Archive for Judaism

Happy Passover and Easter Weekend

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by loonwatch

To all those celebrating and reflecting on Passover and Easter, may this be a blessed time for you all.

May it be a time free of hate and filled with peace, security and spiritual renewal.

Happy Passover:

Happy Easter:

Forward.com: Christians Called to Serve Jewish Settlers

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Christians helping Jewish settlers cultivate stolen land

Evangelical Christians are heeding the call to help Jewish settlers occupying Palestinian land harvest  crops. They are doing so because the “Bible” says so.

So the Bible legitimates the confiscation of other people’s land, driving them out and then aiding the occupiers and initiators of violence in reaping the harvest from land that they stole?:

Christians Called To Serve Jewish Settlers

(Forward.com)

PSAGOT, WEST BANK — It is a typical, even stereotypical, West Bank settlement scene: bearded young men pruning vines while enthusing about the Chosen People’s God-given right to this region. But in this case it is Jesus, and not Jewish identity, that animates these tillers.

For years, Westerners have flocked to the Israeli-occupied West Bank to help Palestinians with their olive harvest, as part of left-wing activist groups like the International Solidarity Movement. Among other things, the activists seek to resist efforts by settlers to disrupt the Palestinians’ reaping.

Now, the settlers have international harvest help of their own. The young Christians working in the Psagot Winery’s vineyards near Ramallah in mid-March were members of HaYovel. Last year, this Tennessee-based evangelical ministry started a large-scale operation to bring volunteers to tend and harvest settler grapes. They attach epic importance to their work.

God’s Work: Volunteers come to the West Bank to further a Biblical mission.

NATHAN JEFFAY
God’s Work: Volunteers come to the West Bank to further a Biblical mission.

“When you see prophecy taking place, you have the option to do nothing or become a vessel to it,” said volunteer pruner Blake Smith, a 20-year-old farmer from Virginia.

HaYovel preaches the old-school ideology of Religious Zionist settlers with one innovation: a sacred role for Christians.

The group’s members believe that the establishment of the State of Israel, its subsequent conquering of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and specifically the flourishing of agriculture in the occupied areas are fulfillments of biblical prophecies. Like many settlers, HaYovel cites a prophecy by Jeremiah that refers to the Samaria region of the West Bank: “Again you shall plant vines on the mountains of Samaria.” And like them, HaYovel believes that the settlement movement will help to bring the Messiah to Jerusalem — the only difference being that the volunteers anticipate a second coming.

But these Christians also focus on a prophecy rarely cited by settlers, who tend to place ideological value on using only avoda ivrit, or “Hebrew labor,” whenever possible. “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and your vine-dressers,” Isaiah prophesized to the Israelites.

Basing itself on this verse, HaYovel — which takes its name from the Bible’s twice-a-century agricultural jubilee — has made reverence of settlers into a central religious virtue.

“Being here, we just want to serve — and to bless the Jewish people in building up the land,” said Joshua Waller, a HaYovel ministry leader and one of the 11 children of Tommy Waller, the group’s founder and spiritual head. During a lunch break, a settler with yarmulke and sidelocks came to address volunteers. They keenly asked him to explain why the international community is wrong and the West Bank is not really occupied, and seemed prepared to accept what they were told. “We are not here to teach anything, just to learn,” Joshua Waller said shortly before the talk began.

To some of the volunteers, becoming settler laborers is a way of righting a historical Christian wrong. “This is a crazy time,” said Joe Trad Jr., a 23-year-old college dropout from Missouri. Over 2,000 years of contention, he said, “we saw Constantine and the Holocaust. Yet today, in this spot of the world, you have Christians and Jews for the first time with the same goal.”

The volunteers are a mix of people who, like Smith, had a mainstream Christian upbringing and were drawn to HaYovel out of curiosity; people from families that gave up the organized church to develop their own brand of religion, one they see as closer to Judaism, and some people who are emerging from personal crises.

Trad, a former alcoholic and cocaine addict, went through rehab and became a Christian two years ago. He described his volunteering as a way of giving thanks “for what the Lord has done for me in my life by freeing me from these addictions.”

Aaron Hood, a 21-year-old HaYovel staff employee, comes from a Tennessee family of 14 children that gave up on any organized church and started observing the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible according to its own understanding. The family observes Saturday, not Sunday, as a rest day.

Forward: Israel Fails To Rein In Jewish Extremists

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by loonwatch

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians daily

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians daily

Something tells me the below numbers are very conservative:

Israel Fails To Rein In Jewish Extremists: Report

by JTA (Forward)

Israel is not doing enough to stop the large increase in attacks on Palestinians by Jewish extremists, according to an internal European Union report.

The report by the 22 heads of mission of EU countries’ ambassadors in Ramallah said there were 411 assaults in 2011, compared to 266 in 2010 and 132 in 2009, according to Euobserver.com, which saw the report. The Netherlands was the lone country that refused to endorse the report.

The attacks ranged from throwing stones to gunfire, and uprooting olive trees to burning mosques. Three Palestinians were reported dead and 183 injured by the attacks.

Eight Jewish settlers, including five members of the Fogel family, were killed and 37 injured.

The report said that a small “hard-core” group of Jewish settlers carried out the attacks, according to Euobserver. But the diplomats also called the settler attacks part of a broader Israeli campaign to get rid of the Palestinians, saying they “effectively force a withdrawal of the Palestinian population away from the vicinity of settlements, thereby increasing the scope for settlement expansion.”

The EU report said that more than 90 percent of complaints filed by Palestinians ended with no indictment.

Israel has set up a police task force to stop settler attacks and Israeli leaders have roundly condemned such attacks, an Israeli official told Euobserver. The EU report also acknowledged that Israeli soldiers helped prevent attacks during the Palestinian olive harvest last year.

Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/153021/israel-fails-to-rein-in-jewish-extremists-report/#ixzz1pDnjTTRV

‘The Jews have stopped the billboard’ – American Atheists’ Leader Complains that ‘God is a myth’ ad near Hasidic Neighbourhood has Been Blocked

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by loonwatch

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia-Watch rightly questions whether Islamophobes who allied themselves with American Atheists over the Zombie Muhammad issue will now cry that Jews are attacking freedom of speech and expression, as they surely would if Muslims had stopped the billboard:

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

‘The Jews have stopped the billboard’ – American Atheists’ Leader Complains that ‘God is a myth’ ad near Hasidic Neighbourhood has Been Blocked

by Bob Pitt

This time atheists found themselves answering to a higher power – a picky landlord. A Southside loft owner refused to allow a billboard questioning Judaism to be installed atop his S. Fifth Street building on Tuesday amid outrage in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

National atheist leaders tried to take out a month-long ad adjacent to Williamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish stronghold with text in English and Hebrew reading: “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice.” But at the last minute, landlord Kenny Stier refused to allow workers from the advertising company Clear Channel into his building, according to American Atheists president David Silverman.

Silverman claims powerful neighborhood rabbis convinced Stier to block the non-believing billboard and called the religious leaders and the landlord “anti-atheist bigots”. “The Jews have stopped the billboard,” said Silverman. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”

Several Hasidic leaders said they had nothing to do with the landlord’s decision to block the billboard, and Stier declined to comment. “I don’t want to get involved in this,” he said.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion.

“Even if we were to ignore the antagonistic placement of this billboard near the Williamsburg Bridge, the content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner,” said Levin. “This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”

The Brooklyn Paper, 6 March 2012

We look forward to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who have been enthusiastically supporting American Atheists over the “Zombie Muhammad” controversy, joining Silverman in condemning this development as an outrageous attack on freedom of expression – as they undoubtedly would if it had occurred in a Muslim neighbourhood. But don’t hold your breath.

Texas Schools Association Discriminates against Muslims as Well as Jews

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by loonwatch

A really egregious story out of Texas:

Texas schools association discriminates against Muslims as well as Jews

A Houston Islamic academy was denied membership to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools after being grilled about the Koran and the mosque located at Ground Zero.

Iman Academy applied for membership to TAPPS in 2010, but the association denied the school’s request. After being rejected two years ago, Principal Cindy Steffens did not go public with the story, but The New York Times uncovered the Houston academy’s name last week and ran an article about the controversy.

TAPPS represents more than 220 private schools in the state. The association drew national attention last week after refusing to reschedule a basketball game for a Jewish Orthodox day school Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston, which could not play at the time because the players observed the Sabbath. After the parents threatened legal action, Beren was allowed to play its semi-final game.

The Iman Academy received a questionnaire as part of their application to apply for the TAPPS. Steffens said the questionnaire had provocative and loaded questions, including how the school addresses Christmas. Among the questions sent to Iman Academy and the other Islamic schools that applied were:

  • Historically, there is nothing in the Koran that fully embraces Christianity or Judaism in the way a Christian and/or a Jew understands his religion. Why, then, are you interested in joining an association whose basic beliefs your religion condemns?
  • It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category. Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your beliefs?
  • How does your school address certain Christian concepts? (i.e. celebrating Christmas)
  • Does your school teach that the Bible is corrupt? When was the  Bible allegedly polluted? Does the Koran actually  state that the Bible is polluted?
  • What is your attitude about the spread of Islam in America? What are the goals of your school in this regard?

In 2004, two other Islamic schools applied for membership and received a response letter that they perceived as hostile to their faith. They chose not to answer the questions, but Iman Academy did.

School officials were invited to an interview before the TAPPS board in November 2010, and Steffens said one board member said he wanted to discuss the “elephant in the room.” She said the board asked questions that seemed irrelevant to joining an association to play sports, such as asking her opinion about the mosque located near Ground Zero in New York City.

Steffens said another board member told her, “I know all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

Houston Chronicle, 6 March 2012

Robert P. Jones: The State of Anti-Sharia Bills

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Bad news for the hate brigades? It looks like  the ever shifting poll numbers are indicating that the anti-Sharia’ drive is no longer as popular with Americans now that it impedes upon the free exercise of religion by Jewish and Christian groups and also makes life difficult for business leaders:

The state of anti-sharia bills

by Robert P. Jones (WaPoBlog)

Earlier this month, before the furor over several proposed abortion bills threw Virginia into the national spotlight, another controversial bill began moving in the House of Delegates.

House Bill 825 proposes to ban the use of any legal code established outside the United States in U.S. courtrooms. While it is largely understood that the primary target of the legislation was sharia, or Islamic law, the expansive bill has drawn unexpected criticism from other groups that are concerned that, as written, it could easily be interpreted to ban the use of halacha, Jewish law, and other Catholic canon laws. Muslim advocates had already condemned the bill, as they’ve done with the dozens of state-level bills that have explicitly or implicitly targeted Islamic law. But Jewish groups were also speaking out, saying that the law could limit their ability to settle family matters like wills and divorces according to their religious guidelines. Catholic officials also voiced concerns that bills like these could prevent the Roman Catholic Church (based in Italy) from owning parish buildings and schools. Business leaders also added their voices to the clamor against the bill, citing concerns that it could hurt international business relations. Deciding to reevaluate their approach, the bill’s proponents sent the bill back to committee.

Virginia is just one of two dozen states with bans on foreign laws moving in their legislature. Last week, a similar bill made its way out of Florida’s House Judiciary Committee, amid protests from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Florida Bar’s Family Association, and the ACLU. A third measure preventing the use of foreign law in U.S. courtrooms headed toward a vote in the Georgia House of Representatives.

But as the debate in Virginia shows, the tide could be changing. Lawmakers have had to revamp their approach since an Appeals court struck down Oklahoma’s earlier version as discriminatory for specifically mentioning sharia law. In order to pass constitutional muster, the new bills are written with broad-strokes prohibitions, which have had the unintended effect of drawing other religious groups and business interests into the fray.

Public opinion is also shifting. While these legal challenges evolved, Americans’ concerns about the threat that sharia law’s threat to the American legal system have fluctuated considerably, largely in response to public events that captured national attention. A year ago, when Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearings on alleged radicalization among American Muslims, 23 percent of Americans agreed that American Muslims want to establish sharia as the law of the land in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) disagreed, while 13 percent said they did not know. In September 2011, near the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and amidst debates around the Park 51 Community Center and Mosque in Manhattan, which opponents dubbed the “ground-zero mosque,” this number rose to nearly one-third (30 percent) of the general population. Over six-in-10 (61 percent) disagreed, while 8 percent said they did not know.

Over the few months, though, these issues have had a much lower media profile. And in the absence of prominent national stimuli, concerns about the threat of sharia have dropped by more than half since September. PRRI’s February 2012 Religion and Politics Tracking Survey showed only 14 percent of Americans agree that American Muslims want to establish sharia or Islamic law as law of the land. More than two-thirds (68 percent) disagree, and nearly 1-in-5 (17 percent) say they do not know.

These two trends suggest that, despite early momentum, the sponsors of anti-sharia legislation may have an uphill battle ahead of them. By widening the bills’ scope to include all laws that originate outside the U.S., sponsors of anti-sharia legislation are wading more deeply into the waters of religious liberty. Given that 88 percent of Americans agree that the U.S. was founded on the idea of religious freedom for everyone, including religious groups that are unpopular, fighting these legislative battles openly on religious liberty terrain may be difficult. It certainly won’t help that the current bills are being considered at a time when Americans’ concerns about the threat of sharia law have ebbed.

By   |  03:55 PM ET, 02/29/2012

Haaretz: Jerusalem Christians are Latest Targets in Recent Spate of ‘Price Tag’ Attacks

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Some more analysis of the ongoing “price tag” attacks against Muslims and Christians in Israel:

Jerusalem Christians are latest targets in recent spate of ‘price tag’ attacks

“Price tag” graffiti was spray-painted in Jerusalem again Sunday night, with vandals this time targeting a downtown church.

The attack on the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation marks the latest in a series of price tag attacks that have targeted Muslim, Christian and leftist institutions in the capital over the last two months. But police believe most of the vandalism is not the work of an organized group; rather, they say, the spray-painted slogans are largely copycat actions carried out by lone individuals.

The original price tag attacks, in contrast, were thought to be the work of a group of settlers seeking to set a “price tag” on house demolitions in the settlements via retaliatory attacks on Palestinians and/or Israeli soldiers.

The attacks during the past two months have included the torching of cars belonging to Arab residents of Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood; spray-painting slogans on a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion; spray-painting slogans on Peace Now’s office in the capital, as well as the house of Peace Now activist Hagit Ofran; threats against Peace Now secretary general Yariv Oppenheimer; and an arson attack on an ancient mosque in the city’s Geula neighborhood. Over the last week alone, a bilingual school and two churches have been vandalized, including the Baptist church vandalized Sunday.

In both church attacks, the vandals spray-painted slogans denouncing Christianity, Jesus and Mary, such as “Jesus is dead,” “Death to Christianity” and “Mary was a prostitute.” They also included the by-now customary “price tag” slogan.

The Jerusalem police said they have arrested several suspects in this spate of attacks, including one for the attacks on Peace Now and one for the vandalism of the bilingual school. The latter suspect, arrested last week, said he vandalized the school to avenge the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team’s loss to two Arab teams two weeks ago, according to police. Police believe that many of the other attacks are similarly motivated by ordinary hooliganism, rather than ideology.

“It’s intolerably easy,” one senior Jerusalem police officer said. “Any child can take a spray can and spray it, and people know it will be broadcast. Not every case is really nationalistic.”

But to victims, the motive is irrelevant. Jerusalem’s Christian community increasingly feels under assault, and that is especially true for Christians living in Jewish neighborhoods. Priests in the Old City, especially Armenian priests who must often transit the Jewish Quarter, say they are spat on almost daily.

“It’s almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening,” said a senior priest at one Jerusalem church.

The spitting has become so prevalent that some priests have simply stopped going to certain parts of the Old City.

The Baptist church has been attacked twice before: It was torched in 1982 and again in 2007. “We mainly feel sad” about the attacks, said the church’s pastor, Charles Kopp. “It hurts us that anyone could even think we deserve such treatment. They don’t know us, but they apparently oppose anyone who doesn’t identity with them. I wish them well; I have no desire for revenge.”

Baptist priests don’t normally walk around in priestly garb, but Kopp said he would be afraid to walk through the Old City if he did.

Jacob Avrahami, the mayor’s advisor on the Christian community, visited the Baptist church on Monday to condemn the attacks. “They feel besieged; you can see it on them,” he said.

Dr. Gadi Gevaryahu, whose Banish the Darkness organization works to combat racism, said his big fear is that “one day, they’ll attack a mosque or a church with people inside and there will be a terrible conflagration here.”

“Over the last two years, 10 mosques have been torched here, and today it’s clear that it’s not just aimed at Palestinians or Muslims, but at foreigners in general,” he said.

Gevaryahu also offered a practical suggestion: Security cameras, he said, should be installed on every sensitive building in the city.