Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 36 (since 2009-12-12 00:17:05)

PilgrimSoul

Director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation, a civil rights and public interest organization that advocates religious liberty for all. Most of our advocacy is for Sikhs and Muslims. In 2008, we took a position supporting peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, since we believe there will always be tension between American Jews and Muslims until there is a settlement in Israel/Palestine. We identify the Netanyahu government as the main obstacle to a settlement. I was in union politics (Postal Workers) for ten years, was San Francisco VP during postal strike in 1970. Since then was journalist in Europe and Latin America. Have both Jewish and Muslim daughters, Jewish daughter formerly involved in Reconstructionism and Muslim daughter involved in SJP and BDS at Brown University. Did psycho-social rehab as counselor for 25 years, now retired. Consider myself to be a "progressive/heretical" Christian.. Author of 3 novels and trilogy of nonfiction books outlining my secular theory of aggression and evil; Trauma Bond: An Inquiry into the Nature of Evil in be published in March, 2013, by Psyche books.

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  • Elie Wiesel is Dead
    • Wiesel was complicit in the crimes against Palestinians not in spite of the Holocaust, but because of it. He internalized its evil and acted it out against the indigenous people of Palestine. He also used the Holocaust to advance his own reputation as an author, and as a fraudulent spokesperson for human rights. He precisely embodies the kind of cultural figure whose message we must learn to distrust and despise.

  • Anti-WASP tropes in the 'NYT'
    • This takes us into complex and extremely interesting areas of personality, power and unconscious attitudes. But I don't think you can ever compare antisemitic jokes to jokes about WASPs. Antisemitism is never trivial, because it is about the dark and sadistic side of Christianity that went unchecked for a millennium, culminating in the Holocaust. Anti-WASP jokes are simply an entertainment, greatly enjoyed by many WASPs themselves, myself included.

      That doesn't mean that people can't make jokes about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism, in their own circle of close friends. But the difference all comes down to the aggression at the core of the joke. All jokes are about aggression, in one way or another. A joke about Jews that is filled with loathing or self-loathing is probably going to be antisemitic. A joke about Jews that gently pokes fun at some perceived characteristic probably won't be.

      What makes such jokes extremely edgy is that in real life there is no "they," not really--there are only individuals with feelings, aspirations and reactions of their own. It is when we create a "they" to attack an entire group that the whole thing starts to feel dangerous, and can quickly become extremely negative.

      But even generalized jokes can also be extremely helpful. I lived for twenty years with a German Jew who made one joke after another about WASPs, and I simply loved the dynamism of it, and the hilarity. (Because, folks, WASPs really ARE funny, and the nicer they are the funnier they can be.) The other great partner in my life was a Muslim woman who constantly made jokes about white Americans...again, I loved it, for the very same reason that I loved the Jewish worldview--because it was being lived out in a very real place, as a response to attitudes that weren't even completely understood by the people who acted them out.

      Say what you will about them, jokes about ethnicity and religion are real, at least for the people who are to some extent involved in them. Can we see such jokes as narratives that illuminate our lives without hurting, and being hurt?

  • Jewish community is Humpty Dumpty-- it won't come back together again, and shouldn't
    • One aspect people can't seem to get their heads around is the fact that people in Congress are getting money from AIPAC to vote as Mr. Netanyahu wants them to. Yes, they may have divided loyalties, but what about the money they're getting? Both play a role, but people shy away from discussing the money. It's corruption, pure and simple, and the corruption is coming from the Israel Lobby and from Netanyahu.

      Schumer's defection is a case in point. The guy has been receiving money for years to tell lies about what's really going on in I/P, and to vote as his boss Netayahu wants him to. If activists in the Democratic Party don't do something about his betrayal, no Democratic President in the future will be able to make independent foreign policy. My concern is not so much about what's going on in the Jewish community, but what this corruption is doing to our country and whatever is left of its democratic institutions.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • MW is to be congratulated for having this forum. No other website seemed willing to do so.

      I have reluctantly come to the conclusion, finally, that it was necessary to put some distance between Alison Weir and the rest of the Palestinian solidarity movement. After all, JVP, SJP and the entire BDS movement are facing extremely powerful opposition on US campuses this autumn, and perhaps even violence.

      What bothers me most about Weir is this:

      1. When people from a coalition she belonged to approached her, she was unable to make any changes, or acknowledge that any of their points might have validity. You have to be flexible to work in coalition politics.

      2. She demonstrates an extreme lack of sensitivity to the kind of rhetoric that will be most effective in winning people--especially progressives--to our point of view.

      3. You can't allow yourself to be interviewed on the radio by extremists and racists. Simply by appearing on the air with them, you tend to validate their ideas.

      Having said that, I do not agree with the idea, sometimes heard from JVP, that the Israel Lobby is just an extension of American empire. It is en extension of empire, to be sure, but it goes far beyond that, and is especially destructive to American democracy. It seeks to undermine America's best values, split the Democratic Party, and split American Jews; and it will consistently be in alliance with the most irrational and pathological elements of Republican Party extremism. It will never rest until it--and the Republican chicken-hawks--drag the US into war with Iran. That makes it more malevolent than even the gun lobby, and Big Pharma.

      We see the special dangers very clearly in Chuck Schumer's disgusting betrayal of the Iran nuclear deal.

  • Episcopal Church rejects BDS resolutions citing fears divestment would hamper church in Jerusalem
    • "Isn't it wonderful that so many people are leaving the church, and going back to God?"

      Lenny Bruce

      Damn, where is Lenny when we need him?

  • Support Palestinian human rights with the 'fierce urgency of now': An open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
    • I have a bad feeling about this. There is what appears to be an approaching genocide against gay people in central Africa, and Canterbury (and the Archbishop thereof) are feeling appropriately pressured by it. They can't oppose homophobia in Africa too overtly, they feel, or Anglicanism will become the target of mob violence. Furthermore, Canterbury feels that US Episcopalians have been pushing the envelope on marriage equality and gay rights way too enthusiastically, again adding to their institutional worries, because it pisses off homophobes in the African governments. (In the process threatening the future of Anglicanism on that continent.)

      My own sense is that the institutional Episcopalian Church in the US is about to do Canterbury a big mitzvah by orchestrating some kind of pathetic "reconciliation" with the famous (and famously corrupt) organized US Jewish community, whose leaders are today mainly fanatical religious nationalists and neocons in all but name. By doing so, the hierarchy in the US hopes to make up for all the headaches American Episcopalians have given Canterbury. They may try to accomplish this, I'm afraid, by bowing down to the Israel Lobby, whilst saying, "See, we're not all that radical." Canterbury will frame it as "reconciliation" with Judaism, whereas their abandonment of the Palestinian people will be simply one more examples of institutional religious complicity with systemic evil.

      On one level there's a huge class angle to this, wherein Episcopalian leaders went to the wall on an upper middle-class white issue (marriage equality and gay rights in the US) but are about to turn their backs on issues involving non-whites (Palestinians and African gays) in the developing world. The right way for a church to handles these things would be to stop balancing issues off against each other, and stand for universal human rights for everybody, all the time. Don't hold your breath.

  • The U.S. is at last facing the neocon captivity
    • Chris Matthews was instrumental in having Phil Donahue fired from NBC. Phil had a profound base among American women and was putting out the antiwar message in a way they liked. Chris, in those days, was attacking liberals for being insufficiently patriotic. Yes, it's good Chris is angry at the neo-cons today, but a great deal of that anger is actually aimed at himself. He knows what actually went down, and the people he hurt. Like so many of these big-time machers on that network, he is a low-rent, bust-out, ratchet-mouth back-stabber.

    • I knew some neo-cons, and was regularly subjected to neo-con arguments regarding the Middle East, when I was on the left. The future neo-cons were active in a caucus within the Socialist Party, then in the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, which was led by Michael Harrington. At the same time many of them were active in caucuses within one or more of the Trotskyist organizations. It was quite fashionable at that time to assume that one could be both a Zionist and a socialist. A fair amount has been written about the neo-cons who were in Trotskyist organizations, but they apparently didn't consider themselves Zionists until later.

      I first became aware of how racist they were while listening to a conversation among several of them about the manner in which Israel was about to create "facts" on the ground with settlements. (Actually, Israel was at that time already engaged in doing so.) One of the women in this group had converted to Judaism because of all the excitement connected with the 1967 war, and the settlement project. She was engaged to a Jewish Zionist who was extremely right wing. They considered themselves socialists, and were supporters of the Labor Party in Israel, but the real emotional orientation was toward an intense and seemingly criminal kind of religious nationalism. I will never forget the look in this woman's eyes when she talked about displacing Palestinians.

      They both went to the right rather quickly, and became part of the neo-con stampede into the Republican Party and its new ideological foundations.

      One analysis that always made sense to me was that becoming a neo-con was part of a process of assimilation by people who found it painful to be Jews. They became good Americans by becoming Republicans, and good Israelis by becoming Likudnik--that is, Revisionist--Zionists. But they left their Jewishness behind, in their mad rush to respectability.

  • Sanders is leftwing on economic issues, but sees Israel as up against ISIS
    • I was in the organized Left in the old Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee as a trade unionist in the 1960s and 1970s, and just a couple of years ago rejoined the Democratic Socialists of America. (In other words, Sanders and I belong to the same organization.) Yes, I know Sanders helped to organize the Progressive Caucus in Congress. But I won't work for Sanders, and I won't contribute a goddamn penny to his campaign. It's always been the same old story, going on almost fifty years now--we have to agree not to talk about Palestinians, and the cultural influence of Zionism and 'the Lobby' in the Democratic Party, because of the donors, and because "one has to make compromises."

      Yes, indeed you do have to make compromises, and my compromise is that I won't do a damn thing for Sanders, because he won't do a damn thing in the most important struggle of our time. The struggle against the constant efforts of a right-wing Israeli state to drag the US into war, the daily fight for Palestinian human rights, and most of all, the struggle for an American foreign policy free of the bribes and corruption of AIPAC dollars--those are THE big moral and political issues of our time.

      Sanders' time is past. And if social democracy can't assert itself on behalf of Palestinians, and against Israeli manipulation, maybe its time is past too.

  • David Horowitz to OSU: 'Jews didn't expel the Arabs in 1948' and 'the occupation is a huge lie'
    • Horowitz was a classic red-diaper baby, his parents being Communist Party members active in many struggles. Like Red Radosh, he became an extremist on the other side of the political spectrum. But there were some special circumstances. Apparently Horowitz introduced a friend, who was an book-keeper, to some individuals who were at the periphery of the Black Panthers. This friend's murdered body was later found in the Bay.

      Horowitz has written at length about the trauma he believed he sustained as a result of this betrayal. Over the years he struggled with it, but evidently the only way he could resolve this issues was to become an extremist of the right--to become the reverse, in his mind, of what he had been before.

      Incidentally, Horowitz is not a conservative. You could call him a representative of the hard political right, but because of his gutter racism and Islamophobia it would be more accurate to call him a neo-fascist.

  • Forgiving the anti-Semites
    • We should never forget what the murderers did, and forgiveness should only enter the picture if it is important to the wronged individual as a part of his recovery. What is important is for individuals and societies to deconstruct the aggression that was internalized during the traumatizing events, or during the frequent political use of those events. If the internalized aggression is not deconstructed, the victim will act it out against new victims, or against himself. And it tends to grow stronger with time, especially if the society supports it.

      The victim-aggressor will systematically use past trauma as the excuse for acting out his internalized aggression. This is called 'traumatic privilege.' If traumatic privilege is institutionalized in a society, it becomes a form of 'destructive entitlement.' Israel is already at this last stage.

      So how does one deconstruct internalized aggression secondary to past trauma?

      There is a new book coming out soon that deals with this very phenomenon. I won't give away the title, because that is still under discussion. But the title, roughly paraphrased, goes something like this: HOW TO BREAK THE TRAUMA BOND, AND BEAT THE HOLOCAUST: TRAUMATIC MEMORY AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SYSTEMIC EVIL.

      Stay tuned.

  • In defense of Cornel West's prophetic voice
    • Will always vote for the lesser evil in presidential races because the Republican Party is racist and insane. That, and the fact that the corporate upper class has very successfully used the Federalist Society to pack our courts, and would like to take democracy away from us using the Supreme Court. But electing a Democratic president doesn't change the real juxtaposition of social forces in the society at large, outside of the courts--that kind of change must almost always come from below. Electing a Democrat president simply makes it slightly easier for those who are involved in real movements for change.

      Hate and love of individual leaders has nothing to do with anything, except in the feverish imaginations of various activists. The reality is, regarding the issue that we care most about, electoral politics are not the focus...public opinion is the focus. Israel/Palestine and the religious nationalism that has taken over the political class in Israel, as well as most of the US Jewish leadership, will tear apart the Democratic Party, it will tear apart Judaism, and it will tear apart America, and all the love and hate of presidential candidates won't make a damn bit of difference one way or the other. Deal with it.

  • 'American Sniper' is an antiwar movie
    • I wish this website would have the courage to carry Chris Hedges' review of this toxic and loathsome film. Although I liked the honesty in Phil's take on it, the way he saw it is not the way a great many other people have experienced it.

      You saw it as an antiwar film, Phil, because you're an intellectual. But literally hundreds of thousands of working-class and rural white men will see it as the acting-out of the highest and most noble thing a man can do. What these men love is the precision of the gun itself, and the act of killing someone. The fact that insurgents (and Arabic-speaking people generally) are represented in dialogue as "dirt" makes it morally neutral, but the true enjoyment for many viewers--even those in Iraq, I've heard--is in the killing.

      The American men who see this film--and the Americans that lined the road to honor this man's last trip to the bone-orchard after his pathetic death--tend to see this film as a validation of a growing and dangerous idea in America, the idea that killing Muslims is the highest good to which any real man can aspire. All that angst--the loss of the soul that Phil refers to--simply makes it more authentic, and therefore all the more transcendent. This film is to American gun culture what Triumphe des Willens was to Nazi propaganda, the latter of which was also "just a movie," but one with a highly calibrated purpose. The main difference between the two is that Eastwood's incitement is to some extent unconscious, but like Riefenstahl his films are almost always highly profitable.

  • A place where Palestine doesn't exist (Notes from a Zionist education)
    • Absolutely one of the best things published on this website in some time. The entire issue of political indoctrination of young people is extremely important. For those interested in my account of indoctrination in a "progressive" Hebrew school in the 1960s, see this at the following link:

      link to pilgrimsoulblog.com

      The one big difference is that the kids in the Hebrew school in which my children were enrolled objected strenuously--despite the fact that they were quite young--to the anti-Arab racism that they were being indoctrinated with...that, and the fact that in our situation in San Francisco the Holocaust was used very aggressively to justify racism in the Hebrew-language instructional materials.

  • The Minds of Others: An interview with Max Blumenthal
    • Max Blumenthal is one of the most brilliant young intellectuals on the planet. If some good comes out of the horror in Israel, it may be that it brought forth such a good and true voice for justice.

      His riff on whiteness is brilliant. As a couple of people have already noticed, it's not a color, it is a kind of emotional totalitarianism that the whitest people are unfortunately unaware of. (And it's funny as hell--Lenny Bruce would have loved that whole riff.)

      I've lived in Germany--my impression was that the weight of German history was almost impossible for young people to bear. The younger they were, the more conscious they were of the way it was affecting their behavior, thoughts and emotions. I had hoped that would have changed by now. Apparently not.

      The Holocaust still haunts us, and will continue to haunt us. But it is also used by people to get things they want, including those who are bonded to Holocaust trauma as an emotional system as well as a worldview. Sadly, those who find meaning within some traumatic memory, especially those who seek some kind of victim status because of it, have usually internalized the aggression involved in the original trauma and are busily perpetuating the cycle of violence.

      Zionists internalized the anti-Jewish violence of Europe, and are now acting it out against the Palestinians.

      To see one person's understanding of how the US Israel Lobby uses the traumatic memory of the Holocaust in America, see "Traumatic Memory and the Israel Lobby."

      link to counterpunch.org

  • What is the vision of Jews who want to replace Al Aqsa mosque with temple?
    • These interviews are absolutely first-rate journalism. Thanks to Phil and his crew for producing this incontrovertible evidence of the religious fanaticism that threatens the world.

      Gideon Levy at Haaretz: "Anyone who wants to track the progress Israel has made on the steep slope toward fanaticism, religiosity and backwardness must examine its relationship to the Temple Mount. Anyone who insists on labeling Israel a modern Western country can’t ignore the extraordinary change that has taken place in recent years. And anyone who still thinks this is a nonreligious society must heed the dark and insane forces that motivate it."

      Dark and insane forces...

      The other half of this loathsome equation is the secular nationalists who are promoting these fanatics for their own political reasons. The fundamental orientation that unites the secular and religious extremists is a sadistic desire to harm Palestinians in particular, and Muslims in general. Likud thinks they can "control" the religious extremists...but I'm sorry, once the fire is out of control, you cannot escape, you become part of it.

      I quote again from the website of the Temple Mount Faithful: "Our goal...the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in our lifetime in accordance with the word of G-d and all the Hebrew prophets, and the liberation of the Temple Mount from Arab/Islamic occupation so that it may become consecrated to the name of G-d."

      That's a pretty explicit political goal for a bunch of religious fanatics, don't you think? Let's face it--for this moment in history, both secular and religious fanatics in Israel want the same thing, the same worldwide war, the same disaster for themselves and for the world. They both have the same goal--maximum destruction.

      Can they be stopped?

  • Root cause of current crisis is Israeli government effort since 1967 to transform East Jerusalem into a Jewish city
    • The above interview is informative, but doesn't really deal with the crisis of religious fanaticism that is taking over the mindset of the Israeli political class. What one sees in this interview is the familiar process, forever reiterated by US liberals, of trying to reduce delusional behavior to simple political terms with which the average US liberal can identify. But delusional behavior is not amenable to political and geopolitical language.

      Mondoweiss still refuses to try to get inside the minds of the fanatics who are trying to destroy the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock Mosques. Electric Intifada is doing so, however, by the simple expedient of interviewing people on the ground.

      Charles Kimball's book WHEN RELIGION BECOMES EVIL gives five warning signs that present themselves when a religious tendency becomes evil. There's more truth in Kimball's psychological and religious analysis that all the political analysis of the above interview.

  • After deadly attack Netanyahu vows ‘iron fist’ as clashes and closures rock Jerusalem
    • Terrific piece in Electronic Intifada by Rana Khalek and Don Cohen on the assaults on Al Aqsa Mosque. They're interviewing people and asking about their intentions, whether they would like to see Al Aqsa destroyed or not, and getting an affirmative quite often.

    • I don't think it is quite accurate to say that the Temple Mount is the site of "two destroyed synagogues." To the Temple Mount activists, it is the former site of the Second Temple. According to all historical sources, the Temple Mount remained undeveloped for seven centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple until the building of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosques in the seventh century. Both are beautiful structures that should belong to all of humankind, as a stunning architectural record of the Abrahamic idea.

      Those leaders of the organized groups that are willing to go on the record agree, Allison, that the endgame after establishing Jewish "sovereignty" on Temple Mount is the destruction of both Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock so that a 'Third Temple' can be built there. Many individuals, of course, may come there simply to pray, as the young fellow you interviewed claims. But the leaders of the organized groups have an agenda that far exceeds sharing the esplanade with Muslims. By now their goals have been widely disseminated among both Jews and Palestinians in Israel/Palestine.

      Here's a statement from the website of the Temple Mount Faithful: "Our goal is the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem in our lifetime in accordance with the word of G-d and all the Hebrew prophets, and the liberation of the Temple Mount Arab/Islamic occupation so that it will be consecrated to the Name of God."

      That's pretty clear, isn't it?

      Therefore, the correct question to people who say they come there "only to pray," would be as follows:

      1. Do you think that the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock should be destroyed so that a Third Temple can be built?

      2. Do you think that this will cause a religious war in the Middle East, and in the world's 50 or so Muslim-majority countries, since Al Aqsa is the third-most holy site in Islam?

      3. How would you respond to a religious war?

      I don't see journalists posing these questions. Without getting them to talk about the endgame, you're engaging in a kind of journalistic shadow-boxing.

      An accurate English account of all the Jewish groups in involved can be accessed in this article by Dr. Saleh Al-Naami at the following website:

      link to middleeastmonitor.com

      First, to my knowledge ALL of the groups in this article above believe that the so-called 'Third Temple' should be built on the ruins of Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock. Secondly, the Temple Mount Faithful, although it is the oldest of the groups agitating for the destruction of Al Aqsa, has been heavily infiltrated by far-right Christian evangelical groups, and is supported financially by them. They have anticipated the probability of religious war, and welcome it, since the Christian evangelicals believe it will lead to the Second Coming of Christ.

      Many of the Jewish groups acknowledge that there will be a religious war after the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque, and are eagerly anticipating it. Others decline to talk about it, perhaps because they don't want people to know their end-game. In the meantime, going to the Temple Mount and pushing one's way into Al Aqsa is the latest craze of the political class in Israel. Lieberman is furious because everybody is getting into the act, and in the process outflanking him on the political right. Look for the Jewish Home people to adopt "sovereignty" over Temple Mount as a major goal, and the entire national-religious crowd.

      What the majority of the leaders of this movement want is the sadistic pleasure of humiliating and causing pain to Muslims everywhere. There are, as I've said before, profoundly destructive and self-destructive emotional orientations at work here.

  • Is Israel the wallpaper in US culture?
    • Netanyahu's behavior is more consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder than Asperger's Syndrome. Borderline folks constantly create crises at critical junctures, in order to check out everybody's reaction to it. Deliberately creating crises or challenging people around them is the way they take everybody's emotional temperature. It also gives them an idea how far they can go before somebody takes action against them. Not that different from Moshe Dayan's idea that Israel should be a "biting beast" that destabilizes the Middle East every so often to get everybody's attention.

  • 'We are in a violent fight with extreme Islam' -- Feiglin leads rightists to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque
    • "However, authorities had difficulty putting a lid on Israeli-rightists attempting to enter the Haram al-Sharif, the location of sites holy to two religions, for Jews the Temple Mount, for Muslims the al-Aqsa Mosque."

      I think the above is not quite accurate--somebody correct me if I'm wrong. The Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif) contains two structures that are holy to Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. There is another small structure called the Dome of the Chain, and there are some Herodian walls which probably date back to the Byzantine period, but they have no particular value to anyone except a few archeologists.

      My point is that there are two main structures (two 7th-century Mosques) on the esplanade of the Noble Sanctuary. The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third-most holy site in Islam. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, but I don't think there are any Jewish structures there. Not far away is the Wailing Wall, which is a Jewish structure, and there are many other Jewish structures in Jerusalem.

      After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Temple Mount area remained undeveloped for six centuries, after which the two Islamic Mosques mentioned above were built.

      The special significance of the Temple Mount to Jews rests on what many Jews believe once happened there (that the ruins of the Second Temple are buried there), and what they think will someday happen there--that is, they dream of destroying Al Aqsa and building a 'Third Temple' in its place, which they believe will bring about the end of human history and the end of the world. Increasingly various groups of national-religious Jews believe that they have the right to established "sovereignty" over the existing Mosques on the Noble Sanctuary for this reason.

      Since 2010 groups of right-wing settlers have been regularly trying to push their way inside Al Aqsa to perform certain rituals, and in the last two years it has become a crisis. The right-wing settlers have succeeded in getting inside the Mosque on several occasions.

      The real goal of this movement among right-wing Jews, which they have copiously documented on the internet and in books, is to impose "sovereignty" over the Noble Sanctuary, and then blow up, or burn down, the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that they can build a 'Third Temple' on its ruins. They are well aware, of course, the Al Aqsa is the third-most holy site in Islam. which is why they focus so much attention on the area. Their real motivation is to kick off a worldwide religious war between Islam and the West, which they think will end human history, redeeming an evil world in the process. The hideous Christian evangelicals who are helping them think that the resulting chaos will cause the Second Coming of Jesus.

      Furthermore, these same Christian fundies and evangelicals believe that when Jesus returns to earth, he will force all the Jews to convert to their brand of Christianity, but then--wait for it--he will whack out all the Jews that decline to convert to their unattractive and aggressively backward form of Christianity, so that in that manner Jesus will finish the murderous job that the Nazis began at the Wannsee Conference.

      Netanyahu needs the national-religious Jews and the Jewish Home party to win elections. He probably thinks he can "control" the fanatics. The problem is, they have absolute impunity in everything they do, as does Netanyahu himself. Obama apparently knows all about what is going on, but since the press in Israel has imposed a semi-blackout on what is happening, US daily journalism and the entire political class in the US follows suit, so nobody is allowed to talk about it and it never really gets into the news columns.

      This is the nightmare hour for the Abrahamic idea.

  • Al Aqsa mosque is closed off for first time in 47 years as tensions flare
    • It is very hard to make liberals and progressives understand the total danger of the attacks on the Noble Sanctuary (Harim al-Sharif) including both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most people in the West don't even know about it. It has been building since 2010, at some times consisting of almost daily attacks by settlers on Al-Aqsa. The intent, of course, is to establish "sovereignty" over the esplanade, and then to destroy Al-Aqsa, setting off a worldwide religious war for the rest of the century.

      Progressives can't take is seriously for the same reason they couldn't take the rise of neo-fascist AM Hate Radio in the US seriously, and the Tutsi intellectuals in Rwanda couldn't take the Hutu Power fascists seriously. Progressives live in a completely different mental universe than the fanatics that do such things. But AM Hate Radio morphed into Fox News, and the Hutu Power rantings on the radio turned into a genocide. The religious-nationalist settlers in Israel are aiming at an even more horrific outcome...but people in the US simply can't believe that it's happening.

      Of course, that is partly because there has been a press blackout on it in Israel, and the New York Times and Washington Post followed suit. Getting information out about this has been impossible. Good people react like robots, apparently thinking that there's nothing anybody can do to stop this grisly invocation of pure religious hatred from playing out.

      The intent by the extremists is to create the maximum anxiety, pain and humiliation for the world's Muslims: Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third-most holy site in Islam. The national-religious settlers say they want to build a 'Third Temple' on its ruins. But the real reason, of course, is that they are hoping to kick off a worldwide religious war between Islam and the West.

      Religious war is the scourge of humanity. It is the ultimate nightmare for me, since I have both a Jewish daughter and a Muslim daughter. The fact that Israelis would ignite such a disaster for humankind suggests profound destructive and self-destructive forces at work. It seems that among some of these fanatics there is an unconscious desire to punish the world for letting the Holocaust happen. Indeed, religious war would be the Holocaust by other means, in which all people of the world would suffer.

  • Andrew Sullivan should stop giving a pass to Sam Harris and Bill Maher's bigotry
  • Tablet types Rev. Shipman as elite, anti-semitic WASP
    • Yes, the comments are insane and riven with various levels of imagined victim status, except for the first, when I first read them, with is an appeal for BDS.

      For more on what this name-calling has done to so-called "interfaith dialogue" between Christians and Jews read my piece "How Neo-Cons Became Honorary Christians."

      link to counterpunch.org

  • Read the genocidal sermon a notable Atlanta rabbi gave this Rosh Hashanah
    • Yes, this is incitement, and in endless wordy variations thereof...Lewis appears to be a kind of verbose Thomas Wolfe of religious bigotry. And he's only the beginning in the incitement department. CHARISMA, a magazine for Pentecostal Christians, has pretty much been taken over by the far right, and has just published an appeal for a holy war against Islam.

      In Oklahoma, a young evangelical Christian politician named John Bennett in the OK House of Representatives has just declared Islam "a cancer that has to be cut out of America," adding that each of the 40,000 Muslims in Oklahoma as "just as bad as ISIS." In his latest speech he also pointed out that there was a Mosque "just three miles down this road," adding helpfully that of course he "wasn't advocating violence, but..."

      I noticed that as soon as I read Lewis' sermon in its entirety I looked again at the photograph of his face, and was shocked that I felt an overwhelming nausea, fear and loathing. Was that perhaps part of Lewis' intent, to inspire disgust? Or is it just that I have both Jews and Muslims in my extended family, and as infuriated for all the obvious reasons? I struggled with a rising anger as I read Lewis' sermon, at least partly because his murderous, self-congratulatory ramblings are technically well-written, overall. I keep thinking that I should have a better emotional response, but there it is. I hope these toxic feelings pass.

      One thing I noticed about Lewis's lengthy sermon was that to him it was perfectly self-evident that everything wrong in the world was somebody else's fault. He is in his own mind a perfectly-idealized victim-aggressor, and because he's so incredibly perfect has no need for introspection of any kind, whether personal or regarding the sins of those in his own community. He doesn't need to make any changes, or do anything. He's already arrived in the nirvana of the victim-aggressor, which in his case, apparently, consists of the opportunity to preach eternal incitement against the Other.

      Rep. John Lewis in Oklahoma, on the other hand, is an ex-Marine who is quite candid about his PRSD, nightmares and other after-effects of combat. But not to worry. While driving alone on a recent road trip, God whispered in his ear that he should run for office. Now he incites an unspecified but unpleasant-sounding violence on all Muslims in the state of Oklahoma. And the state Republican organization, and the Republican National Committee, say absolute nothing about his dangerous hate-mongering. It feels like a Republican trial balloon for re-branding in the mid-south as an openly neo-fascist party.

      Incitement to religious war does not affect my rather heretical faith one way or the other, but it does make my disgust with institutional religion so powerful I can taste it. Damn, what's happening to us? Am I the only one who feels a certain level of despair about this?

      Rep. John Bennett, the young man who called for

  • Freed by Gaza, Spiegelman calls Israel out as a batterer
    • Glad to see that Seafroid mentions Jerusalem Syndrome. "The best known, although not the most prevalent, manifestation of Jerusalem Syndrome is the phenomenon whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. The psychosis is characterized by an intense religious theme and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks or after being removed from the area."

      According to an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2000, Christian evangelicals are by far most likely to develop symptoms. Usually what happens is that an intensely religious Christian tourist arrives in Jerusalem, and soon afterwards begins to manifest the psychotic conviction that he is either Jesus, or one of Jesus' disciples. I find it highly significant that treatment could involve being "removed from the area."

      Jerusalem syndrome was first observed in Jerusalem in the 1930s by a local psychiatrist named Heinz Herman. It was sometimes described as "Jerusalem Squabble Poison" (I'm not making this up) and "Jerusalem Fever."

      Someone in my extended family is a psychiatrist in Bangladesh. She reports that Bangladeshis that succumb to psychotic religious delusions often start to think of themselves as "the next Prophet after Muhammad."

      God save us all from the Squabble Poison of institutional religion.

  • Three-sentence letter to the 'NYT' results in Yale chaplain's resignation
    • Of course, there's always been a baseline form of antisemitism in Europe and the US, and it would be there regardless of whether Israel existed or not. But the anger at Israeli apartheid that is being felt here in the US is completely justified, because it is the result of systemic evil practiced by a state--one that we are forced to support with our tax dollars. And all the "leaders" that have gotten power in the organized Jewish community, most of whom are neo-cons in all but name, tend to uncritically support the slaughter in Gaza.

      It is natural, then, that people are starting to get angry at the Jewish organizations, especially AIPAC, and the billionaire donors that have a certain veto power over our politics. And since not everybody has a degree in comparative religion, it is natural that some of that dislike will spill over and end up being directed at ordinary Jews that have nothing to do with public advocacy, or whose beliefs are progressive.

      The unwillingness of Zionists in the US to understand that there is a relationship between what they do and say, and the behavior and attitudes of others, is pathological. What they are really saying is that they are beyond good and evil, and are always right, and everybody that opposes them are wrong and should be driven from their jobs. This is the classic pose of the sociopath, who is never at fault, who is always a victim, whereas everybody else is wrong.

  • Propaganda on Palestine: All-Knowing White Man & Angry Black Woman conjure good Jews and evil Arabs
    • Check out Chloe's website at "Calgary United with Israel" (CUWI). Professionally designed, the writing clearly done by professionals, and a great deal of the research probably coming from Israel. Very, very impressive propaganda for people who don't usually follow international affairs. She's receiving money and other assistance from Stand with US, CAMERA, and the Clarion Fund. Bills herself as a Christian Zionist. This latest letter of Chloe's was carefully staged with Chloe standing in front of what looked like a campus, fist raised in power salute and yelling like hell at all the anti-Semites in Students for Justice in Palestine that are trying to use and co-opt the history of "her people," as she likes to call them.

      The propaganda itself is easily dismissed by anybody with any grasp of the facts, but most Christian Zionists aren't about facts. Most of them tend to assume that sooner or later there will be a religious war. And they're waiting for it, not with great anticipation but assuming that sooner or later it will come. This kind of propaganda is in part aimed at them, preparing them for the day when they will be participants or close Republican supporters of it. There's not as much Islamophobia as I expected on the CUWI website, but astounding amounts of anti-Arab racism.

      There are some things on her blog that reflect a lot of research, as I say, almost surely directly from Israel. A lot of work has gone into it--easily the best pro-Israel blog I've yet seen, partly because it is so clearly aimed at people who usually don't care about such things. She has a great career ahead of her, but the extremely professional, very self-assured tone adopted by this website demonstrates the tough battle we have ahead of us. What neo-Zionism is doing is simply to corrupt everything--religion, civil discourse, politics, everything. Chloe's website is basically one rather silly lie or half-truth after another, but the kind of lies that the low-information voter is likely to believe.

      Usually most liberals tread water a bit when confronted with this kind of effective propaganda. The proper response by progressives is to amp up the resistance to the pro-Palestinian struggle. The best line at present to take is to oppose the loss of American sovereignty in the area of foreign policy. AIPAC controls foreign policy in the Middle East by giving money to elected Congresspersons so they will vote as Mr. Netanyahu wants them to. That's bribery, albeit legal bribery! That's corruption of democracy! And that should be the line taken by American progressives, in my opinion...

  • Berkeley rabbi mounts a soapbox in my living room
    • Nobody seems to understand that this whole round of mass murder didn't start with Hamas shooting rockets at Israel. It started with the arrest of about a thousand Palestinians in the West Bank, which Netanyahu himself admitted was about destroying the new unity initiatives of Abbas and Hamas. Rough interrogation for the kids (yes, a lot of kids were thrown into endless detention), torture for the adults. And four hundred Palestinians were arrested in Israel proper, inside the green line, on trumped-up charges having to do with demonstrating--same deal, rough interrogation for the kids, torture for the adults.

      That's fascism. If you're a Palestinian, Netanyahu's government is fascist.

      Then there were a couple of military operations in Gaza by Israelis, and then--and only then--did Hamas unleash the mainly ineffectual rockets. The Israelis responded with mass murder. My guess is that so many young people in Gaza can't live one more day under the blockade, and for that reason they'll fight to the death. They did it in the Warsaw Ghetto. They'll do it is Gaza. You can push people only so far.

      The opposition in the West Bank will remain mainly nonviolent, but the Israeli sharp-shooters will once against start picking people off. Again, that's fascism. If Israeli Jews want a Jewish state, they have to give the Palestinians one too, or one-vote, one-person. Otherwise the Israeli government must be isolated by the rest of the world as a rogue state, until it becomes a failed state. The world BDS movement must keep making that point, over and and over.

      By the way, if most people at this website haven't yet figured it out, this is going to tear American liberalism right down the middle, and Judaism as well. You simply can't avoid the fact that our politicians are corrupt when you see them voting a hundred to one to support Israeli mass murder. (Even Bernie Sanders, our one elected socialist, voted for the latest pro-Likud resolution.) And it's hard to pretend you're part of a religion when everybody in that religion is worshiping the state of Israel, with its vast system of proxies in the US, its IDF, its weapons of mass destruction, its interrogation centers where torture is practiced on a mass basis, its enslavement of Palestinians and its brutalization of children.

      But I think that such organizations as Jewish Voice for People are designing a new kind of Judaism, in both the religious and cultural sense, one that stands on the right side of social justice, the right side of history. And they are practical enough to make it work. You get the same feeling on this website. It's a time of utter destruction, but it's also a time of hope. When the enemy shows his complete moral degradation, that's the time you start devising an alternative culture.

  • On ‘Death to Arabs’ in Jerusalem & Tel Aviv
    • Jabotinsky modeled his version of Zionism on Italian fascism, even sending some of his people there to study how fascism works. Now we see the rise of far-right gangs of hooligans in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Isn't that how fascism won in Europe? Penetration of the central government with fascist ideas and personnel, with fighters on the street demoralizing the people, so those on the inside could seize power?

      Zionism is not the opposite of fascism, but the outcome of fascism experienced by the Zionist founders, who then internalized its emotional orientations. Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is not the opposite of the Holocaust, but a continuation of it by other means. If the lunatic Israeli religious parties succeed in causing a worldwide religious war by blowing up the Al Aqsa Mosque, there will be many more than six million dead this time around.

      "The abused child grows up to be an abuser." The victim of secular fascism grows up to be a religious fascist--having internalized antisemitism, they practice it against the Palestinians. It's dialectical, all right, but the people involved aren't conscious of their own motives. Systemic evil is typically acted out not by conspirators, but by sleepwalkers.

  • The heart of the problem with Israel: The mass expulsion of the Palestinian people
    • I think many of us have refrained from referencing this historical reality because we didn't want to get in an argument over "Zionism," whatever that may man now. (Mostly the current uncritical supporters of Israel are what I would call 'neo-Zionists.') But what the Jewish settlers did to the Palestinians, including the very methodical destruction of the 500-600 or so Palestinian villages, is the key to the entire problem. Everything is a continuation of the war of 1948, and the ethnic cleansing that both motivated and accompanied it.

      The Zionists told the world that Jews needed a "refuge" from the world's antisemitism, and then proceeded to create a Jewish state in such a way that it made permanent war inevitable. (Ten wars at the last count, although this current Gaza horror makes it eleven, I guess.) The sheer self-defeating, contradictory nature of Zionist claims are glaringly obvious. Jews needed power to defend themselves, but it was the evil genius of the Zionists to create a state based entirely on the wrong kind of power, a kind of systemic evil that operates like an addiction.

      Christians are often afraid of openly and freely opposing Israeli brutality because they don't want to examine their own antisemitism, which drove Jews from Europe. To examine that might reveal that Christianity is, by its own standards, a failure. Instead they desperately throw money at Israel, hoping they can buy redemption from their own past cruelties in that manner, contributing directly to the corruption of the entire American democracy. The Israel Lobby owns foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as the entire legislative branch of US government.

      But the tide is turning. BDS is the best chance for a break in the right direction. The political class in Israel is rife with neo-fascist and Likudnik ideas; therefore the only way they will ever give the Palestinians a state, or human rights, will be if their own state is threatened. The choice the world should give them is simple: Want a Jewish state? Fine, but to have one, you must give the Palestinians their own state, or human rights with one-person, one vote.

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
    • I'm surprised that MW, which has witnessed this so many times, would not know or understand the "two-step" as performed by John Kerry. You float the semantic trial balloon, you wait for 'the Lobby' to go crazy, you make an apology or non-apology, all the while attempting to continue the debate and hopefully creating space for your initiative. Kerry knew what he was doing. He no doubt wrote the non-apology before launching the trial balloon. MW is right that it is a victory for human rights, however--every time the Israel Lobby goes off, it's like a flash of lighting exposing the real distribution of power in the American panorama.

      Please note also the skill with which the non-apology was framed. Kerry specifically said that Israel wasn't an Apartheid state, and that it didn't want to become one, but that it might become one anyway. That's about as far as any American official can go at present, and Kerry did well to take it that far. In the meantime, we all need to support BDS, because under the Likudniks Israel will never give the Palestinians a state, never, until their own state is threatened. Real change will happen because of popular pressure around the world, led by Palestinian civil society and to some extent executed by Europeans who now have Netanyahu's number.

  • Snowden revealed a world of conspiracies I once would have scoffed at-- Bryan Burrough
    • Terry Gross is a propagandist, and a particularly vulgar one. I'll not soon forget her asking Phillip Roth whether he was wearing diapers after his prostate surgery, and whether he was still having sex. She's smart about popular art but is very canny about working the big issues, always taking the conservative side and demanding that her interviewee either agree or disagree with her pet theories. (I've noticed the young people at MSNBC doing the same thing.) That's not interviewing, but auditioning cultural talent to check out their political correctness, especially on Israel/Palestine and the total surveillance state.

      I no longer give money to either public TV or public radio. Let them get it from the Koch brothers, who have already given them millions. MSNBC can be helpful in the struggle against voter suppression in the red states, but we still haven't come close to breaking into popular media with the story about Palestinian suffering, not to mention the mind-boggling extremism of the Likudniks and the neo-cons and the religious war they're dragging the US into.

  • Stephen Walt: publishing 'Israel lobby' ended any thought of serving in US gov't
    • To help readers with this Orwellian dilemma, I offer these “12 Commandments of the Israel Lobby,” to be memorized if possible in a venue featuring the theme song of “The Twilight Zone” in the background.

      1. The Israel Lobby does not exist. In those cases where it does exist, its conclusions cannot be questioned.

      2. All criticisms of Israel are false. They are invented by anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, and terrorists. Also by crypto-Nazis, apostates and liars.

      3. All critics of Israel must be punished by extracting a public apology. Some offenders may be required to apologize more than once, if they do not grovel sufficiently the first time around.

      4. Those who criticize Israel and do not publicly apologize must be endlessly harassed, and fired from their jobs if possible. In academia they must be denied tenure.

      5. Any Arab or Muslim that criticizes Israel is a terrorist, and deserves to die.

      6. To praise anybody who ever criticized Israel is the same thing as criticizing Israel. Just as all things Israeli are good, anybody that criticizes Israel is bad.

      7. In any conflict involving Israelis and Palestinians, the Israelis are always the victims. If an Israeli hurts a Palestinian, the Israeli is still the victim because the Palestinian is trying to make the Israeli feel bad.

      8. Israel/Palestine is never debated. That implies another side to the issue, and there is only one side. Therefore debate is suppressed or disrupted.

      9. The United Nations, the World Court, the various UN agencies, every human rights organization and non-governmental organization in the world that isn’t approved by the NGO Monitor [an Israeli screening operation] is anti-Semitic. That is because these organizations are likely to criticize Israel’s human rights record—and as any fool knows, that means they’re anti-Semitic.

      10. The interests of the US are exactly the same as the interests of Israel. If they aren’t, the interests of Israel take precedence.

      11. Any war that the US is likely to be involved in must be evaluated from the point of view of its helpfulness to the current government of Israel.

      12. Anybody who threatens to make sense while criticizing Israel must be immediately shouted down. If shouting doesn’t work, screaming and crying are recommended. As a last resort, one must declare that criticisms of Israel are making one feel “unsafe.”

  • Why are two Republican congressmen doing a walkabout on the Temple Mount?
    • I've had exactly the same problem as Colin in trying to explain the dangers of right-wing evangelical Christians in the Republican party. The attitude of many activist Jews is that the Israel Lobby is entirely Jewish, and we're just kidding ourselves to worry about the evangelicals. What they don't understand is the deadly nature of evangelical Christian support for Israel--the evangelicals really want a religious war, because they either think that it will trigger Armageddon, thereby bringing about the return of Jesus, or simply think that religious war against Islam is the major task of evangelical Christians today. Their support for these insane ideas doesn't express itself through advocacy--to them it's simply self-evident that Christians should be killing Muslims, especially Palestinian ones, so it doesn't require advocacy--but through electoral politics.

      The first thing Republicans elected to office in Wash DC do is to start getting bundled money from AIPAC, after which they will vote for anything AIPAC tells them to, thereupon posturing themselves as great friends of that mysterious entity known as "the Jews." There's a lot more of them eager to grovel for the Likud handout than there are pro-Likud Jews in the legislative branch of government. For the evangelicals it's win-win, because they get votes AND money. Again, there's many, many more of them in the legislative branch than Jews.

      Forget the horse manure about the Religious Right being dead. It's the most dynamic part of the coalition that supports the Republican party in the heartland, and will be for a long time. Uncritical support for the Likudniks is a big part of their program, with all the implicit and explicit Islamophobia that position implies.

      And there's another angle that activists, whether Jews or non-Jews, simply don't get at all. That is the assault on the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock (al-haram ash Sharif) and the whole Temple Mount area. Groups of rightwing settlers have been staging mass incursions and various kinds of walk-abouts in growing numbers for the last two years, along with closing down or attacking many Mosques in the occupied Palestinian territories. The rightwing fanatics say they want the right to pray on the Temple Mount, but what they really want is to have control of it, after which they wish to tear it down and build the Jewish Second Temple. (They have a whole truckload of crazy beliefs about why they wish to do this, and I'm leaving out most of the crazy details, but the point is, they want to tear down the Al Aqsa Mosque for religious reasons.)

      They're dead serious about this, and are willing to give their lives to get it done. The Europeans are well aware of the dangers of this insane and fanatical plan, which is why it was the centerpiece of a recent secret report circulated in Europe. Netanyahu won't stop it because he needs the support of the national-religious Jews and other rightwing elements.

      Activists generally don't understand the incredible danger of the assault on Al Aqsa because they tend to be rationalists who aren't particularly religious, and who find it very difficult to take religious fanaticism seriously. They don't think that way, and find it very hard to imagine how religious fanatics could possible have these ideas. They should try a little harder, and so should Mondoweiss. Think about it: tearing down Al Aqsa Mosque will be the quickest way to get to what the Likudniks and the neo-cons have always wanted, which is religious war throughout the 21st century, and the concomitant growth of an unapologetic and very open US "counter-terrorist" strategy--i.e., a very open, very self-righteous, very violent form of US imperialism in which collateral damage against civilians will be rationalized by many Americans as part of God's plan.

      When I say religious war, I mean widespread terrorism directed against American Embassies and other targets, and eventually attacks on targets on US soil; but it could also take the form of land wars which will seem territorial in nature, but which--like the Wars of Spanish Succession in the 18th and 19th centuries--really have a religious meaning and are driven by religious ideas and emotions.

      The right-wing fanatics in Israel keep harping on the idea that the Temple Mount is the most holy place in Judaism. All Muslim scholars agree that Al Aqsa is the third most holy site in Islam. That's the detonator, all ready to go, ready to create religious war. It should be obvious that religious war, even low-intensity religious war, is a scourge of mankind. But that's what the neo-cons have always wanted, and the Likudniks are looking carefully at ways they can improve their position by going along with it.

      Israel is driven by religious nationalism at present. The whole point of religious nationalism is to humiliate and torment perceived enemies. The fanatics in Israel have found a way to cause the maximum amount of pain, frustration and horror among the world's Muslims, who would be forced to watch helplessly while their holy site is torn down. The Israeli fanatics seek control of the Temple Mount area first, then they will mainstream the idea of tearing Al Aqsa down, destroying it to build the Second Temple. Then, if there are no countervailing forces that can stop them, they will keep trying to do it until they succeed. The US will make excuses at every point, and even support it financially.

      And their main support for this madness will come from our very own US Congress, and all those nice Republicans with evangelical Christians in their districts. If you don't believe that, just try going to my home state of Kansas, where I was raised; get out of the college towns and talk to the people in the heartland, especially the Republicans, of which there are a great many. You will find that a solid majority among them--not a plurality, but a majority--are ready for religious war, especially because so many of them think it will bring about the Second Coming of Jesus. The national-religious fanatics are trying to hijack Judaism in Jerusalem, but evangelical Christianity in the US heartland has already been hijacked by religious fanatics.

  • Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?: An excerpt from Ali Abunimah's 'The Battle for Justice in Palestine'
    • The political class of Israel will never allow a Palestinian state until they are threatened with the loss of their own state. Period. End of story. We all know it's true, so let's stop kidding each other.

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