Archive for Israel

Raphael Magrik: Commentary Whitewashes Discrimination

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by loonwatch

Muslims women gather for a special Eid ul-Fitr morning prayer at the Los Angeles Convention Center on August 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Muslims women gather for a special Eid ul-Fitr morning prayer at the Los Angeles Convention Center on August 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Commentary Whitewashes Discrimination

by , The Daily Beast

Only three weeks since Passover, and some people already need refreshers.

Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin argues that Islamophobia in the United States must be a myth because… look! the Muslims are breeding like rabbits. Citing newly released census data showing that the population of American Muslims more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, Tobin asks: “Is it possible or even likely that Islam would be thriving in the United States if it were not a society that is welcoming Muslims with open arms and providing a safe environment for people to openly practice this faith?”

Yes, it’€™s very possible. Let’s start with the Passover story: in particular, Exodus 1:12, in which the Egyptians discover that, “€œthe more they afflicted [the Israelites], the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.” It looks like Tobin skipped that section of the haggadah.

And this Biblical wisdom holds up well under scrutiny: historically, discrimination and prejudice haven’€™t done much to hinder population growth. The African American population quadrupled (from under five million to nearly twenty million) between the end of the Civil War and the 1964 Civil Rights Act: does Tobin think that a century of Jim Crow, housing discrimination and the Ku Klux Klan provided Blacks “€œa safe environment”€? The fact is, Islam is growing everywhere: doubling over the last thirty years in Europe, and on pace to reach 2.2 billion worldwide by 2030 (it’€™s currently 1.6 billion). Its growth in America is just one piece of this broader trend.

Here’s another fact: Islamophobia is alive and well in America. Tobin claims that there are “€œno obstacles to Muslim advancement or systematic ill treatment.” Tell it toHani Khan, who was fired from her job at Abercrombie & Fitch when she wouldn’€™t remove her headscarf. In 2009, Muslims filed 803 religious discrimination claims with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That’€™s about 25% of the total claims, even though Muslims make up, according to the Pew Research Center, less than 1% of the American population. Resumes with Muslim names get lower response rates from employment firms than resumes with names from any other ethnic or religious group. And it extends beyond employment. In a 2010 Gallup poll, 43% of Americans self-reported some prejudice against Muslims, compared to 15% for Jews and 18% for Christians.

What’€™s sad is that we’€™ve seen all this before. Muslims aren’€™t the first religious group to be accused of cooperating with America’€™s international enemies. Just as Muslims today are called terrorists, American Jews were once tarred as the servants of Moscow. Similarly, attempts to outlaw Sharia recall centuries of anti-Semitic paranoia about Jewish religious law. In every generation, my haggadah teaches me, bigots rise up to discriminate against and attack minorities. If Jonathan Tobin cannot see that, if he continues to turn a blind eye to the oppression of Muslims among us, well then, I’€™ve got a couple more Bible verses he ought to read.

Itamar Gelbman: Israeli Candidate Running for Congress in Texas Pledges to ‘stop Islamization of America’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by loonwatch

Itamar Gelbman

He grew up in Israel, served in the IDF as a lieutenant and is running for Congress, one of his main goals is to ‘stop the Islamization of America.’

What if a Turk who was born in the US but grew up in Istanbul came to America and said one of his primary goals was to end US funding to Israel? You can bet that he would be accused of stealth jihad and Islamization of the US:

Israeli candidate running for Congress in Texas pledges to ‘stop Islamization of America’

(Islamophobia-Watch.com)

Itamar Gelbman was born in New York 30 years ago and as a child moved with his parents to Herzliya, where he was raised. He studied business management and computer science at Tel Aviv University and served as an undercover reserve officer in the Tel Aviv Police District.

After graduation, Gelbman joined the IDF where he was a lieutenant in what he calls the “army special forces.” He said he could not be more specific about what he did in the army but that he received multiple awards, including a commendation from the IDF chief of staff.

Eight years ago, he moved to Texas. After US President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, Gelbman decided to get involved in politics.

Gelbman is running in the May 29 Republican Primary in Texas’s Sixth Congressional District, which is outside Dallas. “I’m the only candidate for the seat who is pro-Israel,” Gelbman said.

Gelbman said he believes American politicians need to give Israel the benefit of the doubt. He does not believe the US should involve itself in the settlement issue and he would work to block foreign aid to Islamic countries that act against Israel and the United States.

“I would defend Israel and be their voice in the House,” he said. “Israel should be allowed to do whatever it needs to do. The Palestinians need to change their education system and accept Israel as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital.” Gelbman said he would work to make sure a law requiring the US to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would be enforced.

He received national attention when Muslims in his district were offended by his campaign flyer in which vowed to “fight the Islamization of America.”

Gelbman recently came to Israel to spend Passover with family. While he was in the country, he met with MK Danny Danon and other Likud politicians.

Jerusalem Post, 7 May 2012

Not so sure about the “national attention” bit. The only report I can find of Gelbman antagonising the Muslim community is by a local TV station.

Declaring War on ‘Political Islamism’

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by loonwatch
William KristolWilliam Kristol

The neocons have been around for decades, first to mobilize support against Soviet-led communism, and then, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to wage a so-called “Global War on Terrorism.”

As the architects of the spectacularly disastrous Iraq War, the necons should have been thoroughly discredited and relegated to the political fringe. Yet it seems these foreign policy hawks have simply retooled their message, founded a new think tank, and are poised to wreak havoc once again.

By Robert Parry

Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has responded to his lack of foreign policy experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.”

In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan – and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end” – as foolish wishful thinking.

“It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war … will end’ — even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there — then the American people should know that.”

What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration – presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks – will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from.

“This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in — and had no choice but to engage in — a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front.

“There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.”

As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.”

In other words, Kristol and the neocons expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries.

One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare.

He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency?

Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his reelection.

But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.”

Romney’s foreign policy advisers include:

Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehmanand Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation.

Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world – except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.”

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists. …

“Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power — conceived in the broadest terms — that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies. …

“A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. …

“The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies

The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness.

“A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards that United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed.

“Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources.

“They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs.

“They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States.

“This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country. …

“Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combating global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy.

“The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A President who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future. … Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East

As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran:

“Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. …

“To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. … The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.

“With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunderstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner.

“President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring.

“But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure. …

“[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

“The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.”

Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes:

“Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders.

“Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege andNeck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

Claiming Chris Christie Has An ‘Islam Problem,’ Pipes And Emerson Demonstrate NRO’s Islamophobia Problem

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes

(h/t: Frank Gold)

Claiming Chris Christie Has An ‘Islam Problem,’ Pipes And Emerson Demonstrate NRO’s Islamophobia Problem

By Matt Duss on May 1, 2012, ThinkProgress

In National Review, Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson — two key figures in the Islamophobia network discussed in CAP’s 2011 Fear, Inc report — write that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) “has a problem, specifically an Islam problem, that can and should get in the way of his possible ascent to higher office”:

In short, Christie has hugged a terrorist-organization member, abridged free-speech rights, scorned concern over Islamization, and opposed law-enforcement counterterrorism efforts. Whenever an issue touching on Islam arises, Christie takes the Islamist side against those — the DHS, state senators, the NYPD, even the ACLU — who worry about lawful Islamism eroding the fabric of American life.

A perusal of the authors’ case against Christie reveals it as comically weak, full of highly questionable characterizations and buttressed by links that don’t actually demonstrate what they’re supposed to. In a typical example, they criticize Christie for voicing support for Mohammed Qatanani, imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, “on the eve of his deportation hearing for not hiding an Israeli conviction for membership in Hamas.” They do not mention that the hearing resulted in Qatanani being cleared of charges.

Pipes and Emerson knock Christie for his concern over revelations of the New York City Police Department’s spying on New Jersey Muslims, suggesting that he should’ve shown “gratitude” for the NYPD operating outside its jurisdiction.

And of course the authors take special offense at Christie’s bold defense of New Jersey state superior court judge Sohail Mohammed against attacks by anti-Islam activists, in which Christie offered the most cogent summation of the anti-sharia movement on record: “It’s crap. It’s just crazy.”

Pipes and Emerson suggest that there is tension between Christie’s friendly relations with Muslims and his “ostentatiously” pro-Israel stance. “This makes him unusual,” the authors write, “for a pro-Israel stance typically goes hand-in-hand with concern about Shari’a.” But in asserting such a zero-sum relationship between support for Muslim constituents and support for Israel, Pipes and Emerson inadvertently demonstrate two things: First, their own ignorance about Israel. Since its founding, Israel has maintained a publicly-funded Sharia court system for the some 19 percent of Israelis who are Muslim. (Israeli society is fraught with numerous challenges, but imminent takeover by sharia law does not appear to be one of them.) And second, that their real agenda involves creating difficulty for Christie among pro-Israel voters. As with all such smear efforts, the goal here isn’t to actually demonstrate that Christie has done anything wrong, merely to create the sense that there are “troubling questions” about Christie’s views and relationships.

While Pipes and Emerson fail to demonstrate that Chris Christie has an “Islam problem,” they succeed in demonstrating that National Review still has an Islamophobia problem. Last month the magazine took important steps to rid itself of two writers who had expressed bigoted views toward African-Americans. It’s long past time that National Review do the same with those of its writers expressing similar views toward Muslim Americans.

Bob Simon Lays the Smack Down on Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by loonwatch

A follow up to our story on the Christians of Palestine. We mentioned that Bob Simon of 60 Minutes was going to do a report on Christians in the Holy Land and I have to say he did a pretty good job.

He covered the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and how there has been a slow exodus over the past few decades due to Israeli occupation policies. He also covered the Kairos initiative and how that is making inroads within Palestinian society.

Most intriguingly, Bob Simon lays the smack down on Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren at the 11 minute mark. Oren also does some blame shifting, saying that it is Muslims who are persecuting Christians not Israelis:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7406228n
Veteran CBS News correspondent Bob Simon experienced something while reporting a “60 Minutes” piece last night, that he’d never before. His story was on Christian residents leaving the Holy Land and the causes behind it: Islamic extremism? Israeli occupation? or something more? Simon interviewed clerics from the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran faiths, also Palestinian residents of the West Bank, and Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Dr.Michael Oren. But Oren didn’t like the premise of the story and called Simon’s boss, CBS News chairman and “60 Minutes” EP Jeff Fager long before it story aired.

“Mr. Ambassador, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve received lots of reactions from just about everyone I’ve done stories about. But I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet,” said Simon. “Well, there’s a first time for everything, Bob,” said the ambassador.

Christians for Palestine

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Jerusalem Church

“Jesus was the first Palestinian martyr.” –Yasser Arafat

A few months back Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren penned an article titled, “Israel and the plight of Palestinian Christians,” in which he attempted to manipulate the reality of Christians in the Holy Land. Oren’s article came on the heels of an Islamophobic screed by Ayaan H. Ali in Newsweek titled, “The War on Christians.”

Also, today, Bob Simon of 60 minutes will be reporting on the “slow exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.”

As the birthplace of Christianity, Palestine is home to the oldest Christian populations in the world. But after centuries of continuous presence in the Holy Land, the creation of modern-day Israel in 1948 precipitated a quiet exodus of native Christians.

Although Christian opinion on the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been mixed in Western countries, many evangelicals have been blind to the plight of  Palestinians in favor of Israeli hardliners. Though their unconditional support for Israel can be attributed to many factors, the phenomenon of “Christian Zionism” can at least in part be traced to concerted outreach efforts on behalf of Israel–bolstered by negative portrayals of the Palestinian people, and an absence of their narrative.

Christian Palestinian groups like Sabeel Center and Al-Bushra have had an on-line presence for years, but they were not widely known outside the Middle East. Recently, Palestinian Christians reached out to the global community with the launch of the Kairos Palestine Document, modeled after the South African Kairos Document published in 1985 as part of a successful effort to abolish Apartheid:

This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this spirit the document requests the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel. Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God.

We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region, calling on them to revisit theologies that justify crimes perpetrated against our people and the dispossession of the land.

Also, last month in the West Bank city of  Christ’s birth, the Bethlehem Bible College  held an annual conference under the banner, “Christ at the Checkpoint.” Hundreds of Christians from around the world attended, and organizers hailed the event as, ”a major breakthrough in the evangelical world.”

While Palestinian Christians have so far reached only a small minority of their Western counterparts, their apparent success has captured the attention of Israel’s increasingly worried supporters.

Christians for Palestine

By Lee SmithTablet

For most American Jews and Israelis, evangelical Christians are synonymous with zealous, biblically inspired support of the Jewish state—so zealous, in fact, that it makes some Jews uneasy. But the days when Israel could count on unconditional support from evangelicals may be coming to an end.

Last month, a conference convened in Bethlehem by Palestinian activists and Christian clergy long at odds with the Jewish state managed to bring a number of leading lights from the evangelical community in North America and Europe to the Holy Land. Many of the speeches at the conference touched on themes that one would commonly hear at a BDS teach-in, like blaming the entire Middle East conflict on Israel’s occupation and the settlements.

Indeed, the name of the conference, Christ at the Checkpoint, is indicative of the different direction this segment of the evangelical movement is heading toward. The idea is that evangelicals should rethink their support for a state that occupies another people and oppresses them. Once they get the full story, conference organizers hope, Western evangelicals may find they have more in common with the downtrodden Palestinians than with the Israelis.

To pro-Israel evangelicals and Zionists who were paying attention, Christ at the Checkpoint was a wake-up call. The larger trend, which for want of a better phrase might be called the pro-Palestinian evangelical movement and is indeed spearheaded by Palestinian Christians, is already changing minds. Giving them momentum are money raised in the United States, theology, and perhaps most important of all, a movie. The documentary film With God on Our Side is leaving many former pro-Israel evangelicals wondering why they never heard the Palestinian side of the story.

Many friends of Israel, as well as Israelis, have long been concerned that evangelical support is premised largely on self-interest of an especially macabre nature. Israel, in this reading, is ground zero for the apocalypse: Before Christ can return to Earth, the Jews must return to Israel and the Temple must be restored, ushering in first a time of tribulation and then a reign of peace.

Of course, the apocalypse and Christ’s return is not the only justification for Christian support of Israel. Indeed, this end-time scenario embarrasses some evangelicals whose support is premised on the idea that God keeps his promises, not only to Christians but also to Jews, to whom God pledged the land of Israel. This conviction is further buttressed by a sense of historical responsibility, specifically to stand with the Jews and atone for the failure of Christians during the Holocaust to save the nation that gave them their savior.

Though the vast majority of evangelicals still maintain that support, for the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948, there is an increasingly heated debate in the evangelical community that may augur a shift in the political winds. And if the Christ at the Checkpoint camp wins out, the pro-Israel Jewish community that once looked warily upon evangelical support may come to regard that movement with nostalgia.

***

“The debate in the Jewish community should not be about whether or not to be comfortable with Christian support for Israel,” David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, told me last week. “Christians are going to be involved in the issue whether we are comfortable or not. The question is whether they’re going to be on Israel’s side or not.”

Christians United for Israel is the United States’ largest and best-known Christian Zionist organization. Founded in 2006 by John Hagee, pastor of the CornerStone Church in San Antonio, Texas, CUFI boasts over a million members. Hagee has found himself in the middle of political controversy in the past—most recently during John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign when his statements regarding the Holocaust were misinterpreted and McCain rejected his support. (Hagee declined to comment for this article.)

John Hagee
John Hagee

Hagee and other figures base support for the Jewish state on biblical foundations, specifically on Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” The message is clear: Those who support Israel will be rewarded by God. But pro-Israel evangelicals have sent their flock out into the field vulnerable—that is, without an account of the conflict that besets the citizens of the present-day homeland of the Jews. Armed only with a biblical defense of the Jewish state, evangelicals are unprepared to justify it on political grounds.

This gap has made room for people across the cultural and ideological spectrum—whose motivations run the gamut from genuine compassion for Palestinians to anti-Semitism—to fill the space with their own interpretations of contemporary Middle East history. Not surprisingly, many of these narratives tend to be drawn from precincts of the left, like the BDS movement, that are known for their hostility to the Jewish state. What is peculiar is that these accounts are being entertained and sometimes embraced in evangelical churches, Bible schools, and Christian colleges that are not typically known for their progressive politics.

It wasn’t difficult for these Christian critics of Israel to find a weak link in the Christian Zionist narrative—it’s the ethical morass inherent in the formulation of Genesis 12:3. The children of the Bible, Christians as well as Jews, believe that all people are created in God’s image and are therefore born with individual dignity. But if people of faith are supposed to bless Israel because they’ll be blessed in return, then they are treating others, Jews and Arabs, not as individuals but rather as instruments in their own spiritual drama.

You can’t treat people as chess pieces, says Porter Speakman Jr., the 40-year-old director of With God on Our Side. This 82-minute-long documentary, which premiered in 2010 and is now being shown at churches and college campuses, has had a major role in tilting evangelical opinion, especially among young people, against Israel. Speakman told me in a phone interview that isn’t aim isn’t to “delegitimize Israel, but to be critical of policies that are having an effect on real people’s lives.”

“I grew up in a Christian home in the south, where not to support Israel was to go against God,” Speakman told me. He said he made the film in order to explore a question that he thinks has been missing from the conversation in the evangelical community. That is: “What are the consequences of my beliefs and my theology for real people living on the ground?”

With God on Our Side follows the intellectual odyssey of Christopher Harrell, a twenty-something recent film-school graduate, who is trying to come to grips with the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very different story from the Bible-based injunctions that formed his spiritual life as a child. The film’s narrative trajectory starts with Harrell’s parents, who he recalls once celebrated Passover—“I’m not sure why we did that. We’re not Jewish. We’re just this normal American Midwestern family”—and who support Israel because that’s “just what everyone did.” The film moves then to a series of interviews with figures in the evangelical community known for their animus toward Zionism, like Gary Burge and Stephen Sizer, and writers outside the evangelical milieu whose reputation rests on their hostility to Israel, like Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein.

These interviews challenge the mainstream evangelical narrative with well-worn accusations typical of BDSers. For instance, the Israeli occupation, says one South African evangelical, is “apartheid on steroids.”

“Growing up,” Speakman said of his childhood, “there was never a choice, you were supposed to love and support Israel. That meant following Genesis 12 as well as a fulfillment of endtime prophecies. But does supporting Israel mean supporting all of Israel’s geopolitical decisions?”

Speakman, who lived in Israel with his wife from 1998 until 2003, said that he thinks the role of Christians is to support both Jews and Arabs in their search for a solution. But some critics of his documentary think that the film goes much further. They see it as making the case that evangelicals have taken the wrong side—favoring a nation inhabited by those who rejected Jesus as their savior rather than the Christian communities that have existed in the Holy Land since the time of Christ. The issue is that key segments of the Palestinian Christian community have a vested political interest in delegitimizing Zionism—a fact that Speakman and other Western activists in the evangelical community may or may not be aware of.

Among the Palestinian outfits leading the campaign critical of Israel is the Bethlehem Bible College, which organized Christ at the Checkpoint, for which Speakman served as a media coordinator. The most prominent and active organization is the Jerusalem-based Sabeel, headed by a Palestinian Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek. Its American branch, Friends of Sabeel North America, is based in Portland, Ore., and raises money for its Jerusalem affiliate.

“Sabeel is nakedly hostile to Israel,” Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for CAMERA, told me in an interview. In an article on Sabeel and Ateek published last week, Van Zile quotes the clergyman at length, including this peculiar admission: “From my perspective as a Palestinian Christian, Zionism is a step backward in the development of Judaism.”

***

According to Randy Neal, Western Regional Coordinator of CUFI, the ideological foundations of the pro-Palestinian Christian movement are grounded in both liberation theology and replacement theology. The first is a politicized doctrine that requires a continual mindset of victimhood, in order to solicit political sympathy and action on behalf of the “oppressed” against the “oppressors.” The latter holds that the church has replaced Jews as God’s chosen and become the real Israel.

“It’s not just that church has replaced Israel,” said Neal, but for many of the Palestinian Christian clergy and their activist sympathizers, “the Palestinian church is the real church. Jesus, on this reading, was an underdog, who came to champion the underdog. He was oppressed by the Romans, so if you are Christ-like, you are also oppressed, like the Palestinians. This increasingly includes the idea that Jesus was a Palestinian. It’s an adopted narrative that is believed to have started with Yasser Arafat, but to some people it’s become a gospel fact.”

In other words, it’s a narrative that denies Jesus’ Jewish identity. “It is a very ugly expression of Christian anti-Semitism,” Neal said.

But Brog, Neal’s colleague, disagrees: “anti-Semitism is not the driving force.” Rather, he said, the impetus comes from a combination of two ideological streams. “There’s the anti-Israel perspective, which comes from the Palestinian Christians, who are using theology to preach a politically anti-Israel message. And then there are the Christians based in North America and Europe who are allowing liberal politics to trump Christian beliefs.”

The unpleasant reality is that Christian anti-Semitism has as much, if not more, theological justification as Christian support for Israel. Compared to two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism culminating with the Holocaust, one biblical verse is a pretty thin thread on which to hang support of the Jewish state.

Neal says that he believes Christian love of Israel is premised on Genesis 12:3 and on Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will enter into judgement with them there for my people, my heritage Israel.”

“We are supposed to love what God loves,” Neal said. “We consider ourselves ambassadors of Christ. For centuries, Christians abused and abandoned the apple of God’s eye, and we are not going to let that happen again on our watch.”

But as CUFI pushes Genesis and Joel, the Christ at the Checkpoint crowd is focused exclusively on Palestinians’ distress and apparently ignoring history. CAMERA’s Van Zile, who attended last month’s conference, noted that nowhere in the pro-Palestinian evangelical narrative is there any account of Jewish persecution. “I’ve heard moving testimony about Palestinian suffering. But they don’t acknowledge Muslim anti-Semitism. They don’t talk about Palestinian leadership, or how it’s abused the Palestinian community. There’s no account of Hamas in their story about Israel.”

********

John Hagee of the rabid Zionist Christians United for Israel, trying to drag the US into a war with Iran:

David Ha’ivri: Blatant Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab Racism on YNetNews

Posted in Loon Media, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by loonwatch

 

David_Haivri

David Ha’ivri

We have linked several times in the past to articles on YNetNews, a popular Israeli online news source. I am unaware of their “op-ed” policy, but today they published an article by David Ha’ivri titled, The Arab-Muslim Narrative.

Ha’ivri is the “director of the Shomron Liaison Office. He and his wife Mollie live in Kfar Tapuach.” Ha’ivri’s op-ed is racist tripe and generalizes both Arabs and Muslims.

I can understand such an op-ed being published on Arutz Sheva, or the The Israel Times Online but on YNetNews, a leading Israeli online site read by hundreds of thousands daily?

Here are some of the most egregious quotes:

This conversation was a great help to me in understanding the Muslim Arab mindset and culture. Facts are not really so important to them. They can be made up or even changed as needed.

Muslim people celebrate detachment from reality as part of their worship:

Understand that we are dealing with people who celebrate being detached from reality as part of their worship of Allah.

And perhaps the most racist and ridiculous of them all:

It is unrealistic, in my opinion, to believe that we can turn the Arabs into a society that truly embraces western concepts and values – like facts and sticking to truth. It makes much more sense to understand that fantasy and stretching the truth are very deeply embedded in the mindset of the Muslim and Arab culture. I do not mean to say this as an insult, but to suggest that we accept it as a fact, take it as it is and move on.