Category: Islam

Weaponized Bibles

This guerrilla endorsement (of an unnamed Arkansas progressive) was submitted the evening of October 1st or 2nd, and published this morning, October 8, in the Sentinel Record.  Except for capitalizing “legislature” in the third sentence, they printed it exactly as submitted, which means I got away with mocking holier-than-thou state senator Jason Rapert’s “monumental erection” (of the Ten Commandments)… Ha!

And now we wait for responses from regressive, christianist fanatics completely retreated from reality…

— Monsieur Jacques d’Nalgar, Lundi 8 octobre 2018 de l’ère commune

 

Dear editor,

A suggestion for how to vote for this November. More accurately, how not to vote. Retire every candidate in that rancid cesspool of bribery and money laundering and tax evasion that is our Arkansas legislature. Retire every tainted congressional candidate who ever marinated in that primordial, toxic stew before slithering out to collect the bountiful rewards of “public service” at the national level.

We are not the Natural State. We’re an American embarrassment. In record numbers, our state representatives from both parties are being investigated, indicted, convicted, and forced to resign or sent to prison. Cloaking corruption in pious sounding names like “The Lord’s Ranch” and “Ecclesia College” only spotlights their amoral hypocrisy. Millions of dollars vanished in the name of “consulting” and “legal fees.” And with the first destroyed by a serial Commandments crasher, Jason Rapert keeps right on fund-raising for his second, now-complete, monumental erection copped from Hollywood’s version of Moses, who probably copped it from a Babylonian dude named Hammurabi.

Vote them out. Vote them all out.

Pretentious piety is hardly limited to Little Rock politicians. It’s thick right here in Hot Springs, too.  Week after wearisome week, the same few letter writers wield their Holy Bibles like truncheons to bludgeon salvation into unsuspecting sinners. Their message is simple.  Earnestly mumble the proper incantations, as per their exacting instructions, or you are damned for eternity. By the God of Love.

They’re mired in the same black-and-white fundamentalism that spawned the Scopes monkey trial more than 90 years ago, when science was Satan and ignorance was bliss.  Please.  If you must keep writing, how about a letter that shows us how Trump and the GOP are the antithesis of everything Jesus of Nazareth ever said and did and was and is?  We’ll wait.

Meanwhile, following that well-worn tradition of padding your letters by endlessly quoting others, here’s a pastoral quote from John Pavlovitz, about your Corinthian leather-bound weapon of choice.

“The Bible 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.”

Pavlovitz is not one of your hate-Muslims, love-wars, greed-is-good evangelical grifters just itching for Armageddon. He’s a pastor who reads a Bible written by “flawed, imperfect, emotional, very human beings who never claim to have been fully possessed by God or robbed of their faculties as they wrote.”

Like Pavlovitz, many of us have moved on from your brittle, literalist, old-time religion. Unless we missed something, nobody anointed you Hot Springs’ newspaper theologians. So just stop. Please?

Monsieur Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

Image:  http://eugenecho.com/2010/01/04/what-do-you-see/

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/09/30/weaponized-bibles/

Which 9-11?

Dear editor,

One final observation, one final broadside against our balmy Benghazi! bellowers…  It is exceedingly curious that they fixate their wrath only upon the 9-11 of 2012, when four white Americans died in the violent anarchy of a civil war that we actively participated in.  No matter that it also killed tens of thousands of Libyans.  Libyans were neither white nor Christian.  To navel-gazing Americans, their deaths were inconsequential.

Curious that the 9-11 of 2001 is barely mentioned any more.  Almost 3,000 Americans died that day, but it seems that Dubya, good white Methodist Republican that he is, is beyond reproach.  Another 7,000 Americans died in the endless wars he and others spun up in that 9-11’s aftermath.  More than a million Iraqis and Afghans have also surely died, but then they were brown-skinned and few were Christian, so their deaths, too, were of little consequence.

That 9-11, and the thwarted “awakenings” after it triggered a tsunami of human migrations that are still roiling Europe.  They have died by the thousands trying to reach safety and the hope of new opportunities.  The Mediterranean’s sharks are well fed and dead babies routinely wash up on its glorious beaches, but these dead babies are usually Muslim, so it matters not.  The little heathens probably got what they deserved.

Curious that the 9-11 of 1973 is never mentioned.  Nixon’s CIA helped overthrow Chile’s first democratically elected (but tragically socialist) leader.  General Pinochet replaced Allende, who died on this particular 9-11.  Thousands were “disappeared” and it was common to see bodies along roadsides, or floating in Santiago’s Mapocho River.  Later investigations revealed more than 3,000 people killed and 32,000 tortured.  But then they were brown-skinned and did not speak English, and that was a long time ago.  We didn’t care then or now.  And besides, we’re cool with torture these days.

We could go on, and include the 9-11 of 1857, when Mormon zealots and their Paiute allies murdered 120 Missouri and Arkansas Americans trying to immigrate into Utah.  Let us pray they used machetes to expedite Trump’s hagiography.

America’s hands are hardly clean.  For more than a century, we have helped giant fruit corporations and anti-communist juntas turn tiny countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador into cesspools of violence and corruption.  Our “War on Drugs” is a losing proposition for everyone but gangs and governments.  We have sowed misery and we are reaping a whirlwind of desperate families at our borders.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”  Such eloquence rings hollow when all we yearn for is a new wall to keep out suffering humans who are only guilty of having undertaken incredible, dangerous journeys for one last chance to start over.

No, we are much too busy hating Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to even notice what we have allowed ourselves to become…

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Photograph of “Augusto Pinochet en una imagen del año 1988” (AP). http://blogs.elpais.com/fondo-de-armario/2013/09/golpe-de-estado-de-pinochet-en-chile.html

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/07/22/which-9-11/

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/

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 all have so much work to do

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘Trump is where he is because of his appeal to racism’

By Donald McRae, Friday 8 December 2017 13.26 EST

 

Like all people my age I find the passage of time so startling,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says with a quiet smile. The 70-year-old remains the highest points-scorer in the history of the NBA and, having won six championships and been picked for a record 19 All-Star Games, he is regarded widely as being second only to Michael Jordan when the greatest basketball players of all time are listed. Yet no one in American sport today can match Kareem’s political and cultural impact over 50 years.

In the 90 minutes since he knocked on my hotel room door in Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar has recounted a dizzying personal history which stretches from conducting his first-ever interview with Martin Luther King in Harlem, when he was just 17, to receiving a hand-written insult from Donald Trump in 2015. We move from Colin Kaepernick calling him last week to the moment when, aged 20, Kareem was the youngest man invited to the Cleveland Summit – as the leading black athletes in 1967 gathered to meet Muhammad Ali to decide whether they would support him after he had been stripped of his world title and banned from boxing for rejecting the draft during the Vietnam War.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been shut out of the NFL for his refusal to stand for the US national anthem, is engaged in a different struggle. But, after being banished unofficially from football for going down on a bended knee in protest against racism and police brutality, Kaepernick has one of his staunchest allies in Abdul-Jabbar.

At the Cleveland Summit Abdul-Jabbar was called Lew Alcindor, for he had not converted to Islam then, and he became one of Ali’s ardent supporters. When Ali convinced his fellow athletes he was right to stand against the US government, the young basketball star knew he needed to make his more reticent voice heard. He has stayed true to that conviction ever since.

“We’re talking about 50 years since the Cleveland Summit, wow,” Abdul-Jabbar exclaims. “We were tense about what we were going to do and Ali was the opposite. He said: ‘We’ve got to fight this in court and I’m going to start a speaking tour.’ Ali had figured out what he had to do in order to make the dollars – while fighting the case was essential to his identity. Bill Russell [the great Boston Celtics player] said: ‘I’ve got no concerns about Ali. It’s the rest of us I’m worried about.’ Ali had such conviction but he was cracking jokes and asking us if we were going to be as dumb as Wilt Chamberlain [another basketball great who played for the Philadelphia 76ers]. Wilt wanted to box Ali. Oh my God.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s face creases with laughter before he becomes more serious again. “Black Americans wanted to protect Ali because he spoke for us when we had no voice. When he said: ‘Ain’t no Viet Cong ever called me the N-word’, we figured that one out real quick. Ali was a winner and people supported him because of his class as a human being. But some of the things we fought against then are still happening. Each generation faces these same old problems.”

The previous evening, when I had sat next to Abdul-Jabbar at the Los Angeles Press Club awards, the past echoed again. Abdul-Jabbar received two prizes – the Legend Award and Columnist of the Year for his work in the Hollywood Reporter. Other award winners included Tippi Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Birds, and the New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey who broke the Harvey Weinstein story two months ago. As if to prove that the past can be played over and over again in a contemporary loop, we saw footage of Hedren saying how she would not accept the sexual bullying of Hitchcock in the 1960s just before Kantor and Twohey described how they earned the trust of women who had been abused by Weinstein.

Abdul-Jabbar explained quietly to me how much of an ordeal he found such occasions. He was happiest talking about John Coltrane or Sherlock Holmes, James Baldwin or Bruce Lee, but people kept coming over to ask for a selfie or a book to be signed while, all evening, comic references were made to his height. Abdul-Jabbar is 7ft 2in and he looked two feet taller than Hedren on the red carpet.

The following morning, as he stretches out his long legs, I tell Kareem how I winced each time another wise-crack was made about his height. “I can tell you I was six-foot-two, aged 12, when the questions started,” Abdul-Jabbar says. “‘How’s the weather up there?’ I should write down all the things people said when affected by my height. One of the funniest was at an airport and this little boy of five looked at my feet in amazement. I said: ‘Hey, how you’re doing?’ He just said: ‘You must be very old – because you’ve got very big shoes.’ For him the older you were, the bigger your shoes. That’s the best I’ve heard.”

In his simple but often beautiful and profound new book, Becoming Kareem, Abdul-Jabbar writes poignantly: “My skin made me a symbol, my height made me a target.”

Race has been the primary issue which Abdul-Jabbar has confronted every day. In another absorbing Abdul-Jabbar book published this year, Coach Wooden and Me, he celebrates his friendship with the man who helped him win an unprecedented three NCAA championship titles with UCLA. They lost only two games in his three years on campus as UCLA established themselves as the greatest team in the history of college basketball and Wooden, a white midwesterner, and Kareem, a black kid from New York, forged a bond that lasted a half-century. Yet, amid their shared morality and decency, race remained an unresolved issue between them.

Wooden was mortified when a little old lady stared up at the teenage Kareem and said: “I’ve never seen a nigger that tall.” Even though he would later say that he learnt more about man’s inhumanity to man by witnessing all his protégé endured over the years, Wooden’s memory of that encounter softened the woman’s racial insult by saying that she had called Kareem “a big black freak.”

Abdul-Jabbar nods. “He would never see a little grey-haired lady using such language. When it doesn’t affect your life it’s hard for you to see. Men don’t understand what attractive women go through. We don’t get on a bus and have somebody squeeze our breast. We have no idea how bad it can be. For people to understand your predicament you’ve got to figure out how to convey that reality. It takes time.”

Abdul-Jabbar made his first high-profile statement against the predicament of all African Americans when, in 1968, he boycotted the Olympic Games in Mexico. After race riots in Newark and Detroit, and the assassination of King in April 1968, he knew he could not represent his country. “Dr Harry Edwards [the civil rights activist] helped me realise how much power I had. The Olympics are a great event but what happened overwhelmed any patriotism. I had to make a stand. I wanted the country to live up to the words of the founding fathers – and make sure they applied to people of colour and to women. I was trying to hold America to that standard.”

The athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos took another path of protest. They competed in the Olympic 200m in Mexico and, after they had won gold and bronze, raised their gloved fists in a black power salute on the podium. “I was glad somebody with some political consciousness had gone to Mexico,” Abdul-Jabbar says, “so I was very supportive of them.”

Does Kaepernick’s situation mirror those same issues? “Yeah. The whole issue of equal treatment under the law is still being worked out here because for so long our political and legal culture has denied black Americans equal treatment. But I was surprised Kaepernick had that awareness. It made me think: ‘I wonder how many other NFL athletes are also aware?’ From there it has bloomed. This generation has a very good idea on how to confront racism. I talked to Colin a couple of days ago on the phone and I’m really proud of him. He’s filed an issue with the Players Association about the owners colluding to keep him from working. That’s the best legal approach to it. I hope he prevails.”

Over dinner the night before, he intimated that Kaepernick knew he would never play in the NFL again. “We didn’t get that deep into it,” he says now, “but he has an idea that is what’s going down. But he’s moved on. He hadn’t prepared for this but he coped with different twists and turns. Some of the owners in the NFL are sympathetic, some aren’t. It’s gone back and forth. But he appreciates the fact that kids in high school have taken an interest. So he got something done and this generation’s athletes are now more aware of civil rights.”

Kaepernick has been voted GQ’s Citizen of the Year, the runner-up in Time magazine’s Person of the Year and this week he received Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Considering the way Kaepernick “has never wavered in his commitment”, Abdul-Jabbar writes in Sports Illustrated that: “I have never been prouder to be an American … On November 30, it was reported that 40 NFL players and league officials had reached an agreement for the league to provide approximately $90m between now and 2023 for activism endeavors important to African American communities. Clearly, this is the result of Colin’s one-knee revolution and of the many players and coaches he inspired to join him. That is some serious impact … Were my old friend [Ali] still alive, I know he would be proud that Colin is continuing this tradition of being a selfless warrior for social justice.”

In my hotel room, Abdul-Jabbar is more specific in linking tragedy and a deepening social conscience. “I don’t know how anybody could not be moved by some of the things we’ve seen. Remember the footage of [12-year-old] Tamir Rice getting killed [in Cleveland [in 2014]. The car stops and the cop stands up and executes Tamir Rice. It took two seconds. It’s so unbelievably brutal you have to do something about it.

“LeBron James and other guys in the NBA all had something to say about such crimes [James and leading players wore I Can’t Breathe T-shirts in December 2014 to protest against the police killing of Eric Garner, another black man]. They weren’t talking as athletes. They were talking as parents because that could have been their kid.”

If the NFL appears to have actively ended Kaepernick’s career, what does Abdul-Jabbar feel about the NBA’s politics? “The NBA has been wonderful. I came into the NBA and went to Milwaukee [where he won his first championship before winning five more with the LA Lakers]. Milwaukee had the first black general manager in professional sports [Wayne Embry in 1972]. And the NBA’s outreach for coaches, general managers and women has been exemplary. The NBA has been on the edge of change. I was hoping the NFL might do the same because some of the owners were taking the knee. But they’re making an example of Colin. It’s not right. Let him go out there and succeed or fail on the field like any other great athlete.”

Abdul-Jabbar smiles shyly when I ask him about his first interview – with Martin Luther King 53 years ago. “As a journalist I started out interviewing Dr King. Whoa! By that point [1964], Dr King was a serious icon and I was thrilled he gave me a really good earnest answer. Moments like that affect your life. But my first real experience of being drawn into the civil rights movement came when I read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.”

Has he seen I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck’s 2016 documentary of Baldwin? “It’s wonderful. I saw it two weeks after the Trump election. It was menacing for my soul. It made me think of how bad things were for James Baldwin. But remember him speaking at Cambridge [University] and the reception he got? Oh man, amazing! I kept telling people: ‘Trump is an asshole but go and see this film. Trump doesn’t matter because we’ve got work to do.’”

In 2015, after Abdul-Jabbar wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post, condemning Trump’s attempts to bully the press, the future president sent him a scrawled note: “Kareem – now I know why the press always treated you so badly. They couldn’t stand you. The fact is you don’t have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again.”

Abdul-Jabbar smiles when I say that schoolyard taunt is a long way from the oratory of King or Malcolm X. “If you judge yourself by your enemies I’m doing great. Trump’s not going to change. He knows he is where he is because of his appeal to racism and xenophobia. The people that want to divide the country are in his camp. They want to go back to the 18th century.

“Trump wants to move us back to 1952 but he’s not Eisenhower – who was the type of Republican that cared about the whole nation. Even George Bush Sr and George W Bush’s idea of fellow citizens did not exclude people of colour. George W’s cabinet looked like America. It had Condoleezza Rice and the Mexican American gentleman who was the attorney general [Alberto Gonzales] and Colin Powell. Women had important positions in his administration. Even though I did not like his policies, he wasn’t exclusionary.

“Look what’s going on with Trump in Alabama [where the president supports Roy Moore in the state senate election despite his favoured candidate being accused of multiple sexual assaults of under-age girls]. You have a guy like him but he’s going to vote the way you want politically. That’s more important than what he’s accused of? People with that frightening viewpoint are still fighting a civil war. They have to be contained.”

Does he fear that Trump might win a second term? “I don’t think he can, but the rest of us had better organise and vote in 2020. I hope people stop him ruining our nation.”

Abdul-Jabbar also worries that college sport remains as exploitative as ever. “It’s a business and the coaches, the NCAA and universities make a lot of money and the athletes get exploited. They make billions of dollars for the whole system and don’t get any. I’m not saying they have to be wealthy but I think they should get a share of the incredible amount they generate.”

In Coach Wooden and Me, he writes of how, in the 1960s, he was famous at UCLA but dead broke. “Yeah. No cash. It’s ridiculous. Basketball and football fund everything. College sports do not function on the revenue from water polo or track and field or gymnastics. It’s all down to basketball and football. The athletes at Northwestern tried to organise a union and that’s how college athletes have to think. They need to unionise. If they can organise they can get a piece of the pie because they are the show.”

The legendary Michael Jordan never showed the social conscience of Abdul-Jabbar and other rare NBA activists like Craig Hodges. But Abdul-Jabbar is conciliatory towards Jordan and his commercially-driven contemporaries. “I was glad they became interested in being successful businessmen because their financial power makes a difference. I just felt they should leave a little room to help the causes they knew needed their help. But Jordan has come around. He gave some money to the NAACP for legal funds, thank goodness.”

Abdul-Jabbar defines himself as a writer now. As he reflects on his LA Press Club awards he says: “To be honoured by other writers is incredible. I’m a neophyte. I’m a rookie.”

He grins when I say he’s not doing not too badly for a rookie who has written 13 books, including novels about Mycoft Holmes – brother of Sherlock. “Yeah, but I still feel new to it and to get that recognition was wonderful. I was very flattered that the BBC came to interview me about Mycroft because the British are very protective of their culture. Arthur Conan Doyle is beyond an icon. So I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I am doing OK.’ When I was [an NBA] rookie somebody gave me a complete compilation of Doyle’s stories. I went from there.

“People were amazed because I always used to be reading before a game – whether it was Sherlock Holmes or Malcolm X, John Le Carré or James Baldwin. But that was one of the luxuries of being a professional athlete. You get lots of time to read. My team-mates did not read to the same extent but I’m a historian and some of the guys had big holes in their knowledge of black history. So I was the librarian for the team.”

I tell Abdul-Jabbar about my upcoming interview with Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics – and how the 21-year-old has the same thirst for reading and knowledge. While enthusiastic about the possibility of meeting Brown when the Celtics next visit LA, Abdul-Jabbar makes a wistful observation of a young sportsman’s intellectual curiosity. “He’s going to be lonely. Most of the guys are like: ‘Where are we going to party in this town? Where are the babes?’ So the fact that he has such broader interests is remarkable and wonderful.”

Abdul-Jabbar acknowledges that his own bookish nature and self-consciousness about his height, combined with a fierce sense of injustice, made him appear surly and aloof as a player. It also meant he was never offered the head-coach job he desired. “They didn’t think I could communicate and they didn’t take the time to get to know me. But I didn’t make it easy for them so some of that falls in my lap – absolutely. But it’s different now. People stop me in the street and want to talk about my articles. It’s amazing.”

Most of all, in his eighth decade, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar “loves to lose myself in my imagination. It’s a wonderful place to go when you’re old and creaky like me. I see myself working at this pace [writing at least a book a year] but it’s not like I have the hounds at my heels. Since my career ended I’ve been able to have friends and family. My new granddaughter will be three this month. She’s my very first [grandchild]. So my life has expanded in wonderful ways. But, still, we all have so much work to do. The work is a long way from being done.”

 

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/dec/08/kareem-abdul-jabbar-kaepernick-trump-interview

Photograph by Austin Hargrave (AUGUST).

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/12/08/we-all-have-so-much-work-to-do/

Memory is stubborn

Invention of the Mizrahim

By Susan Abulhawa, 20 Sept 2017

 

The State of Israel was conceived at the turn of the 20th century in Eastern Europe by a group of elite European Jews who launched a movement called Zionism that sought to establish a physical nation state exclusive to Jews. It was a typical settler colonial enterprise, complete with the narrative of a divine mandate and a non-existent or savage indigenous population, central to which was the myth that Jews of the world formed a singular people, favored by God, who were returning to their singular place of origin – Palestine – after a three thousand year absence.

Although it was a project conceived in Europe by Europeans and for European Jews, they lacked sufficient numbers to build a population large enough to conquer the indigenous Palestinian population. Thus, recruitment of Jews from the surrounding Arab world was a necessary inconvenience. They did so through propaganda and by creating false flag terror incidents (bombing of synagogues or Jewish centres) in order provoke an exodus of Arab Jews. A prime example of this happened in Iraq, where the oldest Jewish community in the world had lived for millennia as contributing members of Iraqi society, and who prospered, contributed to the arts and the economy, and participated in government.

But these Jews were not embraced as brethren by European Zionists. Zionism was decidedly colonial, and that meant that Jews of the Arab world were seen as incomplete, barbaric, dirty, uncivilised. Za’ev Jabotinsky, one of the forefathers of Zionism said, “We Jews have nothing in common with what is called the Orient, thank God. To the extent that our uneducated masses [Arab Jews] have ancient spiritual traditions and laws that call the Orient, they must be weaned away from them, and this is in fact what we are doing in every decent school, what life itself is doing with great success. We are going in Palestine, first for our national convenience, [second] to sweep out thoroughly all traces of the Oriental soul.”

A multitude of programs and protocols were implemented towards this goal. One of the most egregious was a large initiative of stealing the babies of Arab Jews and giving them to be raised by European Jews. But the larger efforts were simple propaganda campaigns that were implemented in schools, communities, and national projects.

The word Mizrahim, from the Hebrew and Arabic words meaning “those of the East,” was popularised to lump all of these peoples of different nations into a single miscellaneous category that erased their individual ancient histories and cultures that spanned thousands of years of life and tradition, replete with countless and invaluable achievements in their respective nations.

In essence, it was a project to strip ancient peoples of their identities, which was not unlike what they tried to do to Palestinians. Zionists were trying to create a new nation with a unified people. So, they could not abide allowing parts of this population to continue to identify as Iraqi, Moroccan, Persian, Tunisian, and so on, and certainly not as Arab Jews. At the same time, the racist impulses of colonialism could not abide putting these people on par with Jews of Europe. They could not simply be Jews in the new Jewish state.

Thus, the word Mizrahim, from the Hebrew and Arabic words meaning “those of the East,” was popularised to lump all of these peoples of different nations into a single miscellaneous category that erased their individual ancient histories and cultures that spanned thousands of years of life and tradition, replete with countless and invaluable achievements in their respective nations.

Before Israel, Jews of Iraq identified as Iraqi, of Morocco as Moroccan, of Tunisia as Tunisian, of Iran as Persian, of Syria as Syrian, of Egypt as Egyptian, and of Palestine as Palestinian. They spoke Arabic, ate the same foods as their Christian and Muslim compatriots, celebrated and partook in the same national events and traditions, lived by the same social protocols, and moved through their respective cultures as other natives did. And despite the similarities of their cultures, Tunisians were distinct from Egyptians, who were both distinct from Iraqis, who were distinct from Moroccans, etc. But Israel collapsed them all under a single identity, which was to be distinguished only from Ashkenazis, European Jews, who were higher up on the social order, and, of course, from non-Jewish Palestinians and Arabs, who were to be despised. The level of their resulting self-hate can be measured in the heightened cruelty they practise against Palestinians.

However, as Zionists would learn from Palestinians, erasing the identity of others is not an easy task. Memory is stubborn, and roots will continue to tug at humans long after they’ve been uprooted. Arab Jews continued to speak Arabic at home, to dance to Arabic music, eat Arab food, and dream of once again seeing the mountains, rivers, architecture, libraries, and colours of Persia, Babylon, North Africa and the Levant.

Israel has moved away slightly from early Zionism’s contempt for our part of the world. And while it remains a colonial project, bent on erasing the native Palestinian presence, their social efforts are more focused on “indigenising” themselves to the land. The obstinacy of Arab Jews in clinging to their cultural roots has provided a convenient avenue to lay claim to regional indigenous culture. So now, Arab foods (like falafel, hummus, shakshouka), traditional Arab clothing (like tatreez, galabiyas, keffiyehs), and Arab folkloric dances are all being rebranded as “Israeli,” yet another phase of colonial renaming, and they use the rebranded Arab Jews to justify their claim.

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian writer and the author of the international bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury 2010). She is also the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, an NGO for children. Her latest novel The Blue Between Sky and Water has been translated into 26 languages.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/invention-mizrahim-170920103701750.html

Photograph of three Mizrahi Jews reading a copy of the Hebrew Bible at a Jewish refugee camp, March 3, 1949 [AP].

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/11/20/memory-is-stubborn/

Hands-off relationship with the truth

Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing’s Phony Foreign-Policy Guru

By Bob Dreyfuss, August 10, 2017

 

The Breitbart News headline, back in November 2014, rang like a five-alarm fire bell: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD OVERRUNS NATIONAL CATHEDRAL IN DC. Its author, Breitbart’s national-security editor, was Dr. Sebastian L. v. Gorka, who currently occupies a top White House post as “deputy assistant” to President Donald Trump. And like just about anything Gorka has said or written, the Breitbart headline was wrong in every way. It wasn’t the Muslim Brotherhood at all, and no one overran anything. Despite his characteristic hyperventilation, the event in question was a dignified, interfaith prayer service organized jointly by the leaders of Washington National Cathedral and five mainstream Muslim organizations seeking to unite “voices of moderation.”

But critics charge that Gorka’s hyperbole and his hands-off relationship with the truth have lately sent his stock skyrocketing with the president. Renowned for his disdain for the media and his blithe readiness to defend Trump to the last tweet, Gorka – who apparently tools around Washington in a Mustang with a license plate that reads ART [OF] WAR – has become a nearly ubiquitous presence on television and radio as a spokesman for the White House. “Did you see Gorka?” Trump reportedly said after Gorka took part in figurative fisticuffs on CNN. “So great. I mean, really, truly great!”

Gorka views himself as a “utility infielder, especially in the field of counterterrorism,” and claims to provide behind-the-scenes advice to Trump on how to fight terrorism, while serving under the wing of Steve Bannon, his former boss at Breitbart. “It’s surreal and quite horrifying that someone who’s such an amateur has reached such heights,” says David Ucko, associate professor in the Department of War and Conflict Studies at National Defense University. Adds Michael S. Smith II, a veteran terrorism analyst who’s had unpleasant run-ins with Gorka, “This is not somebody who should be working anywhere near the White House.” Even more bluntly, a colleague of Smith’s, Cindy Storer, an ex-CIA terrorism analyst, said, “He’s nuts.”

It’s not easy to find out exactly what Gorka does in the White House for his $155,000 salary. In terms of policy, according to The New York Times, Trump’s recent pro-Saudi Arabia tilt was “driven by two advisers, Stephen K. Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.” But a former top White House official tells Rolling Stone, “His only job appears to be to go on talk radio or Fox News to defend the indefensible.” That he does constantly, spinning the administration’s confused, roller-coaster ride of a foreign policy; slamming “the fake-news industrial complex,” on CNN; supporting a Supreme Court decision as “a slap in the face” to critics of Trump’s Muslim travel ban, on talk radio; and, on MSNBC, explaining Donald Trump Jr.’s secret meeting with a team of Russians peddling dirt as “a massive nothingburger.”

Early this year, his wife and partner, Katharine Cornell Gorka, took up a post at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where she is now an adviser to the department’s policy office. Almost as soon as they entered the Trump administration, the Gorkas absorbed withering incoming fire from national-security experts and in a series of exposés in LobeLog.com and The Forward, a progressive Jewish periodical. By late April, White House sources told The New York Times and The Washington Post that Gorka was on the way out. Yet so far – likely thanks to support from Bannon – both Gorkas have defiantly stayed in place. According to one insider, Gorka’s dubious qualifications may have saved him. “The White House tried to find him a job at another agency,” says the source. But no luck: “Nobody wanted him.”

In person, Gorka is always nattily attired, sporting a distinguished-looking splash of facial hair to go with his precise, deep-baritone, British-accented English. Insisting everywhere that he be referred to as “doctor,” Gorka began his rise with a 2008 Ph.D. awarded by little-known Corvinus University of Budapest, an institution that several scholars who spoke to Rolling Stone described as having a questionable reputation. “Corvinus is pretty low-tier, maybe third- or fourth-tier,” says Daniel Nexon, a scholar at Georgetown University who has reviewed Gorka’s dissertation. “He might as well have mail-ordered his Ph.D.” Nexon ran its text through plagiarism software and found that portions of it were “repurposed.”

“Gorka’s thesis is about as legitimate as if he had been awarded it by Trump University,” says Andrew Reynolds, a professor at the University of North Carolina who looked into Gorka’s background. He says that of the three people who served as endorsers of Gorka’s Ph.D., two didn’t have any academic credentials whatsoever, and a third was György Schöpflin, a right-wing Hungarian politician who, Reynolds adds, was a Gorka family friend and once suggested studding a Hungarian border fence with pig heads to send a message to Muslim refugees. (Gorka said later that Schöpflin was “making a joke”; Gorka, whom Rolling Stone reached out to repeatedly, declined to comment for this article.)

Perhaps even more worrisome, Gorka’s thesis proposed a dramatic restructuring of the national-security apparatus to create a police state. He suggests a radical reform of “internal barriers between the police force, the army and various intelligence services.” This could also be seen as the start of a Gestapo-like, all-powerful national system of repression. “That’s about as Nazi Germany- or Soviet Union-like a proposal as I’ve ever heard,” says Patrick Eddington of the conservative Cato Institute. “The net effect would be to suspend the Bill of Rights, if his proposal ever saw the light of day.”

During the decade and a half Gorka spent in Hungary, he was enmeshed in a web of ultraright, anti-Semitic and even Nazi-like parties, politicians and media outlets. For most of the 2000s, the Gorkas ran a think tank in Budapest called the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security (ITDIS). For funding, Gorka received at least $27,650 in U.S. federal grants, according to government records. “We worked for ourselves,” Katharine Gorka tells Rolling Stone.

In the mid-2000s, Hungary’s left-leaning government found itself besieged by right-wing street protests. Many of the protesters were affiliated with ultranationalist leader Viktor Orbán, who’s been called a “neo-fascist dictator” by Sen. John McCain, and who leads Hungary today. Gorka served as adviser to Orbán, and later wrote for an overtly anti-Semitic newspaper, Magyar Demokrata. By all accounts, Gorka’s own writing and statements at the time included no anti-Semitic comments, and neither The Forward nor other reporters who’ve investigated his background in Hungary have turned up any evidence that Gorka himself participated in anything that could be called anti-Jewish. “What you can say for sure is that he was allied with people who have very extremist views,” says Péter Krekó of the Political Capital Institute in Hungary. “He was an opportunist, and he cooperated with figures who were very marginal.”

For his part, Gorka denies any knowledge of the anti-Semitic backgrounds of his colleagues. Katharine Gorka says that all of the charges about her husband’s years in Hungary have been debunked. “He has never in any way been associated with the far right,” she says. “One of the reasons why we left Hungary was because of Sebastian’s discomfort with the far right.”

Yet these denials are hard to square with Gorka’s family background. Having fled Hungary for London after 1956, Gorka’s parents joined a raucous mix of anti-Communist, right-wing exiles, including those who belonged to the Order of Knights (Vitézi Rend), an organization with an unsavory past. Vitézi Rend was created by the Nazi-backed ruler of Hungary, and many of its members were involved in the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust. Today, members of the Order fall under an immigration watch by the State Department on groups that have violated human rights. Gorka and his father were reported to have joined (Katharine says this is false). And in photographs, Gorka has been spotted sporting a Vitézi Rend medal that, he insisted, he wore only to honor his father.

 

Since this affiliation was exposed by The Forward, Gorka has been engulfed in a storm of criticism, with members of Congress writing the White House to demand that he be fired. “Our main concern is that Dr. Gorka is a member of certain anti-Semitic Nazi groups such as Vitézi Rend,” says Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat. “There’s a lot of evidence that he was a member: He swore a lifelong loyalty, he’s used the honorific initial v., he’s been photographed with some of their insignia.” So far, Nadler and his colleagues haven’t heard back from the White House.

In 2008, the Gorkas moved to the United States. They established a network of organizations in the Virginia area: the Westminster Institute, the Council on Global Security, the Threat Knowledge Group and TheGorkaBriefing.com. According to Katharine Gorka, the council was a nonprofit “doing work on extremism,” and the Threat Knowledge Group was a business “providing training to law enforcement and the military.” Katharine founded the Westminster Institute as a think tank to do research “on the rise of radical Islam.”

In his published biographies, Gorka provides a long list of places where he peddled his views, including the FBI, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the National Counterterrorism Center, West Point and more. Gorka’s most-touted position was a two-year stint at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. James Joyner, a retired Army officer and associate professor of strategic studies at MCU, who saw Gorka in action, wasn’t impressed, saying that Gorka was hardly an academic: “He’s kind of the guy you see on TV. He’s bombastic.” Gorka’s views, adds Joyner, were well out of the mainstream. “To the Bush administration’s credit, one thing that they got right was, they said, ‘This is not a war against Islam.’ But Gorka is like, ‘No, these people are very dominant within the religion, their religion leads this way, and even though most Muslims aren’t terrorists, they at least lean that way.’ And that’s wrong.”

In many lectures, Gorka lumps together Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Iran’s clerical rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood in one box: as proponents of a world-dominating Muslim caliphate that must be crushed. Even the differences between Sunnis and Shiites don’t faze him. “Today, the Global Jihad has two brands,” he wrote for Breitbart. “It is a war of the ‘Sunni Coke’ versus the ‘Shia Pepsi.’ ” Gorka insists that everyone in Washington is wrong, and only he understands the fearsome nature of the enemy. “He is speaking the truth, and if you disagree with it,” Joyner says, “you’re an idiot.”

Mia Bloom, a widely published expert on terrorism and a professor at Georgia State University, recalls an encounter with Gorka on a terrorism panel at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “Gorka knows virtually nothing,” she says. “His views are a mixture of Islamophobia and racism. We’d been given questions in advance, we were paid for our appearance, and he just bullshitted his way through it – and he brought books to sell!” All of which is why Paul Pillar, a former national intelligence officer for the Middle East, says Gorka is too dangerous to be allowed to remain in the White House: “Gorka represents an intolerance that offends American values and is likely to gain the United States more enemies than friends.”

 

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/sebastian-gorka-the-west-wings-phony-foreign-policy-guru-w496912

Photograph (modified) of Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to President Trump, talking with people in the Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, during a ceremony commemorating Israeli Independence Day (by Susan Walsh, AP). https://thinkprogress.org/white-house-defends-silence-on-mosque-bombing-says-it-might-have-been-faked-by-liberals-718226415223/

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