Saturday, December 8, 2012

What anti-Semitic journalists get wrong about Israel and the Palestinians

Kirsten Powers on Israel and the Palestinians, with my commentary:

What Evangelicals Get Wrong About Israel and the Palestinians 
American evangelicals need to realize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no battle between good and evil. The more Christian view, far from blind loyalty to Israel, is recognizing the Palestinians’ humanity, says Kirsten Powers.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.”
Sadly, this isn’t Scripture you hear many evangelicals quoting when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though Jesus uttered the words in the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of making peace, American evangelicals have mostly picked sides and offered unquestioning, blind loyalty to Israel, with little to no regard for the plight of the Palestinian people.
All of the peacemaking in the Levant since 1948 has been made by Jews wearing IDF uniforms. Negotiation and concessions by Israel to the Palestinians has always led to more violence (i.e. dead Israeli and Palestinian civilians, both killed by Palestinian aggression). Remember the Oslo Accords, and the blood that followed?

Even the successful Camp David accords were ultimately the result of Israeli tanks crossing the Suez canal and IDF encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army. Ariel Sharon, more than Carter and Sadat and Begin, was the real peacemaker.
“Declaring that evangelical Christians are ‘on the front line of defense for Israel in the United States of America,’ the Rev. John Hagee brought delegates to the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit 2012 to their feet with loud cheering and even the sounds of shofars being blown,” The Times of Israelreported in April 2012.
That same month, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told NBC News of evangelical support of Israel, “American evangelicals have it in their DNA: God blesses those who bless the Jews and curses whoever curses the Jews.”
During the GOP primary, many evangelicals expressed support for Newt Gingrich, who called Palestinians “invented people.” Someone from a country that is a few hundred years old complaining about “invented” national identities would be comical if the crux of his message weren’t so offensive. Such despicable nonsense is spouted for one reason: to dehumanize Palestinians. After all, if they are just invented, pretend people, then who cares what happens to them?
I care a lot what happens to Palestinians. I want them to stop killing Jews. When they stop that, we can talk about other stuff.
Since when is dehumanizing people—God’s creation—an acceptable Christian view?
Holding a people accountable for their murderous genocidal violence is not to dehumanize them. To excuse their atrocities is to dehumanize them.

On the other side, a smaller number of American Christians have sized Israel up as an apartheid state and support boycotts, divestment campaigns, and other measures aimed at threatening the legitimacy of Israel. They engage in maddening moral equivalency, falsely equating the Israeli government with terrorist organizations.
All moral equivalency-- that of Leftie Israel haters and of Kirsten Powers-- is morally the same.

Fortunately, some evangelicals are starting to push back at the old paradigm that support for one group requires opposition to the other. Christians who denounce Hamas threats to “burn Israeli cities” also find statements like this alarming: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.” So said Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai this week.
Locker-room talk by a Israeli official when missiles are raining down on his cities is not the same thing as the official government policy of a elected terrorist gang.

It is not Israeli policy to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Actually, Israel recently sent Gaza back to Hamas, which is worse than sending it back to the Middle Ages. 

It is official Hamas policy-- wildly popular in the Gazan maelstrom of Jew-hatred-- to wipe Israel off the map. Presumably that doesn't mean that they intend to send six million Jews to Miami. 

One of the leaders pursuing a different approach is Todd Deatherage, cofounder of Telos Group, an organization that works with American evangelicals to help positively transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Deatherage is an expert Middle East hand as well as an evangelical: he was a State Department official in the Bush administration, where he worked on Middle East issues. He was also once an aide to former senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR).
“What a lot of Christians don’t understand is the importance of realizing both people have legitimate connections to the land.”
The Jews' connections are to Jewish land. The Palestinians' connections are to Jewish land. 

They have similar aspirations, I guess.

“I strongly support the existence of Israel as a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people; that is very important,” said Deatherage. “By the same token, I support Palestinian claims to their own state. I support the right of both peoples.”
Palestinians have never had a nation. Do you recall reading of much in the way of "calls for Palestinian Statehood" under the Ottomans? Me neither.

The Jewish people have three millennia of connection to the Levant, and for a millennium they had a great nation. Even in diaspora, the Jewish contributions to mankind have been immeasurable-- law and literature and science and theology and arts and Christ.

The Palestinian contribution to mankind has been airline hijacking.

Yes, Israel has every right to want to keep its citizens safe. Hamas sending rockets into Israeli neighborhoods, and as it did Tuesday, blowing up a bus in Tel Aviv, is intolerable. Israel has a right to a state. It has a right to defend itself. It has a right and reason to fear that people are trying to annihilate it, and the U.S. should stand with Israel against those who seek to destroy it. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Iran.) But evangelicals already know that. They just don’t acknowledge that the Palestinians also have rights.
Of course Palestinians have rights. For example, they have the right to vote. They elected terrorists. Hamas and Fatah are acting in their stead. Hamas and Fatah are murderous genocidal anti-Semitic gangs devoted to perpetual war and to the extermination of the Jewish people.

Palestinians exercised their rights. Now they can exercise accountability.

“What a lot of Christians don’t understand is the importance of realizing both people have legitimate connections to the land,” said Deatherage.
So Israel is like the Sudetentland. Palestinians need lebensraum.

Palestinians seem to have considerably more interest in the land that Jews are on than in land of their own. The primary purpose they put to land of their own is to build semtex vest stockpiles and rocket launch sites.
“You don’t have to reconcile them; you have to appreciate that both peoples have legitimate desires to live in dignity and peace.
Israeli peace means co-existence with Palestinians. Palestinian peace means non-existence of Jews.

Other than that, they're very similar.
A lot of people on both sides want to do that. Both sides have rejectionists who don’t want that.
I am unaware of any faction in Israel that advocates the extermination of Muslim Palestinians as a people.

I am unaware of any substantial faction in the Palestinian territories that does not advocate the extermination of Israeli Jews.
Both sides have read the story to be that the only thing that works is violence; the only thing the other side understands is violence. But there is no military solution to this conflict. This has to be solved through negotiations.”
The "negotiation" approach has been the bloodiest, giving terrorists and Jew-haters time and opportunity to kill... Jews.

Israeli security-- which also means Palestinian security, because it prevents war and suicide bombings-- has been the basis for all of the peace there has been in the Levant since 1948.

We need a new paradigm. It is possible to be at once pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-American, and pro-peace. 
No it is not. Any more than it is possible to be at once pro-Jewish, pro-Nazi, pro-American, and pro-peace. 

Can you pick out the term that doesn't fit? 

No matter what people may claim, the game doesn’t have to be zero-sum. Christians are inclined to see everything as a battle between good and evil.
Not everything is a battle between good and evil. This is, however.
This is a familiar place, an easier paradigm to navigate. But even where evil exists—and it does—basic Christian theology says there is no space in this world that can’t be redeemed by God.
Repentance needs to precede redemption. Yet Palestinian hate of Jews just grows and grows.

Deatherage urges American evangelicals to understand the Palestinian perspective. “Palestinians have a need for dignity and respect, and a deep attachment to the land,” he said. “That is why they will not leave; they are tenacious about staying on their land and that they have their own place. There is a deep attachment to place. The Palestinian Christians who are there are the inheritors of the early church. They have kept the flame of Christianity alive for the last 2,000 years. They are descendants of the first Christians.”
And if those Palestinian Christians will just stop all those rocket attacks and suicide bombings...

Many evangelicals will be shocked to learn there are Palestinian Christians living under Israeli occupation. But that shouldn’t be the reason to care. Regardless of the religion or ethnicity of the people caught up in this conflict, Deatherage said, “There are two peoples with two stories, and if you want to figure out how to be a peacemaker, to take what Jesus said seriously, then it behooves you to be able to listen to the other and ask, “What do I really need to do to be a reconciler in this very broken place?”
Christians would be wise to ponder that important question.

Jews have a Jewish state, as they should.

Palestinians have demonstrated clearly that they neither need nor deserve a state, anymore than gangs like Nazis or Bolsheviks need or deserve a state (did I mention that Palestinians were fervent Nazi supporters in World War II?).

The Palestinian state is Jordan. Egypt may want some of the rabid anti-Semites in Gaza, now that Egypt is a terrorist state itself. There is a fine political solution already in place.

I know that this is an inflammatory thing to say, what the heck: Kirsten Powers is an anti-Semite. Anyone who denies the Jewish people the simple right to self-defense from a rabble fanatically and historically bent on their extermination is expressing plain anti-Semitic views, just as the persistent insistence that black people had no right to resist lynch mobs (Democrat party policy from 1865 to the mid-20th century) was properly interpreted as racism.

There is no moral equivalence whatsoever between Israel and Palestine. Palestinians must not have a state, anymore than Nazis or Bolsheviks should have had a state. There are people whose behavior is so evil that they must never be granted the reigns of power.

The innocent Jews and Muslims murdered and repressed in this conflict are the victims of Islamic savagery, which should never be the charter of a nation. 


  1. KW, the resident Catholic theologian, has risen from his mattress on the floor and opined on matters eschatological.

    You must be one busy boy, what with your ninja training, your burden as a sex god, ghostbuster extraordinaire, and a consulting gig with the Vatican. I'm duly impressed.

  2. You're a cheerleader for the extermination of several hundred million people in the 20th century (I'm not even counting the genocide by your socialist heroes in Russia and Germany)

    And you're a pathological liar. KW never said any such thing. If you had any evidence for your claims, you'd support them. Instead, you lie over and over and over and over again.

    1. Yea. You got a point. It's absurd of me to attribute to a greenie socialist the atrocities committed by greenies and socialists.

      KW has such a well-established record of opposition to abortion, population control, anti-DDT hysteria, socialism of the national and international sort, etc.

  3. Ms. Powers attitude towards Israel is typical of the 2 dimensional moral relativist, politically correct, dumbed down garbage that is so prevalent in the media today.

    1. Egnor's attitude is even worse. It's one-dimensional: Islam is bad, Christianity good.


    2. Hoo,
      I don't read that into what Dr Egnor has written.
      Not at all.
      He is referring to the PA.
      The PA is not Islam.
      It is a regime - a proxy regime at that.
      Further, he is critical of his fellow who share Ms. Powers shallow view.

    3. [Egnor's attitude is even worse. It's one-dimensional: Islam is bad, Christianity good.]

      There are many very good things about Islam-- recognition of God's existence, recognition of objective moral law, respect for scripture, charity, camaraderie, etc.

      The best thing of all about Islam is Muslims, hundreds of millions of which are good decent honest people.

      The good things about Islam are the things that it shares with Christianity (and Judaism), which are many.

      The bad things about Islam are those things that distinguish Islam from Christianity. These include a belief in the capriciousness of God, denial of the Trinity, denial of Christ, as well as the horrendous Islamic notion that religious faith is rightly spread by violence and conquest, and that killing innocents in God's name is not only moral but required. That is pure evil.

      What Islam has in common with other religions is good. What is unique to it is largely bad.

    4. Egnor: The bad things about Islam are those things that distinguish Islam from Christianity. These include a belief in the capriciousness of God, denial of the Trinity, denial of Christ, as well as the horrendous Islamic notion that religious faith is rightly spread by violence and conquest, and that killing innocents in God's name is not only moral but required. That is pure evil.

      All of those things are also in the Old Testament.

      Capricious and jealous God? Check.

      Denial of Trinity? What Trinity?

      Violence, conquest, and killings in God's name? How about those Canaanites?



    5. Christians do not view the violence in the Old Testament as an instruction book for today. We have a New Covenant.

      And of course Jews don't continue to practice the violence depicted in the Tanakh. Rabbinical Midrash emphatically stresses peace and mercy and self-sacrifice for the good of others. Jewish culture is arguably the least violent culture on earth (except perhaps the Buddhists).

      Islam is, particularly in its Arab instantiation, as brutally violent as the worst of the Old Testament atrocities, and has been for 1400 years. Islam is built on conquest and violence, and retains those traits, even perhaps more emphatically, with the rise of Wabbhism and other radical sects

      For Jews and Christians, the horrors of the Old Testament are history.

      For Islam, genocide and slaughter of innocents is public policy (e.g. in Palestinian territories).

      It's funny how you passionately condemn atrocities from 3000 years ago, but are silent about and even tacitly endorse similar atrocities today.

    6. What strikes me as particularly disingenuous in your argumentation, Egnor, is a double standard about religions themselves. The points you raised about Islam applied equally against Judaism. Islam doesn't take Trinity seriously: bad. Judaism has the same take: OK. Same with other points. This either means that you were not really serious about your complaints (is it OK to reject Trinity, after all?) or it means a double standard. Quot licet Iovi and all that.

      And of course we needn't go back 3000 years to see the use of religion to justify violence. European anti-Semitism isn't that old. It had the blessing of one of the undisputed Christian leaders. It survived in that form well into the 20th century.

      So I am afraid you will have to be a little bit more patient and forgiving to other people, just as Christians are supposed to be. You aren't at the moment. You are an angry, self-righteous nut job who hates with passion. Look in the mirror once in a while and wonder about that.


    7. Egnor: It is Muslim behavior I condemn so strongly. It is genocidal and violently hateful.

      No. The quotes I provided show unequivocally that you see a fundamental problem with Islam as religion. Have the courage to acknowledge what you have previously written or disavow it.


    8. Uniquely violent? Wait, isn't there another holy book that prescribes death for idolatry and for adultery? I forgot what it's called. Maybe you could remind me.


    9. Egnor: Of course I have a fundamental problem with Islam. I think it's satanic. Deeply evil.

      Q.E.D., crus.


    10. [Uniquely violent? Wait, isn't there another holy book that prescribes death for idolatry and for adultery?]

      Here is the Christian teaching on adultery

      Here is the Muslim teaching on homosexuality.


    11. I didn't ask you what the Christian teaching on adultery was, did I? Reread my question and answer it to the best of your ability.


  4. What would be an example of a fundamentally bad people? And what, if anything, should be done about such a nation?

    These are some disturbing questions, I think.


  5. "What would be an example of a fundamentally bad people?"

    All people are fundamentally "bad", in the sense of original sin.

    No race or nationality is more or less bad than any other.

    Islam is not a race nor a nationality. It is a religion, and I believe that the tenets unique to Islam are very bad, as I have said many times.

    Muslims are intrinsically no more or less bad than any other people. Those who follow the violent teachings of Islam are very bad, to that extent.

    [And what, if anything, should be done about such a nation?]

    Under no circumstances is aggressive war or willful harm to any Muslim ever justified. It is never moral to kill or injure anyone as a primary intent. I support Just War Theory, which only sanctions limited defensive measures.

    We need to defend ourselves from the violent and intolerant aspects of Islam, using military, political, and rhetorical means where appropriate.

    And we need to speak out.

  6. Let's review the following three statements:

    1. Israel is a nation of fundamentally good people.
    2. All people are fundamentally bad.
    3. No race or nationality is more or less bad than any other.

    Taken together, these statements suggest that the words good and bad are meaningless. You are so postmodern! LOL


  7. Hoo: And what, if anything, should be done about such a nation?

    Egnor: Under no circumstances is aggressive war or willful harm to any Muslim ever justified. It is never moral to kill or injure anyone as a primary intent. I support Just War Theory, which only sanctions limited defensive measures.

    (Hoo again) Nowhere did I suggest that Muslims (or Arabs) are a bad people. You made this crucial step yourself. Attaboy, Michael!

  8. I support Israel because it is an admirable nation of fundamentally good horrendously persecuted people who have given more good to humanity than any other people.

    I'd like to see you expand on that a little. I admire Israel as well - it's a small democratic and technologically advanced liberal island in a sea of brutal backward religiously conservative dictatorships. But I don't see that its citizens are a "fundamentally good people". As opposed to what? And what excess good have they given to humanity? Are you talking about the disproportionate number of Jewish Nobel laureates or something like that?

  9. I think he is trying to say that all nations are equal, but some nations are more equal than others. Or something.


  10. [Let's review the following three statements:

    1. Israel is a nation of fundamentally good people.
    2. All people are fundamentally bad.
    3. No race or nationality is more or less bad than any other.

    Taken together, these statements suggest that the words good and bad are meaningless. You are so postmodern! LOL]

    Nations, religions and cultures obviously differ in goodness. Jewish culture is better than Islamic culture. By almost any measure-- freedom, democratic government, academics, science, etc.

    Jewish goodness is not because of genetic superiority of Jews. It is cultural and religious goodness, which transcends genetics, etc. It is better than Islamic culture in the same way that American culture is better than Nazi culture. That is not to say that Americans are better human beings than Germans.

    I suspect that I waste my time explaining this to you.

  11. Especially Murkans, of course.


  12. Michael, you seem to be of two minds. These things can't both be right:

    1. No race or nationality is more or less bad than any other.
    2. Nations, religions and cultures obviously differ in goodness.

    You are arguing with yourself. You are not a schizophrenic, by any chance?


  13. @troy:

    Jews were the first people to see history as linear, rather than circular. The whole concept that history is progressing, and not just recurring, is Jewish. Judaism is the original monotheism, the first people to 'get it' that God is not a local natural deity but the supernatural Cause of everything-- "I AM" rather than a local deity to be worshiped at the hearth. Jewish contribution to Law are enormous (the Decalogue), literature (the Prophets, etc), morality, science, etc etc. In culture after culture, Jews, despite persistent and often murderous persecution, have made their cultures better, smarter, more moral, more artistic.

    I'm fascinated by Jewish intellectual traditions-- I was at a bat mitzvah of a niece last year (my wife is half-Jewish), and I loved the reading of Torah and the Mid-rash. The Rabbinical commentaries on Torah are profound insights into every aspect of life. This intellectual tradition, and the traditions of morality etc that accompany it, is ancient, and permeates Jewish life.

    I have plenty of disagreements with my Jewish friends and relatives-- I'm a passionate Catholic, obviously, and I'm much more conservative than most Jews politically, but I have a deep admiration and even love for Judaism.

    I find such beautiful culture very much lacking in Islam, and I wish that Christian culture would consistently emulate more aspects of Jewish tradition, particularly in education.

    I detest anti-Semitism, just as I detest bullies and violence against innocents. The idea that Muslims cheer and celebrate when suicide bombers massacre Jewish kids in pizzerias leaves me gasping with anger.

  14. @Hoo:

    You understand exactly what I'm saying.

    Americans are not biologically or genetically better than Germans as individuals, but we are as a nation morally better than Nazis.

    All men are created equal, in terms of rights and basic relation to God. But some cultures elevate man, some degrade man.

    You would like to portray my critique of Islam as racist, rather than a genuine critique of Islamic theology, ethics, and practice. No such luck.

    Keep trying though. It's amusing.

  15. You are mistaken about my goals. I don't set out to portray your musings as racist. (You are paranoid on that count.) I just find your writings laughably self-contradictory. This example is just one of many.

    You are an adorable little dork, you.


  16. I love Islamists as commanded in Matthew 5:44. There are many others besides the Islamists that I also love and pray for.
    That does not mean I love Islam or the actions of the Muslim world. Nor does it mean I see ALL Muslims as my enemy.
    It is the doctrines of Islam and it's founders I find to be extremely objectionable.
    I have to note: I find it remarkable that the very people who would be most set upon by the forces that guide Islam spend all their energy attempting to attack someone who simply speaks their mind about it.

    I was referring to the post above. If you read it, you would soon see that the focus was on the PA and Ms Powers interpretation of the modern political dynamic of the situation in Israel.
    Older posts and comments were not the scope of my response. My memory is fine. I have plenty of memories of fighting wars with and against Muslims.
    I hold some among my dearest friends.
    We share memories of experiences that nobody else could relate to.

  17. Great post Dr. Egnor!

    - Lynn Ellis

  18. You can focus even on a single sentence, crus. It is nonetheless true that Michael considers Islam to be evil. He confirmed it in his own words.


  19. @Hoo:

    [It is nonetheless true that Michael considers Islam to be evil]

    Do you believe that a religion that believes in conquest by war, justifies the killing of non-believers, and prescribes death for apostasy, homosexuality, adultery, etc, and believes that these prescriptions are God's/Allah's actual words and cannot be changed, and actually practices these today, is not evil?

    Why are you such a shill for these maniacs?

  20. I do not, but we are not discussing my views. Both Egnor and you believe in the existence of evil, so you understand full well what he means by saying that Islam is evil.


  21. The Old Testament has all of that in spades, too. You don't seem to find it problematic. Double standard? Who knew?


  22. I didn't ask you about the Old Testament.

    I asked you about YOUR opinion of a religion that teaches and does those things on 12/9/2012. Now, not 1000 BC.

    Why are you such a shill for Islam?

    If a Christian votes against gay marriage, you have a cow. If a Muslim nation hangs gays, you... yawwwwnnn...

  23. Hoo,
    Oh but we are discussing your views, in counter to Mike's. A conversation of this nature is two sided, at the very least. Mike has stated his foundation of thinking, and so have you... now.

    If you do not believe in Evil, your argument is at best ill informed, and at worst a dishonest one.
    I will defer to the former.

    What you truly object to is that ANYTHING is characterized as evil. You refuse to apply those standards to ANY idea, and hence you object to Mike's description of Islam as an evil force.
    If you did believe in Evil you would be hard pressed not to agree with Dr Egnor.

    Evil and Goodness are always in a flux, there is never a balance of the two. One always wins. Usually goodness - but evil does triumph here and there.
    When the balance tips (heavily in this case) toward evilness the idea(s) being weighed is called an evil one.

    As for his comments on a Satanic influence - anything as evil as the Nazi Reich or the great Jihad is OBVIOUSLY Satanic in the eyes of those of us who believe in a personal, elemental form of evil.

    An ideology that transplants evil behaviour for good, as we so often see in Islam, must be considered Evil in the Satanic sense, by those of us who believe evil is a real immaterial force that has a nexus (Satan). Unless it is reformed from WITHIN.

    That reform will only occur when there is pressure from without and an impetus and example set by those who seek it. That is possible with Islam, but it will take a lot of time and a lot of sacrifice to do so. Many martyrs of a different sort than the type who detonate bombs on buses or discos full of kids.
    Moral subjectivism will never get us there.

  24. As someone who does not believe in God, I view holy books as products of men. Both the Koran and the Bible have plenty of things that today we deem rather extreme. I think we can agree on that. The Abrahamic faiths are old and contain lots of baggage that no one today wants to own.

    It's a separate question of what adherents of these faiths preach today. I have not aired my views on that, so don't accuse me of being a shill for Islam. You simply don't have enough information to do that.


  25. @shill Hoo:

    [I have not aired my views on that, so don't accuse me of being a shill for Islam. You simply don't have enough information to do that.]

    Being a shill doesn't mean that you "air your views". It means that you do things to advance a cause. Your commentary here-- excoriating Christians while defending Muslim atrocities by your silence-- is shilling.

  26. @Hoo:

    You take me to task for describing Islam as evil. I've given my reasons, which center around sanctioning and encouraging violence.

    Do you believe that anything is evil?

    If not violence of the sort that Islam sanctions, what?

  27. Hoo,

    Well then we agree these books where penned by men. In fact you'll find no dispute that the books of Moses are written by Moses, of the Gospels by the names on them. It is the depth of interpretation and inspiration of these works we disagree on.
    You read them like a medieval literalist, in a very superficial manner. Many of my Jewish friends would say in a (no offence intended) Christian and anti-Semitic fashion. Don't get me wrong, I am not calling you (or the vast majority of Christians) anti-Semitic ; I am simply suggesting the way you read them is very similar to Christian medieval (and even some modern) anti-Semites. I once found them hard to reconcile, as well - but no more.
    You seem to regard both the Christian and Jewish bibles as morality tales and/or ravings of madmen.
    Obviously we faithful have a very different and more complex view - having made a lifelong study of these books.
    What I would suggest you do, if you're interesting in understanding the consistency of the message of the OT is to talk to (or listen, actually) to a Rabbi about these books.
    A good start would be Lord Sacks, the Cheif Rabbi of the Commonwealth.
    He has quite a few good explanations of interpretations and meaning of the OT books available on Youtube. Brilliant guy. Been lucky enough to meet with him.
    But, better still - speak face to face with a Rabbi about these books. Don't be shy, explain your grievances and let him explain why/how the Jews view the same texts.
    You'll be astonished!