Saturday, October 31, 2009

For Reformation Sunday

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, But the righteous man shall live by faith."(Romans 1:16-17)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Longing for Jerusalem, waiting for truth, praying for remorse

The false historical views of Shlomo Sand and the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

This is a return to my concern with the history of the Jewish people as it is written by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Jewish people’s love of Jerusalem and their desire to return there if only for pilgrimage has been a constant through the ages. Nobel peace prize recipient, Elie Wiesel, in a speech given at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies series, stated:

“Like every Jew in those times and those places [Eastern Europe-in the early twentieth century] we had a dream, the dream of Jerusalem. I knew the name of Jerusalem before I knew the name of my town. The first lullaby that my mother would sing for me was about Jerusalem, first prayers about Jerusalem.

I remember the custom which to this day exists in many places. One is not suppose to leave a knife on the table in the Jewish home when we say grace. One reason is that we believe every table is an altar, and therefore the knife that can be used to kill cannot be part of the altar. …

The other reason is that our Sages were afraid that when we are saying grace when we come to a certain verse that speaks about Jerusalem that the person would be so over come with nostalgia and pain over the destruction of Jerusalem that …we would take a knife and plunge it in the heart. That is to tell you the place Jerusalem occupied in our mind and our soul and our life.”

Marina Benjamin author of Last Days in Babylon: The History of a Family, the Story of a Nation, when visiting Baghdad, the past home of her grandmother, experiences the continuing anti-Semitic attitudes and writes, “Jewish people will often remark that only in Israel does their feeling of Jewishness disappear, because only in Israel, where being Jewish is the pervasive norm is it inconsequential. Having visited Israel several times, I can vouch for having experienced this strange unburdening.”

Journalist, arts editor and author, Benjamin explains in her book about the Jews of Baghdad before their exile which is linked to the birth of Israel in 1948.

“…the Jews of Baghdad, a minority group that had ancient roots in the land, dating from Assyrian and Babylonian exiles of the eighth and sixth centuries BC, when much of the Jewish population of Judaea was deported. Jews had been here for more than a thousand years when the Islamic armies conquered Mesopotamia. They had flourished for centuries. From Ottoman times until the middle of the last century, Jews had dominated trade and finance in Baghdad. They enjoyed religious and communal autonomy, hobnobbed with tribal dignitaries and government officials, and in every sphere of life they were conspicuous, prosperous and influential.”

She later adds this interesting bit of information: “In fact, Baghdadi Jews had been busy establishing trading posts outside Mesopotamia since the middle of the nineteenth century. Beyond England and Persia, there were pockets of Baghdadi Jews trading in Bombay and Calcutta; in Rangoon, the former capital of Burma; and in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Japan. It was from these satellite communities that the famous Sassoon and Kadoorie dynasties sprang the former responsible for a vast textile empire strung across India’s major urban centers, and the latter for founding the largest finance house in Shanghai.”

And yet, the extremely poor view of Jewish history that the booklet Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace offers destroys not only the reason for the Jewish longing for Jerusalem but also the true history of Jerusalem. The Israel/Palestine Mission Network used as their reference Shlomo Sand who recently wrote a popular history of Israel, Zionism and the Jewish People. The book is When and How was the Jewish People Invented?

I have in other articles pointed out that IPMN was using Sand’s book to infer that those Israelis that came both from Europe and the Arab countries to Israel were not the descendents of the ancient Israelites. This anti-Semitic idea was welcomed by the IPMN because they hoped to destroy any “theological claim” to the Land of Israel. Quoting Sands their author writes:

“The founding narrative of the State of Israel links the modern-day Jews’ claim to the land of Israel/Palestine to their direct genealogical descent from the ancient Israelites. Recent anthropological scholarship shows that this widespread belief is very likely a myth, not historical fact. Shlomo Sand, an expert on European history at the university of Tel Aviv, and author of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? posits that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later. Thus, he argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the ancient land of Israel.”

The book by Sand is now being published in English under the title, The Invention of the Jewish People, and there are new critical reviews of the book. One of the reviews is entitled “Inventing Israel: Historian Shlomo Sand argues that ‘Jewish peoplehood’ is a myth.” It is written by Evan R. Goldstein. He begins the review:

“The key assumptions about Israel and the Jews are indelible. Forced from Jerusalem into exile, the Jews dispersed throughout the world, always remaining attached to their ancient homeland. Psalmists wept when they remembered Zion. A people were sustained by an unflagging determination to return to their native soil. ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ The triumph of Zionism—the founding of Israel—is the fulfillment of that ancient vow. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states it plainly: “Eretz Yisrael was the birthplace of the Jewish people… After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”

Now suppose that none of it is true.”

Goldstein explains that Sand denies all of the above Jewish history. He also shows how Sand connects the European Jew to “Turkic Khazars” and the Arab Jews to “North African Berbers.”

Goldstein also writes:

"There is, perhaps, a precedent for this type of work. In 1976, the anti-Communist writer Arthur Koestler published The Thirteenth Tribe, a tendentious little book to which Sand owes a great intellectual debt. Koestler argued that the Jews of Eastern Europe are the descendants of Khazars, a Turkic people who dominated the Russian steppes from the mid-7th century to the beginning of the second millennium. Around 740, the ruling elite of Khazaria converted to Judaism. Koestler speculated that after the collapse of Khazaria those converts drifted westward into Poland, forming the nucleus of Eastern European Jewry. Lacerated by critics, Koestler’s book was nonetheless propelled onto the best-seller list for a few weeks. “Today,” Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, told me, “The Thirteenth Tribe is a combination of discredited and forgotten.

But Koestler and the Khazar theory he advanced lives on in the fever swamps of the white nationalist movement, where Sand’s ideas have already stirred some interest. ‘Sand is not publishing this book at a dignified conference in Bern at which scholars of the Middle East debate the origins of the Jews,’ said Goldberg, also a Tablet Magazine contributing editor. ‘He is dropping manufactured facts into a world that in many cases is ready, willing, and happy to believe the absolute worst conspiracy theories about Jews and to use those conspiracy theories to justify physically hurting Jews.’ Goldberg views The Invention of the Jewish People as part of a growing body of work designed not only to discredit the idea of Jewish nationalism, but also the idea of Jews themselves. ‘It is nothing new,” he added, ‘We survived Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe; we can survive this.’”

In my first posting on Steadfast Hope I also wrote on the connection of Sand's strange historical ideas and their similarity and use by extreme Racists groups. That posting is, Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel?.

But let me say again that within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) this is a tremendous problem. That we have an official organization, Israel/Palestine Mission Network, which is accountable to no one, that is offering the general public as well as Christians such garbage is outrageous. It is sin. As a Christian and an Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I am dismayed that no one in leadership is speaking up against such anti-Semitic diatribe. And I am still waiting, praying and writing. I will not cease

Another Book Review: by Goldstein-"Where Do Jews Come From?"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News as Propaganda: about Israel, the Islamic Movement & the IPMN

On October the 13th I posted an article, Bad links posted at Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. The next day I posted, More on the bad links that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) posted but by a different author which was a link to an excellent article at Camera.

The article, Presbyterian Peacemakers Promote Hezbollah Website and Anti-Israel Incitement was written by Dexter Van Zile. He hones in on the false rumors being pushed by various Islamic sects, as well as the IPMN, that Israel is trying to take over the Haram Al-Sharif Mosque.

There were also rumors that the Israeli government was trying to burrow under the Aqsa Mosque at the Temple Mount which would destroy it. And in fact one of the articles that IPMN linked to is
Al-Aqsa Foundation: A New Israeli Tunnel Built under the Aqsa Mosque. The article is at The Voice of Palestine online news.

That particular article stated that “Al-Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage revealed that the Israeli occupation authorities almost finished the building of a new tunnel under the Aqsa Mosque.”

However, in contradiction to the Palestine and IPMN reports CHURCHandWORLD, yesterday, linked to a news article from Arutz Sheva, entitled, “Israel Plans Major Excavation at Western Wall,” by Samuel Sokol.

As the article points out there is an excavation going on, but not under the Aqsa Mosque. Instead it is directly under the Western Wall in order to “create an archaeological park directly underneath the area where worshippers currently stand while praying at the Kotel.” Also, “The current prayer area will remain open, supported by pillars, while a new area will be added underneath, at the level at which worshippers at the ancient Temple stood in the past.”

Sokol goes on to write that, “engineers working on the excavations explained ‘Israel's excavations do not cause harm to structures in the area.’ In fact, they explained, the excavations have improved structural stability in the Temple Mount area, as they led to discovery and strengthening of areas in which there was a danger of collapse.”

And yet several radical Islamic groups are still using rumors to incite violence and war within Jerusalem. In fact on the same Palestinian online news group that IPMN was linked to earlier , an article was added on the 25th entitled, “Hamas: The battle of Jerusalem started.” Right above the article is a picture of the Mosque and a supposed dig right beneath it. The focus of the article is that there is now nothing left for the Palestinians but to enter into war within Jerusalem against the Israelis. One paragraph states:

“For his part, Sheikh Hamed Al-Beitawi, a representative of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative council (PLC), warned the Israeli occupation of persisting in its violations against the occupied city of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, stressing that Israel opened the gates of hell when it dared to attack the Aqsa Mosque.”

Much of the unrest is being pushed by the
Islamic Movement in Israel. The Movement is a radical party that has its roots in the past with connections to the “Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al-Husseini and the Muslim Brotherhood.” The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical branch of Islam which has several political parties connected to it including Hamas. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem befriended Hitler and had plans for a final solution of the Jews in the Middle East which was curtailed by the end of the war.

The Islamic Movement is an international movement and on their site in Nigeria one can read about the problems in Israel, from the Islamic Movement’s point of view of course. One can also find links to Hezbollah, etc., etc.

My point here after traveling this far through links and sites and misleading stories is that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA is reaching into areas that are extremely radical. As I look at the sites and news articles I think I can understand a Christian group supposedly involved in mission wanting to reach these people for Jesus Christ. But no, IPMN only wants to reaffirm these groups radical thought and are undoubtedly unknowingly affirming their incitement to violence. I can only wish and pray that my denomination would drop its link to IPMN.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sit down in my kitchen and have a cup of coffee...

When waking up on the farm in Northern Missouri as a child, I would see my father putting coal into the stove to heat the small house. I would smell the coffee my mother was already making on the wood cook stove in the kitchen. And I would hear the radio playing country music, the only kind that was ever played in my childhood home.

If it was Monday morning and the weather was suitable I would soon be preparing to walk with my sister two miles up and down the hills to the one room country school we attended. If the weather was extreme we rode in an old covered buggy my father had covered with plywood. My mother would place a pan of hot coals on the floor to keep us warm. The buggy is in the background of this picture. We are standing in front of the smoke house my father and grandfather built.

My school teacher was a contradiction of ideas. We would read a Bible verse, sing hymns and she would than read to us from a book about some children in the Soviet Union who were gaining a better life because of their communist government.

But that's off my subject which is simply to start another Monday morning with joy in the Lord and some good memories of the way God has blessed. So at my invitation have a strong cup of coffee, and enjoy some good country music. I have a lot of work to do this week so it may be like this all week long.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Elie Wiesel

Friends of mine, Marita & Victor Styrsky, are having a kosher dinner with Elie Wiesel tonight. He is speaking at a celebration to honor Israel for Christians United for Israel: on Sunday night. Knowing this I began reading a speech he gave in 1971 at a conference entitled the German Church Struggle and the Holocaust. That title is also a book I have owned for many years.

But I had not read Wiesel’s chapter. It was beautiful. He is after all the author of many books, his best being Night. He is also a recipient of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize.

Most of the western world knows that Wiesel is a survivor of the Holocaust. Some know that he insists there are really no words, if you are a survivor, which can be used to describe the horror. Some know that he goes on to write and speak about what cannot be written or spoken, because it must be done.

After writing about studying with a famous Rosh Yeshiva while he was in Auschwitz and several other faithful acts of those Rabbis and Jews who endured the horror , Wiesel makes an amazing statement.

“Within the system of the concentration camp, something very strange took place. The first to give in, the first to collaborate—to save their lives—were the intellectuals, the liberals, the humanists, the professors of sociology, and the like. Because suddenly their whole concept of the universe broke down. They had nothing to lean on. Very few Communists gave in. there were some, but very few. They had their own church-like organizations—a secular church, but very well organized. They were the resisters. Even fewer to give in were the Catholic priests. There were very few priests who, when the chips were down, give in and collaborated with the torturer. Yet there were exceptions. But you could not have found one single Rabbi—I dare you—among all the kapos or among any of the others who held positions of power in the camps.”

So as a hat-tip to Marita and Victor, and as a plea to remember Israel, here is Wiesel speaking in 2008 at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
This is the Series: Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies. This is about an hour and 30 minutes and worth taking the time to listen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Politics & Christology my apologia

A friend asked me several days ago, “why was I writing on politics so much when the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) needed good Christological theology.” Good question. And sometimes I feel unfaithful, as though I haven’t been writing enough about Jesus, his cross, the wonderful salvation he bestows on us, the righteousness he gives that is his and his alone. But are political issues like the State of Israel, or the ordination of practicing homosexuals disconnected from Christology?
Hardly. The homosexual issue is so clear I won’t even go there. Faithfulness to Christ includes faithfulness to his word, both the Old and New Testaments. But what about the State of Israel? What about the Jewish People? How do they even begin to connect to Christology?

First of all models for living out correct Christology, that is following Jesus Christ as Lord, while living in the midst of institutions which foster anti-Semitism, are abundant in the past century, not the least of which is Corrie ten Boon and Dietrich Bonheoffer.

Perhaps Presbyterians don’t remember or know anything about Corrie ten Boom. She wrote a book in 1971 entitled the Hiding Place. It is the story of her family and how they hid Jewish people in their home in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. Corrie lost all of her family in concentration camps. She was also a prisoner but was freed due to a clerical error. The title of her book has a double meaning. There was a hiding place in their home, and there is a hiding place in God because of Jesus Christ.

One of the important things to know about the Booms was their devotion to both Jesus Christ and the Jewish people. The family had participated in prayer meetings for almost a hundred years praying for the Jewish people before the time of the Nazis. God gives us our deepest desires, centers them in himself and then uses us in that place he has prepared for us. That is never outside of, can never be outside of, our relationship to Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonheoffer is undoubtedly well known to Presbyterians as well as most mainline church members and also known to many Evangelicals. The Cost of Discipleship, his most well known book is read by both conservatives and liberals. One of the most prominent members of the Confessing Church, Bonheoffer spoke out the most about what was happening to the Jewish people in Germany and elsewhere.

Although he was finally executed for his part in the plot to kill Hitler, he was actually jailed for his part in helping Jews cross the borders of Germany.

One small but excellent book, Christ the Center, is the restructured notes of Bonheoffer’s students taken during his lectures on Christology in the year 1933. Bonheoffer was very concerned with the fate of the Jewish people and with Christology.

But the connection with Christology and the State of Israel, which Bonheoffer did not live to see, has to do with that safe place that God has provided for them. If Christ is God, and he is, and if God is sovereign, which he is, then the State of Israel is a part of his plan for our day. I don’t think we can biblically say what will happen to Israel as a state in this our time, but I do think we can say, biblically, what may happen to the nations who are intent on her destruction if they continue their course.

Still the theological connection between the Jewish people, Israel and Christology is best explained by Arthur C. Cochrane in the chapter “The Message of Barmen for Contemporary Church History,” in The German Church Struggle and the Holocaust.[1] He is looking at some of Karl Barth’s thoughts about what was the most devastating theological heresies affecting theology during the Nazi era.

Barth at first honed in on the idea of a second revelation given by the German Christians set alongside God’s revelation in Christ. (And that is very important) Yet, Cochrane points out that in a sermon given in Dec.10, 1933 on Romans 15:5-13 “it is evident that he [Barth] had come to see the Jewish question as a question of faith in Jesus Christ and that post Christum is identical with Israel ante Christum.”

Cochrane goes on to write about those who organized the Pastor’s Emergency League and how they understood, as they resisted the Aryan paragraph, that there existed a unity between the Jews and the Church, as he puts it, “’Salvation is from the Jews’—not only two thousand years ago but in every generation as well.”

But some of Cochrane’s words as he explains the connections are profound.

“It dawned upon them [Christian scholars concerned with the Holocaust] that the Jewish question is the question about Jesus Christ, that the spirit of Antisemitism is the spirit of antichrist, and where the Jews are hated and persecuted, the faithful followers of the Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, will also be hated and persecuted. They realized that in the last analysis the Church Struggle and World War II were waged because of Israel and that in spite of the Holocaust, Israel could not be annihilated.

Cochrane quotes Jeremiah 31:35-36. “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name: If the fixed order departs from before me says the Lord, then shall the descendents of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”

I believe that is a complete apologia. The connection between the Jewish people and the State of Israel is a cord of steel. The connection between the Jewish people and Christians is unbreakable. As that spirit of Antisemitism and antichrist arise in both the mainline churches and the surrounding countries of Israel I will be writing about politics as well as Christology.

[1] The book The German Church Struggle and the Holocaust is a collection of essays given at a conference by that name in 1974. The essays are by Christians, Jews and even a few pagans. The one by Elie Wiesel, “Talking and Writing and Keeping Silent,” is worth the price of the book if you can find it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yes, Spong, the battle is over, the victory has been won

Yes, “The battle is over. The victory has been won,” just as John Shelby Spong insists in his manifesto.

Oh, I know Spong is writing about the battle that homosexuals are involved in, which includes their attempts to be allowed ordination in the Church. And I know that when Episcopalian Spong calls orthodox Christians “pathetic human beings,” and Executive Director of More Light, Michael Adee, calls our stance homophobia, while Presbyterian John Shuck calls us chicken shits, there is no true victory for them. Except … except in the one they are running so fearfully from.

The Hound of Heaven

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat -- and a voice beat
More instant than the Feet --
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

One of my recent morning devotions included Luke 12:49-53. I was so interested in this text that I got out what commentaries I have to understand the text better. After all we always think of Christianity, the good news, bringing us peace. But this text does not promise peace but rather division. Jesus states, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division…”

Jesus goes on to explain that family members will be against those who choose to follow him. But before this Jesus tells his disciples that he has come to cast fire on the earth and that he is anxious for it to be “kindled.” He likewise speaks of a baptism he is to endure and he is “distressed” until it is done.

The baptism and the fire are interlocked. They are both about forgiveness and judgment. The baptism, for Jesus, in this instance is the crucifixion. The fire is the cleansing and judgement of the Holy Spirit. (John 16: 7-11) E. Earle Ellis in The New Century Bible Commentary: The Gospel of Luke puts it this way:

“Christians, Luke implies, can understand their life in the world only in the context of this prophecy of the Lord. Although Jesus’ followers have the messianic peace, ‘peace on earth’ does not exist …. The time of the Church is a time when the Spirit of the absent Lord, like a burning fire, will accomplish his work of judgment in the hearts of men. In the mission of the Church, no less than in the pre-resurrection of the heart of Jesus, the call for decision is a call for ‘division.’ And the demand of the kingdom is such that this division will reach into the most intimate personal relationships, into ‘one house.”

And every time that division turns up, every time there is anger, insult and defiance of God’s word, Christians can be aware of two things.

First, God’s victory over the world, the flesh and the devil has already occurred because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Second the promised fire of the Holy Spirit is touching the lives of humanity in either a cleansing manner or a judging manner. The Holy Spirit when touching individuals with the truths of his word, which is the word of the Father and the Son, is either causing them to turn away from the transforming power of Christ or causing them to turn in repentance to their Lord.

There is division. It is a promise.

But above all else there is a victory. It is the victory of Christ bought on the cross. It will transform the sinner, be they liar or practicing homosexual, be they adulterer or thief, be they gossip or murderer. But rejection of the saving and transforming power of Jesus Christ can only end in defeat for the sinner.

There is victory, His victory, his gift of love.

Picture by Stephen Larson
Poem by Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Listening to two Mission 2009 speakers at Fremont Presbyterian Church

Several weeks ago I wrote a negative report about someone who had been a part of the 2008 Mission Challenge. But I have nothing but raves for the two people who came to our Adult Education class from Mission Challenge 2009 this last Sunday.

Ellen Smith, Coordinator of Congregational Twinning in Russia and Belarus, and Russian Baptist Piotr Romme, the coordinator of a Network of Roma Churches gave the kind of information and testimonies that made one feel as though they were experiencing the ultimate work of the Church, the lifting up of the work of Jesus Christ in the lives of the lost.

This information from The Outreach Foundation gives information about what Ellen's ministry is, "Under the leadership of The Outreach Foundation, and in partnership with the Russian Federation of Evangelical Christian Baptists, the PC(USA) initiated the Russian twinning project in the early 1990s to build spiritual connections between American and Russian congregations."

Pastor Romme told some amazing stories about ministry to the Roma (gypsy) peoples. He explained that they are a nation, and as a nation they should have churches and workers. Both Smith and Romme are listed as peacemakers for Mission Challenge 2009, but they seemed to me to be very faithfully involved in evangelization while at the same time planning practical social ways to help the often despised Roma people.

For a picture of who Romme is here is the bio he gave to the Presbyterian Church USA.

" Bio for Piotr Anatolyevich Romme

(Matt 28:19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,..."

(Luke 14:23) "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full."

(Isaiah 6:8) "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

And so, I reach out to the Roma, for they are a nation. I am coordinator of a network of churches working with the Roma, a network for mutual encouragement and cooperation. We began with 6 churches, and there are now 21 churches and small groups. The goal of the ministry is to develop Roma leaders and Roma churches. Together we do evangelization in different cities and plan for future activities. Throughout the year, I seek where there are Christian Roma or missionaries working with the Roma, visit them, talk about the importance of ministry to Roma, and invite them into the Roma Network.”

And here is a link to a letter from Ellen Smith who writes about Pastor Romme:

A letter from Alan and Ellen Smith in Russia

Thank God for these two workers in the harvest fields of the Lord.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

For Sunday

For the eighth day, resurrection day, God's Holy Day for Christian worship:

Nederland Zingt - Kyrie

Friday, October 16, 2009

About Israel...up-date

I wanted to put up something light for the weekend, but given what is happening in the UN Human Rights Council I don't feel much like lightness. A friend on Facebook said yesterday:

"There is a deadly, run-away truck rolling down the hills of our generation…Some refuse to learn from history, and stand on the sidewalks of our time and simply watch in a paralyzed, silent stupor."

After referring to the Christian Zionist movement that he is a big part of he wrote in a comment. "I'm thinkin' we step in front of the truck and shout "STOP!! YOU CANNOT PASS NOR GO ANY FURTHER!"

I am not a Christian Zionist but I am a Presbyterian who is pro Israel and I think Victor Styrsky's words should burn the conscience of every mainline Christian.

Col. Richard Kemp on the Goldstone Report

A good article because it looks at the different countries and how they voted:
UN Human Wrongs Council it is by David Harris the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee. The beginning:

"Some votes are eminently forgettable. Others are not.

Today's vote in the mistakenly-named UN Human Rights Council is the latter. Although denunciations of Israel have become commonplace in the Council, this vote provides a window into the souls of those 47 member states that currently belong to this Geneva-based body, and what we see will be long remembered."

There is also this: Goldstone Attacks UN Resolution On His Gaza War Report. The UN Human Rights Council used the condemnation of Israel in the Goldstone report but not its condemnation of Hamas.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More on the bad links that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) posted but by a different author

Just a few days ago I posted an article I titled, Bad links posted at Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. . Now I find that Dexter Van Zile of Camera also saw the awful links and did a better job of investigative reporting than I did. (Sometimes I get too upset to do proper investigation.) His article is Presbyterian Peacemakers Promote Hezbollah Website and Anti-Israel Incitement. He left a comment and link on my posting. I encourage all to read his article. It begins:

Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), is promoting anti-Israel incitement from a number of different sources, including Al Manar, a Hezbollah-controlled television station which was designated as a “Global Terrorist Entity” by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2006. The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) was established by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2004.

In addition to mainstreaming Hezbollah's Al Manar to Presbyterians and to the general public, the IPMN is also promoting false allegations about Israel tunneling beneath the Temple Mount – allegations which in the past have incited violence. The IPMN is also relaying a false report of Palestinians attacking right-wing Jews who had entered the Temple Mount to pray the day before Yom Kippur. In fact, Palestinians had attacked non-Jewish French tourists.

IPMN promoted the articles in a blog
entry dated Oct. 11, 2009. The entry reports on the alleged “decline of sovereignty by Palestinian Muslims over the Haram al-Sharif Mosque on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.” The entry depicts the presence of Israeli Jews in Jerusalem as an alien intrusion that results in the “culture of Palestine slowly being displaced by immigrants from Europe and the US.”

Accompanying this thinly disguised xenophobia were links to ten articles, most of which dealt with the recent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police near the Temple Mount. The IPMN encouraged its readers to view the articles under the heading "Articles of the Week."” …

Please read the whole article.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A prayer for friends

This is for two friends Brad and I had dinner with two Saturday nights ago. We talked about many things including the state of the Presbyterian Church, blogs and yes opera. These two singers, Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Stade, were praised in our conversation and my husband has tuned for both. This is the "Evening Prayer" from Hansel and Gretel. The words are:

Evenings, when I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels with me keep,
Two stand at my head,
Two at the foot of my bed,
Two are at my right hand,
Two are at my left hand,
Two in covers tuck me,
Two at morning wake me,
Two that point the way to rise
To heaven's paradise.

May angels surround my friends and the presence of the Lord be with them.

Bad links posted at Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) has a place on their web site where they place news articles about Israel and the Palestinians. The articles come from a variety of sites and they link to all of them. Each week there is a new list of articles.

This week they are linked to quite a few including one titled, “Al-Aqsa Foundation: A New Israeli Tunnel Built under the Aqsa Mosque. That can be found at the Voice of Palestine or the Palestinian Information Center. That site has some truly awful articles, like the one linking Israel to the selling of Palestinian organs that the Swedish Newspaper published. The article is used as a means of fighting with the Palestinian Authority, something most of these sites seem to be involved in.

Probably the worst part of the site is its article, The Terror that Begot Israel, with picture, of “Zionist Terrorism.” Picture is from the Palestinian Information site.

But there is also a link on the Palestine Information Center to a you-tube video of Richard Falk shaming the PA for discouraging the UN from voting on the Goldstone Report. I saw that video earlier on the news at Google. Interested in who Falk is, I went looking and found some interesting material at Wikipedia.

It seems besides being “American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories” he wrote a recommend in the preface to David Ray Griffin's book The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11.” He wrote, "There have been questions raised here and there and allegations of official complicity made almost from the day of the attacks, especially in Europe, but no one until Griffin has had the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence to put the pieces together in a single coherent account."

Wikipedia writes, “Falk called for an official commission to further study these issues, including the role neoconservatives may have played in the attacks. He also signed a statement released by the organization 9/11 Truth in 2004 that calls for a new investigation into the September 11 attacks. Falk confirmed his support for the statement in 200.

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network did link to a Forbes’ article on a related subject which was much more balanced but some of their other links are extremely radical and anti-Semitic.
The territory that Israel/Palestine Mission Network is swimming in has a lot of hidden sharp rocks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Disregarding the Hebrew Bible/ the effect on two subjects: homosexuality & the Jewish people

In my last posting on the Reformed Faith and the Jewish people, Writing about the Jewish people and Christian theology - 2 I stated that I would look at the use Christians have made and must make of the Hebrew Bible in regards to the Jewish people. This is not that posting but it will do for a lead in to the subject.

As the next General Assembly for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) nears the overtures will start piling up and we are all fairly certain that one very large issue will be homosexuality. But another issue, that is rarely connected to the first one, will also contribute to the work at GA. That is, Middle East concerns. And I suggest, with this posting, that they are connected.

Many of the issues surrounding the ordination of those who are practicing homosexuals have to do with scripture and its authority. All of that authority is rooted in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament.

For instance Jesus refers to the creation account of the Hebrew Bible when he speaks of marriage. He reminds his listener’s that God created the first two people as man and woman and brought them together as husband and wife. All New Testament ethics are Hebrew.

In the same manner the Christian connection to the Jewish people is tied to the Hebrew text. Every promise that anchors the Christian in the kingdom of God finds its foundation in the Hebrew Bible. Without the historical account of ancient Israel, the ancient people of God, the Christian’s faith floats in an uncertain universe tied only to whatever cultural milieu exists. Christ is no longer the promised one but simply a surprising creature arising out of anyone’s myth.

And so both become problems when those who proclaim the word begin to disconnect Christianity from the Jewish scriptures. And I have seen this happen lately. On homosexuality it was evident in the preaching of several women at the Presbyterian Women’s gathering. Most speakers were not pushing for homosexual ordination, but those who were either discredited some of the main texts of Joshua or misused the text for their own particular agenda.

For instance one speaker used the command in Joshua for the tribes to sanctify themselves as a means of insisting that part of that sanctification process means following God into “new landscapes and unknown territory.”Sanctify Yourselves

But in order to be faithful to the text as well as the history of the Jewish people one must be honest about what it meant to sanctify or as my translation puts it consecrate. And like the Israelites who came to the mount where the law was to be given the people were to separate from the unholy or even from the mundane; circumcision was a part of that. Yet the speaker led with her idea of a ‘new landscape’ until she was able to connect sanctification with the ordination of practicing homosexuals. She stated:

“A marvelous wonder will occur the day when the Church no longer needs to sort believers into specific boxes, because everyone is fully welcomed at the Baptismal Font and the Communion Table; and because everyone’s gifts are affirmed through the outpouring of baptismal waters and ordination oil; and because everyone’s ministry is empowered though the sharing of opportunities and resources.” (My emphasis)

Another speaker detached Jesus from the promises that arise out of the sacrifices and rituals of the Jewish Temple. She too called for the ordination of practicing homosexuals by suggesting we start kicking in some roofs. “Meddlin’

On the other hand such groups as the Israel/Palestine Mission Network detach the Hebrew Bible from the Jewish people of today. They do this by either denying the text of the Old Testament or by denying the ethnicity of the Jewish people.

There is a need to return to the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible. First one reads and studies in the Hebrew Bible the histories of the Jewish people as true and important. Then the fleshing out of Jesus Christ as he is found in all the promises, theophanies, shadows and types will allow once again our faith to rest in the Old Testament as it so securely does in the New. If Jesus the Christ is secured in the Old he is Lord of the Old. The commandments are his; the call for holiness is his. And the Christian is not disconnected from the Jewish people.

As Karl Barth puts it “… it is the unanimous opinion within the Church, that God is never for us in the world, that is to say, in our space and time, except in this His Word, and that this Word for us has no other name and content but Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ is ever to be found on our behalf save each day afresh in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. One is not in the Church at all if he is not of a mind with the Church in these things.”

Instead the Church is being fed morality disconnected from the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Bible. At the same time Christ himself is anchored in our various cultural stories and disconnected from the Hebrew Bible. I believe we can expect a continuing barrage of unholy overtures on both issues which will grow steadily worse as Christ is moved further and further away from the Hebrew Bible, and as the Old Testament is further eroded by progressive exegesis.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

For the Lord's Day

For praise on the Lord's Day:

Holy is the Lord

Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord.
Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord.
Holy is the Father, Holy is the Son,
Holy is the Spirit: Blessed Three in One.

Franz Schubert

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A holy fear, a fear of holiness

The saints trod lightly when near burning bushes, they even take off their shoes when the Lord asks them. There is an awe of what is holy. A holy fear. Rough Peter, a fisherman, who undoubtedly had a caustic edge, tried to get Jesus to go away from him when he realized who Jesus was. Peter knew he was a sinner. He was to learn about grace and the love of Christ but the presence of someone so loving yet holy seemingly scared him.

Sometimes I wonder if
the people in the Church who make mockery of others aren’t exhibiting a kind of fear. But it is a fear that rejects the changing power of Jesus Christ, the power that transforms the sinner.

Last night I posted a piece on Charles Williams’ book The Place of the Lion. I quoted from and wrote about two men running in fear. One was running in fear from the other who in his evil and hardness was pursuing the first. The cunning and despising man was turning slowly into a monster so that he was half human and have wolfish creature. But he was running from the Lion-a magnificent creature with ultimate power which he wanted nothing to do with.

In the story, Plato’s forms are invading the world and pulling everything into them. Only the sheep are safe. Buildings are crashing and fires are starting. The earth is arid and the air is hot. Three creatures represent the Holy, what Rudolph Otto called the numinous, the Lion, the Eagle and the Unicorn. The Lamb is there in the story, as a reference to the Lamb of God. But the sheep are there too; a metaphor for the people of God.

As I wrote in my posting last night the lady Damaris saw both of the men; the one whose face had been badly ruined by the other, but also the one who was in pursuit of another soul. Her thoughts, “The face was as inhuman as that other, but while that was man blasted this was man brutalized. It was a snarling animal, and it was snuffling and snorting with open mouth.” This reminds me of a thought that both C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald developed.

That is, that all of us are becoming either the darkness we gather to ourselves or in our clinging to the Light of the world we are becoming “Everlasting Splendors.”

But Lewis had some advice; we are to relate to others as immortals. “Immortal horrors or everlasting splendors indeed, but we must take each other very seriously. “No flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.” Yes, dealing with each other requires a careful kind of love, a costly love.

We cannot know what fear the other holds because we hold on to Jesus and insist on keeping his word. We simply know that Christ hangs on to us with transforming power and love.

Saving the Bay....

My friend Miles Saunders who is the producer/writer of "Saving the Bay" sent me this announcement of its first two showing dates on KQED--be sure and watch!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Language about the Lion & the Lamb

A wonderful yet fearful scene in Charles Williams’ book The Place of the Lion occurs when one of the main characters, Quentin, is so terribly fearful of the powers that are invading the world that he flees from everyone. Another man, who has given himself over to the evil of dominating and manipulating others, as he turns into the animal that he is becoming, chases Quentin through forests and fields until he is soaked with blood, exhausted and blind.

Another main character Damaris goes seeking Quentin and finds him in the field in the midst of the endless pursuit. She also sees a lamb playing in the field and an eagle flying high in the sky.

“Willing to do all but uncertain what to do, she watched, and then became aware of some other thing in her line of vision. It was the solitary lamb that was gently moving towards her, gently and slowly. She looked at it, and across the meadow there passed suddenly the shadow of the flying eagle, cast over her and proceeding from her to the lamb. Moved by a quick hope she followed it; the beast, more slowly, advanced to meet her. They came together, and the innocence that sprang in her knew a greater innocence and harmlessness in it; she dropped to her knees, and put a hand on its back.”

Beside the lamb she keeps calling to Quentin until he comes and falls to the ground and she falls on top of him to protect him. And then the snarling wolf like creature that is still partly human circles and springs. Williams writes that “its hate and its power divided and passed around her.”

And then the wolf like creature comes to an end.

“The power of the Lion came upon him in a great wind, and the breath of his spirit fled to meet it. Strangled and twisted, he was lifted and carried on the wind; he was flung into the air and carelessly dropped back on to the earth. As he fell for that last time he saw the Lion upon him. The giant head loomed over him; the great paw struck his chest and thrust him down. Immense pressure enclosed and crushed him; in a dreadful pain he ceased to be.”
But what of Quentin?

Damaris “looked at Quentin; repose was coming back into his face, and with it that beauty of innocence which is seen in unhappy mankind only in sleep and death and love and transmuting sanctity—that place of the lamb in the place of the lion.”

Courage children of the Lamb and the Lion.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The history of words and places- a look at another article from Sabeel's Cornerstone

On October the first I posted an article, Laundering words, omitting words, both are lies. I was writing about an article titled, “The Laundering of Words and the Oppression of Palestinians.” It was written by the Rev. Naim Ateek Director of Sabeel in Jerusalem. In Sabeel’s magazine, Cornerstone, the summer 2009 edition, he is pointing to another article, “The Factory of Words,” by Gideon Levy. Picture the Western Wall of Jerusalem taken by en:User:Chmouel,

While Ateek often approaches his topics from a liberation theology point of view, Levy approaches his topics from a far left secular position. Ateek is a Christian, Levy a secular Jew. They both believe that there should not be a Jewish State and believe any such state would be a racist state.

Levy, like Ateek, is attempting to prove that Israel is using words in such a way that they will cover up the truth. And, like Ateek, he believes this was done from the beginning of the State of Israel and even before.

Levy starts his article with his own propaganda-like words. He writes of being a young teenager during and after the six day war. He writes, “At six o’clock after the war Israel was in a nationalistic and religious orgy. Almost everyone participated in this orgy – orthodox and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, young and old. The Land of Israel was liberated and the people of Israel, the chosen people, were saved.” (emphasis mine)

Levy goes on to write about his interest as a teenager in seeing, after the war, “Abraham’s tomb in Hebron, Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem” and “the Wailing Wall.” He later complains that now, they are “cursed places,” because there is “armed soldiers and policemen at the entrance of Abraham’s tomb and an apartheid wall that separates Rachel’s tomb from Bethlehem….”

As I have written over and over this is simply half a story. Before the Six-Day War the Israelites did not have access to these places at all. For a history of the Wailing Wall see Western Wall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In the years before the State of Israel was formed there was constant interference with the Jews in their attempts to worship there. They were even arrested for blowing the shofar on the Day of Atonement. After the birth of the State of Israel the wall came under Jordan’s control and the Jewish people could not go there, not even those Jews who were visiting Jordan from other countries.

The tomb of Abraham has a deeply violent history that faults both Islamic groups and radical Jewish groups. The Mideast and North Africa Encyclopedia gives the details:

“Although predominantly a town inhabited by Palestinian Arab Muslims, a small Jewish community lived in Hebron throughout the centuries. During British rule, the Jews left after the Arab-Jewish disturbances of August 1929 when sixty-four Jews were massacred. Hebron was annexed by Jordan in 1950 in the aftermath of the Arab-Israel War of 1948, and it was occupied by Israel during the Arab - Israel War of 1967. As a result, Jews were allowed to pray in the al-Haram, something formerly forbidden to them.” (Emphasis mine)

The article goes on to tell of a horrible massacre by a Jewish person after some militant settlers moved into the region. “Hebron's worst violence in decades occurred in February 1994 when Baruch Goldstein, a U.S.-born Jewish settler, entered the al-Haram al-Ibrahimi mosque and massacred twenty-nine Palestinian worshippers before he himself was killed.”

Rachel’s tomb, the third holiest site for the Jewish people, was also a forbidden place for the Jews after the 1948 war. Today it is surrounded by a wall because it had become such a dangerous place that no one would travel there. The story of Rachel’s tomb and the reason it is surrounded by walls and soldiers is told at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

All of these stories are to say that the problems in the Middle East are hard, complex and sad. They do not fit into an article that paints Israel with the brush that Levy has used. Levy complains that Israel cannot be a Democracy because she has occupied the Palestinian territories for so long. But what other Democracy does the modern world know whose neighbors are intent on destroying her.

This is not to excuse some of the actions of Israel; her people are sinners like all of humanity. But painting false pictures of Israel, as Levy has done is unacceptable. A.B. Yehoshua one of the great writers of Israel, a member of the peace movement in Israel, and a critic of the occupation wrote a letter criticizing Levy for his extreme views and his thoughts on the last conflict in Israel and Gaza. From his letter:

“The doleful thought sometimes crosses my mind that it is not the children of Gaza or of Israel that you are pining for, but only for your own private conscience. Because if you are truly concerned about the death of our children and theirs, you would understand the present war - not in order to uproot Hamas from Gaza but to induce its followers to understand, and regrettably in the only way they understand in the meantime, that they must stop the firing unilaterally, stop hoarding missiles for a bitter and hopeless war to destroy Israel, and above all for the sake of their children in the future, so they will not die in another pointless adventure.”

I believe God calls us, in our Christian walk, to honesty.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From a small but heavy book...

Someone on their blog quoted Harvey Cox and his thought that “"Faith is resurgent, while dogma is dying." The blogger thought that was good but I instead thought of Dorothy Sayers’ insistence that “The Dogma is the Drama.”

That is the title of one chapter in her very small book Strong Meat. She wrote the book as a small comment on her better known book and play, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.”

As the Guardian at that time, 1939, put it, “In a masterly pamphlet, Miss Sayers proceeds with wit and flashing insight, to make good the claim that the greatest drama ever staged is the official creed of Christendom, and to show that it is not dogma but, the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness.”

She writes about some fellows who believe her play is great because of her own creativity and fail to understand the absolute greatness of the Trinity, Incarnation, redemption and Christ’s second coming. That is great drama.

She was writing at a time in England when many simply didn’t understand the dogma of the Church. And she blamed the Christians of her day for their weak attention to that dogma both in their words and their lives. As she put it:

“We are apt, for example, to be a little sparing of the palms and hosannas. We are chary of wielding the scourge of small cords, lest we offend somebody or interfere with trade. We do not furbish up our wits to disentangle knotty questions about Sunday observance and tribute money, nor hasten to sit at the feet of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. We pass hastily over disquieting jests about making friends with the mammon of unrighteousness and alarming observations about bringing not peace but a sword; nor do we distinguish ourselves by the graciousness with which we sit at meat with publicans and sinners. Somehow or other, and with the best intentions, we have shown the world the typical Christian in the likeness of a crashing and rather ill-natured bore—and this in the Name of the One Who assuredly never bored a soul in those thirty-three years during which He passed through the world like a flame."

Sayers was a good friend of Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis and her wit and Christian faith was just as strong. We now have much knottier problems that many fail to attempt to disentangle-and we are certainly afraid of that scourge of small cords or of using the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, lest we trouble someone’s peace. And we need to sit with all sinners, including ourselves, and speak the words of the gospel.

I truly believe her admonitions are correct for this day. “Let us, in heaven’s name, drag out the Divine Drama from under the dreadful accumulation of slip-shod thinking and trashy sentiment heaped upon it, and set it on an open stage to startle the world into some sort of vigorous reaction.”

She adds, “If all men are offended because of Christ let them be offend; but where is the sense of them being offended at something that is not Christ and is nothing like Him? We do Him singularly little honour by watering down His personality till it could not offend a fly. Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ.”

And I simply must quote the last paragraph in the book:

“It is the dogma that is the drama—not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death—but the terrifying assertion that the same God Who made the world lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that a man might be glad to believe.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

God's gift of life

A friend of my daughter who is also my friend, Jennifer Lahl of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network placed a beautiful and moving video on Facebook today. 99 Balloons is about a lovely little boy who was a blessing to his parents, a gift from God and a reminder that every life is from God.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Laundering words, omitting words, both are lies

About Rev. Nain Ateek's article, "The laundering of words and the oppression of Palestinians."

CHURCHandWORLD linked yesterday, October 3, to a pdf file from the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The file was the center’s publication, Cornerstone, summer edition 2009, the article was The laundering of words and the oppression of Palestinians.

The article is by Rev. Nain Ateek the Director of Sabeel. His article was pointing to another article by Gideon Levy, “The Factory of Words.”

Ateek uses the epistle of James to remind his readers that human words are capable of great evil. And they are. Some words become evil, as Ateek points out, because they are replacement words that tend to cover the reality of events. They whitewash and so become lies.

But there are other ways to use words to mislead and make lies. That is by omitting words, a whole string of words such as sentences and paragraphs. That is a way to lie about history and morality and even Christianity.

Ateek writes, “From the beginning of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the propaganda machine of the state of Israel has coined words, created myths, produced stereotypes, and crafted propaganda tools in order to justify and legitimize the Zionist narrative, while at the same time, it has managed to cast doubt upon and negate the Palestinian narrative.”

Note that Ateek says the propaganda started from the beginning of the Palestinian-Israel conflict. So when one reads this and knows the beginning history of the conflict, and yes, it goes back to the time of the Holocaust, but is mainly centered around 1947-1948, then one knows that vast amounts of words have been erased or omitted from the article. And only innuendo remains.

Ateek goes on to suggest that Israel from the beginning has smeared the Palestinians as warmongers and “innately violent.” But this is a double lie.

Israel’s beginning narrative is its conflict not so much with the Palestinians; it was that also, but mainly with at least five Arab nations who at that time and even today have misused the Palestinians. So the Israeli beginning narrative revolves mainly around the attack by Syria, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab nations of their new State. And that narrative does not hold that the Palestinians are “innately violent,” but rather that militant and radical Islam is innately violent.

And yes there was violence and destruction on both sides. That is the whole story without omitting words, or sentences or paragraphs.

Ateek implies that the Israelis are blaming the victim when they do not take responsibility for what the Palestinians call the Nakba (the catastrophe), that is the birth of the State of Israel and the displacement of about 750, 000 Palestinians from the new State.

Ateek sets up a simplified picture, insisting that while Israel denies any responsibility for the Palestinians leaving there is scientific and historical evidence coming from Jewish historians proving that movement of the Palestinians out of Israel was planned by the “Zionist leaders.” He cites both Benny Morris and Pappe.

But what does Morris say in his book, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War:

“the refugee problem was created by the war—which the Arabs had launched … And it was that war that propelled most of these displaced out of their houses and into refugeedom. Most fled when their villages and towns came under Jewish attack or out of fear of future attack. They wished to move out of harm’s way. … Most of the displaced likely expected to return to their homes within weeks or months, on the coattails of victorious Arab armies or on the back of UN decision or Great Power intervention."

Morris also wrote, after writing about any ideas that the Zionist leadership may have had about expulsion, “Nonetheless, transfer or expulsion was never adopted by the Zionist movement or its main political groupings as official policy at any state of the movement’s evolution—not even in the 1948 War.”[1]

Both Pappe and Morris are part of what is called the New Historians of Israel. Yet Morris has criticized Pappe’s historical accounts. Several other Jewish historians have as well. Historian Efraim Karsh quotes him in a review of his book,
A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples,

Pappe states, “My bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the "truth" when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers.”

Ateek uses the verse, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) He writes that Sabeel’s objective is, “to help discern the truth because the truth is capable of setting people free.” Yes, but Jesus was speaking of himself. He is the truth, the life and the way. He is the one that sets us all free. If we will let Him he will free us from telling lies either by laundering words or by omitting the words.

I will write about Gideon Levy’s article the following week.

[1] All of the Morris quotes are taken from, Alan Dershowitz, The Case Against Israel’s Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace, (John Wily & Sons 2008)