Monday, May 24, 2010

support from an unexpected source

I confess that when I saw this article at Huffpo, I was expecting something very different than what I read. It is, in a way, a good source for a response to what Campolo said at Sojouners, which I referred to last week.

Obama's Jewish Charm Offensive

An invitation to the White House is a big deal and can play all kinds of tricks on people's convictions, which might explain why so many of those who visited emerged with newfound praise for the president even though the administration has changed none of its positions on Israel. The president is still demanding that Jews build no new homes in Ramat Shlomo, a neighborhood that is entirely Jewish. He has yet to repudiate his administration's position that the Arab-Israeli conflict, and by implication Israeli intransigence, fuels the Taliban and other Arab extremists. And he has yet to apologize to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the humiliating treatment he dished out in March. Most of all, the president has not reversed his biased policy of apportioning the blame for the lack of movement in the peace process squarely on Israeli settlements rather than decades-old Arab refusal to accept Israel as a permanent and legitimate fact. We have yet to hear the president forcefully condemn the Hamas charter calling for the destruction of the State of Israel or the Palestinian Authority recently naming a public square after Dalal Mughrabi, who led 1978 Coastal Road terrorist massacre which killed 37 Israelis.

He makes one of the most interesting, and possibly succinct, insights into this US President.

And herein lies the problem with the President Obama. Simply stated, the man does not seem to hate evil. He continues to believe he can charm wicked regimes into doing good, that personal charisma can persuade tyrants to lay down their arms and beat their swords into plowshares. This was the policy that the president first pursued with Iran and Ahmadinejad. It of course yielded no results, other than to embolden a vile regime who promptly stole an election and began to slaughter their own people it the streets. The president turned up the charm with Hugo Chavez with the result that the Venezuelan dictator has now become one of the president's most strident critics.

And not just concerning the President, but also many of those who support them (I mean you, Sojo). They believe that if they 'play nice', make apologetic noises, take the blame, cring and crawl and kowtow to all who claim to be victims, then they will be liked.

Will the president and his advisers learn that charm offensives can never take the place of moral policy? All the smiles, hugs, and bows in the world are never going to soften tyrants who seek not the favor of the president of the United States but unchecked power over their oppressed citizenry.

I truly couldn't agree more. I am very surprised that such a article should be found at Huffpo, and think it a good balance to Campolo's attempt to blame Israel and her allies for all that is wrong in the Middle East.

Friday, May 21, 2010

campolo throws Israel supporters under the bus

There was a time when I had some respect for Tony Campolo. In reading the book he co-wrote with McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, he is far from a yes-man to McLaren, but rather points out some areas where he has serious disagreements with him. I think I even wrote about one or two of those here.

But he just instantly lost that respect, when in a recent Sojourners article, he blamse Israel and her supports for all that is wrong in the Middle East.

Christian Zionism: Theology that Legitimates Oppression

The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States.

It's the same old sad liberal song--when people are in difficulty, don't dare blame them, but rather others.

Is life in Palestine hard? I've no doubt. But then, when you've had corrupt leadership like Yasser Arafat and groups like Hamas, then what can be expected? Sorry, but that's usually how it goes.

And when you've plainly stated that you want to kill off your neighbors because of the race they were born into, then you kind of lose most claims for sympathy.

What troubles them most is that their fellow Evangelicals in America have very little understanding of the way the entire Islamic world views what is happening in the Holy Land, and how American Evangelicals who unquestioningly support Israel’s policies are hindering evangelism among Muslims.

Umm...last I checked, Israel was a solid ally to the US (though the current administration in the US has them worried), while Palestinians celebrated when the US was attacked on Sept 11, 2001.

And, then, there's the appeal to evangelism. I doubt that, if the US and US Christians were to turn on Israel, it would result in mass conversions among Arabic people from Islame to Christianity. It sounds, rather, like a rationalization, much like the people at Christ's crucifixion claiming they would believe if they 'saved himself'.

We do not change the Bible nor it's message to make it more appealing to others. God is not the one who must change, we are. That is one point of repentence.

They know that there is little understanding among American Christians that so many of the conflicts that exist between Muslims and Christians around the world are partially due to what is happening in the Holy Land. For instance, the media in the Muslim world has linked the oppression of Palestinians to the justification of attacks on Americans, in particular, and the western world, in general.

I've no doubt that Muslim media has done so. Sorry, but that doesn't change my mind. If not that, then something else would be used by them.

Given the historical existential situation, we, as American Christians, should lend support to the efforts to have safe and secure borders for the State of Israel and protection against terrorists; but we should be equally committed to having a well-established Palestinian state that also has safe and secure borders. We should be calling for the demolition of the separation wall that is as offensive as the Berlin Wall was. And we should be demanding that the border between these two states be the “green line” negotiated following the 1967 war.

When Israel's Palestinian neighbor is essential, and existentially, a terrorist state, then Israel's needs more than just nice words to have 'safe and secure borders'. And Palestinians need to do more than give more empty promises to have Israel or us believe them.

I want to direct you an alternate source for an opinion differing in many ways from Campolo's, the book "The Case for Israel" by Alan Derschowitz. While rather liberal himself in his views, and while not one who simply oks all that Israel has done, he is solidly in support of Israel, and gives good reasons for showing why Israel is hardly to blame for the Middle East difficulties, and how the world continues to unfairly blame Israel.

Just as Campolo unfairly blames Israel and her supporters.

Monday, May 10, 2010

more for you to read :-)

Words to Remember

This new blog is a response to something I read and posted about a few weeks ago. It's here. The quote that was most 'inspiring', in a way, was this one, from Jim Wallis.

It’s time we make it clear that different views of the role of government are legitimate and essential to a robust democratic discourse; but the hateful and even violent rhetoric that has been employed in the past, and is now having a resurgence again, is dangerous and destructive and should be renounced and rejected by people of faith and good will across the political spectrum.

Now, it's pretty clear from the context given in the article as whole, linked to in the earlier entry, that Wallis is talking about right-wing rhetoric, like the mysteriously unproven charges that Tea-Party people yelled racial insults at a Congressman on the day the Health Care bill was passed.

As you'll see on Words to Remember, though, I have a bit of a different take on "the hateful and even violent rhetoric", and I give real examples, not hypotheticals.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

grasping at fictitious straws

We are Exiles Who Follow an Alien, Undocumented, Migrant Messiah

And, so, Sojo digs to the dregs of desperation for any argument.

The dominant narrative — the one about illegality, rule of law, blah, blah, blah — is persuasive because it provokes and exploits the one emotion that has driven American politics since 9/11: fear. We’re told by critics and commentators that Americans have never been so angry, that our public discourse has never been this strident and dangerously uncivil — all the red-faced name-calling, the ugly race-baiting, the shrill, snarky meanness.

Umm...yeah, the usual gaggle of protestors from the left have been ratcheting up the nastiness, haven't they? Not that they've ever been tolerant of those who dare to disagree with them, mind you.

But much of the anger — at least the real anger, not the feigned rage of opportunistic politicians — is symptomatic of Americans’ deep-seated xenophobia.

Yeah, everywhere I look, only one kind of people, all around. Every other kind of peoples, must be in hiding.

(that's sarcasm, btw, because that statement is so patently false, I'm surprised this Sojoer can get away with writing it)

We are exiles who follow an alien, undocumented, migrant Messiah. As Edgardo Col√≥n-Emeric notes (in the sermon linked above), “Jesus did not have a valid birth certificate. Mother’s name: Mary; Father’s name: unknown. In fact, Jesus had no papers in his name, no title deed, no rental contract. Nothing. ‘Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’”

Ah, here's the main part. Unsubstantiated claims about Jesus, must have taken lessons from Borg and Crossan.

When was Jesus ever an undocumented alien? Some post-ers point to when he was taken to Egypt,when Herod tried to kill him. But considering that both Israel and Egypt were under Roman rule, which another post-er points out, that won't hold.

Valid birth certificate? Didn't know such things were around at the time. Much of the rest of it is simply "shrill, snarky meanness".

A phrase formerly associated with interrogators of the Third Reich — “let me see your papers” — will now enter the lexicon of law enforcement in Arizona. Jesus — in the guise of the brown-skinned “other” — will be asked for documentation he doesn’t have.

And the crowning touch--comparing Arizonans to Nazis. I think that, too, qualifies as "red-faced name-calling, the ugly race-baiting, the shrill, snarky meanness".

Saturday, May 1, 2010

a peculiar blindness

In a rather interesting (mostly in a good way) post a Sojo, ther writer makes a statement that seems...rather biased.

The racism I have struggled with was the fear of recklessness in white men. The type of recklessness that can decide to go to one country pick up a group of people, enslave, degrade, hunt and herd them for several hundred years.

I'm always rather astonished when someone makes this kind of argument against people they would call 'white'. Shall we take only a surface look at the long history of slavery? We can see how, in Exodus, the Egyptians, likely a darker-skinned people, made slaves of the Hebrews. One can think of the Greeks and Romans, the Babylonians, and no doubt other ancient peoples who attacked and conquered other places and took those thye conquered as slaves. In modern times, the sex slave trade is quite prominent in some parts of the world, few of which are recognized as white places. Not to mention the veritable slavery women suffer under in the Muslim countries in north Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Asia.

I have no wish to excuse slavery as practiced by the US and Europe, but this idea that it is some kind of sin peculiar only to whites is without any kind of historic support.