Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Episcopal Church and gays

There are times when I think of the Conservative movement as being like the Episcopal Church - in its establishment nature and its stuffiness (and I say this as a member of a Conservative synagogue). The Episcopalians have also been confronting the issue of what the place of gay people should be in the Church - whether they should continue to ordain gay priests and bishops, as well as whether to perform commitment or marriage ceremonies for gay or lesbian couples. Now, "Responding to an ultimatum from the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion, bishops of the Episcopal Church have rejected a key demand to create a parallel leadership structure to serve the conservative minority of Episcopalians who oppose their church’s liberal stand on homosexuality." Leaders of other Anglican churches had also demanded that "the Episcopal Church refrain from ordaining openly gay bishops and stop allowing blessings of same-sex couples." I have to say that I'm glad to see that the Episcopal hierarchy in the U.S. has rejected these demands. It was disheartening to think that for the sake of unity they would be willing to go along with something so unjust. To see the official statement, go here. One key statement is: "We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Six Days of War

I've been reading Michael Oren's book, Six Days of War, on the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and its aftermath. It's fascinating and well worth reading, and one of the many things that the book reminded me of was the importance of the Cold War in understanding conflicts between Israel and Arab countries. Another thing that struck me was the rhetoric used by the Soviet officials and spokesmen - talking all about anti-imperialism and revolution and fighting for democracy, when they were actually doing the opposite. Somehow it wasn't imperialism when the Soviets were trying to project Russian power in the Middle East by arming the Syrians and the Egyptians, but it was if the United States backed Israel or the conservative Arab regimes like the Saudis. (And what made the Soviet attempt to project Russian power any more pure than the earlier Czarist attempts to do the same thing?)

And a third thing that struck me was the importance of Soviet propaganda in propagating anti-semitic anti-Israel themes. I have been reading more recently about how Nazi anti-semitism began to enter the Middle East in the 1920s and 1930s, but some of the same themes were then taken up by the Soviets and used by Arab propagandists as well.

Sudanese in Israel

The New York Times reported yesterday that Sudanese in Israel Hope They Have Found a Home. This is a touching story about Sudanese from Darfur who have made their way from Egypt (to which they had fled) to Israel. They have been locked up in Israeli prisons because they came from an enemy country (Sudan) but some of them are finally being released to live on kibbutzim and moshavim.
Yosef Lapid, a former justice minister, noted the parallel with 'the historical curiosity' of German Jews who escaped Hitler, landing in England only to be put in detention camps because they, like today’s Sudanese refugees in Israel, were considered enemy nationals. “I don’t think that the Jewish people can look the other way when such a horrible genocide is being conducted. It is our obligation to be as of much help as we can,” said Mr. Lapid, a Holocaust survivor.

[A group of Sudanese recently were taken on a tour of the museum at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. They stood silently, some wiping away tears as they looked at photographs of corpses and cases displaying children’s dolls and a mother’s final postcard. “It was very hard to see this, really shocking,” said a 24-year-old man who fled Darfur last year. “It reminded me of my own people. I hope one day we can have a museum like this in Darfur.”]

I remember that this was an issue last summer when I was visiting Israel, and human rights groups were already beginning to agitate for the release of the Sudanese. I hope this continues, and that Israel finds it possible to accept some more Sudanese refugees.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Some more catblogging

I seem to have entered the netherland of the blog world - talking about my cat. So much for politics or religion.... Today was the beginning of our spring break (not that it's actually spring out there or anything - in my opinion, spring in Ithaca actually begins on May 1, which is generally when we begin to see some serious flowers blooming) and I'm visiting my family in Cambridge. On my way, I brought my cat to a new kennel, since the old one has closed down (alas). The new one is in Freeville, about a half hour drive from my home. The poor creature miaowed the whole way there, and then when we finally got to the kennel, he sat in his box looking unhappy. This kennel (which is actually a vet hospital that also boards cats) has a couple of cats living on the premises who were rescued from bad situations - one lacks an eye, the other one lacks a hind leg. The legless cat jumped up on top of my cat's carrier, much displeasing my cat. Then we brought him over to the little room where he'll be living with a number of other cats until next Monday - in such a small space! He'll get out at some time during the day to spend some time in a larger cage with things to play with. Still, he'll be happy when I come to pick him up next week.