's admonition, "there is no jew nor greek, nor female nor male, nor slave nor freeman, all are one before Christ,"-- is just part of Phil's problem. He has referred to the Catholic Church as the Church of Pedophilia, before people complained. He has shown a very simplistic notion of belief in historical progress whereby things like abortion rights signal progress, not realizing for example that the ease with which Americans kill the unborn makes it very easy to kill the unseen in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine by drone.

      His biases are typical of liberal journalists, which they have subsumed from the anti-Catholic Protestant heritage of this country: Catholic Church is evil, led by an oppressive tyrant; American democracy and institutions are fundamentally good; Catholic Church persecutes; representative democratic institutions are incapable of persecution, etc etc.

  • Don't 'target our Israeli ally'-- Schumer warns Palestinians
    • Waaa Waaaa! These crybabies are about to be dragged into a reality in which the limits of US power are more and more apparent. Wake up boys, before your precious Israel loses its last chance at some kind of future. Look around the rest of Africa and the Milddle East-- are there any other European settler states left? There is the remnants of white South Africa and there is Israel. Something tells me that Israel won't last for very long with oil at 250$ a barrel without a peace treaty, no matter how much brainwashed Americans insist on the myths of Israel uber ales and an America that can achieve energy independence without mideast oil.

  • 'NYT' analysis that Gaza assault was 'test run' for Iran war is ripped apart
    • Hamas has remained steadfastly neutral with regard to Bashar al Assad-- MacFarquar's piece has been criticized for saying that Hamas has backed the rebellion against the Assad gov't by Asad Abu Khalil in a recent posting on his blog. You should correct your error here, Alex.

  • Romney's defeat will expose the lobby's weakness
    • Rothkopf doesn't seem to publish very many non-MOT's period. He has Walt on there to placate the realist academics who read that rag, I guess, and then he proceeds to attack him periodically in his own blog. Incidentally, I know an academic who used to report for their mideast channel, who says he will not write for it anymore, given how neo-conesque the editorial line has become during the past year.

  • The conversion of Joel Kovel (Part 1)
    • Wrong-- Umayyad Mosque in Damascus was for a certain period of its history a place where Christians and Muslims worshiped side by side.

      John the Baptist and Jesus are both revered as prophets by Muslims.

    • You're both wrong-- first of all there is no such entity as Judeo-Christendom, except in the minds of American liberal Christians who want to be extra careful not to exclude Jews. If you are going to have Judeo-Christendom, you might as well have Judeo-Islamic Christendom, since Muslims have been involved with Christianity a long time as well, and Islam has more in common with Christianity than Judaism.

      Secondly, Christendom has never been equivalent to Europe or the West, etc, etc. It's hard to believe that one has to make this point, but given the comic book version of history that most people have gotten from school these days, it bears repeating. Christendom never enslaved anything-- Europeans did. To ironic liberals like I suspect you two are, that may seem like a distinction without a difference, but to historians it is very important. In reality, as Anthony Pagden showed, when he was doing really good history, and not trying to write the Global history of the West, there were two forces in early modern Europe during the beginnings of the enslavement of the Amerindians. On the one side were the secular authorities, encouraged by court humanists, using Aristotle's Politics to argue that the Amerindians were natural slaves, who favored enslaving people whom they considered non-human. On the other side, were the conservative bishops like Bartolome de las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria and Antonio Vieira, who used the line above about everyone being equal before Christ to argue that there were no gradations of humanity-- that Aristotle's Politics were wrong. All humanity was one. Interestingly, on paper, the latter argument prevailed-- and the proof of that is that both Ferdinand and Isabella and their son Charles V, wracked by their consciences, freed the slaves at the end of their reign. But in practice, because the slave drivers were on the sea and in South America, they could ignore what the prince said where it really mattered.

      As for the exclusiveness and "chosenness" of the puritans (the New Israelites) who excluded the North American Indians from their communities, they comprise relatively one tiny and abberant expression of Christianity that existed for a short period of time in England, Holland, and North America. IN other words, they are by no means representative of the vast majority of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Armenian, Coptic, Anabaptist or even Calvinist Churches throughout the world.

    • Reminds me of my two favorite verses from the NT:

      "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

      And

      "There is neither Greek nor Jew, neither woman nor man, neither slave nor freeman before Christ, for all are equal before Christ."

      Somewhere between those sentiments, the drive towards charity-- the notion that the person in need before you might just be Christ--and the drive towards humanity as one family, equal before their maker is Kovel's conversion narrative. Giving up your eliteness, your specialness-- joining the human family and being willing to provide and to receive charity to and from the other.

  • 'IDF Fiction' author Boianjiu calls Palestinians ‘ballsy thieves’ in fashion magazine interview
    • It is standard practice. Believe me.

    • Part of the new American cosmopolitan, multicultural elite (I often wonder why most gentile elites are so keen on Israel. It recently struck me that they are probably worried about their own asses in a horrible job market, because if Israel fails, there is an instinctive fear among such gentile elites that all of the Israeli refugees will end up setting up camp here in the good ol' USA and the few elite positions in this country that would currently go to their (gentile) sons and daughters will now potentially go to Israelis.)

  • My correspondence with NYT's Rudoren
    • Sorry, I guess I'm a little dense sometimes.

    • She seems to imply that she doesn't speak a word of any of them. At least one would be nice, but it seems to me that a basic grasp of reading Arabic would be a must for anyone who wants to cover the region.

    • Is this a joke? She is there to inform us-- to get to the truth, not to serve readers, whatever that means. Are you saying that only a practicing jew could do the job, because a gentile would automatically be too biased? I really hope you are being sarcastic.

      Otherwise, I don't know what kind of Orwellian agenda you are pushing, but something tells me you are a few short of a six pack....

    • The lack of moral clarity of this woman is bad enough, but put all that aside.

      How is it possible in 2012 that a major American paper-- better yet THE American newspaper-- sends such a person to cover such a complex region, when that person lacks any education or background in the region in question? Here is a reporter who presumably knows not a word of Arabic or Persian-- does she even speak Hebrew?--, does not know the cultural differences between the various Arab ethnicities, has never lived in the region before this. Her only qualification for the NYTimes editorial board seems to be that she is a practicing Jew, which I suppose is so that she doesn't offend those readers who have a passionate love affair with Israel, who vastly outnumber Israel's detractors.

      And this neophyte, who has not spent one minute studying the region, is supposed to pass on vital information and knowledge about the region for the American public. That is essentially the reason that I will never subscribe to a major American paper again-- except perhaps the Wall Street Journal, which for all its conservatism, at least employs people who are experts in their field.

      In what other profession in the US or in the Western world could you send a complete neophyte to do such an important job? What next? Professors of Political Science whose only qualification for teaching Latin American politics is that they are learning Spanish as a hobby? Shakespeare teachers whose only qualification is that they like to read novels and watch plays? Chemistry teachers whose only qualification is that they take drugs for a heart condition? How does the NYTimes get away with this, and how do they expect to compete with bloggers like the Asad Abu Khalil, Juan Cole, Gary Sick, and Josh Landis, who are real expects in their fields?

  • 'NYT' publishes op-ed saying there are 'too many Palestinians and Arabs' in Israel
    • Miller's ideas about Israel have become the new received wisdom for Israel's supporters. There is no hurry, because Israel is doing fine-- its just not perfect. Notice that there is no reference to rights or justice or anything else in this formulation about Israel-- and without any people power pushing towards a peace they are largely correct. Governments are obviously not going to push Israel to do anything. So Miller's take on things has a way of shaping reality-- I suppose that, at dinner parties and other get togethers, when Israel supporters are forced to confront voices of despair, this will be their answer: "Yes the situation is not ideal, but things are not totally bad." I suppose we can hope that Iran does get a bomb, and that forces some change in Israeli behavior, but barring that, what is that could conceivably change the status quo and push Israel into some sort of settlement?

  • Romney's Jerusalem 'gaffe' illustrates the relationship between anti-Jewish sentiment and racism against Palestinians
    • Oh please-- there is no anti-Semitism here. Romney is as philo-Semitic as anyone could be. I'm sure he would agree with the chief rabininate in Israel that us gentiles are here just to serve you, Jews, as well as serving the Mormons, since it is well known that the Mormons think of themselves as one of the lost tribe of the Jews.

      Please get off your high horse about anti-Semitism-- most Israelis love Romney's kind of philo-Semitism-- the kind that maintains that they are the smartest ubermen on the planet, since they are arrogant and self-righteous and think the entire world belongs to them.

      Stop with the identity politics-- this is about Romney's contempt for the poor, the dispossessed, those groups that history has left behind, and the Palestinians embody all of that, as do they people in places like West Virginia and Appalachia and Detroit and Mississippi-- and besides Detroit, liberals like yourselves usually despise these type of Americans. I can't really believe what I am reading when I read this crap about Romney being anti-semitic-- calling Romney anti-semitic is about like calling Josef Goebels anti-German. It's ridiculous.

  • Ash responds to critique of Finkelstein on BDS
    • Normally, when one is fighting for a cause, one is tolerant of other voices that are fighting for the same cause, even if they disagree on one aim or aspect of the struggle. For example, I know Gays and Lesbian activists who are active on this cause, and make common cause with Catholics whose main concern is that the remaining Christians of the holy land do not get ethnically cleansed. In other areas of political engagement, they may be on opposing ends of some issue, but on the issue of basic rights for people suffering under never-ending occupation without the most basic rights they agree.

      This is what makes me suspicious of Finkelstein's motives in attacking BDS. Finkelstein might simply remark in passing that he disagrees with the methodology of the BDS movement, but he is still happy to fight alongside them for justice, and then move on. However, he goes on and on attacking BDS as if activists like himself were so much more successful at bringing this issue to international consciousness.

      But that is simply not the case. The only two methods that I've seen that have worked on the public consciousness of the West is 1) the Walt Mearsheimer argument that it is against US interests to support Israeli intransigence (this has worked in the US public sphere) and 2) in the international sphere, the argument that Israel is the same if not worse than South Africa and deserves to be boycotted.

      Finkelstein seems to be making himself a huge distraction to the cause-- I've seen interviews in which he suggests that Israel is on the verge of a huge capitulation on the issue of two states because of public opinion in Europe, and that BDS is going to derail this potential resolution of the issue, because it will paint Palestinian advocates as extremist. But where is he getting this idea? Israel just released a report saying that there is no occupation, and the settlers are there legally-- in other words, they are expanding and entrenching the occupation, not the opposite.

      The only thing that will work is for activists to fight, especially in Western Europe, to make Israel's leaders and political class as despised as Bashar al Assad and Ahmadinejad in the public consciousness. The mainstream press is constantly trying to avoid such a comparison, so it is an uphill battle, but to the extent that BDS can be one strategy to do this, people like Finkelstein should at least be tolerant, and not provide fodder for the other side.

  • Soccer's tragic flaw made a farce of Euro Cup final
    • Yes, same as the old aphorism, every animal is sad after sex except roosters and women. See Trainspotting for the comparison between sex and soccer: "Oh what a penetrating goal!" Also, I guess some women seem to follow soccer, but not many. Won't go any further than that lest my wife see this. As for roosters or cocks or whatever, well I won't go there...

    • It was tragic and unfair exactly the way that life in general is tragic and unfair. Life and history and human existence usually has a tragic unhappy ending-- football is like life. I always feel bad at the end of a soccer game, even though I love watching it, knowing that people have put such a huge investment into it and one side has to lose and their fans go away in misery. I root for Italy, but always feel bad for the opposing team and fans when Italy wins because it always seems to be a question of luck or unfairness, etc. People win and lose all the time, and most of the time it is because of luck and unfairness and injustice.

    • Phil:

      Your problem is that your opening assumption that European football should function like the rest of the world's sports is incorrect. Ask any European fan of football (besides the English), and they will tell you emphatically that football is not a sport, and you shouldn't watch it if you are expecting justice, rational rules, fair play etc. If you ask a European fan what football is, you will get a number of different responses: it is either a religion, a performance, an obsession, a game, play, a drama, a way of life, but it is not a sport, so don't expect it to be fair! If you want to watch a sport, watch water polo or chess or basketball or cricket or rugby. But don't expect football to make sense or conform to the logic of other sports.

      I was rooting for Italy, but I loved the final. It embodied why soccer or football or whatever it is is the greatest game on earth. But then I also loved Spain Portugal and Italy England as well... hated and loved them.

  • Finkelstein stands by 'BDS cult' accusation, says it's 'historically criminal' to not support the two state solution
    • Agreed-- the "Israel firster" argument has been a much more effective ...

    • As if to encapsulate exactly what I am talking about, there is the following article in FP, discussing a necessary American pivot to Asia:

      http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/04/is_america_pivoting_to_asia_fast_enough

      But the US can't pivot to Asia if it needs to defend Israel's backyard from every prospective threat (I'm saying this, not the article). Additionally, let's say that the US pivots to the seas surround China. Who says that China may not "pivot" to the middle east in response? And the fact is, China may already be doing so...

      The professor of middle east studies that has his office near me goes to Saudi every summer and says that all of the construction and oil services tech that iare used there is Chinese now, where as only ten years ago it was American and French and British. In other words, the US faces real threats to its hegemony, which Israel threatens. This is what will stop Israel, not mainstream Jewish or larger Western opinion.

    • At the time of Finkelstein's tenure battle-- at the end of it (he had by this time already lost the battle), someone in the Depaul administration released an anonymous statement that Depaul had information that they could not be specific about (in terms of sources, etc) that Finkelstein was not in reality what he was presenting himself as, seeming to imply that Finkelstein had another agenda. At the time, I dismissed this anonymous statement as a last ditch attempt to turn around a PR disaster for the university, but is it possible that there was something to that statement? Is it possible that Finkelstein had some other agenda, and the university found out about it?

      Certain things about Finkelstein stand out as strange: 1. the batsh-t crazy way in which he has organized his blog-- he regularly throws around Nazi holocaust analogies that he and he only seems to find funny, analogies that simply confuse the issues he is seemingly trying to highlight. 2. he went to Lebanon and actively endorsed Hezbollah's violent cause at the same time that he was writing a book on Gandhi. 3. He has a habit of making provocative statements just for the sake of being provocative-- like this one-- that he seems to know will annoy and embarrass his allies. 4. His speaking-style is obnoxious and offputting, and he has done nothing to mitigate this style.

      Finally, I don't agree with him that anyone important or people in large numbers in this country or pretty much any other western country are listening to the Pro-Palestinian movement. Where is he getting this, that there is an opportunity for Pro-Palestinians to be "listened" to? Phil and others (Finklestein included) who have valiently been pushing this movement are just as marginalized as ever.

      I think that Israel is in trouble not because of any sea-change in Western attitudes, but because of the Arab uprisings and because oil is an increasingly valuable and rare commodity that the West is going to need, thus giving Arab countries more leverage. Also, the threat of a nuclear Iran has caused lots of Israeli dual citizens to think really clearly about whether they and their familes want to live in a country where they might face nuclear annihilation at any moment. Such Israelis also don't like the rise of Orthodox jewry and the growing Arab population either, so they move. There are also questions about whether the US and its allies are wealthy enough to continue to input the tremendous amounts of energy and resources necessary to continue supporting this boondoggle of a country. These are the things that threaten Israel as the zionist state, not Western main-stream opinion, which has hardly budged over the past 20 years.

  • The Clementi family's compassionate statement
    • Funny post. You keep denying that Christianity has nothing to do with the equality of humankind against all the evidence that points the other way. I could point to a plethora of different verses from the Bible and countless quotations from the church fathers.

      Your ignorance is displayed all over the place as well: there was no slavery per se (ie. ownership of other humans) in Christian Europe until the 16th century after the encounters with the New World and Africa. In Spain there was a well known debate about slavery between on the one side, University of Salamanca Professor Father Francisco de Vitoria and Bishop Bartolome de las Casas and on the other side, Aristotelian humanists and court hanger-ons such as Juan Gines de Sepulveda. The priests used precisely the lines from the New Testament to which I am referring to argue that there was no such thing as a natural slave-- ie. all of humanity is one, while Sepulveda used Aristotle's Politics and Nicomachean Ethics to argue that the New World inhabitants were natural slaves and could be justly enslaved by Europeans. While the Church won the academic argument in Spain-- the debate occurred at the Spanish court at Vallodolid before the King, they didn't win the war on the ground in New Spain or with regard to African captives either, which resulted in the ignominious history of slavery until the 19th century.

      You got humanism wrong in thinking that humanists such as Erasmus in the 16 th century were anti-religious, but regardless, let's posit for the sake of argument that the humanists were less religious than the scholastics (something that is really dubious to argue since one argument of the humanist critique of the scholastics was that the universities were not religious enough), you still see that the innovators, the humanists, were the ones that were originally in favor of slavery while the conservative traditionalist scholastics were against it.

      In any case, when the battles over slavery re-emerged in the 19th century, the Quakers, the Mennonites, the CAtholics, the Presbytarians, and the Methodists were all on the anti-Slavery side. And when Southerners expressed misgivings about their own slaveholdings, they did so in religious terms.

      It may surprise you that I am not what you would call a religious person-- I find religious history more interesting than doctrine, but please have the decency to give credit where credit is due. Don't deny historical reality.

    • It's so satisfying that this quote, which many atheist readers probably saw for the first time here, got so many of Phil's readers so fired up and upset. Most of Americas elite, outside of a few elite universities who study such stuff or have thriving theology departments, are conditioned by the media they read, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Village Voice, the Guardian, to never have to confront the radical equality at the heart of Christianity. They are conditioned by such publications to see all the Abrahamic faiths as equally barbaric. But the fact is that at least two of them do espouse such radical, non-tribal equality. I could produce a plethora of other quotes from the New Testament that speaks to the same issue-- equality before Christ is at the heart of the entire religion.

      The quote says nothing about believers or non-believers-- it implies that all members of humanity, gentile and jew, men and women, slave and freeman, are equal before Christ. The verse, and other similar verses which say things like the gentiles have law written in their heart, were, according to intellectual historians, used during the early modern period to claim the equality of women, to provide the grounding of democracy which is founded on equal rights, and to fight slavery. In other words, you would not have your quaint Enlightenment notions of universal human rights, if it were not for Christianity. The difference between you lot and the Enlightenment philosophers like Locke and Kant that are responsible for positing a notion of universal rights is that at least the latter had the decency to credit Christianity for their idea. You lot think that such ideas appear out of thin air, not noticing that without a Deity to ground them in, they mean nothing in any case. They are just worthless claims without the theological tradition that produced them.

    • Paul's letter to the Galatians 3:28:

      There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

      In other words, all of humanity is equal before Christ. The same notion runs through the Koran as well.

    • Wrong-- Islam and Christianity arose out of the fight against insular tribalism. Both have at their center a Greek philosophical notion of common humanity, which unfortunately even the Greek city-states did not adopt under the influence of their philosophy alone. They also adopted it after the translation back through Christianity.

      Funny, how the nation and nationalism never gets the critical treatment that religion gets since 9/11. Far more people have been killed by extreme nationalism than religious fanaticism in the 20th century : 84 million alone in WWII and 50 million in WWI.

      I would bet that all of you atheists would never ever dare not to stand when they are playing the national anthem at some event. But somehow religion is the thing that is the cause of all of our problems.

    • Phil ought to read your post a few times, Aiman, before he condemns religion per se. Without Christianity and Islam, there would be no transnational, anti-tribal discourse in the world to fight nationalism and tribalism, which have been the most destructive human discourses of the modern age.

      As for Ravi, he was convicted of 15 counts that will get him potentially 10 years in jail for watching a few seconds of his roommate kissing another person. The room was his own-- he had a key, and he could have legally walked in at any moment. It's a huge miscarriage of justice. How can you spy on your own room?

      Here is my prediction: the hate crimes laws will soon be used by Zionist college students and faculty to target pro-Palestinian groups on campus, so Annie and Phil should not be celebrating this ruling. It will be used to persecute their allies at Rutgers and elsewhere.

  • ESPN and NYT should be ashamed for tiptoeing around rape at heart of Penn State outrage
    • Whatever-- I like Phil and his site, but I don't like bigotry, even when it is directed at popular targets among liberals like Catholics and mid-Westerners.

    • I'm not excusing him, and I'm not excusing anyone-- any person whatever they are should call the POLICE if they witness a crime is my opinion. I'm just pointing out what a sloppy piece of writing this is-- that is. That one error is hardly the only one in this piece by the way.

    • Also, what a ridiculous statement, "I hate State College." WTF: so all of State College is to blame for an child-abuse scandal that involves at most a handful of people connected to the athletic program? Now I guess that I understand your blanket hatred for the Catholic Church, Phil-- it's based on blanket bigotry...

    • Given the charges, one can, I suppose, empathize with your zealous scorn for Penn State. However, there are so many errors in this screed, that it's not much worth responding to, much less reading.

      Just to point one basic error that any journalist should have gotten: McQueary was not an assistant coach when he witnessed the assault on the ten-year old. I'll leave it up to you to find out what his position was, Phil. Maybe your journalistic skills are getting rusty, and you need some practice!

  • Behind closed doors Sarkozy and Obama spill the beans
    • I hope everyone realizes that this event was staged. Notice 1) that Obama did not actually say anything really that negative about Netanyahu, 2) that this occurred in the context of a previous statement in which Obama complained about France voting Yes to Palestinian membership in UNESCO-- the Lobby was supposed to note this part of the exchange, 3) the whole exchange personalizes things. It allows Obama and Sarkozy to both make clear that their problem is a personal one with Netanyahu, not Israel per se.

      The whole thing was a staged and planned leak...

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