CAMERA’s High Tech Lynching of Palestinian Christian Group, SABEEL
The Boston Globe is the latest mainstream media source to be taken in by the CAMERA-David Project-Campus Watch propaganda machine. They’ve allowed Dexter Van Zile, CAMERA “Christian media analyst” (what exactly does this mean?) to accuse SABEEL of in effect hanging nooses around the necks of Jews via the group’s alleged anti-Israel positions.
First, a word about SABEEL: it is the leading Palestinian Christian anti-Occupation organization. Its leader, Naim Ateek, is a close friend and ally of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who had spoken controversially at several SABEEL national conferences. SABEEL stands for non-violent resistance to the Occupation and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To be candid, I would say that SABEEL does not embrace a two-state solution because it thinks this is the most moral position available. But rather it accepts this position because it seems the most viable and pragmatic given the circumstances (that neither Israel nor Israelis would accept any other resolution).
To get the true hysteria of Van Zile’s diatribe, read how he likens SABEEL’s views on Israel to the recent hanging noose incidents in Louisiana and at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College:
IF A church in Boston announced that it was renting space to a self-described peace group whose leader hung nooses from trees in former slave-holding states, the interfaith community would be outraged, the church would be condemned, and the wisdom of its pastor and governing council would be called into question, with good reason.
Any organization led by someone who would display an image with such a bloody and violent history would immediately be repudiated by people of good will. Virtually everyone knows that a noose hanging from a tree is a prelude to a lynching. Its display is a vile act intended to intimidate African-Americans and other minorities into submission. It is a vestige of the Old South that has been discarded by all but the irredeemably racist.
Now, go and read the entire column and tell me where he remotely proves that SABEEL holds such racist views of either Jews or Israel. In fact, you won’t find more than a few words actually quoted from SABEEL in the entire piece. So how does Van Zile have the audacity to make such a preposterous claim and how does the Globe justifying printing such meretricious nonsense?
Here is Van Zile’s second outrageous trope–SABEEL allegedly sees Israelis as “Christ-killers:”
the leader of the group in question – the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center – invoked the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as Christ-killers during the second intifada, when Palestinian suicide bombers were murdering citizens of Israel…
The portrayal of Jews as Christ-killers has contributed to untold violence and hostility toward the Jewish people, but for some reason, Old South Church is allowing Sabeel and Ateek, an Anglican priest from Jerusalem, the use of its worship space…
For example, his 2000 Christmas message portrayed Israeli officials as Herod, who, according to the Christian gospel, murdered all the infants of Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus.
Again, where is the evidence? Not here, certainly. Ateek did NOT “portray Israeli officials as Herod” nor did he claim they “murder infants in Bethlehem.” In truth, SABEEL is quoted (in Wikipedia, and again through the veil of Van Zile’s truncated quotations of what he claims as SABEEL-Ateek statements–I would be grateful if a reader could find the original SABEEL sources for these elided quotations) as likening the Occupation to a Palestinian crucifixion:
“In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around Him …The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.” Similarly, in a February 2001 sermon, Ateek likened the occupation to the “stone placed on the entrance of Jesus’ tomb. … This boulder has shut in the Palestinians within and built structures of domination to keep them in. We have a name for this boulder. It is called the occupation.”
Thanks to Rick Charnes for finding the original source at the SABEEL site:
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, the suffering of Jesus Christ at the hands of evil political and religious powers two thousand years ago is lived out again in Palestine. The number of innocent Palestinians and Israelis that have fallen victim to Israeli state policy is increasing.
Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa. Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint, the woman trying to get through to the hospital for treatment, the young man whose dignity is trampled, the young student who cannot get to the university to study, the unemployed father who needs to find bread to feed his family; the list is tragically getting longer, and Jesus is there in their midst suffering with them. He is with them when their homes are shelled by tanks and helicopter gunships. He is with them in their towns and villages, in their pains and sorrows.
In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.
…Four things are clear today. Jerusalem still does not know what makes for peace; Jesus is weeping and his tears are mixed with many other people’s tears; the number of people who are carrying their crosses is multiplying phenomenally; and the women of Palestine as well as many Jewish women are weeping over the many killed and wounded innocents. This is the reality of life today.
In the midst of this hopeless and confusing situation, inundated with injustice and death, we refuse to give in to despair. We want to affirm the power of resurrection and life…The day will come, and we pray soon, when joy will replace grief, trust will remove fear, justice will triumph over oppression, and reconciliation will supplant alienation…We will, therefore, continue in our struggle against the evil structures that dominate and oppress. Our hope is in God. The resurrection is coming, and it will bring with it the promise of a new life and liberation for all the people of our land.
Nary a mention of “Christ-killers.”
Returning to Van Zile’s journalistic travesty, here again he does violence to the truth:
With these…images, Ateek has figuratively blamed Israel for the attempted murder of the infant Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus the prophet, and for blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior
Notice he says “Ateek has FIGURATIVELY blamed Israel.” That word is important. He cannot claim that Ateek actually made such a claim because he didn’t. So he uses the vague and essentially meaningless term “figuratively.”
It is a characteristic tactic of the Frontpagemagazine-CAMPUS Watch-CAMERA crowd to take a truncated version of a statement you DID make and claim that you made a much larger, more damning statement–but which you haven’t made at all. In this case, they’ve INFERRED from Ateek’s statement that the Occupation is a crucifixion that Israelis must be Herod and the Roman crucifiers of Jesus. But there is a difference between inference and explicit reference. Neither Van Zile nor anyone else has ever quoted Ateek as saying that Israelis ARE Herod or Christ-killers. The message simply isn’t there. But that doesn’t stop the Van Ziles of the world in their sacred vocation of protecting Israel from the so-called demonizers like SABEEL.
Here is the clincher-whopper paragraph:
In the context of Christian-Jewish relations, language like this – which has preceded and justified the killing of Jews for nearly two millennia – is the equivalent of a noose hanging from a tree in the Old South. Its use during a time of violence can only serve to justify continued violence against Israeli civilians. Sadly, Ateek’s defenders have said that he is merely using the “language of the cross” to describe Palestinian suffering, but in fact, he is describing Israeli behavior.
So in effect, Ateek has exhorted Arabs to kill Jews because of “figurative” statements which he never actually made. It’s a beautiful sort of twisted, fantastical logic like something out of Goebbels, 1984 or Alice in Wonderland (take your pick). There is no ‘noose.’ There is no ‘tree.’ There is no ‘Old South.’ There is no ‘Christ-killer’ in SABEEL’s writings. There is only the fevered imagination of a poor sot who thinks he’s doing the Lord’s work when he’s really doing the devil’s.
There is a small problem with this method. If in your zeal to do right by Israel you do violence to truth and fact you have done Israel no service at all. In fact, you’ve harmed not only your own reputation, but Israel’s. Not to mention the harm you do to worthy individuals like Tutu and Ateek who, while controversial, have done nothing to warrant the smears mounted against them.
Thanks to reader Rick Charnes of the Boston Tikkun Community for alerting me to this story.
30 thoughts on “CAMERA’s High Tech Lynching of Palestinian Christian Group, SABEEL – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I think I’ve found the source of CAMERA’s claim that Nateek ‘portrays Israeli officials as Herod’, from which CAMERA then seems to draw the conclusion that Nateek has therefore ‘invoked the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as Christ-killers’. It’s in the Christmas 2000 issue, Issue #20, of Cornerstone, which I’m guessing is Sabeel’s English-language journal. It’s an article by Dr. Nateek entitled “The Massacre of the Innocents – A Christmas Reflection”. It’s available on the Sabeel web site at http://www.sabeel.org/old/news/newslt20/ateek.htm.
Having just read this post, it sure reads to me like Ateek is calling Israel Christ killers. He doesn’t use those words, but that is the meaning of the words.
How else can this speech be interpreted? (I had to look golgotha up).
Ateek’s own words:
Everything said about Ateek is true. He is a despicable hater who used religious imagery to incite against Israelis at a time when Israeli civilians were murdered weekly in terrorist attacks on Israeli buses, shopping centers,etc. Thanks for bringing him to my attention.
Let me explain, Amir, where the difference is between what Ateek writes and what you say he writes. But first: I think his language is unforunate. As a religious person, I cringe when rabbis talk use “Amalek” (you know, the one we are supposed to blot out without mercy) to describe Palestinians. That is what clergy do — they use Biblical rhetoric — and that’s a good reason to keep the clergy out of politics.
It is doubly unfortunate because of the history of the associations of the charge of killing Christ. So I am not happy he said it, frankly.
That said, the question is this: did Ateek argue that the Israelis, by virtue of their being Jews, were guilty of killing Christ, and that even today they are Christ killers. He clearly did not. Did Ateek ” figuratively blamed Israel for the attempted murder of the infant Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus the prophet, and for blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior” No, he did not, no more that when my shul rabbi calls Arafat “Amalek” does he mean that the (former) leader of the PLO is responsible for attacking the Israelites when they left Egypt.
So, CAMERA should have accused him of using religious rhetoric to describe the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. But there is nothing in what I read of what he said that indicates that if it had been Turks, rather than Israelis, that he could not have used the same rhetoric. He could have, you know. He could have said, “Jast as their ancestors killed the baby Jesus, so they are now crucifiying Palestinians.”
The IDF did kill hundreds of innocent Palestinians, including many children, in the first months of the intifada. They were criticized by many countries, including the US, for disproportionate response. Once again — I think the use of crucifixion metaphors is unfortunate. But that is very far from what CAMERA is claiming.
By the way, a similar phenomenon occurs in Israel when the orthodox use Biblical metaphors: the secular press jumps on the rabbis (usually Rav Ovadyah Yosef) for talking…like a rabbi. The problem is that the non-religious rarely understand religious rhetoric. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be jumped on. But jump on them for what they say, not what they don’t say.
One final word — Richard, in his post, has hit on something very profound. Supporters of Israel, especially in this country, impute the most outrageous views to their opponents, views that their opponents don’t hold. When pressed for source, they answer with other views that — they claim — imply the outrageous view. Thus, as I have been reporting, Norman Finkelstein was disinvited by the Oxford Union because he was supposed to be supporting a two-state solution when, it was claimed, he did not. Now,he does, and he does so consistently. So how could his opponents get it wrong? Simple: Norman Finkelstein is a critic of Israel and an anti-Zionist. Since he is an anti-Zionist, he does not believe that Israel is legitmate. Ergo, he is not in favor of two states, at least not a Jewish one and a Palestinian one. But as Richard points out, you can be for two-states because you see no better alternative — AND be an anti-Zionist. Now this position simply does not click with Zionists. They assume that if you accept Israel as a state, you can only do so if you are yourself a Zionist. But that’s another story.
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize winner and survivor of the Holocaust, tells of his time in a concentration camp, when he was forced, along with a few others, to witness the hanging of two Jewish men and one Jewish boy. The two men died right away, but the young lad struggled on the gallows. Somebody behind Wiesel muttered, “Where is God? Where is He?” Then the voice ground out the anguish again, “Where is He?” Wiesel felt the same question irrepressibly within him: “Where is God? Where is He?” Then he heard a voice softly within him saying, “He is hanging there on the gallows, where else?”
The trauma of the Holocaust torments the souls of American and Israeli Jews. The accusations that Ateek is a “despicable hater” flows from the wellspring of trans-generational trauma. Our community cannot perceive the suffering of the Palestinians. We are blinded by the image of the young Jewish boy slowly strangling on the gallows, abandoned by the God of our Fathers. As the descendants of European Jews, these images are burned into our souls. American Jews who despise Palestinians and rage towards all critics of Israel are suffering from trans-generational post-traumatic stress.
The peace community has been unable and unwilling to deal with the legacy of trauma. As a friend put it to me, “I am much more comfortable organizing a project that looks outward rather than inward. The most common psychotherapeutic tools to treat trauma have been shown to be ineffective and often re-traumatizing. Nevertheless, until the American Jewish community is able to heal the wounds of the Holocaust, we will continue to inflict our hatred of the Nazis onto others who are undeserving of our punishment.
Thanks Dan for that powerful reply. And so true. I write here quite a bit about the Holocaust & have done an oral history of an Auschwitz survivor. It’s on my mind a lot. I do try to empathize with this trauma, but it becomes difficult when it seem to impede the possiblity of real solutions to decades long conflicts.
Richard – I turn your last sentence around: what impedes the possibility of real solutions to decades long conflicts is the inhibition of our community to heal our Jewish souls. Our hearts are closed over an ocean of grief and rage. We can perceive the cold, hard crust of cold-heartedness within ourselves, but dare not contact the ocean of lava that boils beneath its surface. Instead, we busy ourselves with projects, polemics, and rational analysis, enough to fill a stack of the NY Times from floor to ceiling. Then we cast blame against others when our arguments and efforts fail.
By way of introducing myself, I’ll say I do not come to this assertion blithely or without a proposed remedy. I have been a peace activist and business professional for 30 years. In the 1980s, I was a founding member of the City of Cambridge Peace Commission, ran the Boston Area Children of War Program, and lived in Germany and Bethlehem as a Jewish peace builder. In my professional career, I was a strategic planning consultant to the Director of the Los Alamos Laboratory. In that job, I drafted one of the first blueprints for the Star Wars program, and another that projected the US military would eventually need to take control of Persian Gulf oil.
These efforts and many others have brought me to my current work, which is aimed at healing trauma and opening closed hearts. You can look at my website: http://www.HiddenSolution.com. I can only do this work one trauma and one heart at a time – in a group setting. It is an awkward arrangement. Who wants to face their buried trauma and feel what they suppress in a group?
I well understand your sentiment that emphasizing the Holocaust in these discussions is a big turn-off that seems to impede the possibility of real solutions. My response is that absent the courage to heal ourselves before we embarking on Tikkun Olam, the only real solution possible is the one we have presently achieved. The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the current one: a One-State Apartheid solution. Within that Apartheid state, the American Jews provide the money, the Israeli Jews fire the guns, the Christian Palestinians hang from the cross asking, “Father, Why have you forsaken me?”, and the Muslim Palestinian yearn for jihad and martyrdom. All suffer and grieve. All yearn for a better life.
I have trained for many years to become skilled in providing a gentle and effective remedy to this obstacle to peace. It is simply to make contact with the ocean of burning lava that holds the grief and rage of our inherited trauma. All it wants is to be seen, felt for a few moments, and given love. Then it cools and dissipates. Then we can see our own suffering, and that of the Israelis and Palestinians and feel true compassion. We can offer them more than guns and protests. Without healing our own trauma, how can we expect to be effective as peacemakers?
Lets change the words a bit..”
Notice he says that they’ve allowed Dexter Van Zile to accuse Sabeel of “IN EFFECT hanging nooses around the necks of Jews in the group’s alleged anti-Israel positions”. He cannot claim that Van Zile actually made such a claim because he didn’t. So he uses the vague and essentially meaningless term “in effect.”
Maybe you would be more comfortable of Van Zile had said that Ateek has IN EFFECT blamed Israel for the attempted murder of the infant Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus the prophet, and for blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior
Responce to Jerry. You ask “did Ateek argue that the Israelis, by virtue of their being Jews, were guilty of killing Christ, and that even TODAY they are Christ killers.” He most certainly did. Specifically he likened Israel to modern day Christ killers. Did he specifically accuse Jews of killing Christ 2000 years ago. No he didn’t, but the association is self evident. Would he make the same accusation against Turks? Neither you or I know the answer to that, but even if he would have it is not the same thing because Turks have not been accused of being Christ killers. I don’t like the noose analogy because hanging the noose is an act of intimidation, while Ateeks words are incitement, but using the analogy, don’t you think there is a difference if the noose hung at a predominately black student school by a white student than at a white school by a black student? Context is important.
I don’t think there is anything specifically wrong about using religion in discussions of politics. You can do it like the Rev. MLK, Mahatna Ghandi, Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama or you can do it like Farrakhan, Khomeini and Atteek.
And BTW, calling Palestinians Ameleek is reprehensible as is conducting a Pulsa Denura against Israel’s Prime Minister. Ateeks speeches are reprehensible as well. Calling it “unfortunate” is going lightly on him.
The tendency to define the limits is unfortunate. It certainly is not the invention of the zionists nor are they the most successful at it. The real experts at stifling debate are to be found in the left where all those who don’t follow the party line are labelled racist. Look at what happened to nobel prize winner Watson after the comments he made recently.
Nonsense, they are an expression of Palestinian Christian grief and suffering meant as an internal commentary on their own personal situation. They are not meant, nor are they understood by their listeners, fellow Palestinian Christians, as incitement to hatred or violence against Israelis. In fact, I would like you to point me to a single act of violence perpetrated by any follower of SABEEL. Besides the fact that the movement is a strict follower of non-violence you couldn’t find a single example.
You have left out of yr quotations specific references to Ateek acknowledging the sad effect of violence on both Jews AND Palestinians. And he’s done this a number of times in his writings.
Eyes have you but you read not. One of the major themes of this blog is the stifling of debate by the pro Israel right. To say what you have said indicates you haven’t paid any attention to the plethora of posts I’ve written on precisely this subject which utterly disprove this contention. What about Dershowitz getting Finkelstein not only fired from DePaul but from the Oxford Union debate? A tad inconvenient to yr theory isn’t it? And that’s the just the latest in a long line of such acts of silencing.
Dan: I didn’t mean to say that the Holocaust couldn’t or shouldn’t be talked about in our political discussion or debates. I just meant that the hidden traumas of Jews around this subject causes a great hysteria & fear around issues concerning Israel. Jews who are liberal, progressive & tolerant in every way all of a suddent throw those values out the window regarding Israel because they perceive criticism of Israel as bringing nearer the extermination of Israel (& possibly the Jewish people). This has such a terrible effect on political debate in our community.
I read yr site after you published yr first comment & value highly everything you do.
About Dershowitz and Finkelstein: 1. You know very well that Dershowitz’s anomosity towards Finkelstein probably has more to do with Finkelstein’s opinion of Dershowitz (and his accusations of plagiarism) than Finkelstein’s opinion on Israel. 2. Dershowitz’s political stands place him on the left side of the political map. You are just too fasr off in the left fringe to understand that. So that this is not about a pro israeli rightist against a leftist, but rather about a pro Israeli leftist against someone who is even further to the left of him.
It’s been half a century since being labelled a communist could get you in trouble. Today, the real stifling of debate comes from the left through their influence in universities and the different medias. The McCartheistic witch hunt of our times is against anyone whose ideas, opinions or even slips of the tongue can be construed as being even slightly suggestive of being racist, sexist, homophobic and now islamophobic (being anti-semitic doesn’t get you into as much trouble today). Look at what happened to James Watt (Reagans sec of interior), Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, Don Imus (a jerk, but nontheless), Lawrence Summers (Clinton Sec of Treasure and PRESIDENT of Harvard), and Nobel prize winner James Watson. All of them had their jobs or careers lost because of statements found to be offensive by the leftist thought police.
The tactic is simple. First label the victim. Stigmatize him. Send a message to those surrounding him that they to will be stigmatized if they don’t disassociate from him and certainly if they should consider adopting a similar position.
That’s why when James Watson said what he said,there was no need for an Alan Dershowitz or Paula Stern to put pressure. Everybody knew what need be done. ALL his lectures were cancelledand he was fired from his position at the lab he built. Practically overnight. That’s how much more powerful the left is compared to theright. The examples you gave on this blog are interesting but they pale in magnitude compared to the above examples both for the status of the victims and for the fall they took.
And that’s why you and Jerry Haber labelled Paul Ussiskin a neocon (an absurdity). That’s the first step label. You said: “If you dislike being compared with neocons why do you place implicit credibility in such neocon rag?” This is from a man who has WRITTEN for Pat Buchana’s American Conservative mag. Can I call you a paleocon now?
I have absolutely no interest in plumbing the depths of Alan Dershowitz’s psyche (if he has one) to determine what motivates his despicable thoughts, deeds & words. I only know what he says. He denounces Finkelstein across the board and mendaciously accuses him of being an anti-Israel anti-Semite.
Dershowitz is all over the political map. He’s probably a Henry Jackson (center-right) Democrat with neocon leanings esp. regarding Israel. He supports torture both in Israel and here in the U.S. That certainly places him far outside the “liberal” camp. Whether you like it or not I am a liberal Democrat. So calling me someone on the “left fringe” only identifies yr own prejudices & conservatism & says nothing at all about my politics.
Yes, today being labelled an Arab lover, traitor to your race, or Islamofascist is what gets you in trouble whether you are one or not.
anti-Israel or insufficiently hateful toward Israel’s perceived enemies.
Each of these individuals self-destructed because their views were anathema to the majority of the American people. If their views only affronted those you claim they do, then their expressions would’ve sunk into the pool of public discourse without a ripple.
No, he resigned from the position. His board couldn’t very well fire the founder of the institution.
What a fever dream! You haven’t lived in this country in years, I assume many years. How do you know how powerful the left is compared to the right. Who do you think are the president & vp of this country? Flaming radicals?
I don’t recall calling him that. At any rate, Jerry may’ve used that term. Paul Usiskin’s prejudices when it comes to the I-P conflict place him squarely in the right wing camp of the peace movement. His willingness to embrace a theory spun by a mendacious neocon shmate indicates he isn’t above using neocons when it suits his purpose.
I wrote a book review denouncing Dore Gold’s insipid book about Jerusalem for American Conservative. I didn’t write a feature story falsely claiming that David Trimble caused the cancellation of the Oxford Union debate. There’s a difference. In addition, American Conservative is strongly anti-neocon. Believe it or not there is a strong American conservative tradition that finds Bush policies despicable. I’m proud to write for them and would do so again. On the other hand, you couldn’t pay me enough to write for Commentary. I wouldn’t expect you to understand the subtleties of the difference bet. traditional conservatives & neocons. But they are real.
After discussing the matter with Paul Usiskin, whom I didn’t know before hand, I retract the neocon label. Perhaps ‘Zionist left’ or ‘Old Left’ or ‘Wimpy Left’ or ‘Not Really Left’ is how I would describe the category to which he belongs. Actually, left and right are entirely misnomers; on Israel-Palestine I consider myself a centrist, since I believe in a two-state solution with parity between the states (a really old Zionist left term.) By those standards, virtually the entire state of Israel, and the vast majority of the Jews, are to my right? But is that surprising, given the tribalism. Can one expect more of the Jews than, say, of the Serbs, or Latvians, or the Indian
Dershowitz is a liberal hawk,with the emphasis on the hawk which means an old Jewish liberal when it comes to everybody except Israel. In his case, So he doesn’t hang with the Podhoretz-Kristol crowd. He has enough liberal hawks to keep him company. To call him left on Israel, as you did, is absurd. The Rambam says that the diseased taste the bitter as sweet and the sweet as bitter; only somebody whose compass is way off could call, as they do in Israel, Mapai left. Politically, yes, but in terms of nationalism, hardly. Liberal hawks is more like it.
After reading how the neocons shaved Robert Novak, I would be proud to be called a paleoconservative. Socially, I am conservative; I spent most of my daughters’ upbringing pleading them to wear skirts rather than pants My wife covers her hair 9but now wears pants), and — well, you know where I stand as a religious fanatic. So why call me left — because I voted for Gore rather than Nader?
You are right that universities, at least in the humanities, are left-leaning, and you are right that MESA does not take the Zionist line. Until you can show that the Palestinians have anywhere near the clout that the Jews have in lobbying, and in stifling speech, then stop taking examples from Larry Summers. Where are the Palestinian American Larry Summers and Lee Bollingers. Where are their counterparts to the Zionist left and right. Chomsky? Finkelstein? The Palestinians, because they are not in the position to choose their allies, have mortgaged themselves to the Left. That is a pity; as I wrote in my post on a Palestinian Defence Force (and as I wrote to Michael Oren),l the natural alliance is between Palestinian, who are by and large traditional and conservative, and American conservatives should be recognized. But that is another story.
I apologize for the atrocious typing in the previous post. The letters are so small that I can’t see what I am typing….Richard, can you clean it up?
Jerry, thank you for your non-confrontational response. I don’t think we get to define left and right by ourselves. For the ten or so years the primary defining issue upon which left and right were defined in Israel is the position on the settlements beyond those of the “consensus” and the willingness to negotiate with the PLO and PA. That’s wjy Shinui, which is slightly to the right of Reagan and Thatcher on economic issues is considered left in Israel. Dershowitz, whom I believe, has supported a two state solution and had opposed settlements for some time, would be defined in Israel as being on the left. I have no objection to the liberal hawk.
Dershowitz’s stand on torture is courageous because it places him at odds with his peers and colleagues. I salute him for taking a courageous stand. Taking a stand against toture is easy. Torture is a horrible thing. I’m against torture. Stopping terrorism is much more difficult, and the shin bet has done a fairly good job of it. I think Israel should be solluted for dealing with this issue openly and tackling it in a responsible manner and not a knee jerk one.
Allow me to disagree.
That’s correct. I last LIVED in the US in 1989. You write a lot about Israel. Please disclose when was the last time you LIVED in Israel.
I said the left uses the universities and media to define the boundaries of legitimate discourse (at least that’s what I meant to say). Not that the American people were leftist.
I asked if I could call you a PALEOCON not a neocon.
That’s precisely what you HAVE tried to do in terms of both Israeli and esp. U.S. political discourse & why I objected so strongly to yr mistaken characterizations.
By YOU. Not by very many others. D would certainly NEVER support Meretz nor probably Labor. Possibly Kadima. That doesn’t make him left, it makes him centrist (possibly). By saying he is “on the left” you again only betray where YOU stand in the political scrum.
Tell that to Michael Mukasey whose confirmation is in jeopardy because he can’t seem to do so unequivocally. Tell it to the senators who are agonizing over how to vote on his nomination because they can’t decide how important it is to approve an attorney general who says he’s against torture in general but won’t unequivocally renounce the use of a procedure which IS clearly torture.
His stand on torture is morallly bankrupt as is everything the man says, does & stands for. Being for something when everyone else is against it is not ipso facto courageous. It can also be just plain stupid as it is in this case.
Dershowitz justified the killing of Lebanese civilians during the last war. Is that “courageous?” Please, your position & his is beneath contempt.
No, you’re not. You’re in favor of torture when it’s used by the Shin Bet in its interrogation of Palestinian suspects. You can’t be half-married, half having an affair, half pregnant or half-dead. You either are or you aren’t. If you approve the use of torture in any cases you approve it period. Tell me you condemn torture’s use period & then I’ll believe yr statement above.
I never made wild-eyed totally erroneous generalizations about where people & social issues stand politically in Israeli politics as you did. Besides I spend a lot more time studying what’s going on in Israel, communicating directly with Israelis about it, & following the Israeli press than you do regarding U.S. politics. I guarantee it.
Your claim was that the left controls public discourse in this country and it is flatly, abjectly false. There may be a robust debate between left & right in politics, the media & academia but that doesn’t constitute left domination. If you’d bother to read the comments section of the Chroncile of Higher Education or Inside Higher Educations when they write about politically contentious issues you’d find that there almost as many right wingers writing as lefties.
Can you point me to any right-wing Middle East scholar denied an endowed chair at an Ivy League school as Juan Cole was at Yale? That’s just one example of many I can point out.
I don’t care what you call me. But if you did attempt to call me that you’d be laughed out of the room & appropriately so. So go ahead, fire away.
Beautifully said, Richard.
The mapping of perspectives and individuals against political or ideological continuums is necessary for our understanding. We contextualize Dershowitz and others according to how we perceive them standing on left-right or dove-hawk.
I propose another mapping continuum that has recently emerged from European existential philosophy. It is the continuum of “conscience”
In common understanding, a good conscience guides us towards actions and words that are aligned with high moral and ethical values. A bad conscience is the price we pay when we behave in ways that are harmful or sinful. In this way, a disquieting conscience is an internal regulator that steers the individual back towards the path of righteousness.
Looking historically in light of events of the 20th century, we can see this understanding is fallacious. In Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa, the soldiers, police, guards, administrators, and functionaries who comprised the apparatus of state-sponsored genocide went about their daily duties with a clear conscience. When we reflect carefully it becomes clear that a clear or guilty conscience has little to do with good and evil; the worst atrocities and injustices are committed by people acting with a clear conscience.
Conscience does not tell us what is good or bad. It tells us what we have to do in order to belong to a particular group or to a particular person. The basic function of conscience is to binds us to our family of origin and the groups that are essential for our survival. Therefore, when we follow our conscience, it is not a personal conscience; it is the conscience of our group.
If we map Dershowitz against a continuum where one end is represented by Clear Conscience/Loyalty to the Ancestral Group and the other end is represented by Guilty Conscience/Inclusiveness/Acceptance of All, it is clear where he stands. Whatever the Israel Lobby in the US supports Dershowitz defends; whatever he perceives as threatening or harmful to Israeli interests in the US he attacks.
Dershowitz is neither alone nor in the exclusive company of those who shares his political views at the far end of the Conscience continuum. The CAMERA membership is arm-in-arm with him, but also the many leaders in the campaign to defend Palestinian rights, and left-leaning academics who stand ready to exclude and expel anyone who violates boundaries of political correctness. The test at this end is that conscience guards belonging.
Bishop Tutu in his speech to Sabeel spoke directly to the members of Boston’s Jewish community. He pleaded to them from his heart to shift their steadfast loyalty from the Israeli state to the traditional spiritual and ethical values of Judaism. If American Jews were loyal to our spiritual traditions, instead of our community leaders, we would not tolerate and defend the Israeli Apartheid state.
At the other end of the continuum are those who are willing to withstand the feelings of an uneasy or guilty conscience. In acting disloyally to the pronouncements of the organized US Jewish community, they reach out with compassion to the suffering of the indigenous people of Israel – the Palestinians. According to CAMERA there is a term to describe those who overcome the limits of good conscious and include within their souls and hearts the values of other peoples – these people are called “self-hating Jews.”
The love that comes from a good conscience, says, “Yes and no.” The love that leads to reconciliation says “Yes” to everyone and everything. We cannot create an environment of peace and reconciliation within the constraints of good conscience. Nor can we easily escape from these constraints. Our efforts to serve peace must come slowly, starting in our own hearts to accept those who we reject – not simply the supposed enemies on TV – but in our own lives, with our parents, siblings, or ex-lovers. This is the hardest step for the peacemaker, to overcome the limits of our own conscience and accept those who we reject.
Yr beautifully articulated comment got me to thinking of Paula Stern, the Israeli-American settler who ran the campaign to deny Nadia Abu El Haj tenure. I was struck by the fact that she could write after finding out that she had lost & that Abu El Haj had received tenure that her fight had been “clean and honest;” when in fact it had been filled with lies, smears & hate. I asked myself how could someone like this say & believe such utter foolishness? But of course, you are right & she does believe it. When someone challenges her truthfulness or good faith as Larry Cohler Esses did when he interviewed her for the pieces he wrote in The Nation & Jewish Week her only response was: “No other journalist has ever asked me these questions.” As if to say, if I was a liar why wouldn’t other journalists have asked me such questions before? Which of course doesn’t answer Larry’s questions at all.
I would also add to what you said that I find it even harder to keep an open heart to those to my Jewish right than to those on the “other i.e. Palestinian side.” This is something I have to work very hard at & often fail. The level of hate that emanates fr. that side is so fiery it’s often diff. to give their political views & emotional content much credence, which it does deserve.
You don’t know what you are talking about.
As a Christian, I have an obligation to make sure that Christian scriptures are not used to demonize the Jewish people and their institutions, and that is exactly what Sabeel and its leader, Rev. Dr. Ateek have done. This nauseating ab/use of scripture does more than portray Israeli policies as a Jewish cosmological assault on Christian sensibilities, it portrays the Palestinians as innocent sufferers, and Israel, the Jewish State as their torturers and killers.
The Palestinians are suffering. That is undeniable. And there is more than enough blame to go around on this quarter. But to cast the Arab-Israeli conflict as if it were a re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion does nothing to end the suffering, but only serves to demonize Israel.
Sabeel’s use of the Passion as a lens for the Arab-Israeli conflict is wrong. Just as many Jews hold Israel to particularly high standards of conduct, I do the same for Christian commentators who would portray themselves as peacemakers. Rev. Dr. Ateek’s rhetoric is not peacemaking.
I invite you to take a look at Sabeel’s document “The Contemporary Way of the Cross” profiled in the link above and look for one admission of Palestinian responsibility and moral agency and for one acknowledgement of Jewish suffering. This document confirms what I have been asserting all along — Sabeel and Naim Ateek portray Israel as a Christ killing nation. The Palestinians are the innocent lambs of God, the Israelis are their killers. This is a dishonest view of the conflict that will not lead to peace.
One important point of liberation theology is to “conscientize” people as to the causes of their suffering and the oppression that they experience. Sabeel does a terrible job of this, but points to Israel as the source of Palestinian suffering. Again, take a look at the Contemporary Way of the Cross. It’s available from Sabeel’s headquarters in Israel. I’ve written about it here [ed.: link removed: this site does not provide added exposure to propaganda sites like CAMERA]:
Once you get a hold of this document, you’ll see it’s time to rethink your willingness to excuse Sabeel’s ab/use of scripture.
Here’s a guy who works for the anti-Muslim propaganda mill CAMERA who would have us believe that he’s God’s witness to Palestinian perfidy. Puh-leeze, give me a break. I point out to my readders that once again as in the poison he published in the Boston Globe he provides no documentary evidence to support his claims. He does point us to one document but declines to quote from it. I won’t do yr work for you. If you have claims you can support provide the evidence yrself.
There is nothing wrong with a Christian likening their own personal or national suffering to Christ on the Cross just as their is nothing wrong with Jews seeing their own suffering as justification for the need for a Jewish homeland. There IS something wrong if such suffering is used to demonize the enemy as both Christians AND Jews have done through misusing their own history. But Van Zile provides absolutely no evidence that SABEEL has done this. As usual, it’s just propaganda, distortions & outright falsehoods.
As for SABEEL pointing out that Israel is the source of their suffering…who else would be the source of the suffering of Palestinians? The French? Italians?
In short, CAMERA (& Van Zile by extension) is about as credible source for anything related to the IP conflict as Tokyo Rose was a balanced source of information during WWII.
The fact that you have deleted the link I provided speaks volumes about your willingness to let people see the evidence for themselves.
I’ll make a deal with you, you old blowhard. If you allow me to publish a message of my choice on the CAMERA site of precisely as many words as you’ve published here with a link to my site, then I’ll restore your link. Now my readers will see whether you believe in reciprocity. If you don’t you should slink away in shame but you won’t because propaganist haters like you have none..
Feel free to leave a comment on our blog, snapshots. blog.camera.org. (I won’t guarantee it gets approved, given the stridency of your tone, but see what happens. Fact is, there are is a lot of articles citing chapter and verse the things you save I haven’t provided proof of.
No, I’m not going to “see what happens.” I’ve allowed you to post 3 comments at this site. I expect reciprocity from your site. Taking a flyer on whether or not you censor or ban my words at your site isn’t what I had in mind. And btw, the rules of this site are that I don’t allow linking to propaganda sites of one extreme or the other & CAMERA is one of those.
If you have the right to tell me my comments might get censored at your site you’re a damn hypocrite for telling me I can’t eliminate a link to the hate site you work for from my own blog.
Oh, & isn’t it a bit rich to talk about my alleged “stridency of tone” when you spew calumnies against SABEEL claiming it espouses Judeocide. C’mon, who’re you trying to kid?
Well, Richard, you were offered your chance. You moderate comments on your site. We moderate comments on ours. You would deny CAMERA a right you reserve yourself?
Seems pretty unreasonable.
You’re full of crap. I didn’t ‘moderate’ your comments. I removed a link according to my comment rules. This is yr 4th comment here & nothing has been changed or edited or deleted except the link to CAMERA. I told you I would not publish at CAMERA under the terms you offered. Offer terms acceptable to me & I will consider doing so. If you can’t offer such terms then stop the silly act.
When I’ve posted, the screen has said your posts are awaiting moderation. You decided whether or not to publish them. And you edited them.
So you have moderated, and edited.
Now as far as “not publishing at CAMERA under the terms” I have offered, I believe the correct phrase is “submit.” You have decided not to submit comments.
You submit and we publish. The same is true here.
It says specifically “Vulgar, abusive or insulting comments directed at the author or other commentors may be rejected and result in being banned.”
Read the instructions above the comment box. All FIRST-TIME comments are moderated to prevent some pretty awful personal hate speech that I get. I approved your first comment since it did not contain such speech. I edited out the URL since I do not promote sites that feature anti-Arab or anti-Semitic propaganda (not just CAMERA). No subsequent comment of yours has been moderated. You could see the comment published immediately after you wrote it. So why would you assume that I’m moderating it?
I will not submit anything to you until I know you will publish it. Those are the terms you have enjoyed here & I expect the same.
Having followed Sabeel for a few years, I side with Camera.
You can pick at words and sentences, but they are anti-Israel. Read this article by anglicans for israel. (Ateek is an Anglican.)