The Christian Zionist Movement and Jewish Confusion

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Most people who regularly visit this blog know that I am Jewish. While I am not what one would call a pious Jew, being a Deist in outlook, I have always been very proud of my ethnicity and of the religion, which plays a central part in it. From their infancy, my children were immersed in Judaism both through education and by our family regularly taking part in Jewish Rituals, including regular Synagogue attendance. Where I part personally from normative Judaism is that I view the Torah, The Five Books of Moses, as primarily allegory with some real history thrown in. To me it is a work of some wise and some not so wise men, not the writings of God. I believe and have seen demonstrated in many families though, that the Torah and its 613 Commandments can serve as blueprint for living a fulfilling life.

The issue becomes complicated when it comes to my feelings about Israel. To me the existence ofI srael is a necessity for Jews to have a future in this world and if it comes to it, a final haven to make our last stand. I am an American first, so I would not willingly emigrate away from the country of my birth, unless those who hate Jews come to power. Contrary to the opinion of many, Jews are far from being a homogeneous ethnicity/religion. One cannot for instance refer to being an Orthodox Jew with any precision of description since that movement is in itself splintered on many details of interpretation. This is true of the other main branches of Judaism: Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionism. Perhaps it is because there is no central Jewish religious authority speaking for all Jews, as much as organizations like ADL, AIPAC, et. al. would claim to, that the range of Jewish opinion is so wide on so many subjects.

This brings me to an article I read at the PublicEye.org titled: “The New Christian Zionism and the Jews”. Its’ thesis is that many Jewish supporters of Israel and the current Israeli government have allied themselves with Christian Fundamentalists whose “love” for Israel and Jews come from the wish to fulfill the prophecies of The Book of Revelations, where in fact Jews not willing to accept Jesus, will die in a horrid holocaust.  This trend has been one disturbing me for a long time. I have watched Jews and Israeli’s embrace Fundamentalist Christian support, in what to me is a shortsighted and irrational policy. This could be justified by saying that a country takes its allies where one can get them. Sometimes what seems an example of realpolitik is merely an instance of dangerously narrow opportunism, as I will elaborate. 

“In late October, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel spoke at a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event hosted by the controversial Christian Zionist John Hagee at hisCornerstoneChurchinSan Antonio,Texas. Internationally broadcast on GodTV, Hagee presented $9 million in donations to 29 Israeli andU.S.Jewish organizations. Hagee is one of the world’s most successful televangelists and a prolific author who prophesizes that apocalyptic wars and the migration of Jews to the holy land will help trigger the return of Jesus and his thousand-year reign on earth.

Wiesel joins a long list of Jews and Israelis who show no discomfort at being in the center of someone else’s apocalyptic religious vision. Making common cause with Christian Zionists are the lobby group American Israel Political Action Committee, which hosted Hagee as a conference keynote speaker in 2007, and Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who attended a CUFI summit last July.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a very different kind of “pro-Israel” gathering was taking place.J Street, the “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobby group, was holding its first national conference with panels featuring American, Israeli and Palestinian speakers. Hundreds gathered in the ballroom of the Washington D.C. Grand e wayHyatt for the conference, whose program explicitly stated thatJ Streetaims to challenge “right-wing Christian Zionists” – the very people Wiesel was addressing.”

http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v24n4/jews-new-christian-zionism.html

The above was the opening of the article I linked below it and it is the centerpiece of this post. My assumption is that you would read it, so I am writing this as if the full discussion has been laid out, in the interests of brevity. The current Israeli Government headed by Bibi Netanyahu is I believe wrong in its approach to the settlement of the ongoing conflict. Their power base is an amalgam of Orthodox Jews and settlers on the West Bank, which is pretty much the same thing. The aims of this government date back to the founding of the Likud Party and Menachem Begin. This party skewed Israel away from its original heritage and moved it towards a more nationalistic stance, which also was one embracing a philosophy that was economically/politically conservative. They actively sought and received the support of the more extreme elements of Jewish Orthodoxy, that except for the crucial issue of Jesus, are philosophically akin to Christian Fundamentalists. In my opinion, Likud’s rise to power reflects the same kind of public attitude that also brings Republican’s to power in the U.S..  That is a false perception of strength through militancy and an economic system favoring Corporate interests disguised as freedom.

Begin, in the 70’s began building settlements in the West Bank as a means of justifying the perpetual occupation of these areas. Through the years this policy has continued, despite the fact that world opinion sees the only viable solution being a “two state” result. Two discrete states represent to me the only viable answer to this ongoing conflict and the only one that really coincides with I believe to be Jewish values. I further feel that it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future viability, since no characteristically Jewish State can exist with apartheid.

The agenda of the fundamentalist Christians, however, is to encourage no viable solution, but to encourage the ongoing violent struggle. This is of course to bring on  the “Glorious End Times” and Jesus return. They are for the existence of Israel only up until Armageddon and then God help those Jews who don’t see the light and convert. As an outsider to Christianity, The Book of Revelations has always seemed to me to be the demented vision of a Christian persecuted by the Romans. Written perhaps 150 years after Jesus it is notable for its’ bloody and turgid style, which is at odds with both the Gospels and other writings of the Christian Canon. It was included in the Canon though at the council of Nicaea, 320 CE, because it serves as a bogeyman tale to keep the faithful in line. It presents a wholly different Jesus than the being presented in the Gospels.

Given the ends these Fundamentalists seek, it is actually suicidal for Jews and Israeli’s to share the same bed with them. It is in the best interests of the Israeli’s, Palestinians, U.S., and world peace to resolve this conflict in a viable fashion. Given the views of these Christian Fundamentalists, a peaceful solution would be a terrible idea and in their minds delay God’s Plan. The inconsistency of believing in an all-powerful God whose “plans” and schedules are affected by Humankind is not apparent to them in their delighted rush to bring on the Rapture and thus bring the “faithful believers” into Heaven.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

80 thoughts on “The Christian Zionist Movement and Jewish Confusion

  1. Excellent post. I have frequently wondered why Isrealis would want to associate with christian fundamentalists. It seems very shortsighted.

  2. Thank you for laying this out so neatly. I have argued with my inlaws for a while that the political alliance between the Israeli right and evangelical/apocalyptic Christianity is fraught with danger.

  3. Yes, excellent post…..

    Now exactly how can you be Jewish and believe in the Books of Revelations….when it is written about 60 years after the “Messiahs” death….Makes about as much sense as Jews for Jesus….

  4. “What do you think of Norman Finkelstein?”

    Martin,

    I think Finkelstein is a man justifiably bitter, given what happened to his parents, who uses hyperbolic overstatement in his claims. I think his personal politics infuse his scholarship to its detriment. the Shoah was real and it is in Jewish interests to use that reality as a means of self-protection in what has for 2,000 years been a hostile world. I am not slavishly devoted to Elie Wiesel for instance, indeed he has profited by his retelling his experiences, but that doesn’t diminish the horrors he saw. That Finkelstein is heavily supported by people like Chomsky and Cockburn doesn’t surprise me. I am fans of neither, though like a stopped clock they get things right about twice a day.

    However, Martin: What do you think of Norman Finkelstein? This will be the last time I respond to you if you keep playing your asking questions game.The honest thing to do would be to state: “I think Norman Finkelstein is………, what do you think? You consistently throw in leading questions while not revealing your reason for asking them. You did this on a previous thread. Keep doing it now, or in the future and I simply will ignore you as someone who acts in bad faith.

  5. On the one hand it is disappointing to see Wiesel participate with CUFI, but then given his own personal background, I can also see understanding why he would do so, based on your own offered justification: take friends where he can. And Israel often doesn’t have many friends.

    That said, I’ve long wanted more positive statements out of Israel about dismantling the settlements.

    My naive, optimistic, hopeful view, is that as in Gaza, when it gets down to it, settlements will be dismantled. And that they serve as security, as negotiating points, and to help present the point that land for peace can mean something in addition to Israel alone giving up the land. It can also mean that Palestinians and other Arab lands recognize Israel’s need for borders that can be secured and defended, and that this might be done by their giving up land as well. (I am referring to the 14 mile width of Israel.)

    At another forum, I heard one view of the settlements that corresponded to what I said above, but then said, that given the experience of what happened in Gaza after Israel pulled out, it would be much more difficult to convince Israel to abandon settlements or land. Which was understandable, and depressing.

    And I also know, that I don’t know enough about the situation and so I give much more deference to the parties on the ground than to pundits and know nothings pixellating on my screen.

    One issue I have with the settlements pertains to this: “Through the years this policy has continued, despite the fact that world opinion sees the only viable solution being a “two state” result.” Sadly, I think world opinion is changing, and turning back to a one state solution, which I believe would mean the end of Israel.

  6. “I think Finkelstein is a man justifiably bitter, given what happened to his parents,”

    Can you elaborate on this? What happened to his parents that leave him justifiably bitter?

  7. a shortsighted and irrational policy … Bibi Netanyahu is I believe wrong in its approach to the settlement of the ongoing conflict … Given the ends these Fundamentalists seek, it is actually suicidal for Jews and Israeli’s to share the same bed with them

    Practically the exact words of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski upon being interviewed after returning from several nations that invited him to speak.

    He says that current US policy, both at home and abroad, approaches lunacy and will lead to the demise of Israel.

    Primarily because that policy is scripted by warmongers who think peace is a toy for weak people.

  8. Two things surprise me about Jews & Israel. You have hit one of them very well here and I appreciate your post. Short sighted is putting it mildly I’m afraid.

    Tied in to that first thing is my second point – there is a much more open, robust and textured debate about how to deal with Palestine and the future of Israel in Israel than here. In the US only the Likud position is acceptable. Anything that is not full support of the right-wing party is labeled as anti-Israel and often hinted as anti-Semitic.

    I happen to think that there, like here, the right-wing is leading the nation into a blind canyon from which there will be no escape but it is not acceptable to say that out loud if you want to be viewed as rational for the purposes of politics in America. I think this is poisoning both the US and Israel.

  9. Anon – both survived the Warsaw Ghetto, and death camps (Majdanek and Auschwitz,) both lost their families during this time (his mothers first husband dies there).

    Although his mother became a pacifist itmightbe possible to understand where bitter and angry came from.

  10. “Tied in to that first thing is my second point – there is a much more open, robust and textured debate about how to deal with Palestine and the future of Israel in Israel than here. In the US only the Likud position is acceptable. Anything that is not full support of the right-wing party is labeled as anti-Israel and often hinted as anti-Semitic. ”

    Yes, I’ve heard this too.

    “I happen to think that there, like here, the right-wing is leading the nation into a blind canyon from which there will be no escape but it is not acceptable to say that out loud if you want to be viewed as rational for the purposes of politics in America. I think this is poisoning both the US and Israel.”

    But of course, it’s not just the right wing. All over this blog, all over many “progressive” blogs, there is all sorts of bullying and name calling and other tactics that go on to ensure there is no debate and that all must hew to the one true progressive line. As an example in the Solyndra thread, we see excerpts of Kevin Drum, and Think Progress doing exactly this. Instead of examining the issue realistically as Professor Turley does, Drum’s take, Think Progress’ take, the take of the commenters here is: “How to spin it.”

    That’s the problem when we see one side as a locomotive to be stopped by aiming our locomotive dead on into their’s. Nothing happens and no one wins.

  11. “Anon – both survived the Warsaw Ghetto, and death camps (Majdanek and Auschwitz,) both lost their families during this time (his mothers first husband dies there).

    Although his mother became a pacifist itmightbe possible to understand where bitter and angry came from.”

    From my understanding, which is limited only to the paragraph from the Wikipedia, his parent’s experience was not much better or not much worse than many other’s parent’s experiences.

    And so I still do not understand why his bitterness is “justifiable” when presumably so many others did not develop this bitterness.

    I can see how his mother being a pacifist may have influenced him, and even led him to truly believe (and I assume he does) in his positions, but if so, I would not call that justifiable bitterness. I would call that sincere opposition with perhaps a bit of delusional ignorance and self-denial.

    I really just don’t know, I appreciate you and Mike trying to clarify it.

  12. Mike s

    Your post is probably felt by many of Jewish heritage,I remember that HBO had the story of the Israeli and Palestinian mothers on awhile back and they were going back and forth on their views and the Palestinian mother had lost her daughter as she became a suicide bomber and blew herself up in protest.

    The thing that got me was one mother was saying how things were in her mind and the other mother was showing how things were just the opposite in hers.

    FYI:Menachem Begin-A Brief Biography & QuotesMenachem Begin-A Brief Biography & Quotes

    http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Famous-Zionist-Quotes/Story703.html

    Strictly FYI no more no less.

  13. Frankly, thanks for the always-welcome reminder that the debate on these issues in Israel is more robust, more nuanced, and has a wider point of view than is represented in the debate on these shores. For those who have “heard that”, I suggest regular reading of Haaretz, for one, whose English-language version is on line. There are many other blogs, websites, etc. that one could turn to as well.

  14. DHMCarver:

    From your Haaretz link this is the one that seems to have our country on pins and needles.

    “However, officials in both Israel and in Washington have affirmed that the U.S. was hard at work to and prevent itself the possible embarrassment of being forced to use its veto power in order to thwart the Palestinian vote, by attempting to assemble enough council members to either vote against the proposal or abstain as to make the veto unnecessary.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-laboring-to-avoid-veto-of-palestinian-statehood-bid-at-un-sources-say-1.385055

  15. ” For those who have “heard that”, I suggest regular reading of Haaretz, for one, whose English-language version is on line. There are many other blogs, websites, etc. that one could turn to as well.”

    For those who put “scare quotes” around phrases and then turn honest sincere well meaning comments and inquiries into an opportunity for you to peacock how superior you are, why don’t you stuff it up your ass.

  16. Mike,

    Excellent post and to the self-destructive heart of the matter.

    anon,

    That response was as “well reasoned” as the bulk of your posts, including the ones above where you yourself use what you call scare quotes. (The quotes just used in this post were irony quotes, jackass.)

  17. Seriously Gene, you’re going to tell me this statement was ill-reasoned?

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/09/17/the-christian-zionist-movement-and-jewish-confusion/#comment-268451

    So, I mostly hear about how my statements are ill-reasoned from the butt-hurt losers of an argument.

    Yep. That fits you to a tee.

    Note to Gene, as you pound the table and as you pound your lap, instead of constantly refreshing all of us of your butt hurt over how my ill-reasoned posts stomp your arguments into the ground, why don’t you read the post, and actually tell me what it is you disagree with.

    But no, I don’t expect anything other than poutrage and butt-hurt from you.

    So noted.

  18. Awwww. Is that the best you have to offer, anonymous troll?

    I object to you whining about “scare quotes” when you use them yourself, hypocrite.

    Try again.

    As to stomping me? ROFL

    You’re a regular legend in your own mind, aren’t you?

  19. last I checked Haaretz was not part of the American debate over the ME but a sign of how stunned our media is in reporting.

    Anon – if you really wonder how losing ones family like that could lead to bitterness you are more soulless than I suspected. My guess is you are trying to be glib & failed badly. Its a miracle that there are some people who could live through that and not be bitter and angry.

    Yes many liberals and progressive are angry but they are not leading the country into a blind canyon – they are being dragged into it against their judgement and consent. We had 40 years of examples of progressive leadership. 40 years of prosperity and growth. that was followed by 30 years (so far) of anti-progressive leadership that has gotten us to where we are today with every indication it is going to get much worse.

  20. Interesting post. I find myself asking the same questions. I believe in God, yet I am rational and realize for the greater part of civilized western history the church has been the means by which the upper class influenced the working class. A person’s inner conflict and guilt is heightened when one looks to the church for guidance during stressful times. Has your Church accepted your views? I’m assuming they read your blog.

  21. Frankly,

    Read again what I wrote. I am curious what is special about Norman Finkelstein’s parent’s experiences that leaves him bitter when their experiences do not seem dramatically different from that of so many other Jews whose children are nowhere near as bitter.

    If anything needs clarification, why would the WWII experiences of his parents leave him bitter with *Israel*?

    There is indeed enormous reading comprehension fail on this blog. I assume it is typical when so many readers are lawyers that naturally they have no ability to read others with respect or empathy and no ability to apologize for their dumbassery.

    One only looks at Gene’s contributions to this thread to see this, and now your own.

    If you can read Mike’s post, then my two poss afterward’s, then your post, and my response my thanks to you, and interpret in my post that I am being glib, well, you’re a hopeless dumbass.

  22. I have seen quotes called “scare quotes” before, on this blog, but only on this (Turley’s) blog. Is it a reference to scare-crows, or … what. I have never understood what it means, or is supposed to mean.

  23. I don’t think the Isreali right’s embrace of these nut-balls is short-sighted or naive. Both parties view the other as a someone to be exploited.

    The radical evangelicals view the Isrealis are sacrificial shock-troops who’s expansion into the “biblical Isreal” will pave the way for baby Jebus’ return. At which point all the jews will burn in hell forever. All bullshit and racist make-believe.

    The Isreali right looks at these evangelicals (rubes) as a source of cold hard cash, additonal sympathy with the American electorate, and additonal clout with conservative christian members of Congress. All of this having become more important as traditonally sympathetic parties in the U.S. (liberal jews, and liberals in general) began to sour somewhat towards what was in the past a more democratic Isreali state (mostly as a result of the Gaze and Wesy Banks settlements).

    Since the Jebus freak’s scheme is based on racist fantasy, and the Isreali’s is based upon political and economic reality, I’d have to say, “point Isrealis”.

  24. As I see it, the fundamentalist Christian right wants all Jews in one place so God can stomp them all with one boot. That’s not the kind of ally I’d want.

  25. Swarthmore mom, thanks for the Tikkun link. An interesting piece. Seamus, you raise a good point, but it is still a dangerous game in the long run. Some recent commentators have wondered whether the hard embrace of Bibi and his allies of the US right will backfire on Israel. At present, there is a large bi-partisan consensus in the US to support Israel, and rightly so. But if Likud and their allied insist on supporting people like Glen Beck and his allies, while simultaneously attacking prominent Democrats (and we can start with Netanyahu insulting Obama on his last visit to the US), then you could easily end up with a situation where one party support Israel, the other says, why bother, they only attack me and support my political opposition. That would fracture the bi-partisan consensus, and Israel would be the loser for it.

    And anon — wow. First of all, they aren’t scare quotes if you are actually quoting someone. And tetchy! I was not trying to “to peacock how superior” I was. I was providing what I thought might be useful information for people interested in the issues being discussed on the blog. Your response was not only over the top, your subsequent responses to Glen were full of homophobic slurs. I am surprised the moderator of these comments did not delete them as offensive posts.

    And you have wondered about differing reactions of people to the Holocaust. Different people often react differently to the same stressors, and what was suffered in the Holocaust is unimaginable to us. We can only begin to reach the emotions through some of the narratives that have come down to us. In my immediate extended family, there are survivors who carry their scars deeply, but are bright, engaging people. And there are those who carry their pain on the surface, bitter and angry at the world. It is hard for us to say how these experiences might have been transferred or manifested in Finkelstein.

  26. “The radical evangelicals view the Isrealis are sacrificial shock-troops who’s expansion into the “biblical Isreal” will pave the way for baby Jebus’ return.”

    “The Isreali right looks at these evangelicals (rubes) as a source of cold hard cash, additonal sympathy with the American electorate, and additonal clout with conservative christian members of Congress.”

    Seamus,

    I think you have the essence of the situation. To elaborate a little my concern is that the Israeli’s use these “Rubes” at their own peril. The only viable end to this mess is a two-state solution and neither side mentioned in your quotes above has the foresight to realize that it is the only path away from destruction.

  27. The trillion dollar question. Is peace the prerogative, or a Jewish homeland?

    I don’t believe it’s possible to have both.

    If time proves me wrong, I will readily acknowledge it.

  28. There were so many interesting and varied replies to this piece that rather than getting into specific answers I think I need to elaborate briefly on my entire concept of the history of this conflict and the dynamics that make it so difficult to resolve.

    The first point I would urge is that historically there is no purity on either side of this conflict, merely the crush of ethnically divergent people to achieve something of value to them in life. The history of each nation in this world has been one of succeeding ethnicities/cultures/tribes displacing and being displaced from land. What indeed was the European claim to America that impelled their settlement against the wishes of those who lived there? From the settlers viewpoint it was vital that they escape their lot in their native lands and find a place of opportunity where they could raise their living standards and/or escape the wrath of their given state. The Native Americans saw invasion and oppression. Both sides had valid points.

    The Jewish history has been one where they’ve been invaded, oppressed, displaced and had the central writings that gave them cohesion co-opted by two religions who have become multitudes. Since the failure the of Bar Kochba revolt 132-135 CE, Most were forcibly displaced from their homeland. In every land in which Jews dwelt afterward there were short periods of normality, followed by longer periods of oppression/expulsion. To be a Jew for 2,000 years was never to be able to feel safe if you were perceptive and to falsely believe you had finally found a home if you were unwary and naive.

    Contrary to current belief though, there was always a Jewish presence in their homeland, though Jews had been expelled from Jerusalem, renamed “Aelia Capitolina” after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE. Jews and other ethnicities in Palestine, a name of Greek origins, were subject to the whims of various conquering Empires and ruled from afar up until the defeat of the Ottomans in WWI.

    We know from historical sources such as, Mark Twain’s “Innocents Abroad” (1869) that the entire area was a sparsely populated and desolate desert. From the 1850’s on there were Zionist ideas running rampant throughout the Jews in the Diaspora and the start of emigration to Palestine. This was finally given voice in 1895 by Theodore Herzl and the idea took hold, with much Orthodox resistance and emigration to what was to become Israel increased.

    The arrival of Jewish settlers which really began in the 1870’s saw a rebirth of the economy of the land as farming techniques learned in Europe were reapplied to the land and a small prosperity began to take hold. This began to draw in other Arabs from the rest of the Mid-East, who went where there were opportunities to be had. There had always been a minority of Christians also who had either remained in, or emigrated to the land of their Savior. After WW I Britain held the land under an agreed mandate.

    By the 1920’s Oil had become the most important fuel source in the world and Oil Companies, who evolved into the infamous “Seven Sisters” became some of the most powerful corporations in the world and so the Mid-East became an area of vital importance to the industrialized nations. Britain, with US and French compliance established the Saud Family in Oil rich Arabia, since they were willing partners to the “Oil Cartel”, thereby replacing the hereditary rulers, the Hussein family, to what was to become Jordan.

    Before and after WW II the Jewish flow into this land multiplied for obvious reasons. The Zionist movement welcomed them and the surrounding Arab powers pressure the British government to stop the inflow. Jewish leaders resisted to varying degrees and indeed “The Irgun” a minority of militants utilized terror tactics to harass the British.
    There were more moderate forces representing the majority of Palestinian Jews, led by Socialist David Ben-Gurion, who relied more on diplomacy and passive resistance.

    It must be remembered that the Jews fleeing the NAZI’s prior to the war were barred from emigration to many countries, including our own. This gave a clear message to all Jews that the Zionists were correct and that we indeed needed a homeland if only to ensure our future safety. All the rest is history as has been said. I will stop here with my historical perspective because I literally have the beginnings of a book, were I to be more thorough in exposition. My current belief is as follows.

    The US historically is not and never has been Israel’s friend in the ME. Our role has been to ensure that Israel doesn’t upset the “oil applecart” and thus we imposed restraint upon its’ activities, via the
    “friendship”, intimidation and through bribery.

    During the “Cold War” the USSR trying to gain influence over the strategic affluence of oil reserves backed the Islamic calls for Israel’s destruction. Israel was literally between a “rock and a hard place” and so clung greatly to the US “friendship”.

    The Saudi’s and other despots of the area have a twofold vested interest in continuing this conflict perpetually and secretly need Israeli existence. This is because it is a great distraction from the misery felt by their own oppressed people and therefore necessary for these despots to maintain their power through distraction.

    The Palestinians, many of who were also not originally from the region, were very badly treated by their Arab brethren when they left Israel during its war of independence. The terms and conditions of their leaving and why, are much more nuanced than many believe.
    Indeed, the PLO was headed by Yassir Arafat, an Egyptian by birth.
    He came to his role as the nephew of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who spent WW II as a guest of Hitler in Berlin.

    The behind the scenes story in this whole conflict is not as obvious as those on all sides would make it. It is definitely not a struggle between “good” and “evil” since the nuances are so many. Let me talk from my own perspective as to the “end game” though in this statement I am representing only my own opinion and surmise.

    “Never Again” is more than a slogan. Jews learned during the Shoah that their own strength of arms and their intelligence, is all that can save them as a people (ethnicity/religion). I believe that this will get resolved in a more or less peaceful manner because of an unspoken issue. Israel has more than 150 Nuclear bombs and they will not be driven into the sea. Overrunning Israel would mean they would use them and the ME would be unusable for thousands of years. No one
    will take the chance. The issue is when the Israeli’s will replace Bibi with someone who will drop the macho posturing, stand up to the
    Right Wing Fundamentalists and remove the settlements.

    However, it mustn’t be forgotten that the other side too must drop its’ posturing and accept the fact of Israel’s existence. This too is problematic, in light of the recent independence movements, since the Saudi’s know that the time of their reckoning is also coming close.

  29. If my understanding is correct, peace is not an option.

    Then I’m left only with deciding for myself.

    I choose peace. If I can’t have that, I choose death.

  30. True to form, Mike gives one quote for the lengthy excerpt and fails to provide any citations to support the various assumptions he needs to make the conclusion. Frankly, Mike has a poor track record of speaking before thinking/researching/questioning, etc. But even worse is his substitution of common sense for mindless pontification. If Jews believe Christians to be, well, wrong, then the Christian notion of Armageddon is, well, wrong. And so if the Jews were to align with the Christians until the ‘Christian fantasy’ event occurs, what they have done is ultimately forged a continuing alliance that will never actually end. To adopt this nonesensical position as laid out by Mike is only to cut one’s nose to spite one’s face. If it were not for the Christian nations; i.e. the USA, Israel would have, and would be obliterated.

  31. The United States is not a “Christian nation”. That is a myth and an aspiration of the religious right-wing. Our 1st Amendment is a safeguard against there being any state sanctioned religions. Our Founders specifically created a secular government because they had seen the evils perpetuated in Europe by state religions such as the Church of England.

  32. I want to echo what Gene stated. The separation of Church and State is there to protect citizens and religions. We are an American nation, not a Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist nation.

  33. Rafflaw, Gene….

    If I recall from readings…..it was not until after the war between the states that Christmas became generally acceptable….Thomas Nast…a Veteran Artist during the Civil War became celebrated with his art works created what I recall to be the “First Santa Claus”…..

    If I recall there were laws in the New England States that forbid closing and celebrating the 25th of December….

  34. What the fundamentalists don’t seem to understand is that if they get control today what happens when the Hispanics start to outnumber the good ole boys. And the nation becomes (gasp) Catholic.
    Or at some point OMG (pun intended) Muslim. If one religion can control the government then another could.

  35. Exactly and to the point. Now if only some of this kind of lucid thought and advocacy for a return to humanitarian Jewish values only made it into the media, (US government) policy making, and public perception. But, alas, those of us who rail against the RW zionist juggernaut and their nefarious bed fellows seem relegated to the nether regions of blogosphere.

    Part of my own gripe relates not just to the so-called Christian zionists, but to all — including Likudists — who seek to appropriate the pretty tragic history of the Jewish people to serve the cause of a right wing, militaristic and increasingly apartheid Israeli government. Their leveraging the suffering of my forebears in this manner disgusts me.

    BTW, no AIPAC merit badge for you!

  36. Mike–I am not going to act as if I understand all of the issues here because I don’t. I am just wondering where does the issue of colonialism fit here? That’s a word I haven’t heard you use. What about the rite of return? Again, I do not have as clear of an understanding as I’d like about all of this, but from where I sit, the US is the biggest problem in the so-called peace talks. How can we help to broker peace when we are not neutral. We constantly articulate our unwavering support for Israel ( not to mention the billions of dollars in support, you know, putting your money where your mouth is thing). If I were a Palestinian, I damn sure wouldn’t trust the ally of my enemy. I realize this is a bit off topic, but with the US now opposing Palestine’s appeal to the UN for statehood, how is our government any different from the CF?

  37. “True to form, Mike gives one quote for the lengthy excerpt and fails to provide any citations to support the various assumptions he needs to make the conclusion.”

    Jack,

    As usual, true to your form you want me to take an opinion piece and give citations of what? I would assume that perhaps if I gave scriptural quotes that would raise your level of conversation animation because to your mind we would be participating in competing exegeses of truth.

    “If Jews believe Christians to be, well, wrong, then the Christian notion of Armageddon is, well, wrong. And so if the Jews were to align with the Christians until the ‘Christian fantasy’ event occurs, what they have done is ultimately forged a continuing alliance that will never actually end.”

    You miss the point completely Jack and do it because of your own smug
    pre-judgments. The point isn’t whether Armageddon will or won’t take place. The Christian Fundamentalists wish to push Israel into such a hard-line stance that it will ensure a war that will fall somewhat short of
    Armageddon (which is a fantasy that shouldn’t even grace the Christian Canon), but will cause hundreds of thousands to die in war.

    Their encouragement of the current regime led by Bibi (the man who proves single handedly that all Jews aren’t smart) Netanyahu, to remain intransigent in continue to settle the West Bank. You actually think you have made a clever point, but in truth you’ve only shown your lack of understanding of the point you’re attempting to refute.

    As for “an alliance that will never end” you can be damn sure about that never happening, Those Fundamentalists forging such an alliance are doing so to ensure their world view is carried out. If the Israeli’s throw Bibi and his crew out, as the recent Israeli citizen’s demonstrations have shown to be likely, their “allies” will desert them in a trice when a Labor government comes in to try to reverse the inequality of Israeli income brought by the Likud’s right wing economic policies and reaches out to make peace.

    “If it were not for the Christian nations; i.e. the USA, Israel would have, and would be obliterated.”

    As others have pointed out Jack, you presume too much, since the US is not a “Christian Nation”. However, even if it was Israel does not owe its existence to other nations, for in fact is had they relied on other “Christian
    Nations” there would be no Israel.

    1. The British Christian Nation, that held the Palestine Mandate before and after WW II tried to keep Jews fleeing Hitler from emigrating to
    Palestine, to please their Oil Rich Corporations and Arab patrons. The
    nascent Israeli’s forced the British out and when they declared their Statehood they were attacked by a coalition of Muslim Nations led by
    Egypt, Syria and Jordan, who were all armed by the British. Indeed the vaunted Arab Legion of Jordan was commanded by a British General.

    2. While his old Jewish business partner from K.C. talked Harry Truman into voting for the UN’s acceptance of Israeli statehood, he would not allow them to buy US weapons. The Israeli’s and their Diasporan supporters bought arms from international Arms Dealers
    and had to smuggle them into Israel past the Brits blockade.

    3. The expectation of the Christian World, believing their own propaganda about Jews being weaklings, assumed that the attacking Arab Armies, which vastly outnumbered the Israeli’s, would drive them into the sea. They had forgotten history’s lesson that the Jewish revolts were some of the most fierce the Romans ever faced.

    4. It was in fact the belief that the Israeli’s, then known as the Palestinians, that caused Israels indigenous Arabs to flee before the war with the expectation that they would return after the Jews were annihilated.

    5. As I pointed out in the article the U.S. role had been to call Israel ally, but in fact actually act as Israel’s watchdog to appease the Oil Cartel. In the 1956 War, when Egypt had closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping, against UN resolutions and International Law, Israel joined by the Brits and the French were stopped short of the Canal by U.S. diplomatic intervention, led by J.F. Dulles, who had been involved with banking for the Nazi’s before WW II.

    I could go through all the years after 1956 and show you how the U.S. has only publicly called the Israeli’s friends, while behind the scenes acting on behest of Big Oil. I just don’t have the space to do it all in and you wouldn’t understand it anyway. Isn’t it curious though that the
    Saudi’s always get the latest, most advanced US weapons systems denied the Israeli’s, but now unneeded because of Israels own Hi
    Tech capability. As I stated before, Israel’s nuclear capacity is what keeps it safe and nothing else.

    The implicit point I’m making Jack, since I see with your denseness I’ll have to spell it out, is that Christians of all beliefs, Mormons and
    Muslims have a vested belief, if they are pious, in thinking Jews less capable than themselves. The fantasy serves as justification of their expropriation of the Torah, believing Jews undeserving of their own literature and somehow lost souls. The truth is that after having survived the last 2,000 years there must be some strong stain of
    capability and faith running through our culture. The damnedest part of all this is that we are a faith that doesn’t proselytize or encourage conversion. This is because Jews recognize all humanity as God’s children and deserving of God’s blessings, with the only conditions being to lead a moral life. Inviting a lot of Christians in, who believe that the only way to God’s grace is through them, is like bringing a fox into the hen house.

  38. “BTW, no AIPAC merit badge for you!”

    DonS,

    Never was, never will be. Don’t like them, their policies and their habit of kowtowing to the richest, most conservative among them.

  39. I think that the right-wing in Israel are, to some degree, going to get a frightening wake-up call. The Republican party decided to get into bed with the fundamentalists (with similar “bunch of rubes” thinking) back in the 70s and 80s. They assumed that the smarty-pants country club/Wall Street types could wrangle the goofball “rubes”, but I don’t think that it’s working as they hoped. McCain lost, in part, because he wasn’t “one of them”, so he tried to bring in Palin (failed “rube” wrangling textbook example), but still lost. The fundies weren’t on board to staff phone centers or knock on doors. Today, the “tea party” sub-brand is pretty inextricably linked to the fundies (see: Bachman, Perry, etc.) Those lunatics made clear idiots of themselves during the debt ceiling deal, and it was clear that Boehner’s balls were in a tea-bag vise. I’m biased, but I can’t imagine that the episode didn’t weaken the Republican brand overall…

    (This is all a re-play of what happened in Illinois. When Jack Ryan, moderate opponent of Obama for Senate, withdrew in scandal, proto-Tea Partiers took control of the situation and brought in Alan Keyes to run against Obama. It was an unmitigated disaster and turned the state heavily Blue for a few election cycles. Perry isn’t as full-on nutso as Keyes or Sharon Angle, but he may yet be God’s biggest gift to Obama and the Democratic party.)

    For a variety of reasons, I think that the Republicans are setting themselves up for a long period out in the cold, and bringing the fundies into the political game is a big part of their problem. The Christian fundamentalists aren’t “rubes” – they’re just as brilliant and potentially psychopathic and destructive as Muslim-fundamentalists, Communist-fundamentalists, Hindu-fundamentalists or Jewish-fundamentalists.

    I can only hope that the Likud-types in Israel take a lesson from what the fundies are doing the the Republican party and un-hitch their boat from them ASAP.

  40. Mike, an outstanding posting, bravo. I have been given too many things to comment on regarding it, where does one start. I was unaware of the major role the CZ’s are playing and searching for reading material on that has been revelatory. I had no idea the played so prominant a role regarding settlements.

    When I read the article the first thing I thought was “you lay down with dogs (CZ’z) and you wake up with fleas”, an old cliche’ useful in a lot of situations. I’ve been giving that some thought after reading the link in Mikes article and doing some searches. The article Mike linked explained the different kinds of Christian support for Israel and regarding the Christian Zionists working most effectively in Israel remarks that they see their mission as “trying to move the clock forward”. That is the Rapture /Armageddon clock. These fleas are plague carriers and they want Israel and the rest of the world dead. The alliance is unhealthy, death focused and destructive.

    From my reading as I searched around a couple of things became apparent, the CZers are spending a lot of money to subsidize settlement building and recruit immigrants into Israel. Get all the Jews together in Zion and let the end time roll. More than one article I read said the living in Israel is very expensive and one of the reasons many people migrate to the settlements is because it’s cheaper to live in a nice home in a WB settlement than elsewhere in Israel. That is due in part because of the subsidies provided by the CZ’s.

    IMO The Settlements are a big problem psychologically for many initial supporters of Zionism (such as I)and have been for decades. The more of them there are the more support (in some quarters) Israel loses, the less likely a real two-state solution becomes, the more hatred neighbors, and dispossessed Palestinians from the WB, feel and the more dependant on mechanism’s like this unholy (and I would say immoral) alliance becomes.

    IMO, the settlements have to stop and the CZ’s need to be relegated to the most minor of players in Israel’s economy and political considerations. Between the far right in Israel’s own political/cultural population and the Christian Zionist’s I can’t imagine the situation ending well.

    Here’s a link that includes information on the points mentioned in my post:

    http://www.theocracywatch.org/christian_zionism.htm

  41. Mike S.:

    Truly an outstanding post. And spot on. Israel obviously regards Christian fundamentalists as useful idiots. The danger is the extent to which U.S. foreign policy may be influenced by evangelicals. People like Hagee are not a problem, but the C-Streeters are.

  42. Mike–The question I asked about U. S. Policy regarding Israel and the Palestinian conflict as it pertains to colonialism and US monetary support of Israel was not a rhetorical one. I would honestly like to hear your thoughts on this.

  43. “The US is not a Christian nation in theory. It certainly is in practice, I’m sure you’ll agree. Merry Xmas.”

    I think you mean “Happy Winter Festival,” if you’re envisioning public practice.

  44. “I am just wondering where does the issue of colonialism fit here? That’s a word I haven’t heard you use. What about the rite of return?”

    Erykah,

    I saw your first post as I was being called to cook dinner last night and since it’s a thoughtful question I didn’t want to just rush off an answer.

    The main thread lost in the whole discussion of the Middle East is its history. Firstly, with the exception of Iran, which isn’t Arab, none of the modern countries that make up the various Arab nations had defined borders or status until 1922. They were in fact under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, which was founded in 1299 CE and had it last gasp in 1923 after being defeated in WW I.

    Some examples:

    1. Syria: granted independence in 1946 from its’ French Mandate.
    2.Jordan: granted independence in 1946 from its’ British Mandate.
    3. Egypt: granted independence in 1922 from its’ British Mandate.
    4. Lebanon: granted independence in 1943 by the Vichy French government
    5. Iraq: granted independence from British Mandate in 1932
    6. Saudi Arabia: became semi-autonomous from the Ottoman Empire after WW I. Finally became independent as unified State in 1932. The Sauds were one of many tribal factions that battled until Ibn Saud became king.
    7. Iran: Became a unified kingdom in 1501 and was free of Ottoman rule.

    The Ottoman Empire lasting for 624 years was a viable nation. Prior to the Ottomans was the Byzantine Empire, the successor to the Roman Empire. The entire Middle East represented a conglomeration of tribes and territories. The territories existed as administrative districts at the whim of the Empire. This was not a true case of Colonialism, but merely the stretch of a large contiguous nation, created by military force and lasting hundreds of years.

    Compare the U.S., Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and you have similar history. In Britain, for instance, some Scots still chafe under British rule and want independence. the Irish, of course overthrew British Rule, except in their North. All of Great Britain is an amalgam of formerly independent tribes (ethnicities) conquered by a contiguous state. The same is true of all of the European nations if you look at their history you do not find homogeneity, except perhaps for language.

    Colonialism actually comes in as a concept when you think of the plunder and partition of Africa, the Far East, the Pacific and the America’s, North and South. It was European nations taking over chunks of nations far away for economic exploitation.

    The area known as Palestine administratively by the Ottomans was made up of many ethnicities, including a continuing presence of Jews, for two thousand years. Except for a small, ethnically diverse population, people came and went as economically the area waxed and waned. In the 20’s the Jewish and Arab populations were relatively equal, though the Arabs were the larger. The rise of NAZI’ism
    sent Jews fleeing to Palestine and of course the aftermath of WW II
    increased the emigration.

    In 1947 the UN decided to partition Palestine, which led to general Arab unhappiness and in 1948 the Israeli’s declared their independence, only to be attacked by all the surrounding , also new, countries. In truth the Israeli’s begged the Arabs within Israel to remain, but the attacking nations asked them to flee, so that their conquering armies would drive the Jews into the sea. Fleeing to Lebanon, for instance, were 100,000 Arabs, who were put into Lebanese internment camps and not allowed to work.

    Give the Leftist nature of the then Israeli government, had there been no attack from without, today we might have a pluralistic, Democratic State in Israel, instead we’ve had 63 years on continuous strife. I’m know it is seen differently from the Arab perspective, but here we are.
    The only way out is a two state solution, but with that must come removal of the West Bank settlements by the Israeli’s and recognition of Israel’s right to nationhood by the Arabs.

    As to the “Right of Return” this is a guiding principle of Israel and means that all Jews can come to Israel and gain citizenship. As I stated in previous posts as a Jew, knowledgeable of the history of my people, I’m very aware that our sojourns in country’s dominated by non-Jews can become treacherous and Israel’s existence gives me and mine a potential haven, if like in NAZI Germany things turn bad.
    Remember, prior to WW II the Jews fleeing Germany were not welcome in most countries, including the U.S..

  45. LK and Tomdarch,

    Some very good and thoughtful points. Let me add this in at least my explanation why the Likud gained power. Think of the U.S. after 911 and the national willingness to embrace Bush’s tragic overreaction to tragedy
    There are 7.6 million people in Israel, 5,5 million Jewish. The U.S. has roughly 40 times Israel’s population. 911 killed 3,000 Americans. If a terrorist attack in Israel kills 75 or more people it creates a similar loss. There have literally been hundreds of such terrorist attacks in Israel’s history. A people living under 63 years of such violence understandably looks to leaders who appear to radiate strength. The current tide in Israel is changing. Recently 400,000 Israeli’s demonstrated for economic equality and the movement for peace in Israel is equal, or outnumbers the hawks. that is the reason for my posts because the Christian Fundamentalist money is going towards supporting these Hawkish policies and in my view trying to bring about Israel’s destruction, in the service of the Book of Revelations.

  46. “Are you pimpin’ for the GOP or something.”

    Read everything I wrote and the article I linked, carefully this time, maybe you’ll understand the points I am making and my commitment to Israel’s existence. As for your statement I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life. The people running AIPAC are Republicans.

  47. Gene,

    The U.S. is not a Christian government – true. But it is certainly a Christian nation. That is simply a matter of descriptive statistics. It was not a normative statement. And it is neither revelatory nor inflammatory.

    Mike,

    “You miss the point completely Jack and do it because of your own smug pre-judgments. The point isn’t whether Armageddon will or won’t take place. The Christian Fundamentalists wish to push Israel into such a hard-line stance that it will ensure a war that will fall somewhat short of Armageddon (which is a fantasy that shouldn’t even grace the Christian Canon), but will cause hundreds of thousands to die in war.”

    Push? Or support Isreal’s hard-line stance? Netanyahu – like him or hate him – is Isreali. He’s not American, and he’s not a so-called “Fundamentalist Christian.” So if these so-called fundamentalist really wanted Armageddon, the fastest route is to stop funding Israel. Without their technological capabilities, the Arab world would be at their necks. Your analysis is non sense. I’m not saying supporting the hard-line stance of Netanyahu is right or wrong, but that it has nothing to with hurrying Armageddon. Rather, it is standing in solidarity with Israel. Frankly, if Israel decide to do a 180 an support the old borders and a Palestinian nations, I doubt these “fundamentalists” would do much to stop.

    As far as what the U.S. gives and doesn’t give to Israel, you are woefully lacking certain information. The fact is that much of what we’ve given to Israel has been modified by the Israeli’s, and is actually better than what we have. The Isrealies are GOOD, and really smart. But it’s our funding over the years that have kept the Arab nations at bay for so many years, and made Isreal what it is today.

    “The fantasy serves as justification of their expropriation of the Torah, believing Jews undeserving of their own literature and somehow lost souls.”

    You beat this drum long enough. Once again – you fail to be responsible in doing your research. You have grasped to an ideology that is bass-ackwards and a delusion of reality. The fact – as I am aware of it – is that no one has stripped the Torah from the Jews. They have adopted it. The difference is that Christians believe that certain JEWISH prophecy’s have come to fulfillment. Let me also mention in case the obvious escapes you, that Christianity was started by a group of Jews, whom then spread it and shared it with other nations. This isn’t some big conspiracy, Mike. If anything, it’s an inside job. Your breath of self-victimization is getting stale.

    Jack

  48. Since you realize we have a secular government, Jack – no matter the demographics of religious practice among the citizenry – I’m going to invite Christians who think their beliefs are a sound foundation for policy, along with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and any other religious group, to keep your dogma out of public and foreign policy in addition to the operation of the rule of law.

    This includes the outmoded and counterproductive practice of protecting the state of Israel when then themselves have been bad actors in the arena of foreign affairs and doing so for what seems to be solely religious reasons. A secular state cannot afford and indeed will make bad policy if they allow religiosity to dictate foreign policy instead of reason and logic based ethics. Just like the bad decisions currently being made about Palestinian statehood and its recognition by those in Washington kowtowing to the religious right-wing of the GOP. Israel under Likhud control have acted little better than oppressive thugs and an aggressor state. Any true interest in creating peace in the region must be rooted in making Arab states recognize the legitimacy of Israel while at the same time reigning in some of Israel’s own bad actions that are also bad statesmanship. Neither side of the Arab-Israeli conflict is blameless in creating the hostile and largely religiously based shitstorm in which they live. The problem is not going to be solved either with religious based “solutions” or without compromise from both sides. If everyone leaves their religion at the door when they sit down at the negotiating table, it makes the process far less contentious.

    Religion is a private matter and should be left at home and at your designated places of worship. It has no place in proper and modern governance. The current challenges that face humanity are far too dangerous to allow theocracy determine our direction as a species. Reason, science and a secular logic based universal ethic is the path forward in governance that leads to peace and our shared survival as a species. History has shown that theocratic governance leads to only one place: oppression, conflict and death. This inevitable outcome of theocratic government and policy will only be exacerbated and the outcomes worse in light of the coming challenges regarding pollution, energy, food and water.

  49. “But it is certainly a Christian nation. That is simply a matter of descriptive statistics. It was not a normative statement. And it is neither revelatory nor inflammatory.”

    Dishonest Jack,

    It was not a normative statement since if so it could have been stated without the “Christian” inserted. In your context and the context of my remarks, it was a chastisement to the idea that Fundamentalist Christian aid shouldn’t be taken by Israel, by implying it already had been taken and saved Israel..

    “So if these so-called fundamentalist really wanted Armageddon, the fastest route is to stop funding Israel. Without their technological capabilities, the Arab world would be at their necks”

    It’s not a question of “if” Jack, it has been stated over and again that they
    believe the “End Times” are near are want to assist in its’ coming. As I’ve already stated and shown, the Israeli’s have been denied the same technological aid supplied to the Saudi’s. They have developed their own weapons and improved upon designs they’ve gotten from the world arms market. For instance the first Jet fighters the Israeli’s had came from the French, since the U.S. wouldn’t sell them at the same time they were selling them to the Saudi’s.

    “Rather, it is standing in solidarity with Israel. Frankly, if Israel decide to do a 180 an support the old borders and a Palestinian nations, I doubt these “fundamentalists” would do much to stop.”

    If Israel did the 180, as they should, the fundamentalists would be up in arms against the Israeli government and working against them. Given the policies US Christian Fundamentalists represent I’m saying clearly their solidarity is not needed. I am admitting though that their is a kinship between Christian Fundamentalists and Jewish fundamentalists (Ultra
    Orthodox) in that both want to impose their values on the majority of people in their respective nations.

    “You have grasped to an ideology that is bass-ackwards and a delusion of reality. The fact – as I am aware of it – is that no one has stripped the Torah from the Jews. They have adopted it. The difference is that Christians believe that certain JEWISH prophecy’s have come to fulfillment.”

    No delusion Jack. Just your ignorance, or pretended ignorance of history. Why do you think the Torah is called “The New Testament.” The meaning is clearly that the Torah is no longer valid as a compact with God and that the Jews have lost God’s favor, which is now bestowed upon Christianity.

    Then we have almost two thousand years of history where Jews were forced into one sided debates with Christians, the murder of Jews by Christians on their way to the Crusades, The Inquisition, the expelling of Jews from Christian lands, the denial of citizenship to Jews, Martin Luther’s denunciation of Jews after he realized he couldn’t convert them, etc. All of this persecution was because the Jews clung to their interpretation of the meaning of the Torah and in that process denied Christianity’s usurpation of the meaning of the document and their picking between which sections to support and which to ignore.

    “Let me also mention in case the obvious escapes you, that Christianity was started by a group of Jews, whom then spread it and shared it with other nations.”

    Paul, let’s be clear about the reality and history shall we. Christianity was started by Paul, who admittedly was a Roman Citizen and former henchman of the High Priest, a Sadducee. The Sadducee’s were Roman collaborators just as was Vichy in France. Paul claimed to be educated as a Pharisee (although given his understanding of the Torah there is some doubt to that) because the Pharisees formed the
    Rabbinic tradition of Judaism.

    Paul never knew Jesus, but claimed a vision that superseded the
    knowledge of Jesus apostles and Jesus own brother James. He argued with the Christian movement which was led by James and to get rid of him they sent him out to preach to the gentiles (non-Jews).
    James movement remained a separate movement from Christianity for the next 500 years until it petered out. The “Jerusalem Church,” as
    biblical scholars call it remained faithful to the Torah and kept kosher.

    Here’s the rub though. The Jews despised the rule of the Romans and were characterized by the Romans as the most contentious of their conquered peoples. The Pharisee Movement, of which Jesus was no doubt a leading Rabbi led the opposition to Roman Rule and Jesus was probably proclaimed by some as Messiah. The thing is in Jewish biblical terms Messiah referred to a leader who would become King of the Jews, sent by God, but nevertheless a completely human being. Paul thought otherwise and his preaching to non Jews went over well since there were already many other models for a God, born of a virgin, whose death would bring salvation. Mithra is one of them that outdated Jesus existence.

    My contention and that of a host of other biblical scholars is that Paul,
    a Roman, created Christianity and spread it among gentiles. Not Jesus actual family and Disciples, who one should presume would know more about his teachings. The truth of each position, however,
    has become so wrapped in the shroud of history and myth that we can never know who is right. However, from the Gospels themselves and Paul’s writing, it is clear that Paul, a Roman, and his disciples, who never knew Jesus, spread their version of Jesus time on Earth and that has become the dominant version. Due to this, however, the presence of Jews who would not accept Paul’s version of Jewish history has remained, simply by their existence, a thorn in the side of Orthodox Christianity. From this and the libel of the Jews killing Jesus
    has come the 1,900 year persecution.

  50. Mike —

    I enjoyed your post and your rebuttals to the various folks who have weakly tried to take issue with you, but I have to call you out on the ancient history lesson in your most recent response to Jack, for you have taken on too many myths that are conventional wisdom but are wrong. First, regarding the Crusades — the pogroms (if you will excuse the anachronistic term) against the Jews during the Crusades usually refer to attacks on Jews in the Rhineland in the run up to the First Crusade, and the slaughter in Jerusalem when the Crusaders got there. Regarding the latter — the Crusading armies slaughtered EVERYONE when they got to Jerusalem, Jew, Christian, and Muslim. Their swords were not discriminatory. Regarding the Rhineland — the mobs that killed the Jews in the Rhineland were not Crusaders, and in fact I do not think they were answering Pope Urban II’s crusading appeal. They did have some fantastical notion of liberating Jerusalem, but they were not part of any Crusading army. More importantly, what is always left out of the story is that Church leaders did their best to protect the Jews, most notably in Koln, whose Archbishop brought Jews into the cathedral to protect them from the marauders. I am not in any way trying to be an apologist for the tribulations the Church brought upon Jews throughout the Middle Ages, but the story you related is the one always told (it is the one I saw at the Holocaust Museum in DC a few years ago), and is simply not accurate. (By the way, I recently read two very interesting takes on the life of a Jew in the early Middle Ages: A.B. Yehoshua’s “A Journey to the End of the Millennium” and Russell Hoban’s “Pilgermann”.)

    I also want to take issue with your discussion of the origin of Christianity and how it relates to the persecution of Jews. Yes, the Church is largely a Pauline creation — but Paul was far more a Hellenized Jew than a Roman. The tensions between Hellenized and non-Hellenized Jews around the turn from BCE to CE is a little-told history (though critical for understanding issues like the Maccabee revolt). Additionally, contrary to conventional wisdom, there was conversion to Judaism at that time — I even saw this stated in a recent Book by Chief Rabbi Sacks. One of the first debates in the early Christian community, the occasion of a debate between Peter and Paul that has come down to us in the historical record, was whether one had to first convert to Judaism before becoming Christian (Peter and his faction said yes, Paul and his faction said no). You rightly point to this as the genesis (so to speak) of Paul’s mission to the gentiles. But you do not mention, or perhaps do not know about, as it it is not commonly known, that there were severe religious conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time, and the very powerful Jewish communities from Damascus to Alexandria severely persecuted the nascent Christian community. This is the historic backdrop to the anti-Jewish notes that some read into the Gospel of John. Again, I have no wish to excuse or justify the centuries of persecution of Jews at Christian hands, but I am a stickler for proper history.

    Thanks again for all you have taught me (and everyone else) in your posts on this thread. It is very much appreciated.

  51. “Regarding the Rhineland — the mobs that killed the Jews in the Rhineland were not Crusaders, and in fact I do not think they were answering Pope Urban II’s crusading appeal. They did have some fantastical notion of liberating Jerusalem, but they were not part of any Crusading army.”

    DHMC,

    I’ll accept that as so, though I will do further research on my own.

    “Yes, the Church is largely a Pauline creation — but Paul was far more a Hellenized Jew than a Roman. The tensions between Hellenized and non-Hellenized Jews around the turn from BCE to CE is a little-told history (though critical for understanding issues like the Maccabee revolt). Additionally, contrary to conventional wisdom, there was conversion to Judaism at that time — I even saw this stated in a recent Book by Chief Rabbi Sacks.”

    You are absolutely correct in both respects and I was aware of those facts. There was much Jewish proselytism in those days, throughout the Empire and some historians say it competed neck and neck with the Great Mother sect for rising popularity. There is also the Noachite Jewish
    tradition which got past the problem of adult circumcision.

    I am aware to that there was Jewish persecution of the early Pauline followers. The history of Jews and Judaism is certainly not pristine. Sadly, I wouldn’t even vouch for what oppression’s might happen if Judaism became a dominant religion. Oppression does not directly breed nobility into any ethnicity, Jews included. I spent a long time studying the period of Christianity’s birth and the history of Judaism. The problem is how to express it all to some, who might not be aware, in what is in fact a limited space.

    Thank you for correcting and teaching me. As I have ruefully learned passing into my dotage years, wisdom begins to come when a person realizes how little they truly know of life.

  52. What has been great about your original post, and your dedication to responding to people who responded to it and your answers, is that many people (presumably far more than who are represented in the comments) have had the opportunity to learn. I have learned a great deal, and have leads for new inquisitiveness, starting with the Noachite Jewish tradition…

  53. Mike,

    “It was not a normative statement since if so it could have been stated without the “Christian” inserted. In your context and the context of my remarks, it was a chastisement to the idea that Fundamentalist Christian aid shouldn’t be taken by Israel, by implying it already had been taken and saved Israel.”

    Put down the bottle before responding to me. That made absolutely no sense. And do not be so perniciously arrogant to continue to assume what I mean when I say things. Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desire.

    “It’s not a question of “if” Jack…”

    Then why give them ANYTHING? Moreover, the Saudis aren’t going to attack them! If you supported such an assertion with regard to Syria, then we’d have something to talk about. Lastly, let’s realize that the Saudis have something that Israel doesn’t – oil. For right or for wrong, we are sinking billions into Israel and getting nothing in return. And you claim this difference is due to Christian fundamentalism? Unbelievable!

    “If Israel did the 180, as they should, the fundamentalists would be up in arms against the Israeli government and working against them.”

    Really? Like they were up in arms with the more moderate Ytizhak Rabin before he was assassinated by a radical orthodox Jew? I forgot about that (read in sarcasm). Don’t blame this on your imaginary “fundamentalists.”

    “Why do you think the Torah is called “The New Testament.””

    And Mike calls me the ignorant one. Once again, he doesn’t make a lick of sense. And I’m not going to dive into your fundamental and malicious naivety of Christianity.

    “Paul, let’s be clear about the reality and history shall we. Christianity was started by Paul, who admittedly was a Roman Citizen and former henchman of the High Priest, a Sadducee.”

    I bet that made things really awkward for Saul (Paul) at the martyrdom of the Christian Stephen, eh? Imagine that…Paul converting Stephen in private, then pretending to be a Sadducee at his martyrdom before having another change of heart on the road to Damascus. What a story! Andthis says nothing to the fact that Peter travelled with Paul to Rome to spread the message, as all the other Jewish apostles did to various parts of the world. Stop being an ignorant, shallow flake.

    “My contention and that of a host of other biblical scholars is that Paul,
    a Roman, created Christianity and spread it among gentiles.”

    CFR!!! Your “biblical scholars” are stupid and unread religious hacks. Paul did NOT “create” Christianity, and anyone that says otherwise is lazy, or simply can’t read. He is generally regarded as the greatest evangelizer, but he did not “create” Christianity. Even if you want to adulterate Acts 11:26, the fact is that Barnabas was a Levite and senior to Paul. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your convenient story.

    Let me also to take the opportunity to note that I’m not hostile because I disagree with you, but because of your reckless disregard for the truth. You are poorly read. You speak without knowing what you are talking about. And what you talk about are generally highly divisive issues with stings of moral judgment. You have allowed (what I presume are) years of academic laziness to develop into a infected cataract of bias and unfounded disdain, and it aint flying any longer. As I said, it ignorant, fearful, and hostile propaganda from people like you that brought the awfulness of the holocaust. If you get enough people scared of fantasy, they’ll do anything. There must be a higher academic standard in the public forum, and your irresponsibility is unjustified.

    Jack

  54. Jack, if you don’t think that the Christianity that we know today is not, at its core, a Pauline creation, you are the ignorant one who won’t look at the facts.

    And this statement “As I said, it ignorant, fearful, and hostile propaganda from people like you that brought the awfulness of the holocaust.” is both ignorant and a revolting sentiment. You should be ashamed of yourself. Out of the close to 70 comments on Mike’s original post, you are the only one with a continually nasty and insulting tone — the only one, in fact, who sounds like they need to lay off the bottle.

  55. Actually, among historians, there is quite a strong argument for Paul being a Roman spy. James, the brother of Jesus, was the head of an anti-Roman sect of Jews who followed the teachings of Christ but still honored some of the Jewish traditions including many of the 613 mitzvot, the Jewish Christians. He was feared by Roman and Jewish authorities alike as a threat to the their power base. James knew Jesus personally. Paul, originally a prosecutor of Rome sent to curb the growing influence of the Jewish Christians, never knew Jesus of Nazareth, but rather claimed his conversion after seeing a vision on the road to Damascus. Given the Romans treatment of Jewish Christians and the death of James at their hands at the behest of Jewish authorities (which we know about from the historian Titus Flavius Josephus), the relatively free “house arrest” of Paul and his efforts to “Romanize” the budding Christianity, there is a strong case to be made that Paul’s conversion was false and in the service of Roman as subterfuge and his abandonment of the mitzvot was designed to make Christianity into a more salable product to the Gentiles and a tool for Roman oppression instead of a movement against Rome as the Jewish Christians were under the leadership of James. I refer you to an excellent book on this matter, “Operation Messiah: St. Paul, Roman Intelligence and the Birth of Christianity” by Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon. Also “The Naked Archaeologist” did an excellent two-part episode on this subject.

    Paul in all likelihood did create Christianity in the form in which it exists today. In doing so, he took what was basically a humanist philosophy that encouraged responsibility and acceptance of your fellow humans as taught by a wise teacher – Jesus, who wanted people to worship the Spirit of God though their actions of kindness and compassion – and turned it into an idolization of Jesus as God as enforced and interpreted by an Earthly bound organization to perpetuate the power of the Church instead of empowering people through the teachings of Christ.

    If modern Christianity had evolved from the teachings of Jesus as espoused by James?

    The Inquisition? Would have never happened.
    The Crusades? Would have happened but they wouldn’t have had the religious rationale for what was basically an economic driven series of wars.

    All number of atrocities done in the name of Christianity would not have happened in “the Name of Jesus”.

    Without the influence of Paul, modern form of Christianity would more resemble the Gnostic gospels and the teachings of James.

    And that would be a good thing.

  56. “Put down the bottle before responding to me. That made absolutely no sense. And do not be so perniciously arrogant to continue to assume what I mean when I say things. Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desire.”

    So I’m perniciously arrogant Jack? I believe that statement is full-blown psychological projection. That’s the defense mechanism where someone accuses another of that which they are guilty of themselves. The example of your arrogance is the first paragraph of your first comment on this thread:

    “True to form, Mike gives one quote for the lengthy excerpt and fails to provide any citations to support the various assumptions he needs to make the conclusion. Frankly, Mike has a poor track record of speaking before thinking/researching/questioning, etc. But even worse is his substitution of common sense for mindless pontification.”

    Next up you attempt to refute me with this simplistic interpretation of what I’m stating:

    “Then why give them ANYTHING? Moreover, the Saudis aren’t going to attack them!”

    In the rage of protecting your belief system you again miss my point. I’m stating clearly that the U.S. is serving as a “brake” upon Israel, by posing as its’ ally. As such they have to make a show of aid and supplying some weaponry, however, the fact that the Saudi’s get the best weaponry indicates who is the U.S.’s closest ally in the ME. As to the Saudi’s not making war, it’s simply because they’re rich enough to do it through other
    country’s and terrorist organizations like Al Queada. Unthinkingly you make my point as to who is the U.S. real ME ally and why:

    “Lastly, let’s realize that the Saudis have something that Israel doesn’t – oil. For right or for wrong, we are sinking billions into Israel and getting nothing in return”.

    As for getting nothing in return, the billion$ are to ensure Israel’s need to comply with U.S. controls. That’s how the game is played. As an example of the Saudi control of the U.S. what do you think the first Iraq War was, if not the U.S. acting as “Hessians” for the Saudi’s and the Oil Cartel.

    “And you claim this difference is due to Christian fundamentalism? Unbelievable!”

    I don’t claim that at all. You misstate my expressed beliefs, either intentionally or perniciously. I state that Christian fundamentalism has become a major impetus in exacerbation of this and that their influence on Israeli policy is dangerous to all, especially Israel.

    My question to you Jack:

    “Why do you think the Torah is called “The New Testament.””

    Unlike you, webbed in the smugness of your belief system, I admit my mistakes. In my haste I transposed “Old” and “New”. Now Jack, in the context of my point: Why do you think the Torah is called the “Old Testament”, if not to show Jewish belief has been transcended by
    Christian belief?

    “Really? Like they were up in arms with the more moderate Ytizhak Rabin before he was assassinated by a radical orthodox Jew? I forgot about that (read in sarcasm). Don’t blame this on your imaginary “fundamentalists.””

    Rabin was assassinated in 1995 Jack and the Christian Fundamentalist Movement was not focused strongly on Israel at that time, nor did they have the political power they have now. I do think though that those that were paying attention to the ME, would not have been happy with Rabin and he was killed by a Fundamentalist.

    You see Jack I don’t consider Jewish Fundamentalists (Ultra-Orthodoxy) any clearer in thought than Fundamentalists of any other religion. Half of my family on both sides could be considered Ultra Orthodox and with the exception of a saintly maternal uncle, I didn’t feel they had the best take on life. I respected their piety in most cases, but resented their utter belief in “their” truth and the concomitant lack of respect for others belief systems. All Fundamentalists, of all religions share this flaw and in my opinion
    blasphemy of thinking they know the mind of God. In Christianity it is summed up in WWJD, as if they clearly know in each situation what the Son of God might be thinking. That is their hubris and that is their blasphemy, which they share with all religious fundamentalism.

    “CFR!!! Your “biblical scholars” are stupid and unread religious hacks. Paul did NOT “create” Christianity, and anyone that says otherwise is lazy, or simply can’t read.”

    Above Gene cited:

    “Operation Messiah: St. Paul, Roman Intelligence and the Birth of Christianity” by Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon. Also “The Naked Archaeologist” did an excellent two-part episode on this subject.”

    To this I would add:

    “The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity” by Hyam Maccoby who was was a Domus Exhibitioner in Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, as an excellant source by a renowned scholar. There are actually hundreds of others by respected scholars, some Christian, but this isn’t the place for a bibliography of my own scholarship.

    “And what you talk about are generally highly divisive issues with stings of moral judgment.”

    “As I said, it ignorant, fearful, and hostile propaganda from people like you that brought the awfulness of the holocaust.”

    As DHMCarver stated your second statement above is revolting, but
    let’s parse it a bit further. Taken in tandem with the quote before it when you mention divisive issues and then talk about “people like”
    me bringing about the Shoah, the connotation of your words could be
    paraphrased as “Listen Jew [since I’ve clearly identified myself as such] you’re in the minority here and you’d best be careful in offending us, or maybe you won’t like the result, just like the Jews that brought the NAZI’s down on them”.

    Now truthfully I don’t think you are anti-Jewish and/or hate Jews. I don’t even think you are a bad or stupid person. I think you simply are so
    caught up in your own beliefs and version of human history, that there is little room for you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, quite specifically Jewish ones. Jack there is nothing in your comments that makes me defensive or impels me to present you with a “bona fides”
    of my scholarship. As I said to you in my reply to your first comment, what I wrote is simply my opinion. If you don’t feel that I can back up everything I said with citations, then you are simply woefully mistaken. However, all opinion is open to dispute and you have the freedom to do so, wrong as I think you are.

  57. Mike,

    You said the following three statements:

    “I’m stating clearly that the U.S. is serving as a “brake” upon Israel, by posing as its’ ally.”

    “As for getting nothing in return, the billion$ are to ensure Israel’s need to comply with U.S. controls.”

    “Rabin was assassinated in 1995 Jack and the Christian Fundamentalist Movement was not focused strongly on Israel at that time, nor did they have the political power they have now.”

    They are incongruent. You are suggesting that the U.S. is posing as its ally to control it, and that control is to inch closer to Armageddon? If that’s not your point, then you are polluting the thread with irrelevant information and completely confusing issues. If it is, then you need to juxtapose Rabin, in which we were staunch allies, pouring money into Israel, but now without the motive that we have now? That makes no sense.

    As far as the Saudis, the point is that we don’t have to view nor treat all alliances equally. There is nothing pernicious about giving the Saudis technology while withholding it from Israel (CFR for the particular technology you’re referring to). I guarantee that we’ve given a great bit of technology to Israel that we haven’t shared with the Saudis. Why you believe you can pick-and chose is beyond me. [Also, alliances are different, and frankly, until Israel start giving us their technological improvements on the base technology that we’ve given them, I think we should stop sending our stuff over there! We should support Israel, I believe. But we shouldn’t be taken to the cleaners over our generosity.]

    ““Why do you think the Torah is called “The New Testament.””
    Unlike you, webbed in the smugness of your belief system, I admit my mistakes. In my haste I transposed “Old” and “New”.”

    First, what have I been factually wrong about? You really need to think before you speak. Stop the pontification, and raise your rhetoric to a more responsible level. If I was wrong about something, tell me. I’m not beyond learning.

    A simple mistake is a simple mistake. Thank you for the clarification.

    “All Fundamentalists, of all religions share this flaw and in my opinion blasphemy of thinking they know the mind of God.”

    And any, such as you, that believe that they know the mind of God sufficient to conclude that God doesn’t make his mind known to others is likewise, a fundamentalist. Except you add an element of distasteful moral superiority. Your hypocrisy stinks.

    On Paul, CFR. I’m not going to read a bunch of books on a hack theory that has no basis in biblical history. If you have a “cite,” give the cite. Otherwise, I am content to remain in my blissful ignorance of what is the obvious and undeniable truth – that Paul did NOT create Christianity.

    “Taken in tandem with the quote before it when you mention divisive issues and then talk about “people like” me bringing about the Shoah, the connotation of your words could be paraphrased as “Listen Jew…”

    You are disgusting. “People like you” has nothing to do with your heritage, but everything to do with your intellectual dishonesty. I have made it very clear that I have very high esteem for the Jewish people, and that I think your perpetual ignorance and intolerance is a disgrace to what they really stand for. To now make an accusation of ethnic bigotry on my part reaches into the lowest pits of fecal academics. I am astounded that someone – like you – that understands what evil has done to people like the Jews, perpetuates the same crimes of intolerant, unfounded smears. As I said, you are a disgusting, reprehensible individual. Stop throwing up the “Jewish” shield when someone makes a critique of YOU.

    “However, all opinion is open to dispute and you have the freedom to do so, wrong as I think you are.”

    You are entitled to your opinion, but not entitled to make up facts. Nor are you entitled to maliciously misrepresent what others think, believe, or opine. THAT is your problem.

    This mindless thread as obviously run its course.

    Jack

  58. Jack you are truly clueless.

    “You are suggesting that the U.S. is posing as its ally to control it, and that control is to inch closer to Armageddon?”

    Yes Jack I am suggesting that the U.S. is posing as Israel’s ally to control it. No Jack, i am nowhere suggesting that the U.S. aim in controlling Israel is to bring about Armageddon. I clearly stated that the U.S. pose was in compliance to the wishes of the Saudi’s and the Oil Cartel, to keep Israel as the “bogeyman” of the ME and thus keep the Arab people from seeing how their leaders are cheating them. I do believe on the other hand that the objective of the fundamentalist christian Leaders is to use Israel to hasten Armageddon. The only incongruence there is in your inability to comprehend what is clearly written.

    “Stop the pontification, and raise your rhetoric to a more responsible level.”

    Jack I don’t turn the other cheek. Again your opening comment to me was this:

    “True to form, Mike gives one quote for the lengthy excerpt and fails to provide any citations to support the various assumptions he needs to make the conclusion. Frankly, Mike has a poor track record of speaking before thinking/researching/questioning, etc. But even worse is his substitution of common sense for mindless pontification.”

    Do you think that was rhetoric raised to a responsible level. You started off shooting and have continued all along. It is hypocritical of you to tell me to raise my level of discourse. you still haven’t answered why the Torah is called the “Old Testament” and that is because you know why and it would harm your “Jew loving” to clearly state it.

    “And any, such as you, that believe that they know the mind of God sufficient to conclude that God doesn’t make his mind known to others is likewise, a fundamentalist.”

    See the problem with that Jack is this. any two bit con man can claim that God spoke to him/her and that has been done ever since religion began.
    I’m saying clearly I don’t know god’s purposes and my reason tells me that no human can. How can one even begin to judge the motivation of an eternal, omniscient Deity? And yes, I believe that any that are positive that they can know that motivation, or that their scriptures which are open to so many differing interpretations clearly lay them out, is performing an exercise in self-delusion. The best humans can do is to approach such a deity with humility and try to get things right. People like Pat Robertson for instance, who says things like Katrina was God’s punishment for the tolerance of homosexuality, is at best deluded and at worst a fraud. He is certainly a blasphemer and not a humble man, as neither are many other in the Fundamentalist Christian Movement.

    “You are disgusting. “People like you” has nothing to do with your heritage, but everything to do with your intellectual dishonesty. I have made it very clear that I have very high esteem for the Jewish people, and that I think your perpetual ignorance and intolerance is a disgrace to what they really stand for”

    Gee Jack, I’ll bet some of your best friends are Jewish. I’ll also bet you don’t understand the irony of my last statement.

    “To now make an accusation of ethnic bigotry on my part reaches into the lowest pits of fecal academics. I am astounded that someone – like you – that understands what evil has done to people like the Jews, perpetuates the same crimes of intolerant, unfounded smears. As I said, you are a disgusting, reprehensible individual. Stop throwing up the “Jewish” shield when someone makes a critique of YOU.”

    Now let us see. In the comment you were replying to I wrote:

    “Now truthfully I don’t think you are anti-Jewish and/or hate Jews. I don’t even think you are a bad or stupid person. I think you simply are so caught up in your own beliefs and version of human history, that there is little room for you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, quite specifically Jewish ones.”

    Now certainly there was disparagement in that paragraph, but there was no charge of you being a bigot, a bad person, or a stupid person.
    In fact you’ve written many comments here making those charges against me and in fact, my answers to you maligning me, were rather reserved compared to your steamed rhetoric. Stop projecting your own thoughts onto me Jack. Look in the mirror of your own comments.

  59. Thank you for all of the different comments and insights. i love Israel and the United States. Don’t forget who is ultimately in charge. It is not any of us regardless of what we say or do. God tells ALL to pray and that says it all.

  60. Wow. You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m wondering if I should leave things at Matthew 7:6 because I’m not sure that you could handle the truth or appreciate it for that matter. Yeah, I think I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for continuing to fulfill New Testament Scriptures though, always good to know that Yeshua truly is Messiah, Savior and King.

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