Trump’s Missed Opportunity…

Image result for pictures of president trump inauguration

 

This past Friday, the world witnessed a peaceful transition of power in our country. Indeed, it is the kind of event we ought to be celebrating regardless how we may feel about the new President being elected.

In North Korea, Muslim theocracies, and in other totalitarian regimes, the citizenry can only dream of having an open democratic election. The clergy certainly added a rich evangelical flavor to the program, as church choirs that might have made a number of people of other faiths feel awkward.

Many colleagues of mine do not feel comfortable when a minister invokes “…In Christ’s name, let us say ‘Amen’” and I would imagine that Muslims probably felt uncomfortable not seeing an Imam add his prayers in Allah’s name. A Buddhist, Hindu minister might have given a broader appeal to the event.

It is true, many Evangelical Christians helped to propel Candidate Trump to victory, and in all probability, President Trump is appealing to his religious base. I think it is also a sign that he plans to move the country in a more traditional religious direction where it will no longer be politically incorrect to wish somebody in December, “Have a Merry Christmas…”

In many ways, I think the politically correct culture (a.k.a. PCC) is responsible for the ascent of President Trump. Political correctness reigned supreme for the past eight years and a sleeping giant arose in this past election that finally proclaimed, “Enough already!” Whether you like it or not, President Trump is President Obama’s legacy.
Still, regardless of our political orientation, I do think President Trump deserves a chance. As Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said in his invocation, “All of us should pray for [Trump’s] great success, because his great success means our great success.” I am certain that many liberal-minded Jews probably felt Hier was endorsing Trump was wrong. Still, we need to see how he is going to govern. Many conservatives had to accept the results of Obama’s election results, and that is how a democracy works in our country.

Hope springs eternal—even in politics.

Nevertheless, I wonder: Why didn’t any Muslim Imam or spokesperson participate in the preliminary prayers? It is true, some members of CAIR objected to Reverend  Franklin Graham, who has a been an outspoken critic of militant Islam. Perhaps a number of Imams might have been asked, but they refused. To some degree, I can understand their reluctance.

Now it is true that in the National Prayer Service that took place soon afterwards on January 21, Imam Mohamed Magid took his place among other faith groups at Washington National Cathedral at a service in honor of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.  His credentials are impressive. Magid is the executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center and former executive director of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

But as the respected Clarion Project noted, of all the Muslims to speak at this event, Magid (a nice Jewish name!) was the wrong Muslim to offer his prayers. As Meira Svirski observed:

  • In September 2014, Magid endorsed a letter opposing the Islamic State terrorist group’s tactics, but endorsed sharia governance’s brutal hudud punishments, the recreation of a caliphate and the Islamist doctrine of gradualism. The letter also implied that journalists that are viewed as dishonest are acceptable targets for violence.  Declassified FBI memos reveal that ISNA was identified as a Brotherhood front as early as 1987. A 1988 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document states ISNA is part of the “apparatus of the Brotherhood.”  A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document, which says “its work in America is a kind of brand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within,” lists ISNA as the first of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”

And just in case you may not know, the Muslim Brotherhood is an international terrorist group that is the creator of HAMAS and has murdered thousands of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Simply put: President Trump made a strategic error and chose the wrong Muslim.

As a far better alternative, he might have chosen Dr. Zudhi Jasser who has advocated a separation of mosque and state and spoken against the ideology of “political Islam” or Islamism. Jasser has written for prominent newspapers such as The Dallas Morning News, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Times.

Better still, Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an author from Egypt. He used to be a member of the militant  “JI” (al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya of Egypt) with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri who later became the second in command of Al-Qaeda. After being radicalized in the JI (approximately thirty-five years ago), he had an awakening of his human conscience, recognized the threat of Radical Islam, and started to teach modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. He is famous for saying, “By faith I am a Muslim; by spirit, I am a Christian; by heart, I am a Jew, but above all, I am a human being.”

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is also a personal friend of mine on Facebook. We briefly spoke about the omission, and I asked him what he thought of my observation that this was a missed opportunity. He wrote back to me:

  • MLS: Hi there, I think President Trump made a mistake not asking you or Zudi Yasser  to give the benediction. It would have made a very powerful statement to the world. The world needs to hear that there are champions of Islam who wish to see democratic change where civil rights and democratic principles are respected.
  • Do you have any thoughts on this?
  • TH: I agree with you…fully!
  • MLS: I hope Trump welcomes President Al-Sisi to speak to him about the changes he is trying to make in Egypt. He has called for a Muslim Reformation
  • TH: I hope too! I believe a lot of things will happen….I pray for President Trump to lead the US and the World to the better…He is a great man and Al-Sisi is also a great person….Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

Imagine how the Muslim world would have responded… This might have been one of Trump’s finest moments, but it was not meant to be—at least for now.

Although this was a missed opportunity, I believe when President Al-Sisi comes to the United States to speak with President Trump, this meeting could set in motion the Muslim Reformation that Muslims really need. The world is counting on President Trump to help shepherd the world in this positive direction.

*
Rabbi Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista, California.  He may be contacted via michael.samuel@sdjewishworld.com



[1] http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/trump-chooses-wrong-imam-natl-prayer-service

[2] http://www.mzuhdijasser.com/about/

[3] http://www.tawfikhamid.com/

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From election’s dissonance, perhaps comes a pathway

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Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel

Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel

CHULA VISTA, California — After everything that has been said and done, this election will probably be remembered as one of the most acrimonious elections, full of mudslinging, accusations of improprieties, and personal attacks that our country has ever seen.

The brilliant French political thinker, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) wrote to Ernest de Chabrol on June 9th, 1831, the following famous words, “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.”
It is an unfortunate fact that the best candidates don’t always run for office.
Neither candidate  has the statesmanship of an Abraham Lincoln, or the personal moral integrity of a Mother Teresa, or a Martin Luther King Jr. But such people are not running for office.
For better or for worse, Donald Trump is our new president. In a democratic republic such as ours, the voice and choice of the people is inviolate. I listened to the post-election speeches given by Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. Here is some of what they had to say:
  • Trump said in his acceptance speech, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats, and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all Americans, and this is so important to me.
  • Hillary Clinton said, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” Clinton, who was composed and dignified even as she admitted how painful her defeat was in her first public comments on the result of the election.
Most interestingly, President Obama’s remarks, in my opinion, were especially apropos, and maybe offered the best wisdom to leave us with:
  • You know, the path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back ….The point though is that we all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.
In a democracy, unanimity is not always desirable. If it were really the goal, what incentive would there be for new interpretive ideas? Conversely, dissent is not necessarily indicative of a communications breakdown. Dissent can be beneficial, and often leads to new discoveries and ideas. Moreover, dissent ensures that there will be some sort of accountability on the part of the originator.
Our American political system demands there be dialectical tension. No leader has the right to rule by fiat, but when we differ with the ruling status quo, there must be elasticity and a willingness to compromise, to “make the deal” as Trump is fond of saying.
The issue of Obamacare is an excellent case in point. Bright minds—regardless of one’s political proclivity—can and must reach a new consensus. Obviously, there will be bitter arguments, but this kind of dialectical tension is necessary to ensure the strength and vitality of the American democracy. To Obama’s credit, he pushed us toward a nationalized health insurance plan, but the real work on improving this plan is now in our hands.
If Trump’s new ideas lead to a dramatic reduction of our national debt, and if his plans to bring jobs back to the United States proves successful, or if his New Deal proves to be helpful in helping the black inner cities, we might realize that many of our fears were unfounded. Bringing back factories jobs will lead to a revitalization of cities like Detroit and other cities that look like ghost towns since our jobs have vanished.
Thomas Sowell is a conservative has been critical of both candidates, but his remark on Trump’s “New Deal” with the African-American community is surprising. He writes:
  • Who would have thought that Donald Trump, of all people, would be addressing the fact that the black community suffers the most from a breakdown of law and order? But sanity on racial issues is sufficiently rare that it must be welcomed, from whatever source it comes…
In addition, if Trump’s populist movement leads to term limits for all members of Congress, and the banishment of lobbyists, we will rid the country of one of the most serious problems that undermine our faith in Congress. Most of us—regardless of political affiliation—would love to see that occur.|

 In terms of foreign policy, giving support to old but recently chastised countries like Egypt, Jordan, and Israel can only make our country and Western world stronger in its battle against Radical Islam. Trump will not tolerate the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the godfather of Hamas. Their access to the White House will be a thing of the past.

Iran, Algeria, and numerous other Jihadist countries will be returned to the list of pariah nations who threaten the world with their vision of religious dystopia.
Trump often has been described as a Democrat in Republican clothing. I predict that Trump will create a feasible pathway for Hispanic integration, a Reaganesque amnesty program, while getting rid of the drug cartel criminals from Mexico that threaten the stability of the United States and Mexico.
Walls surrounding a country’s border are common in most countries around the world. Even Mexico has walls protecting its border, and in an age of terror, it is very prudent to err on the side of caution. The world at this time of its history is not ready for a borderless society, as globalists would like to see.
Every government has a “social contract” with the populace to act morally and ethically in how they treat the people.
Let us pray that President Trump will not squander the good will he has at this juncture in time.
In short, we need to give the new President-elect the benefit of the doubt. 

*
Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista.  He may be contacted via

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The Culture of Life vs. the Culture of Death

In my opinion, the brilliant 20th century Eric Fromm ranks as one of the greatest psychologists and social prophets of the century. I would also add that Fromm must rank as one of the least appreciated Jewish philosophers of his time as well.

One of Fromm’s greatest theories pertains to two opposite impulses that are struggling for supremacy in the world. He refers to them as necrophilia vs. biophilia. He explains that necrophilia, or the “love of the dead” is an ideation that is attracted to everything that is dead, e.g., corpses, decay, filth, dirt. As an illustration, Fromm mentions how the Nazi concentration camps were dedicated to the industry of death and genocide. Aside from killing the Jew, the Nazi genocide machine aimed to create an atmosphere of filth surrounding the Jew, who seldom ever had the opportunity to bathe. My father once told me that while he was in Auschwitz, he often bathed in the snow to keep his body clean, while the Nazi officers laughed at his behavior. According to Fromm, the goal of necrophilia as political and religious phenomena is to transform everything that is living into death. This culture dedicated to death defined Nazism for the evil scourge it was.

And yet, in our postwar illusions,we never dared to imagine that we would ever see this kind of menace threatening civilization again. It seemed too inconceivable.

But we were wrong—dead wrong.

The continuous attacks on Israelis only proves that the spirit of Nazism is alive and well–even thriving–in the Jihadist world today.

Whereas Nazism always remained a secular political philosophy dedicated to eradicating the world of Jews and other undesirables, today’s Jihadist movement poses a far greater threat to all of civilization because the engines that run its campaign of genocide derives from religion itself. Let us be clear: Jihadism is a death-force that aims to destroy life as we know it for the glorification of Allah, who behaves more like the bloodthirsty deity of the Bible known as Molech.

In fact, it is impossible to differentiate between the two.

Jihadists love saying, “We love death more than you love life”[1]

The worse part of necrophilia is that the people this philosophy affects makes them totally indifferent to life and even attracted to death. This would explain why being a martyr for Islam is so important. In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians have museums celebrating the sacrifice of his human bombs; museums decorated with Israeli body parts across the wall.

Sounds like a museum made for Freddie Kruger.

The culture of Israel in contrast, corresponds to what Fromm calls, biophilia–the love of life, the attraction to everything that lives and grows. Preserving life and preventing death is one form ofbiophilia. Biophilous tendencies can be much more varied and tend to integrate and unite, to fuse with different and opposite. Biophilia is life that changes, grows, and develops to the changing circumstances of the environment. Fromm believed that for biophilia to emerge, there has to be certain circumstances to enhance its growth, e.g., the absence of injustice, the love of creativity, the presence of freedom, and the spirit to innovate.

Israel’s technological prowess continues to shape the world in new and exciting ways. This past week, Israeli companies announced they have invented a new way to recharge cellphone batteries instantaneously.

Contrast this with the new story about an A Palestinian baby who receives a life-saving bone marrow treatment worth $55,000—paid by an Israeli pediatrician. Most mothers would appreciate someone saving their child’s life, but what does this baby’s mother say?

While waiting for her son’s treatment in the Israeli hospital, Raida says that she would be happy to see her son become a “shahid” – an Islamic martyr for Jerusalem. “Like Arafat said? ‘A million shahids (martyrs) for Jerusalem?” asks the journalist Shlomi Eldar. “More than a million. All of us are for Jerusalem. All of our people,” she replies. “All of us, not just a million, we’re all for Jerusalem. Do you understand?”“Death is a natural thing for us. We’re not afraid to di[e],” Raida continues. From the smallest infant, even younger than Muhammad [her baby son,] to the oldest person, we’d all sacrifice ourselves for Jerusalem. We feel we have the right to it. … It’s heresy to say that Jerusalem isn’t ours.”[2]

In spiritual terms, biophilia encourages people to search for self-awareness, aspirations, and moral growth. Israel continues to develop technologies that improve the fabric of life while the Palestinian culture of death, which worships a god who loves shihads (martyrs) has produced a moral decadence that threatens the peace of humanity.

The time has come for the Palestinians and Israelis to work together and embrace a new paradigm of life that brings prosperity to all of its people.

Instead of putting more pressure to force Israel to  give up their land to a person that is hell bent upon their destruction, we need to put the pressure where it belongs by cutting off aid to the Palestinian government until it ceases its campaign of genocide against Israel and her people.

It is time for our country to do everything in its power to end the Palestinian paradigm of barbarism and savagery instead of rewarding their delinquent behavior with billions of American dollars and moral support.  In the meantime, every American Jew ought to be proud of Israel’s commitment to further the culture of life.

Golda Meir said it best, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

 

 

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Putin Expresses His Support of Israel in the War Against the Gazan Jihadists

Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

President Vladimir Putin is a tough but very effective leader. He is never afraid to take a stand and fight for the interests of his people. True, his methods can be heavy handed at times—if not downright ruthless.

His support for Assad in his civil war against ISIS showed a real skillful understanding of what Jihadist Islam stands for the threat that it poses for the civilized world. In contrast, the United States actually supported ISIS and the Rebel faction, known as the Daoud brigade fighters have evacuated their stronghold in Sarmeen in Idlib to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Raqa province as ISIS declared an Islamic caliphate, days ago.[1]

Putin is much more perceptive than people realize. He understands what ISIS better than our President, who chose to support the Daud brigade fighters and even requested 500 million dollars to support them against Assad. Our President also supported the Muslim Brotherhood and their vision of transforming Egypt into a theocratic Muslim state governed solely by Sharia Law. We also supported Al Qaeda in its war against Mo’amar Kadafi of Libya.

A word to the wise: The United State should not be supporting theocratic Jihadist states that are associated with Al Qaeda and ISIS. Why? Because we should never forget what these Jihadist Muslims did on September 11, 2001.

ISIS’s rapid takeover of Iraq and Syria demonstrated the short-sightedness of this dubious proposition.

This past week, Putin met with the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, and rabbis of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) and expressed his moral support for Israel’s campaign to stop HAMAS from bombing Israel. President Putin said openly to his rabbinical delegation:

  • I support the struggle of Israel as it attempts to protect its citizens. I also heard about the shocking murder of the three youths. It is an act that cannot be allowed, and I ask you to transmit my condolences to the families,” added the Russian president, in referring to the abduction and murder of three teens in June by Hamas terrorists.

Putin asked Rabbi Yosef to send his regards to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and say that he is a true friend of Israel and of Netanyahu. Netanyahu called Putin on Thursday, and in their conversation, Putin called for an end to the conflict in Gaza.

Symbolic gestures are very important in such dangerous times.

The warm meeting between the rabbis and the Russian president comes at a time when Israel is strengthening its relations with several major countries.

Would it be asking too much for President Obama to personally express the same kind of words to Israel for the world to hear?

Israel is the United States’ only democratic ally in the Middle East. Shouldn’t offering support for Israel at this time be something that he should personally do and not delegate this matter to a lowly White House official?[2]



[1] https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/5719.html.

[2] The White House spokesperson Josh Earnest declared, “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.”

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Send Gaza back to the Stone Age, and Cut their Electricity and Gas Too!

 

One of the most famous attacks in WWII was when the Allies bombed Dresden. British historians love debating whether the wholesale destruction of this once beautiful city and symbol of humanism and baroque culture was really, “necessary.” Dresden is one of the tragic images that best depicts the style of warfare seen in the 20th century and it is a visible symbol of destruction. U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall claimed the attack was necessary because it served to give a crippling and demoralizing blow to the German ability to reinforce counterattacks upon the Allies. In addition, it was also used as a munitions center. This attack eventually led to the aerial bombardment of other German cities. The attack served to also to disrupt communications and destroy industrial production.

Sometimes extreme measures must be taken in times of war. The modern concepts of war where one side at bests gains a slight advantage has proven time and time again  only exacerbates tensions over time. If the Allies would have fought the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial armies in WWII like the way we now fight these wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, “with one hand tied behind our backs,” we would have lost the Second world war.

If the Palestinians wish to attack Israel, like the allies did in Dresden, then I think we ought to return the favor in Gaza, I say that it is time for us to start winning wars like we did in WWII and let  political correctness be damned.

Had we worried about civilian casualties, many more lives would have been lost. Had we worried about not killing “innocents, ”America and its Allies would have lost because the fascists would have certainly exploited their  “human shields” as a military tactic. In war, hard choices must be made; innocent lives are frequently lost. The loss of human lives serves to remind the vanquished nation why they should never embark upon their genocidal plans in to destroy civilization in the future.

As I witness the thousands of missiles launched against Israel, I believe the time has come for Israel to borrow a page from American and European history and learn from the lessons of Dresden. If the Palestinians can attack the Dimona Nuclear Reactor and every Israeli city, then I say that the rules of war  demand a reciprocal response from the Israelis. If bombing civilian centers is permissive, then it ought to be permissive for both sides and not just one side. Asymmetrical warfare perpetuates a double standard that is not just. Nobody is telling the Gaza Nazis to attack Israeli cities, but if they do, the law of reciprocity demands Israel do the same. The Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank do not seem to worry about the nuclear radiation harming every country in the Middle East.

As we speak, the Deputy Defense Minister Danny Dannon (Likud) demanded that the Security Cabinet  cut Gaza from receiving their stipend of Israeli gas and electricity. “Supplying electricity and fuel to Gaza Strip must be halted”, Dannon, “It’s inconceivable that while we  fight Hamas, we continue to supply them electricity and fuel used for firing rockets at us. . .”  Ironically, the Palestinians are watching the World Cup, courtesy of Israel!

Is that how we expect to win wars? Did the Brits provide Nazis with electricity and gas?

If the Palestinians have to spend more money on their utility bills, believe it or not, this might make the people less willing to start up with Israel. Israel is under no moral or legal obligation to provide the Palestinian Nazis with utilities. If they wish to live in the Stone Age, then let them. They won’t be able to power many of their weapons without electricity.

If the Palestinian Nazis had the ability, they would not stop at destroying the “Zionist entity,” they would execute every single Jew, for every Zionist is a Jew.

Unlike Dresden, Gaza is a moral cesspool whose only export is Jihadism to the world. If Western civilization does not give Israel the green light to do what it takes, then each European and civilized Arab government will face a similar fate. And yes, so will we living in the United States.

If history has taught us anything, the enemies of the Jewish people never stop at just killing Jews. They will set their goals higher and expand their warfare against all peace-loving peoples. If Israel is unwilling to do it, then it must (as one writer from Israelhayom.com put it) “send in the Israeli military to completely dismantle Gaza’s internal production of weaponry, to build up stockpiles of rockets. This has created a ‘balance of terror’ between Israel, with its large and sophisticated army and air force, and Hamas, armed with several thousand rockets. Israeli deterrence has been eroded by Hamas’ ability to strike the central Gush Dan area.”

It is time to dismantle the infrastructure of terror once and for all.

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A Personal Note to Prof. Walter Davis and the Presbyterian Church

  • “Today, we’re coming after the Saturday people; after we finish, we will come after the Sunday people”

My personal history with the Presbyterian Church goes back to the early 1990s, when they accepted me as a student for their doctoral program. In the three years I attended the SFTS (San Francisco Theological Seminary) in San Anselmo, CA., I considered it one of the most important learning experiences of my life. I had some outstanding scholars who served as my professors. Yet, one of the things I discerned early on in my studies, some of the professors seemed a bit more anti-Zionist than I had expected. They weren’t overly anti-Zionist, and they were mild by today’s standard.

The relationship between the Presbyterian Church and the Jewish community was reasonably cordial. In 1987, the PCUSA formally rejected  Replacement Theology:

  • We believe and testify that this theory of supersessionism or replacement is harmful and in need of reconsideration….We affirm that both the church and the Jewish people are elected by God for witness to the world…  We affirm the continuity of God’s promise of land along with the obligations of that promise to the people Israel.

While I attended the SFTS, I became very friendly with the Walter Davis who was one of the seminary’s top administrators; he was also a Vietnam veteran. We became very good friends for the time I was there. On one occasion,

Walter Davis was one of the Seminary’s most important leaders while I was there. Walt, (who fought in Vietnam) and I became pretty good friends. I remember him taking me aside after I finished attending a lecture given by Lewis Rambo (he is no relation to Sylvester Stallone ). During one 1995 summer session, Walt said to me, “Michael, I really must apologize for the Presbyterian Church’s failure to come to the Jewish people’s aid during the Holocaust.”

Surprised, I thought about his remarks and said to him, “Walt, if you really want your Church to atone for their apathy during the Holocaust, there is something important your Church can do.” He asked, “What can we do?”  I replied, “Be a friend of the State of Israel—have your Church do everything in its power to make a difference in ensuring Israel’s health and stability. Your Church’s work would go a long way in making up what the Church failed to achieve in the dark days of the Holocaust.” Walt promised me that he would see to it that the Church would become a good friend of Israel.”

As the nineties quickly passed, the PCUSA became more and more critical of Israel and its occupation of the West Bank. The PCUSA began articulating some of the worse attitudes that the Vatican II Council tried so hard to expunge from the Catholic Church.

In a recently released document, “Zionism Unsettled,” the PCUSA has gone far from being opposed to a few West Bank settlements; now, it has declared that the ideology of Zionism is really a “Jewish supremacist ideology” that represents “a supremacist misinterpretation of God’s word.”  Zionist leaders are guilty of planning and implementing “ethnic cleansing” just as the Nazis did with the Jews of Europe, “They slaughtered untold numbers of Palestinian men, women, and children. . . ”

Did you know that many Palestinian churches have carefully edited the Book of Psalms, deleting the words “Israel” and “Zion” every time they appear.[1]  Well, I suppose we can look at the bright side and say, at least they didn’t replace “Israel” and “Zion” with “Palestine” and “Hamas.”

And the PCUSA  looks the other way. . .

Christian Palestinian pastors fondly speak about the Exodus as a story about the Palestinians. Observe how Jesus is no longer a Jew; he is a Palestinian—in fact, he is the “first Palestinian revolutionary” according to Rev. Mitri Reheb, a Lutheran pastor from Bethlehem. American tourists were surprised when they went to Manger Square in Bethlehem over one Christmas to see a banner, “Greetings to the birthplace of the Jesus, the first Palestinian revolutionary.”

How strange. Daniel Pipes writes:

  • The transfer of power of Bethlehem from Israel to the Palestinian Authority just before Christmas 1995 inspired a spate of articles[1] on Bethlehem’s diminishing Christian presence. They noted that a place not long ago 80 percent Christian is now but one-third Christian. For the first time in nearly two millennia, the most identifiably Christian town on earth has lost its Christian majority. The same changes have taken place in two other famously Christian towns, Nazareth and Jerusalem. In Nazareth, Christians went from 60 percent of the population in 1946 to 40 percent in 1983. Jerusalem Christians in 1922 slightly outnumbered Muslims (15,000 versus 13,000): today, they number under 2 percent of the city’s population.[2]

Surprisingly, the PCUSA doesn’t seem to be bothered by this social reality. Instead of condemning the anti-Christian and anti-Semitic Muslims, they enable them through their apathy and stupidity.

At their symposiums on the Christian Palestinians, they have often invited the Palestinian cleric, Father Naim Ateek, whose influence in contemporary Protestantism is immense as a keynote speaker. Ateek’s condemnations of Israel include imagery linking Israel and the Jews to the charge of deicide, which has fueled anti-Jewish bloodshed for nearly two millennia.

Writing in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Adam Gregerman observed that theologians like Ateek “perpetuate some of the most unsavory and vicious images of the Jews as malevolent, antisocial, hostile to non-Jews.” For example, Ateek wrote about “modern-day Herods” in Israel, referring to the king who the New Testament says slaughtered the babies of Bethlehem in an attempt to murder the newborn Jesus.

One last note.

It is ironic that the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke expresses outrage at the PCUSA for appropriating his description of Zionism as a “Jewish Supremacist Ideology.”  Thank you David Duke, I think you and the PCUSA have a lot in common. By the way, the Iranian news media agencies agree with Duke as well.

One would think that the PCUSA would condemn the suicide bombers and the cult of death that provides hagiographical images of their “martyrs” replete with Israeli body parts. One would think that they would condemn the Islamic theology of necrophilia that inspires young men to kill hundreds in order to have their seventy virgins in Paradise. Worst still, they do not even condemn the Jihadist bloodshed of Christians in the Middle East, who are being slaughtered by the thousands by the ISIS movement in Iraq and Syria.

The moral leadership of the PCUSA is morally bankrupt. Someday, these theologians, academics, and stuffy-shirt thinkers will be remembered for being the moral cowards they really are.  I also believe that the twenty million Presbyterians do not all feel the same as their leadership.

To Presbyterians everywhere, I will conclude with this short remark:

When the Iranian state media and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke salute your anti-Zionist attitude about Israel, you must be doing something wrong.

 



[1] Elizabeth Smith Gamble, Lexington Theological Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1, 1992 pp. 80—90.

 

[2] http://www.danielpipes.org/1050/disappearing-christians-in-the-middle-east.

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The Egyptians Get Rid of a Modern Day Pharaoh (July 6th, 2013)

Mohamed Morsi’s downfall

 

The following are the stages by which the Israelites journeyed up by companies from the land of Egypt under the guidance of Moses and Aaron. — (Numbers 33:1)

The biblical narrator lists 42 stopping points beginning with Egypt. Some of the mystical commentaries make a penetrating observation: The journey toward the Promised Land did not occur in one stage, but in forty-two stages.

Why did it take so many stages? They suggest the following answer: Although the Israelites had experienced physical freedom from bondage, their souls felt as though they were still enslaved to Egypt.

In reality, the slavery of the spirit is much harsher than physical slavery because its lingering effects can last at least a lifetime, if not longer.

Hassidic scholars observe that the name מִצְרַיִם “Mitzrayim” derives from the root mir, signifying “anguish,” “boundary” and “narrow place,’ e.g., “From a narrow strait, I called out unto God and He answered me with divine expansiveness” (Psalm 118:5).

According to Hegel, there is a cyclical dimension of history. We often re-experience the memories of our ancestral past in different but somewhat similar patterns.

Nearly 3000 + years later, we are witnessing a different kind of Exodus in the land of Egypt, but this time it does not involve the Israelites, it involves the Egyptians themselves.

After the Arab Spring that began in December of 2010, little did the world realize the changes that would take place in the Middle East. What characterized the “Arab Spring,” was the relatively bloodless nature of the uprisings against government that have been stable for decades.

Say what you will about Mubarak, although he was considered a tyrant by many of his enemies and foes, he kept the peace with Israel for over 42 years. That is no small accomplishment, and when he departed, the Muslim Brotherhood quickly took advantage and won the election—placing Mahammed Morsi in power.

This sympathies to Arab extremists like the Salafist, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and other groups were obvious to the Israelis; attacks across the Sinai quickly began, and Hamas was determined to take advantage of their man in Cairo.

But the people of Egypt deserve respect . Morsi acted like a leader who wanted to impose Shiria Law on Egypt’s largely secular society. He did nothing to better their economies; his secret police behaved no different from Mubarkak’s.

The difference between Morsi and Mubarak reminds me of an anecdote about two brothers. About 150 years ago in the wild west, there lived two brothers, who were well for their crooked business dealings and underworld connections. They acted as ruthlessly and cruelly as one might expect.. One day one of the brothers died, and the surviving brother wanted to give his dead brother a funeral fit for a king. He called the funeral home and made all the arrangements, then he called the town’s minister and made him an offer, as they say, he couldn’t refuse. He said, “I’ll give you $10,000 to put that new roof on the church if, in eulogizing my brother, you call him a saint.” Back then, $10,000 was like $200,000.

The minister agreed. The whole town turned out for the funeral, and the minister began: “The man you see in the coffin was a vile and debauched individual. He was a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a manipulator, a reprobate, and a hedonist. He destroyed the fortunes, careers, and lives of countless people in this city, some of whom are here today. This man did every dirty, rotten thing you can think of. But compared to his brother, he was a saint!”

Yes, Mubarak was bad, but now the Egyptian people realize that compared to Moris, Mubarak was a saint!

This time, the Egyptians said to Morsi, “We will expel you as our leader,” and the military got rid of him.

The synchronicity of this event is astounding—it happened on the week of the 4th of July.

When we look back at our history as Americans, we had the benefit of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other patriots were men who not only fought a revolution –all of whom were brilliant thinkers in their own right. They articulated a passion for the public good and thought that all private interests were secondary to it.

But what about the Egyptians?

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau explained that every leader and government has a social contract with its people. It has to act ethically and responsibly toward the governed. Otherwise, the people have the right to dispose of their leader, for he has broken the social contract.

This is indeed, one of the most important historical moments of the modern Arab world, one that could potentially spell the end of all the Arab theocrats who wish to keep their people’s souls and minds enslaved to the 7th century.

CHULA VISTA, California — The following are the stages by which the Israelites journeyed up by companies from the land of Egypt under the guidance of Moses and Aaron. — (Numbers 33:1)

The biblical narrator lists 42 stopping points beginning with Egypt. Some of the mystical commentaries make a penetrating observation: The journey toward the Promised Land did not occur in one stage, but in forty-two stages.

Why did it take so many stages? They suggest the following answer: Although the Israelites had experienced physical freedom from bondage, their souls felt as though they were still enslaved to Egypt.

In reality, the slavery of the spirit is much harsher than physical slavery because its lingering effects can last at least a lifetime, if not longer.

Hassidic scholars observe that the name מִצְרַיִם “Mitzrayim” derives from the root mir, signifying “anguish,” “boundary” and “narrow place,’ e.g., “From a narrow strait, I called out unto God and He answered me with divine expansiveness” (Psalm 118:5).

According to Hegel, there is a cyclical dimension of history. We often re-experience the memories of our ancestral past in different but somewhat similar patterns.

Nearly 3000 + years later, we are witnessing a different kind of Exodus in the land of Egypt, but this time it does not involve the Israelites, it involves the Egyptians themselves.

After the Arab Spring that began in December of 2010, little did the world realize the changes that would take place in the Middle East. What characterized the “Arab Spring,” was the relatively bloodless nature of the uprisings against government that have been stable for decades.

Say what you will about Mubarak, although he was considered a tyrant by many of his enemies and foes, he kept the peace with Israel for over 42 years. That is no small accomplishment, and when he departed, the Muslim Brotherhood quickly took advantage and won the election—placing Mahammed Morsi in power.

This sympathies to Arab extremists like the Salafist, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and other groups were obvious to the Israelis; attacks across the Sinai quickly began, and Hamas was determined to take advantage of their man in Cairo.

But the people of Egypt deserve respect . Morsi acted like a leader who wanted to impose Sharia Law on Egypt’s largely secular society. He did nothing to better their economies; his secret police behaved no different from Mubarkak’s.

The difference between Morsi and Mubarak reminds me of an anecdote about two brothers. About 150 years ago in the wild west, there lived two brothers, who were well known for their crooked business dealings and underworld connections. They acted as ruthlessly and cruelly as one might expect One day one of the brothers died, and the surviving brother wanted to give his dead brother a funeral fit for a king. He called the funeral home and made all the arrangements, then he called the town’s minister and made him an offer, as they say, he couldn’t refuse. He said, “I’ll give you $10,000 to put that new roof on the church if, in eulogizing my brother, you call him a saint.” Back then, $10,000 was like $200,000.

The minister agreed. The whole town turned out for the funeral, and the minister began: “The man you see in the coffin was a vile and debauched individual. He was a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a manipulator, a reprobate, and a hedonist. He destroyed the fortunes, careers, and lives of countless people in this city, some of whom are here today. This man did every dirty, rotten thing you can think of. But compared to his brother, he was a saint!”

Yes, Mubarak was bad, but now the Egyptian people realize that compared to Moris, Mubarak was a saint!

This time, the Egyptians said to Morsi, “We will expel you as our leader,” and the military got rid of him.

The synchronicity of this event is astounding—it happened on the week of the 4th of July.

When we look back at our history as Americans, we had the benefit of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other patriots were men who not only fought a revolution –all of whom were brilliant thinkers in their own right. They articulated a passion for the public good and thought that all private interests were secondary to it.

But what about the Egyptians?

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau explained that every leader and government has a social contract with its people. It has to act ethically and responsibly toward the governed. Otherwise, the people have the right to dispose of their leader, for he has broken the social contract.

This is indeed, one of the most important historical moments of the modern Arab world, one that could potentially spell the end of all the Arab theocrats who wish to keep their people’s souls and minds enslaved to the 7th century.

The changes in Egypt’s evolution toward freedom will not occur without difficulties. Martin Luther King explains in his writings that evil never gives up easily.

  • For years the struggle continued, the Pharaohs stubbornly refused to respond to the cry of Moses. Plague after plague swept through the Pharaoh’s domain, and yet they insisted on following their recalcitrant path. This tells us something about evil that we must never forget. It never voluntarily relinquishes its throne. Evil is stubborn, hard and determined. It never gives up without a bitter struggle and without the most persistent and almost fanatical resistance. But there is a checkpoint in the universe evil cannot permanently organize itself. So, after a long and trying struggle, the Israelites, through the providence of God, were able to cross the Red Sea, and thereby get out of the hands of Egyptian rule. But, like the old guard that never surrenders, the Egyptians, in a desperate attempt to prevent the Israelites from escaping, had their armies to go in the Red Sea behind them. As soon as the Egyptians got into the drowned-up Sea, the parted waters swept back upon them, and the turbulence and momentum of the tidal waves soon drowned all of them. As the Israelites looked back, all they could see was here and there a poor drowned body beaten upon the seashore. For the Israelite, this was a great moment. It was the end of a frightful period in their history.

May God help the Egyptian people and guide them with responsible leaders who will shepherd their people to peace and prosperity.

*

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Creating a Pathway toward Reconciliation

The Middle East has often been synonymous with the metaphors of despair and angst. This story began about six years ago, when a young Israeli Arab law student and musician named George Khoury, was accidentally killed by a drive-by Palestinian terrorist, while jogging in East Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood. The terrorists exclaimed afterward, “Oops, we thought your son was Jewish. Sorry . . .”

To most people, a victim of terrorism is just a statistic–unless you happen to personally know who the victim was. George was an  Israeli who lived among Palestinians, in a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem. While he was a high school student, he participated in interfaith projects with fellow Christians, Muslims and Jews. His death was so tragic because it was so unnecessary.

George’s father, Elias, is a respectable attorney in Jerusalem, has fought for Palestinians clients that had their lands confiscated by the Israeli government. Elias Khoury believes violence is a poison that is harming the Palestinian people. In memory of his beloved son, he made an unusual decision that has stirred controversy among his fellow Palestinians and Arabs–both within Israel–and well beyond Israel’s borders.

Elias decided to pay for an Arabic translation of Israeli writer Amos Oz’s autobiography, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”Amos Oz is beloved as a moderate and a dove, and Elias wanted the Palestinian community to learn about a different kind of Israeli, whose vision might help co-create  a new and more tolerant peaceful co-existence for Israel and the Palestinian people. Perhaps this new literary project would also give redemptive meaning to his son’s tragic death so that other young people might be spared from the endless cycle of violence.

The Arabic version of the book, “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” went on sale late last month in Beirut, Lebanon. So far it has received pretty favorable reviews–especially by Abdo Wazen, cultural editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat. As to be expected, some have reacted critically toward the book’s publication as well. The book is due to be distributed more widely in the region in the coming weeks. The book will soon be released in Egypt and Jordan.

Perhaps the pen is mightier than the sword.

You can be sure this literary work will send shock-waves throughout the Muslim world–from Algeria to Tehran.

Elias writes in his preface to the Arabic translation, “This book tells the history of the rebirth of the Jewish people,” he said as he sat in his law office. “We can learn from it how a people like the Jewish people emerged from the tragedy of the Holocaust and were able to reorganize themselves and build their country and become an independent people. If we can’t learn from that, we will not be able to do anything for our independence.” [1] Continue reading “Creating a Pathway toward Reconciliation”

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Haredi Rabbis “declare war” on the Internet (Part 2)

Understanding the “Real” War Against the Internet

Strangely, Rosenblum neglects to mention the most important aspect about the  Haredi war against the Internet–they fear its self critiquing and self-examination much more than the erotic websites.  Banning the Internet promotes the conspiracy of silence it desires.  Ynet news uncovered a document where the rabbis denounce the websites – the majority of which are daily news publications unsanctioned by the ultra-Orthodox establishment – on grounds that they “pursue all manners of news and gossip that defame our public” and “spread slander, lies and impurities to thousands.”

Haredi rabbis want to create a hermetic seal that will prevent their people from critically examining its community’s leaders, many of whom have been exploiting their flock in almost every conceivable way for decades.

In the same Ynet issue, Jerusalem “modesty squads” says computers containing “abominations” found in apartments rented by yeshiva students, calls on capital’s residents to “stand guard” and have forbidden the ownership of computers in the yeshivas.

The real animus against the Internet is not so much toward the erotic sites, it is toward the news services that openly criticize Haredi power and undermine their authority. Micromanaging or lobotomizing its Haredi community cannot solve the problem here.

What the rabbis are really trying to prevent is the emergence of self-reflective Haredim who are willing to take a hard and serious look at the level of dysfunction within its community. There was a time when child-molesters in the Haredi community could hide and get away with a cloak of unanimity. The Internet has made it virtually impossible for pedophiles to hide. Nor will the Internet hide the financial shenanigans we see among many of the most prestigious leaders of the Haredi community–they too, are now accountable. Continue reading “Haredi Rabbis “declare war” on the Internet (Part 2)”

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Book Review: Why Are Jews So Liberal?

Why Are Jews Liberals?

By Norman Podhoretz

Doubleday, 337 pages, $27

Some of you may be surprised to know that shortly before Rosh Hashanah, President Obama made a conference call with more than 1000 rabbis, encouraging them to speak about the health-care reform in their sermons this year. Because of my belief in the separation of Church and State issues, I will respectfully decline. I enjoy writing my own sermons and do not require political assistance from Washington to help craft my holiday message.

The social critic and essayist Norman Podhoretz believes that the appeal to the rabbinic community may be due to the Jewish people’s penchant toward liberal causes, or what he refers to as, “the Torah of liberalism.”

In his most recent and thought provoking book, “Why Are Jews Liberal?”, Podhoretz examines why Jews have been in love with the political left. Podhoretz, you see, was originally a leftist before he moved more toward the right.

The Jewish love affair with the left can be seen in most American elections. With the exception of Jimmy Carter (which was no great surprise given his anti-Jewish and Israel attitude), the Democratic Party has received an amazing 75% of the Jewish vote. Obviously, one reason why the Jews lean toward the left has a lot to do with the fact that Jews have traditionally seen themselves as underdogs in American culture. Our memories of the past still linger with us . . .

Some of our members will certainly remember when Jews were excluded from many of the country’s finest academic schools, or were limited in terms how they could climb up the corporate ladder.  The experience of being socially marginalized has obviously contributed toward the mindset that liberal politics best serves the needs of all of Americans who feel socially or economically earthbound.

There is sadly, a dark side to this kind of devotion. For example, the commitment to the liberal establishment has often supplanted the commitment to Jewish causes and the synagogue. Jews seem to be opting for what  the  sociologist Robert Bellah describes, as an “American social religion.” Statistics seem to support Podhoretz’s premise as well. In the United States, Jews are the least religious group in America—just 16% of Jews attend services at least monthly, and 42% of Jews attend once or not at all. Continue reading “Book Review: Why Are Jews So Liberal?”

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