Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some time for rest and a song about grace

My husband and I are going away for a few days in the coming week. Wednesday will be our 48th wedding anniversary. Because of that my blog will be quiet. But here is our wedding picture and a song about grace.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Truth, History, and some stories about the Jewish people UP-DATE

UP-Date see below.

History is important. It is human memories made secure by documents as well as oral reports. Secured by ancient buildings and scars, by unearthed shards, and, for Christians and Jews, by a Holy Book. There is an interesting small piece of Jewish history found in the Wall Street Journel . Written by Jerold S. Auerbach it is entitled "Remembering the Hebron Massacre: Until 1929, Jews had lived in the city for three millennia."

Here is part of the story:

"No theme is more deeply embedded in Jewish history than exile and return. The biblical exodus from Egypt to the promised land, the return from Babylonian exile, and, most recently, the establishment of the state of Israel all affirmed the enduring determination of the Jewish people to return to their homeland.

Yet another wrenching exile and return, now rarely remembered, occurred 80 years ago this week. On Aug. 23-24, 1929, the Jewish community of Hebron was exiled following a horrific pogrom. The tragedy is known as Tarpat, an acronym for its date in the Hebrew calendar. Until 1929, Jews had lived in Hebron for three millennia. There, according to Jewish tradition, Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah. It was the first parcel of land owned by the Jewish people in their promised land. Ever since, religious Jews revered Hebron as the burial site of their matriarchs and patriarchs. Conquered, massacred and expelled over the centuries, Jews always returned to this sacred place."

The story, if you read it, goes on to tell of yet another massacre and another return. The massacre almost twenty years before the 1948 birth of Israel, the return forty years later after the 1967 war.

When I read the above article I thought of a piece I read today linked to by ChurchandWorld.Com. It was at Ecumenical News International. And it is the same old story. The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Samuel Kobia, is calling, without any context, the 'occupation' of Palestine by Israel a sin.

His labeling of the Israelites as sinners, (we all are) is laid not only at the 1967 war but goes all the way back to the 1948 war, when five Arab nations attacked the new State of Israel.

According to the article, Kobia stated the "Israelis recalled 'The War of Independence' that led to the foundation of the State of Israel, for Palestinians the period would always be known as the 'Nakba' or 'catastrophe'. Many Palestinians would remember this as 'a form of 'ethnic cleansing' that saw the largest forced migration in modern history', Kobia said. "It is estimated that no less than a million people were expelled from their homes at gunpoint, civilians were massacred, hundreds of Palestinian villages deliberately destroyed, mosques and churches profaned, and convents and schools vandalised."

What a sorry half story, and because of that a false story. Truly what sinners we all are.

Thinking once again of history, of what constitutes the reality of history for the Christian. The history of the Church is where human history is touched by God. More than that it is where human history is overcome by God, by Emanuel.

This Church, the Church, the universal Church, reaches back before creation and is found in the heart and mind of God. It reaches onward through eternity, it encompasses those gone before, those dwelling on earth, those in heaven.

And then there is the particular Church. It does not matter whether Baptist or Presbyterian, etc, it is the body of Christ gathered before the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But what has this to do with history, and Israel and false stories that are called history.

Institutions are needed for various reasons. But sometimes they turn inward and in doing so create their own ideologies and from their own ideologies shape their own understanding of history. The World Council of Churches sometimes launches its own ship viewing history from its own ideology.

Kobia seemingly has not read the full and true history of that time, that time that grew out of and replaced the time of the Holocaust and all that went before it. He knows nothing of the sins of both parties, only Israel, the Jews he blames.

Where the Church confesses Christ as Lord she will confess him also Lord of history. She will not listen to the pronouncements or the historical untruths of worldly organizations and institutions. Jesus Christ is truth, may his Church know truth.

Up-Date: For extra information on Hebron: see What Happened in Hebron? by Seth Lipsky.

The author ends his story with this information and a link.

"In 1968, a group of Jews, lead by Rabbi Moshe Levinger and his family and animated by Zionist fundamentals and reverence for the patriarchs, moved back to Hebron and have been there ever since, often, it seems, to the consternation not only of the diplomats and the Arabs but even of many Israelis, some of the Jewish institutions, and of the current administration in Washington. The date on which Levinger and his followers mark the anniversary of the massacre is known by the acronym Tarpat, for the Hebrew date, which has just passed. Their community has posted to the internet a group of photos of some of those who perished and of the desecration of religious objects. A lot of things have been said about the Hebron Jews. But one thing that cannot be said is that they are prepared to abandon Hebron in the face of the kinds of danger that overwhelmed their forebears 80 years ago."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Music for worship

Some music for worship.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Charters of Israel's enemies

My husband is having eye surgery in the morning. (cataracts) I am not sure when I will get back to posting. In the mean time here is a lot of reading. It is on the StandWithUs web site. There are three things. First is the

Then the, "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement" (Hamas) and "An Open Letter. The Hizballah Program." To read all three of these go to Charters of Anti-Israel Organizations .

From the PLO there is this:
"Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it . They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self determination and sovereignty over it."

And this from the Hizballah to the Christians:

"Free yourselves from the consequences of hateful confessionalism. Banish from your hearts all fanaticism and parochialism. Open your hearts to our Call (da'wa) which we address to you. Open yourselves up to Islam where you'll find salvation and happiness upon earth and in the hereafter. We extend this invitation also to all the oppressed among the non-Muslims. As for those who belong to Islam only formally, we exhort them to adhere to Islam in religious practice and to renounce all fanaticisms which are rejected by our religion." (My emphasis)

And under The Necessity for the Destruction of Israel*:

"Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated."

From the Hamas charter:

"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).


Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Moslem land. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Moslem, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband's permission, and so does the slave: without his master's permission.


They [The Zionist or Jews]took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries an instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere,without having their finger in it."

These are the enemies that Israel faces. You may think that no one would believe any of these lies but recently some dear friends of mine brought me some articles with some ideas in it just like this. They were afraid it was true. Weep and pray for the Jewish people.

Here is a video that fits well with the above words. Please feel free to comment I may however, be late in publishing your comment but I will do so.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A new Great Granddaughter! UP-Date picture

A new Great Grandchild arrived this morning at 1:44 AM. Luna Violet Vargas is seven lb., 10 oz. and 19 inches long.

Along with her Mom and Dad she will be staying with us for at least the next week. What sweet times.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anna Baltzer, the DVD of Steadfast Hope and the International Solidarity Movement

Anna Baltzer participates in the DVD that comes with the publication Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace. The DVD is now on the web site of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in You-Tube video segments. This is a DVD made up of different film clips.

“Life in Occupied Palestine,” chapter three, is the segment that features Baltzer.

I am interested in Baltzer for several reasons. The first reason is that when I did research on the computer to prove that Dr. Mary Mikhael's blood libel story, told in her workshop, at the Presbyterian Women’s Gathering, was fraudulent, Baltzer’s blog came up with the original story and then with a different story that was just as fraudulent as the first.

And rather than print a retraction, as the original story teller did, she simply changed the names, place and actions. She eventually did admit the first story was untrue but in a rather non-caring manner stating that there was a miscommunication but still claiming the second story. The posting about encountering the libel story is here, The reason I left Dr. Mikhael's workshop on's because of the Jewish people.

The next reason I am interested in Baltzer is because she has had training and connections with the International Solidarity Movement. Baltzer is a member of the International Women’s Peace Service and for some of the IWPS events the ISM provides training. And in fact, the women’s group in their application pact state, “IWPS supports and is part of the loose network that calls itself ISM and will provide on the spot help and support to ISM activists.”

The ISM is a far left group working for the Palestinian cause. I first became aware of ISM when writing about the terrible anti-Semitic protests in the United States during the last Israel/Gaza conflict.

My interest here is with the kind of influence the ISM has on its trainees and the organizations connected to it. They do have a statement at their Seattle location, Racism Against Jews Is Not Acceptable and it is put that way because they refuse to use the term anti-Semitism. They write:

“Anti-Semitic” is the common adjective for prejudice against Jews, but the terms "anti-Semitism" and "anti-Semitic" can be misleading. While historically understood to refer to prejudice against Jews, the terms actually promote an outmoded use of racial categories. Under that terminology, Arabs are also Semitic people. Since for the moment we are focusing on prejudice against Jews, we prefer in this context the more precise term “anti-Jewish".

This of course means they have divorced Zionism and the State of Israel from the Jewish people. As they put it we “reject the false identification of Zionism with the Jewish people of the world” and “We reject the false identification of the State of Israel with the Jewish people of the world.”

The ISM movement then goes on to address control of the media and the US Government.
They first make a point, thankfully, of discounting some of the more egregious myths of the last few centuries including the Protocols’ of the Elders of Zion, and other conspiracy theories. And yet they write:

“The American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful pro-Israel lobby, but it is not a Jewish lobby: it does not lobby for the Jewish people of the world, but for the State of Israel. Furthermore, there are several other powerful factions that pressure the US government to support the Israeli government, such as right-wing Christian groups (many of which give funding to AIPAC) and the Aerospace Industry Association (AIA).”

The authors of this publication also insist that the holocaust did happen and the Jewish people were persecuted through the ages, however, they write:

“This history of persecution in no way justifies the State of Israel's persecution of non-Jews, but the history itself is not made up, and persons promoting justice do themselves no service by trying to ignore or minimize it.

The State of Israel, on the other hand, has systematically invented a history for itself, just as many nation-states have done, in which it is simultaneously victim and victor against overwhelming odds. The well-documented truth of the six million Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust is exploited by some Israelis to justify the policy of oppression against Palestinians. We have every reason to reject this practice and the falsehoods of Israeli history, but we must not let that lead us into underestimating or denigrating the appalling worldwide history of persecution of Jewish people.”

What is actually going on in the paper, besides a redefinition of terms, is a rending of the Jewish people from their identity and from their sense of well being. There is a lack of knowledge or understanding of how much the Jewish people around the world identify with Israel.

And as usual there is failure to acknowledge the total history and problems connected with the Middle East. But the worst part of the paper is the way concepts and words are manipulated in order to give the members of this organization the right to indulge in anti-Semitism.

A small paper put out by StandWithUs, on Anna Baltzer is helpful.
Also see-“
Anna Baltzer Out of the Middle East.”

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Believing in God: why? Tim Keller

This is so excellent I want to share it for the weekend. It is Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. It is about the reasons for believing in God. The question and answer part at the end is very interesting.

From the site: "Tim Keller visits Google's Mountain View, CA, headquarters to discuss his book, "The Reason for God." This event took place on March 5, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series." There is some problem at first with short pauses. That will go away after a while.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A strange tale about the Yemeni Jews as told by the Electronic Intifada

In one of my earlier postings on the Israel/Palestine Mission Network and their publication Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace, I pointed out that the authors had suggested the news outlet Electronic Intifada as an alternative to mainline news. They did this because they believe that the news in the United States is too influenced or controlled by Jewish groups in the United States.

Just recently, August 13, 2009, the Electronic Intifada posted an article “
JNF [Jewish National Fund] presence in S. America perpetuates Palestine injustice.” The article is intended to be a protest that purports that JNF has over many years gathered funds to build recreational areas and forests to cover over Palestinian villages that Israel razed. It is also a protest that JNF have, at these sites, built monuments to various South American patriots.

Besides my thought that perhaps JNF is simply creating recreational areas and forests for the welfare of others,
[1] there are several other peculiar features in the article that I found objectionable, but this paragraph caught my attention immediately:

“Moshav (the Zionist term for village) Eshtaol, built on the ruins of Ishwa, is a village of immigrants from Yemen, who were transferred by the Zionist movement to Palestine right after the 1948 ethnic cleansing. In the transfer camp in Sana, Yemen's capital, the Zionist Agency looted more then [sic] 50 tons of the Yemeni Jewish community's ancient sacred books and manuscripts and many tons of goldsmithing, a craft in which they specialized. In the transfer camp, children were kidnapped and were delivered to European Jewish families for adoption. Once in Moshav Eshtaol, and in the neighboring Moshav, Yishi, which has an identical story, the community succeeded in restoring a part of life as it was in Yemen.”

To even begin to unravel this paragraph is a major job. Of course the first thought is that the reference to ethnic cleansing is totally false. This is about the 1948 war when many Arab nations attacked the new State of Israel.

Also the camp from which the Yemeni Jews were airlifted was Hashed, and was in a remote area. It was not Sana.
Sana is the place the last of the contemporary Yemeni Jews have been moved to since the latest atrocities have been committed against the small community. They are preparing to leave Yemen.

There are some references to a mystery that might entail kidnapped children, but in Israel not in any transfer camp. And the speculation on this has nothing to do with Israel as a nation. The idea that Israelis stole the Yemeni Jewish “community's ancient sacred books and manuscripts and many tons of goldsmithing,” has no reference at all.

The truth of the matter is that the main reason the Yemeni Jews left Yemen was because of
physical attacks against the Jewish Community in Yemen after Israel became a nation.

Another interesting part of this article is the interconnection between the new Socialist countries in South America, some of who are pushing anti-Semitism and Socialist movements connected to the Palestinian radicals. This appeal to South America on behalf of the Palestinians is, with the emphasis on both the monuments to South American patriots and the focus on a people who might be considered a small tribal group in opposition to the whole of Israel, a farce.

The Electronic Intifada is not a good source of news about the Middle East. It is a propaganda tool, and that is too bad. Perhaps if the article had been about the tribulations the small remaining community in Yemen is experiencing because of militant Islam and how the Yemeni Jews might be helped that would have real meaning.

As a conclusion I am placing one of the video’s I recently placed on my site about the Jewish people exiled from all of the Arab countries after 1948. I am placing the one that just slightly into the film shows the rescue of the Yemeni Jews. It uses old film clips which makes it very interesting. (The first two people speaking are an exiled Iraqi Jew and one from Egypt.)

1. [1] It should be noted that monuments of South American heroes are there because it was South American countries who gave the funds for the forests. For instance see, Latin America
Latin America by Benno Weiser at Welcome to AJC Archives

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Words to a Jewish college student: Treating him like he is not a "real" person? !!

More than thirty years ago, when I was part of a church that had become a safe haven for young people finding Christ during the hippy years, I remember a powerful scene at a Saturday night concert. One young man who had embraced Jesus but kept slipping away into the drug scene had the attention of the church pastor.

The pastor had his arms wrapped around the young man in a tight embrace and was talking to him. From my distance he was seemingly pleading with him. I could easily imagine him saying “I will not let you go.” Meaning I will not let you keep slipping away into such darkness.

God speaks that to our lives. Jesus promises that to his people. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28) That is our promise from God and it includes discipline within the grace.

I feel that way about the subject I have been writing on for the last several weeks, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network and their publication Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace, which I have shown to be anti-Semitic. I will explain. God intends justice, peace and fulfillment for both the Jewish people and the Palestinians.

He is sovereign, his plans and purposes will be accomplished. But who will rise up and who will fall because of their stance toward that which belongs to the Lord?

I will not let go because I see the injustice of telling lies to accomplish our own agenda, our own vision of justice. I will not let go because this is my denomination and I, as well as everyone else who is PCUSA, is responsible for our church’s attitude toward the Jewish people.

As I was writing an answer to someone’s comment yesterday, I had the booklet Steadfast Hope open and my eyes saw something I had marked much earlier. This is from the section “Biblical Israel and the Modern Political State of Israel”:

“Some Jews recognize the threat posed by Christian Zionism’s brand of allegiance to Israel. Israel journalist Gershom Gorenberg, in a 60 Minutes interview on October 12, 2002, warns that ‘Christian Zionists do not see Jews as real people but as actors in their religious drama, where two-thirds of Jews are killed in one act, and the remainder must convert to Christianity.’”

This is how that section ends. When I read that I thought of the chapter on question 10 in Victor Styrsky’s book Honest to God: Christian Zionists Confront 10 Questions Jews Need Answered.

The last question is “What is your deepest prayer for the Jewish People? In the last part of that chapter under the section, ‘You Are A Jew!’ there is a marvelous interchange of words between Styrsky and a Jewish college student. Hopefully he will forgive me if I quote the whole section here:

“’Pastor Victor,’ the Jewish college student addressed me as he stood.

‘It is very, very hard to be a Jew on any college campus and to try and stand for Israel,’ he bemoaned a painful truth.

My response was immediate, unprepared, and seemed to fly out of my mouth like a frightened dove from a thicket.

‘YOU ARE A JEW!!’ I exclaimed with tears filling my eyes. ‘You are the first born of HaShem! [the name-a substitute for using the name of God when not in worship] Yours is the adoption as sons, the Divine Glory, the covenants, the receiving of the Law, the Temple worship and the promises! (Romans 9:3-5)

‘Be strong, be encouraged, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged: for ‘HaShem your God is with you wherever you go!’ (Joshua 1:9)

‘You are a Jew, and if you can’t make it to synagogue yet, your rabbis will understand- but you have got to read your Bible. Until you do, you don’t fully know who you are, nor do you know the power of your God!

‘You must read the account of creation and your heritage in God’s promise to Abraham recorded in the book of Genesis, your birth as a slave-child nation, and your redemption in the book of Exodus.

You might want to skip Leviticus for a while-and nobody really likes math, so leave the Book of Numbers until you connect with a rabbi, but you must also study the Prophets and the Writings!

‘Read your Bible, seek the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and be Jews. That is what you need to do on your college campuses.’"

Enough said!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some ramblings about Steadfast Hope and steadfast hope for a Christian

So what does steadfast hope mean? There is a great chapter in the New Testament that deals with a hope that is steadfast. That is Hebrews 6:19-20: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”

This hope has to do with our union with Jesus Christ and it is based in the truthfulness of God’s Word. As John Calvin, writing about this verse, looks at the simile ‘anchor’ and notes how a ship is held in the midst of rough seas by letting down the anchor into the darkness of the ocean. But he concludes as we all must, that sometimes even with that physical anchor the ship is not held. But he goes on to write of the sureness of God and His Word.

“There is this difference, that an anchor is cast down on the sea because there is solid ground at the bottom, but our hope rises and flies aloft because it finds nothing to stand on in this world. It cannot rely on created things, but finds rest in God alone. Just as the cable on which the anchor hangs joins the ship itself to the ground through a long dark gulf, so the truth of God is a chain for binding us to Himself, so that no distance of place and no darkness may hinder us from cleaving to Him. When we are bound in this way to God, even though we have to contend with continual storms, we are safe from the danger of shipwreck. That is why he says that the anchor is sure and steadfast. It is possible for an anchor to be torn out or for a cable to break or a ship to be broken in pieces by the violence of the waves. But the power of God to support us is quite different, as is also the strength of hope and the firmness of His Word.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews, 1& 2nd Peter, Eerdmans)

So united with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection and anchored in the hope and truthfulness of God’s word, how do we deal with truth? Once again, only through His Word, Psalm’s 119 tells us that His Word “is a lamp” and a “light” for our feet and our path.

Truthfulness is a part of the Christian's orders. It belongs to the hope we are given. Steadfast hope belongs to those who follow Christ, but it carries all kinds of interesting attributes. Walking in hope we walk outside of darkness, we walk away from lies. We insist on truthfulness.

We belong to a city and a Lord which excludes among other sins, the sins of lying. Yes, we enter, only because of the righteousness of Christ, but we are changed and forgiven to walk in good works as Paul says in Ephesians: “for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” ( 8:8-10)

Pulling this all together with what I have been writing about the last few weeks, our steadfast hope in Jesus Christ prohibits the use of anti-Semitism because it is basically founded on a lie. In this case many lies about the Jewish people. And we are put in an opposing position to the Lord of the Church if we attempt good works or our own notion of social justice by means of lies.

Indeed when we are silent in the face of such lies we also participate in the lies. I pray the Church as a whole will speak out against the anti-Semitism being pushed and pursued among us. Faithfulness has many twists and turns that we often do not envision as we walk with Christ. But we all are called to faithfulness.

Let us come back to Hebrews, to chapter eleven. That is the great faith chapter which lifts up, not the saints of the New Testament, but the saints of the Hebrew Bible. And some do not realize this but even some saints that existed at the time of the Maccabees.

If the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was to accept the writings of the author, Sand, used in the booklet Steadfast Hope to discredit the ancestry of the Jewish people, we would find our bible text gone. The faith chapter of Hebrews would be meaningless because for Sand, and undoubtedly for the Israel/Palestine Mission Network leadership who used him, the saints listed in that chapter never existed.

I prefer to listen to David Torrance brother of James and Thomas Torrance. In A Passion for Christ: The Vision that Ignites Ministry,” in the chapter , “The Mission of Christians and Jews,” he writes of five ways God uses the Jewish people to confront the nations of the world. Number one is:

“Their remarkable preservation through history, scattered as they have been across the world and persecuted time and again in most horrific ways, points to the miraculous hand of God who set them apart for himself and promised, ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me’ (Jer 31:36). Their preservation points to the hand of God.”

We, as a church, are treading on ground that is infused with God’s blessings and promises as well as his wrath. We are reaching out to touch, with untruthful words, God’s purposes in history.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A very helpful document: "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism" on a PCUSA site

There is a PCUSA web site, Ecumenical & InterfaithNetwork - PCUSA which includes a very helpful section. This is under:

Middle East peace and American interfaith relationships

"The Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 requires the State Department to document and combat acts of anti-Semitism. Its report to Congress,
Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism, describes as a new form of anti-Semitism the "criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that -- whether intentionally or unintentionally -- has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel's perceived faults to its Jewish character." The American Jewish Committee prepared a paper for the Obama transition team, Confronting International Anti-Semitism: An Agenda for the New Administration. As part of its efforts to avoid repetition of the identification of Zionism as racism, such as occurred at the 2001 UN conference against racism in Durban, the AJC has released The Durban Diaries."

The first link,
Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism, is a pdf document prepared by The United States Department of State which explores contemporary anti-Semitism. That includes anti-Zionism. I am very thankful that a PCUSA site is linked to this document and hope it is used more widely.

It documents anti-Semitism in all countries including various Arab nations. The authors not only look at classic anti-Semitism but at several new forms of anti semitism. The newer forms include anti-Zionism and a way of demeaning Israel that also demeans all of the Jewish people.

This is the statement:

"Anti-Semitism has proven to be an adaptive phenomenon. New forms of anti-Semitism have evolved. They often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism. However, the distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that—whether intentionally or unintentionally—has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character."

Beneath this is a helpful list:

  • "Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews • worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.…

  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel. "

Reading this document would help members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) understand why the booklet, Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace, produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network is anti-Semitic.

Although this booklet, Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism, is eighty pages long I highly recommend down loading and reading it. It gives a complete picture of world-wide anti-Semitism, including some awful cartoons drawn by radical Islamic cartoonist. The Ecumenical & InterfaithNetwork - PCUSA should be thanked for placing this document on their site.

If you are trying to find the page I have linked to first go to the home of the Ecumenical & InterFaithNetwork-PCUSA. then click on InterFaith Relations on the side. On that page there is a box toward the bottom where you can see Middle East Peace under specific issues. Click on that and scroll down.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh ...and about Christian Zionism!

Oh …and about Christian Zionism!

A book review by Viola Larson

Honest to God: Christian Zionists Confront 10 Questions Jews Need Answered

By Victor L. Styrsky, Artzy Books 2009, 226 pages

In a recent letter to the Editor on
ChurchandWorld.Com Neil Cowling attempting to use the Left Behind novels wrote of Christian Zionism, it “is in the final analysis anti-semitic since in that theology the Jews are either to be annihilated or converted.”

A publication, Christian Zionism produced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) defines it as a religious and political movement and “a predominantly American movement that believes that the modern state of Israel is the catalyst for the end times, the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and the return of Jesus with final judgment.”

The author’s of Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace, use the Presbyterian definition above without quote marks, but they also write:

Televangelist John Hagee has recently developed a lobbying organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which is well on its way to achieving its stated goal of having Christian Zionist offices and networks in every state of the union.CUFI fully supports the work of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization.

They go on to write, “Christian Zionism distorts Christian theology by omitting Jesus command to love our enemies and seek peace based on justice.”

Right in the midst of reading all of this material who should I meet on Facebook through a mutual friend who attends my church but the California Director of CUFI. I noticed him because I was writing on anti-Semitism and he was writing about his book Honest to God: Christian Zionists Confront 10 Questions Jews Need Answered. I thought that just might be a book that would answer a few questions for Presbyterians too. I could not possibly know how many faithful answers would be laid open for me to explore? Nor could I know how helpful parts of it would be.

The fun part of this book is that Styrsky lives not far from my neighborhood among a Pakistani community. Recently he put up photos of himself, his wife and his neighbors enjoying each other’s fellowship. Some of the children call him grandpa. As I read the book, places and people’s way of thinking are familiar. When he refers to the downtown Crest Theater or that liberal church I know where and what he is saying.

So, the questions and the answers? One interesting chapter is, “What is your real agenda in reaching out to the Jews?”In answering an accusation that Christian Zionists are helping Israel so that Jesus can return or prophecy be fulfilled, Styrsky writes:

Evangelicals have no eschatological teaching (end of days theology) that requires all Jews to be back in the land of Israel for a Messianic visitation. Neither do evangelical Christians believe that there is anything we can do to hasten the return(or first visit, as my Jewish friends believe) of Messiah.
1) A date for the event has already been secured.
2) Only God the Father knows the time.
3) The coming of Messiah is imminent.

In another, extremely, important chapter, “Does the Christian community have the patience for us?” Styrsky offers 22 pages of the historical persecution of the Jews by Christians. He does this by dates, documents and quotes and he gives explanations for some important events and ideas such as the Crusaders, blood libel, profaning the host, the Black Death and pogroms.

In one chapter he writes about loving enemies, “You love your enemies? How can you love the terrorist that are killing our children in Israel?" Styrsky truly struggles with this question and I appreciate that. First he writes about the Islamic community he lives in and how they all love one another. He also looks at some verses in scripture that show Jesus’ teaching about those who do evil including Luke 17:1-2, where Jesus states that it would be better for someone to have a millstone about their neck and be thrown in the sea then for them to cause one of “these little ones” to stumble.

Styrsky also lists and describes all the enemies of Israel including Hezbollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His answer to the question, first:

A root of bitterness toward anyone who has sinned against you will eventually devour you from the inside out. Refusing to forgive someone and hoping for their demise is like drinking poison—and hoping they die. There are times when forgiving simply means releasing our demands for vengeance and committing the guilty party into the hands of God and his judgments. (203)

And the final answer:

Followers of the New Testament are instructed to love our enemies. We are also taught, ‘Our love must be sincere and we must abhor evil.’ I abhor the wicked ideology and actions of the militant Islamic movement. When the last deed of a person’s life is a suicide attack upon innocent men, women, and children; I believe God abhors both the act and the person committing it and so do I.

A lot of the book covers ways that Christians should respond to their Jewish neighbors and friends. For me this is truly the best part of the book. Styrsky writes about his first one on one meeting with Avraham (Avi) Alpert the cantor of Sacramento’s Mosaic Law Congregation. They drink coffee at Starbucks. He writes of how they use the Hebrew Bible to talk about what the Jewish people believe and about Jesus also.

I know I have learned a lot about how to be a better friend to the Jewish people by reading this book. And I have also learned that Christian Zionists show love in ways that are truly biblical.

Do I disagree with any of the book? Of course. I feel it lacks a complete understanding of amillennialists. (But then so does some of the Presbyterian material which is meant to focus on Christian Zionism.) And some of the differences in belief about salvation could have been better clarified. There are other disagreements but they do not damage the main points of the book even for a reformed Christian.

This is the book we need to understand the damage Christians have done to the Jewish people. It answers the questions about why they are afraid of movies about the crucifixion, about why they are so insistent on a “Jewish” state, about why we have turned them away from the grace we are meant to live in. I recommend that Presbyterian (U.S.A.) members, in particular, read this book. Although meant for the Jewish people, it was written for our time and our place.

The fruit of following Jesus

I got up this morning to find this video on face book, thanks to Dave Hollandsworth who grew up around the Southern California Calvary Chapel and has posted hundreds of pictures of the musicians of those days. When my family first started to Ware House Ministries in Sacramento one of the first concerts we attended on a Saturday night was a Chuck Girard concert.

His soft melodic music simply pulled everyone before the throne and led us into worship. The concert did not end until very late in the evening. This video reminds me of the fruits of our following Jesus.

That time was a time of revival that was truly God’s doing and mostly among the hippy generation. I have written about it in several places including here,
Hail Him the Lord of Years, and Lord of many revivals and Hail Him the Lord of Years, and Lord of many revivals 2.

I pray that God will renew again but this time in the mainline denominations. Here is the video it includes Chuck Girard’s daughters and granddaughters. (The lady at the piano is referring to Church Smith the pastor at Calvary Chapel.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Holy is the Lamb!

For the weekend a great worship video. For those interested you should visit beanscot on You Tube. This person has a wonderful gift of putting pictures and music together.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A movie, the Presbyterian Middle East Study Team and the Israel/Palestine Mission Network

As I stated in my last posting it is amazing what one can find on the internet.

Hunting around for internet information on Israel and Palestine I discovered this film titled “Occupation 101,” by Sufyan Omeish and Abdallah Omeish. It, like Steadfast Hope, the booklet published by Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is full of misinformation and lies about the State of Israel and Jewish history.

For instant, Camera: the
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America writes:

“A succession of film clips depict oppression in Northern Ireland, in Algeria, against black civil rights marchers in America and South Africa. Words of righteous indignation by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are juxtaposed with these scenes of violence. This culminates in footage of Israeli forces assaulting — without a hint of context — stone-throwing Palestinian protesters. The viewer is led to see the Palestinian cause as connected to a worldwide struggle for civil rights. But the viewer is being fed a lie, because the concept of equality and coexistence championed by civil rights leaders in South Africa and America is inconsistent with the Palestinian leaders' exhortations to violence.”

The film uses many interviews including several Jewish ones, which is an absurdity, since the list also includes one person,
William Baker, who has ties to neo-Nazi groups.

As Camera puts it:

“Most disturbing was the segment featuring pro-Palestinian Christian activists which contained classic anti-Jewish undertones and crucifixion imagery. These activists blame Israel for the disappearing Christian presence in the Holy land, notwithstanding the ongoing attacks by Palestinian Muslims against Palestinian Christians. William Baker, head of Christians and Muslims for Peace, asserts the "first converts to the teachings of Jesus were Palestinians." The first converts to Christianity were, of course, Jews, just as Jesus himself was Jewish, along with most of his close associates and early followers.

Baker’s appearance in the film is noteworthy. He was expelled from the congregation of Dr. Robert Schuller, founder and head of Crystal Cathedral in Gardengrove, CA after his association with groups espousing anti-Semitic views was revealed. An exposée by Stan Brin in the
Orange County Weekly (Feb. 13, 2002) details Baker’s connections with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi organizations — for example, he chaired the neo-Nazi Populist Party in 1984 — and also alleges that Baker’s academic pedigree is fake.” (emphasis mine)

Another interesting part of Occupation, 101 is that
Douglas Dicks, who is “the regional liaison for the PC(USA) in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem,” is also one of those interviewed.

Dicks is also an advisor to the
Middle East Study Team who will present recommendations to the 2010 General Assembly. As pointed out on the web site of the Presbyterian Office of the General Assembly the “The team is assisted in its task, as needed, by drawing on the resources of staff most familiar with the historic relations with people in the region, issues and dynamics of the conflict and PC(USA)’s wide range of policies relative to the mandated study.”

Since the booklet, Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace, in an anti-Semitic tirade, implies that most present day Jews are not connected to the ancient Israelites, that the Jewish people control the media in the United States and that the Israelis committed ethnic cleansing it is not a surprise that Dicks has purportedly praised the booklet, suggesting that although some in the church may not like it, he believes “it represents the most up-to-date resource that may be able to help educate Presbyterians and others about the current realities in Israel/Palestine.”

A friend of mine has suggested that we should all be out in the street protesting such anti-Christian anti-Semitism. I agree.

But my biggest concern is that we have a seemingly official Presbyterian organization, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, apparently, accountable to no one, pushing such hateful rhetoric. (The unaccountability of Israel/Palestine Mission Network was confirmed to me by Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly Council, in an e-mail.) And not only that, we have a Middle East Study Team whose report will come to the 2010 General Assembly after having been influenced by an advisor who believes and commends the anti-Semitism of the publication Steadfast Hope.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Anti-Semitism, the Israel Lobby and Israel/Palestine Mission Network

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. Sometimes, without intending to. Yesterday trying to find something from an old news site, (I think it is old) of the San Francisco Presbyterian Peace Makers, I was looking under both Israel/Palestine and then the name Venezuela caught my attention and since I have written on dictator Hugo Chavez I clicked on it.

One of the two choices after that was The first article I found was “Community Media: The Thriving Voice of the Venezuelan People.” The article was about how awful the private/commercial media was and how the many local media outlets of the people are far better. That was on July 31. Today, August 3, on the regular news and on the are articles about how Chavez has taken over all of the private media. This is Marxism at its best.

Today, I once again was reading Steadfast Hope, the new publication put out by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They also have some things to say about the media, but in this case it is the media in the United States which they believe is controlled by the “Israel Lobby.” You know it’s that old story that Henry Ford told in “The International Jew.” Ford wrote:

“All leading news agencies in America are Jew controlled. Jews in charge of newspapers adopt the policy of “a slurring headline a day.” Jews in charge of the newsboys on the streets (all the street concerns are pre-empted by Jewish ‘padrones’ who permit only their own boys to sell) give orders to emphasize certain news in their street cries—“a new yell against him every day.’ The whole campaign against the critic of Jewry, whoever he may be, is keyed to the threat, ‘Watch us get him.’”

So how is this story in Steadfast Hope any different? :

“Skewed coverage is no accident, writes Walter Rodgers, Jerusalem bureau chief for CNN from 1995 to 2000. ‘At the height of the second Palestinian intifada, Richard Griffiths, the editorial director of CNN, admonished me, ‘You have to remember, Walt, there are two standards of reporting at CNN, one for Israel, and the other for the rest of the world.’ Like many in US news organizations responsible for the Middle East coverage at that time, Griffiths had just taken a terrible beating from Jewish-American pressure groups as well as from his own avowedly pro-Israel management.”

And who do the author’s of Steadfast Hope and the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. recommend for truthful news. The Electronic Intifada; they write “is an influential, respected internet source of news and analysis from a Palestinian perspective.”

There is an opinion piece on the Electronic Intifada entitled, “
Why Israel won't survive.” In it the author states such things as:

“True, in terms of ability to murder and destroy, Israel is unmatched. But Israel's problem is not, as its propaganda insists, "terrorism" to be defeated by sufficient application of high explosives. Its problem is legitimacy, or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it. Israel simply cannot bomb its way to legitimacy.Israel was founded as a "Jewish state" through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's non-Jewish majority Arab population. It has been maintained in existence only through Western support and constant use of violence to prevent the surviving indigenous population from exercising political rights within the country, or returning from forced exile.”

There is just no other way to put it. Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is involved in rabid anti-Semitism. From insisting that those Jewish people who have returned to their ancient homeland are not really Jewish in their ancestry to insisting that the Israel Lobby and/or Jewish groups in America are controlling the media this organization that bears the name Presbyterian is treading where other anti-semites have trod before. And I, for one do not want to travel with them. I pray that our leadership will listen and do something about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s seeming hatred of Israel and the Jewish people.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Jewish People, hatred and a State

Bob Campbell, Will Spotts and Aric Clark, toward the end of the comments on my post, My answer to the Israel/Palestine Mission Network's E-mail, have edged the conversation toward what I believe is the most important part of the conversation about the Mideast and the State of Israel. That is, is it important for there to be a Jewish State for the Jewish people? Both Will and Bob believe that there must be a Jewish State. Bob does so with a personal emphatic insistence since his wife is “genetically half Jewish” and therefore so are his children. In the hypothetical situation of horrific anti-Semitism where would they go without a Jewish State?

Aric on the other hand writes, “I actually do think the idea of Israel as a "Jewish" state is a mistake. Only because I think that the best model of governance is secular and geographic rather than religious or ethnic.” He goes on to state, “Right or wrong, for better or for worse - much of the objection of the Arabs to Israel is and has always been that it was a western intrusion in their land for the sake of establishing a ‘Jewish nation.’” Indeed!

That is exactly the problem, and it was what prompted The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to include the anti-Semitic statement that most of the people who came to Israel from European countries were descendants of converts to Judaism and not related to the people of ancient Israel in their booklet Steadfast Hope. (I have proved in another posting that this is both untrue and anti-Semitic.)

The concern about Israel as a Jewish State was what prompted the half question to me in the e-mail sent to answer my question about the blatant anti-Semitic quote. That is that they assumed that my questions to IPMN were not an attempt to reduce conversations about Israel and Palestine “to an argument about genetic purity.”

That is indeed the real question troubling the nations around Israel and further afield. And might I say troubling some people in mainline Churches. And truthfully it has nothing to do with Judaism but instead with “the Jews.” That is, and there is no other way to put it, heartless, cold, anti-Christian anti-Semitism.

The State of Israel was envisioned by secular Jews to be a safe haven for the Jewish people. No more exiles from Spain or England. No more pogroms in Russia or Eastern Europe. No more fanatical lies in France. No more killings of millions in Germany and elsewhere.

No more sitting home in the United States as protesters walk down your street with signs suggesting that there should be bigger ovens. (For an example of this see
Anti-Semitism among those who march and protest Update and read comment by Allyson Rowen Taylor, Americans Against Hate Speech and Anti Semitism.)

So the only way the more radical Muslims, and some organizations within the mainline Churches including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be happy with a state called Israel is if that name is not equated with the Jewish people. And this is where the whole matter ends, on a religious foundation.

Because then one has to ask why? And for a Christian, and I am one of those, the question can only be answered with a religious answer. If you had asked the British and French, the Germans or the Russians, the Polish or even the Silver Shirts in America
[2] before World War II they would have each had a different answer but like Hitler and all anti-Semites before him and after they would be based on conspiracy theories and lies. So why this hatred?

Why shouldn’t there be a Jewish nation? Karl Barth offered several reasons for the hatred. One is that the Jew “pays for the fact that he is the elect of God.” We all look on them knowing that they are the elect and yet they are sinful like all others-so we are looking in a mirror at ourselves. In all of God’s dealings with them we are reminded of our own sinfulness.

Secondly the Jewish people have spent so many years wandering and yet they have permanence. They remind us of the grace of God. As Barth writes:

“The existence of the Jews tells us that in world history there seems to be neither security nor permanent abiding place for any nation or for any individual. No wonder this idea is repugnant to us! Do we shiver at the thought that we too might be bidden to live on nothing but the grace of God?

And how painful is the other question that arises from this thought; that with all its helplessness this race is still so permanent, so enduring! Why do we dislike to be told that the Jews are the chosen people? Why does Christendom continually search for fresh proof that this is no longer true? In a word because we do not enjoy being told that the sun of free grace, by which alone we can live, shines not upon us, but upon the Jews, that it is the Jews who are elect and not the Germans, the French or the Swiss, and that in order to be chosen we must for good or ill, either be Jews or else be heart and soul on the side of the Jews. ‘Salvation is of the Jews.”

Then after speaking of Christ, the Jew “who looks down on us from the cross,” Barth draws some conclusions. Some that we need to hear:

Without any doubt the Jews are to this very day the chosen people of God in the same sense as they have been so from the beginning, according to the Old and New Testaments. They have the promise of God; and if we Christians from among the Gentiles have it too, then it is only as those chosen with them, as guests in their house, as new wood grafted on to their old tree. The Christian community exists in the same way as the Jews; miraculously sustained throughout the years, it too is a people of strangers; and just as the anti-semites are offended by the Jews, so the Christian community will necessarily arouse the same feelings.”

So from all hatred the Jewish people need a State. A State that is Jewish.

[1] My answer to the Israel/Palestine Mission Network's E-mail
[2] See-James Ridgeway, Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1990), 45.