Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 504 (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 504 - 501

  • Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?
    • The equivalent to the modern situation concerning religious images was the French Wars of Religion in the late 16th Century. The Calvinists believed that the images in the Catholic churches constituted idolatry and in the 1560s the Calvinist vandalized churches throughout Europe. For example, this print of the Calvinist Iconoclast riot of 1566.

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      The Frence War of Religion resulted.

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      The first instances of Protestant iconoclasm, the destruction of images and statues in Catholic churches, occurred in Rouen and La Rochelle in 1560. The following year, mobs carried out iconoclasm in more than 20 cities and towns; Catholic urban groups attacked Protestants in bloody reprisals in Sens, Cahors, Carcassonne, Tours and other cities.

      When all the conflict was over 2 to 4 million people were dead. Religious images are NOT a joking matter.

  • Yale Protestant chaplain says Americans must curb Israel so as to curb anti-Semitism
    • Clearly there is not greater awareness amongst mainstream American Christianity -- even less so amongst evangelicals. Those who are clueless have remained clueless. What this marks is a different attitude amongst elite opinion and activists in mainline Protestantism. Marc Ellis was just a little ahead of the curve declaring the Interfaith Ecumenical Deal being dead.

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    • The anti-Semitism emotional blackmail is definitely starting to backfire in my liberal Protestant circles. Before Protective Edge we balanced what we were hearing from our different ecumenical partners. After killing over 500 children and the same anti-Semitism trope was used any sense of (false) balance is gone. During the debate for Presbyterian divestment I engaged Zionist critics. Now I just block them.

  • 'New Yorker' limits its expose of Israel lobby to AIPAC
    • That's a pronunciation-dependent style usually used by British newspapers such as the Guardian. If it is a true acronym then it gets mixed case but if it is a letterism (USA) then it is all caps. This then leads to the question how do you pronounce Aipac? I tend to see this style when the article is originally written in Europe or Britain. Being in New York may make the topic too hot.

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  • Israeli ship heads out of Oakland - again - after five days of extraordinary protest
  • Rightwing Jews who want to destroy Muslim holy site in Jerusalem raise funds on Indiegogo
  • US suspended aid to Egypt after it slaughtered civilians -- why not Israel?
  • Palestinians build tunnel to attack Israeli kindergarten, Netanyahu says
    • Even when Israel use photographs they lie. They tried to justify bombing al Wafa with a Twitter photograph that claims a M75 rocket was launched right next to the hospital. Except it wasn't.

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      The IDF photograph was really the "Right to Live" society (the palsolidarity story has a typo). This is a playground for Down Syndrome kids. See the gazebo in the satellite photograph and see how it matches the photos of the playing kids.

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      Here's a map view of "Right to Live"

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      and a satellite view:

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      The Israelis justified bombing a hospital with a rocket launch in an open field 200m away.

  • NBC reverses; Mohyeldin to return to Gaza to cover 'Palestinian side of story'
    • Eli Lake is tweeting that cable companies should dump RT. State-owned stations have obvious agendas. But Neo-liberal stations like MSNBC & OnTV in Egypt pretend to be independent fooling "liberals" in both countries. The latter was key in cheerleading the coup last year. Now the crossing is blocked and and so is a solidarity/humanitarian convoy and we all know about the bogus cease fire proposals. Media bias has real, even deadly, consequences.

    • Shows the power of online advocacy. I'm also happy that it is an Arab voice that prevailed. Even in the activist community there is too much white saviorism. I would only correct one thing in Ayman's tweet. You're telling the human side of the story. Congratulations and stay safe.

  • Israel destroys el-Wafa hospital as staff evacuates all patients
    • I'll tell you what I'm thinking given HP technology was used to kill those 4 boys on the beach and for the current ground assault. I'm damned proud of my denomination. When the Rabbi made his offer/threat I noted, "He confuses us with Congress." and indeed he has....

  • Jet Blue incident shifts from anti-Semitic story to anti-Palestinian one
    • Hophmi, this is what happens when you (generic you not you personally) immediately yell anti-Semitism before the facts come in. I saw this story splayed over social media. You should have immediately distanced yourself from her or at the very least have a wait and see attitude. Then you would get a pass that this was an isolated crazy person. Post hoc distancing doesn't cut it. Now when real anti-Semitism inevitably happens nobody will be listening.

  • NBC reportedly orders Mohyeldin to leave Gaza -- after he criticized State Dep't
    • Matt Lee said State Dept Spox said #GazaBeach deaths "make clear #Israel must take every possible step 2 meet its standards 4 protecting civilians"

      I confirmed with him that his understanding of the statement was not that Israel should live up with international standards for protecting civilians but rather their own standards.

    • Richard Engel is Rachel Maddow's go to guy for foreign policy. This could explain Rachel's coverage (or lack thereof). If the purported concern is for the reporter's "safety" then why send a reporter that was recently abducted?

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    • Maximus, Ayman Mohyedin pulled from coverage as you predicted.

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  • 'J Street has to change or die': Divestment battle exposes tactical rift among liberal Zionists
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      I feel for our moderator and stated clerk. First they sent out an open letter and now this, wrongly assuming that this will allow us to go forward. If liberal Zionists were smart they would declare victory and move on. Past behavior indicates that this won't happen.

    • The wholesale freakout of Jewish groups like J street will produce an even bigger and more profound reaction from us next time. If we say everything J street wants but have a very limited and targeted action with OUR money and this causes phony charges of anti-Semitism then people will say why even bother to compromise and go for broke.

      The next GA in two years will be reconsidering the two state "solution". Groups like IPMN will participate in the report for our commissioners. J Street and Reform Jews could participate but everything indicates they will shun us and thus their point of view won't be incorporated. Divestment was a last resort for a very simple reason when you break relationships then you lose any influence. Only when MRTI threw up their hands and said the 3 corporations were intransigent did we divest. What J Street and Reform Jews did was incorporate this strategy as a first resort. The political stupidity is simply put, staggering.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg leads the charge on latest BDS smear: Presbyterian Church divestment is anti-Semitic because David Duke supports it
    • Given the high amount of controversy for this and for the issue of gay marriage we were cognizant of the pain involved. For example, we understood the pain of the pastor from Peoria that would have his people negatively affected by the Caterpillar divestment. That we listen to and we share in the pain. The lies and the threats on the other hand just anger us.

    • This was a coordinated campaign to get us to not divest. Just prior to GA the following pastoral letter was written:

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      This has now changed. With the publication of Zionism Unsettled, a “study guide” on Zionism produced by the PC(USA)’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network, and a series of overtures pending before the 2014 General Assembly that reflect its arguments, we are no longer debating how the occupation should end, but whether Israel should exist. Zionism Unsettled announces this shift from its opening section, saying: “put simply, the problem is Zionism.” It makes no distinction between different forms of Zionism, arguing that any form of Zionism is inherently discriminatory. Some forms of Zionism have been violent and exclusionary; the same is true of any form of nationalism (American, British, Chinese, Palestinian, etc.). But to argue that any Jewish desire for any form of statehood within their historic homeland is inherently discriminatory is not only patently false but morally indefensible. And the conclusion is obvious: if Zionism is the problem, then ending Zionism (i.e., Israel) is the solution.

      It is telling that one of the earliest and loudest affirmations of Zionism Unsettled was by David Duke, perhaps the most notorious white supremacist and anti-Semite in the United States today, who said:
      In a major breakthrough in the worldwide struggle against Zionist extremism, the largest Presbyterian church in the United States, the PC(USA), has issued a formal statement calling Zionism “Jewish Supremacism” — a term first coined and made popular by Dr. David Duke.
      The reality that David Duke would endorse a Presbyterian study guide available for purchase on the PC(USA) website is sickening to us, and should give all Presbyterians great pause in considering the arguments and language of this document and Zionism Unsettled’s ideological relationship to the overtures coming before the General Assembly.

      That Sunday we received a letter from Desmond Tutu:

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      Archbishop Desmond Tutu Urges Presbyterians to Adopt Divestment

      As the Presbyterian General Assembly gathers for its biennial meeting I reach out in prayer and solidarity that the Assembly will make a strong witness for reconciliation, justice and peace. I am aware that the Assembly will consider eight overtures on the confounding and intractable conflict in Israel and Palestine, however I am especially urging the Assembly to adopt the overture naming Israel as an apartheid state through its domestic policies and maintenance of the occupation, and the overture calling for divestment of certain companies that contribute to the occupation of the Palestinian people. Both are worthy of adoption, by speaking truth in the first instance, and owning up to the Church's complicity in maintaining the occupation through its investments in the second.

      The sustainability of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people has always been dependent on its ability to deliver justice to the Palestinians. I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed. Realistic Israeli leaders have acknowledged that Israel will either end its occupation through a one or two state solution, or live in an apartheid state in perpetuity. The latter option is unsustainable and an offense to justice. We learned in South Africa that the only way to end apartheid peacefully was to force the powerful to the table through economic pressure.

      The overtures proposed at the General Assembly are not about delegitimizing the State of Israel, but about ending its suppression of 4,000,000 Palestinian sisters and brothers. It's about naming an unjust system and refusing to participate in it. The stubbornness of Israel's leaders in wanting to hold onto and settling land that is not theirs can only lead to tragedy for both peoples. For the sake of them both as God's cherished, the strong witness of the two overtures is the only peaceful route left in the cause of justice and ultimate reconciliation. My prayers today are with the members of the General Assembly and with all the peoples of the Holy Land in Israel and Palestine.

      Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
      June 10, 2014

      A press conference was held and the following response was generated that include 8 former moderators of the PCUSA.

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      Sisters and Brothers,

      We are deeply concerned about the Open Letter sent to General Assembly Commissioners by John Buchanan and twenty-eight of his colleagues on Friday, June 13th.

      We consider the signers of this letter our friends. Together, we have been allies and colleagues in our shared work of reclaiming a vibrant church. However, we disagree sharply with their critique of the recommendation that the Presbyterian Church (USA) divest itself from the stock of three corporations that are doing business in a way that supports or benefits the State of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

      The guilt by association was specifically mentioned in the press conference and what was found "disturbing" in the response letter. David Duke mentioned that Zionism Unsettled alleges that Zionism is "Jewish Supremacist". I rechecked and could not find any such references. Duke further claimed that the PCUSA "formally" defined Zionism as this. So, instead of undercutting Duke's anti-Semitism and say that the PCUSA said no such thing the opponents of divestment took Duke's word for it. Duke then took the critique as "proof" that we really said what we did not. Far from combating anti-Semitism it was aided and abetted. Those of us who have experienced this propaganda campaign were ready for it but naive commissioners were not ready. So, please don't judge them too harshly. Two years from now will be a totally different story.

  • 'Forward' editor says Presbyterian vote was anti-Semitic
    • This is the presentation MRTI made to the ME committee of why they recommended divestment.

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    • One particular example is helpful. Before MRTI recommends divestment they work with the companies to change their practices which the 2008 GA defined as "non peaceful pursuits". This is defined as follows:

      “... to confine their business activity solely to peaceful pursuits, and refrain from allowing their products or services to support or facilitate violent acts by Israelis or Palestinians against innocent civilians, construction and maintenance of settlements or Israeli only roads in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory, and construction of the Separation Barrier as it extends beyond the 1967 “Green Line” into Palestinian territories.”

      [Minutes, 218th General Assembly (2008), p. 1223. Emphasis mine.]

      MRTI engaged Citigroup because they were wire transferring money to the families of suicide bombers. Citigroup unlike HP, Moto, and Cat responded favorably to our requests.Even if we restrict ourselves to the conflict we don't take sides but rather invest solely according to our values.

    • Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy was critical of our divestment here:

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      It is revealing that Israel is the only country targeted for divestment, not countries that oppress, torture and execute dissidents, like Iran among many others.

      So, fair question: what about countries like Iraq? Well, as Annie noted we don't just pick on Israel. In fact, we address the issues as they happened. We opposed getting into Iraq in 2002. The same Mark Tooley said the following on this decision:

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      Opposing U.S. military action against Iraq fits well into the mindset of mainline church officials. Functionally pacifist, they see any kind of warfare as unworthy of a humanity progressing toward global harmony. They believe that the United States lacks any moral authority to wage warfare. All international conflicts can and should be settled through United Nations diplomacy, they are convinced. These same religious leaders opposed the Persian Gulf War twelve years ago, as they opposed virtually every U.S. military initiative during the final 25 years of the Cold War.

      Usually, these church officials are ignored. Their press conference last week on Capitol Hill, though it featured spokesmen who ostensibly represented tens of millions of American church members, was sparsely attended and barely reported. Their opposition to war with Iraq will have almost no appreciable effect upon the upcoming debate in Congress, despite the large lobby presence that mainline denominations maintain in the prominent United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill.

      Some of these mainline denominations have lost a third of their membership or more over the last four decades. Most of the millions who have left these churches have not left directly because of the radical politics of church elites. But the spiritual void left when politics becomes the bottom line does not fulfill the yearnings of the churches’ youth for a more ultimate meaning by which to guide their lives. Nor does it attract the interest of the unchurched, who—if politics appeals to them at all—could find it more readily in a secular activist group, without all the archaic religious trappings.

      Some abandon organized religion altogether. Others seek deeper spiritual experiences at more theologically orthodox and morally demanding churches. Few church members, even liberal ones, are actually energized by the calls to political activism routinely sounded by their denominational leaders.

      Those denominational leaders include the Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopal bishops who met with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice this week to denounce the administration’s war plans. No doubt Rice, who is a devout Presbyterian, was polite. But she should not lose any sleep over the bishops’ opposition.

      These bishops, and other mainline church leaders, are largely captive to egalitarian visions of world justice and harmony presided over by the United Nations and a plethora of international courts and concordats. For them, global peace is just one more treaty away.

      In 2002 Presbyterians were universal pacifists that would jump on any and every perceived violation of social justice. Now we just pick on Israel. Given the history of Iraq perhaps our liberal Zionist friends might listen to our friendly critique.

  • Victory's unintended consequences
    • Pretty much nailed it. At the 220th General Assembly (2012), of the 688 commissioners, there were no ruling elders or teaching elders under the age of 25. While 93 (11 percent) commissioners were age 26–45, nearly 90 percent of commissioners were over the age of 45.

      03-03 would have given young people real power. How did GA respond? Pat the youngsters on the head. It was voted down by consensus. Consensus is code for didn't even need a recorded vote.

      Assembly Action
      On this Item, the General Assembly, acted as follows:
      Disapprove with Comment
      [action via Agenda: Wednesday Consent Agenda]
      While the committee recognizes the value of the YAAD program, the input these advisors give us, the perspective they bring to our discussions, and the experiences it gives our emerging church leaders, we recommend Item 03-03 not be approved for the following reasons: 1) There is flexibility within the current Book of Order for this intent to happen. 2) The overture actually could work counter to the intent of the overture in that there would be no prior vote for advice; their voice would be blended with all other votes with no distinctions as to how the younger commissioners were thinking. 3) We also wish to honor and respect the advice of COGA and the ACC that offer serious considerations on how to include young adults in the whole life of the church. 4) The 221st General Assembly (2014) encourages the COGA to continue the discussion of how to include young adults in all levels of the life and ministry of the PC(USA) including the encouragement of sessions and presbyteries to affirm the call of young adults to the office of ruling elder, while encouraging persons who have served as YAADs as well as other advisory delegates to the 221st General Assembly (2014) to be included in this discussion and discernment.

    • Joe, their stupidity also shows up in the other major decision of the GA, letting pastors marry same sex couples. The chair of the committee that dealt with those issues was on the losing side. 10-NB was passed that we should be reconciled and his behavior helped to give sympathy for the losers by the winners. No applause happened when the votes came in and people prayed for healing on the other side. Note that this issue passed by a wide margin. The people that helped to pass this were targeted by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic. If GSM activists really believed Israel was the most gay friendly country in the ME then divestment would have gone down in flames. So, another fail was the pinkwashing fail.

      One of the viral hashtags for GA was #GAmargins. This was to focus Presbyterians on all the marginalized including GSMs, young people, and Palestinians. Israel was wrong that we were picking on them but rather they wanted to be excluded in not having their privilege scrutinized. Another characteristic of this GA was the consideration of the opinions of young people. The PCUSA like all white Protestant denominations has lost many young people. So, people kept track of the votes of Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs) and the commissioners. There was less than half a dozen times where the votes diverged. Over 60% of the YAADs voted for divestment. The ME debate was where the comity broke down somewhat. At least three times the YAADs made privileged motions complaining how their voice was silenced either by calling the question or by not being called on equally. We made progress in listening to our young people but more work needs to be done if we are not to (literally) die off. We gained some good will with the last GA and I pray we don't waste it.

    • Another emotional reality will be to relate to the collective punishment of the Palestinians. I predict that churches and pastors who disagree with us on divestment will be punished, too.

      N.B. While I am talking about relating I am talking about the same kind of suffering but the degree of suffering we go through is much less. Both sides of the debate have a desire to not be complicit in this suffering of others. What we need to communicate to our sisters and brothers is a sense of proportionality. When they contrast us with others who have zero sense of proportionality most of the battle will have been one. Presbyterian ethics hold that the civil law found in the OT is fulfilled not in the details but by general and proportional equity.

    • One thing we owe the ordinary non-activist folk is a warning not to say they are Presbyterian when traveling to Israel.

    • Not only was the nothing is good enough aspect shocking to us but so was the ultimatum aspect. Our disclaimers were not new but just re-iteration of longstanding Presbyterian policy. Presbyterians were not part of the global BDS movement, until now! Before the flashy motion passed a quiet one proceeded it that called for a reconsideration of the so-called 2 state solution. A report on this will be presented at our next GA when we have learned from the bad faith reaction to our limited, moderate divestment. If we are shunned by the Jewish establishment we will have built two years of relationships with young Jewish activists instead. I am confident of this prediction because my church parallels my own personal journey.

  • 'Washington Post' suggests Presbyterians voted against Jews and peace
    • This is a generational thing. For decades the Institute on Religion and Democracy has been trying to kill the mainline church. Since a lot of them are a bunch of neo-Cons they are militantly pro-Israel and they complained how young *evangelicals* are part of the problem.

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      The rise of young leaders in the church who identify (more or less) as evangelicals, and who seem to have a bone to pick with Israel…continues apace.

      This community, which loves to use buzzwords like, well, “community,” is heavily networked and social media-savvy. They are attractive, possess uncommon communication skills, and understand the culture intimately.

      It seems to me that most pro Israel supporters in the church are largely unaware of a titanic challenge that has been incubating for decades.

      As just one example, Margaret Feinberg is an engaging and emerging writer/speaker, based in Colorado. She speaks at events like “Catalyst” and her bio is emblematic of the fresh-faced, “world-changer” persona so prevalent among young evangelicals. Her bio reads, in part:

      “Always up for an adventure, Margaret is known to drive 50 miles to chase down a food truck and snag Groupons for skydiving on a whim. She prefers watching comedies and laughing until her tummy aches over doing sit ups.”

      I note the bio because it is important to understand that this generation will do everything in its power to separate itself from the fundie-meanies of the previous generation. This move away from traditional church began in earnest with writers like Philip Yancey, who lamented their experiences growing up in fundamentalist churches in the South.

      The IRD started their own failed gambit a decade ago:

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      By 1989, fundamentalists had recently taken over the Southern Baptist Convention. And in the liberal mainline churches, the conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee and the Methodist group Good News were already growing. ''We have had for a number of years a good number of renewal groups,'' said Parker Williamson, chief of the Lay Committee. ''But the I.R.D. and Diane Knippers have been a wonderful help.''

      Now, as Presbyterians prepare for their General Assembly, Alan Wisdom, the institute's Presbyterian director, says representatives of the institute will be there in force, calling attention to any liberal positions coming out of the church, distributing position papers to delegates and lobbying them in a conservative direction.

      Mr. Wisdom said the institute did not support the idea of a Presbyterian breakup, and almost no one expects a split at this year's General Assembly. But some conservatives are already drawing up a plan they call ''gracious separation'' to divide the church's assets. ''If we don't see significant changes in the next two General Assemblies, I suspect we are going to see some manifestation of separation,'' Mr. Williamson of the Lay Committee said. ''I hope and pray it would be gracious.''

      The goal was to get the progressives to quit but in the end the so-called gracious separation had the conservative chuches leaving instead. This has tilted the playing field in a progressive direction with increasing pace. A large number of churches left when Amendment 10-A passed in 2010 (which allowed for gay pastors). The one-two gut punch of allowing pastors to marry gay people and divestment will have even more conservatives looking for the exits.

      Even in churches like mine that did not leave as a church, individuals and the leaders who would become commissioners at the GA level are becoming more progressive as conservative individuals leave. My church is best described as a "third way" church so we don't want the conservatives necessarily to leave but they do anyway. With the rapidly changing demographics within the Presbyterian church it leaves the Jewish establishment flat-footed. Their old playbook simply does not fit our new reality. More nimble groups like JVP will be the ones we partner with in the future.

  • Fear of anti-semitism accusation did not stop Presbyterians from witnessing occupation
    • Permit me to go into the weeds of Presbyterian polity. The opponents of justice had two goals both of which failed. The one that attracted all the attention was the divestment motion. This was a teaching moment in that it taught us it is impossible to be moderate enough to escape the false charges of anti-Semitism. Two years from now we will remember this. The second item that failed was to marginalize the Israel Palestine Missionary Network (IPMN) whose purpose is to advocate on the behalf of justice for the Palestinians. This was established by the the 2004 GA and it was to talk to and not for the church. A motion to get Zionism Unsettled off our web site was modified by the ME Committee to just say that ZU does not represent the PCUSA which merely re-iterates IPMN's charter. This passed on the consent calendar because people in the know knew that this meant nothing thus was uncontroversial.

      After divestment passed there was much flailing to strike back at IPMN. So they removed their council on a report on the rights of children. They had to do it twice since they missed one reference in 04-12 on the floor.

      But 04-01 had already passed which was reconsideration of the so-called two state solution. A report that looks at the viability of the two state solution and provides commissioners with information about the facts on the ground will be prepared for our next GA in two years. In this resolution is this language:

      d. Consult also with appropriate, official PC(USA) General Assembly entities in the preparation of this report, including staffing teams, mission networks, and national caucuses.

      IPMN is an official PCUSA GA mission network. So, Zionism Unsettled will still be sold on our denominational web site and IPMN will contribute to a report on whether the PCUSA continues to support a two state solution AND Rabbi Jacobs "offer"/emotional blackmail royally pissed us off. So when the report hits in two years what we will be contemplating will be much more radical than a limited divestment of three companies. Note another dynamic: many of those who support Israel under any and all circumstances will probably be gone over the gay marriage issue.

      What happened on Friday is just the beginning. Stay tuned.

  • In 'turning-point' vote, Presbyterians divest from occupation-linked corporations
    • This was always a very limited action. PCUSA is the "decently and in order" denomination. Trying to flatter us backfires. When Netanyahu thought we were like Congress and asked our moderator to visit him as a price for killing divestment our reaction was "nah we're not important".

      The argument against divestment applies to the establishment Jewish reaction to us. Once you've broken the relationship all your influence is gone. That's why it took it took a decade to divest. It's a last resort.

      The big winner here is JVP. Their influence in the process cannot be understated and they will be the Jews we will be interacting with going forward. This partnership will have a greater impact than the divestiture itself.

    • The actual debate on the floor was we should not divest fossil fuels because we should trust MRTI and then when we discussed HP, Moto, and Cat we should not divest because we don't trust MRTI.

  • '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:

      link to

      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:

      link to

  • '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.

      link to

  • 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:
      link to

      Here's a taste:
      link to

      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."

      link to

    • 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:

      link to

    • 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:

      link to

      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:

      link to
      link to
      link to

      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.

      link to

      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.”

      link to

      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."

      link to

  • 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.

      link to

    • 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.

      link to

  • (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."

      link to

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

      link to

      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?
      link to

      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.

      link to

      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.

      link to
      link to

      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.

      link to

      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.

      link to

    • 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.

      link to

  • 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.

      link to

      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.

      link to

      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?

      link to

      link to

      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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