Category: Foreign Policy

Puppet-theater Burlesque

Dear editor:

On September 11, 2012, four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya. Ever since, their fog-of-war deaths have been fodder for a macabre, puppet-theater burlesque of right-wing propaganda. Contrarians may wax poetic with fanciful exaggerations, but the dead did not “come home in wooden boxes.” As it has been for decades, their remains were respectfully returned to Dover Air Force Base in flag-draped metal containers.

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were there when the plane landed. Here is part of what Obama said on that sad occasion.

“Four Americans, four patriots, they loved their country and chose to serve it and serve it well. They had a mission and they believed in it, and they knew the danger and they accepted it. They didn’t simply embrace the American ideal, they lived it, they embodied it: the courage, the hope and, yes, the idealism.”

Clinton also spoke, saying the four were “at the heart of what makes America great and good.” She added, “America must keep leading the world. We owe it to these four men to continue the long, hard work of diplomacy. We will wipe our tears and stiffen our spines and face the future undaunted.”

Hardly what we hear from the usual Benghazi! screamers, is it? Last October, when four American Green Berets were killed in Niger and one of them, Sergeant La David Johnson, was abandoned for nearly 48 hours, where were the rabid exhortations to “Lock him up!?” Was Trump on hand at Dover when their remains came home? Of course not! He was golfing in Florida and tweeting about “fake news.”

In fact, he was completely silent about what happened in Niger for 12 long days. Finally, he whined that Obama had never called families of Americans killed on his watch, so why should he? It was a blatant lie, but not unexpected. Trump and mendacity are dear old friends. Eventually, his huge, magnificent eloquence did burst forth when he called Sgt. Johnson’s widow. “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

She cried. Our Comforter-in-Chief made a soldier’s widow cry. Think about that the next time you resurrect the same tired canards about Benghazi. You dishonor America’s dead and their service to our country when you cherry-pick your facts. Context matters. Four months after Benghazi, Secretary Clinton faced an inquisition led by Republican Ron Johnson (coincidentally, Wisconsin also spawned Joseph McCarthy). This was her response:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

Truth. It’s never as sexy as the stuff you make up. Is it?

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Image:  https://www.c-span.org/video/?308200-4/arrival-libya-victims-remains

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/07/04/puppet-theater-burlesque/

In your name

If

By Arkansas Times’ “The Observer” (David Koon), June 14, 2018

 

If you can, cast your mind back to when you were very young and recall what it felt like to be separated from your mother and father. Not just playing in the yard or another part of the house, but truly, even for a moment, lost. Recall the vice crush of panic in your chest.

If you were ever a parent, remember the feeling of being in a public place, turning around, and finding that your child is gone. They’re squirrelly little suckers, and compact. Turn your head for a second and they can vanish like smoke, even if you’re the greatest parent alive. Remember that feeling. Remember the terrible possibility. Remember the vice crush of panic in your chest at the thought of “maybe” until you laid eyes on that child again.

If you are an American, understand the things that are being done at the border right now, in your name. Thousands of children ripped from the arms of loving parents and spirited away into the night, in your name. Mothers reportedly being told that their children are being taken to be bathed, only to learn minutes or hours later that they aren’t coming back, in your name. Parents being charged with the misdemeanor — yes, misdemeanor, same as public intox and spitting on the sidewalk — of illegally crossing the border, but being sentenced on the spot to having their children snatched from them, in your name. Men and women with the American flag on their shoulders are literally kidnapping children like witches in candy houses, in your name. American police officers, duly sworn, are committing the textbook definition of terrorism against little boys and little girls who will bear the mental scars for the rest of their lives, and they are doing so in order to act as a deterrent by demonstrating the inhuman, reptilian cruelty of which Americans are now capable, even to children. In your name.

If you have ever been a mother or father, imagine your child living in a corrupt and lawless land run by criminal warlords, in the kind of grinding poverty that isn’t just situational but generational, with no hope to ever escape. Now imagine that you know that somewhere out there, there is a line, and on the other side of that line is a land of bounty and safety where any person who works hard in the hot sun can earn a sliver of that bounty for themselves and their children.

If that were your situation, what wouldn’t you do to get your child to that place? Would you lie? Would you risk your life? Would you break the law? Would you commit a misdemeanor?

If you support this madness while claiming to be a Christian, you are not. You are a servant of the creeping darkness, cruelty and despair that Jesus Christ fought and shed his blood for all his short life here on earth.

If you have ever uttered or thought or nodded along when someone said, “Well, if they didn’t want their kids taken, they shouldn’t have brought them here,” you’re not a good person. You have become, in your gluttony and narcissism, a monster, too far gone to even possess an understanding of the sheer, stupid luck of being born here.

If you still claim to be a Christian, consider Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord thy God.”

If you cling to the passages in Leviticus about hating gay people, but skim past those about loving immigrants, you should cast that cross around your neck into the dust, because it’s just jewelry now. Have yourself a tiny gold basin made instead, the basin where Pontius Pilate washed his cowardly hands of savagery. Have yourself a tiny gold truncheon made, a tiny gold jackboot, a tiny dollar bill. These are your gods now.

If you believe that history and our children’s children will not judge us all in the same light as those who remained silent while black Americans were bought and sold, while Native Americans were slaughtered and their families crushed, while Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced into camps, you are wrong.

If you are not pissed, get pissed.

If you are not loud, get loud.

If you are not informed, get informed.

If you are not ashamed of your country over this, you should be.

If you don’t believe it can change, it can, if those who want to make America truly great again act as one and say: “Not in my name.”

 

https://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/if/Content?oid=19088724

Photograph of Samar Hassan:  https://levantium.com/2011/05/07/i-am-samar/

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/06/20/in-your-name/

Suffering Fools

Selections from a recent Facebook conversation.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent, the willfully ignorant, the woefully beguiled, and the morally repugnant (see fundie #5).  Due to the branching nature of such conversations on social media, this is stitched together from various, sometimes parallel/simultaneous narratives and is therefore only a linear approximation of a non-linear medium.  Grammar and spelling have been only rarely altered so as to preserve the intellectual intensity and profundity (and inanity) of the comments that ensue…

— Monsieur d’Nalgar, Samedi 26 mai 2018 Ere Commune

 

Last week…

Doc:  Fifty people died today in Palestine, with thousands….think about that, thousands wounded. The Israelis are treating the Palestinians the way our country treated Native tribes. Educate yourself and ask yourself #WWJD. I’m thinking Jesus will come back when He’s ready.

Fundie #1:   Yes, Jesus will come back and I think it is going to be sonner.then we think

Fundie #2:  Read the Bible as the answer to your question is in there. Israel has always been and forever will be The Apple of God’s Eye and He never changes. He promised to protect Israel and He will…Two days ago they were firing missiles at Israel which started this. If North Korea was firing at us what do you think Jesus would have us do, as we have many of God’s people in our nation as well?

Doc’s friend #1:  I’ve read the Bible a few times, and if you think snipers killing kids is somehow a justifiable act condoned by God, you might want to open it again.

Fundie #2:  Exactly and how many Americans died in 9/11…there are and always have been senseless killings and it’s not going to stop until the Prince of Peace returns!
I hate that any children died today, Doc but how many die yearly here in the USA by abortions? And how many folks seem to be okay with it? Really!

Doc:  Fundie #2 going to the “abortion” issue is a cop out…btw, the Jewish tradition states life begins at the first breath…so, can’t we agree snipers shooting innocent people is wrong?

Fundie #3:  Hamas is also using innocent civilians to envoke violence.. So is it really Israel’s fault for defending themselves as a terrorist organization is provoking the violence.. Hamas’ actions are getting innocent folks killed.. Its sad that any lives are lost…

Fundie #2:  I stand with Israel and have never thought or said that any of this is Israel’s fault. They are a small country totally surrounded by enemies. I study our Torah and God gave them that land, every inch of it, it is written! I thank God that the USA/Trump/Pence, have moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The plan of Almighty God unfolding before our eyes. The protesting has become far from peaceful protesting, not only in Israel but here in the US and around the world, and has been the cause of much bloodshed. As the Bible says, I watch therefore, and pray.

Moi:  Today is Nakba Day. If you don’t know what that is, it’s probably because you don’t want to know. For those of you who think God “is in this” and the Israelis are God’s “chosen people” – I offer you this opportunity to educate yourselves…

A concise defense of Palestinians:

Leaving aside the moral arguments for ending a festering, 70-year injustice, leaving aside the comparisons to South Africa’s systemic apartheid racism, and even leaving aside the ultimate irony of obvious parallels to Nazi Germany’s millennial dreams (Godwin’s Law be damned)…

First of all, archaeological evidence suggests ancient Israelites were just another tribe, one of many, in Canaan (today’s Palestine). Their particular deity was Yahweh, although artifacts from this time show that these people were hardly monotheistic – neighboring gods (especially fertility goddesses) were routinely incorporated into their religious practices. As these tribes jockeyed for power, the Israelites eventually emerged as the region’s dominant tribe, more through gradual assimilation and population growth (maybe those fertility goddesses really worked) than from bloody smiting and conquest (despite the tall tales of the Old Testament’s PR priests and poets).

Israelites’ self-rule typically only lasted as long as they were overlooked or ignored by nearby superpowers. When the big boys from back East showed up, Jewish kingdoms quickly collapsed and their aristocrats were killed or taken away as captive (albeit well-treated) hostages. It was hardly total ethnic cleansing – peasants, mostly agrarian, were left behind. Once the rich folk returned from exile, they discovered these peasants had gotten uppity and “moved on up” – they had become the new establishment. Just in the nick of time to re-establish the old order, these returning refugees magically, deliciously “discovered” their creation/origination myths (for which there is not a shred of evidence – see below), the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch), in the ruins of Jerusalem’s destroyed temple. What a coinky-dinky! God was mandating a return to the old pecking order and peasants were forced to shuffle back to their fields of labor. The old sheriff, the aristocracy and particularly the hereditary priesthood, was back in town…

Now let’s look at the science of the “we were here first” argument. Sephardic Jews (especially the Mizrahi) and Palestinian Arabs have practically identical DNA while Ashkenazi DNA indicates medieval origins in eastern Europe… Israel shut down DNA research several years ago because the findings were so awkward (and antithetical to their notions of ancient racial/ethnic purity).

On top of that, once modern historians began re-examining the long-held idea that the Roman Empire completely emptied Palestine in 70 AD, they soon concluded that the ludicrous logistical requirements rendered the Jewish Diaspora as nothing but myth. And not for the first time. The non-existence of ANY archaeological evidence suggests the story of a much earlier Jewish exodus from Egypt to Canaan was also a myth. If it happened at all, it could just as easily happened along the western coasts of Yemen and Arabia.

The truth of the matter is that a Jewish diaspora had already largely
happened by the time an itinerant rabbi named Jesus got himself killed for upending the cozy relationship the Jewish muckety-mucks had worked out with their military occupiers. The majority of Jews were already living beyond Palestine and, except for diehard zealots and anti-Roman terrorists, even Jerusalem was fading in importance for Judaism.

In other words, today’s Palestinians are direct descendants of those same Jews and pagans and pilgrims and assorted mystics who lived in Palestine while Jesus was among them. They didn’t go anywhere – a few clung to their Judaism, but most became Christians and later, Muslims. Notions of racial purity here are a fool’s fantasy. The blood-soaked “holy land” is the world’s genetics kitchen blender. Waves of conquerors have marauded through the Levant since the dawn of human history. Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs, and even French, British, and now Ashkenazi Jews have all added their cultural and genetic flavors, often with violence, to the recipe of Palestine’s people.

Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea. (See link below)

Today, too many foolish fundamentalist (a tautology) Christians (and many Jews) are beguiled by their hypocritical leaders and Israel’s massive hasbara propaganda apparatus. As an antidote, I heartily recommend Gary Burge’s book – Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to “Holy Land” Theology.

http://mondoweiss.net/…/israeli-historian-palestinians…/

Fundie #2:  Nope! Not buying into that. You will be successful in getting lots to believe this though wow!

Doc:  It is their life that is at stake. So if I protest, I can get shot by a sniper and that’s ok?

Doc’s friend #1:  It killed 50 people today…for what? It wasn’t violent…so your basically saying its there own fault for protesting. I’m going to try and be civil and suggest sometimes its better to talk a moral high ground that win an argument…especially with an asshole like me…

Doc’s friend #1:  Jesus would tell Israel to “love thy neighbor”

Doc’s friend #1:  He would care less about the petty BS we argue about, and care about people getting killed for no reason. He would espouse love over violence…

Doc’s friend #1:  So this is what Israel is doing by having snipers shoot people?

Mon amie:  my dad/his family still living in Nazareth and our diaspora are Christians. Palestinians remain one of the largest populations of Christian Arabs in the world, so I must regretfully inform you that Israel has and continues to persecute, dehumanize, occupy, imprison without charges, torture and murder the indigenous Christian population of Palestinians💔. You would be horrified by the unspeakable acts committed by Zionist terrorist groups and the Israeli army during the “clearing of the cities” in 1947 and 1948.

Fundie #2:  Rape n incest ect… 650,000 to 750,000 abortions a yr in the U.S… 55 today in Palestine.. I think that no loss of life is good.. Does that amount not offend any of you!!

Doc:  Glad you are expressing your outrage at the loss of life in Palestine ..because….killing is killing

Doc’s friend #1:  I’m more offended by your moral equivalence…so there is that…but hey, at least we’re talking…

Doc’s friend #1:  Glad you are expressing your outrage at the loss of life in Palestine ..because….killing is killing

Doc’s friend #1:  I don’t call people names…and wether you recognize it or not, allow people to “hash it out”. We ain’t got to always agree, but talking helps….

Doc’s friend #1:  So, you’re outraged at the loss of life in Palestine?

Doc’s friend #1:  #sad Too bad people can’t realize that “those people” could be them. Jesus loves everyone….and that’s really hard at times..

Doc’s friend #2:  Of course the Bible says the Jews are the chosen people…They wrote the book, after all…I’d just like to get a third party verification, if you don’t mind…

Doc’s friend #1:  So yet another night solving the world’s problems on social media. I pray we can never post anything we wouldn’t say to someone’s face. I pray we at least think. I pray that although we don’t always agree, we will remain accountable for our world view. Most of all, I pray for the lives lost in Palestine. I pray we have a new respect for the ability to protest without getting shot by a sniper. I pray we can disagree, but be good neighbors. Good night, and God Bless everyone..

Doc’s friend #2:  Jesus never told his followers that they had to stand with the Jews to get to Heaven…He said that he was bringing a new way and a new light…And Paul never preached any of what you are saying in any of his many books in the Bible…Jesus stood for love, not war and killing unarmed protesters…I believe Jesus would’ve had more sympathy for the innocent Palestinians killed, than for the Israelis today… Please show me where in the Bible it says we have to unconditionally, uncritically, support Israel, to get to Heaven, because I must have missed that part…

Fundie #3:  You don’t know The Scriptures or you would understand. That land was given, not really, THEY had to kill the inhabitants to lay claim to it. God promised Abraham this land thousands of years before it happened. The Palestinians took over their land while they were in captivity. Read The Old Testament for details. THE COUNTRY OF ISRAEL BELONGS TO THE ISRAELITES, DUH! Hence the Name! I mentioned last week , if you want to know what’s happening or going to happen – WATCH ISRAEL. We are getting for THE LAST & FINAL WAR ON EARTH. Read The Book Of Revelations, slowly. It tells where we are at this point. The WHOLE world, except U.S.A. is the only country to stand with Israel. Not every American loves Israel & the world will answer on The Great Judgement Day! Read your Bible daily to learn how to be ready for THE GLORIOUS COMING OF OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST.
I once was young but now I’m old – I say this in love so you will be ready. Things are speeding ip.

Moi:  I wish I had a hairball to cough up. Sigh.

Fundie #4:  Educate yourself and realize that you will always and only hear about Israel defending itself from being attacked. Making it always sound like they just starting shooting Palestine for no Reason !
Jerusalem has and will always be the capitol of Israel

Doc’s friend #2:  Yeah, they pretty much did start shooting Palestinians for no reason…And Jews own the media, so they always spin the news in Israel’s favor, not the other way around…Do you really think Jesus would be on the side of Israel in these mismatched confrontations Because you must be reading a different Bible than me…

Doc’s friend #2:  What planet are you living on? Not a single one of our elected officials dares ever criticize Israel, because of the Jewish Lobby! I say educate yourself!

Doc’s friend #2:  They killed unarmed people! You just can’t spin that any good way, so you shouldn’t even try…

Doc’s friend #2:  I’m sorry, but Jesus was not a war monger, like so many of today’s American Christians! So I’m afraid you’re following the Anti-Christ, instead of all loving Jesus Christ…Behind me, Satan!!

Fundie #4:  the Palestinians were warned not to go near the border fence, they were not innocent victims here, they were rioting, lighting tires on fire to create a smoke screen and throwing things at the Israeli soldiers, Irael, like every country, has a right to defend its borders period.

Doc’s friend #2:  Non lethal measures would’ve been more than sufficient…You can’t justify what they did, no matter how you try and spin it!

Fundie #4:  Not when one is dealing with a group of people whose stated purpose is to destroy the couintry, which is what the stated purpose of the Palestinian Authority. They do not want peace, they want Israel gone and will do anything they can to make it happen. The PA pays people who kill Israeli citizens, and are the ones who bussed in the protesters to the border fence, there is no question that lethal force was justified.

Doc’s friend #2:  No, their stated purpose is to take back their land from a bunch of thieving European Gypsys, who converted to Judaism around 800 years ago!

Fundie #4:  it was never the palestinians land to begin with the land belongs to the children of Israel. Not to mention the Balfour document, ratified by both the league of natiions and the united nations promising to give the land to the children of Israel. add that 1. there is no such race as a palestinian and 2. look at pictures of the area from the late 1800s and early 1900s, no one lived there, it was a barren wasteland until the children of Israel moved back home and built it. so no, they are not trying to take back their land, they are trying to take the land from its rightful owners. the stated purpose of hamas and the palestinian authority is to dsstroy israel they clearly state this in their charters.

Doc’s friend #2:  Sorry, you can’t just come in after a 2,000 year absence, and just take people’s land based on your own Holy Book…And the Balfour Declaration was just a “British statement of support for a Jewish homeland”, hardly a legally binding document…And since Jerusalem’s founding 5,000 years ago, the Hebrews or Jews have only controlled it for about 100 years, before the modern era…So, sorry if it conflicts with their religious texts, but since God didn’t tell it to anyone else in the entire world, we have no way to verify it…And most of the Jews causing all the problems are Europeans who converted around 800 years ago, and have zero historical connection to the region, at all…None whatever!

Fundie #5:  First off, there never was a country called Palestine for there to be such as thing as a Paelstinian. The region, while under the Roman empire called Judea, referring to Jerusalem and the territory of the Jews, was renamed Palestine by the Romans in 70AD following a perceived rebellion, which caused Rome to destroy Jerusalem and rename the territory to erradicate reference to the Jews. Palestine simply means occupied land, it is not a true name. Second, the area was unihabitied, again, look at pictures of it from the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was a barren wasteland, no houses, no cities, no villages, so any claim of ancetral homeland by the so called “Palestinains” is false, no one lived there. Third, the Balfour document is relevant in that, it was written in 1917, not long after World War I, when the allies, who had defeated the Ottoman empire that had controled the land for almost 800 years (basically following the collapse of the Roman empire), were dividing the land into the countries that now exist in the middle east. Those countries did not exist before the 1900s and were create by the western nations. England was in control of the Ottoman empire’s land, they were in a large part responsible for helping form the new countries, including, setting aside land for the creation of a Jewish state, now known as Israel. The Balfour document set the stage for htis to happen and to establish the boundaries of that land. The League of Nations ratified the Balfour document and the plan before is disolved. The plans were put on hold due to the depression, then World War II, following WWII, the United Nations again ratified the pland, England pulled out of the area, leaving the countries, though with new borders resulting from WWII and who supported the allies during the war (they gotr more land), tro form the counrties, in 1948, Israel declared itself a country, was recognized by the United States, then by the United Nations as such. iIn 1967, during the six days war, Israel won the war and traded the land once belonging to Syria, and Jordan known as the old city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank in exchange for cessation of hostilities. When ISrael was founded, their original declaration stated they would extend citizenship to all arabs living in the aream but, the arab nations around them told those arabs to get out, so they could get in and started a war with Israel, which Israel won. Those who left had gone to the lands Israel received at the end of the six days war, the host countries, Syria and Jordan would not let them into their countries, instead, they were left straded there in the land that now belongs to Israel. So yes, the Balfour document is relevant, and the land belongs to Israel, not the so called “Paelestinans”. They had moved into the land when Israel started building cities and farming the land, looking for jobs, and ended up left behind by their own countrymen following the war, pure and simple.

Doc’s friend #2:  I call bullshit! These Palestinian homes that are being confiscated, have been in those families for generations…And Israel is currently a war criminal nation, which every other country, except the Israel ass kissing USA, agrees with!! And the Romans first used the term Syria Palestina in the 2nd centurty, so that kind of blows that lie out of the water too!!

Doc’s friend #2:  you chauvinists who try and dehumanize these people are the real problem!!

Fundie #5:  I said Rome had renamed the area. no those homes have not been in families for generations, again look at the old photos of the area nothing was there. learn your history

Fundie #5:  I am to dehumanizing anyone just pointing out the land belongs to Israel. the alleged palestinians are in fact jordaians or syrians there was never a country of palestine.

Mon amie:  you may want to sit down for this 😬:

500+ = # of years my family has lived in Nazareth 🇵🇸 (yes, we have proof)

70 = # of years Israel has been in existence (They just celebrated their birthday on Monday 🎉🇮🇱

242 in July = # of years since America’s Independence was declared/established 🇺🇸

Conclusion: If you’re implying that Palestinians don’t exist, then you’re also implying that AMERICANS don’t exist, because my family has lived in Nazareth more than TWICE as long as our country has been in existence.
How does that make you feel 🤔???

 

Five days ago…

Fundie #5:  there never was a country or tribe called palestine for there to be palestinians, those living in the region are syrian, jordanian, arab, or egyptian.

Doc’s friend #2:  And all those Jews there are Europeans with ZERO connection to the area whatever! And Christi already told you her family goes back at least 500 years in Nasareth! So explain to me once again how a bunch of Europeans, who converted to Judaism 800 years ago, are entitled to ANY of that land..And don’t bring up the Balfour declaration again…You’ve already worn out that argument!!

Mon amie:  I appreciate your efforts, but since Fundie is sticking to the “Hasbara Handbook”, he’s just wasting our time. He’s argued with my friend  about things he knows nothing about. One would think that Fundie would pause and think about the fact that Jews like my friend don’t just spend a lot of time defending Palestinians and other Arabs via social media and in person, they organize, protest in the US, Gaza & West Bank with their Palestinian brothers and sisters. Why would they go to all of that trouble if Palestinians didn’t exist? Since Fundie literally argued with a Jewish person about this, I’m not exactly optimistic about the chances he’ll be swayed by my nonexistent arse 😁. But the good news is there’s nothing Fundie can do about the growing support and advocacy for Palestinians. Our movement has never been stronger, and every crime committed by Israel’s racist government only adds more supporters 💪🏼✌🏼💕.

 

Four days ago…

Moi:  Fundie, sorry, but that is hasbara spin. You recite it very well, but none of it is true.

Fundie #5:  Jacques d’Nalgar what is untrue? That there never was a tribe or country called palestine, that part is historical fact, the land of Judea was renamed palestine by the romans, palestine means occipied land and does not refer to any particular people or tribe. Thus there is no such thing as a palestinian. The fact that the land was for the most part barren is also true, look at old pictures from the late 1800s and early 1900s of the area, there is almost literally nothing there, mostly because there is no fresh water and little vegetation to survive. People travelled through there but not many lived there.

Moi:  Fundie, every bit of it. It’s all hasbara bullshit.

https://www.independent.co.uk/…/gaza-palestine-israel…

Fundie #5:  It is historical fact not a spin. I have seen the pictures, and read historical documentation, that was peer reviewed as part of a research project.

Moi:  Fundie,  if I showed you the official Palestinian agriculture exports records from the 1800s would it make any difference? I suspect not, but figured I’d ask anyway. I would very much like to see/read your peer-reviewed research project… And have you now read Mr. Fisk’s most recent article? If so, what particulars did you find most objectionable? Have you read anything by Israel’s “new historians”? If so, what are your objections based on?

Fundie #5:  I posted many, though not all of the articles in response to another question, that were used in my research. As for the “Palestinian” argriculture reports, what area are they from, as what was called Palestine encompassed a rather large area? The photographs I saw were mostly from the area around Jerusalem, Rachel’s tomb, etc. Also, in the 1800s, this area was owned by and part of the Ottoman Empire, not an independent country, which again goes to the fact that there never was a country of Palestine, an area named Palestine, yes, but not a country.

Moi:  Here’s an 1851 map of “Modern Palestine” – zoom in and see for yourself how many towns, villages, and cities there were (Zionists have been busy destroying all traces of as many of these as they can). Unless you think the map is Ottoman “fake news” in which case it is pointless to continue this conversation. I’ve noticed your argument has now switched from “there were no people there when the Zionists showed up” to “yeah, well Palestine was never a REAL country, so there!” Sorry, but this becoming ludicrous. Facts and history do not mesh with your hasbara/eschatological fantasies…
https://upload.wikimedia.org/…/Modern_Palestine%2C…

 

Three days ago…

Moi:  Source: McCarthy, Justin, The Population of Palestine, Columbia University Press: New York, 1990, pp. 10, 35.

Fundie #5:  A., it was not a country, it was a territory, B. Palestine simply means occupied land and is not the name of a country or people, C. It is a large area, so there may have been people scattered about, but the specific areas e.g. around Jerusalem, Rachel’s tomb, etc. as of the late 1800s, early 1900s had nothing there. Pictures taken at the time do not lie. They show barren land and little else.

Moi:  Oh, and now it been turned green by the magic of Zionism and ethnic cleansing?! By the way, pictures lie – all the time…

Moi:  A detailed accounting of the agricultural production in Palestine for the season of 1944-1945, by the British Mandate for the United Nations in 1946-7.

Source: Survey of Palestine, prepared by the British Mandate for the United Nations, p. 323-327. Notes:

* Value in Palestinian Pound.

** Non-citrus fruits. Note Citrus production=248,274 dunums of which 120,897 dunums were Jewish owned (Supplement to Survey of Palestine, p. 37).

*** One Dunum = 1,000 sq. meters.

Fundie #5:  The concept of there not being a Palestinian people or country had been part of my point all along, it was not a switch. And yes, there were small enclaves here and there, but not like what they are trying to claim, and most of the key areas they are trying to claim were vacant I refer to the pictures taken in the 1890s to 1910 or so which show these areas devoid of anytrhing.

Moi:  Fundie, so the population counts I showed you are bogus? If you know anything at all about agrarian society in the Levant (and I have my suspicions), “enclaves” have been the norm for millennia. Everything else is farmland or for grazing or too inhospitable for anything but wandering or self-discovery. “Enclaves” are not an open invitation for land theft and ethnic cleansing. Your continued attempts to justify Zionism are pathetic…

Moi:  Mon amie, I think we’re probably wasting our time…

Mon amie:  Agreed

 

Two days ago…

Moi:  Mon amie, not sure if you’re familiar with the Arabic word “tel” (it’s the same in Hebrew). Means “hill” or “small mountain” – in archeology, they’re artificial mounds left after successive communities (enclaves to some) built over the ruins and rubble of earlier ones. They’re all over the Levant (Al Mashriq) – arable Land was to precious for modern phenomena of urban sprawl. That’s another cultural indicator that European and American Jews are strangers in a strange land. They seem to think “their” Eretz Israel is supposed to be a giant suburb…

Fundie #5:  The areas in the photos were inhospitable as you call it then. And yes, as a Christian, I believe the land eternally belongs to the children of Israel. God promised them a return and they have. Also the Mosque on op of the temple mount is meaningless as Mohammed and his horse were never in jerusalem. So, the temple mount should be restored as well.

Moi:  Fundie, as a Christian, I respectfully disagree. Your ideas are hasbara horseshit peddled on a shaky foundation of piss-poor exegesis that was fabricated by a bunch of flim-flam grifters pretending to be fundamentalist preachers. These eminently un-Christian (dare I say anti-Christian) ideas are only a few hundred years old and didn’t reach their present rabid fever pitch until 1948. Go read a book or two. And not the “Left Behind” apocalypse porn. I’d suggest starting with the book below. Oh, and if you’re suggesting tearing down an ancient building (an architectural masterpiece, actually) just because it doesn’t fit your shallow theology, then you’re just a Christianist-Zionist barbarian – no different than the Taliban or ISIS…

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Land-Testament…/dp/0801038987

Fundie #5:  I never read the left behind series, plus I disagree with the false teaching in them that Christ comes before the 7 years tribulation, the Bible is very clear, his return is after the 7 years.

Fundie #5:  But the book I do read is the Bible, which promises the children of Israel will return to their land, found in Ezekiel.

Moi:  Why don’t you spend about 8 minutes watching this and then get back to me? Good to know you’re able to decipher the Bible without any help…

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=CQoxoZn3EpI

Moi:  And before you tear down a 1300-year old treasure in your bizarre belief that it will force Jesus to come get you for your magic rapture bus ride outa here, why not see what you and your fellow Christianist-Zionist terrorists are so desperate to destroy:

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/…/al-aqsa…/index.html

Moi:  I don’t know what Bible you read, but mine is a sprawling 66-book library, written over thousands of years by dozens of authors in multiple languages—professing to speak of the deepest truths about the creation of all matter, the beginning and end of life on the planet as well as beyond it, and about the Maker of everything and everyone. We’d better have some ambiguity about it all—or we’ve discovered a God who is small enough to fit entirely inside our three-pound brains or our current belief system.

Wish I could take credit for writing that, but it’s from John Pavlovitz, another Christian who probably thinks you’re bonkers:

https://johnpavlovitz.com/…/christians-need-stop…/

 

Yesterday…

Fundie #5:  I read the same Bible as you then.

Fundie #5:  I am familiar with the complex, however, it is built upon a false premise and had no real religious importance, the concept of Mohammed ever being in Jerusalem is ridiculous, he was never there, period.

Moi:  Fundie, you are no different than a hasbara troll, and a barbarian. How much archaeological evidence is there in your precious Israel that most of the stories about its many revered relics are anything but myth? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way…

Fundie #5:  There is considerable evidence of the truch of the Bible in the archeological history of the land there

Moi:  Fundie, most “biblical archaeology” is unscientific research intended to support a foregone conclusion. So no, there is not considerable evidence. Your response is bullshit.

Fundie #5:  archeological evidence is ar heological evidence there is no Biblical versus nonBiblical archeology. Unless you mean just because it does not match your ideology that the Bible is not true it is wrong If you do not believe it, why read it or be a Chtistian to begin with

Moi:  Because something deeper and more profound than a literalist reading of a supposedly inerrant Bible compels me to be a Christian.

Moi:  By the way, I used to be a strict literalist with an elaborate eschatology. I regret the years wasted in that intellectual/spiritual straight jacket…

 

Today…

Fundie #5:  Never said I am a strict literalist.

Moi:  Fundie, no need to: “…the false teaching in them that Christ comes before the 7 years tribulation, the Bible is very clear, his return is after the 7 years.”

Fundie #5:  yes, he comes after the 7 years, which Jesus himself taught as in Matthew and Mark, however he does not return to whisk the believers aways, instead it is to set up the mellinial reign on Earth.

 

Photograph of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, by Berthold Werner, 10 November 2008.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jerusalem_Dome_of_the_rock_BW_3.JPG or http://bit.ly/HGOQdS

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/05/28/suffering-fools/

666

Dear editor:

America is awash in an eschatological frenzy of flummery. So when news about Mueller’s investigation of our pouty POTUS’s son-in-law began focusing on shenanigans surrounding foreign financing of his building in New York City, my end-times spider sense began to tingle!

People, you cannot make this stuff up. The address of that building is 666 Fifth Avenue. For all you nimble numerologists and prognosticating prophets, does the number 666 sound familiar? Ever curious, I went to Lord Google and beseeched him to reveal the mystery of “jared kushner 666 5th avenue antichrist.”

Lo and behold, Google returned 46,700 hits! The very first was “Is Jared Kushner Being Positioned As The Antichrist Of Revelation?” I guess that trumps (pun intended) all those wacky conspiracy theories about the black man in the White House, the usurper from Africa who somehow showed up as a baby in Hawaii…

Ringy dingy, people, your gilded television evangelists are calling. Fox News and hate radio are calling. Forget about Mueller, forget about whatever dirt ex-KGB thug Vladimir Putin may have on Comrade President! Apocalypse be a-coming, people. Time for white robes and waiting on rooftops for that magic bus ride called the rapture…

Except that what you believe about rapture is based on really bad exegesis. Really, really bad! Guess what? Your precious rapture has been a topic of frothy speculation for less than 200 years. But you’ve seen all those “Left Behind” movies so you know better, right? You know what’s coming next, right? Planes falling out of the sky, cars crashing, and empty cribs in the night, right?

Wrong. Today’s Christians aren’t suddenly smarter than all those dead apostles and saints and monks and scholars who were much wiser (and calmer) than us. 1948 was not the prophetic wind-up of some sort of magic countdown clock to Armageddon. Neither was 1967 or 2008 or any of the other so-called signs like blood moons and red heifers. It’s entertaining, but it’s nonsense.

So what is right? Legend has it that once upon a time, an itinerant rabbi gathered a rabble of ordinary folk and set in motion a movement not even the mighty Roman Empire could crush. He said crazy things like “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you” and “as you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it to me.” Other men who came before him said equally insane things. Things like “the alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.” They asked awkward questions like “what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

I don’t know about you, but I like this sort of crazy. A lot more than the foolishness I see on TV, and hear on the radio, and read on these pages…

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Photo of 666 5th Avenue in New York City: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-16/kushner-plan-for-fifth-avenue-tower-is-being-blocked-by-partner

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/02/21/666/

Response to the Muslim

 

Support for Morgan

Sentinel Record Letter to the Editor, Sunday, January 28, 2018

 

Dear editor:

This is my response to the Muslim, Mahmoud El-Yousseph’s letter (Sunday, Jan. 21) which was highly critical of Jan Morgan, owner of the Gun Cave Indoor Firing Range. Mrs. Morgan has declared her business a “Muslim free zone,” which made the national news in 2014.

Mr. El-Yousseph called this a cheap publicity stunt to help her to get more support for her running for governor in Arkansas as a Republican. I respectfully disagree with your criticism concerning her policy, for I believe that she has good reasons for this restriction!

It is not true that most of us believe that all Muslims are terrorists, but it is a fact that almost all terrorists are either Muslims or Muslim converts and sympathizers!

Muslims have no one else to blame but themselves if most of us don’t trust them! There really is no easy way to know who is who and who is going to do what among this group of people.

When the twin towers in New York were destroyed by two jet airliners crashing into them and killing almost 3,000 innocent American citizens, the pilots of those jets were … surprise — Muslims! A lot of us aren’t forgetting 9/11! We must not.

Also, it is worth remembering that these two Muslims were trained here in America to fly those jet airliners. Yes, America trained them how to fly, so that they could kill many of us! Wow!

I truly believe that Mrs. Morgan sincerely believes that if she helped train Muslims to become more proficient in shooting guns, that some of them might use these skills in acts of terrorism. It would be the same thing as training them to fly those jets! She is just using some good common sense concerning this matter. Who can trust them after their many acts of terrorism? This is about national security, not racism, as you claimed.

And it is actually a myth to claim that Islam is a religion of peace! That is a myth and a lie.

The Koran has a provision in it that says that it is acceptable for Muslims to lie and deceive in order to achieve their purposes! You can’t trust them to tell the truth!

The Koran says to “kill the infidels!” Who are the infidels? Everyone who isn’t of the Islamic faith. All the rest of us!

As a Christian, I certainly try to convince everyone that faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior is the only true way to be reconciled to the one true God found in the Holy Bible. However, there is no place in the Bible that commands Christians to kill anyone who won’t convert to Christianity. What a radical difference in these two religions!

Bravo for Mrs. Morgan! Those folks are on a mission to ultimately kill all the rest of us! Thanks for your courage in doing the right thing on this, Jan!

Nothing is more important than our safety and security.

You’ve got my support.

God bless,

Lloyd Hoffman
Hot Springs

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/01/28/response-to-the-muslim/

We’re developing a national cataract

Cardinal Tobin, Am I a Christian?

By Nicholas Kristof, Dec. 22, 2017

 

What is Christmas about, anyway? Can I be a Christian if I doubt the virgin birth? Can a woman become a cardinal? What would upset Jesus today? I put these blunt questions and more to Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who was appointed by Pope Francis and is in his mold. Here’s our conversation, edited for space and clarity.

KRISTOF Merry Christmas! Let me start with respectful skepticism. I revere Jesus’ teachings, but I have trouble with the miracles — including, since this is Christmas, the virgin birth. In Jesus’ time people believed that Athena was born from Zeus’ head, so it seemed natural to accept a great man walking on water or multiplying loaves and fishes; in 2017, not so much. Can’t we take the Sermon on the Mount but leave the supernatural?

CARDINAL TOBIN – People are, I guess, free to take whatever they want. Just like there’s wisdom in non-Christian religions that Christians appropriate.

The most mind-boggling miracle is the incarnation. We believe that the Creator of the Universe, the one who existed before time and before anything else, became one of us. If you accept that, then there are a lot of other things that don’t seem to be quite as unbelievable.

It’s not a magic show. All of the miracles were not isolated or simply altruistic events. They were actually pointing toward who God is, and who this carpenter from Nazareth really was.

One area where the Catholic Church seems to me antiquated is gender. If Jesus trusted women like Mary Magdalene, if Phoebe could be a leader of the early church, then why can’t women be priests or cardinals today?

Those are two different questions. Regarding priests, it really is a stumbling block for people, and especially in this country and in this culture, as all areas of life are opening up to women that this particular ministry in the Catholic Church is not. So I understand the consternation. I have eight sisters. I know for some women this sort of stumbling block takes them away from the church.

As for cardinals, most are bishops but not all of them. As recently as the 19th century there were lay people who were cardinals.

So will we see women cardinals soon?

Maybe my theology isn’t sophisticated enough, but I don’t believe that there’s a compelling theological reason why the pope couldn’t name a woman cardinal.

Pope Francis has promised to find a more incisive role for women in the church. There are isolated incidents of women being appointed to fairly influential posts in the Roman Curia. I think it’s got to be more than that.

I have huge admiration for Catholic nuns, priests and laity working on the front lines all over the world to fight poverty, disease, injustice. Those people are doing exactly what Jesus talked about. But, so often, religious leaders, including those in the Vatican, seem less focused on the needy and more on issues that Jesus never breathed a word about, like gays, or abortion, or family planning.

It’s fair to say Jesus did not make pronouncements on those three hot-button issues. I think, though, that he gave us an ethos and a moral direction, so we don’t have to sit down and say, “Jesus, what do we do?” Catholic tradition didn’t fall out of the air and decide something capricious. It’s based on all sorts of lived experience of people trying to follow Jesus closely.

Can I ask about prayer? I accept that prayer has spiritual, healing value, but why is it that God answers prayers only in ambiguous situations, such as curing cancer, but never to, say, regrow a leg?

It’s interesting you mention that, Nicholas. My dad grew up strong and big, played football for Boston College, went into the service and lost his leg in World War II.

One night he was looking at his prosthesis. He said: “I was thinking I’ve had that thing half my life now. But if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have your mother, and I wouldn’t have you.” So he discovered something in that tragedy. Faith got him through it.

Sometimes I think when I don’t receive an answer to what I’m praying for, maybe what I’m asking for actually is something that could be harmful for me. I do believe God hears all prayers, and I believe God answers in some way.

In previous Q. & A.’s, I asked Rev. Tim Keller and President Jimmy Carter whether a skeptic like myself, who admires Jesus’ moral teachings but doubts the virgin birth and any physical resurrection, counts as a Christian. Basically, Keller said “no,” and Carter “yes,” so you’re the tiebreaker. Am I a Christian?

I would think that if you haven’t completely closed the door on the possibility that God has more to say to you, then I think you’re in the tent.

Let’s turn the tables. Anything you want to ask me?

Can I ask a favor? I’m really worried about this country for a lot of reasons, but I’m particularly concerned about refugees and immigrants. I really think this present administration is moving clearly toward a mass deportation. My people are already terrorized. I am so afraid that unless we can find a way of changing hearts, they’re going to go ahead with it.

So is that God’s work here on earth? Is that what Jesus would be criticizing today?

I never hear Jesus going out of his way to point an accusing finger at people who are oppressing the poor. What he does criticize in very stark terms is the ones who don’t see them, who don’t see them as they are. I think that’s what happens. We’re developing a national cataract.

Thanks! And for all my skepticism, this I believe: Merry Christmas!

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/22/opinion/sunday/cardinal-tobin-christian.html

Photograph of Cardinal Joseph Tobin at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican last year, Alessandra Benedetti (Corbis, via Getty Images).

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/12/24/were-developing-a-national-cataract/

War

 

Hedd Wyn: the shepherd poet whose story shows the stupidity of war

By Giles Fraser, Thursday 9 November 2017

 

When the first world war broke out, the poet Ellis Humphrey Evans was working as a shepherd on the family hill farm in north Wales. Generally better known by his bardic name, Hedd Wyn, which means blessed peace in Welsh, Evans initially refused to sign up. While the Anglican establishment was calling on young men to do their duty for God and country, there were others, particularly in the Welsh nonconformist tradition, who refused this dangerous combination. “Why must I live in this grim age,” writes Evans in his poem War, “When, to a far horizon, God / Has ebbed away, and man, with rage / Now wields the sceptre and the rod.”

But when the army came for his younger brother, Evans took his place, despite his Christian pacifism – or perhaps even because of it. He joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. In France, trudging towards Passchendaele – a three-month battle that was concluded 100 years ago on Friday – Private Evans composed his final poem on the theme of the hero and posted it back home as an entry in the national Eisteddfod competition.

Twice in the last few months people have spoken to me movingly about Hedd Wyn. First was Paul Flynn, the veteran Labour MP for Newport West. Flynn’s father was a machine-gunner at Passchendaele. Believing all the nationalistic propaganda, he enlisted and fought through the worst of the mud and death. He survived, but was never the same again. Which is why, even at 82, Flynn still burns with righteous anger at the stupidity and pointlessness of war; and why he was so exercised when Tory MP Bill Cash foolishly described Passchendaele as “a wonderful battle” in a Commons debate earlier this year. As he was explaining to me what his father went through, Flynn reached for a copy of Hedd Wyn’s poems and started reading them out in Welsh – a language I do not understand. But the way he read was so intense, so focused, there was no mistaking the moral seriousness of what he was doing.

A few weeks later, I mentioned how moving I had found this to Rowan Williams, whom I had gone to visit in Cambridge. At the name of Hedd Wyn his eyes lit up. He took me into his study, where, on the bookshelf, he showed me an image of the great Welsh poet painted in the form of an orthodox icon. I knew very little about this poet beforehand, but it was clear this young shepherd from Trawsfynydd had profoundly touched the lives of many.

Hedd Wyn was killed on the first day of Passchendaele. “It was a nosecap shell in his stomach,” wrote a soldier, with him on Pilckem Ridge in the notorious Ypres salient. During the 100 days of the battle of Passchedaele, the allies gained just five miles of ground. For this they lost 310,000 men; the Germans 260,000.

A few weeks after Hedd Wyn’s death, the poem that he’d sent back from France – as tradition has it, submitted anonymously under a pseudonym – won the coveted bard’s chair at the National Eisteddfod. The prime minister, David Lloyd George, was in attendance. As the trumpets sounded, they called on the winning poet to reveal himself. After three such attempts, the archdruid stepped forward and gave the grim news that Evans had been killed in action six weeks before. The empty chair was draped in a black sheet. To this day it is remembered as the Eisteddfod of the black chair.

I will stand in silence with my poppy during the act of remembrance. But I am always conscious that remembrance is a little too easily purloined by those who want to celebrate precisely the sort of militarism and nationalistic chauvinism that led so many young men to pointless deaths. So during the silence, I will be thinking of a peace-loving man walking the hills with his sheep and hundreds of thousands like him whose lives were needlessly taken by the failure of politicians to figure out a better way for human beings to live with their differences. And I will think of that empty black chair, a haunting symbol of the total futility of war.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2017/nov/09/hedd-wyn-the-shepherd-poet-whose-story-shows-the-stupidity-of-war

Photograph of stretcher-bearers struggling in mud to carry a wounded man to safety on Pilckem Ridge, Ypres, on 1 August 1917. The day before, Hedd Wyn had been killed in this area. IWM/Getty Images.

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/11/21/war/