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Pope Francis, American churches, and Palestinian rights

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Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the US will doubtless reinforce his reach to the new audiences he has attracted beyond the Catholic Church with his strong positions on such issues as the environment, poverty, migrants – and Palestinian rights to freedom and equality.

Yet the Catholic Church is among a handful of establishment US churches – the Episcopal and Lutheran churches are two others – that has yet to endorse divesting from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine or boycotting products made in the illegal Israeli settlements.

Pope Francis could have arranged to make the time during his US trip to find out why the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has not responded to the call that Palestinian Christians issued in 2009. Inspired by the Kairos South Africa document issued in 1985, Kairos Palestine called on Christians worldwide to make the Kairos document “a non-violent instrument, striving for peace with security and dignity for every human being in this Holy Land by bringing the occupation to an end.”

Grassroots organizers at mainline American churches responded by redoubling their efforts at the parish, regional and national levels. Decades of organizing were crowned in the past few years, when the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ (UCC) adopted resolutions for divestment or boycott.

And yet, despite significant progress at the diocesan level, the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church failed for the second time to pass any resolutions involving boycott or divestment. In the Catholic Church, meanwhile, there has been little grassroots advocacy even though Pax Christi and the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns have been outspoken on the issue.

There is speculation that churches with active institutions in the Holy Land are reluctant to pass resolutions for boycott or divestment because their sister institutions are vulnerable to Israeli retaliation. The Episcopal bishops who voted down the resolutions pointed to advice from Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem, who subsequently claimed the bishops acted independently of him.

Others who have worked with churches for years as they debated and eventually took the decision to respond to Kairos Palestine’s call for action through boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) believe that the church leadership is most worried about the reaction of Jewish religious organizations in their communities, with which they often partner in domestic projects to alleviate poverty and fight racism. But this misplaced emphasis on interfaith dialogue must not prevent churches from speaking up for the rights of a people under occupation.

Indeed, the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, was chastised by members within the church for promoting Jewish-Christian dialogue over the human rights of Muslim as well as Christian Palestinians in Gaza during the 2014 war.

Calling on the bishops to remember their baptismal vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being,” Rev. Naim Ateek, founder of the ecumenical Palestinian Liberation Theology Sabeel movement pointed out that the Israeli government was the only entity to benefit from the Episcopal bishops’ vote.

It is important to remember that the PresbyteriansMethodists and UCC also partner with organizations in the Holy Land. Palestinians of all faiths and backgrounds depend on these hospitals, schools, and other ministries for vital services. The fact remains that church institutions in the Holy Land do not exist in a vacuum but are made up of real people living under conditions of oppression and injustice.

It is also vital to remember that there are American Jewish voices on both sides of the issue. For instance, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) with 200,000 members and supporters has taken a clear stand in favor of BDS. The church leadership needs to broaden its perspective to hear the demands of the many other US-based Jewish organizations in support of actions such as boycott and divestment to end a cruel, nearly 50-year occupation and even longer violations of basic rights.

Palestinian Christian voices also need to be heard at this crucial juncture and more Palestinian Christians in the US are coming together to speak up in church forums.

Pope Francis’ voice is sure to shake up establishment churches in the US with a faith that addresses poverty, economic injustice, and the burden of climate change on the poorest of the earth.

As for Israel’s occupation and denial of rights, so far the challenge in the US has come as a response to grassroots pressure within the church. The older and deeper the institutional relationships, the greater the grassroots pressure has had to be. Pope Francis should call on American Christians to make their faith real by responding to Kairos Palestine and following “the logic of peaceful resistance…. sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice.”

This commentary was first published by Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. The opinion of individual members of Al-Shabaka’s policy network do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization as a whole.

Grace Said

Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Grace Said is a long-time advocate of Palestinian human rights. She is a member of the Steering Committee of Friends of Sabeel, North America and treasurer of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace. She has in the past served on the boards of Trans-Arab Research Institute and the Arab-American University Graduates. In 2009 she was a co-founder of Al-Shabaka and also organized a major Sabeel conference in Washington, DC.

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Joanna Springer

Al-Shabaka Policy Member Joanna Springer is a researcher on development policy and governance reform in the Middle East. She has carried out research and worked for local organizations in Morocco, Qatar and the West Bank. Currently, Joanna is research advisor for a rule of law advancement project in the Arab Gulf. She holds a Master’s of Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a focus in economic development.

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38 Responses

  1. Citizen on September 24, 2015, 12:05 pm

    Been watching and listening to the Pope the last few days on mainstream US TV. All he says raises the question, why is he not supporting the Palestinians, both Christian & Muslim components? Main media is totally silent. This is his chance. He declines. Why? I guess he doesn’t want to face it when Zionists & GOP parrot claim that Catholic Church is guilty of complicity in the Shoah, especially since The Church is trying hard to get beyond covering up priestly homosexuality abuse. I guess the English Church and German (Lutheran) Church have their own self-imposed muzzles–in the case of the latter, not wanting to respond to Luther’s anti-Semitism;as to English Church, what? Any takers?

    • Ellen on September 24, 2015, 12:38 pm

      It is still quite PC (politically correct) to trash the Catholic Church in the US. The Vatican is a very old institution with lots of bad baggage, as all institutions. And the Church’s reprehensible handling of the abuse scandals — just to protect the institution — is too fresh to be ignored. And it remains easy food for more demonization of that institution.

      Many, if not most, Americans are not comfortable with Catholicism in their midsts. (Just yesterday I listened to a popular radio host in the middle of the country going on about the Pope as Anti Christ, Catholicism as a satanic cult, blah blah.)

      Catholics are still an easy target to stir up fear and hate in the US. To stay safe, or relevant, directly addressing the inhumane and criminal occupation of Palestine will have grave and negative consequences for the Church, especially in Palestine where it is beleaguered under Israeli control. Is that an excuse? No, but probably what is going on.

      So the Pope speaks on the border of the issue and addresses the immorality of the weapons industry, which kills so many innocents. Will that have any impact? No.

      But some of those bought off legislators just might have a second thought when they authorize more killing of Palestinians through their endless stupid resolutions and weapon sales to Israel.

      And over time, second thoughts, a twinge as they fall asleep, could spur questions and change. It will take decades, but we’ve already come far.

      • John O on September 24, 2015, 1:00 pm

        Sad. It sounds like the USA hasn’t progressed much since JFK had to defend himself during the 1960 presidential race by saying he was an American who happened to be Roman Catholic.

    • JWalters on September 25, 2015, 6:43 pm

      I think the Pope’s strategy is to highlight general principles of morality that transcend specific religions, centrally, the golden rule, which he highlighted. And he is trying to avoid the hornet’s nest of historical religious divisions. If the public and political leaders put a higher priority on the golden rule, even if only for awhile, that could help move the world toward peace.

      The contrast between the Pope’s speech to Congress and that of warmonger Netanyahu was brilliant theater, and a brilliant political move. I wonder how that came about.

      Speaker Boehner announced his resignation today. He may have decided to go out on a high note, quitting the Mob and doing a very good deed for his country and humanity by inviting the Pope to speak. Perhaps other political figures will feel similarly inspired.

      (Not Netanyahu, of course, who will resume his hysterical Iran rants when the peace deal comes up for a vote in Congress.)

  2. Kay24 on September 24, 2015, 12:59 pm

    I wonder what the Pope would say about those “compassionate” chosen ones, who decided to make the Palestinians suffer even during one of their holy days. Oh those sadistic zionists!

    “Israel imposes lockdown on East Jerusalem neighborhoods

    JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities closed the main entrances to East Jerusalem neighborhoods with cement blocks on Wednesday, preventing Palestinians from preparing for the Eid al-Adha holiday, locals said.”

  3. Kay24 on September 24, 2015, 1:06 pm

    I also wonder what the Pope would say if he knew that the zionist thugs showed their dishonesty by stealing from those the occupy. The poor occupied people of Palestine, have to take one blow after another from these ruthless zionists. They are vicious, violent, dishonest, and certainly not worthy of any respect or regard.

    Israeli Soldiers Investigated for Looting During 2014 Search for Kidnapped Teens
    More than ten cases of property damage or theft are being investigated in relation to operation to find Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel.
    read more:

    • echinococcus on September 24, 2015, 1:22 pm

      Well, how can you feel like your role model the bronze-age raider of Amalekites if you don’t even loot? The Church has its own, efficient information network and I believe the Pope gets thorough briefings.

  4. JLewisDickerson on September 24, 2015, 1:43 pm

    RE: “There is speculation that churches with active institutions in the Holy Land are reluctant to pass resolutions for boycott or divestment because their sister institutions are vulnerable to Israeli retaliation.” ~ Grace Said and Joanna Springer

    FOR EXAMPLE, SEE: “Christian Schools On Strike in Israel Over ‘Discrimination’ ” | by Lawahaz Jabari and F. Brinley Bruton | | September 19, 2015

    [EXCERPT] JERUSALEM — Christian schools have gone on strike in the Holy Land.

    Since Sept. 1, some 33,000 students and teachers at independent Roman Catholic-run schools in Israel have downed pencils and schoolbooks to protest what they say are drastic elementary school budget cuts by Israel’s government. Some of the schools date back hundreds of years, predating the founding of the state of Israel by centuries.

    Mom Rula Azar is participating in the strike with her kids — Joyce, 6, and Jirius, 9 — because she believes families should have a choice when it comes to schooling.

    “It’s my right to choose which school I want my children to go to, and it’s our right to have those schools… with full budget,” said the 35-year-old teacher in Ramla, Israel. “We are Israeli citizens, respecting the law, we believe in equality and these are the values we teach in these schools.”

    Azar added that she shows her children to “love others and that there is great value in the Israeli society, which contains quality, freedom,” but in her heart believes the government’s moves stem from racism.

    “I am aware that as an Arab there is a discrimination and racist law against us, which I am trying to hide from my children,” she said. “It happens only to Christian schools. Meanwhile, Jewish Orthodox schools, which are also ‘recognized, non-official schools,’ get the full budget.”

    Israel’s education ministry did not respond to repeated questions on how many Jewish schools it funded, and to what level.

    Father Abd al Masih, the director of the Christian schools network, said budget cuts had been gradual but relentless, reducing state funding from 75 percent of the total of Christian elementary schools six years ago down to 29 percent this year.

    Al Masih and others accuse the government of trying to starve Israel’s 47 Christian schools into oblivion, forcing them to become state schools in exchange of government funding. The schools, which survive on both state and private funding and educate Muslims and Christians, are considered among the best in the country. . .


  5. MHughes976 on September 24, 2015, 5:57 pm

    The Pope did pause beside the Wall but this gesture, if not emphasised nor reinforced nor put in context by some clear statements about the morality of the matter, was bound to come to nothing. It has in the event been reinforced only by the unremarkable garden ceremony and by the rather more significant, though very limited, diplomatic dealings with the PA. Perhaps this isn’t quite ‘coming to nothing’, but is close to it in my view.
    It would have been possible for the Pope to let people know that he would approve of at least a modest degree of pressure on Israel and this would have resulted in the letter we discussed here recently, signed by many Christian leaders (though with a degree of ambiguity about whether they were speaking for their organisations), having some Catholic bishops, as well as such usual suspects as the Maryknoll Fathers, among its signatories. In fact the signals must have been to the effect that the question was best not discussed too loudly.
    Church property in the Holy Land is part of the story, as has been said, but even more important, I think, is the objective of reinforcing the positive account of the Vatican in WW2, widely accepted but still controversial, by recognising the Pope of that time a saint. This couldn’t be done amid vigorous Jewish objections, which means in effect that Netanyahu must give his permission.
    The matter has been discussed through rather extraordinary diplomatic smoke signals, such as Netanyahu’s threatening gift of his dad’s book on the Spanish Inquisition and the recent elevation to sainthood of two little known nineteenth-century Palestinians coupled with or balanced by that act of elaborate respect to the remains of Theodor Herzl. again perhaps balanced by the timing of the American visit, which according to ‘On Faith’, a website spun off from the Washington Post, is noticeably distracting attention from the current Jewish festivals and has none of the customary interfaith aspects. Well, perhaps that view is paranoid, but I do think that there is some rather strange exchange of symbols going on and that the sainthood of Pope Pius is a very significant matter and I don’t think we should expect much of the Vatican while that question is unresolved or for some time after it is.
    Just to add that we should expect even less from my org, the Church of England, where the only remotely decisive relevant action of last year was to crush. absolutely Krrush, the (all but only) well-known anti-Zionist among our clergy, Stephen Sizer – alleged by the Jewish Chronicle, I think, to be among the sinister figures flitting around Mr. Corbyn.

  6. talknic on September 24, 2015, 10:15 pm

    What can he really do?

    • MHughes976 on September 25, 2015, 3:12 pm

      I think he could encourage his people to say the sort of things that some of the more forthright Protestant leaders have been saying and indeed that many ME Catholics have said. If Mondoweiss can make itself noticed in the United States the Pope can get certain ideas more noticed worldwide, should he choose. But because he does not wish to pay the price or endure the storm of accusations of anti-Semitism that would result or because he is just as much a liberal Zionist as most Western leaders are he does not seem to be making that choice.

  7. michelle on September 26, 2015, 12:07 am

    one wonders why this person isn’t going on tv to talk to all Americans who would be interested in hearing him speak to them
    seems like the rating of such an event would be well worth the effort
    is he being shut out of the msm by who and why
    G-d Bless

    • Citizen on September 26, 2015, 10:19 am

      Yes, the Pope is not scheduled to speak DIRECTLY to the American masses. Not sure this is good or bad since Catholics are still regarded as less than patriotic by many Americans, just as if JFK never lived.

      With 69.4 million members, the Roman Catholic Church population is the largest religious body in the United States, comprising 22% of the population.

      • michelle on September 27, 2015, 11:23 pm

        hello Citizen
        may you and all you know in all ways be Blessed
        when the word is good all who would should be allowed
        G-d Bless

  8. kalithea on September 29, 2015, 1:28 pm

    I hesitated a lot before commenting on the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land. I wanted to understand what he must have been thinking as he travelled through that land on both sides of the Wall. I’m very passionate about justice so of course I wanted the Pope to be more vocal about the injustice he witnessed there.

    First let me say this: the Pope is not blind. The Pope is not an elderly grandfather that can easily be manipulated, but he is a gentle soul with an enormous sense of compassion that knows no fear. He kissed and hugged man with a terrible skin deformity shunned by society.

    But the Pope has an obligation to the Church; he’s entrusted with the protection of the Church. Aside from the wrong the Church has done, it is also one of the greatest charitable institutions in the world and a powerful force for good, and the Pope no doubt sees protecting the Church from those who dream of its destruction as his number one responsibility. If the Church were not emerging from one of the most tenuous periods in its history, when it was so demonized and on the brink of losing all respect and credibility, I believe the Pope would have been more vocal in condemning the oppression he witnessed, i.e. the persecution being inflicted on Palestinians. The Pope is no doubt very aware of the vast scope of Zionist power and he doesn’t want to subject the Church to the obsessive scrutiny of Zionism because in the long run so much more good would be lost than gained AT THIS TIME.

    However, it’s a fact that the Church is one of the most powerful institutions in the world beyond what we recognize superficially, and Zionists know this. This is why tearing down the Church by rehashing old wounds or weaknesses is a constant endeavor that Zionists never let go of. Zionists fear the power of the Church like the Church recognizes the power Zionism today, but that’s not to say that the Church will remain locked into this impasse forever.
    Regarding Pope Francis. It’s my belief that when Pope Francis went to Palestine and encountered its people he was probably reminded of one of the most significant chapters in Jesus’ teachings: the Sermon on the Mount and specifically the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are like the Ten Commandments in the New Testament; if one reads nothing else in the Gospel but wants to understand what Jesus stands for–they should read the Beatitudes if only to regain hope lost. I believe that Pope Francis couldn’t help but reference in his mind the beatitudes when faced with the plight of the Palestinian people. I suggest everyone read the Beatitudes in light of their suffering and most importantly to understand the importance of one’s humanity and exercising compassion above all else in this world. So read them; because the Pope most certainly viewed the Palestinians in light of the Beatitudes, but I must add this as well to be fair and compassionate: the fact that Jews suffered the worst Holocaust in history doesn’t escape the Holy Father’s compassion either, but that will never excuse Zionists for what they are doing to Palestinians today in the eyes of Jesus or God or the Pope himself.

    So this is not to say that the Church more subtly through its branches cannot help the Palestinians, but for the time being in the glare of reality, the Pope is muzzled, or call it golden silence or wisdom, but it’s definitely not fear and this difficult impasse too shall pass.

    And to quote Jesus: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. That’s a promise from Jesus himself! And I suspect Pope Francis was praying for this when he put his head against the Wall. Believed me he was moved by the glaring injustice and gravitated to that Wall by the power of his faith in God’s power to right this wrong.

    Alas, knowing me, I’ll still despair, as sometimes this world is so cruel; I need help to believe again.

    • Kris on September 29, 2015, 2:48 pm

      I am sure the Pope was thinking also of The Judgment of the Nations, Matthew 25:

      “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

      Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

      Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

      And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

      Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

      Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

      He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    • Chu on September 29, 2015, 4:04 pm

      All good points that you make. The pope needed to warm the people with a universal message of love, not come here like Netanyahu and lobby the congress to go to war for Israel. Very different messages of the two leaders.

      Jesus Christ had done in his life what someone was bound to do eventually – stand up and say the opposite of what the pharisees preached, which is why they charged him with blasphemy. Love thy neighbor as thyself was never words muttered from the Judean Pharisees, and Jesus challenged their racial creed and war against thy neighbors.
      This led to Christianity becoming a great universal religion and a moral one that respected all (although the institution of religion has surely fouled up that message all too often), whereas the Judahites were left to wander the world and now this last century reconstruct some fabled history on the backs of Arabs.

      • Keith on September 29, 2015, 5:10 pm

        CHU- “This led to Christianity becoming a great universal religion and a moral one that respected all….”

        Surely you jest. History tells quite a different story.

      • wondering jew on September 29, 2015, 9:32 pm

        Chu- The anti Judaism of statements like this is blatant. (First a textual rather than a historic fact: To consider Jesus as preaching anti tribalism because of one remark regarding a good Samaritan is ignorance: Jesus came to the Jews and for the Jews and it was only Paul who changed the message.)

        But aside from the ignorance, let me be clear: aligning antiZionism with anti Judaism as Chu does here is a way of telling the Jews, keep your swords handy, because these haters of Israel are haters of Jews and Judaism. If chu wants war, many Jews will opt for atheism and give up the ghost, but many others will fight him tooth and nail and Zionism will last longer. Separate anti Zionism from such Anti Judaism, or else condemn the Palestinians to an extra dose of suffering. You think you strengthen your cause by aligning anti Zionism with anti Judaism. I strongly disagree.

      • Sibiriak on September 29, 2015, 11:26 pm

        Chu: This led to Christianity becoming a great universal religion and a moral one that respected all …

        In one sense, Christianity, is hardly universal at all: it has divided humanity into believers and unbelievers and condemned the latter to eternal damnation. It has even preached at times an idea deeply rooted in the New Testament: that salvation is limited to an “elect”, a small group of chosen individuals, who, by the grace of God, can hear His word and avoid the dark fate of the un-chosen.

        Chu: … whereas the Judahites were left to wander the world and now this last century reconstruct some fabled history on the backs of Arabs.

        The idea of the “Wandering Jew” is itself myth history, a fable largely invented by Christians and deeply implicated in Christian anti-Semitic ideology.

        Shlomo Sand explains the roots of this myth-history in his ” The Invention of the Jewish People” (p. 134):

        …the renewed Jewish myth about the exile in fact arose fairly late, and was due mainly to the rise of Christian mythology about the Jews being exiled in punishment for their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus.

        It seems that the source of the discourse regarding the anti-Jewish exile lies in the writings of Justin Martyr, who in the mid-second century linked the expulsion of circumcised men from Jerusalem after the Bar Kokhba revolt with divine collective punishment. He was followed by other Christian authors who regarded the presence of Jews outside their sacred land as the punishment and proof of their sins.

        […]With the triumph of Christianity in the early fourth century CE, when it became the religion of the empire, Jewish believers in other parts of the world also began to adopt the notion of exile as divine punishment. The connection between uprooting and sin, destruction and exile, became embedded in the various definitions of the Jewish presence around the world.

        The myth of the Wandering Jew, punished for his transgressions, was rooted in the dialectic of Christian-Jewish hatred that would mark the boundaries of both religions through the following centuries.

        To root anti-Zionism in anti-Jewish mythology, as you seem to be doing, would be a huge intellectual, moral and political error.

      • Chu on September 30, 2015, 9:34 am

        Christianity, is hardly universal at all: it has divided humanity into believers and unbelievers and condemned the latter to eternal damnation.
        It’s universal because of the 2 billion adherents global compared to 14 million Jews, but the moral aspect of christianity has been relative over the centuries. I was trying to say that Christianity was more inclusive, at the time of Christ than Judaism and the idea that they are a people apart. ‘condemning to eternal damnation’ Who does this? I think this represents the ‘sins’ of people within the group. Christian zios/ fringe groups make this claim, but do majority Catholics and Protestants? I don’t believe so.

        “Wandering Jew” is itself myth history, a fable largely invented by Christians and deeply implicated in Christian anti-Semitic ideology.”
        I’ve haven’t read Invention of the Jewish People yet, but isn’t the racism and hatred of others without a cause, the very sin that destroyed the ancient Jewish community from within and led to its destruction and exile, leaving them to wander?

        To root anti-Zionism in anti-Jewish mythology, as you seem to be doing, would be a huge intellectual, moral and political error.
        Yonah already said that, but I think it’s fair to delve into the history of Jewish racism in the Tanakh or Talmud. So often we hear Rabbis in Israel or the US spout many racist ideas and you have to wonder, is this only caused by the ideology of Zionism this last century?

      • Chu on September 30, 2015, 9:46 am

        Keith “This led to Christianity becoming a great universal religion and a moral one that respected all….”
        Surely you jest. History tells quite a different story.”

        Two parts
        1. Christianity became a great universal religion – I don’t think you deny that it’s
        the world largest religion and has a universal human quality. If I made the same comment about Islam, would you also say ‘surely you jest’?

        2. ‘A moral one that respected all.’ I think that most Christians today would say this is the case, and why I said the institution of religion has fouled it up. I was referring to the core beliefs of Christianity . Surely your parents were Christian, so you should have some idea about it.

      • Chu on September 30, 2015, 9:54 am

        Yonah : aligning anti Zionism with anti Judaism as Chu does here is a way of telling the Jews, keep your swords handy, because these haters of Israel are haters of Jews and Judaism.

        I recall you were the one a few years back who said you had Israel settlers as nephews who are illegally occupying another people’s land – this was when you were thinking of leaving Israel because it wasn’t worth it and you were conflicted. So i’m sure the swords are already sharpened in your family and ready to go regardless of how I understand ancient Jewish history.

      • YoniFalic on September 30, 2015, 10:40 am

        Here is Judaic scripture.

        Here is Islamic scripture.

        It should be obvious which is narrow-minded or parochial and which is universalist.

        Consider the vile hatred in the Passover Haggadah or in the Aleinu prayer.

        How about all the nonsense about the higher status of the Jewish soul?

        This sort of thing just turns my stomach. Where do we find anything comparable in Christianity and Islam? There are good reasons why E. European Jews of my great-grandparents and grandparents generation rejected Judaism in droves. My grandfather became an atheist. Unfortunately, he converted to an even more vile form of bigotry and prejudice: Zionism.

      • Sibiriak on September 30, 2015, 10:47 am

        Chu: …isn’t the racism and hatred of others without a cause, the very sin that destroyed the ancient Jewish community from within and led to its destruction and exile, leaving them to wander?

        No. Because, to put it succinctly, there was no “exile”. It never happened. So there never was a “wandering” Jewish people.

        Those are myths, not historical facts. Differing versions of those myths have played major roles in both Christian antisemitism AND Zionist ideology.

        In addition to Sand’s “The Invention of the Jewish People”, see:

        “”Israeli Scholar Disputes Founding Myth”

        “The Myth of Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel”

        “The Jews Weren’t Driven into Exile by the Romans “

        “”Israel and Exile: a Nation in Need of a Founding Myth”

      • Mooser on September 30, 2015, 11:09 am

        “To root anti-Zionism in anti-Jewish mythology, as you seem to be doing, would be a huge intellectual, moral and political error.”

        Oh, I agree, absolutely. But unfortunately, it may very well take a moral, political and intellectual error more powerful than Zionism’s errors, to dispose of it. Better steel yourself.

      • Keith on September 30, 2015, 11:13 am

        CHU- “‘A moral one that respected all.’ I think that most Christians today would say this is the case, and why I said the institution of religion has fouled it up.”

        Ah, yet another Mondoweisser who believes that words speak louder than actions! If we ignore the B.S. and simply add up the body counts and blood, then the folks who identify as Christians have brought more death and destruction to this planet than any other religion, period. The Third World still suffers from Euro-American war-making, to which we can now add the misery of neoliberal globalization. All of this so rather obvious that to provide details is somewhat of an insult to the intelligence of those aware of historical reality. Not that the Christian religion was the driving force behind all of this, the lust for power transcends the specific religious ideology. Yet, to focus on lofty rhetoric while ignoring base actions is hypocrisy. And then to try to separate “Christianity” from the religious institutions of Christianity is illogical. The bottom line is that based upon the historical brutality and war mongering of “Christians,” it is ludicrous to claim some lofty Christian morality compared to other religions.

      • Chu on September 30, 2015, 1:29 pm
      • Keith on September 30, 2015, 2:22 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “So there never was a “wandering” Jewish people.”

        I think it is a little more complicated than that. In “The Jewish Century,” Yuri Slezkine describes the medieval Jews as service nomads, those who remained apart from the surrounding host community and performed certain specialized functions. And while the actual amount of “wandering” may be in dispute (there were expulsions, etc), nonetheless the Jews were seen by both the host community and themselves as aliens.

      • Chu on September 30, 2015, 2:59 pm

        Let’s not confuse things – you’re the mondo-weisser of the two of us…

        Keith: The bottom line is that based upon the historical brutality and war mongering of “Christians,” it is ludicrous to claim some lofty Christian morality compared to other religions.

        That’s YOUR bottom line but I’m not convinced of the argument about Christianity as war mongerers( you even slip in that the ‘Christian religion was not the driving force behind all of this’) Much of the colonial plundering was done by Spanish & English royalty in Europe, not the majority of Christians of the world.
        Genghis was a Tengrist, so are Tengrists responsible for the Mongol conquests of his day? But the conquerors of Spain did bring their missions to convert thy ‘heathens’, which was a decision of the Spanish Monarch I assume.

        Whereas, the Jewish state under the guise of political Zionism robs the Palestinians of their land and brings transplanted women & children to the land, and thus makes religion the central component of it.

      • Chu on September 30, 2015, 3:36 pm


        What’s bad about the Aleinu prayer?

      • echinococcus on September 30, 2015, 3:58 pm


        Aleinu is among the most xenophobic bullshit you’ll hear; possibly worse than any Trump. Praise our (tribal, ID’d by name) lord, who made us unlike the vain Heathen, who pray to a (generic) god that cannot save them.

        So this also invalidates your argument about the importance of religion in the Zionist entity. It has blast-all to do with religion. These guys are interested in birth/blood/race only. Belief is just a pretext.

      • YoniFalic on October 1, 2015, 6:03 am

        Here is an article on Aleinu.

        I have one qualm about the article. It spends a lot of text with theories that liturgy changes resulted from responses to persecution events.

        I took a few courses in Jewish history at TAU. One professor categorically rejected such theories as apologetics. He theorized that the changes resulted more from economic developments in the Jewish community. He argued that as Jewish communities became more involved in usury, predatory lending, and loan sharking, Jewish liturgy increased demonization of gentiles because it was easier to justify squeezing and exploiting people that one considered vile, subhuman, and inimical.

        His timeline of liturgy changes vs. economic development was quite impressive albeit not completely persuasive.

        The professor reminded me somewhat of my grandfather, who told me that he became a Zionist because gentile antisemites were mostly correct about Jews, that gentiles were becoming less tolerant of bad Jewish behavior, and that Jews could only reform themselves if they had their own country — something that now seems completely untrue to me.

    • MHughes976 on September 29, 2015, 5:01 pm

      Well, all sorts of thoughts are attributed to the Pope. On the whole I see in him yet another liberal Zionist, which is after all the standard position among the leaders of the Christian West: he has done and said nothing to challenge them on this. A tear for Palestine is by no means incompatible with liberal Zionism: see Professor Beinart, often reported here. I see no sign of the impasse passing. indeed I see, as I suggested above, the impact of the Pause at the Wall being allowed, surely deliberately and as a matter of policy, to fade. I don’t really understand the difference between being ‘muzzled’ by concern for what might happen to the Church and being influenced by fear. Fear is after all quite reasonable when one is confronted with someone as menacing as Netanyahu.
      I’m not sure that the Pope has ever thought of Israel in the apocalyptic terms of Mt.25, or indeed that he should have been. But if he was it would be even more pressing for him to say something explicit. The prophetic task is to say the bitter things out loud and soon, as Isaiah’s call-vision – and Marc Ellis quite often – remind us.
      But then I’m a liberal/sceptical Protestant. Just to add that it’s not quite fair to say that no Pharisee ever even muttered a reference to love of neighbour as self – this is after all a quote from Leviticus. It’s hardly prominent in Leviticus, I agree, and the Christian claim that these rather under-emphasised verses were really the crucial key to the moral behaviour demanded by the Hebrew Scriptures was a challenging one.

      • kalithea on September 29, 2015, 11:33 pm

        I respect this opinion, because as I stated, justice means everything to me. It’s frustrating, but you have to admit Zionists have destroyed the careers and reputation of Palestinian sympathizers in high-profile positions and would like nothing better than to tear down the Church since they’re chiselling away every chance they get. I don’t see anything gained if Zionists tear into the Pope especially when they’re chomping at the bit for him to make one faux pas. Zionists don’t like power they can’t completely trust.

        I don’t believe the Pope is ideological, therefore Zionism of any stripe most probably means nothing to him. We all have to do our part to expose Zionism as a negative force in our world to discredit and weaken Zionist power and of course we have to shame and rid through the ballot box leaders and politicians who pander to Zionism to shake the grip of Zionism in that upper echelon.

      • kalithea on September 30, 2015, 6:03 pm

        @MHughes 976

        I’m not sure if you’re aware that the Pope tried to intervene in the recent execution of a woman in Georgia asking that her life be spared and is also trying to stop the execution of another inmate on death row in Oklahoma.

        Unfortunately, neither the Board of Pardons in Georgia nor the Governor to whom the Pope’s representative also sent a letter paid heed or were moved by the Pope’s appeal.

        So, if the Pope’s influence couldn’t achieve a stay of execution for this woman, just imagine him appealing for justice for the Palestinians and then suffering an avalanche of criticism not only from Jewish Zionists but also from Christian Zionists led by the likes of John Hagee. One should consider the risk he would be taking and the risk to the Church that he is charged with protecting vs how much influence he could really have at this moment when the Church is emerging from one of the darkest periods in its history. And I want to repeat at this moment because circumstances can change and an opportunity for the Church to play a significant role in the cause for justice for Palestinians may arise and I’m hoping it does, because the Church has over a billion followers and that’s people power and a force to be reckoned with.

        Unfortunately, Kairos International which the Church has membership in took a major hit in funding precisely because of its solidarity with justice for Palestinians. And that defunding represents less help for Palestinian refugees and their day to day reality and needs. There are Catholic charitable organizations helping Palestinians like Caritas Jerusalem that would suffer collaterally as well. And I wouldn’t want to see this gentle Pope raked over the coals by individuals like Hagee who in the past has demonized the Catholic Church in the worst way, and although an apology was made, frankly, I don’t buy it.

        So the risk must be weighed against how much good would come from the Pope going out on a limb right now on behalf of Palestinians and whether it would do their cause more harm than good, and harm the Pope and the Church as well.

        Believe me, I long for the day that the Church can use its influence to help Palestinians in a significant way, and I continue to believe that the Pope is not to blame, but Zionist power is responsible for obstructing justice by silencing the voice of righteousness.

      • kalithea on October 1, 2015, 12:10 am

        the Christian claim that these rather under-emphasised verses were really the crucial key to the moral behaviour demanded by the Hebrew Scriptures was a challenging one.

        was being the operative word; hopefully everyone’s evolved since then.

        Fascinating discussion up above.

        Also, I love it when Jews want to argue ownership of Jesus! Jesus came to the Jews and for the Jews. I have no problem with that! No problem whatsoever with Jews wanting to own Jesus, as long as they understand that they can’t own his genes and discard his spirit. So please take him, embrace him, own him all you want, because the mere fact that Jesus was born into the Jewish nation speaks volumes: he was your baby; your gift, then you kind of discarded it; disowned him and Christians adopted him and made him their treasure-it’s that simple. But I for one don’t have a problem at all if you all want him back…only now; it’s shared custody. Hey, Jesus quoted from the Torah  Deuteronomy 6:4-5  and the dreaded 19:18 Leviticus and reduced the laws of God into just one simple, magnificent command: LOVE. So please, take this gift back if you like…and run with it, so finally we might have some…peace.

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