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.

 

 

 

Naked Calvinism: motivation and methodology

Youtube Version

My first true confrontation with Calvinism was in a Calvary Chapel. A young pastor who is a huge fan of John Piper was talking about the “Biblical” obligation to unconditionally support the state of Israel. He said that the Israelites should have slaughtered ALL inhabitants of Caanan during the time of Joshua. According to him, the current Palestinians are their descendants and Israel has to deal with them because they failed in the past to carry out the genocidal commands of their deity. He finally said something which literally made my blood freeze:
The modern Palestinians call themselves the descendants of the Philistines but this is an outrageous lie. If God tells us in his Word that He utterly exterminated them, He really did it!“.
He did not pronounce the last sentence with a callous indifference but with a joyful excitement.

Zionist

Later on, I met another young Calvinist pastor who told me that my refusal to accept the justification of Biblical genocides was due to my sinful pride and refusal to give to God the glory He is worthy of.
Finally, I listen to a reformed theology student teaching that God passionately hates mankind since the Fall, that everyone is heading to hell due to his or her inborn sinful nature, and that God only predestined a few people to believe in Him and get saved. He recognized that according to all human standards, such a divine behavior is utterly repugnant and even atrocious. But we cannot judge God according to our morality. And after I asked him why we are supposed to worship such a being, he just answered me: “because He is God.”

Lake-of-Fire-Bg

All of this occurred within a short time span six months ago.

After having done a lot of research on Calvinism, I realized that this kind of assertions naturally springs out of this belief system.

A specific event prompted me to start this series of posts. It was the recent assertion of the very popular Calvinist preacher John McArthur that 500 millions of charismatics are pseudo-Christians and that a great number of them have sinned against the Holy Ghost (and that they were, consequently, predetermined by God to burn in hell forever).
I see it now as my duty to show the true face of Calvinism to the world.

Here follow the methodology and some practical aspects.

1) I think it is fair to say that Calvinism cannot really exist without Biblical inerrancy. Therefore if I can show that SOME Biblical passages are incompatible with reformed theology, I will have effectively refuted it.

2) It is a common cognitive error to believe that once you have shown that something is possible, you have also shown it is not implausible. But there are many things which are logically possible but extremely unlikely.

3)  I will leave aside many Calvinist proof-texts and let my readers decide by themselves if they are plausibly interpretable within an Arminian framework or if they can’t, thereby showing the existence of contradictions within the Bible.

For example, let us say that the books of Hebrew and James are incompatible with divine determinism. This leaves two possibilities:

A) the books of Paul are not at odds with Arminianism
B) the books of Paul teach Calvinism which in turn shows that Biblical inerrancy is false.

In both cases, Calvinism is wrong or utterly implausible.

4) I will use many philosophical arguments too, even though I am well aware that this won’t move hardcore fundamentalists who hold the self-refuting view that philosophy is a folly.

5) I shall also argue that Calvinism is completely unlivable. There are no true consistent Calvinists out there (even if some are dangerously close to achieving this).

6) I am going to use extremely hard words against reformed theology but I want to be clear I (try to) love all Calvinists as my fellow human beings. Therefore I won’t tolerate personal attacks against Calvinists who are going to comment on my blog, unless they behave like assholes.

 

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