On the pain of being driven out of one’s own land

Progressive British Journalist Robert Fisk wrote an impressive article concerning one aspect of the conflicts between Israel and Palestine which is currently seldom mentioned.

I’m reproducing his article because I find it greatly interesting. This shouldn’t, though, be viewed as my endorsement of everything he had to say.

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

 

 

OK, so by this afternoon, the exchange rate of death in two days was 40-0 in favour of Israel. But now for the Gaza story you won’t be hearing from anyone else in the next few hours.

It’s about land. The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those Palestinians – all 1.5 million – are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created.

And – a drawing in of breath is now perhaps required – the people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza, among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.

And same again for Israel’s right to self-defence. We heard it again today. What if the people of London were being rocketed like the people of Israel? Wouldn’t they strike back? Well yes, but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.

The last time this specious argument was used was in 2008, when Israel invaded Gaza and killed at least 1,100 Palestinians (exchange rate: 1,100 to 13). What if Dublin was under rocket attack, the Israeli ambassador asked then? But the UK town of Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was under rocket attack from the Irish Republic in the 1970s – yet the RAF didn’t bomb Dublin in retaliation, killing Irish women and children. In Canada in 2008, Israel’s supporters were making the same fraudulent point. What if the people of Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal were being rocket-attacked from the suburbs of their own cities? How would they feel? But the Canadians haven’t pushed the original inhabitants of Canadian territory into refugee camps.

And now let’s cross to the West Bank. First of all, Benjamin Netanyahu said he couldn’t talk to Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas because he didn’t also represent Hamas. Then when Abbas formed a unity government, Netanyahu said he couldn’t talk to Abbas because he had unified himself with the “terrorist” Hamas. Now he says he can only talk to him if he breaks with Hamas – even though he won’t then represent Hamas.

Meanwhile, that great leftist Israeli philosopher Uri Avnery – 90 years old and still, thankfully, going strong – has picked up on his country’s latest obsession: the danger that Isis will storm west from its Iraqi/Syrian “caliphate” and arrive on the east bank of the Jordan river.

“And Netanyahu said,” according to Avnery, “if they are not stopped by the permanent Israeli garrison there (on the Jordan river), they will appear at the gates of Tel Aviv.” The truth, of course, is that the Israeli air force would have crushed Isis the moment it dared to cross the Jordanian border from Iraq or Syria.

The importance of this, however, is that if Israel keeps its army on the Jordan (to protect Israel from Isis), a future “Palestine” state will have no borders and will be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory.

“Much like the South African Bantustans,” says Avnery. In other words, no “viable” state of Palestine will ever exist. After all, aren’t Isis just the same as Hamas? Of course not.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images)

But that’s not what we heard from Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman. No, what he told Al Jazeera was that Hamas was “an extremist terrorist organisation not very different from Isis in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Boko Haram…” Tosh. Hezbollah is a Shia militia now fighting to the death inside Syria against the Sunni Muslims of Isis. And Boko Haram – thousands of kilometres from Israel – is not a threat to Tel Aviv.

But you get the point. The Palestinians of Gaza – and please forget, forever, the 6,000 Palestinians whose families come from the land of Sederot – are allied to the tens of thousands of Islamists threatening Maliki of Baghdad, Assad of Damascus or President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja. Even more to the point, if Isis is heading towards the edge of the West Bank, why is the Israeli government still building colonies there – illegally, and on Arab land – for Israeli civilians?

This is not just about the foul murder of three Israelis in the occupied West Bank or the foul murder of a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem. Nor about the arrest of many Hamas militants and politicians in the West Bank. Nor about rockets. As usual, it’s about land.

As I mentioned elsewhere, a cultural genocide has been carried out by the French government in my region and I feel extremely grieved while driving through villages where the Germanic dialect of the past has almost died out.

But I CAN’T really imagine what it is means to know that one’s entire land has been stolen away.

It makes me truly sick to see that for countless Conservative Evangelicals, the lives and well-being of Palestinians are far less important than those of Israelis due to their literalist interpretation of Christ’s second coming.

 

As I have explained here, I really think that fundamentalism is destroying Christianity in America.

 

 

 

Fostering Justice on the battle fields of the Culture War

Crude recently wrote a response to my last posts warning against Christians passionately hating homosexuals.

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“I like Lothar Lorraine. Truly I do – he’s a pleasant guy to talk to even if I disagree with him. He’s welcome here, he’s welcomed me at his blog, and until relatively recently most of my interactions with him have been civil, even when we disagree.

Except lately, if you’ve been following the conversations – previously linked – I’ve been spending most of my time yelling angrily, at least as much as you can do typing into a computer and still maintaining decent-enough grammar. I’ve been pissed off, not so much at Lothar as at his links of choice, and really, the “progressive” response to them.

Honest to God? I don’t like yelling in Lothar’s general vicinity. He’s nice. I can talk with him. At the same time, all the niceness in the world isn’t going to make me give an inch to dishonest hate speech directed anywhere, but particularly in my direction.

I’m talking real hate speech, by the by. Not, ‘You noticed that group X is responsible for more crimes than group Y by every available measure, that’s horrible of you’ styled bull, but full blown ‘This group of people is responsible for heinous acts and you should hate them all and fight them because this is WAR’ hate speech. “Whip up an angry mob to attack some people based on next to no evidence” hate speech.

So why has it kept happening lately? I have a hunch. Little more than that right now, but it’s worth airing.

I think there is a somewhat common breed of Christian who, while intellectually rather orthodox and conservative, is nevertheless on the more soft-spoken and diplomatic side. They are not fire and brimstone. They pride themselves on being open-minded, on ‘agreeing to disagree’, on setting themselves apart from the more fervent culture-war social conservatives who at times seem as if they are locked in a neverending battle against Islam, New Atheism, Liberals, the Gay Agenda, and more.And one way they send up the signal that they’re different from THOSE Christians is by conceding the intelligence and morality of their opponents, and openly, even eagerly, admitting to flaws.

Even flaws that aren’t really flaws, that are blown out of proportion, or that largely exist in the minds of people who hate them.

So if someone angrily demands that they apologize for, say… ‘Christianity’s legacy of anti-science and bigotry and racism and homophobia and misogyny’, they’re going to typically, without reflection, say “Oh, yes, some Christians – nay, many – have been guilty of that. But many nowadays have come to regret that past and…” And on and on it goes. They get to show how open-minded and humble they are, their opponents get a concession to a million and one imaginary evils at the hands of Christians, and everyone is happy.

I am not one of these Christians. I do not grant the wickedness of Christians, even Christian groups I am not a part of, purely to score humility points. If I’ve investigated the issue and come to the conclusion that the accusations are fundamentally wrong or warped, I will say as much. And when I see what comes across as a calculated bit of hate speech to try and demonize Christians, I’m going to start yelling, loudly, about the flaws I see, demand evidence, and point out when it either fails to be forthcoming, or is weak beyond excuse.

I suspect that may be the problem here. I can’t read Lothar’s mind, but I think he may have heard ‘Conservative Christians HATE gays and want to kill them’ so many times – and other Christians may have granted this without argument so many times – that he brings this up, and (while admitting that not every conservative Christian is like this) expresses an interest in having my agree that this sort of thing is bad, so we can continue the conversation civilly. And then I explode and I’m off yelling and challenging people to, you know, provide some goddamn evidence of these claims and pointing it out for the hate speech that it is, and he’s wondering what he did wrong.

Well, HE didn’t do anything wrong, most likely. He simply was played – he bought a line offered up by a nasty little culture, perpetuated by weak-willed Christians more interested in being humble than being honest, and he’s run into a guy who’s not going to let it slide so easily, and who actually gets pretty pissed off when the accusation comes up. I’ll cop to real evils, real mistakes, and I’ll point out the context and the situation those mistakes took place in. I will not cop to progressive monster-fantasies that they conjure up in large part to let themselves sleep easier at night when they hear about the latest abuses their more fascist leadership is diving into.

Perhaps that will set the record straight. Or perhaps not. But there is my attempt for the moment. “

 

First of all, I’m thankful to Crude for all his kind words about me. I’m also grateful he emphasized many important points EVERY culture warrior (both on the left and on the right) ought to respect if he or she is sincerely pursuing justice.

 

Many self-proclaimed “progressives” are just serving the Zeitgeist and will uncritically accept any kind of arguments which promote their views and give them the feeling of belonging to the “forces of Good”.

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For me, being a progressive means challenging all kinds of dogmas hindering human well-being. It goes hand in hand with a huge responsibility and entails earnestly seeking to understand your opponents before bedeviling them.

 

Having often talked with Conservative Evangelicals about homosexuality (both in the real world and on the Internet), I know that there is a truly hateful minority among them.

If you don’t believe me, go to any Conservative Evangelical forum with a fundamentalist trend, be always nice and respectful but tell them that you’re a queer atheist. Wait on their reactions and start measuring how well they satisfy the Golden Rule.

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I don’t know well John Shore, but I linked his post because his description fits all too well what is going on in the right-wing part of Evangelicalism. I largely  support his notion of “Christianity with humanity” even if I find he is not as objective as he thinks.

 

AGAIN, I defend the right of Conservative Christians to disapprove of homosexuality and defend their position without having to fear any professional repercussion. And I clearly recognize there are MANY Conservative Evangelicals who oppose homophobia.

 

Still, it would be unhealthy to deny there is also a deep-seated hatred in some corners of Evangelicalism. Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser gives us nice examples here: [1], [2], [3].

 

When atheists make claims about past Christian misdeeds I know to be factually wrong, I won’t accept this just for trying to be viewed as one of “these cool Christians”.

But I must also clearly face the truth that there are real atrocities committed by followers of Christ, both in the past and the present.

 

Homophobia, Conservaphobia and legitimate criticism

I have no big problem with people respectfully disagreeing with each other abouthomosexuality.

I know there are Christian Conservatives who consider a homosexual relationship sinful but DO really love gay people as their fellow humans.

As I made it clear, I’m against any kind of discrimination due to their honest moral conviction.

What infuriates me are the Conservatives who passionately hate homosexuals and dehumanize them.

So I think that the following logo was a welcome move:

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Given that, it is only fair that progressive Christians such as Michelle provided such an answer:

 

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This is how I want societal debates to be carried out.

 

 

A disheartening state of affairs: homosexual-hating Christians.

My heart is grieving when I’m reading such things about the situation in Uganda and other African countries.

 

Why the surprise at learning how much evangelicals hate gay people?

There’s been a lot of chatter around the Internet lately from Christians who, thanks to the World Vision debacle, have been surprised to learn just how deeply the evangelical right despises gay people.

How can that possibly be a surprise to anyone? Where in “You’re going to hell because God deplores you!” does anyone see even a hint of affection or respect?

The evangelical right’s attitude toward gay people has always been about pure hatred. The Bible’s just an excuse (and a shallow one at that) for that hatred.

The difference between the Westboro Baptist hate-mongers and the Southern Baptist Convention (the largest Protestant body in the United States) has never been a difference of substance; it’s only been a difference in style.

Why does anyone think that so many of us out here have been fighting so hard for so long to bring a new and freaking better Christianity into the world? LGBT people get beaten. They get killed. They get spat upon. They get run over. They get doused with gasoline and lit on fire. They get bullied so ferociously that they kill themselves rather than suffer another moment of it.

Those things don’t happen sometimes. They don’t happen every once in a while. They happen all the time, all over the world. And it’s all perpetrated in the name of Christianity. If you believe that the Bible teaches God condemns to hell all “unrepentant” gay people, then why wouldn’t you pound to death every gay person you saw? Doing so would be doing God’s work, by extending God’s will into the world. That’s what Christians are supposed to do.

We need a new Christianity. And we need it now. (I defined one, by the way. This shit’s not complicated.) And I think one of the first things we also need to do is be very clear about the fact that no one who believes that God finds gay people morally reprehensible is, in fact, a Christian.

They’re just not, okay? Saying “I’m a Christian, and gay people are going to hell” is like saying, “I’m a feminist, and women should remain pregnant and obey their husbands,” or “I’m not a racist, and white people should own black people.” One automatically cancels out the other.

No one gets to declare that they follow the Prince of Peace while at the same time declaring that gay people deserve to be burned alive forever. I don’t care who you are, or how respectable you pretend to be: that pig doesn’t fly. Ignorant bigotry is ignorant bigotry, whether it’s wearing a tie or not. I know it. You know it. And God sure as hell knows it.

To quote Jesus (quoting Isaiah):

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.

To which Jesus then adds his own words:

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.

This is a war, folks. It’s always been a war. It was a war when the evangelicals said the Bible supports slavery. It was a war when they said the Bible supports denying women the vote. And it’s a war when they say the Bible condemns homosexuality.

In a war people choose sides. They have to, because they realize that not doing so will only cause more death and suffering.

If you’re a Christian who is just now realizing that you are part of the problem if you don’t refute the Christian right with anywhere near the vigor with which they so horrendously persecute gay people, then hallelujah for World Vision’s ignorant cowardice.

The middle ground is where people fall and die. Stop standing there. Come to our side. Join us in fighting the good fight. We who know that the Bible does not condemn gay people will win this fight, because God is always on the side of what is right and just.

The sooner you join the winning team, the better for all. And most certainly the better for you, should you have to, say, answer to God tomorrow for why you waited.

And make a NALT video already.

I don’t hate Conservative Evangelicals. I don’t feel (in general) that I am a better person than them. But I am so worn down after seeing what they are doing in Christ’s name.

John Shore is right that if you believe that God is going to eternally torture most homosexuals, why should we not as well tolerate and even support violence against them?
I am disgusted by the Conservative evangelical attitude towards homosexuals and how they fail to consider Jesus priorities.

I want them to repent and sincerely begin to try loving their gay neighbors.

I pray for all Gays, Christians and non-Christians, who are being persecuted for the way they were born. May the Father equip you with courage.

And I pray that God’s love will be poured down into the hearts of their oppressors.