Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Solomonia: The Green/Islamist/Racist Convention

The latest from Solomonia is a stunning expose of the connection between the Green-Rainbow party (the name the Green Party goes by in Massachusetts) and a variety of anti-Semites, Islamists and other assorted crackpots. No one should take these Greens at face value, as environmentalists, as human rights advocates. These are not the idealistic but practical Greens of Germany. These Green-Rainbow supporters are the stuff that shakes loose and falls out of real political parties. These aren't the campaigners against abuses by any government, regardless of orientation. These are the defenders of the Janjaweed and the Khartoum regime, the enablers of Sudan's Darfur genocide. These are not the Greens who participated in the unmasking of "ex-" Nazis in power in German businesses and corporations. These are the Holocaust deniers, the "anti-Zionist" conspiracy nuts, the ones who know who to blame for everything. Incredibly, some of them even support David Duke.

In other words, Solomonia explores the point where the Greens go over the rainbow. Apparently, in this version of the Wizard of Oz, their shirts turn brown.

read: Solomonia: The Green/Islamist/Racist Convention

Friends of Sabeel are no friends of mine...

Cinnamon Stillwell reports for Campus Watch on the Sabeel conference at Berkeley: Academic Activism on Display in Berkeley: Bazian, Zunes, and "Friends of Sabeel"

UC Berkeley Near Eastern studies lecturer Hatem Bazian and University of San Francisco (USF) politics and international studies professor Stephen Zunes are among the speakers at a Friends of Sabeel – North America regional conference taking place on August 24-45 at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.

Friends of Sabeel – North America is a branch of Sabeel International, which claims to be "an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land." The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center may be based in Jerusalem, but there is nothing peaceful about the organization's propagandistic and one-sided approach to the Mideast conflict.

Sabeel's ultimate goal, as stated at its website, is a "bi-national state" in which Israel no longer exists as such. To this end, the group seeks to enlist the aid of Western Christians and others in the "interfaith community" in isolating Israel through boycotts and, ultimately, by ending U.S. support for, as they put it, its "illegal military occupation."

Tireless champions of any "cause" that implicates Israel and the United States in alleged wrongdoing, Bazian and Zunes should fit in perfectly at the Sabeel conference, which is titled, ironically, "Breaking Down the Wall of Silence: Voices We Need To Hear."

Zunes, who specializes in blaming U.S. foreign policy for Islamic terrorism under the rubric of USF's "Peace and Justice Studies Program," is giving a workshop at the conference titled, "The Roots of U.S. Policy Towards Israel/Palestine." Given that Zunes, in an article published on Sept, 12, 2001, essentially blamed the United States for the 9/11 atrocities (the U.S. should "re-evaluate policies that lead to such anger and resentment," he wrote), it's unlikely that his workshop will provide anything but the usual apologetics.

Bazian, a Palestinian native, is best known for his fiery rhetoric, including his notorious call for an "intifada in this country" at a 2004 anti-war protest in San Francisco. More of an activist than an academic, Bazian does little to nothing at UC Berkeley to conceal his highly politicized agenda. The fact that he will be giving a workshop at the Sabeel conference titled, "Free Speech and Organizing for Palestine in Academia" is ominous indeed. No doubt "free speech" refers to the belief, popular in the field of Middle East studies, that criticism equals censorship and, therefore, must be resisted at all costs. As for "organizing for Palestine in academia," the implications are clear enough.

One might hope educating, not "organizing," would be a professor's guiding principle. In fact, according to the American Association of University Professors' 1915 declaration of principles (the standard to which Campus Watch holds Middle East studies specialists), "The university teacher… should, if he is fit for his position, be a person of a fair and judicial mind."

Evidently, neither Bazian nor Zunes fit this description, and their involvement with the Sabeel conference demonstrates just how far academia has strayed from its roots.

Human Rights Watch slams Hezbollah for targeting civilians

Lebanon slams rights report on Hezbollah war with Israel - AFP

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report due for release on Thursday focuses on the extent "Hezbollah targeted or indiscriminately fired its rockets toward civilians and civilian objects" during the 34-day war, according to a statement by the New York-based group.

But even before the release of the report, Hezbollah and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora were scathing in their criticism, forcing a planned HRW press conference in Beirut to be cancelled.

"Israel during the attacks of July 2006 violated all international conventions," Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's office said in a statement. "It killed nearly 1,200 Lebanese and injured thousands more and 72 hours after UN Resolution 1701 was adopted, it dropped 3.5 million cluster bombs in the south of the country."

Resolution 1701 put a stop to the war that began in July after Hezbollah launched a cross-border attack on Israel and kidnapped two soldiers, whose fate is still unknown.

Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Rahal said Human Rights Watch should start by criticising Israel.

"We were the victims during this war and people have a right to defend themselves," he told AFP. "We did not target civilians but Israel on the other hand did target the civilian population in Lebanon."

Nadim Houry, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Lebanon, brushed aside the criticism, saying the report was aimed at shedding light on atrocities committed against civilians during the war.

He said HRW planned to release on September 6 another report documenting Israeli attacks that killed civilians in Lebanon.

The 2006 war killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and more than 160 in Israel, of them at least 39 civilians, according to HRW.

"We don't take sides about who is right and who is wrong and our primary focus in this conflict has been to protect civilians," Houry told AFP.

He said it was unfortunate that those criticizing the report had failed to take into account the extensive work done by HRW on violations carried out by Israel during the war.

"We were the first ones to document the use of cluster munitions by Israel," he said. "Our main goal was to have a debate on this issue and it is distressing that we can't have this debate in Beirut."

Hitler's Mein Kampf a bestseller in Turkey, Germans try to ban its publication and sale

from the ISTANBUL TODAY'S ZAMAN:

"Bavaria, one of Germany’s federal states, has won a legal battle to get the publication and sale of Adolf Hitler’s infamous book “Mein Kampf” banned in Turkey after the book became a best-seller here, a Turkish news report said yesterday.


"The court case was the latest attempt on the part of Bavaria to stop Turkish publication and sale of the book written by Hitler in prison before he rose to power, reports the daily Hürriyet. After becoming a best-seller in Turkey earlier this year, with publishers saying more than 100,000 copies have been sold, Bavaria took action to intervene. In letters to publishers, Bavarian officials argued that the book’s copyright belonged to the German federal state everywhere except in the United States and Britain.

"Some eight publishing houses responded to the Bavarian letter, providing legal promises that they would stop publishing and selling the book. But six others refused to comply with Bavarian demands, prompting the German federal state to file a lawsuit against them. The two-year court case resulted in a decision upholding the Bavarian position and the final verdict banned Turkish publishers from publishing and selling the book. The sudden rise in the book’s popularity caused concern in Europe and among Turkey’s Jewish community."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two celebrity views of Darfur: Mia Farrow and Rush Limbaugh

Posted without comment: two views of the situation in Darfur -- the first by Mia Farrow, the second by Rush Limbaugh.




Mia Farrow's exclusive dispatch: I am a witness to Darfur's suffering - Independent Online Edition > Africa

My first visit to Darfur was in 2004. It changed the way I needed to live my life. I have just returned from my seventh trip to the region. I don't think I have the words to adequately represent what I have seen and heard there.


Incomprehensibly, it has now been more than four years since the killing began. Some experts believe half a million human beings have died thus far. Others bicker about the exact death toll - as if it makes a shred of difference to how we must respond.

Only the perpetrators dispute that hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children have been killed, in ways that cannot be imagined or described. It is all the more appalling that we cannot know - that no one is yet able to count the dead. And the dying continues.

We can, however, know with certainty that more than four million people are dependent on food aid because their homes, villages, and the fields that sustained them, are ashes now. We also know that two and a half million human beings are struggling to exist amid deplorable conditions in squalid camps across Darfur and eastern Chad. I am a witness to their suffering.

The stories of those who survived the attacks are numbingly similar. Without warning, Antonov bombers and attack helicopters filled the morning skies and rained bombs upon homes and families as they slept, as they played, as they prayed, as they tended their fields. Those who could run tried to gather their children and fled in all directions.

Then the Janjaweed - government-backed Arab militia - attacked on horseback and on camels (and more recently in vehicles). They came shouting racial epithets and shooting. They shot the children as they ran, they shot the elderly.

I spoke to mothers whose babies were shot from their backs, or torn from their arms and bayoneted before their eyes, whose children were tossed into bonfires. I met men whose eyes were gouged out with knives. Strong women in frail voices described their gang rapes; some were abducted and assaulted continuously over many weeks.

"No one came to help me," they said, as they showed me the brandings carved into their bodies, and tendons sliced and how they hobble now.

"Tell people what is happening here" implored one victim, Halima. Three of her five children had been killed. "Tell them we will all die. Tell them we need help." I promised her I would do my best to tell the world what is happening there. In the years since 2004, over and over and over, in camp after camp, and deep in my heart I have made this promise.

In October, I will return to the region. People will tell me their stories and again will ask for protection. I will listen, I will take more photographs, and I will keep trying to tell the world what is happening there. The people of Darfur continue to plead for protection, and still no one has come. What does this say about us?

Last week, on the Chad-Darfur border, in a region where genocide is occurring now, we lit a symbolic Olympic flame. The flame honours all those who have been lost, and those who suffer; it celebrates the courage of those who have survived, and is a symbol of hope for an end to genocide everywhere.

We lit the flame again in Rwanda where the agony of survivors is palpable - and without end. We gathered strength from their strength.

In Kigali, survivors expressed their wish to join their spirits with ours as we take the flame to other communities of survivors: Cambodia, Armenia, Germany, Bosnia.

Today, I look at Rwanda and see the abysmal failure of the United Nations and of all the nations of the world. Collectively and individually, we failed in our most essential responsibility to protect the innocent from slaughter and suffering.

We look to world leaders and our own governments and see that they are mired in self-serving interests. What are we to do about this? I tell my children that "with knowledge comes responsibility." Yet our leaders do not reflect this at all.

Most of us do not want innocent people to be slaughtered. Most of us wish others well and hope for a world in which all people everywhere can be safe. Yet, in the face of power and politics, we tend to feel overwhelmed, so we step aside and attend to our own business. The future of the world, if there is to be a future, surely lies in humility and in human responsibility. Let us draw strength and courage from the survivors of genocide and conviction from the voices of the dead.

After the Nazi Holocaust, the world vowed "never again". How obscenely disingenuous those fine words sound today. As we look at Darfur and eastern Chad - a region that has been described as "Rwanda in slow motion" - are we to conclude that "never again" applies only to white people?

I hope that caring people of the world will band together and with one voice demand an end to the terrible crime of genocide.

...For more information, go to www.miafarrow.org

From Hollywood to human rights

Born to Catholic parents in 1945, Mia Farrow followed her film director father and actress mother into the industry, appearing in a number of critically acclaimed movies. Over the course of her career she has won numerous awards including seven Golden Globes. Her very public marriages and divorces to Frank Sinatra and later Woody Allen, in whose films she regularly appeared during the 1980s, meant the Farrow family were rarely out of the media spotlight.

One of Hollywood's most prolific campaigners, she has been involved in activism since the 1970s when she became an advocate of adoption rights after adopting three children from south-east Asia with her second husband André Previn. She has since gone on to adopt 11 children. A childhood survivor of the post-war polio epidemics, she has also campaigned for the eradication of the disease which has paralysed one of her adopted children. After becoming a goodwill ambassador for Unicef, she has turned her attention towards Africa and in particular, raising awareness of the genocide in Darfur.




Limbaugh claims Dems' interest in Darfur is securing black "voting bloc" (from MediaMatters.com)

On the August 21 broadcast of the nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show, a caller said to host Rush Limbaugh: "I know I'm no expert in foreign affairs, but what really confuses me about the liberals is the hypocrisy when they talk about how we have no reason to be in Iraq and helping those people, but yet everybody wants us to go to Darfur." Limbaugh responded by claiming Democrats "want to get us out of Iraq, but they can't wait to get us into Darfur." He continued: "There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in trouble." The caller responded, "The black population," to which Limbaugh said, "Right."

Limbaugh also stated: "So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela -- who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing."

Limbaugh added: "Clinton sent the U.S. military off to Bosnia. No U.S. national interest at stake. The liberals will use the military as a 'meals on wheels' program. They'll send them out to help with tsunami victims. But you put the military -- you put the military in a position of defending U.S. national interest, and that's when Democrats and the liberals oppose it."

However, interest in ending the killing in the Darfur region of Sudan is bipartisan. In 2006, Congress passed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, sponsored by then-Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL). The law contained several sanctions on Sudan, including a ban on ships involved in Sudan's oil trade docking at U.S. ports of entry. An initial version of the bill passed the House by a vote of 416-3, and the final version passed the House by voice vote and the Senate by unanimous consent and was signed by the president on October 13, 2006.

From the August 22 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Here's [caller] in Lake Orion, Michigan. Thank you for calling. Great to have you on the EIB Network.

CALLER: Hey, Rush. It's great to talk to you. I talked to you once before. I've been listening to you for a couple of years now, and I think I'm getting brighter, but there's a lot to be learned. I know I'm no expert in foreign affairs, but what really confuses me about the liberals is the hypocrisy when they talk about how we have no reason to be in Iraq and helping those people, but yet everybody wants us to go to Darfur. I mean, aren't we going to end up in a quagmire there? I mean, isn't it -- I don't understand. Can you enlighten me on this?

LIMBAUGH: Yeah. This is -- you're not going to believe this, but it's very simple. And the sooner you believe it, and the sooner you let this truth permeate the boundaries you have that tell you this is just simply not possible, the better you will understand Democrats in everything. You are right. They want to get us out of Iraq, but they can't wait to get us into Darfur.

CALLER: Right.

LIMBAUGH: There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur?

CALLER: Uh, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in trouble.

CALLER: Yes. Yes. The black population.

LIMBAUGH: Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela -- who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.

CALLER: It's just -- I can't believe it's really that simple.

LIMBAUGH: Well, see, I knew you couldn't believe it. But here's the -- here's one that's even going to be harder to believe and it is even more truthful. Could you tell me what vital national interest, [caller], is at stake in Darfur?

CALLER: Um, I don't know.

LIMBAUGH: Nothing. Zilch, zero, nada. Darfur is not attacking us. Darfur has not said they want to attack us. So they will -- same thing -- Clinton sent the U.S. military off to Bosnia. No U.S. national interest at stake. The liberals will use the military as a "meals on wheels" program. They'll send them out to help with tsunami victims. But you put the military -- you put the military in a position of defending U.S. national interest, and that's when Democrats and the liberals oppose it. And --

CALLER: Right. Terrorists have attacked us and our oil supply comes from, you know, Iraq and Iran and the Middle East, and yet that's not worth defending.

LIMBAUGH: Right. That's exactly right. You've got it. You've got it. Now you just have to believe your own instincts from here on out.



Monday, August 27, 2007

Sabeel and the Palestinian Lobby vs. History

1. On Sabeel: the nexus of Replacement Theology and terrorism

I recently posted a piece from Lee Kaplan's blog concerning the organization called Sabeel. This group, which is led by Episcopal Reverend Canon Naim Ateek (author, among other books, of ''Faith and Intifada'' and ''Challenging Christian Zionism''), is a radical anti-Israel activist group which uses religious themes to appeal to Christians in Europe and the New World. They are at the root of the divestment movement within the mainstream Protestant churches in the U.S., having lobbied, disseminated propaganda to, and created a network of anti-Israel activists within the Presbyterian,United Methodist, United Church and Christ, and Evangelical Lutheran churches, as well as the Episcopal Church, with which it is connected. Among Sabeel's offenses are asserting that Jews crucified Jesus just as Israel crucifies thousands of Palestinians (metaphorically, one presumes). They also state that Jesus was not a Jew but was, in fact, a Palestinian. (More here and here and here and here and here.) Interestingly, Sabeel's advocacy for divestment comes, like the second intifada (which it supported), in response to the peace efforts by Israel, not as an effort to reach peace. Still , they are portrayed as part of a peace movement.

Lee Kaplan's piece relates rhetoric and tactics of Sabeel to a deliberate strategy to separate the religion of the bible from Jews and Judaism in order to delegitimize Israel. Kaplan tells of attending the national conference of the International Solidarity Movement (the ISM or PSM) at Ohio State University in 2003. For those who don't know, the ISM is a pro-Palestinian group which both proclaims itself as non-violent and supports violence by Palestinians against Israel (see "The 'peace' group that embraces violence" from the London Telegraph). Among other "support" they provide to Palestinians, they actually provide logistical aid to terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank. As an example of their idea of non-violence, check out this article on their website entitled "Humanism or Collaboration? Palestinian Police Saves Israeli Soldier In Jenin", posted today, protesting the fact that a Palestinian saved the life of an Israeli who was being attacked by rock-throwers. (There's much more there, I just happened to spot this in a cursory first-glance at the site.) Kaplan relates that he attended "a seminar on how to put a good face on suicide bombings" where a participant stated "that the Bible was being 'reinterpreted' so it would no longer be sympathetic to the Jews." (I don't know Mr. Kaplan, and recount his story with the appropriate dosage of grains of salt, but it certainly rings true based on what the ISM says openly. My understanding is that he's made a practice of infiltrating ISM meetings and reporting on it on various websites. I strongly support his infiltrating and reporting on a group that misrepresents itself as pro-peace but actually support terror. We need to know what goes on behind the scenes at ISM.)

It is sad but true that the extremist Sabeel has insinuated itself into most of the large mainstream Protestant churches and many Christian charities in the U.S. Sabeel capitalizes, on the one hand, on the good intentions of those who uncritically accept distortions and, on the other, on the bad faith of those with religious-based prejudices. They have worked to hijack the agendas of various peace and human rights committees within the churches and move them away from a balanced, worldwide approach toward anti-Israel activism. This is largely happening among the leadership of these committees out of the sight of the rank and file. I simply cannot believe that the members of these denominations are aware that Sabeel has sometimes taken the position that Israel has no right to exist and should be eliminated, and, at other times said that Israel should be recognized under law after "the Occupation ends", while still asserting it has no moral right to exist. Rev. Ateek, in spite of these logical contortions, is represented in many churches as a peace advocate. In fact, in 2006, he received the John Nevin Sayre Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, which continues to promote Sabeel (see their "WAVE of PRAYER for Sabeel").

If you're interested in who some of Sabeel's friends are, have a look at the Friends of Sabeel website. And, if you're interested in who the Friends of Sabeel's friends are, they include the ISM, to bring this full circle.

If you have any doubts about the anti-Semitic nature of Sabeel, read this, from the ADL website:

On April 2004, Sabeel hosted a conference in Jerusalem titled "Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics and the Palestine-Israel Conflict." The conference had more than 600 participants from 32 countries, including members of FOSNA and representatives from the U.S. Presbyterian Church, according to organizers. One of the keynote speakers at the conference was Anglican Reverend Stephen Sizer, author of Christian Zionism: Justifying Apartheid in the Name of God. According to Sizer's theological concept, God's special connection with the Jews becomes irrelevant following the appearance of Jesus, and with it their entitlement to the land. Furthermore, the Jews' exile becomes part of the necessary order of things. The Jews, according to Sizer, deserve to be exiled because they refused to accept Jesus, "as a judgment for their failure to recognize Him as the Messiah," in addition to their otherwise sinful ways. Contemporary Jews living in Israel, according to Sizer, are just as sinful and rebellious as their forefathers and deserve the same fate: "The present brutal, repressive and racist policies of the State of Israel would suggest another exile on the horizon rather than a restoration…. how sinful do you need to be to get to be on God's hit list?"

I refer the reader of that quote to the works of Rev. Franklin Littell on the relationship between anti-Israel sentiments and the theology of supersession (also called "Replacement Theology" i.e. the belief that Christianity has replaced, and eliminated the need for, Judaism). Littell is a scholar and a Methodist minister who has devoted much of his career to studying and opposing anti-Semitism. He has defended Israel against unfair attacks (while maintaining the right to criticize Israel's errors) and has had to withstand some attacks himself over the years on this issue. Here, from a piece called Early Warning: Identifying Potentially Genocidal Movements, was his response:

I am always challenged these days about what Israel is doing. I respond that the U.S. government is doing some things that I do not like too much either, but Israel has a legitimate government and sooner or later the people -- who have structures and channels to make changes -- can get at mistakes when they are made by those making decisions. But there is not a single legitimate government in the Arab League. Every one of them is either an old-fashioned despotism -- one that has not yet entered the period of liberty and self-government -- or a typical twentieth century dictatorship. That fact should make some difference when people are talking about policy matters and decisions that have to be made, and also how we judge what respect we owe what types of government.

He knew a double-standard when he saw one, and he knew that an imperfect democracy was far superior to a perfectly despicable tyranny.

Of course, Sabeel and the Palestinian lobby don't really like to discuss what kind of government they foresee for a Palestinian state. I can understand why because I don't like to think about it either.


2. On the origins and nature of the term "Palestine"

In debunking Sabeel's claim that Jesus was a Palestinian, Lee Kaplan points out that the term "Palestinian" did not exist when Jesus lived. You may be interested to hear when and why the term was first used and where it came from. This from Palestine Facts:
From the fifth century BC, following the historian Herodotus, Greeks called the eastern coast of the Mediterranean "the Philistine Syria" using the Greek language form of the name. In AD 135, after putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, the second major Jewish revolt against Rome, the Emperor Hadrian wanted to blot out the name of the Roman "Provincia Judaea" and so renamed it "Provincia Syria Palaestina", the Latin version of the Greek name and the first use of the name as an administrative unit. The name "Provincia Syria Palaestina" was later shortened to Palaestina, from which the modern, anglicized "Palestine" is derived.
The use of the term "Palestine" was originally intended to erase the memory of the Jewish state -- it is the result of a deliberate act of historical revisionism. The term (ironically) fell into disuse with the Arab conquest of the region, was revived by the Crusaders, was used only as a geographic term under the Ottoman Turks (the "Three Palestines" were the administrative regions, or "sanjaks", of Acre, Nablus and Jerusalem which were collectively administered in Damascus), and was later revived by the British after their defeat of the Ottomans during World War I.

Were the residents of the region culturally "Palestinians"? Not according to Zuheir Muhein of the Syrian branch of the PLO:
The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.
This truth, that Palestinian nationalism and, in fact, Palestinian identity itself are merely a pretext for pan-Arab nationalism and not a true "indigenous liberation movement", is too much for some to bear. People such as Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University assert a Palestinian identity almost as ancient as that of the Jews. (Read the wikipedia article on Palestinian people for an outline of his and similar beliefs.) These claims, based in the desire to cloth nationalism in a legitimate national identity, fly in the face of objective scholarship.

This campaign to falsify history also applies to the history of the Palestinian nationalist movement itself. Khalidi claims that Palestinian nationalism began, like Zionism, in the 19th Century heyday of national movements, not as a reaction to Zionism as the facts indicate. This sort of mythological intellectual history may help sooth the inferiority complex of a Palestinian nationalist with knowledge of Zionist history, but the original literature of Zionism would fill a library, whereas that of Palestinian nationalism would first need to be re-edited and repackaged to take on the appearance of a coherent political movement and then would only fill a bookshelf. This is the scholarship of consolation, sometimes unearthing items of interest, but always making claims that dwarf the facts upon which they are based. For all the verbiage it may generate, it is a house without a sound foundation.

With respect to how the term "Palestinian" was actually used prior to the creation of the State of Israel, all residents of the region, regardless of ethnicity, might have been referred to as Palestinians by dint only of their location, but none, including the Arabs, were called Palestinians by dint of membership in a distinct cultural unit. Arabs in what is now Israel would have been known by their family, tribe, class, religious belief, by their immediate location or as Arabs. These, and not Palestine, were the true sources of identity, pride, tradition, and culture. Similarly, the Jews, Armenians, Turks, Europeans, etc. of Palestine would have been known by those designations, as well as their other ethnic, religious and linguistic characteristics. And, if, in the literature of 19th century Europe, they were called Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Armenians, Palestinian Arabs etc., it was a term used unfreighted with any sense other than geographical location.


3. Sabeel vs. history

Sabeel would like to erase the facts from historical memory and replace them with fictions of a Palestinian Jesus crucified by evil Jews. That makes the indoctrination of the gullible and uninformed easier. It forms a nexus with certain troubling Christian beliefs concerning supersessionism ("Replacement Theology") and Jewish deicide. However, as bad as these beliefs are, Sabeel takes them a step further into territory that few Christians previously ventured. While Sabeel (like Prof. Khalidi) claims cultural continuity from the biblical Philistines to the modern Palestinians, they also, like Columbia Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj, Yasir Arafat, and many others, pretend to believe that the Jewish connection to the land of the bible is merely myth and without a basis in history. In a sense, this deliberate distortion of history shows an aspect of Sabeel's world view which owes more to Stalin or Big Brother than it does to Jesus.

Seldom before has a Christian group made the claim that Jews were not connected to the land of Israel, to Jerusalem, to Zion, to the land of the bible. Previous claims of this sort were largely based on contortions of racial theory that involved the Jews of the bible being replaced by other groups such as Khazars, the racial myth preached by the Christian Identity and British Israelite groups. These bizarre ideas have recently gained popularity throughout the Muslim world as well and are part of the arsenal of disinformation currently being deployed against Israel and the Jews in the Muslim popular, academic and official cultures. While Sabeel has not preached the Khazar replacement myth, they have participated in the sort of revisionism that choses to ignore all the evidence of the Tanakh, the New Testament, the Talmud, the Roman historians, the Koran, and oral traditions, not to mention the archaeological evidence. In a sense, Sabeel's mission of denying the bible while asserting the theological basis for Palestinian nationalism is the most challenging contortion of any in the anti-Israel lobby. How strange that the internal contradictions of this religious literature have escaped the notice of its supporters on the Protestant left.

Sabeel tries to be all things to all people, but, ultimately, it opposes the existence of Israel, and will support war against Israel as long as it exists. It portrays this as a peace movement, but it's not. That's a war movement in peace movement's clothing.

4. A note from the blogger:

I want to reach out to those in the Christian community who may have been swayed by Sabeel's propaganda or its echoes to open youR hearts (as the recent advertising for the United Methodists says) and to attempt to reach out across the ideological fault lines. Read Franklin Littell's books, which are widely available. I ask you to consider the harm that can be done by well-intentioned people who view Israel only as an evil abstraction, not as a nation of real people contending with insoluble problems and struggling to survive. Israel is a disorganized, imperfect democracy, not the monolithic evil empire Sabeel portrays it as. It has tried to make peace with the Palestinians and give them a state, only to be rebuffed and suffer horrific attacks against its innocents in response. Israel deserves to be supported in its efforts to resolve the conflict with the Arabs, not undercut in those efforts as they have been time and again. I plead with Christians not to dishonor their traditions by advocating war against those who would make peace.

The best sort of assistance the Palestinians could receive from their lobby within the U.S. Protestant community would be to end the pointless divestment movement and, instead, lobby their Palestinian friends to make peace. A good first step would be to stop enabling Sabeel.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sabeel Conference in Berkeley this weekend

from Lee Kaplan's Blog:

A combination of Arab petrodollars, Marxist zeal and good old-fashioned anti-Semitism
will be on hand at Sabeel's conference in Berkeley this weekend.

What is Sabeel? It's the PLO's answer to Christian loyalty to scripture and the land of Israel.

Some of Sabeel's nonsense includes the idea that Jesus was not a Jew but a Palestinian Arab, despite the fact even the term "Palestine" was not invented until long after Jesus' death. Sabeel acolytes claim they seek a two state solution for peace in fund raisers, the same as any other ISM group, but in private they call for
a single state with the Jews under Arab rule.

In 2003 I attended a national conference of the ISM at Ohio State where someone mentioned at a seminar on how to put a good face on suicide bombings that the Bible was being "reinterpreted" so it would no longer be sympathetic to the Jews. I remember laughing at the notion.

But what I failed to consider was the amount of funding and tenacity of the movement to destroy Israel. Ill report back later about the Sabeel event in Berkeley. I understand that Huwaida Arraf who founded the ISM and admits to working with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP will be lecturing there and recruting again for her ISM
groups. And Paul LaRudee who I got deported from Israel a little over a year ago will be lecturing with her. Both claim they support "legitimate resistance" (translate that to "terrorism") but are now speaking for Christians in America who want Israel dismantled. Of course, there will be no discussions about suicide bombings or the fact that the Arabs have fired hundreds of missiles into Israel since the forced evacuation of Jews from Gaza. In fact, this obscenity of a "Christian conference" will feature groups like Alison Weir of If Americans Knew who has written anti-Semitic articles for Nazi David Duke's website. Alison used to pass out literature at ISM events that claimed the Jews perpetuated the Holocaust on themselves to create Israel. Now she's trying to appear like she seeks reconciliation
throught the Church. Naim Ateek, the religious leader of Sabeel has openly said Israel has no right to exist, and Palestine Remembered is a major sponsor of the Conference. Palestine Remembered is linked to Al Awda (The Return), a group whose international convention I got kicked off the UC Riverside campus, and lists all the spots where allegedly Arabs lived in 1948 that must be retaken by Palestinians in what for publicity purposes Sabeel says is supposed to be an Israeli state living side by side with a new Palestinian one.

Its all,in fact, another ruse to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in US churches. IF you research the speakers, they are all pan-Arabists or Marxists who have always advocated destroying Israel.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hitchens: "To invoke Vietnam was a blunder too far for Bush"

from the Guardian: Comment by Christopher Hitchens:

The Presidents's crass comparison between Iraq and war in south east Asia was the most ludicrous misreading of history

How do I dislike President George Bush? Let me count the ways. Most of them have to do with his contented assumption that 'faith' is, in and of itself, a virtue. This self-satisfied mentality helps explain almost everything, from the smug expression on his face to the way in which, as governor of Texas, he signed all those death warrants without losing a second's composure.

It explains the way in which he embraced ex-KGB goon Vladimir Putin, citing as the basis of a beautiful relationship the fact that Putin was wearing a crucifix. (Has Putin been seen wearing that crucifix before or since? Did his advisers tell him that the President of the United States was that easy a pushover?)

It also explains the unforgivable intervention that Bush made into the private life of the Schiavo family: leaving his Texas ranch to try and keep 'alive' a woman whose autopsy showed that her brain had melted to below flatline a long time before. Here is a man who believes the 'jury' is still 'out' on whether we evolved as a species, who regards stem cell research as something profane, who affects the odd belief that Islam is 'a religion of peace'.

However that may be, I always agreed with him on one secular question, that the regime of Saddam Hussein was long overdue for removal. I know some critics of the Iraq intervention attribute this policy, too, to religious motives (ranging from messianic, born-again Christian piety to the activity of a surreptitious Jewish/Zionist cabal: take your pick).

In this real-world argument, there is a very strong temptation for opponents of the war to invoke the lessons of Vietnam. I must have written thousands of words attempting to show that there is absolutely no analogy between the two conflicts.

Then, addressing the convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars last week, the President came thundering down the pike to announce that a defeat in Iraq would be - guess what? - another Vietnam. As my hand smacks my brow, and as I ask myself not for the first time if Mr Bush suffers from some sort of political death wish, I quickly restate the reasons why he is wrong to join with his most venomous and ignorant critics in making this case.

1) The Vietminh, later the Vietnamese NLF, were allies of the United States and Britain against the Axis during the Second World War. The Iraqi Baath party was on the other side.

2) Ho Chi Minh quoted Thomas Jefferson in proclaiming Vietnam's own declaration of independence, a note that has hardly been struck in Baathist or jihadist propaganda.

3) Vietnam was resisting French colonialism and had defeated it by 1954 at Dien Bien Phu; the real 'war' was therefore over before the US even landed troops in the country.

4) The subsequent conflict was fought to preserve an imposed partition of a country striving to reunify itself; if anything, the Iraqi case is the reverse.

5) The Vietnamese leadership appealed to the UN: the Saddamists and their jihadist allies murdered the first UN envoy to arrive in Iraq, saying that he was fit only for death because he had assisted in securing the independence of East Timor from Indonesia.

6) Vietnam never threatened any other country; Iraq under Saddam invaded two of its neighbours and declared one of them (Kuwait) to be part of Iraq itself.

7) Vietnam was a victim of chemical and ecological warfare; Iraq was the perpetrator of such illegal methods and sought to develop even worse nuclear and biological ones.

8) Vietnam neither sponsored nor encouraged terrorist tactics beyond its borders; Iraq under Saddam was a haven for Abu Nidal and other random killers and its 'insurgents' now proclaim war on Hindus, Jews, unbelievers and the wrong sort of Muslim.

9) There has for years been a 'people's war' fought by genuine guerrillas in Iraq; it is the war of liberation conducted by Kurdish fighters against genocide and dictatorship. Inconveniently for all analogies, these fighters are ranged on the side of the US and Britain.

10) The Iraqi Communist party and the Iraqi labour movement advocated the overthrow of Saddam (if not necessarily by Bush), a rather conspicuous difference from the situation in Indochina. These forces still form a part of the tenuous civil society that is fighting to defend itself against the parties of God.

11) The American-sponsored regimes in Vietnam tended, among other things, to be strongly identified with one confessional minority (Catholic) to the exclusion of secular, nationalist and Buddhist forces. The elected government in Iraq may have a sectarian hue, but at least it draws upon hitherto repressed majority populations - Kurds and Shias - and at least the American embassy works as a solvent upon religious and ethnic divisions rather than an inciter of them.

12) President Eisenhower admitted that if there had ever been a fair election in Vietnam, it would have been won by Ho Chi Minh; the Baath party's successors refused to participate in the Iraqi elections and their jihadist allies declared that democracy was an alien concept and threatened all voters with murder.

13) The Americans in Vietnam employed methods ('search and destroy'; 'body count') and weapons (napalm, Agent Orange) that targeted civilians. Today, those who make indiscriminate war on the innocent show their hand on the streets of Baghdad and are often the proxies of neighbouring dictatorships or of international gangster organisations.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but will do, I think, as a caution against any glib invocation of historical comparisons. One might add that among the results of the Vietnamese revolution was an admittedly crude form of market socialism, none the less wedded to ideas of modernisation; a strong resistance to Chinese expansionism (one excuse for Washington's invasion); and a military expedition to depose the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

I cannot see how any self-respecting Republican can look at this record without wincing and moaning with shame or how any former friend of the Vietnamese can equate them with either a fascist dictatorship or a nihilistic Islamist death-squad campaign. And now Bush has joined forces with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan in making the two struggles morally equivalent.

It is true that the collapse of the doomed American adventure in Indochina was followed by massive repression and reprisal, especially in Cambodia, and by the exile of huge numbers of talented Vietnamese. But even this grim total was small compared to the huge losses exacted by the war itself. In Iraq, the genocide, repression, aggression and cultural obliteration preceded the coalition's intervention and had been condemned by a small but impressive library of UN resolutions. Thus, the argument from 'bloodbath', either past or future, has to be completely detached from any consideration of the Vietnamese example.

Bush made his speech just as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, a distinguished socialist and humanitarian, visited Baghdad and embraced some Iraqi and Kurdish freedom fighters, such as President Jalal Talabani, the leader of a party that is a member of the Socialist International. It takes a special kind of political and moral idiocy to choose such a moment to wax nostalgic for America's inheritance of a moribund French colonialism in Indochina. If one question is rightly settled in the American and, indeed, the international memory, it is that the Vietnam War was at best a titanic blunder and at worst a campaign of atrocity and aggression.

But not all the ironies are at Bush's expense. Change only the name of the analogous country and it becomes fairly clear that in Iraq we are fighting not the Vietcong, but the Khmer Rouge, as the Vietcong eventually had to do on our behalf. The logic of history is pitiless and Bush is not the only one who will find this out.

· Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great

Freshman democratic congressman Rep. John Hall visits Israel

from Politics on the Hudson: "A little bit of the Hudson Valley heads to Israel"

Bill Ryan, the chairman of the Westchester Board of Legislators, and Rep. John Hall are headed to Israel tomorrow as part of a good-will mission organized by The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

The group is scheduled to be in Israel through Friday and their itinerary includes stops in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They also plan to meet with several top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

For Ryan, a White Plains Democrat, the trip marks his first visit to that part of the world. The highlight, he said, will be meeting with Olmert and the other Israeli officials.

“It should be very interesting to see,” Ryan said of the country.

Justice for racist double murderer -- 43 years later

from the (Jackson, MS) Clarion-Ledger: "3 life terms for Seale; Dozens of other civil-rights era cases eyed"

The Justice Department is investigating more than 100 cold cases from the civil- rights era like the one that James Ford Seale received three life sentences Friday in connection with - the abducting, beating and drowning of two black teenagers 43 years ago.

The crime is "unspeakable because only monsters could inflict this," U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate told the 72-year-old reputed Klansmen from Roxie in delivering the maximum sentence. "The pulse of this community still throbs with sorrow."

A federal jury in June convicted Seale, a former crop duster, of conspiracy and two counts of kidnapping in the May 2, 1964, slayings of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore. The two 19-year-olds were hitchhiking in Meadville when Klansmen picked them up, took them to a secluded forest, beat them, then hauled them to the Mississippi River, where the teens were bound, weighted down and drowned.

Seale's June 14 conviction was the 23rd since 1989 for crimes from the civil rights era that have been reprosecuted, when authorities reopened the 1963 assassination of Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers in Jackson.

At a news conference Friday following Seale's sentencing, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said expectations shouldn't be unrealistically raised in the more than 100 killings the department is examining, but they will continue to be looked into, regardless of whether Congress passes a bill that would create a cold cases unit to address these decades-old cases.

Of the more than 100 killings, more than 30 took place in Mississippi, authorities said.

In rendering his judgment, Wingate said he took into account Seale's age and health - he has cancer. "But then I have to look at the crime itself, the horror, the ghastliness of it," the judge said.

While 43 years has passed, "justice itself is ageless," he said.

The judge, however, agreed with the defense's request to recommend to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that Seale serve his time at a prison medical facility.

Seale's public defender, Kathy Nester, said her client would not comment because he maintains his innocence, is exercising his Fifth Amendment right and will appeal his conviction.

Still, Wingate asked Seale if he wanted to comment. Seale said no, shaking his head.

Seale's wife, Jenny, has complained that her husband hasn't been receiving the cancer treatment he's needed in jail.

He has had cancer in his kidney, bladder and ear, she said. "The doctor said it's the type of cancer that travels to the lymph nodes."

Since 1998, Moore's brother, Thomas Moore of Colorado Springs, Colo., has pushed for justice in the case. On Friday, he got the opportunity to share in court how his life has been affected.

"When you took away Charles Moore, you took away my best friend," Thomas Moore told Seale. "I cried when I thought about how hard they suffered at your hands."

He and his brother grew up so poor they had to share licks of an ice cream cone. He said they shared their hopes of a better life and dreamed of one day building their mother a brick house, "where she could stay warm."

He said Seale had lived comfortably his whole life and then gazed at the elderly man, shackled in chains and dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit. "Look at you now," he said. "I hope you spend the rest of your life in prison."

Noting how some people have said the teens were forgotten, Thomas Moore said, "They were never forgotten. They were always loved and missed. My struggle tomorrow is not the same as today. I did everything I could to bring justice."

He thanked U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton of Jackson for taking up the case, and Lampton praised the FBI, Justice Department and Mississippi Highway Patrol for their assistance.

Dee's sister, Thelma Collins, told the court that her brother's death "hurt us so bad that I had to get a psychologist." But she said she held no hate toward anyone.

At the news conference, both she and Moore urged Congress to pass the cold cases legislation. "It's a must that this bill be passed because other families need hope," Moore said.

Civil rights activist Alvin Sykes of Kansas City, who dreamed up the legislation and has worked on a number of cases, praised Friday's sentence and remarked, "We look forward to the next investigations and prosecutions."

The next trial is slated for 2008 in Selma, Ala., when former Alabama highway patrolman James Bonard Fowler goes on trial for murder in the 1965 shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler, who has pleaded not guilty, insists he shot in self-defense.

During Friday's hearing, Nester argued that her client should be given consideration because of his poor health and life expectancy.

Justice Department prosecutor Paige Fitzgerald, however, urged Wingate to impose the stiffest sentence possible - keeping Seale behind bars for the rest of his natural life.

"We will never know what might have become of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, two vibrant and promising young men whose lives were abruptly snuffed out on May 2, 1964," she said. "We will never know what roles they might have played in their communities, what contributions they might have made to their country, what friendships they might have formed, whose lives they might have gone on to influence ...

"We will never know those things because of the venomous hatred of James Ford Seale and his fellow members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, hatred that spawned a conspiracy and a crime so horrific that the details take the breath away from anyone with a shred of compassion or human decency."

What these Klansmen did went beyond this horrific crime, she said. "They conspired to kidnap the security of an entire community. They kidnapped a community's faith. They drowned a community's belief in our system of justice."

She urged the court to "send the message that justice will come, sometimes only after many, many years, but justice will come."

'War on Want' charity’s boycott guide a "handbook of hate"

from The Jewish Chronicle (U.K.): Charity’s boycott guide slammed as a ‘handbook of hate’;
by Bernard Josephs

MPs and Jewish leaders have condemned a high-profile British charity which has unveiled plans for a world-wide anti-Israel boycott.

A document, described as “a guide for boycott, divestment and sanctions”, appears on the War on Want website, and as a booklet, laying out a strategy for those planning sanctions against the Jewish state. MPs have called on the Charity Commission to investigate the publication, described as “a handbook of hate” by Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark.

It suggests that the boycott movement needs to “gain greater popular support” in order “to grow into a truly global movement”.

Comparisons are drawn between sanctions against Israel and those imposed against apartheid-era South Africa. Investment in Israel should be presented to the public as “investment in a system of occupation, injustice and apartheid,” it says in the booklet, co-published with the Palestinian Stop the Wall organisation.

Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and chief executive of BICOM, the Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre, said that “to equate the Palestinians’ situation with the absolute powerlessness of black South Africans under the apartheid regime is at best misguided, and at worst an insult and a tragedy”.

Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman said the publication was “very questionable” for a charity. Ilford North Conservative MP Lee Scott found it “disgraceful. I’m going to ask the Charity Commission to look into it”.

A government spokesman said that War on Want had received backing of £1.1 million from the Department for International Development, but none of this was for projects in the Middle East.

A War on Want representative told the JC: “ We helped fund [the booklet] and we are happy to promote it.”

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mainline Protestant book for children filled with misinformation about Israel

from Solomonia:

"Another Book about Israel, Another Series of Bad Sources"

Sources found in the Juvenile section of the library (seriously), Dowdified quotes (lying with ellipsis), faked-up massacres, mischaracterized UN Resolutions...what else but another source book for Mainline American Protestants learning about the Israeli/Arab conflict? Dexter Van Zile has gone through Rev. Dr. Gary Burge's Whose Land? Whose Promise?: What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians and examined the sources. In the process, we get a nice resource for debunking many of the canards we see cropping up again and again, as Dexter provides his own source material. The book is published by a publisher owned by the United Church of Christ, Van Zile's own denomination: Book Embraced by Mainline Marred With Errors

  • Rev. Dr. Burge portrayed an essay by well-known commentator Daniel Pipes as offering a message exactly the opposite of what Daniel Pipes actually wrote.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge attributed a quote to David Ben-Gurion that had been exposed as false and fabricated several years before publication of Whose Land? Whose Promise? (The book the author cites as the source for the quote in question – a work book intended for high school-age students – does not include the quote in question.)
  • Rev. Dr. Burge falsely stated that Israeli-Arabs are denied membership in Israel’s labor movement, when in fact, one of the books he cites reports that Israeli-Arabs had been allowed full membership in Israel’s largest union – the Histadrut – since 1959.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are barred from the service in Israel’s military.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are prohibited from joining Israel’s major political parties.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge mis-characterized UN Resolution 242 as requiring Israeli withdrawal to its “pre-1967 borders” when in fact it does not.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge portrays Hezbollah as a “resistance organization” when in fact its political agenda and leaders clearly state the organization is dedicated to the destruction of Israel – a fact he omits in his description.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge portrays the founding of the PLO as an attempt to resolve the problem of Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 war when in fact its founding was motivated by a desire for the destruction of Israel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Methodist Board of Global Ministries Are on a Mission To Demonize Israel

from the Forward

"Some Methodists Are on a Mission To Demonize Israel" (Opinion, by )

n 2004, the United Methodist Church passed a resolution calling for “members of each congregation to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from all perspectives.” The call for impartiality by the largest mainline Protestant church in the United States was a laudable one, but it has since become clear that for some Methodists fair-mindedness is not on the agenda.

Within the church there are various bodies that address specific subjects of concern to the whole denomination. One of these, the General Board of Global Ministries, embarked on a yearlong, church-wide “mission study” program on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To date the perspective presented by the program has been so predominantly Palestinian, and the effort to vilify Israel so transparent, that one can only conclude there is a campaign underway to persuade Methodists to support divestment at the denomination’s quadrennial General Conference next year.

The centerpiece of the mission study is a slick 220-page volume written by Reverend Stephen Goldstein. The book, which is published by the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, is available for purchase on the United Methodist Church’s official Web site.

The pattern of presenting biased opinions against Israel repeats itself over and over again in the mission study — as it does in the resources and links offered on the Web site of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Take, for example, the mission study’s bibliography, which is available for downloading from the board’s Web site. The first item listed is an article titled “Remember the Liberty.” Published by a group called Americans for Middle East Understanding, the article claims Israel deliberately attacked an American Navy ship during the Six-Day War in 1967. No countervailing view is included.

Indeed, in his book Goldstein describes the incident as having been “covered up for 30 years.” To get what he calls the “full story,” Goldstein directs readers to none other than the Web site of Americans for Middle East Understanding.

In both the bibliography and the book itself, some of Israel’s harshest critics — including Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, George Ball, Robert Fisk and Ilan Pappé — are given overwhelming representation. And the bibliography’s list of recommended videos, available from Americans for Middle East Understanding, feature titles like “Children of the Nakba,” “Palestine is Still the Issue” and “Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land.”

One section of the bibliography is titled “Jewish Religious Fundamentalism and the Place of Religion in Judaism and Israeli Society.” No comparable section addressing Islamic religious fundamentalism in Arab societies — let alone the role of radical Islamists in fomenting terrorism — is to be found.

Study mission participants are directed to download photos from the United Methodist Church’s Web site. The photos of Israelis focus on soldiers, tanks and the “wall.” The photos of Palestinians feature hugging children, a woman sewing and men smiling.

Absent from the Web site are photos showing the effects of Palestinian terrorist bombings on Israeli civilians. The message is clear.

Meanwhile, Goldstein’s narrative is plagued by severe factual errors. For instance, it describes “Baruch Goldstein’s assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in February 1994.” Rabin was shot by Yigal Amir in November 1995.

The mission study takes the view that Israel and Zionism are mostly at fault for the elusiveness of peace. It assumes the mantle of psychoanalyzing an entire society, and its tone and tenor are suffused with hostility and group stereotyping.

One example: “To this day there is a latent hysteria in Israeli life that springs directly from [the Holocaust]. It explains the paranoiac sense of isolation that has been a main characteristic of the Israeli temper since 1948…. And it has been the single most significant factor in Israel’s unwillingness to trust their Arab neighbors or the Palestinians…. Since 1948 the Holocaust and the fear of antisemitism have also created a consciousness that has contributed significantly to preventing Israel from making peace with its Arab neighbors.”

Or another: “The viewpoint of the early settlers was that of Western European colonialists. Today we would surely judge that outlook as basically racist, and it still is.” As proof of this assertion, Goldstein quotes at length the infamous “Zionism is Racism” 1975 resolution passed by the United Nations in 1975 and rescinded in 1991.

The study guide’s overall effect is to demonize Israel and those who support it. It is filled with glaring omissions, outright factual errors, misinformation and half-truths.

For example, Goldstein distorts a quote by David Ben-Gurion to supposedly prove that expelling Palestinians was always part of a Zionist master plan. In 1937 Gurion wrote a letter to his son Amos. Goldstein describes the letter as follows: “[Ben-Gurion] had written that if the Palestinians could not be removed from the country by negotiations, then ‘we will expel the Arabs and take their place.’”

In fact, Ben-Gurion wrote exactly the opposite: “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place.” Had Goldstein done his homework, he would also have read in the same Ben-Gurion letter, “All our aspiration is built on the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.”

Goldstein gives scant attention to Palestinian terrorism, while condemning the security barrier that has reduced Israeli deaths by terrorism from dozens each month to practically none. He takes Yasser Arafat’s side in the failure of Oslo at Camp David. He sympathetically discusses Palestinian refugees, but never mentions that hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to flee Arab countries as refugees.

For Goldstein, it seems, Israel is solely responsible for the Palestinians’ circumstances, while Palestinians have no active role in this conflict. Palestinians, he appears to suggest, are only victims. He patronizes them by giving their leadership, which has failed the Palestinians time and again, a free pass. And, he discounts the considerable role played by others in the region.

What can explain such deliberate distortion? Perhaps Goldstein’s own words give a strong clue.

In the study guide’s opening pages he includes an in-depth personal history, in which he shares his story of alienation from Judaism and conversion to Christianity. Raised a Jew in Brooklyn and New Jersey, he speaks of managing “to get myself expelled from Hebrew school” and walking “away from my bar mitzvah.” He describes himself in high school as “attempting to deny being Jewish. If I were an adult, I would have been labeled a self-hating Jew.”

That an important mainline Protestant denomination such as the United Methodist Church is promoting this distorted and inaccurate program reopens a troubling set of issues in Christian-Jewish relations. We must frankly ask the Methodist church’s leadership how a yearlong study that is so flagrantly insensitive and biased could have been allowed to get past a first edit — let alone endorsed, implemented and distributed.

With divestment resolutions already emerging from several regional Methodist conferences, it is difficult not to view this study mission as an effort to ensure that if, as expected, divestment is voted on at the church’s national conference next May, delegates will have been prepared to cast their votes correctly.

Under these circumstances, the Methodist leadership should now engage seriously with the Jewish community, which overwhelmingly opposes divestment from left to right. Such engagement, if it leads to a truly fair presentation of the issues, could prevent a major setback in interfaith relations.

But talk is not enough. It would be an appropriate first step for the United Methodist Church to immediately suspend this flawed and fraudulent study mission, and restart it only after a serious review of the process has taken place. The church needs to ensure that materials representing a broad spectrum of mainstream Israeli and American Jewish perspectives are fully allowed into the discussion. Not only would this be in line with the church’s own policy of studying the issue “from all perspectives,” but it would support, rather than erode, the recent decades of Jewish-Christian rapprochement.

Yitzhak Santis is director of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council’s Middle East Project.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ron Paul opposes fictitious NAFTA superhighway conspiracy

Gotta love it. Not only does Ron Paul believe the apparently baseless conspiracy theories concerning a plan to build a special "NAFTA superhighway" from Mexico to Canada, he also trumpets that fact on his campaign website by linking to a Toronto Globe and Mail article which basically shoots down the conspiracy theory and stomps all over it. It appears that Rep. Paul is either immune or oblivious to mockery of his neo-isolationist crackpot world view.

Here's what the Globe and Mail says:

It's a threat that has left-wing Canadian nationalists and right-wing U.S. congressmen in rare and dismayed agreement: a freeway, four football fields wide, stretching from Mexico to northern Manitoba.

Groups on both sides of the political spectrum say the corridor - dubbed the NAFTA superhighway - is a primary goal of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America established two years ago by the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

At separate press conferences in Ottawa yesterday, the road was held out as an example of the potentially repugnant effects of the trilateral partnership.

There's just one thing: Officials in Canada and the United States say no plans for any such freeway are in the works. The concept, they say, is part urban myth and part fear-mongering.

But the detractors of the SPP are convinced that the road's construction has already been approved. They argue that plans are being kept secret, a lament they extend to the discussions taking place behind closed doors this week in Montebello, Que., between U.S. President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

"The chief project thus far of the SPP is the so-called NAFTA superhighway which would connect Mexico, the United States and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City," warned Republican Congressman Ron Paul in a statement read at one of the morning news events in Ottawa yesterday.

"Millions would be displaced by this massive undertaking which would require the eminent domain actions [expropriations] on an unprecedented scale. ... A Spanish construction company, it is said, plans to build the highway and operate it as a toll road."

Just a few minutes earlier, a collection of antiwar activists and civil-rights spokesmen led by the Council of Canadians, a non-profit group that fights against corporate integration with the U.S., offered a similar message.

They warned that a Trans Texas Corridor being built in Mr. Bush's home state that "will be four football fields wide and include lanes for cars, trains and trucks headed from the Mexican coast" will not end in the United States.

"Through public-private consortia like the North American Super Corridor Coalition, which counts the province of Manitoba as a proud participant, plans are under way to extend the Texas pet project right up past the Canadian border to an expanded port in Churchill," warns a Council of Canadians pamphlet entitled Behind Closed Doors that features pictures of the three leaders on its cover.

The U.S. embassy in Ottawa issued a press release yesterday calling the superhighway a myth.

A spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office scoffed at the claim, saying a simple denial that plans for the project are in the works would be "an understatement."

Even the North American Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO) says the superhighway is not one of its goals.

"We are concerned with improving the efficiency and security and safety of existing transportation infrastructure," said Frank Conde, the director of communications for NASCO.

The need for those improvements was made clear with the bridge collapse in Minneapolis earlier this month, Mr. Conde said. But there is no move by NASCO to create a separate international highway, he said.
Interestingly, the Ron Paul 2008 website only quotes the bit where Rep. Paul spells out the conspiracy theory, not the rest of the piece debunking it.

You can read the full, well-headlined article here: "A North American road to nowhere".

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chocolate milk in a bag - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Chocolate milk in a bag"

Shoco-Bi'sakit is a very tasty Israeli treat. As its Hebrew name suggests, it is simply chocolate milk in a small, plastic bag. A cousin of the traditional juicebox, shoco-bi'sakit is portable and convenient. Instead of using a straw, one bites a corner, and sucks the sweet nectar through the small tear.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pakistani Jew awaits her day in court

from the Jewish Chronicle (by Patrick Belton):

There are still some Jews living in Karachi, though their number has decreased from 2,500 at the time of independence, according to a report in a Jewish publication. One of them has filed a suit to be given land that was promised when the city’s synagogue was demolished under Ziaul Haq.

Most of them pass as Parsees, says the British publication Jewish Chronicle, because they “like to keep quiet”. However, a destitute and frail woman of 88, Rachel Joseph is the sole surviving custodian of the community’s synagogue, even though it was destroyed almost 20 years ago. Magain Shalome once stood at the corner of Jamila Street and Nishtar Road. It was demolished in July 1988 by order of President Ziaul Haq, to make way for a shopping plaza. Ms Joseph is suing the property developers who built it, saying they promised her space for another synagogue, and a flat to live in while she tended it. Meanwhile, she looks after the community’s graveyard, in the Mewa Shah neighbourhood. The shul was built in 1893 by Bene Israel from Maharashtra, who came to work in the civil service the railroads and pressing coconut oil with Baghdadi Jews from Bombay.

Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar also had communities, but Karachi’s importance as a Jewish centre was such that the All-India Israelite League convened there in 1918. With independence came pogroms and Israeli independence in May 1948 saw the Karachi synagogue set on fire. Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto is supposed to have said, “To Jews as Zionists, intoxicated with their militarism and reeking with technological arrogance, we refuse to be hospitable.” According to Rachel Khafi, an American whose grandfather, Benjamin Khafi, organised the departure of Jews from Peshawar, “My grandfather went from door to door, from Jew to Jew, to tell them that they had to leave the town.” The numbers in Karachi halved during the Suez Crisis and again with the Six-Day War, though communal life continued throughout the 1970s. Over 630 Karachi families now live in Ramla, Lod and Beersheba in Israel. Older members still speak Urdu or Marathi. “They are not the most integrated of communities in Israel,” said the Hebrew University’s Dr Shalva Weil, an expert on Jews of the subcontinent.

Nationalists Versus Islamists: The Middle East's Core Issue by Barry Rubin

from... GLORIA Center

The Middle East is in a new era, very different from the politics and strategic situation we have been used to for so long.

For 55 years the region has lived under Arab nationalist dominance. Every Arab regime, except perhaps Sudan, is Arab nationalist, governed by that basic system and world view.

Of course, these regimes have governed badly, not keeping pledges to unite the Arab world, minimize Western influence, destroy Israel, or bring rapid social and economic progress. Still, they know how to stay in power. Remember that the last real regime change from within an Arab state happened 37 years ago when Hafiz al-Asad seized power in Syria. Since then, surprisingly little has changed in Arab ideology, political structure, economic organization, or society.

It has also been 28 years since Iran's Islamist revolution took power in 1979. Since then--though not solely because of that event--Islamism has been on the upsurge. Certainly, it also suffered setbacks and almost three decades later Islamism had been unable to seize power anywhere, at least until Hamas's recent triumph in Gaza.

What has happened now, however, is that radical Islamism has reached a critical mass. It now poses serious challenges to Arab nationalism as the leading opposition in every Arabic-speaking country. Islamism plays a key role in governing Iraq, Hamas defeated Fatah on the Palestinian front; and Hizballah is close to gaining at least equal power in Lebanon.

For years, probably decades, to come, the Middle East will be shaken by a titanic battle between Arab nationalism and Islamism for control. This struggle, and certainly not the Arab-Israeli conflict, is the central theme and underlying factor in every regional issue.

This is so for several reasons. One is that the Islamist cause is now promoted by an alliance including two regimes, Iran and Syria, as well as Hamas and Hizballah which both rule territory. Syria's government, technically “secular” and ruled by a non-Muslim Alawite minority no less, behaves like an Islamist one, especially in its foreign policy, as to keep loyal its Sunni Muslim majority.

It is folly to think that this HISH alliance (Hamas-Iran-Syria-Hizballah) can be split. After all, the parties have common aims and ideologies, their cooperation is so mutually beneficial, and last but not least due to the fact that they think they are winning.

Historically, there were two barriers for Iran's trying to become the Middle East's leading power: the Persian-Arab and Shia-Sunni divides. How could Persian, Shia Iran appeal to Arabs who mostly were Sunni? The HISH alliance solves that problem. Three of the four members are Arab, and Hamas is Sunni as is the majority of Syrians. If one adds Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency that breakthrough becomes even clearer.

Nor does this exhaust the Islamist forces working today to seize state power throughout the region. Al-Qaida is a factor, mostly in Iraq--where it cooperates closely with Syria--and Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida is far more a threat in terms of terrorism, however, than in a strategic sense. Since it has only one tactic, in comparison to other Islamists' flexibility, al-Qaida is unlikely to take over any countries.

A third Islamist set of groups are Muslim Brotherhood movements. While Hamas arises from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, its Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian counterparts do not particularly like Iran or Shia Muslims. Still, they are also trying to transform Arab nationalist into Islamist states. Even if they use elections in pursuing this objective the goal remains the same.

To understand the region today all its issues have to be seen in the context of this nationalist-Islamist battle. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it will greatly increase the power of HISH, the Arab regimes' readiness to appease it, and the recruitment for Islamists of all types throughout the area.

In Lebanon, Hizballah backed by Iran and Syria seeks to control the government, or at least have veto power over its policies. In Iraq, Syrian-backed Sunni insurgents fight Shias among whom Iran has considerable influence. HISH hedges its bets but on both sides tries to turn Iraq into a client state. Among Palestinians, Hamas seeks full power over the movement by ensuring that war with Israel continues and by driving Fatah out of the West Bank.

On the other side, in theory, are all the Arab regimes except Syria plus Israel. In practice, though, these forces are far from united. Arab governments will try to cut their own deals or pursue their own interests. They may be privately happy if Israel defeats Hamas or Hizballah but they will scarcely provide any help or make peace.

A good example here is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis fight Iran but do so by giving money and recruits to the Iraqi insurgency or their ill-fated attempt to buy off Hamas by brokering a deal between that group and Fatah. Neither of these tactics has been very helpful. And the incompetence, corruption, and dictatorial nature of the Arab regimes--plus their Islamist-style extremist propaganda--all help foster more opposition.

Still, this does not at all mean the Islamists will win. No one should underestimate the Arab nationalist regimes and there are huge problems with the Islamists' strategy. What is vital, however, is to understand that past realities are now outmoded and myths all-too-often dominant in media and academia are even more misleading.

Ron Paul: The Radical Right's Man in Washington

from Daily Kos:

posted last May:


THE STRANGE CASE OF LARRY PRATT

In 1996, presidential candidate Pat Buchanan got in hot water when the Center for Public Integrity revealed connections between Buchanan's campaign co-chairman Larry Pratt and Pastor Pete Peters, a leader of the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, had been a frequent guest at meetings and on radio and television programs hosted by Peters, who inveighed against "Talmudic filth" as Pratt looked on. On February 15, 1996, Pratt took a leave of absence from the Buchanan campaign, so as to avoid causing a "distraction."

The very next day, reported the San Antonio Express-News on February 18, Ron Paul distributed a press release touting Pratt's endorsement of Paul's candidacy for the U.S. Congress. Pratt's endorsement of Paul was anything but pro forma; the February 22, 1996 issue of Roll Call noted that Paul and Mike Gunn, a Republican candidate for Congress in Mississippi who had done some work for David Duke in the latter's 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial campaign, were the only two candidates formally endorsed for office that year by Pratt's organization. Paul's opponent in the Republican primary, Rep. Greg Laughlin, called upon Paul to repudiate Pratt; Paul declined to do so, with his spokesman saying that Paul opposed racism but that "nothing has been proven against Mr. Pratt. He has denied it." (Pratt's enthusiasm for Paul continues to this day, as this quasi-endorsement of Paul's 2008 presidential campaign makes clear.)

THE COMPANY RON PAUL KEEPS

Paul's disinclination to separate himself from the Larry Pratts of the world is part of a pattern that over the last 20 years has seen him snuggling up to some extremely questionable characters on the far right fringe. Like, for example, secessionists, who gathered at a conference in April of 1995 to hear Paul speak about the "once and future Republic of Texas." Or the beady-eyed listeners of The Political Cesspool. It's the unofficial radio program of the Council of Conservative Citizens--you know, the repainted White Citizens Council that got Trent Lott into a bit of trouble a few years ago. (Tune in tonight for their special program on "the disastrous Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education decision, one which ushered in an era of radical leftist ideology upon the American citizenry.") Paul has been a guest on the program; you'll find him listed under P, right above Prussian Blue, the white supremacist teenage singing duo.

Or the crazy-as-fuck John Birch Society, to which Paul is more than happy to grant the occasional interview and even speak at their dinners (the podcast, I am sorry to report, no longer seems to be available). In fact, Paul is the only member of Congress to receive a perfect 100 from the John Birch Society in its most recent member ratings.

THE KLAN'S MAN IN WASHINGTON

Like many members of Congress, the prolific Paul posts his speeches, columns, and statements on his House Web site. He allows anyone to republish and distribute them, and many do. For example, our old friends the Council of Conservative Citizens occasionally publish Paul in its newsletter, the Citizens Informer (warning: PDF). And then there's David Duke, who can't get enough of Ron Paul; you can find his columns on davidduke.com here and here and here and here and here. If you're more of a dead-tree fan, you can find Paul's thoughts on foreign policy reprinted in the January 2007 issue of the National Times, a white supremacist newspaper that apparently gets distributed through the time-honored neo-Nazi method of throwing the thing onto unsuspecting people's porches in the middle of the night and scurrying away.

For a real look inside the tiny, demented mind of the neo-Nazi, though, we need to go to Stormfront. Stormfront is the oldest and largest white supremacist site on the World Wide Web; its discussion boards provide an unequaled opportunity for eavesdropping on the thoughts and plans of the racist underground in America and around the world. And you don't have to visit for very long before one thing jumps out at you: they positively adore Ron Paul. (Please note that links in this paragraph go to a hate site and should probably be considered NSFW.) An "Is Ron Paul the One?" topic is currently stickied in Stormfront's Newslinks & Articles forum; another active topic on Paul's candidacy has received 446 posts and 12,040 pageviews since late March. A topic called "Ron Paul's Race Problem" (hey, Wonkette musta read my diary!) was just started today and already has 17 replies. They're busy little racists over there.

DOES ANY OF THIS STUFF REALLY MATTER?

Politicians can't choose their supporters, after all. Isn't it a bit unfair to tar Paul by association to these lunatics? No, it isn't. This stuff matters because Paul makes so little effort to disassociate himself from the racist, anti-Semitic, crackpot groups that support him. Whether he shares these groups' beliefs or not, the fact that he doesn't care enough to do anything about them speaks volumes. I'll wrap up by turning the floor over to Eric Dondero, a senior aid to Paul from 1997 to 2003, who had this to say in a blog comment in May:

Ron Paul has had some ties that are nothing to be proud of in the past to far-right groups. My former boss IS NOT AN ANTI-SEMITE. However, he is grossly inattentive in dealing with groups who are blatantly anti-Semitic.

...Whether they are using him to gain in credibility, or whether it’s just coincidence doesn’t matter much. It’s the image that counts. No doubt this will all come to haunt him in his race for the Presidency.


MORE FROM LAST MAY'S DAILY KOS:

RON PAUL HATES YOU!

Let's have a look at some of the many, many issues on which Ron Paul places himself squarely in opposition to me and, presumably, you:

Abortion: Ron Paul's "libertarianism" famously does not extend to the right of a woman to control her body. In February he introduced H.R. 1094, "[t]o provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception." He voted against overriding Bush's veto of the stem cell bill.

The Environment: Ron Paul may be a Republican, but he's certainly not a Republican for Environmental Protection. That fine organization gave Paul a shameful 17 percent rating on its most recent Congressional Scorecard (warning: PDF). He doesn't fare much better in the eyes of the American Wilderness Coalition or the League of Conservation Voters. Paul's abysmal record on the environment is driven in large measure by his love of sweet, sweet oil: in the 109th Congress alone, he voted to voted allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to shield oil companies from MTBE contamination lawsuits, against increasing gas mileage standards, to allow new offshore drilling, and to stop making oil companies pay royalties to the government for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Par for the course for a man who called the Kyoto accords "bad science, bad economics and bad domestic policy" and "anti-Americanism masquerading as environmentalism."

Immigration: Paul marches in lock-step with the xenophobic right wing on immigration, calling last month's compromise immigration bill "a compromise of our laws, a compromise of our sovereignty, and a compromise of the Second Amendment." Yet even the hardcore nativists in the immigration debate have been hesitant to support repealing birthright citizenship as enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment, as Paul has done. His proposed Constitutional amendment, introduced as H. J. Res 46 on April 28, 2005, reads: "Any person born after the date of the ratification of this article to a mother and father, neither of whom is a citizen of the United States nor a person who owes permanent allegiance to the United States, shall not be a citizen of the United States or of any State solely by reason of birth in the United States." Only four other Representatives, all Republicans, were willing to cosponsor this proposed amendment.

Civil Rights: Paul doesn't much care for ensuring your right to vote. Like when he voted with just 32 other members of Congress against reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Or when he voted for the bogus "Federal Election Integrity Act" voter suppression bill.

But at least Ron Paul knows who's responsible for racism in America: you are. "By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality," he writes, "the advocates of so-called 'diversity' actually perpetuate racism. Their intense focus on race is inherently racist, because it views individuals only as members of racial groups." So now you know. (Apparently, saying that "[i]f you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be" is not racist, as long as it's said with a proper appreciation for free-market economics.)

Gay Rights: Paul's rigid, uncompromising libertarianism leads him to take a number of positions that liberals find objectionable or even reprehensible but which should not in themselves be taken as ipso facto evidence of bigotry. His reflexive opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, is consistent with libertarian positions on federalism and the right of the individual to be free from government "coercion," even if that means limiting the ability of minorities to seek employment and housing free from discrimination.

Still, libertarian orthodoxy can't fully explain Paul's hostility to gay rights, and indeed to gay people in general. The Libertarian Party, which nominated Paul as its presidential candidate in 1988, has strongly opposed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act from the beginning; Paul supports it. While he opposed the "Federal Marriage Amendment" that would have outlawed gay marriage everywhere, he actually cosponsored the odious "Marriage Protection Act," which would nonsensically bar federal courts from considering challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which is a federal law. "The definition of marriage--a union between a man and a woman--can be found in any dictionary," he writes condescendingly. Despite Paul's disingenuous claims that he is a "strict constitutionalist," most legal scholars agree that the so-called Marriage Protection Act would be unconstitutional.

You also will not find Paul listed among the 124 co-sponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2007, which would repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gays and lesbians from serving in the military. Maybe he's worried that they'll take their "gay agenda" to far-flung corners of the world. He also doesn't want gay people adopting children while they're not serving in the military, either.

On a personal level, we have this 1993 quote wherein Paul equates homosexuality with "sexual deviance." And let's not forget his wink-wink characterization of Hillary Clinton as "a far leftist with very close female friends".

Church-State Separation: From keeping "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance to co-sponsoring the school prayer amendment to keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn, this "strict constitutionalist" isn't a big fan of the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state. "Religious morality will always inform the voting choices of Americans of all faiths," he writes. "...The collectivist left" --that's you!-- "is threatened by strong religious institutions, because it wants an ever-growing federal government to serve as the unchallenged authority in our society.... So the real motivation behind the insistence on a separation of church and state is not based on respect for the First amendment, but rather on a desire to diminish the influence of religious conservatives at the ballot box."

And just in case the dirty liberals in the federal court system might take it into their heads to enforce the Establishment Clause, Mr. Strict Constitutionalist introduced a bill to bar the federal courts from hearing any such cases. No wonder James Dobson's Family Research Council gave Paul a 75 percent rating on their 2005 scorecard.

International Relations: Like crackpot paleoconservatives everywhere, Paul wants us out of the United Nations, which is just a bunch of un-American non-Americans out to destroy America. Darfur is also filled with non-Americans, so you certainly won't find Ron Paul lifting a finger to stop the genocide, or even acknowledge that genocide is taking place. I guess that's why he's one of only four members of Congress to receive an "F" rating on Darfur from the Genocide Intervention Network.

Peace and Military Issues: With all the hooting and hollering about Paul's opposition to the Iraq war, it sure seems like he should have been able to get better than 58 percent from PeacePAC, doesn't it? Even Joe Lieberman managed to get 63 percent. (Still, it beats the 45 percent Paul got from them in the previous Congress.) He did a little better from Peace Action, managing 67 percent--easily the top score for a Republican, but a below-average score for Democrats. (Still, it beats the 40 percent he got from them in 2004.)

And while Paul may oppose the Iraq war, he doesn't seem to have much use for the men and women who have to fight it. Paul received an "F" rating from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It's not easy to get an F from the IAVA; Paul shares this distinction with only six other members of the House.

Taxes: Do we even need to go into this one? If you audaciously believe that we need a progressive system of taxation in this country, here's what Ron Paul thinks of you:

* "[W]e have exactly the kind of steeply progressive tax system championed by Karl Marx. One might expect the left to be happy with such an arrangement. At its core, however, the collectivist left in this country simply doesn’t believe in tax cuts. Deep down, they believe all wealth belongs to the state, which should redistribute it via tax and welfare policies to achieve some mythical 'social justice.'... The class war tactic highlights what the left does best: divide Americans into groups. Collectivists see all issues of wealth and taxation as a zero-sum game played between competing groups. If one group gets a tax break, other groups must be rallied against it- even if such a cut would ultimately benefit them.... Upward mobility is possible only in a free-market capitalist system, whereas collectivism dooms the poor to remain exactly where they are."
* "Collectivist politicians forget that the American dream of becoming wealthy is alive and well. They seek to encourage resentment of the wealthy, when in truth most Americans admire successful people. They forget that upward mobility, the chance to start from humble beginnings and achieve wealth and position, is virtually impossible in high-tax socialist societies. Most of all, however, the pro-tax politicians forget that your money belongs to you. As a society, we should not forget their dishonesty when we go to the polls."

Screw this; this diary's way too long already. Worker rights: Voted to defund OSHA's ergonomics rules. Voted against increasing mine safety standards. Hates unions. Campaign finance reform: Opposes. Social Security and Medicare: Repeats the Republicans' lies about the programs' solvency. Consumer protection: Voted for the bankruptcy bill. Voted to make it harder to file class-action lawsuits. Universal health care: don't make me laugh. Privatizing everything: the Internets are not large enough to hold all the citations.

"But he's against the war!" Yes, he is. So is Pat Buchanan. So is David Duke. If either of them were on the stage in New Hampshire today, full of sweet words about the war, would you be as quick to praise their "independence," to gush about how well of course I wouldn't vote for him myself but he sure is awesome anyway? Do you truly require nothing from a political candidate other than that he oppose the war?

Think about it.

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