Monday, April 28, 2008

Jeremiah Wright on Zionism and Israel

I used to have hope that Barack Obama's candidacy was really a sign that this country was changing - that it was possible that a black man might actually be the Democratic presidential candidate and even win the presidency. I didn't expect miracles from him if he became president, but his candidacy gave me hope. Now, even since before the Pennsylvania election last week, I started to lose hope - because of the attacks of the Clinton and McCain campaigns, the malicious nonsense being spread about how he's a Muslim and hates Israel, the attacks from a whole host of right-wing pundits. Now, Jeremiah Wright seems to have decided that he wants to completely destroy Obama's chances for becoming the Democratic candidate - out of his own selfish desire to make a name for himself. He made a speech today at the National Press Club. I'm not going to write about all of what he said, only the part that upsets me the most.
As I said on the Bill Moyers' show, one of our news channels keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago when Louis [Farakkhan] said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion.
This is a nonsensical statement. Zionism is a political movement, not a religion. And Louis Farakkhan did call Judaism a "gutter religion." (See this pro-Farakkhan website for a corroboration of that statement - Blacks and Jews).
And he was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for, and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I'm anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago.
Which UN resolutions is he talking about? The 1975 resolution that declared that "Zionism is racism"? Or the one that abrogated that resolution? Somehow I suspect that he's referring to the first one.

Later on in the talk Wright said:
MODERATOR: You have likened Israeli policies to apartheid and its treatment of Palestinians with Native Americans. Can you explain your views on Israel?
WRIGHT: Where did I liken them to that? Whoever wrote the question, tell me where I likened them.
Jimmy Carter called it apartheid. Jeremiah Wright didn't liken anything to anything. My position on Israel is that Israel has a right to exist, that Israelis have a right to exist, as I said, reconciled one to another.
Have you read the Link? Do you read the Link, Americans for Middle Eastern Understanding, where Palestinians and Israelis need to sit down and talk to each other and work out a solution where their children can grow in a world together, and not be talking about killing each other, that that is not God's will?
My position is that the Israel and the people of Israel be the people of God who are worrying about reconciliation and who are trying to do what God wants for God's people, which is reconciliation.
I'm glad to hear that he thinks Israel has a right to exist, but why should Israel be expected to be the "people of God" in his Christian terms? Does he make the same demand of Palestinians or other Arabs? I certainly don't see it in this speech.

Now what about the group "Americans for Middle Eastern Understanding"? The name rang a bell, from my reading online about Daniel McGowan, the anti-semitic Holocaust denying emeritus professor from Hobart and William Smith College. And in fact, it's the same group that's published some of McGowan's prose on its website. The website is: AMEU and the Link is its newsletter.

From what I can see from its website, AMEU isn't interested in dialogue or reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians - it's interested in the dissolution of the state of Israel. And this is the group that Wright is recommending to us a source of inspiration for reconciliation?

My fear about Obama is that no matter what he says about Wright now - however harshly he denounces him - that this means the utter destruction of his campaign.

AAR & SBL - together again?

The AAR has finally come to its senses and decided that it's okay for the AAR and SBL to hold their Annual Meetings at the same time of the year and in the same city.

April 14, 2008

Dear Fellow Members of the American Academy of Religion:

I write today to alert you to an action taken by your Board of Directors at its meeting this past weekend.

In light of the scheduling and logistical problems connected with the proposed Independent Annual Meetings, and given the views our members expressed in our recent member survey, the Board, in its April 12, 2008 meeting, approved a recommendation that the AAR begin scheduling concurrent, yet independent Annual Meetings with the Society of Biblical Literature as soon as is feasible....

I cancelled my membership in the AAR because of its unilateral decision to stop organizing Annual Meetings together with the SBL. I learned of this decision because of an e-mail from the SBL:

The SBL Council discussed this announcement at its meeting on April 26, 2008, and offers the following comment to SBL members.

We are pleased to hear of this new development, and wish to reaffirm our continued interest in meeting at the same time and in the same city as the AAR. The SBL was not involved in the original decision by AAR; nor have we been involved in the present one. We will certainly discuss with AAR the feasibility of meeting in the same city at the traditional time (the weekend before US Thanksgiving) as soon as it is possible given present scheduling commitments and contractual arrangements. We are already scheduled through 2012 (Chicago) and 2013 (Baltimore). Once discussions commence with AAR regarding future concurrent meetings, the SBL Executive Director will report regularly on the progress in making this a practical reality. We firmly believe that holding the SBL Annual Meeting at the same time and in the same city as other organizations involved in the advancement of biblical, religious, theological, and related academic studies is a good idea. It brings together people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds to exchange ideas and build relationships.

Great! It made no sense to stop holding the meetings together, and I hope that the two associations will start working immediately to make the joint meetings possible again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

How predictable!

IAEA head slams US for holding back info on Syrian reactor. "Additionally, 'the director general views the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the nonproliferation regime,' it said."

So if the US and Israel had informed the IAEA ahead of time about this reactor, would the IAEA have done anything about it? Or would there have been a long and fruitless series of discussions with the Syrian regime, first trying to get permission to see the reactor, then getting permission to do tests - by which time it would have been fully operational. This way, the reactor is destroyed and the North Koreans are outed as having helped the Syrians. What is bad about that?