Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 469 (since 2011-04-24 19:04:00)

Interested in finding helpful dialog on the Israeli/Palestinian conundrum since visiting Israel and the West Bank.

Showing comments 469 - 401

  • 'What's being done to Palestinians is wrong,' evangelical Christian says on NPR religion show
    • Dispensationalists believe their theology is somehow a cure to anti-Semitism but it is the exact opposite. If the events in Revelation and the Olivet Discourse are primarily in the past then today's Jews are not "Christ killers" contra Constantine's hijacking of our faith.

    • W. Jones, I included the preterist interpretation as the conservative interpretation above. I believe the partial preterist interpretation has been the most popular historically. The partial preterist interpretation is that Jesus conflated the answer to two questions: the destruction of the Temple and the signs of the end of the age. Dispensationalists claim that their interpretation is the historical and conservative interpretation and it is neither.

    • Some more background. IRD came out of the CIA disinformation campaign in support of Reagan's Central American policy. Mainline Protestantism was blocking this so they used the democratic process in the denominations to block it. See this for more. (I highly recommend this site for tracking the theocrats in general and the IRD in particular):

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    • Pamela, I had to fight to meet Palestinian Christians on a Christian tour of the Holy Land! They put their American brothers and sisters to shame. Their dedication to justice, non-violence, and peaceful co-existence was truly humbling. Everyone said the "clash of civilizations" meme was a myth and the best way to support them was BDS.

    • There is mutual exploitation between Israel and Christian Zionists. When I visited Yad Vashem on a Christian Zionist tour our Israeli Guide pointed to the Jerusalem Forest pictured here:

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      He went on that this "forest" was created through the help of "righteous Gentiles", implying -- and even directly stating -- that people who are not Zionists were silent collaborators of the Holocaust. Funny he didn't mention the Deir Yassin Massacre, though.

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      Exploitation also goes in the other direction. On the same trip I experienced a fundraising pitch for Christian Friends of Israel at a Jerusalem hotel. They ridiculed as anti-Semitic the vast majority of Christians who are not Dispensationalists because they practice so-called "replacement theology". After my trip I got very disturbing propaganda from them concerning Iran. I described that experience here:

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    • Dispensational Theology. Not only does it split history into 7 dispensations it also splits the people of God into two. Christians get Grace. Jews get the Law. Christians get Heaven. Jews get the Land. Helluva deal.

      Matthew 24 is known as the Olivet Discourse. In it Jesus predicted "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

      Dispensationalists interpret this as applying to the generation that returns to Israel. If a generation is 40 years then the first broken prediction was that Jesus would return in 1988 (1948 + 40). This was one the "88 Reasons for the Rapture in '88". The followup prediction was 2007 (1967 + 40). That didn't happen either. Instead of giving up on Dispensationalism, Christian Zionism still is in place to this day. Note that the traditional conservative interpretation was Jesus was talking about the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Traditional liberal interpretation was Jesus was mistaken.

      Bottom line is for Dispensationalism is the nation-state of Israel is the immediate precursor of Jesus returning when the "good Christians" are beamed up away from a society they find increasingly hostile.

    • That charge has been used so often and so stridently it has no moral force anymore. As a result, Zionists are losing the support of progressive Christians. This is despite the common cause of fighting (real) anti-Semitism. What McLaren and other evangelical anti-Zionists are showing is this defection is also amongst moderate and even conservative Christians.

    • McLaren is one of the founders of what is known as the "emerging" church.

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      This is a post modern reaction by young evangelicals to the neo-conservative culture wars. Here's some examples of the evangelical establishment freaking out over the emerging church and its attitudes towards Israel/Palestine, the environment, peace and justice, etc. No longer will evangelicals -- particularly the next generation of evangelicals -- hear gays and abortion and fall in line.

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      “Emergent Church” guru Brian McLaren is a key figure on the Evangelical Left who is trying shift Evangelicals, who are America’s most pro-Israel demographic, into a more neutralist stance. Currently, he is leading a delegation through Israel and “Palestine” to broadcast the sins of Israeli oppression against Palestinians by “listening, learning, thinking, observing, reflecting.” His blog is providing daily updates of his discoveries, all of which confirm his previously often declared bias against Israel.

      The author of my last link is particularly significant to Presbyterians such as myself. Tooley heads the Institute on Religion and Democracy which is funded by a couple of neo-con billionaires. It's mission is to destroy mainline Protestant churches through using wedge issues like gay marriage and Israel/Palestine.

      With financing from a handful of conservative donors, including the Scaife family foundations, the Bradley and Olin Foundations and Howard and Roberta Ahmanson's Fieldstead & Company, the 23-year-old institute is now playing a pivotal role in the biggest battle over the future of American Protestantism since churches split over slavery at the time of the Civil War.

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      Now Tooley is freaking out over what he anticipates in our next GA.

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      Activists have promoted a three-pronged strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, specifically calling for church agencies to divest themselves of holdings in Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard and Caterpillar, which all sell non-lethal equipment used by the Israeli military.

      He should be:
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      Whether it's mainline or evangelical Protestants, the Zionists will be looking over their shoulders.

  • Shaking up Zionism: A review of 'Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide'
    • There is a deep relationship of the tight coupling of church and state and anti-Semitism. See the documentary Constantine's Sword:

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      Far from arguing for Zionism the fight against anti-Semitism argues against it and any other form of conflation of religion with state power. The identity of said religion is irrelevant. Human history has shown that this is a toxic and deadly mix. For those of us who are part of the global faith community we need to own up to this.

    • At least from a Presbyterian perspective note how American Presbyterianism starting from 1788 specifically eschewed theocracy and promoted a separation of church and state. It should be noted there is a tight connection in Christian Zionism between a concept of a Christian America and a Jewish Israel. The very people who promote Jews in Israel persecute Jews in the U.S. See the following "Christian" news site about Mikey Weinstein:

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  • 'One state for two people' -- Tom Friedman's crystal ball
    • Correct. It does divert water from the Sea of Galilee away from the West Bank.
      As National Geographic Magazine put it:

      Upstream, at the Sea of Galilee, the river's fresh waters are diverted via Israel's National Water Carrier to the cities and farms of Israel, while dams built by Jordan and Syria claim a share of the river's tributaries, mostly for agriculture. So today the lower Jordan is practically devoid of clean water, bearing instead a toxic brew of saline water and liquid waste that ranges from raw sewage to agricultural runoff, fed into the river's vein like some murky infusion of tainted blood.

    • "Most of the water in aquifers in the region just happen to be located under Arab towns and cities."

      The National Water Carrier diverts the water from the aquifers.

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  • Zionism Unsettled: Presbyterian network pushes a new dialogue on Zionism
    • Christ at the Checkpoint is where the video of Munther Isaac I posted earlier came from. Bethlehem Bible College is an evangelical school in Bethlehem. Lynne Hybels attended the 2012 conference. She is the wife of the pastor of Willow Creek Church, one of the largest mega churches in the country. There was also many Wheaton College students there. Other famous evangelicals speaking at the conference included Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Joel Hunter, and Ron Sider.

    • Sending the Confession of Belhar for inclusion in our Book of Confessions to the presbyteries for approval should also be on the agenda for GA.

      From last GA:
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      Here's a taste:
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      Therefore, we reject any doctrine which, in such a situation sanctions in the name of the gospel or of the will of God the forced separation of people on the grounds of race and color and thereby in advance obstructs and weakens the ministry and experience of reconciliation.


      Therefore, we reject any ideology which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.

      This is not just some DVD for a Bible study. Rather, this will probably become part of the confession of the Presbyterian Church.

    • It looks like GA will look even more like Occupy than before due to greater influence of the new form of government.

      If approved by COGA, the Detroit Assembly will feature a 90-minute Thursday morning (June 19) plenary that will be given over to prayer, small group discussion and questions-and-answers about potentially controversial business items rather than parliamentary procedure and debate.

      CRBA member Glenn Bell, a Sarasota pastor, said the session “should streamline debate and give committee leaders to outline their work informally and pastorally.” The idea, said Hay, “is to model thoughtful, relational behavior in advance of the debates.”

      Based on its initial analysis of Assembly business, committee members speculated that marriage issues, the Middle East and proposed changes in the Board of Pensions benefits plans are the three issues most likely to be chosen for the informal plenary.

      “We’re just trying to model what we want General Assembly to become: a place of dialogue, respect, prayer and discernment,” Van Dyke said.

    • While he may be Baptist he went to a conservative Presbyterian seminary and reflects Presbyterian views. The following remains from the original 1788 Presbyterian Book of Order:

      Therefore we consider the rights of private judgment, in all matters that re- spect religion, as universal and unalienable: We do not even wish to see any religious constitution aided by the civil power, further than may be necessary for protection and security, and at the same time, be equal and common to all others.

      As shown above American Presbyterianism has always been opposed to theocracy. Faux historians like David Barton have tried to create a myth of a Christian nation but at least for the Presbyterians and Baptists this was not the case. The Presbyterians fought the establishment of generic Protestantism in Virginia and the Baptists in New England. See the book Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an for more details.

      Furthermore, Presbyterians oppose Dispensationalism which is the theological core of Christian Zionism. The fundamentalist Carl McIntyre split with the conservative Orthodox Presbyterian Church in part over his adoption of Dispensationalism.

    • Here's a theological response to the accusation of so-called replacement theology. Best line, "Christian Zionists are obsessed with prophesy but are not prophetic."

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    • Cliff Kirkpatrick is a former board member of Churches for Middle East Peace. He is pushing for the anti-apartheid Belhar Confession to be added to our Book of Confessions. The 2012 GA started that process. Here's a presentation he gave on this:

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    • It was interesting to watch the 2012 General Assembly debate concerning divestment. The Presbyterian Church has youth advisory delegates who don't count on the final vote but vote before the voting delegates. The divestment motion for the Presbyterian Board of Pensions barely failed but the youth delegates nearly unanimously supported it. Generational overturn inside the Presbyterian Church will ultimately change things.

  • The self-hating goy
    • Here's why it's repulsive. During the Middle Ages usury was banned for Christians. Jews were used to be bankers in order for the economy to work. This ultimately caused full-blown anti-Semitism as epitomized by Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. When people of a different religious group are used as a "loophole" it promotes mutual distrust and hatred. Other examples are Christians used to sell alcohol in Iraq and using pigs to pick up garbage in Cairo. If keeping Sabbath is important to your religious obligations that's great but using others who don't -- even as a joke -- promotes the very inter-religious strife we are trying to avoid.

  • A bible park grows in (occupied) Jerusalem
    • The following is an extremely useful site for separating the Hasbara propaganda from the real science:

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      But surely the main archaeological periods are Jewish? David and Solomon? The First Temple? Herod’s temple?

      Jerusalem’ history begins 7000 years ago, and runs on to the present. In between, there are certainly remains of Biblical Jerusalem, especially from the time of the later kings of Judah, but we should really avoid using religious terminologies for archaeological periods. There is, in fact, no physical evidence for the temple of Solomon and his successors. There is no evidence for rituals such as sacrifices or for the existence of priests, or of anything that we might associate with Jewish religious practice. Given the limited possibilities for excavation, it is not too likely that such remains will ever be found. We can’t even pinpoint the actual location of the temple, and have no attestation of its existence outside of the Bible. In archaeological terms, therefore, the material culture that characterizes Jerusalem between about 1000 and 550 BCE is best characterized as Iron Age, and it is quite similar to that found well beyond the borders of Jerusalem and Judah.

      As for the period of Herod and Jesus, the remains of the Temple enclosure are more impressive, but these remains – which may have been in use only for a few decades before their destruction – do not determine the cultural character of the rest of Jerusalem, let alone that of the region. The dominant material culture of the time was Roman, and the greater proportion of all archaeological finds in Jerusalem reflects the cultures of the dominant empires: Hellenistic (from the conquest of Alexander to the Roman conquest), Roman (until the conversion to Christianity), Byzantine (Roman-Christian) and of course, Islamic (with a Crusader interlude).

    • The reason why they find only Jewish history is they practice what is known as "salvage archeology". This is normally done ONLY when there is imminent destruction to the artifacts like when a dam is built. The radical settlers who run the City of David are only interested in Jewish history and they destroy anyone else's in the process. Normal gridded archeology finds much from the Umayyad Dynasty in Jerusalem. See here:

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      This dynasty was known for its religious tolerance completely absent from modern Israel. I also have been to the City of David. What's remarkable is the total lack of any references in the archeology to David or Solomon while there are many, many pagan idols from the 10th Century BCE. There are massive structures from the Jebusites who were there before David and from the time of Hezekiah after but little is from the 10th. If David and Solomon actually existed they were minor chieftains.

  • US Senate voted overwhelmingly for sanctions to 'wake up' apartheid South Africa
    • The fight over sanctions expose the fact that Christian Zionists are motivated by race and not religion. Note this 1985 Nightline debate between Jerry Falwell and Jesse Jackson, especially starting at 30 minutes in.

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      Israelis also had tight ties with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

      In 1976, Israel invited the then apartheid prime minister, John Vorster, a known Nazi sympathiser, on a state visit. During that tour, Israel’s then premier, Yitzhak Rabin, toasted Vorster at a banquet and praised “the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence”.

      Vorster also happened to be justice minister during the infamous 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial that sentenced Mandela to life in prison.

      “I think that among Israelis, there’s a wilful ignorance about the depth of the ties between the apartheid regime and Israel,” said Noam Sheizaf, editor of Israel’s left-leaning +972 online magazine.

      “These issues are not discussed.”

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      On the other hand the Palestinian people had a close relationship with Nelson Mandela.

      Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas paid tribute Friday to Nelson Mandela's commitment to his people's cause as he mourned the South African liberation icon.

      "This is a great loss for all the peoples of the world, and for Palestine," Abbas said, hailing a "symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation."

      Mandela, 95, was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and the country’s first black president. He died on Thursday after an extended illness.

      He first visited the Palestinian territories in 1999, and was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace.

      “We know too well that our [South African] freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” Mandela famously said in 1997.

      "The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement," Abbas said.

      He described Mandela as the "most courageous and important of those who supported us."

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  • Eric Alterman's 'I Hate Max Blumenthal' Handbook
    • I can attest that during Max's talk in Boulder he called out Atzmon's anti-Semitism and called on other supporters of Palestinians to not tolerate anti-Semitism in our midst. I also note in passing that the busted footnotes in the Kindle and iBooks version of Goliath allowed Atzmon to get in a cheap shot. The fact he called out the Kindle version showed that he probably knew the footnotes existed in the print version.

  • Corasanti responds to Abulhawa: My purpose in writing 'The Almond Tree' was to shine a light on Palestinian suffering and help bring about peace
    • I'm not saying that the arts shouldn't be used to expose the injustices against the Palestinian people but rather as part of the oppressor class we should tread lightly. An example of solidarity between oppressed peoples and speaking of Dr. King see this documentary that we will be screening at Friends of Sabeel Colorado in January.

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    • You may not have said they can't and I certainly haven't but here is what Michelle said:

      Ask yourself, what is more powerful, one hundred books written by the victims of oppression describing occurrence after occurrence of loss, hardship and suffering or one book described as Kite Runner-esque and predicted to be one of the best sellers of the decade by an author perceived to be a member of the ruling, oppressor class that condemns the unjust, cruel oppression by the ruling class and extols the virtues and the legal and moral rights of the subjugated class?

      Yeah, Letters from the Birmingham Jail did nothing to advance the civil rights movement in this country. King also said this:

      The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

      Just as Susan was wont to criticize African Americans I am hesitant to start giving unsolicited advise on what is best for Palestinians because in the end it's not all about me.

    • I'm in the exact same situation as you. As was stated in the review we need to avoid the White Savior Complex. Michelle's response screams white privilege. Palestinians need her novel and they cannot speak for themselves effectively.Yeah, right. Here's some helpful tips on being a good ally.

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  • (Updated) Senator Chuck Schumer promises more Iran sanctions, vows to 'defeat' Arab world and Palestinians
  • Making Boulder a sister city to Nablus would be 'anti-Semitic,' says local Republican
    • The dirty little secret is Boulder is loaded with PEPs. You couldn't blame the shameful vote in June on the Springs and Republicans. They just repeated what the good "progressives" of Boulder said at the meeting:

      "It is dividing our Boulder community, rather than uniting us to work for peace," said Beth Ornstein, a member of Bonai Shalom.

      Others said Nablus doesn't share Boulder's values, pointing to honor killings of women, discrimination against lesbian and gay residents and, in some cases, support of terrorist acts. They also noted that American travel to Nablus is now discouraged.

      "Nablus is well known for its terrorism," said Boulder's Mimi Ito. "The culture is one of intolerance, hate and violence."

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  • The American street, rising
  • Dubious Intelligence and Iran Blackmail: How Israel is driving the US to war in Syria
    • AIPAC silent?

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      Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group Aipac was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Mr. Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. In the House, the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews.

      One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called Aipac “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, “we’re in trouble.”

      Weird thing about this quote. It uses the British way of specifying acronyms.

  • Egyptians rally in DC for General Sisi, rattling off conspiracy theories recycled from Islamophobes
  • Egyptian massacre exposes US hypocrisy in Israel and Palestine
  • Weiner should be barred from public office because of his continued lies-- about the occupation
  • Liberal MSNBC host says Snowden thinks he's in a Spielberg movie and Greenwald is a 'jerk'
    • The "design" is corporatist media. Even when the reality shows are replaced they are replaced with talking head panel discussions. Real news is expensive, particularly having international bureaus. Maximizing viewers is not in view. Maximizing dollars is through cutting costs.

    • Hey Melissa,

      It's me Rich. Did you see the Friday State Dept. briefing?
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      Real reporters were able to multi task and discuss Snowden and other countries, even Egypt. They asked why Snowden gets stripped of his 1st Amendment rights merely because he was ACCUSED of a felony. The spokeswoman said that he didn't deserve a "propaganda platform" and should be returned immediately. When discussing Egypt the same spokeswoman complained that Egypt had "politically motivated detentions". And you wonder why BOTH sides of the Egyptian conflict have anti-Obama signs.

      I guess you are too busy shilling for the Democratic Party to notice. When Rachel Maddow closed on Friday nights I thought it was a metaphor for the next set of shows. Little did I know it was literal and addressed to Snowden. "Time to go to prison."


  • Three questions for liberals and progressives who support the Egyptian coup
    • Here shows three examples of a so-called democratic coup.

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      The current situation matches 6 of the the 7 characteristics of a democratic coup in the paper and the 7th will be satisfied when and if there is a transition to a democratically elected government.

      One myth I am seeing perpetrated here and elsewhere is the US supported the coup. The administration unsuccessfully argued to the Morsi government to share power and tried to dissuade the Tamarud to not take to the streets on 30 June.

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      Ambassador Patterson said this to Ibn Khaldun Center on 18 Jun.

      Some say that street action will produce better results than elections. To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical.

      This attempt got them simultaneously accused of being pro coup and pro MB and supporting terrorists. Just look at the signs in Cairo with photos of Patterson and Obama on it.

      I also object to here and elsewhere the promotion of Qatari state propaganda. Note the twenty three resignations from Al Jazeera.

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      Over the last week I have been in personal contact with Egyptian activists and am convinced this a real, indigenous, popular rebellion. I am also convinced that regardless of whether you are for or against the Tamarud movement our government should stay out of it. ALL Egyptians hate us and even when we do the right thing we only make things worse. Let the Egyptian people plot their own course.

  • Exile and the prophetic: Jews of conscience takeaway on Egypt
    • While those in the region are able to think subtly and avoid false binaries we seem to be incapable of doing that. So if Israel (temporarily) benefits from the new situation it must be wrong. I say temporarily in that by the popular and clear rejection of both military and theocratic rule the Egyptians can show Israel as not being a true democracy. The "best" is the same for the U.S., Israel, and Egypt, a secular, democratic state that protects the rights of religious and other minorities. The Egyptian people took a deliberate risk in their tactics and there is reason to be concerned that the risk doesn't pay off. But, at least they tried which is something that cannot be said concerning either the American or Israeli people who falsely equate democracy with elections. If there is misbehavior after the elections we post angry blogs on the Internet. The Egyptians on the other hand staged the largest demonstration in human history.

  • Joyce Carol Oates says it is 'natural' to ascribe sexual harassment in Egypt to Islam
    • A more balanced response on the (very real) epidemic of sexual violence in Egypt.

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    • Note that I am not defending Oates here. But I am seeing a strong undercurrent of misogyny in the debate. Fighting Islamophobia and supporting feminism need not be mutually exclusive. It's also ironic that the demonstrations show a strong desire amongst the Egyptian people for a secular, democratic state and not continue to have false choices between authoritarian rule and political Islam. This is not unlike the false choice in Palestine between political Islam and political Judaism, aka Zionism.

    • Consider this storify concerning Mona Eltahawy. I'm sensing some misogyny. Ali Abunimah is creating the category of Islamophobe Arabs. Sounds like the nonsensical category of self-hating Jews to me. Feminists like Shelby Knox are noticing this too.

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  • Another landmark: 'Boston Globe' honors Hawking's boycott as nonviolent effort to pressure Israel
    • Another thing is this may push Hawking to boycott Intel also. Are there Palestinian organizations encouraging him to do so? It seems that he is receptive to listening to Palestinian civil society. Hawking boycotting a small conference is largely symbolic but tarnishing the Intel brand would be even more powerful since I've seen estimates that Intel contributes 2-3% of Israel's GDP.

    • I work for a multinational semiconductor company. The key reason we operate outside the U.S. is cost. Intel was able to build Fab 28 on stolen land and uses stolen water. Israel's economic "miracle" was wrought on the backs of the occupied indigenous populace. I believe that it would be appropriate to boycott Intel and have them abandon Kiryat Gat. That being said who and what is boycotted is the up to those doing boycotting and even more so the Palestinians who are being oppressed.

      The reason why this is getting legs is because of the overreaction of the Hasbarists. People instinctively see that the accusations against Hawking were overblown and start considering that maybe the other talking points are similarly overwrought. For Dr. Hawking and myself it was our visiting Israel that changed our minds but most people cannot see things first hand so this helps. The real power of BDS is not economic but the moral contrast that it draws.

    • Much has been made here and elsewhere concerning how Israel does not make or design the Intel Core I7 supposedly inside of Hawking's communication device. Here's a smoking gun where it's clearly made and designed in Oregon and note the comment by the engineer that not only is the I7 designed in Oregon but also pretty much all of Intel's research and manufacturing process is in Oregon, too. (at 0:30 in).

  • Romney's Jerusalem 'gaffe' illustrates the relationship between anti-Jewish sentiment and racism against Palestinians
    • Christian Zionists when they hear the cultural argument seem to think they have the same cultural superiority as the Jews vis-a-vis how much money is made. The facts speak otherwise. From this chart the "superior" cultures are not Jews and Evangelical Christians and Mormons but Jews and Hindus.

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      The difference between Hindus and Jews is Hindus have a more robust middle class in addition to having a greater percentage of wealthier individuals. Both communities have a tendency to be insular. Where they differ is the Jews are the hedge fund managers while the Hindus tend to be small business owners.

      Mormons are pretty average. Evangelical Christians and Muslims are below average. African American Christians are well below average.

      The graph I showed above was mentioned in the following story in The Economist. If you want a good handle on conservative British economic thought this is the place to go. This shows that Romney has lost the entire political spectrum in Britain.

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      The reason most Palestinians have low third-world income levels is that they are born into impoverished towns or refugee camps inside the gerrymandered Bantustans of the Palestinian Authority, where border crossings are controlled by Israeli military authorities, water sources are tapped to feed Jewish settlements, Israeli-built infrastructure bypasses them, the education system is funded by paltry international contributions and paltrier taxes, agricultural land is periodically taken by Jewish settlers whose illegal seizures are retroactively approved by the government, land values are undermined because of the overhanging threat of expropriation by Israel, and on and on through all the savage indignities and economic violence of a 50-year-long occupation by people whose ultimate goal is to force you off as much of the territory as possible. Obviously, gross corruption by Palestinian officials and counterproductive political and economic attitudes on the part of Palestinian citizens, mainly typical adaptive behaviours that any people tend to develop when they're confined to massive donor-supported detention zones, have made the situation much worse. Palestine was not going to be a wealthy nation under any circumstances. But without the occupation they might have been as wealthy as, say, Jordanians, who have a per capita income (purchasing-power-adjusted) of $6,000.

      Comparing the income of the average Israeli to that of the average Palestinian, as though their prospects at birth had been equivalent and their fortunes today are largely the result of their own efforts and their "culture", is gratuitously insulting and wreaks damage to American diplomacy. Besides that, it's just wrong. Mr Romney may have noticed a rather large concrete wall running between many Palestinian towns and the roads that might otherwise connect them with markets. To coin a phrase, Palestinians didn't build that. If one were looking for a country in which citizens of different religions are born into relatively equal positions and have equivalent levels of economic freedom, one might try comparing income by religion in the United States. Perhaps at a fund-raising breakfast in New York, Mr Romney might compliment the city's wealthy Jews and Hindus on their culture of educational excellence, which has made them so much richer and more accomplished, on average, than America's evangelical Christians and Mormons. Maybe it's not just culture; perhaps the "hand of providence" plays a role, as well. With the political deft touch Mr Romney has displayed so far on his trip abroad, I wouldn't put such a remark entirely past him.

      The income disparity in Israel/Palestine puts our own income disparity in sharper relief. Thanks Mitt for helping bring up this topic and reminding us why we shouldn't be ruled by the 1% who were born on third base and think they hit a triple.

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Israel
    • That's why I limited to talking about people behind the Green Line. The crazy distinction between nationality and citizenship allows for systemic discrimination behind the Green Line. Normally citizens are those who are inside a county's borders and it's the case for Israel too although these borders are deliberately undefined. Citizenship historically is how people had rights. But this is not the case in Israel. Rights really accrue to those who have Israeli nationality which applies only to Jews and they do not have to be born inside the borders of Israel.

    • You clueless about America too?

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      By law, major-party presidential nominees and their running mates receive Secret Service protection during the general election, but candidates may seek protection earlier in the cycle if they meet a series of polling and fundraising thresholds.

      In anticipation of another busy cycle, the Secret Service has requested $113.4 million to protect the eventual 2012 Republican nominee — a $4 million increase from the 2008 campaign and about two-thirds more than was spent for security during the 2004 election. [My note: the first election after 9/11] Security for President Obama and Vice President Biden will be paid for out of a separate account.

    • You seem to think my guide told me all this. It was quite the opposite. I was on a Christian Zionist tour and all the propaganda was in full force. The problem was I deliberately sought out Palestinian Christians to talk to and that shattered the illusion. You ask why so many get the impression that Israel is so wonderful and it's a combination of two factors: massive propaganda and the people want to see what they want to see. The problem with me was I wanted to find out the truth. If you come with that perspective the propaganda is laughable. The guide would just point to a Palestinian village and tell people how wonderful it was and it was just believed. We were on a bypass road and the guide showed how "peaceful" the West Bank was. As I said previously I kept pestering my guide to show me a mixed city where Jews and Palestinians were side by side and all he could come up with was Nazareth Illit!

      Finally, you have to remember is the people who do not see apartheid in the Holy Land are the same ones who don't see global warming. Evangelical opinion can best be interpreted in a contrarian fashion to arrive at the truth.

    • My guide was trying to make the same point you were but was unable to do so. I saw many examples of Christians and Muslims living side by side but the Jews were isolated from both of them. It was exactly as Blake describes. I was in the Gallilee on Land Day and I asked my guide about the protests. He just dismissed it. When I talked with a Christian in Nazareth she talked about internal displacement and the Nakba. There is a village called Saffiriya less than 10 miles from Nazareth which was razed to the ground and a forest was planted on top of it by the JNF so they cannot return. (I checked Google Earth and found the forest just as was described.) I later found out that this happened to over 500 other villages. The protesters march to the village where they used to live. The Christian went on to say why Nazareth is now majority Muslim because the Muslims fled the Nakba and sought refuge with the Christians. The Jews took over the land in a process know as judaization and live in isolated high places where no Palestinians are allowed. Nazareth is pinched in by these Jewish settlements. The mayor of Nazareth Illit is a bigot and a Baptist church has to worship underground because Nazareth Illit is to be for Jews only.

      This narrative was also confirmed by the evangelical relief organization World Vision which has been in the Holy Land for decades. Google the former director Tom Getman for his story. The documentary Occupation 101 interviewed him.

      link to

    • A friend tells me that the Secret Service would clamp down for a president in ways that greatly outstrip the Romney security. I don't know-- why risk it?

      My wife's cousin is retired Secret Service and ran the Presidential Motor Pool. The security for the presumptive nominee of the opposition party would be the same as the President. One key difference is the President shows up unannounced when going to that part of the World. Still, there was an assassination attempt in Kuwait against George HW Bush in 1993. (Former Presidents also get full security retinues.) The bad blood caused by this contributed to our little adventure in Iraq by his son.

    • Winnica,

      Over and over and over again I asked my guide to show me where Palestinians and Jews were side by side together. He couldn't do it. Not once. When I talked to Palestinian Christians in Nazareth and Bethlehem they all mentioned the apartheid reality of Israel and the West Bank. I didn't even know about Mondoweiss until I came back. The reason I'm here is this is the only place that actually describes Israel and the West Bank as I experienced it. Before coming here I posted on Daily Kos where so-called progressives slandered Annie and called this site Mondofront (a slur referring to a neo-Nazi discussion board which I will not name). My own motives were called into question and I experienced first hand Hasbara where anyone with sympathy to Palestinians was hit-reced -- to use the DK parlance. (In fact, I experienced Hasbara before I know the term.) Then people were banned from DK while the Hasbarists flourished.

      So yes you will not convince me here for one simple reason. You spout lies. Please move along and leave us alone.

    • George W. Bush visited Israel and the West Bank. From a review of Rice's Memoir in the New York Review of Books. Note Rice lived through Jim Crow.

      link to

      On a presidential visit to Israel in 2008, Bush travels to Bethlehem by car rather than helicopter against the wishes of the Israelis because Rice wants him to see “the ugliness of the occupation, including the checkpoints and the security wall…for himself and [because] it would have been an insult to the Palestinians if he didn’t.” The barriers were taken down, the convoy traveled at speed, but Bush got the point, according to Rice: “‘This is awful,’ he said quietly.”

      Sheldon Adelson deliberately was trying to block Rice's influence during the Bush Administration. Because of the influence of Adelson's money Bush listened to Netanyahu rather than his own Secretary of State! (I realize this sounds anachronistic since Olmert was a PM at the time but Adelson is not as much pro-Israel as he is pro-Likud and pro-Bibi.)

      link to

      Last October, Sheldon Adelson, the gaming multibillionaire, accompanied a group of Republican donors to the White House to meet with George W. Bush. They wanted to talk to the President about Israel. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was organizing a major conference in the United States, in an effort to re-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and her initiative had provoked consternation among many rightward-leaning American Jews and their Christian evangelical allies. Most had seen Bush as a reliable friend of Israel, and one who had not pressured Israel to pursue the peace process. Adelson, who is seventy-four, owns two of Las Vegas’s giant casino resorts, the Venetian and the Palazzo, and is the third-richest person in the United States, according to Forbes. He is fiercely opposed to a two-state solution; and he had contributed so generously to Bush’s reëlection campaign that he qualified as a Bush Pioneer. A short, rotund man, with sparse reddish hair and a pale countenance that colors when he is angered, Adelson protested to Bush that Rice was thinking of her legacy, not the President’s, and that she would ruin him if she continued to pursue this disastrous course. Then, as Adelson later told an acquaintance, Bush put one arm around his shoulder and another around that of his wife, Miriam, who was born in Israel, and said to her, “You tell your Prime Minister that I need to know what’s right for your people—because at the end of the day it’s going to be my policy, not Condi’s. But I can’t be more Catholic than the Pope.” (The White House denies this account.)

      Perhaps this exchange contributed to a growing resolve on Adelson’s part to try to force the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, out of office. Adelson and Olmert had been friendly since the nineteen-nineties, when Olmert was a member of the hard-line Likud Party. Olmert became Prime Minister in January, 2006, following Ariel Sharon’s stroke. He, like Sharon, came to recognize the inexorability of Jewish-Arab demographic trends. Olmert declared that a two-state solution was the only way of preserving Israel as a democratic state with a Jewish majority, and he said that he was ready to negotiate with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Adelson saw Olmert’s actions as a betrayal of principle. He had long wanted to see the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu returned as Prime Minister, but a revived peace process gave that goal new urgency.

      Adelson opposed both Olmert and the peace conference, which was held in Annapolis in late November. The Zionist Organization of America, to which Adelson is a major contributor, ran a full-page ad in the Times, headlined, “SECRETARY RICE: DON’T PROMOTE A STATE FOR PALESTINIANS WHILE THEIR 10 COMMANDMENTS PROMOTE TERRORISM AND ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION.” The “10 Commandments” referred to the constitution of Fatah, Abbas’s party. “Osama Bin-Laden and Hamas would be proud of Abbas’ Fatah Constitution,” the ad stated. Two weeks before the start of the conference, a Washington, D.C., think tank that shares office space and several board members with the Republican Jewish Coalition—another organization to which Adelson makes significant contributions—circulated an article on its Listserve which asserted, “Olmert is now chasing peace with the Palestinians at all costs, in a desperate attempt to secure his place in world history.”

    • Phil just documented how poor the security was when someone who has even odds of being the next President came to town. Given how your descriptions diverged from my experience when I was there I simply don't trust you. Rabin was assassinated with a semi-automatic Baretta 84F.

    • No the machine-gun-toting settlers are not violent at all. Yeah, right.

      link to

      I live in Colorado and I've been to Israel and the West Bank. The settlers there are truly nuts.

    • Here's more context on the guns in the Western Wall complex photos. First go to my DailyKos diary I had after my trip to Israel. Look immediately after the orange squiggle.

      link to

      Now look at your Western Wall, part 3 picture. The private guard in my photos is on the same small stair case. What they are guarding is a door to the tunnels beneath the Western Wall immediately to the left of the sign in your picture. The private guards that guard this entrance are all settlers and are not IDF. (I know because they told me.) They are there even when foreign dignitaries are not in town. The metal detector you mentioned is the worst security on the planet. A pastor friend of mine had a metal hip and they didn't care about it because he was white. I placed my bag just outside the metal detector on a table and picked it up without anyone inspecting it because I am white.

      Check out the immediately following pictures in my diary. There you will see the model of the Second Temple and another model showing how a Third Temple could be built next to the Dome of Rock. I was also taken to another place in Jerusalem called the Temple Institute where they had solid gold pieces (I held them and they were damned heavy) to be used on the Temple Menorah.

      I swear one way or another those crazy settlers are going to start WWIII.

  • Ben-Ami says divestment will alienate Christians from 'American Jewish community'
    • Phil accidentally corrected Jeremy in his headline. What J Street is doing is alienating Christians. We have completely run out of patience and the tired old anti-Semitism charges don't work any more (at least for the young). At the start of the Obama administration Christians who cared about finding a solution saw J Street as part of the solution:

      link to

      Now the scales have fallen and we see they are part of problem. This is not limited to J Street, however. What the PCUSA and others have also seen is that elective politics in the U.S. are not the answer. You can elect all the "right" people and the ball does not move forward. We as part of American civil society need to do what Palestinian civil society has already done: take this into our own hands because our government will not/cannot do it for us.

  • We're still losing
    • This is not quite the right question. Of the evangelicals that might vote Democrat what is important to them? See my analysis looking at the them from 2008: link to

      The short synopsys of my analysis is young evangelicals are more YOUNG evangelicals than they are young EVANGELICALS. These young evangelicals also share another important characteristic with their secular peers. They are much more anti-Zionist than their elders. So, if the Obama campaign wants to repeat their inroads into the evangelical vote they need to counter-intuitively to go to the left on I/P and be on the side of justice and human rights.

      Another thing I noticed was the composition of Obama donors from last week. The loss of funds from Wall Street -- read Jewish donors -- has been almost entirely replaced by GLBT donors, making 1/6 of his total intake. Netanyahu's gambit to manipulate our election may well result in much lower Jewish and Israeli influence if Obama wins another term.

    • Here's some more details on how the propaganda of so-called "first-hand experience" works. You will be riding on a tour bus and your guide goes "don't trust CNN trust your own eyes". (Funny how he didn't mention Fox News which was in my Jerusalem hotel.) He specifically asked for us to tell people back home in the U.S. what we saw in order to undermine any critical media of Israel.

      But think about for a second. How relevant is looking at something from a tour bus window where your handler controls 100% of the context? So, he points at a Palestinian village and tells us how great their health care is. (This is a similar narrative to your friend, Phil. Economic prosperity, even pretend prosperity, somehow justifies taking away people's freedom.) I ask him where do Jews and Palestinians live together in Israel? He hems and haws and points at the courthouse in Nazareth Illit(!) and says there are Palestinian judges there. Never, ever, does he have the Palestinians speak for themselves, even the Christian ones.

      The West Bank "first-hand experience" is even more propagandistic. Our guide has the gaul to say this is the West Bank and see how safe it was while pointing out of our tour bus when we were on a bypass road! He pointed to the settlements which he refused to call settlements and noted how they had fences while the Palestinian villages did not. This was, according to him, because the settlers needed protection from the Palestinians but not vice versa.

      I understand how this works well for conservative Christians. They can easily be convinced to only listen to "approved" sources of Pravda and Izvestia. That liberal Jews will not use a wide array of information sources is especially disappointing. But it's not surprising. See Chris Mooney's new book the Republican Brain. In it he notes authoritarian brains fall easily into confirmation bias particularly when they perceive a threat. This is because they are thinking from their Amygdala. Even though liberal Zionists like to think of themselves as liberals, they in reality think like my Tea Party friends on the bus.

    • Interesting how this first-hand experience works. My tour guide points to an Arab village and says how wonderful it is. The trouble is I had real first-hand experience when I talked to Palestinian Christians in Nazareth and they directly contradicted my Israeli guide. Pointing to an IBM plant and lying is faux first-hand experience and it's amazing how many people (on my tour Christian Zionists) fall for this crap all because it feeds their confirmation bias. First-hand experience means actually talking to people but that never, ever happens because people would come to conclusions different than their Soviet handlers, err, Israeli tour guides want.

    • I imagine that every facility, outside of Watson, probably describes itself as the “second most important” IBM facility. It makes the employees feel good.

      Which is why I asked Randy. As head of the number one facility he would have a more objective answer of who is number two. He picked the facility that does IBM's nanotechnology work. Before someone infers the wrong thing from Randy's name he is not Jewish. He's currently the executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation a fellowship of Christians who are career scientists and technologists.

    • link to

      IBM inventors received a record 5,896 US patents in 2010, marking the 18th consecutive year the company has topped the list of the world’s most inventive companies. Samsung was second, with 4,551 US patents, and Microsoft was third with 3,094.

      IBM’s Haifa Research Lab in Israel received 45 patents in 2010 making it the leading recipient of US patents in Israel, ahead of SanDisk-Israel (Nasdaq:SNDK) and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA). IBM in Israel exceeded the combined total of patents received by Technion and Hebrew Universities.

      So let me get this straight. Out of 5896 patents the Haifa labs got 45. And that was the leading patent recipient in Israel! Here's some more perspective: I personally have 10 U.S. patents. Maybe I'll start calling myself Startup Dude.

    • I'm good friends with Randy Isaac who is a retired head of IBM's TJ Watson laboratory. (See his APS fellowship citation here. link to Note that all the IBM fellows are either from Yorktown Heights or San Jose. ) So I put to him the following question:

      I heard a claim about a place being the second most important research facility for IBM. In your opinion where would that be? I'm not telling the answer I heard to not prejudice your answer.

      His response:

      I'll bet it was Albany.

      Randy Isaac

  • After LGBT forum, Oren will headline for notorious homophobic pastor John Hagee
    • Evangelicals with you until the end of the World? Don't bet on it. For older fundamentalists the gay issue trumps everything. Note how quickly a gay neo-con was dumped from the Romney campaign due to pressure from the Religious Right.

      link to

      Younger evangelicals are even more problematic for you. They are for gay rights but the reason is important. They are pro peace, pro justice, and pro human rights. That in turn makes them also anti-Zionist. Here's an example:

      link to

      Here's some videos by evangelical students who went to the Christ at the Checkpoint conference. For non-evangelicals note that Wheaton is the most prestigious evangelical liberal arts college in the U.S. and thus where future evangelical leaders will be coming from.

      link to

      link to

    • Is it a diplomat's job to interfere with our media and our elections? No wonder Oren renounced his American citizenship to get his current job.

      link to

  • The Methodist conference: Let’s call this victory what it is
    • After Peter had the vision that the ceremonial law concerning clean and unclean foods no longer applied, here was his application:

      Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.


      Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. "

      So, as Christians, not only should we note that we are not under the Law but also why. Namely, God cares about people more than what we eat. Furthermore, God cares about all people and not just some chosen few. If God cares then our attitude should be Peter's:

      "So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

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