Tag Archives: America

What Would You Do To Fight Against America’s War on Israel?

I don’t usually get political on this blogspot, but sometimes things just build up.

The trigger was my reading two articles. The first was written by Caroline Glick and called The Obama Administration’s Most Covert War, which I found on Facebook. The second was written by Naomi Ragen and titled Israeli and American Jews: The Grand Canyon. That one was sent to me via email by my wife.

From Glick’s article:

Over the past several weeks, we have learned that the Obama administration believes it is at war with Israel. The war is not a shooting war, but a political war. Its goal is to bring the government to its knees to the point where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loses power or begs Obama and his advisers to shepherd Israel through a “peace process” in which Israel will renounce its rights to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

This pretty much makes my blood boil. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not any sort of Obama fan, but the fact that he’s playing political games to establish his so-called legacy by risking the lives of every Israeli Jewish man, woman, and child is reprehensible and vile.

President Obama

Naomi Ragan wrote about her encounter with a liberal Jewish woman during a short car ride here in America to highlight the chasm existing between Israeli and American Jews.

She was silent for a moment, then shook her head. “He [Netanyahu] shouldn’t have come to America. He shouldn’t have addressed Congress. It polarized American Jews, politicizing the support for Israel,” she said emphatically.

“I think it’s been politicized for a long time,” I answered drily. “Democrats voted for Obama. Republicans didn’t.”

That seemed to surprise her. “So, Israelis don’t like Obama?”

“They hate his guts.”

She shrugged. “Yes, I can understand that. What do you think happened to him?” She seemed honestly bewildered.

“Nothing happened to him. Anyone who did the slightest bit of research understood that he had been a member of an anti-Semitic church for twenty-five years; a church that gave an award to Louis Farrakhan.”

Ragen pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. It also seems quite true that Israeli Jews have a lived experience many American Jews (or Americans period) are clueless about.

The Ragen article continued:

If I’d had any doubts, her reaction put them to rest. She had been one of the 70 percent of American Jews to vote Democrat and elect Obama. Twice.

“You know, American Jews vote for the things that are important to them. Those are not always the same things that are important to Israelis.”

I looked surreptitiously at my watch, calculating how much more time we would be locked into this conversation. Too long to say nothing. So I ventured mildly: “What is important to you?”

“Well, women’s rights, reproductive rights. The environment. And fighting the evangelicals.”

I suddenly remembered something my Harvard-educated son recently told me: “Many American Jews will blindly follow any agenda created by the Liberal establishment because it makes them feel virtuous and like part of the in-crowd.”

“So,” I said unwisely, my temperature rising, “let me get this straight. You’re worried about abortions, climate change and being converted to Christianity?” I didn’t let her answer. “And those things are more vital, more important to you, than whether Israel’s greatest enemy gets an atom bomb to blow the next six million Jews off the face of the earth?”

Naomi Ragen

And the article ended…

Just at that moment, the hotel loomed into view. I thanked her for the ride, opening the door and stepping out as swiftly as possible. Before I closed the door, I turned back and looked at her.

“Please,” I begged her. “Don’t vote for Hillary.”

It was the last straw. “She’s better than Trump!”

“I don’t think so,” I told her with full confidence.

She rolled her eyes. I rolled mine.

And then the door slammed shut, and she disappeared in one direction, and I in another.

But then, why should you care about all this?

Here’s why.

The question shouldn’t be “Why are you, a Christian, here in a death camp, condemned for trying to save Jews?” The real question is “Why aren’t all the Christians here?”

-Joel C. Rosenberg, The Auschwitz Escape

I’m going to assume that the majority of people reading this blog aren’t Jewish but rather, American Christians or perhaps what I call Gentile Talmidei Yeshua, non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua (Jesus).

My experience in various Messianic Jewish and (largely Gentile) Hebrew Roots groups is that their members, Jewish or Gentile, tend to be pro-Israel politically. Of course, I live in Idaho, which is a pretty “red” state, so folks here are generally conservative about a lot of things.

I have to believe that when Ragen says Israelis hate President Obama’s guts, it’s because they see Obama all but handing Muslim Iran the keys to a nuclear arsenal and showing them how to aim it at Israel.

Caroline Glick

Caroline Glick’s article outlined the nuts and bolts of Obama’s (not-so) covert war against Israel in less passionate but no less disturbing terms. The country we’re citizens of (I’m assuming most of you live in the U.S.) is deliberately acting against the Israeli people, putting all their lives in jeopardy. It’s terrifying to think that the other people I share this nation with voted to elect a man into the office as President twice who is capable of such heinous acts.

Naomi Ragen complains about the liberal Jews who are more worried about “abortions, climate change and being converted to Christianity” than “whether Israel’s greatest enemy gets an atom bomb to blow the next six million Jews off the face of the earth.”

What about the rest of us?

If you’re religious and you’re a political conservative, you’re probably pro-Israel and in some fashion, oppositional to abortions and the idea of human created climate change. You may indeed want to “share the Gospel” with Jewish people, but if you’re Gentile Talmidei Yeshua, that might seem a somewhat different process to you than how Evangelicals might approach it.

Whoever you are, if you say you are pro-Israel, how far does that go?

I learned from this Aish article about Swedish journalist Petter Ljungggren, who tested anti-Semitism in his own country by putting on a kippah (he’s not Jewish) and letting himself be publicly cursed at, threatened, and harassed.

holocaustI’m not a big fan of non-Jews wearing traditionally Jewish apparel, but in this case, Ljungggren had a good reason. It makes me wonder if we all shouldn’t start donning kippot, not to imitate Jews but to stand in solidarity with them and with Israel.

Maybe we’d just feel social pressure like this young fellow, or maybe we’d experience a whole lot more.

Millions of human lives are at stake. Millions of Jewish Israeli lives are at stake. We happen to be living in a nation that’s at least contributed to if not acted as the direct cause of the danger to Israel.

If the Jews were once again rounded up and sent to the camps tomorrow would we Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua (or just regular Christians) go with them?

The Day a Christian Wore a Hijab

A tenured Wheaton College professor who, as part of her Christian Advent devotion, donned a traditional headscarf to show solidarity with Muslims has been placed on administrative leave.

-Manya Brachear Pashman, December 16, 2015
“Wheaton College suspends Christian professor who wore a hijab”
Chicago Tribune

Photo: Chicago Tribune

Actually, she never wore a hijab, just a scarf, but her actions probably won’t endear her to a lot of Christians and Jews. However, it’s important to take a moment to understand why she did what she did.

Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at the private evangelical Christian college in Chicago’s west suburbs, announced last week that she would wear the veil to show support for Muslims who have been under greater scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she posted on Facebook.

Hawkins, 43, planned to wear the hijab everywhere she went until Christmas, including on her flight home to Oklahoma, where voters in 2010 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning Islamic Sharia law.

She said it’s “a time of real vitriolic rhetoric by fellow Christians sometimes and people who aren’t Christian who conflate all Muslims with terrorist — and that saddens me — so this is a way of saying if all women wear the hijab we cannot discriminate. If all women were in solidarity, who is the real Muslim? How is TSA going to decide who they really suspect?”

I’m probably going to take a lot of heat for even writing this blog post, but I think Hawkins may have a point. My wife periodically shops at a Muslim owned food store here in Boise. As a Jew, she says she has no reason to fear or be suspicious of the owner, who seems like a really nice guy, but there’s some part of her that’s wary anyway.

Before it burned down, my family and I used to frequent the Boise International Market, a collection of businesses maintained by various refuge families.

Kahve Coffee
Kahve Coffee

I particularly enjoyed having coffee with a friend periodically at Kahve Coffee, which if I’m correct, was owned and operated by two brothers who, in all likelihood, are Muslims.

Granted, I can’t read minds and automatically know the motivations of everyone I encounter, but as far as I could tell from casual conversation, Kahve Coffee and the other family owned businesses in the Market, represented people who came to this country to build a better life and become part of our community.

Of course, these refuges were from all over the Middle East, Africa, and Central America, so probably they weren’t all Muslims, but I’m not sure it really mattered one way or the other. What mattered, is that the Market wasn’t just a place to eat, drink coffee, and buy various other goods and services, it was a gathering place for all of these families and probably their second home.

There were always children playing between the shops, the kids of the business owners. Everyone watched out for everyone else’s kids. It wasn’t always a venue conducive to quiet conversation. It was more like having coffee or a meal in someone’s living room while their children were playing.

I’m writing all this to say that, religious and political differences aside, at the end of the day, the people who ran the Market were people, parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents, children. They were people just like we’re people.

I hear they’re rebuilding (website under construction). I hope so. Not just for the sake of some of the best coffee I’ve ever consumed, or the ability to have a meal that isn’t mass-produced American pap, but for the sake of people who, like all of our ancestors who came to this country at some point in the past, just want to make a living, support their families, and be friends and neighbors who happen to live in my little corner of Idaho.

interfaithAs far as Professor Hawkins is concerned, Wheaton College chose to look at things differently:

“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation and the life of prayer,” Wheaton College said in a statement.

Makes me wonder what Wheaton College would have done if Hawkins decided to dress frum to support Israel and the Jewish people.

Granted, Wheaton is a private Evangelical Protestant Christian liberal arts college, and they can make decisions based on their understanding of being Christian vs. being Muslim, but they might have handled this differently. Was what Hawkins did so radical and her reasoning so out-of-balance?

Wheaton administrators did not denounce Hawkins’ gesture but said more conversation should have taken place before it was announced.

“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity,” the college said in a statement. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”

The Wheaton College administrators are within their rights to take such an action, and after all, as faculty, Hawkins does represent the college, but not everyone agrees with Wheaton’s decision.

Last week, a coalition of student leaders at Wheaton drafted an open letter calling on evangelical Christian leaders to condemn recent remarks by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. that students armed with guns can “end those Muslims.”

Gene Green, a professor of the New Testament, said what motivated Hawkins is the same concern many faculty at Wheaton share about the unfair scrutiny facing the Muslim community.

(Renner) Larson (communications director for CAIR’s Chicago chapter), who attends a Unitarian Universalist church, said he was dismayed to hear that some view Hawkins’ gesture as compromising Christianity.

“It’s disappointing that showing solidarity means that you are somehow sacrificing your own identity,” he said. “I do what I do not to be closer to Islam but because it makes me closer to my identity as an American who believes in American ideals.”

Boise International Market
Boise International Market

I can only imagine that what I’m expressing may seem radical to some of my readers, but as Larson pointed out, it’s an American ideal to accept people who are different from you into our local communities. The vast majority of American citizens have ancestors who came here from other parts of the world. That some Muslims have committed terrible crimes here and elsewhere on our planet doesn’t make your Muslim neighbor a terrorist.

In fact, having just read a story from Arutz Sheva, I discovered the most unlikely people (at least from my uninformed point of view) can be heroes or criminals.

You can’t tell by looking.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.

-attributed to Martin Niemöller

Their Father’s Magic Carpet

The City of New OrleansAnd the sons of pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father’s magic carpets
made of steel.
Mothers with their babes asleep,
Are rockin’ to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.

-from The City of New Orleans
by Steve Goodman and Michael McCurdy

If you’ve spent much time driving on the freeway, traveling for business or vacation, sooner or later, in those expanses between city and town, you’ve seen a train or two traveling along the tracks parallel to the road. This past weekend, my niece was married at Cannon Beach, Oregon, so to attend, I left Boise on Friday morning to join my family for the event.

I was driving alone (my wife and daughter went ahead a few days before), so I had a lot of time while driving to listen to music and to think. I have a vague memory of loving trains as a boy but I’m too far away from my childhood to clearly recall any event associated with that feeling. I do remember once, many years ago, when my sons were quite young, traveling across the midwest with the family during the summer. We had stopped at a campground somewhere in Nebraska for the evening. A railroad track ran near the campground and there was a railroad museum nearby. I remember standing by the track with my boys as a train very slowly, very stately, moved down the line. We waved at the engineer and I could see a sense of wonder in the eyes of my sons as they watched something so amazingly large travel past them. From the eyes of two four-year olds, the engineer must have seemed almost like God; controlling such vast power from so lofty a height.

Then it was gone.

Once, the railroad system was the backbone of American transportation and, since the days of the Old West, it was the artery that transferred life blood from one end of our nation to another. Then, in pursuit of faster ways to travel, faster connections, faster lifestyles, and faster Internet speeds, we pulled away from the past and have hardly looked back at what we left behind. I know the refrain of “the good ol’ days” also hides some of the uglier times in our country’s history, but with the bad, and with our need to become more “progressive”, we’ve also abandoned those things that were good.

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog article about how what we know about the Bible is advancing with new literary studies and archeological finds, adding to and correcting our understanding and our database about the Word of God and what it means in our lives. While all that is certainly valid, the past and the knowledge it holds, once we leave it, doesn’t have to fade away, nor should it. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I quote frequently from the ancient Jewish sages and I find their wisdom as alive and fresh today as it was when their thoughts and insights were first recorded and preserved.

Steve Goodman’s lyrics (sung famously by Arlo Guthrie, son of the renowned folk singer, Woody Guthrie) relate a tale of the fading glory of the railroad, like a species from another era, once mighty, once dominating, now slowly going extinct and being replaced by something much less grand. When the “sons of pullman porters and the sons of engineers ride their father’s magic carpets made of steel”, they begin to realize that the time of the railroad is coming to an end. They will never experience what their fathers’ did; a sense of the endlessness of an epoch of romance, adventure, and tradition that seemed to stretch into infinity, as if looking at the tracks extending ahead to the edge of the horizon and beyond.

Too much of our lives get left behind for the sake of expediency and to make room for other priorities. Our faith, our religion, how and when (or if) we approach the Bible, all suffer in the same way. When we first “discover God” we are filled with a child-like wonder at the thrill of seeing the “engineer” in the cab of this massive, diesel machine, slowly crossing in front of us, allowing us just a taste of the power and rumbling majesty He controls.

Then we get older, more experienced, more used to seeing trains, more used to ignoring them, until we hardly notice when they start to fade away, maybe not as an overall presence, but in their sense of importance. Once the shine and luster begins to fade, it takes a lot of effort to get it back. Sometimes it never returns and all we have are half-memories that are more like vague feelings than the recall of what we actually said or did.

Who is God to us then?

I know. Odd thoughts for a person just having returned home from a wedding and three days of celebrating with family. But after visiting family in Portland and Cannon Beach and visiting relatives at their home outside of Washougal, Washington, I find myself thinking more of what has been lost than anything that’s been gained. I don’t know why I started hearing Arlo Guthrie singing “The City of New Orleans” in my head. He just started as I was driving home this morning, while I was leaving the Columbia Gorge behind, and I started writing this blog in my imagination as I listened to the lyrics.

And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain’t heard the news.
The conductor sings his song again,
The passengers will please refrain
This train’s got the disappearing railroad blues.

Good night, America, how are you?
Don’t you know me I’m your native son,
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.