Monday, November 16, 2015

Republican candidates once again reveal they haven't read the Constitution

Apparently several of our Republican candidates for president have not yet read the first amendment to the Constitution, which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Donald Trump repeated his call to inspect mosques for signs of radicals. He said that if he were to become president "surveillance of mosques is something that he would 'watch and study' because 'a lot of talk is going on at the mosques.'" Last month he said that "he would be open to shutting down mosques as part of the fight against" ISIS.

Ben Carson said that  "Muslim clerics should be pressured to condemn the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL."
“I believe that we need to put a lot more pressure on the clerics, the imams, to make a very distinct line between what ISIS, ISIL, the radical Islamic jihadists are doing, and what traditional Islam is about,” Mr. Carson said in Nevada.
And Jeb Bush said that the US should only accept Christian refugees from Syria - ignoring the fact that most of the victims of ISIS have been Muslims, especially Shi'ite Muslims.

President Obama denounced these suggestions:
“When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful,” the president said.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On the Paris attacks and ISIS responsibility

I haven't posted anything to my blog since September, but the reactions that I have been reading in some leftist articles to the ISIS murders in Paris last night are infuriating me. The articles seem to focus on these themes: 1) Don't change your Facebook icon to the French flag because the French state is evil and has been doing evil things since the late 1700s. 2) Why are you so upset about what ISIS did? It's really all the fault of the US/UK/France because of Iran 1953/Iraq War/current attacks on ISIS in Syria or Iraq. 3) You weep for the dead of France but what about the dead of Beirut or Baghdad?

My answers:

1) France, like all nation states, has committed evil acts, both in the past and currently. However, when France joined the fight against ISIS, they did something good. ISIS is the enemy of all humanity.

2) The citizens of France and tourists visiting France do not deserve to die a horrible death because of the policies, good or bad, of the French state.

ISIS is guilty of their deaths, not anyone else. The members of ISIS chose to join a terrorist group, knowing that it engaged in terrible atrocities. They chose the path of evil.

People in Iraq who suffered from the American attack on Iraq have not, for the most part, become terrorists. It is not inevitable that those who are victims of a war will then choose to become terrorists and attack civilians.

Most of the victims of ISIS and Al Qaeda have been Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'ite. Both groups, especially ISIS, have a special hatred for Shi'ite Muslims. How is that the fault of the US, France, or the UK?

3) The articles that I have seen somehow avoid mentioning the other victims of ISIS - Yezidis and various Christian communities in Iraq, some of which have been there for 1800 years and are in the process of being driven out.

These articles also avoid mentioning the many dead of Syria, murdered by Assad - most of those murdered in Syria were killed by the Syrian regime, not ISIS.

They also assume that those of us who are upset about the murders in France don't care about the deaths of innocent people in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, or Palestine. Perhaps that is true of some people, but it's not true of me.

4) If we pay attention, many of these recent attacks are connected.

A) The bombings in Beirut on Thursday took place in the southern part of the city, which is controlled by Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian regime. These two attacks murdered 43 people. According to Reuters, "The blasts occurred almost simultaneously late on Thursday and struck a Shi'ite community center and a nearby bakery in the commercial and residential area of Borj al-Barajneh, security sources said."

 Also according to Reuters, the bombing was committed by ISIS.
Islamic State said in a statement posted online by its supporters that its members blew up a bike loaded with explosives in Borj al-Barajneh and that when onlookers gathered, a suicide bomber blew himself up among them. The group said the attacks killed 40 people.
B) Two bombings yesterday in Baghdad were also been claimed by ISIS. The first attack, which killed 21 people, targeted a memorial service for a Shi'ite fighter who died fighting ISIS. The second attack, which killed five people, was at a Shi'ite shrine in Sadr City. This article is from ABC News.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide blast and a roadside bombing that targeted Shiites in Baghdad on Friday, killing a total of 26 people and wounding dozens. 
The attacks came as Iraqi Kurdish militias, backed by U.S. airstrikes, seized the town of Sinjar from the Islamic State group in a major blow to the extremists. Following its blitz last year, the IS — which splintered off from Iraq's al-Qaida branch — now holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate. 
The suicide bomber struck a memorial service held for a Shiite militia fighter killed in battle against IS in the Iraqi capital's southwestern suburb of Hay al-Amal, a police official told The Associated Press. That explosion killed 21 people and wounded at least 46, he said. 
The militia fighter was killed in battle against the militant group in Iraq's western Anbar province, the official added. 
Also Friday in Baghdad, a roadside bomb detonated at a Shiite shrine in Sadr City, killing at least five people and wounding 15, police officials said. Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters. 
Since the emergence of IS extremists, Baghdad has seen near-daily attacks, with roadside bombs, suicide blasts and assassinations targeting Iraqi forces and government officials, with significant casualties among the civilian population. 
The violence has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of Iraqis. 
Shiite militia fighters answered a call to arms last year after the country's highest Shiite religious authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sisani, called on Iraqi men to defend the country. The militias, which later formed an umbrella paramilitary force called the Popular Mobilization Forces, have been an integral part in the battle against the Islamic State group, supporting Iraqi forces in battles in Salahuddin, Anbar and Baghdad provinces. 
In a statement distributed on pro-IS Twitter accounts, the Sunni militant group said the aim of Friday's attacks was "revenge for our monotheist brothers in al-Fallujah, al-Anbar, and Salahaldin," referring to ongoing Iraqi military operations to retrieve land lost to the IS in those locations.
C) The Russian plane that took off from Sharm al-Sheikh was probably destroyed by a bomb placed on the plane by someone from ISIS.

D) The attacks last night were done by ISIS fighters.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Blood Moon!!!!!

On Sunday night there will be the last super blood moon until 2033. So after this one, we won't have to worry about the apocalypse for another 18 years.

A lunar eclipse seen from Tokyo on Oct. 8, 2014.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness

There are times when studying the history of Jews and Judaism in late antiquity comes in handy in the face of contemporary events. The radical settlers who have been arrested for committing arson at the Church of the Loaves and the Fishes, including a man named Meir Ettinger, are engaged in trying overthrow the state of Israel and replace it with the Kingdom of Israel. I'm reminded of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, usually called the War Scroll by scholars - "The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness."

Ynet has just published an extensive article about the murderous attacks committed by these radical settlers (none of whom have yet been arrested for the murders at Duma) and their ideology, which may set the West Bank aflame.

Main points of the article:
The rising tensions are evident everywhere. In Meir Ettinger's fanaticism; in Palestinian villages where night watchmen groups are formed; in Givat Ronen outpost where "the most hotheaded guys are drawn," and in the police, where investigators are trying to solve the arson in Duma and prepare for possible Jewish retaliation.
While we were all paying attention to other things, there have been several murderous attacks on Palestinians by settlers in the past year. The house of Huda Kumail, who lives in Khirbet Abu Falah, was firebombed nine months ago, on November 23, 2014, and she and her three daughters barely escaped with their lives.

A year and a half ago, the home of Khaled Dar-Khalil from Sinjil, north of Ramallah, was also bombed, but the family was saved by Palestinian firefighters from Birzeit. Fortunately, none of them were hurt.

I presume that I did not hear about these two bombings because no one died in the attacks, but it's obvious that the Israeli government should have been paying much closer attention to attacks on Palestinians by settlers, because the whole situation in the West Bank is in danger of completely blowing up.

There is also constant harassment of Palestinian farmers by settlers, who try to prevent the Palestinians from working the land and harvesting olive trees. One example is provided by Adnan Nasser, who lives close to the Adi Ad outpost, one of those places settled by radical Jews.
"I'm suffering from the settlers, and I'm not the only one," he told us. "They harass and hurt all of the farmers in the village. They uproot trees, burn agricultural machinery, attack us in the fields." 
We drove on a dirt road leading to an agricultural field, and from there to the hill atop which Adi Ad is located. The same road, by the way, also leads to the home of Mrs. Kumail from Khirbet Abu Falah, 2.5 kilometers away from here. 
On the edges of the Palestinian field we found a small military tent with four soldiers observing the outpost. They were stationed there to separate the two sides. 
On the opposite ridge there was a group of teens and children who noticed us standing there and looking at them. They instantly covered their faces and started making their way down the ridge towards us. But the soldiers assured us we had nothing to worry about, they will protect us. The Palestinian who was with us was not assured by this. We left.
Meir Ettinger, who has just been arrested for suspicion of his involvement in the attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes (and perhaps also about the murderous arson in Duma), was arrested in early March of this year because he was suspected of being involved in the attack on Huda Kumail and her family. He was questioned at the Ma'ale Adumim police station but then released because they didn't have evidence against him. He was then barred from entering the West Bank and Jerusalem. The article provides more information on Ettinger and his violent acts against Palestinians, which he justifies by resort to the higher law of the Torah. This is the letter that Ettinger wrote to the judges in his case:
"Two weeks ago, I received a restraining order barring me from my home in Givat Sneh Ya'akov near the holy city of Nablus. This order forces me to leave my home, the righteous Jacob's land, my parents’ house in the holy city of Jerusalem, the city of the Temple, and my in-laws' house in Shiloh, where the Tabernacle resided thousands of years before the strange and bizarre laws that this court adheres to were made," he wrote. 
"Unfortunately, the Land of Israel is dominated by a government that is not loyal to the laws of Torah and the commandments, to whom the sanctity of the Land of Israel is foreign, and the fact it is called a Jewish state is merely lip service. This is the situation that brought me to stand here, in front of this court, that in my eyes is the same as those who are barring me from my home and the land of my ancestors, whose goal is to promote assimilation and erase the unique nature of the people of Israel, and to whom the state's security is not the same as the security of Jews... 
"This court calls itself a high court of justice, but to us it is the symbol of the injustice and the theft of the name 'Israel'... the order I received cites 'reasons of state security and public safety.' This is the time to say - it is not I who destroyed Israel, but you who sit here, and your predecessors, who endanger the Jews' security over and over again..."
He also said in an interview with the Kol Yehudi (Jewish Voice) website:
"I didn't get this order because I'm suspected of murder or robbing banks, but because we all want to see the Kingdom of Israel rise here as soon as possible," he said, and then elaborated: "We don't recognize the authority of the government that controls the Land of Israel today, to tell us what to do and how to do it... We shouldn't even pay heed to the persecution and the restrictions they put on us. We must act with all of our might to change the situation and do everything we can to form the Kingdom of Israel."
A comrade of Ettinger, Efi Haikin from Yitzhar (an extremist settlement in the central West Bank), said of Ettinger:
He defined Ettinger as "the flag bearer of those who believe that the State of Israel should disappear and that we need to establish the Kingdom of Israel as soon as possible, as God commanded us." 
Later, Haikin touched upon one of the key points in the ideology that leads the extremists in the outposts: "The State of Israel is financing churches in the Land of Israel even though one of the main commandments given to the people of Israel as they entered the Land of Israel is to uproot any idol worship."
And what has the government being doing with people like Ettinger? They issue orders to prevent them from entering Jerusalem or the West Bank. If Ettinger and his comrades were Palestinians suspected of the same kind of attacks against Israeli Jews in the West Bank, they would now have been sitting in jail for a long time in administrative detention. But there was no such harsh treatment for these coddled radicals.

Udi Levy, who is the head of the "Nationalistic Crime Unit at the Judea and Samaria District," says of them:
"They have no rabbinical authority. These guys are of the opinion the rabbis have become moderate, that they are groveling to the state, and if there is any authority, it's guys from among them. Guys like Ettinger, Yinon Reuveni, Moshe Orbach. Guys who don't study. All of the official bodies tried to deal with them, offer help - the welfare services, the council - nothing worked. Even the army. The Commander of the Binyamin Regional Brigade, Col. Yisrael Shomer, tried to go to these groups, talk to them, and they weren't happy to see him. He wasn't welcomed there."
So instead of arresting and prosecuting them, the welfare services, the regional council, and the army went and talked to them, as if they were naughty children who just needed to be scolded. The army! Since the attack on the Dawabshe family home in Duma, several Palestinians have been shot and killed by the army in protests. When the army feels in danger from Palestinians who are protesting and/or rioting, they shoot. But when they are faced with people who want to overthrow the state of Israel and replace it with a theocratic kingdom, they go talk to them.

Three of the radicals have now been put in administrative detention, because the cabinet finally decided to do this to Jews in addition to Palestinians. Administrative detention is detention without trial, often because there is inadequate evidence to charge someone, or because the army thinks they're dangerous. It's permitted by the British emergency regulations, which were taken over by the State of Israel when it was founded.

It is a blatantly anti-democratic procedure, which has been often used against Palestinians, and very rarely against Jews. The B'Tselem human rights group, which works to help Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, decried the use of administrative detention against the radical settlers, just as they do its use against Palestinians.

Sa'ad Dawabshe, father of Ali, died today and was buried in Duma

From Haaretz.
Sa'ad Dawabshe, Father of Ali, Dies and is buried in his home village of Duma. 
A Palestinian man who was seriously wounded in last week's West Bank arson attack that saw his 18-month-old son burned to death succumbed to his wounds early Saturday. Thousands attended his funeral in the village of Duma on Saturday afternoon. 
Sa'ad Dawabsheh, 32, suffered severe second-degree burns on over 80 percent of his body and was on life support at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva for the past week after firebombs were thrown into his home in Duma last Friday, killing his 18-month-old son Ali and seriously wounding his wife and 4-year-old boy.  
According to the Israeli hospital administering care to the surviving Dawabsheh family members, Sa'ad's wife and son were still facing life threatening wounds.  
A spokesperson for Hamas called for clashes in West Bank in response to Dawabsheh's death. Writing on his Facebook page, Husam Badran said 
"Dawabsheh's death proves the severity of the crime perpetrated by settlers against the family... Nothing will stop these murderous settler attacks […] we cannot wait until they come to our villages… Our people in the West Bank have only one choice: that of open and comprehensive confrontation against the occupation," he wrote.
Fatah called on Palestinian civilians to join "popular guards' committees" in their villages to guard them from settler aggression. 
Early morning on Saturday, unknown persons threw two firebombs at a home near Duma, according to Palestinian reports. No casualties were reported.  
Thousands attended Dawabsheh's funerary procession, which departed from Nablus to Duma, after his body was dissected at the city's forensic institute, and several present called for revenge. Dawabsheh was buried at the village's cemetery next to his son Ali, killed in the attack. According to his relatives, they refused an Israeli offer to have his body dissected in Israel.  
The Israeli army reported several clashes between Palestinians and security forces erupted during the funeral, but were quelled soon after.  
The arson attack, which has been attributed to Israeli extremists and was labeled Jewish terror by top Israeli officials, has fueled unrest in Israel and the Palestinian territories, prompting the government to crackdown on far-right extremists.  
During his time at the hospital, hundreds of people came to visit Dawabsheh, including senior Israeli officials, and the family has even put up thank you signs in both Hebrew and Arabic to welcome the visitors. 
...... Sa'ad's wife Reham and his son Ahmed were still facing life threatening wounds. Reham is suffering from third-degree burns on 90 percent of her body and is on life support in the intensive care unit of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. Four-year-old Ahmed suffered second-degree burns on over 60 percent of his body; he too is hospitalized at Tel Hashomer.

Extremist settlers attack another home in Duma

Extremist settlers attack another home in Duma:

NABLUS (Ma’an) - Extremist Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian home with fire bombs and rocks in the village of Duma south of Nablus in the northern West Bank on Saturday morning, Palestinian officials told Ma'an.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that “a number of extremist settlers hurled two fire bombs at the home of Mahmoud Fazza al-Kaabna.”

The fire bombs, Daghlas said, landed at the outer wall of the home near a window, but did not make it inside the house. The attackers also hurled stones at the house, with one of them hitting al-Kaabna in the abdomen.

The settler attack took place a week after the deadly arson attack which killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha and his father Saad from the same village. The mother Riham and 4-year-old brother Ahmad are still struggling for their lives after they sustained third-degree burns on most of their bodies.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Posters praising the murder of gay people appear in Jerusalem

I got into an argument with someone on Facebook about whether it was fair to see Yishai Schlissel as a product of the Haredi educational system and Haredi values, which teach contempt and disdain for gay and lesbian people and call for people to repress their sexual orientation. I argued that Schlissel, although he himself appears to be mentally ill, was in fact expressing those values in an appalling and violent way. He, on the other hand, argued that we should not see Schlissel as representing Haredi values in any way, since he was so clearly a great exception to the Haredi rule of seeking to turn away from contemporary Israeli society and becoming an ever more insular society. Instead of ignoring the gay pride march in Jerusalem, which has been the advice of Haredi rabbis for several years, he stabbed six people and killed one of them (Shira Banki z"l).

Schlissel is not as great an exception as my interlocutor argued. Posters have now appeared in Jerusalem praising Schlissel and calling for others also to murder LGBT people. The posters have been put up in Haredi neighborhoods in the city, by extremist elements who call themselves "Faithful Judaism."

One poster (below) says: "Everyone who sheds the blood of these evil people is as if he had brought a sacrifice (to God)." This same poster also says, "Happy are you, R' Yishai who sanctified the name of heaven! You did this not from your own intentions, but you are the messenger of the community and the messenger of God!"

Another poster (below) praised Schlissel with these words: "Happy are you R' Yishai, for you merited much self-sacrifice, and acted like Pinchas, 'who took the spear in his hand,' to act zealously for the Lord of Hosts, who killed the licentious ones within the camp, and did not refrain (from doing this) before everyone."

If I can get over my revulsion at the words on these posters, I will translate the entire text of both of them, but right now I feel too disturbed by them to do so.

Monday, August 03, 2015

The worshippers of Molech, the killers of Ali Sa'ad Dawabshe

Banner near the house, with a photograph of Ali Sa'ad Dawabshe
I've never been inside a house where someone was murdered before.

Yesterday, I went to the Palestinian village of Duma, in the West Bank, to offer condolences to the relatives of the Dawabshe family, who were attacked last Friday early morning in their home. Unknown Jewish assailants threw firebombs into their house, including the bedroom. They killed the 1 1/2 old baby, Ali Sa'ad Dawabshe, and severely injured his brother Ahmed and his parents Sa'ad and Reham.

The bedroom where the family slept.
I went with an Israeli group called "Tag Meir" which means "Light Tag" and is a play on words for the slogan "Tag Mechir," which means "Price Tag." The term "Price Tag" is used by Israeli extremist settlers who take revenge on Palestinians when the Israeli government does anything in reference to settlers that they don't like.  For example, last week the government demolished two illegally built houses in the settlement of Beit El. One possibility is that the Dawabshe family was attacked in revenge for the government action. This possibility is strengthened by the fact that the word נקמה ("Revenge") was written on the wall near the firebombed home.

These extremists also attack churches and mosques, both in Israel and in the occupied territories. Tag Meir goes and visits Christian and Muslim holy sites that have been desecrated by Jewish religious fanatics, as well as other places that have been attacked.

Haaretz has a chilling article in today's newspaper about a Settler Terror Underground that Seeks to Overthrow the Israeli Government.
Investigators into Friday’s murder-by-arson of a Palestinian infant increasingly believe in the likelihood that the extreme rightist operatives responsible for the attack are affiliated with the same ideological group that  has torched mosques, churches and Palestinian homes over the past year.   
The group's core consists of several dozen people whose operations are centered in West Bank outposts but wander all over the country, including within the Green Line.
Unlike in the past, the understanding is that these assailants are no longer attempting to deter the government and security forces from evacuating outposts and settlements. 
Nowadays they have more ambitious aims, like destabilizing the country and overthrowing the government to establish a new regime to be based on halakha, Jewish law. They plan to use violence in a systematic, continuous manner irrespective of police conduct in the territories, investigators said. 
This ideological shift among this gang of violent young Jewish fanatics once referred to as “price tag” activists or “hilltop youth” was identified by the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police late last year. The terrorists came to the conclusion that mosque fires were old hat, and that a broader approach was needed. 
Some of these ideas were expressed in a document confiscated from Moshe Orbach, 24, of Bnei Brak, who was charged last week in the torching of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the Kinneret shore. He had written the document, titled “The Kingdom of Evil,” which lays the ideological foundation for escalating the attacks against religious sites and Arabs, and offers practical suggestions for how to avoid surveillance and questioning....
The ideological change that was identified last year provided a new framework for attacks against Palestinians and religious institutions. According to the agencies monitoring them, the operatives present an "anarchist, anti-Zionist" world view and justify violent attacks, including ones that cause casualties, as means toward destabilizing the state, undermining Israel's  social institutions and democratic government, and advancing a revolution that would set up a new Israeli "kingdom" that would operate in accordance with Jewish law.  
The drafters of this new Jewish insurgent ideology are not in regular contact with rabbis and do not feel the need for halakhic rulings to justify their actions. They see rabbis once perceived as extremist as having become too “establishment.” They stress the need for emotional resilience, both as they act and if they are subject to police and Shin Bet interrogations. They reject any attempt to impose on them any authority. 
Another dangerous change is that they now justify the killing of Arabs during attacks on houses and religious institutions, and are willing to demonstrate “self-sacrifice,” including the acceptance of long prison terms, to promote their goals. Some have even been saving money in case they are imprisoned for a long period. When a Palestinian home was torched near Dura in the South Hebron Hills six months ago (the family managed to escape), a structure on the grounds of the Dormition Church in Jerusalem was burned, and the church along the Kinneret was set alight, it seems the arsonists knew that people were inside, unlike in most past arsons, which were committed at night when the buildings were empty. 
In various documents and statements, these young settlers speak of creating chaos in the country by intensifying the friction over what they identify as the country’s vulnerabilities. While the Jewish terror organization that operated in the West Bank in the beginning of the previous decade (whose members were never put in prison) dealt with shooting attacks targeting Palestinian cars, the new Jewish terrorists are looking for targets that they describe as “explosive”: the Temple Mount, “eliminating idolatry” by torching mosques and churches, and “expelling the non-Jews” by systematically attacking them. The assailants also talk about inciting against government systems and imposing religious strictures in public spaces, particularly with regard to women’s modesty.
"May the king Messiah live" - this is a slogan of messianist members of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who believe that the last Lubavitcher Rebbe is the Messiah, even though he died in 1994.
Today's visit was originally intended to include going to the mourner's tent to offer our condolences to the relatives of the Dawabshe family. Instead, we went to the burned house itself, and were able to enter and see the burned remains of the interior, including the living room, where all the furniture was tossed about, the entry room, where the television had been partially melted, the kitchen, which was black with smoke, and the bedroom, where the partially burned bedding was strewn about.  The murderers threw firebombs into the bedroom, where the family was sleeping.

Standing in the bedroom, looking at the burned up bedding and the springs from the bed, I had the same feeling as when I visited Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks - just blank incomprehension. How could people do such an evil thing? Firebomb a sleeping family in the middle of the night - an attack that was bound to severely injure and kill the people there. How could anyone do such a thing?

The people who did this undoubtedly think of themselves as religious Jews, as worshipping God in the correct manner. After the murder, they probably read the Torah reading for this past Shabbat, including the commandment: "You shall not murder." How could they read those words without thinking of themselves? The god they really worship is Molech, who demanded the sacrifice of children.

The door to the living room, thrown down.
The living room - sofas, and a child's carriage.
The burned out kitchen.
Onions, spilled out on the floor of the kitchen.
The destroyed bedroom, with a photographer from a news organization in the corner.
The attackers also threw firebombs into the house next door, but fortunately injured no one because the house was empty. The damage was, however, also quite extensive.

Front of the house next door - the room thoroughly destroyed by fire.
Another view into the same room.
Further inside the house next door - chairs and a table still in place.
After we visited the two houses, the leader of Tag Meir, Gadi Gvaryahu, and one of the village leaders (I don't know his name) spoke together. The village leader spoke about how the village was constantly subject to attack by settlers from nearby settlements, and Gadi spoke of the sense of shame that he and other Jews had over the murder of Ali Dawabshe.

Conversation outside the house.
After this conversation, Gadi said that we should leave Duma before going to the mourning tent, because there were people in the village who were angry that we Jews had come into the village.  So we went on our way out.

Banner outside the Dawabshe house, with two men from the village council depicted.
But just before I got on the bus, a girl from a family who was watching people coming from the burned house offered water to those passing by. She came up to me and pressed the bottle into my hand, and I went over to the other members of her family to say thank you, and apologize, and we had a short conversation. It was clear that they, at least, were glad that we had come.

Leaving the village.
Olive trees along the road from Duma.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

"A Short History of Humankind"

I'm visiting Israel right now for a little over a week, to have a vacation and see friends and go to interesting places.  I have been spending time with friends, and I went to a wonderful new exhibit at the Israel Museum called קצור תולדות האנושות ("A short history of humankind"), inspired by the book of the same name by Yuval Noah Harari. The exhibit told the story of human history using objects from the museum and modern and contemporary art and video installations that reflected on the themes developed in the book. The "short history" exhibit began with the Big Bang and eventually came to the present.

This is a model of a house, found in an archaeological excavation in Arad, Israel. It dates from the early Bronze Age, between 3,000-2,650 BCE. From the explanatory plaque: "Though we do not know to what purpose it was built, this rare model allows us a glimpse of the structure of houses in the ancient city of Arad. Rectangular in shape, with a flat roof that had grooves to collect rain water, they contained a space that served as bedroom, utility room, and kitchen, as well as side rooms that were sometimes used as kitchen and sometimes as living rooms. The animals were kept in the courtyard, where most of the house chores were carried out, including weaving, sewing, and the preparing of flint tools."
From the section of the exhibit on divinities - on the left, deities represented as rocks with holes in them, also from the Bronze Age in Israel, and on the left, a modern portrayal of Jesus, facing Pontius Pilate, titled "Ecce Homo" ("This is the man").


The last two images show the original moon landing in 1969 and a playful reenactment.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Auschwitz guard, 94, convicted as accessory to murder

LUENEBURG, Germany (AP) — A 94-year-old former SS sergeant who served at the Auschwitz death camp was convicted Wednesday on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and given a four-year sentence. 
Oskar Groening testified during his trial at the state court in Lueneburg, in northern Germany, that he guarded prisoners' baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them. Prosecutors said that amounted to helping the death camp function. 
The charges against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland. Most were immediately gassed to death. 
Unusually for trials of former Nazi camp guards, Groening has been open about his past throughout the proceedings. 
Groening said when his trial opened in April that he bears a share of the moral guilt for atrocities at the camp but that it was up to judges to determine whether he is guilty under criminal law. 
In their verdict, judges went beyond the 3 ½-year sentence prosecutors had sought. Groening's defense team had called for him to be acquitted, arguing that as far as the law is concerned he did not facilitate mass murder.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What's the "correct narrative" now for the 7/7/05 terrorist attacks in London?

Excellent essay by Howard Jacobson, in the Independent, 
“We need a counter-narrative.” How often have we heard that since 7/7? We need to tell a better story to those young British Muslims for whom bombs and beheadings hold a greater allure than anything we have to offer. Someone’s seducing them away with a narrative of lies, so we must seduce them back again with a narrative of truth.... 
The Government’s proposed hymn to British values is equally naiive. Man wakes up, kisses wife (but not in a homophobic sort of way), reads chapter of Magna Carta aloud to family, goes bareheaded to work, eats humanely killed pork sandwich, practises sundry acts of tolerance, returns home to gin and tonic, prays unfanatically to secular god, and goes to sleep thinking of the Royal Family. Indubitably, there are worse ways of getting through the tedium of existence, but as a narrative this one’s unlikely to prevail against millenarian fantasy and a plentiful supply of virgins. In a battle of facile narratives, the one with more action wins. 
But why must it be a choice, anyway, between blowing people up on buses and a docile embrace of British values to which very few Britons of any faith or temper subscribe? Extreme views can kill, but disagreement is the breath of life. Non-conformity has always been one of the great British virtues, and that includes non-conformity to things British. The terrorist isn’t a problem because he doesn’t conform; he’s a problem because he does. It’s what he conforms to that makes him dangerous.

In memory of the victims of the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in London on 7/7/2005

From the BBC, July 7, 2015:
Services have been held to remember the "ocean of pain" caused by the London bombings, in which 52 people died and more than 700 were hurt a decade ago. 
A minute's silence was observed as survivors and relatives of the victims gathered at St Paul's Cathedral. Petals fell from the dome as the Bishop of London said the Tube and bus attacks had united a city in "agonised outcry". 
In Hyde Park, one survivor, Emma Craig, told crowds: "It may not have broken London, but it did break some of us." 
The bombing of three Tube trains and a bus - carried out by four bombers linked to al-Qaeda carrying rucksacks of explosives - was the worst single terrorist atrocity on British soil. 
At just after 08:50 on 7 July 2005, three explosions took place on the Underground - 26 people died at Russell Square, six at Edgware Road and seven at Aldgate. Almost an hour later, a fourth device was set off on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, killing 13 people.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mark Dankof, antisemitic Lutheran pastor, blames Jews for same-sex marriage

According to Lutheran Minister, Mark Dankof, Jews are to blame for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. (Why not? We're to blame for everything else, if you believe antisemites).

Pink News (UK gay paper) reported on his recent interview with Press TV (the Iranian regime's propaganda television station) about the Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage in the US: Christian minister blames the Jews for America getting equal marriage.
A Christian pastor and activist has blamed Jewish people for the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of same-sex marriage. 
Mark Dankof, a Lutheran, made the claims in an interview with Iran’s Press TV.
As well as same-sex marriage, Dankof attributed “victories for abortion on demand” to “Jewish power, money and activism.” 
“It should not be ignored that the victories for abortion on demand and LGBT rights are reflective of the disproportionate influence of Jewish power, money, and activism in the United States,” Dankof said.
From checking out Dankof on Google News, it appears that he is a regular contributor to Press TV. He thinks that the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo staff was a "false flag operation," and that the "Israel lobby controls US politics," etc. He's a buddy of David Duke, the former Klansman, Neo-Nazi, and antisemite. He is, of course, a 9-11 Truther, and frequently posts a photo of the World Trace Center towers in flame, with an Israeli flag in the upper right corner of the photo.

On one of his websites, however, he has an article called The Iran of Old (from 2002) which makes his current involvement with Press TV very strange. He writes: "The Land of Persia is presently ruled by a cadre of thugs in the guise of an Islamic Republic. The cabal of Mullahs and their trail of oppression, murder, and terror is plainly visible except to the blind by choice."

If he believes that, why is constantly being interviewed by Press TV?

On his blog (, he has posts of his interviews with Press TV and others, interspersed with the occasional theological essay (he is a Lutheran minister). The article available at that link will also be published in a publication called "Table Talk," from the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod, a conservative Lutheran congregational organization.

In another sermon, given at the annual convention of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod, it is clear that he believes that Christianity superseded Judaism, and he makes his argument in racial terms.
The New Testament and I Peter 2: 9-10 as a part of that corpus, explicit reject the notion that the Chosen People of God and the Kingdom of God itself, are rooted in notions of racial supremacy, racial identification, nationalism, military power, political power, or economic supremacy.  Jesus makes this clear in his debate with the Pharisees in John 8: 31-58.  Modern Christian Zionism, based in these false assumptions and in the 19th century eschatological inventions of John Nelson Darby and the Scofield Reference Bible..., has resurrected the very false teachings surrounding the Kingdom, the Covenants, Obedience, and Racial Identification that permeated the thinking of the Pharisees in John 8 and those who called for the release of Barabbas on the night of the Savior’s betrayal (Matthew 27:25). 
This is why Peter uses 2: 9-10 to reiterate what Paul says in Ephesians 1:4 when he states that “. . . He [God the Father] chose us in Him [God the Son, Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world . . .” Peter now tells believers in Christ who are racial Gentiles who were “once not a people” that they are “now the people of God” (I Peter 2: 10).  He assures his audience that, “Once you [Gentiles] had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 
Peter now applies the terms and the concepts of Old Testament Judaism to Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ (verse 9). They are now a “Chosen People.” They are now members of a Royal Priesthood [of all believers in Jesus Christ], and are a “Holy Nation” and a “People Belonging to God.” The Apostle’s application of these terms and concepts to Gentile Christians is fraught with impending spiritual and political irony. After Peter’s death by crucifixion in A. D. 68 in Rome, it would only be two years before the Romans would visit Jerusalem in a fashion reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar in the Sixth Century B. C., and would destroy yet another Jewish Temple on Tisha B’Av (August 9th) in the year A. D. 70. The notion of National and Racial Judah as the Chosen People of God in the New Testament Era had come to a catastrophic end, never to be resurrected again (Matthew 21: 19 and Mark 11: 14).
"Racial identification" of the Pharisees? "Racial gentiles"? "Racial Judah"? These are terms I would expect to be used by a Nazi clergyman from Germany in 1933-1945, not by a man ordained in the Lutheran Church who is preaching in 2015.

In a post from 2013, Dankof refers to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) as the "synagogue of Satan" (a phrase found in the book of Revelation 1:9, 2:9-10, and 3:8-9). He writes about "Talmudic racial supremacy," and blames a "Zionist-run America" for the legalization of abortion, for homosexuality, and for an America "soaked in lawless and violence."

It appears that Dankof's antisemitism is based both on a Christian supercessionist reading of the New Testament and on racial antisemitism, mixed with his adherence to American paleoconservatism and devotion to a wide range of conspiracy theories about the 9-11 attacks, Zionists, the Rothschilds, and AIPAC.

Update: Seismic Shock reported in 2008 that Stephen Sizer had appeared on Dankof's radio show. Joe W (author of Seismic Shock) reported on Harry's Place in 2011 about Sizer's appearance on the radio show. The ADL also reports on Dankof's appearances on Press TV, in 2015.

When I searched for more information about Dankof on Google News (searching on, I found that the list of articles by or about him included this notice:
The notice at reads:
My guess is that there is an article by or about him on a banned Neo-Nazi site, probably Stormfront.

In 2002, the government in Nordrhein-Westfalen (where Bochum is located) decided to ban access to Stormfront via any of the local ISPs, according to Online Hate Speech Regulation in the United States and Europe, p. 173.

When I try to access Stormfront directly, this is the message I get:
The content of the website is prohibited by German law.

Lock available from 12-FEB-2002
21:50:30 AZ of district government Dusseldorf
Ordnungsrechtl. Procedures for breaches of the MdStV

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'm going to be at the Jerusalem LGBT Pride March this year!

I just discovered that the Jerusalem Pride March is happening while I'll be visiting Israel in late July-early August.

Here are the details from the הבית הפתוח (Open House):

Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance – July 30th, 2015

Where: Independence Park (Gan HaAtzma'ut) to Liberty Bell Park (Gan HaPa'amon)

5:00 – 6:00 – Assembling at Independence Park (Gan HaAtsma'ut).
6:00 – 7:30 – Marching on Agron St., Keren HaYesod St.
7:30 – 9:00 – Pride Rally in Liberty Bell Park (Gan HaPa'amon).
9:00 – concert at HaTachana Compound and parties in Jerusalem.

Independence Park (Gan HaAtsma'ut)
Agron Street.
Keren HaYesod Street.
Liberty Bell Park (Gan HaPa'amon).

Come march with us!
Transforming Jerusalem

This year has been an impressive milestone for the transgender community so far. Among violent acts, extreme social exclusion and institutional discrimination, year 2015 was also filled with light: President Barack Obama was the first US President to mention the transgender (and LGBT) community in his annual SOTU speech, Caitlyn Jenner – once an Olympic athlete named Bruce and now a transitioned woman has emerged, and it's hard to impossible to imagine the successful Netflix series "Orange is the New Black" without its transgender supporting actress Laverne Cox.

Transgender visibility and public awareness to their struggle have also risen throughout 2015, as gender identity and diversity have slowly paced towards mainstream media. Pride Parades all over Israel are being dedicated to the transgender struggle. The Israeli Prime Minister gave a blessing to the LGBT Community. The Israeli President declared, "The freedom from fear, violent actions and bullying belongs to every man and woman, from one gender or another, or to those challenge gender boundaries." The National Labor Court has ruled gender identity related discrimination prohibited under the Israeli Law.

The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance will speak clearly against transphobia and social exclusion of transgender people among Israeli society. We will declare our opposition to any kind of discrimination – in workplaces and public service systems. We will speak up for men, women and others on the transgender spectrum who face extreme difficulties. The March will endorse transgender visibility and gender diversity, explaining that gender is much more than "one or the other". We invite the Transgender and LGBT Community from all across Israel to Jerusalem – the Israeli capital and a symbol of diversity and coexistence under the same sky – encouraging true partnership and harmony.

The March will begin at the Independence Park (Gan HaAtsma'ut) and end in Liberty Bell Park (Gan HaPa'amon). We will fight for our rights and celebrate Jerusalem as the multicultural city which belongs to everyone regardless of identity, including transgender, genderqueer, bisexual, homosexual, lesbian, and Straight people. We will pay them the same respect we expect for ourselves.
We invite people of all ages, sexes and gender identities to march with us. Jerusalemites and others who live in our little piece of land in the Middle East, supporters of the Transgender and LGBT cause from Israel and all over the world – come and join us. Come to take part in the Transgender and LGBT struggle.

The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance will take place for the 14th time. Come to march with your heads up, flags lifted and out of an honest will for change, because we the local Transgender and LGBT Community deserves a better Jerusalem in a better Israel.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The winding trail to legalizing same-sex marriage

I never thought this day would come. 

In the mid-1970s, when I was first coming out, it wasn't even a dream. In Massachusetts, where I was living, sex between persons of the same gender was illegal. In the words of the the relevant state statute (it's still on the books, but it's moot, since the Supreme Court voided all of the anti-sodomy laws in 2003): 
Section 34. Whoever commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature, either with mankind or with a beast, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years.
I remember going to the Boston gay pride march in June of 1977. As I recall, fewer than 20,000 people attended the march and rally. At the rally, Charley Shively, a local gay activist, got up and denounced all of the institutions that oppressed gay people, and then he burned his "Harvard diploma, his draft card, and pages from a copy of the Bible."

Alexander Cockburn reports on the rally in Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies & the Reagan Era, p. 235:

I don't recall anyone talking about gay marriage at all - in fact, the atmosphere was quite different from what it is today. People wanted liberation, not just "rights," and liberation included smashing oppressive institutions like marriage. That didn't change for quite a while. 

First came commitment ceremonies. Many of my heterosexual friends got married in the 1980s - I went to a host of fun Jewish weddings, but wondered when we would be celebrating same-sex relationships. I can't remember the first one I went to, whether it was in the late 1980s or the early 1990s. They were designed to be a lesbian counterpart of the traditional Jewish wedding - some of them hewed very closely to the traditional ceremony, except for changing some of the words that didn't apply to a same sex wedding, while others were inspired by Jewish weddings (for example, using a huppah - a wedding canopy) but incorporated a lot of changes. (I still haven't been to a wedding between two men).

Simultaneous with those first ceremonies was the "lesbian baby boom," another thing that no one had anticipated. Of course, lesbians had always had children, usually because they had them from a previous heterosexual marriage, but this was something new. People had to figure out how to unite sperm and egg in new ways - one method was the turkey baster. The sperm donor (in the early years, this was often a friend of the couple) would produce the sperm and then the woman would put it into her vagina (I don't actually know if any of my friends used a turkey baster), and wait and hope for conception.

Then, sometime in the 1990s, people started talking about gay marriage. I wasn't very excited about it at first. For one thing, I was single, and it didn't seem so relevant, and for another thing, I was still inspired by the early gay liberation movement's antipathy to marriage. Anti-sodomy laws were still on the books in most states, and there were very few state-wide anti-discrimination laws (there still is no federal anti-discrimination statute that includes LGBT people). My thought was - let's deal with the anti-sodomy laws and the anti-discrimination laws, and then work on same-sex marriage. But obviously that's not how a lot of people felt, who were very energized to work on legalizing same-sex marriage.

And so we come to yesterday:

And to the rainbow flag projected onto the front of the White House. I really never imagined that!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning"

Some quotes that particularly struck me from this article by Claudia Rankine, ‘The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning’.
I asked another friend what it’s like being the mother of a black son. “The condition of black life is one of mourning,” she said bluntly. For her, mourning lived in real time inside her and her son’s reality: At any moment she might lose her reason for living. 
Though the white liberal imagination likes to feel temporarily bad about black suffering, there really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed for simply being black: no hands in your pockets, no playing music, no sudden movements, no driving your car, no walking at night, no walking in the day, no turning onto this street, no entering this building, no standing your ground, no standing here, no standing there, no talking back, no playing with toy guns, no living while black....
But Dylann Storm Roof did not create himself from nothing. He has grown up with the rhetoric and orientation of racism.... 
He, along with the rest of us, has been living with slain black bodies....
We live in a country where Americans assimilate corpses in their daily comings and goings. Dead blacks are a part of normal life here. Dying in ship hulls, tossed into the Atlantic, hanging from trees, beaten, shot in churches, gunned down by the police or warehoused in prisons: Historically, there is no quotidian without the enslaved, chained or dead black body to gaze upon or to hear about or to position a self against....
Black Lives Matter, the movement founded by the activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, began with the premise that the incommensurable experiences of systemic racism creates an unequal playing field. The American imagination has never been able to fully recover from its white-supremacist beginnings. Consequently, our laws and attitudes have been straining against the devaluation of the black body. Despite good intentions, the associations of blackness with inarticulate, bestial criminality persist beneath the appearance of white civility....
The American tendency to normalize situations by centralizing whiteness was consciously or unconsciously demonstrated again when certain whites, like the president of Smith College, sought to alter the language of “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter.”....
The unarmed, slain black bodies in public spaces turn grief into our everyday feeling that something is wrong everywhere and all the time, even if locally things appear normal. Having coffee, walking the dog, reading the paper, taking the elevator to the office, dropping the kids off at school: All of this good life is surrounded by the ambient feeling that at any given moment, a black person is being killed in the street or in his home by the armed hatred of a fellow American....
The truth, as I see it, is that if black men and women, black boys and girls, mattered, if we were seen as living, we would not be dying simply because whites don’t like us. Our deaths inside a system of racism existed before we were born. The legacy of black bodies as property and subsequently three-fifths human continues to pollute the white imagination....
The Charleston murders alerted us to the reality that a system so steeped in anti-black racism means that on any given day it can be open season on any black person — old or young, man, woman or child. There exists no equivalent reality for white Americans. The Confederate battle flag continues to fly at South Carolina’s statehouse as a reminder of a history marked by lynched black bodies. We can distance ourselves from this fact until the next horrific killing, but we won’t be able to outrun it. History’s authority over us is not broken by maintaining a silence about its continued effects.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why does the US not remember its history of racism and slavery?

In the regional archaeological museum: part of the fence from the concentration camp in Witten.
I was just thinking about how differently the United States and Germany have dealt with the memory of the traumatic past. In the United States, we still sweep under the rug many of the racist acts that have occurred since and before our country's founding. For just one example, there are very few memorials to the thousands of lynchings that occurred since the end of the Civil War. According to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, "there were 3959 lynchings of black people in twelve Southern states between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950, which is at least 700 more lynchings in these states than previously reported." 

Bowls and cutlery that belonged to the
inmates of the concentration camp in Witten.
The twelve southern states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louis-iana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Stolpersteine in Bochum.
As the report by the EJI states, "Most Southern ter-ror lynching victims were killed on sites that remain unmarked and unrecognized. The Southern landscape is cluttered with plaques, statues, and monuments that record, celebrate, and lionize generations of American defenders of white supremacy, including public officials and private citizens who perpetrated violent crimes against black citizens during the era of racial terror. The absence of a prominent public memorial acknowledging racial terrorism is a powerful statement about our failure to value the African Americans who were killed or gravely wounded in this brutal campaign of racial violence. National commemoration of the atrocities inflicted on African Americans during decades of racial terrorism would begin building trust between the survivors of racial terrorism and the governments and legal systems that failed to protect them."

Stolpersteine in Worms

Germany, on the other hand, is full of memorials to the Holocaust. There are Stolpersteine in most German cities and towns, marking where Jews lived before the Holocaust and from where they were taken away to be killed. In Bochum, there is a memorial to the synagogue that was destroyed on November 9-10, 1938. There is a memorial in Witten, right next to Bochum, of the place where a concentration was built in the city to incarcerate forced laborers. The Bochum city archive has an exhibit right now on forced laborers. There is a memorial in the city cemetery to the forced laborers who died here. As I have previously written, the regional archaeological museum, which covers history until 1945, includes a small exhibit on the concentration camp in Witten, which anyone who visits the museum will see.

Why have we not done the same thing in the United States?

Below the fold is an excerpt from the EJI report on the continuing effects of lynching and the era of racial terrorism in the US, and demand that lynchings be recognized by the establishment of memorials.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. 

The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? 

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

The flag of treason and slavery flies high in South Carolina

The American flag and the South Caroline flag were lowered to half staff at the South Carolina statehouse today, in mourning for the nine African American people murdered yesterday by a racial terrorist.

But the Confederate battle flag, the flag of treason and slavery, remains at full staff.
Internet chatter lit up about the debate Thursday. 
“When you fly the Confederate flag in your state capital you are sanctioning this terrorism. Just FYI,” Roxane Gay said on Twitter. 
The “ubiquity of the Confederate flag in the South should be a source of shame/outrage. Not here for any lame-ass ‘history’ arguments,” said LadyHawkins, also on Twitter. 
Officials said the reason why the flag has not been touched is that its status is outlined, by law, as being under the protected purview of the full S.C. Legislature, which controls if and when it comes down. 
State law reads, in part, the state “shall ensure that the flags authorized above shall be placed at all times as directed in this section and shall replace the flags at appropriate intervals as may be necessary due to wear.” 
The protection was added by supporters of the flag to keep it on display as an officially recognized memorial to South Carolinians who fought in the Civil War. Opponents say it defends a system that supported slavery and represents hate groups. 
In a show of respect, a brief recognition ceremony was held in the Senate chamber Thursday. The U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered from the dome. The square Confederate banner that’s in front of the building and on display at the Confederate monument was left alone.
We American white people like to think that our country is better than all the others in the world, that there is something "exceptional" about the United States. But consider: in the United States it is legal to fly the flag of treason and slavery, the flag of those who defended the inhuman system of slavery that lasted for hundreds of years. White people claim that they are defending their "heritage" when they fly it. The heritage of treason, the heritage of slavery, the heritage of the lash, the heritage of hatred, the heritage of selling children away from their parents and husbands away from their wives.

In Germany, where I am living this year, it is illegal to fly a Nazi flag or to give the Nazi salute. Public expressions of antisemitism are illegal. You can get arrested for doing these things.

Why do people still fly the Confederate flag proudly? They should be ashamed of it just as most Germans are ashamed of the Nazi flag and the crimes it stands for.