Nel's New Day

April 22, 2019

Judaism v. Zionism

One of the most sensitive topics in politics these days—other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—is Zionism. Despite his anti-Semitic ideology during his campaign, DDT now loves Israel, probably because the newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is perhaps farther right that DDT is. Republicans grab at any issue that they can use to criticize Democrats. Evangelicals want Israelis to control large swaths of land so that Jesus will have a big place to land during the rapture to save fundamentalist Christians. Some Democrats support Israel’s taking over Palestinian land in violation of international law.

Carolyn Karcher, author of Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation, tries to unravel the difference between a religion and a political interest group. She points out that “ethical precepts lie at the heart of Judaism: pursue justice, love the stranger, love your neighbor and repair the world.” Zionist policy violates all these teachings. The new Basic Law, passed by Israel, calls for the nation-state of only Jewish people in the country and gives the indigenous Palestinians no rights.

Zionism’s main founder Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, created a version of a settler colonial movement in the 19th century not as a religious group, but a separatist political society that excluded all non-Jews. Zionism has developed into a nationalist organization with the same approach as white nationalism, comparable to persecuted Puritans seeking a place where they could rule. Having left England for America in the 17th century, they dispossessed and killed the indigenous peoples with no ethical concerns. In both cases, one group of people elevated themselves over another and then tried to eradicate considered a sub-group.

Younger Jews are protesting this Israeli position of domination. Members of one group, “If Not Now,” were thrown out of Israel because of their difficult questions about birthrights in the Israeli-Palestinian region. Others in Jewish Voice for Peace started the “Return the Birthright” campaign with the claim that Palestinians as indigenous people have a birthright to the land.

Karcher states that questioning birthright and Israel can lead to “revitalizing Judaism and redefining Jewish identity that does not depend on identifying with a Jewish state, and that does not depend on claiming a right to a land that you were not born in and have no real connection to.” Like the philosophy of democracy, she espouses all people having the same rights and the same access to economic and political rights.

From another writer and Jewish voice, Michelle Goldberg, comes this column, “Zionists Deserve Free Speech”:

The Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was supposed to be on a speaking tour of the United States this week, with stops at N.Y.U.’s Washington campus and at Harvard. He was going to attend his daughter’s wedding in Texas. I had plans to interview him for “The Argument,” the debate podcast that I co-host, about B.D.S., the controversial campaign to make Israel pay an economic and cultural price for its treatment of the Palestinians.

Yet when Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel, showed up for his flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport last week, he was informed that the United States was denying him entry. When I spoke to him on Sunday, he still didn’t know exactly why the country where he went to college and lived for many years wasn’t letting him in, but he assumed it was because of his political views. If that’s the case, Barghouti said, it was the first time someone has been barred from America for B.D.S. advocacy. He has proceeded with his public events, but he’s been appearing at them via Skype.

In recent years, the American right has presented itself as a champion of free expression. Conservatives are constantly bemoaning a censorious campus climate that stigmatizes their ideas; last month, Donald Trump signed an executive order on campus free speech, decrying those who would keep Americans from “challenging rigid far-left ideology.” The president said, “People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others.”

If that last line is true — and, uncharacteristically for Trump, I think it is — it says something about the insecurity of Israel’s defenders. There have indeed been illiberal attempts to silence conservative voices on college campuses, but they pale beside the assault on pro-Palestinian speech, particularly speech calling for an economic boycott of Israel. Around two dozen states have laws and regulations denouncing, and in many cases penalizing, B.D.S. activities, and the Senate recently passed a bill supporting such measures. According to the American Association of University Professors, some public universities in states with such laws require speakers and other contractors to “sign a statement pledging that they do not now, nor will they in the future, endorse B.D.S.” It’s hard to think of comparable speech restrictions on any other subject.

What are pro-Israel forces afraid of? The B.D.S. movement doesn’t engage in or promote violence. Its leaders make an effort to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism; the Palestinian B.D.S. National Committee recently demanded that a Moroccan group stop using the term “B.D.S.” in its name because it featured anti-Semitic cartoons on its Facebook page.

Barghouti couches his opposition to Zionism in the language of humanist universalism. The official position of the B.D.S. movement, he says, is that “any supremacist, exclusionary state in historic Palestine — be it a ‘Jewish state,’ an ‘Islamic state,’ or a ‘Christian state’ — would by definition conflict with international law and basic human rights principles.”

The movement is agnostic on a final dispensation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it calls for the right of Palestinian refugees — both those displaced by the creation of Israel and their descendants — to return to their familial homes, which would likely end Israel’s Jewish majority. Barghouti told me he personally believes in the creation of a single state in which Israeli Jews, as individuals, would have civil rights, but Jews as a people would not have national rights.

I’d planned to argue with him about this view, which is largely dismissive of Jewish claims on Israel, and would likely lead to oppression or worse for Israeli Jews. My guess is that many if not most Jews find such a position offensive, even frightening.

But for years now, the right has been lecturing us all about the need to listen to and debate ideas we might consider dangerous. Barghouti wants this sort of dialogue. “We’ve been dying to debate anyone on the other side,” he told me. “We would debate anyone except Israeli government officials and professional lobbyists.” A government that tries to prevent Americans from engaging with his views cannot claim a commitment to free speech.

You could argue, I suppose, that Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state should not be up for discussion. If you do, realize it’s the exact same sort of argument that certain campus leftists make when they refuse to debate people they see as racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted. Sometimes this refusal is justified, because certain ideas shouldn’t be dignified with discussion. But sometimes it just makes the people unwilling to test their ideas in public look scared.

Ultimately, Barghouti threatens Israel’s American defenders not because he’s hateful, but because he isn’t. Israel has aligned itself with the global far right. Recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to unilaterally annex the West Bank, which would create a single state where Jews rule over Arabs. That prospect makes it ever more difficult for Israel’s American defenders to make coherent arguments against the sort of one-state solution that Barghouti espouses. “Israel is winning the far right around the world,” Barghouti said at an N.Y.U. event last week, where the journalist Peter Beinart interviewed him remotely. But, he added, “it is losing its moral stature around the world.” American authorities may be able to quash this message on some college campuses, but it won’t stop being true.

The United States has freely sanctioned countries that violate human rights to pressure them for change. Boycott has long been an individual practice from people on both the right and left to express displeasure about positions. Yet Ilhan Omar, a U.S. representative, black woman, Muslim, and Somali refugee, has been pilloried, not only by Republicans but by her own party of Democrats, because she was brave enough to speak out against the Israeli control over the U.S. federal government.

Pressure from Israeli is causing even Democrats to punish corporations that use their constitutional right to use a boycott as a form of free speech. A bipartisan House bill opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or “BDS,” movement and gives states the legal right to punish companies choosing not to do business with Israel or Israeli-owned enterprises. In the 26 states already passing anti-BDS laws, courts in two of them, Kansas and Arizona, have declared the legislation unconstitutional. To take free speech from companies, Congress would have to remove their classification as “persons” or take away the right of real people to free speech. Meanwhile Republicans have another wedge device by equating Palestinian support and human rights with anti-Semitism.

March 8, 2019

Think Equal: International Women’s Day

On March 8, International Women’s Day, 28 members of the world champion United States women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit regarding the lack of pay equity and working conditions. According to the lawsuit, discrimination against the women athletes not only leaves them with much less than pay than men in the soccer field but also restricts their place of play, training, medical treatment, coaching, and even travel accommodations.

The women, stars for over a decade, head to France this summer to defend the Women’s World Cup that they won almost four years ago. Since their third win of the contest in summer of 2015, they have made some gain—doubled prize money pool for the upcoming tournament, the disappearance of artificial turf, and even a chartered flight. Female soccer teams in other countries such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Norway have made a few gains since protests by the U.S. women’s team.

FIFA, pro soccer teams’ employer, still favor the men by give a pool of $400 million to 32 men’s teams compared to $30 million for 24 women’s teams. According to pay schedules for players participating in 20 games a year, men get an average of $263,320 while women get a maximum of $99,000. That’s after the $17 million more in profit for 2016 that women made over the men. Although the male team lost the 2014 World Cup in Round 16, their bonuses were $5.375; after winning the Cup in 2015, women received $1.725 for bonuses.

Women suffer far worse inequities around the world than lack of pay. Poverty, lack of justice and rights, abuse, poorer health, discrimination in education—all these are just a few of the ways that women are wanting in gender equality. But sports is one area that symbolizes the subjection of women to male values. A recent example occurred in a cycling race in Switzerland. In the annual Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, men started two minutes before women—because women are faster. No matter—Nicole Hanselmann took a big lead over the men’s field, that is, before she was told to sit by the side of the road to “neutralise the women’s race in order to restore the gap between” the men and women’s groups. Maybe the men should have had a five-minute head start so that they could win.

Women ride the Tour de France through traffic and without media on the day before men get the attention, and the women’s Olympic race is half the length of the men’s race. Olympic cycling events for women didn’t exist until 1984, the same year that events included a women’s marathon but almost a century after the modern Olympic revivals in 1896 included these events for men.

Bobbi Gibbs entered the Boston Marathon in 1966 without an application after being told that was told that “women are not physiologically able to run a marathon.” She beat over half the field in 3 hours, 21 minutes. The next year, Kathrine Switzer entered the marathon under her initials and beat her boyfriend. Her time of 4 hours, 20 minutes might have been better if the race co-director had not physically attacked her during the race. Not until 1972 did the AAU allow women to run more than a mile and a half.

Other sports still have the  gender restrictions: women play two out of three sets in tennis, but men play three out of five. Men said that the rules are meant to protect women’s “reproductive organs” from undue endurance. In the beginning, women’s cycling threatened men because women gained independence with their own transportation. The lack of chaperones caused people to refer to bicycles as “prostitution on wheels.” The reason for gender inequality is to show women that we are inferior.

Other inequalities in sports:

In the U.S., 40 percent of sportspeople are women, but only six to eight percent of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. Women-only sports stories comprise just 3.5 percent of all sports stories in the four major US newspapers.

Each year, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships—50 percent more—than female athletes receive.

Colleges and universities spend only 24 percent of their athletic operating budgets on female sports and just 16 percent of recruiting budgets for women.

Coaches for college women’s team sports earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by head coaches of men’s teams.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup soccer final was the most watched soccer match—male or female—but its players were far less compensated than male soccer players. In professional soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League has a pay ceiling per player of just $37,800 compared to an average of more than $300,000 and a median of about $100,000 for men’s Major League Soccer. Each team in the NWSL has a salary cap of just $265,000—compared to more than $3 million for men.

Of total commercial investment, 0.4 percent goes into women’s sport.

People who discriminate against women in sports claim that they won’t receive any attention, that the public wants to watch only men play. This attitude, however, comes from the top. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes news with male championship sports teams, either being rebuffed by them or feeding them fast foods like hamburgers and pizza. Yet he has not invited one female championship team to the White House to honor them on a solo visit—not the 2018 women’s NCAA basketball champions Notre Dame, not the 2017 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, nor the 2018 WNBA champion Seattle Storm. The latest invitation, however, was a men’s lower-division NCAA football championship team, the first one invited since Bill Clinton’s time. Every other president going back to Ronald Reagan invited the women’s NCAA basketball champions. Here’s President Obama with the 2016 NCAA winners.

Politics this year has brought out the worst—thus far—in conservative misogyny. From the minute that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected a Democratic U.S. representative from New York, journalists stalked her, intent on photographing her from behind, questioning how much she pays for her clothes, why she took an Uber instead of the subway. A Texas city council member called her a “bimbo,” and one of her congressional colleagues yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!”  Conservative pundits call her a “little girl” and fantasize about dating her. On The View, Meghan McCain said she was “really surprised” that Ocasio-Cortez had asked an intelligent question at Michael Cohen’s House hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has the same political views, but it’s the conservatives who cried at CPAC that Ocasio-Cortez wants to “take your hamburgers” and replaced incessant smears of Hillary Clinton to those directed at Ocasio-Cortez.

The hatred and sexism directed toward Ocasio-Cortez moved to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after she criticized the control of Israel over U.S. policy. For decades, GOP congressional members and conservative media protected rampant racism from colleagues and now fail to call out their racist president while becoming livid about Omar’s suggestion that candidates receive millions of dollars to oppose Palestine and support Israel. The attacks didn’t start with her supposed anti-Semitic remarks used to revile her; threats against her began before she was sworn into the 116th Congress also because of her Islam religion. Every word she uses, even “hypnotize,” is classified as an “anti-Semitic trope” while DDT and other white male GOP congressional members escape any criticism. Yet 23 of them voted against all expressions of prejudice such as racism, Islamophobia, and anti-LGBTQ rights except for anti-Semitism. Omar is even being blamed for the spike in anti-Jewish hate crimes that began with DDT’s election.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, said that while anti-Semitism is a “hateful and dangerous ideology,” it must not be confused with criticism of Israel’s government under the right-wing leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Sanders in defending Omar because they, too, have suffered from the misogyny, especially since the women declared their candidacies for the 2020 presidential election. After condemning Hillary Clinton for being too “icy,” pundits slam Warren for being “aloof” and Harris for connecting with audiences “too much.” For weeks, opinionists agonized over whether the women presidential candidates were “authentic” and found stories to show that they are phonies. Warren’s oral history of Native American background from the 1980s appears again and again—and again. (The same people overlook DDT’s 9,000 lies.) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was attacked for talking about how to eat fried chicken, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar is “mean.” Authenticity for women is being a secretary or staff member.

The theme for the 2019 International Women’s Day is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” Almost half the Democrats running for president in 2020 are women, and a pro sports team is suing for equality. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are making changes in Congress along with the other 108 Democratic women plus their allies. These changes plus millions of others may bring women into the 21st century.

March 7, 2019

23 House Republican Votes Support Prejudice

A House anti-hate resolution passed today with a large majority; only 23 Republicans voted against it, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), stripped of his committee assignments after his most recent remarks, voted “present.” One Democratic representative was absent. From the initial rebuke of Rep. Olhan Omar (D-MN), the measure was widely broadened, even including a mention of prejudice against sexual minorities.

Republicans supporting prejudice: Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Ken Buck (CO), Ted Budd (NC), Michael Burgess (TX), Liz Cheney (WY), Doug Collins (NY), Mike Conaway (TX), Rick Crawford (AR), Duane Duncan (CA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Tom Graves (GA), Peter King (NY), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Steven Palazzo (MA), Mike Rogers (AL), Chip Roy (MD), Greg Steube (FL), Mark Walker (NC), Ted Yoho (FL), and Lee Zeldin (NY). Conservatives are slamming Democrats for supporting anti-Semitism while they protect their own racists and Islamophobes.

RESOLUTION

Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.

Whereas the first amendment to the Constitution established the United States as a country committed to the principles of tolerance and religious freedom, and the 14th amendment to the Constitution established equal protection of the laws as the heart of justice in the United States;

Whereas adherence to these principles is vital to the progress of the American people and the diverse communities and religious groups of the United States;

Whereas whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse;

Whereas white supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence;

Whereas the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., taught that persecution of any American is an assault on the rights and freedoms of all Americans;

Whereas on August 11 and 12, 2017, self-identified neo-Confederates, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klansmen held white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they marched on a synagogue under the Nazi swastika, engaged in racist and anti-Semitic demonstrations and committed brutal and deadly violence against peaceful Americans;

Whereas a white nationalist murdered nine African American worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on the evening of June 17, 2015, in the hopes of igniting a nationwide race war;

Whereas on October 27, 2018, the perpetrator of the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the history of the United States killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue building in Pittsburgh and reportedly stated that he ‘‘wanted all Jews to die’’;

Whereas anti-Semitism is the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews;

Whereas in 2017 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 37 percent increase in hate crimes against Jews or Jewish institutions and found that attacks against Jews or Jewish institutions made up 58.1 percent of all religious-based hate crimes;

Whereas there is an urgent need to ensure the safety and security of Jewish communities, including synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other institutions;

Whereas Jews are the targets of anti-Semitic violence at even higher rates in many other countries than they are in the United States;

Whereas it is a foreign policy priority of the United States to monitor and combat anti-Semitism abroad;

Whereas anti-Semitism includes blaming Jews as Jews when things go wrong; calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or extremist view of religion; or making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotyped allegations about Jews;

Whereas Jewish people are subject in the media and political campaigns to numerous other dangerous anti-Semitic myths as well, including that Jews control the United States Government or seek global, political, and financial domination and that Jews are obsessed with money;

Whereas scapegoating and targeting of Jews in the United States have persisted for many years, including by the Ku Klux Klan, the America First Committee, and by modern neo-Nazis;

Whereas accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism because it suggests that Jewish citizens cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jews have loyally served our Nation every day since its founding, whether in public or community life or military service;

Whereas accusations of dual loyalty generally have an insidious and pernicious history, including—

(1) the discriminatory incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II on their basis of race and alleged dual loyalty;

(2) the Dreyfus affair, when Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French artillery captain, was falsely convicted of

passing secrets to Germany based on his Jewish background;

(3) when the loyalty of President John F. Kennedy was questioned because of his Catholic faith; and

(4) the post-9/11 conditions faced by Muslim-Americans in the United States, including Islamophobia and false and vicious attacks on and threats to Muslim-Americans for alleged association with terrorism;

Whereas anti-Muslim bigotry entails prejudicial attitudes towards Muslims and people who are perceived to be Muslim, including the irrational belief that Muslims are inherently violent, disloyal, and foreign;

Whereas Muslims and people perceived to be Muslim are subjected to false and dangerous stereotypes and myths including unfair allegations that they sympathize with individuals who engage in violence or terror or support the oppression of women, Jews, and other vulnerable communities;

Whereas in 2017, mosques were bombed in Bloomington, Minnesota, and burned in Austin, Texas, Victoria, Texas, Bellevue, Washington, and Thonotosassa, Florida, and mass attacks on Muslim communities were planned against communities in Islamberg, New York, in 2019, Jacksonville, Florida, in 2017, and Garden City, Kansas, in 2016;

Whereas the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that hate crimes against Muslims or Muslim institutions in the United States increased by over 99 percent between 2014 and 2016;

Whereas attacks motivated by bigotry against those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim have substantially increased since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;

Whereas the violation of an individual’s civil rights based on his or her actual or perceived membership in a particular religious group clearly violates the Constitution and laws of the United States; and

Whereas all Americans, including Jews, Muslims, and Christians and people of all faiths and no faith, have a stake in fighting anti-Semitism, as all Americans have a stake in fighting every form of bigotry and hatred against people based on religion, race, or place of birth and origin:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance;

(2) condemns anti-Semitic acts and statements as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States;

(3) reaffirms its support for the mandate of the United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as part of the broader policy priority of fostering international religious freedom and protecting human rights all over the world;

(4) rejects attempts to justify hatred or violent attacks as an acceptable expression of disapproval or frustration over political events in the Middle East or elsewhere;

(5) acknowledges the harm suffered by Muslims and others from the harassment, discrimination, and violence that result from anti-Muslim bigotry;

(6) condemns anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against all minorities as contrary to the values of the United States;

(7) condemns the death threats received by Jewish and Muslim Members of Congress, including in recent weeks;

(8) encourages law enforcement and government officials to avoid conduct that raises the specter of unconstitutional profiling against anyone because of their race, religion, nationality, political, or particular social group, including the assignment of blame or targeting members of an entire religious group for increased suspicion, based on the conduct of a single individual or small group of individuals; and

(9) encourages all public officials to confront the reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry, as well as historical struggles against them, to ensure that the United States will live up to the transcendent principles of tolerance, religious freedom, and equal protection as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the first and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Now the House needs to determine whether policy discussions, such as the U.S.-Israel relationship, can be defined as anti-Semitism.

House Democrats: Get Back to Work

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A claim about Fox network is that it’s the far-right against everyone else. The same is true with the existing rank and file GOP, leaving lots of “everyone else” in the Democratic party, a diverse batch of people known in the past for many internal differences. One of these emerged when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that the strong support for Israel, despite its genocidal behavior, came from the dollars poured into paying politicians. In an initial knee jerk reaction, Democratic leadership talked about a resolution to condemn her. The Republicans were all for the idea, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) demanded that she be taken off the Foreign Policy Committee.

An assumption to silence any debate about Israel was the anti-Semitic accusation of any suggestion that U.S. fails to support equal rights for Palestinians with one-sided support for Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed the narrowness of the proposed resolution when she asked why “no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” on the floor).” Later she added, “Where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?’” Jeremy Cahill, editor of The Intercept, tweeted:

“If we lived in a sane society, those politicians who promote the Israeli government even as it slaughters Palestinians and cozy up to its lobbyists would be the focus of investigation and condemnation. Instead, they attack the woman, @IlhanMN, who bravely calls it out.”

When some representatives and the public protested a resolution rebuking Omar, it got softened to condemning anti-Semitism and then moved to including a condemnation of anti-Muslim positions. By now the resolution may have disappeared after many House Democrats want to go farther in condemning all religious hatred. In a caucus session, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said, “Why are we doing this?” After the meeting, she said:

“We’ve individually and collectively already responded to the fact that we oppose all ‘-isms’ that do not treat people in this country fairly and justly. To continue to engage in this discussion is simply an opportunity to give both the media and Republicans distractions from our agenda. We’ve got important work to do.”

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) demonstrates how biased some representatives are over the issue when he tweeted that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israeli relationship is unacceptable.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) advised her Democratic colleagues: “Everyone stop tweeting.” It’s a start. Thanks, ladies!

A sampling of the GOP representatives who stay in Congress but smeared Omar and/or threatened to take action against her:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA): Accused three Jewish billionaires of trying to “buy” the midterms the day before one of them got a pipe bomb at his New York home. McCarthy refused to apologize for the anti-Semitic tweet but deleted it. McCarthy also funded attack ads in which Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) called his Mexican-Palestinian opponent a “terrorist.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA): Attended and spoke at a white supremacist convention by a group founded by David Duke, Holocaust-denying former grand wizard of the KKK and described by the Anti-Defamation League as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.”

Louie Gohmert (TX): Attacked a Jewish billionaire on the Fox Business channel with this falsehood, “George Soros is supposed to be Jewish but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned.” Host Stuart Varney had to clarify that Gohmert’s views to represent those of Fox—and Fox’s views tend to be fairly far out.

Matt Gaetz (FL): Invited notorious Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to be his guest at the State of the Union, suggested that the George Soros funded the immigrant caravan to “storm the U.S. border,” and appeared on Alex Jones Infowars when Jones said that “it’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just they are the head of the Jewish mafia in the United States. They run Uber, they run the health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.” (DDT called Gaeta “one of the finest and most talented people in Congress.”)

Steve King (IA): Re-tweeted a neo-Nazi, sat on a panel with white supremacists, praised both German and Austrian neo-Nazis, and finished by defending white supremacy and many more racist statements. [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pointed out that Republicans didn’t notice King’s offensive remarks for 13 years.]

Paul Gosar (AZ): Claimed that the Charlottesville (VA) rally where marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” was “created by the left” and funded by Soros, repeating Gohmert’s lie about Soros.

DDT has used Jewish stereotypes since he began his presidential campaign. Most recently he labeled Adam Schiff, the Jewish Democrat from California who leads the House Intelligence Committee, “shifty”—a stereotypical remark for “crafty” Jewish people. DDT’s cozying up to white supremacists has also led to far more hate crimes against Jewish people than in the past. Anti-Semitic crimes rose 37 percent in 2017.

In his push to remove Ilhan from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, DDT cited a letter from organizations that he called “Jewish groups.” The coalition, also called “leading Jewish organizations” by conservative media included those who spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and one has ties to a longtime neo-Nazi. The anti-Muslim groups have ties to DDT’s administration and favor military intervention in the Muslim world, raising questions about why DDT wants Omar removed. One of the hate groups, ACT for America, calls State Secretary Mike Pompeo a “steadfast ally” in its publicity and presented him with its National Security Eagle Award in 2016. Frank Gaffney Jr., founder of another anti-Omar group called the Center for Security Policy, has called for U.S. war in the Middle East since 9/11 and makes Islamophobic and xenophobic comments, including those against Somalian immigrants. Omar is a Somali refugee. The group is now led by Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to DDT’s national security adviser John Bolton.

Omar made a statement about how her being Muslim automatically leads to accusation of anti-Semitism, a useful method of shutting down debate:

“What I’m fearful of—because Rashida [Tlaib] and I are Muslim—that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. And so to me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of—yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used, Ilhan, are resemblance [sic] of intolerance.’ And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that.

“But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement or advocacy about ending oppression or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something, and that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

If the House decides to propose any “anti” resolution about religious and ethnic bigotry should be inclusive, not an attack. In the meantime, Watson Coleman got it right: “Everybody stop tweeting.” And get back to work.

March 6, 2018

CPAC Represents Today’s Republican Leadership

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is past, but there is no doubt that it represents the Grand Old Party of Republicans. Embarrassed by the radical performance at this year’s annual conference, a National Review writer tried to justify CPAC’s racism and attempted to whitewash this statement from Ian Walters, the fundraiser’s communications director from the podium at the Ronald Reagan Dinner:

“We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do.”

The first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, Steele served from 2009 to 2011. Five years later, two percent of registered Republicans were black—the same percentage as in 1992 and down from 11 percent in 2012. DDT got eight percent of the black vote.

Last year, the GOP was good for white supremacists; they had a 20 percent increase of neo-Nazi groups over 2016. Anti-Semitic events increased almost 60 percent last year with much of the increase in schools. K-12 schools saw a 94 percent increase from 2016, and anti-Semitism on college campuses were up 90 percent. Because many students don’t report being bullied, the number could be double.

It’s impossible to cover up the flagrant racism at CPAC. It brought Marion Marechal Le Pen from France who wants to unite standard conservatives with “Identitarians,” including white supremacists and fascists. Matt Schlapp, the man who invited Le Pen to address CPAC members, pretended to not understand her politics.  Standard U.S. fringe conservatives Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity joined the lesser known Le Pen as did Nigel Farage, supporter of the economically disastrous Brexit.

The NRA had a strong message at CPAC.

  • Dana Loesch said that “many in the legacy media love mass shootings.”
  • Wayne LaPierre declared Democrats aim to “eradicate all individual freedoms.”
  • Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told his crowd that Democrats would repeal the 2nd Amendment and bizarrely asked the crowd if they preferred tax cuts or the 2nd Amendment.

Over four decades ago, 400 conservatives met during the crisis of Watergate and Richard Nixon, arguing whether to dump the president. Honored speaker in 1974 was Ronald Reagan, and an honored guest was POW John McCain, who DDT insulted at the 2018 CPAC. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich led the group farther right, and DDT brought the conspiracy theory surrounding President Obama’s place of birth to CPAC in 2011. Last year, Dan Schneider, executive director for the American Conservative Union, banned the “alt-right” from CPAC, and the RAISE act to eliminate almost all immigration was considered outside the mainstream. This year white supremacists were largely accepted, and the creator of the RAISE Act, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), has led the charge against DACA legislation. CPAC and the GOP require a superiority, even hatred, toward Muslims and almost all people of color.

CPAC members have given up pretending that the conference about “ideas” and the “conservative agenda.” Star Dinesh D-Souza explained their mission in his book Letters to a Young Conservative:

“One way to be effective as a conservative is to figure out what annoys and disturbs liberals the most, and then keep doing it.”

That statement epitomizes DDT’s rallies, and he used the CPAC audience for a rally. After trashing his prepared remarks, he admired his hair in the monitors and returned to lies about how much he has accomplished.

Speakers who wanted to address the importance of conservatism were booed.  Columnist and author Mona Charen decried the “sophomoric clownishness” of the movement when she appeared on Morning Joe. She said:

“But there’s this ethic, this mood of trolling the opposition, that if you can create liberal tears, then anything goes. And even to the point of inviting the granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Nazi, an anti-Semite from France. And what was the point of inviting her? It was again to create a response, to jab a needle in the eye of liberals. And they think this is a game, it’s not. It’s not a game.”

At her CPAC speech, the crowd jeered when she called out Republican “hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women.” Her criticism was directed at “sexual harassers and abusers of women, who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women — and because he happens to have an ‘R’ next to his name we look the other way.” Charen needed security to get her safely out of the room. Her impressions of the event are here.

CPAC used to be a big deal, but the media attention for this annual event has waned even more than its attendance. Missing this year were most elected officials including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and libertarian-when-it-serves-him Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Instead DDT’s appointees, including four Cabinet members, dominated as speakers. Front and center was VP Mike Pence, who tried to defend DDT’s agenda and rally activists for the 2018 elections. White House counsel Don McGahn told his audience that DDT picked judicial nominees who he “could relate to.” Other speakers included Mike Mulvaney with other high-level DDT officials such as Kellyanne Conway, three far-right governors, and a sprinkling of minor congressional members. Sebastian Gorka, the gone but not forgotten White House aide beloved by neo-Nazis, called DDT “only accidentally the GOP candidate” and claimed that the GOP is “riding his coattails.”

Conservative celebrity Ben Shapiro, who started writing his political blog as a teenager and now claims that the Florida teenagers advocating gun safety laws have no insight, did complain to CPAC about DDT’s lying, calling it “nonsense” and “immoral.” But he was an outlier and received little publicity. Radical anti-Muslim Pamela Geller canceled her panel after her sponsor, American Principles Project, told her to pull Jim Hoft, founder of the right-wing fringe website The Gateway Pundit, who spread false conspiracies about the Florida shooting survivors being paid “actors.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), headed for the 2020 presidential election, complained about how reporters’ questions are “never about substance,” after his inability to successfully answer questions about the shutdown and the easy accessibility to AR-15s. His speech comparing characters on the animated TV show The Simpsons was far from substance. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-simpsons-main-characters-137323  His argument that Homer, Bart, Marge, and Maggie are Republicans describe his party as greedy, stupid, juvenile, vandals, and—in the case of Marge—enabling these characteristics. Witty and over-achieving Lisa, defined by Cruz as the Democrat, looks out for others. She doesn’t compromise her values but doesn’t force them on others, and she refuses to be a corporate shill. (Okay, maybe then she isn’t a Republican.)

Also “substance” from Cruz’s speech, “We can stop [the shootings] by going after criminals,” and “freedom works.”

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote:

“Now CPAC encapsulates the GOP. Adherents of President Trump’s brand of Republican politics do not bother to disguise their extremism, conspiracy theories, paranoia or xenophobia. In a real sense, the party of CPAC and Trump — who is scheduled to speak on Friday, and will surely feel entirely at home with the hyperventilating rhetoric and contempt for facts on display — have displaced the rest of the party. The GOP used to contain, cool and generally outvote the extremists who showed up to CPAC each year for a ritual display of their ideological fervor. Now, the extremists — spitting venom and brandishing the Fox News view of the world (in which the FBI not Russia is the bad actor) — are the predominate voice in a party that has shed intellectual and moral integrity, as well as any pretense of concern for serious policy.”

Bill Kristol said:

“About CPAC, what needs to be said was said by Eric Hoffer: ‘Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.’”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremism, called this year’s gathering like “a carnival of conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and mainstream Republicans all uniting under President Trump.” HuffPo shows some of them. The SPLC continued:

“In many ways, CPAC has become an annual measure of how far the radical right has moved into the mainstream of the conservative right, especially in recent years as anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT groups have found political friends in the United States and Europe.”

Fifty-five years after George Wallace blocked a school door to keep black students from going in, CPAC celebrated its legacy of racism, led by DDT, who was supported by almost every Republican speaker. The group continued to ridicule Hillary Clinton, as if she were president, and brought out the cry, “Look her up!” The American Conservative Union gives a platform to the new “normal” of the Grand Old Party that spreads hatred and rejects anyone except white men as leaders of a multi-cultural country.

February 25, 2018

Billy Graham Leaves a Devastating Legacy

Billy Graham, evangelical advisor to presidents for over a half century, died at the age of 99 this past week and will be buried on March 2. People are showering the dead Christian evangelist with tributes, but some of his beliefs are far from what Jesus preached.

Women: Graham criticized feminism and created the Mike Pence rule which advocates men avoid meeting, travelling or eating with a woman, other than one’s wife, alone, to prevent infidelity. At Boston Garden, he told women not to nag their husbands, keep their houses clean, and read a great deal to keep up with their husbands. Graham said that women should wear enough makeup to be pretty and not so much that husbands notice.

Graham’s Wife: When Graham’s wife felt the call to proselytize in Tibet, he told her that the Bible makes the husband the head of the wife: “Then I’ll do the leading and you do the following.” He moved on to harvest fields “more white” while she stayed in the U.S. to get pregnant and raise children according to a dog-training manual before they were sent off to boarding schools.

Civil Rights: Activists, not laws, should change hearts because personal conversions, not federal policies, change behaviors. His 1971 book, The Jesus Generation, praises people who reject government as a way to correct injustices. Of the 1963 March on Washington speech, “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., Graham said, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” “There wasn’t a major Protestant leader in America who obstructed King’s Beloved Community more than Billy Graham did,” says Michael E. Long, author of Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America’s Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/22/us/billy-graham-mlk-civil-rights/index.html

Global Warming: In his 1992 book about signs that the end of the world was near, Graham suggested that businesses reduce pollution, but his 2010 version eliminated the term “global warming.” Government had no right passing laws to save the world for posterity, he claimed.

New Deal: Graham believed that helping people through government, a godless competition for churches, was going to take Christians’ rights and liberties.

Wealth: With a net worth of $25 million, Graham normalized ultra-rich pastors and the focus on riches earth for the clergy.

Pro-War: Graham urged President Richard Nixon to use nuclear weapons that would destroy the dikes managing North Vietnam’s flooding and kill over one million people. Even Henry Kissinger considered this war crime “just too much.” George H.W. Bush said that Graham’s presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, “even for a second … (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night.” With the next Bush, Graham blessed the next Christian “crusade” into the Middle East.

Anti-LGBTQ: Graham preached that AIDS is the judgment of God. Saying later that he didn’t believe that statement didn’t stop other pastors from repeating it. He claimed that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” that contributes to the decay of civilization. He promoted conversion therapy that uses Graham’s rhetoric. In 2012, he paid for 14 full-page ads in newspapers across North Carolina to support the state’s Amendment 1 prohibiting marriage equality. In the ads, Graham wrote, “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Anti-Semitism: Jews control the media and that was dangerous, Graham told Nixon. “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” In White House audio tapes released in 2002, Graham also refers to Jews as pornographers.

Graham was used as a pawn by both business and conservative government leaders:

Publishing magnates William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce helped make him famous, and financial and business leaders used him to fight the “socialistic” politics of Franklin D. Roosevelt that brought people out of poverty and starvation.

To elect Richard Nixon, Graham promised President Lyndon B. Johnson that Nixon, if elected, would give Johnson “a major share of the credit” for Nixon’s ending the war and “do everything to make you … a place in history.” Johnson promised Nixon full cooperation if he took the White House. Johnson’s Defense Secretary Clark Clifford thought that LBJ wanted Nixon to become president. Nixon sent Graham as an emissary to Johnson because he knew about their closeness. Graham didn’t know that Nixon was undermining a peace initiative during the last days of Johnson’s presidency.

About his anti-Semitic comments with Nixon, Graham said, “If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it. I guess I was trying to please.” He always gave Nixon a pass, saying that “mistakes and blunders have been made.” The disclosure of Nixon’s wealth, however, and especially the small amount he donated to charity “surprised” Graham. The racist, foul, maniacal rantings on tape that made Graham physically ill, according to Marshall Frady’s 2006 biography of Graham, but Graham continued to make excuses for Nixon and claimed that he had become “deeply religious.” Graham blamed Nixon’s advisers because he was “just trying to protect” them. Frady reported that Graham eventually blamed “all those sleeping pills [that] just let a demon-power come in and play over him.”

Cecil Bothwell wrote about Graham as the father of modern evangelism:

“Graham’s message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior.”

Theolorigan Dorothee Sölle called white evangelical religion “Christofascism.”  Rev. Broderick Greer’s definition:

 “The perpetuation of a societal status quo in which Christians maintain power, frame the aim of Christianity as a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’ and retain all the ills of white Christian society like patriarchy, colonization, and heterosexism.”

Greer added that the religion “has evolved into a hyper-nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic corner of American Christianity” instead of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Almost 20 years ago, Graham wrote:

“If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… there have been times when I undoubtedly stepped over the line between politics and my calling as an evangelist.”

He was too late in this decision. His son Franklin Graham, who controls the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the group legitimizing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to evangelicals, has moved to the far right of Billy Graham. About DDT, Franklin tells his 6.3 million followers to “hold your nose and go vote.” He ridicules rights for non-Christians and LGBTQ people, spews hate speech, and calls for discrimination while raising funds for “persecuted Christians.” Franklin Graham claims to “love Muslim people” but adds that Islam “can’t keep you from the doors of hell.”

Sarah Jones described how Franklin changed Billy’s evangelicalism:

“As the father waned, the son waxed: first as a spokesman for his elder, then as an evangelical figure in his own right. Franklin, using the platform he inherited from his father, has defended Trump’s Muslim bans, promoted Russia’s campaign to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda,’ and once accused gay people of trying to ‘recruit children.’ Franklin, not Billy, represents the evangelical mainstream now.”

The father wanted change by “politeness”; the son follows the style of DDT who “offended everybody! And he became president of the United States.” Franklin crowed, “Only God could do that.” Or maybe Vladimir Putin.

Billy Graham was a handsome man with a powerful voice who was said to have brought more people to Jesus than any other evangelist, a Jesus and a population filled with hatred, bigotry, war-mongering, and domination.

 

September 1, 2015

Don’t Follow Netanyahu into War

Thirty-three senators now support the President of the United States in agreeing to the Iran deal to keep the country from putting together nuclear weapons. To avoid an override of the proposed “resolution of disapproval” to stop the P5+1 agreement among seven countries of the world, President Obama needs one more senator to support the deal. Despite the tens of millions of dollars from anti-Iran deal groups advertising its dangers, a survey shows a majority of people in the U.S.—52 percent—want approval for the agreement. Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats support the deal that lifts some international sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country restricting its nuclear program for at least a decade. Six of 10 independents support the deal while almost 7 in 10 Republicans oppose the agreement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called a “jackass” in a public meeting last weekend, has invited another GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, to join him in opposing the Iran deal at a rally on Capitol Hill. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, considered too conservative by the ultra-conservative Fox network, will be at the September 9 event. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is continuing his possibly treasonous behavior by meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday and stating, “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel.” He tweeted a photo of himself and the Israeli prime minister, writing: “Great meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss our opposition to the #IranDeal.”

cotton

Last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) worked against U.S. foreign policy during the migrant-children crisis. Other GOP lawmakers have also promised their allegiance to Israel. Five years ago, then-Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised Netanyahu that the new GOP majority in the house would “serve as a check” on the Obama administration. In 2006, Cantor is the same member of Congress who accused then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of violating the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.” Cantor’s accusation came after Pelosi’s meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad which she coordinated with Bush administration officials and where she included State Department personnel. Dick Cheney, the past vice-president who plans to attack President Obama at the September 9 rally, said of Pelosi, “The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Nine years ago, Al Gore criticized George W. Bush’s government “abuses” against Arabs after the 9/11 attacks when he spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia. The conservative media attacked him, one claiming that Gore had committed “supreme disloyalty to his country.” Even worse to these writers was that his speech was “in front of an audience that does not vote in American elections” and “subversive … because of its location and its intended audience.” In 2007, John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, insisted, “I would simply hope that people would understand that, under the Constitution, the president conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Now Republicans not only meet with foreign leaders to undermine the U.S. policy but also brag about doing it. Instead of being criminal, Cotton’s seditious behavior seems to be almost routine.

Netanyahu, the man who leads U.S. GOP congressional members, began his rise in 1996 after his opponent’s assassination. Fired up by the Oslo Accords, a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli settlers elected Netanyahu to avoid diplomacy and stop a Palestinian state. War mongering Richard Perle, advisor to Netanyahu’s campaign, headed the committee to write the strategy calling for a stop to diplomacy with Palestine and control the neighborhood by undermining, subdividing, or destroying Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Thanks to George W. Bush, only one of these three countries can still block Israel’s destruction of Palestinians. Since Barack Obama’s first election as president, Netanyahu has fought him with political assaults, international incidents, speeches to the U.S. Congress and the UN, and stories about the president’s lack of support for Israel.

The prime minister, who depicts Iran as a military aggressor, was close to attacking Iran three separate occasions between 2010 and 2012, the last of the three in an attempt to defeat President Obama for a second term. Fortunately, even far-right cabinet ministers or the military chief of staff blocked him.

Iran has not attacked another country in a conventional war in modern history. In contrast, Israel has a history of aggression in just a half century including preemptive wars in 1956, 1967, 1982, 2009 and 2014. The 1982 Israeli attack on Lebanon led to an 18-year occupation of ten percent of Lebanon. Lebanese Shiites formed Hezbollah to resist Israeli oppression, but Iran’s support is considered by the U.S. and Israel as “support for terrorism.” U.S. and Israeli support for the Israeli illegal invasion and occupation is considered standard operating procedure.

Israel has several hundred nuclear warheads, whereas Iran has none, but Iran has been sanctioned for its civilian nuclear enrichment program for generating electricity. No one knows how many nuclear weapons are located in Israel because it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Netanyahu has consistently refused to broker peace with the Palestinians and forced out officials, such as Meir Dagan, head of the Israeli spying agency Mossad; the chief of staff; and the head of domestic intelligence. Netanyahu spread fear throughout the world by grossly exaggerating Iran’s threat, according to Dagan.

Netanyahu badly needs a GOP president because a Democratic one might not veto UN sanctions against Israel for failing to follow international law. Israel has violated many UN Security Council resolutions through its treatment of the stateless Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, etc. Iran’s economy has been badly damaged by UNSC sanctions while Israel has not received any punishment thus far because the U.S. has vetoed sanctions against Israel, regardless of the cases’ merits. If the U.S. administration no longer exercises its veto, Israel could be forced into making peace.

Israel is also afraid of the UN recognizing Palestine, which has already been granted non-member observer state status by the General Assembly. Palestine has signed the treaties and instruments necessary to joining the International Criminal Court and gaining standing to sue Israel over its creeping annexation of Palestinian territory beyond the generally recognized 1949 armistice lines. The Rome Statute of 2002 under which the International Criminal Court operates, forbids colonization of other people’s territory. Israel could lose if Palestine sues.

The vast majority of Israel’s defense and security establishment support the Iran agreement, but Netanyahu has put them under a gag order. In a recent article for The Daily Jewish Forward, J.J. Goldberg wrote, “As unanimous as the politicians are in backing the prime minister, the generals and spymasters are nearly as unanimous in questioning him. Generals publicly backing Netanyahu can be counted on—well–one finger.” The U.S. media has avoided providing information that is well-known in the Israeli press and in a U.S. Jewish paper.

Republicans are so eager to spread propaganda against the Iran deal that Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is terrifying second and third graders in Gilbert (AZ). He was supposed to talk to them about how bills became laws, but he moved into his opposition to the Iran agreement. According to parent Scott Campbell, Salmon explained the situation in Iran and then asked the children such questions as “Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?” Campbell’s daughter told her father that she didn’t know what suicide is and that she is very afraid. Salmon’s office said the congressman’s remarks weren’t any more shocking than the local news.

Israel wants the United States to attack Iran, the Republicans want to destroy the Democrats, and the people of the U.S. are the ones left to suffer the economic and human losses that result from Israel’s determination to dominate the world. People who oppose Israeli positions are accused of being anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is NOT criticizing Israelis for what they do, such as defying more UN resolutions than Iraq, spying on P5+1 negotiations and then leaking the information, committing war crimes, rejecting politicians for their loyalty to a foreign power, and trying to get the United States to go to war just to benefit Israel.

November 10, 2013

Evangelicals Need Jews to Bring Jesus Back to Earth

Skip Thanksgiving—the far-right wingnuts have commenced the war on “War on Christmas” beginning with Sarah Palin’s new book. According to Steve Benen, the three-fold attack of this tome is a tribute to the holiday, an explanation of Christianity’s superiority to atheism, and a guide to opposing all those “litigious secularists.” Anyone trying to understand why a business wanting customers from all beliefs should incorporate inclusive holiday-season language or why a non-Christian might not want to listen to governments showing a preference for Christianity over all other beliefs won’t find help in Palin’s directions. Instead, she thinks that these fringe beliefs endanger religious freedom in the country.

Palin probably ignored the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht yesterday. Literally “Crystal Night” and also called the Night of Broken Glass, the term names the attacks against Jews in Germany and parts of Austria by Hitler’s forces and non-Jewish civilians that killed 91 Jews and arrested and incarcerated another 30,000 in concentration camps. The name came from the broken glass covering the streets because attackers smashed windows in Jewish businesses, homes, hospitals, and schools. That horrific event changed the persecution from economic and social to beatings, incarceration, and murder.

Seventy-five years after the turn toward open violence that led to a world war, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe again. Two-thirds of respondents to a poll believe that this prejudice is a problem, 76% thought that anti-Semitism had increased over the last five years, and 46% said they worried about being verbally assaulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish. One-third of the respondents were worried about being physically attacked, and 57% said they had heard or seen someone claim over the last year that the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated.

Almost 6,000 Jewish people in eight EU member states–Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the UK–took part in the survey. About 90 percent of the EU’s Jewish population lives in these eight countries. The survey found 29% of those surveyed had considered emigrating because of concerns about safety, with particularly high figures recorded in Hungary (48%), France (46%) and Belgium (40%). One in five respondents had personally experienced at least one anti-Semitic verbal insult and/or a physical attack in the year before the survey.

One British respondent said the Internet communicated a “phenomenal” amount of anti-Semitic material: “This is in some ways setting us backwards as now young people are circulating content like the [anti-Semitic hoax] Protocols of the Elders of Zion which had, prior to the Internet, pretty much died out.” The report also said that Jewish people faced discrimination in schools and the workplace.

This week the U.S. and the World Jewish Congress criticized the far-right Hungarian Jobbik party for unveiling a statue of the wartime leader Miklós Horthy, who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany.

Not all people in the United States are open to Judaism, including the immediate (appointed) past president George W. Bush. This coming week he is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser in Irving (TX) for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute. Its purpose is to train people in the world to convert Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The goal is to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ. The Dallas-based MJBI claims that it acts like the Apostle Paul in helping to “educate Christians in their role to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and thus save some of them (Romans 11:11-14).”

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he is disappointed that Bush cannot “accept the validity of the Jewish covenant.” Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple was more direct when he tweeted, “This is infuriating.” Bush follows last year’s star, Glenn Beck, who received a “Defender of Israel” award. The tickets this year range from $100 to $100,000. MJBI refused to say whether Bush would receive a speaking fee and, in fact, took his name off the website as keynote speaker.

MJBI board member Rabbi Marty Waldman of Baruch HaShem, a Messianic congregation in Dallas, explained that money is needed to hasten the return of Jesus. When there are “enough” Jewish people who call Jesus their savior, “some sort of a trigger will go off in heaven, and our father in heaven will say, ‘Okay, son, it’s time to get your bride,'” Waldman said.

These are some characteristics of people who “call Jesus their savior”:

Ignorance: While protesting the bill on legalized marriage equality in Illinois, a state representative failed to understand why people would advocate for civil rights in the debate. According to him, the United States was founded on “the scriptures,” not the constitution.

Fraud: LGBT-hater Dave Wilson used a creative way to get elected to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees by pretending to be black. Right-Wing Watch reported:

 “Wilson’s campaign fliers were filled with black faces that he admits to simply pulling off of websites, along with captions such as ‘Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.’ Another flier announces that he was ‘Endorsed by Ron Wilson,’ which is the name of an African-American former state representative. Only by reading the fine print will voters discover that the ‘Ron Wilson’ who actually endorsed Dave is his cousin. The cousin lives in Iowa.”

Wilson beat long-time incumbent Bruce Austin, who really is black, in the African-American district.

phillips_family-427x193Hypocrisy: Doug Phillips, married and father of eight children, has preached about his strong belief in “biblical patriarchy” over women and home-schooling. Women should not “work alongside men as their functional equals” outside the home, according to Phillips. Last week he stepped down from his position as president of Texas-based Vision Forum Ministries. Phillips wrote:

“I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”

Phillips’ ministry took in $3.3 million in 2011; the related for-profit group, Vision Forum Inc. was paid $193,176 in 2011 for “labor and services.” Phillips plans to retain ownership of the for-profit business. The photo of Phillips and his family is from Vision Forum Ministries.

Bigotry: American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer accused First Lady Michelle Obama of inviting “demons into the White House.” She hosted an event honoring the Hindu “festival of lights.” Fischer said:

“This is a counterfeit religion. It is an Eastern religion. It is, in essence, an occult religion.  It’s a counterfeit, a false alternative to Christianity.  It ultimately represents the doctrine of demons, that is what you have with Hinduism and now this is being celebrated in the White House.”

Fischer called on the people of the nation to elect a Christian president. He missed the fact that George W. Bush also celebrated the Hindu holiday.

Intolerance: After the Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated his son’s same-sex marriage “because I love him so much and didn’t want to deny him that joy,” the pastor faces a church trial with accusations that he broke his pastoral vows by performing the ceremony.  Hundreds of other Methodist ministers have rejected anti-LGBT doctrine, and some of them also face discipline. Today 50 clergy members showed support for Schaefer by presiding over a same-sex ceremony in Philadelphia, one which will not have state support because of Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality.

Stupidity: Pat Robertson has been awarded the British Stonewall “Bigot of the Year” award reserved for “an individual who has gratuitously caused hurt and offense to gay people around the world,” according to the Daily Mail. In the U.S. right-wing extremists are rejecting Robertson because he has said that the world is older than 6,000 years. He was mocked because he denied the myth about the Earth’s age because the 6,000 years came, not from the Bible, but from a book by Ireland’s Archbishop James Ussher in the seventeenth century.

Next Sunday, I’ll fill you in on how everyone knows that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. If you can’t wait, you can Google it!

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