Tag Archives: antisemitism

Love Thy Enemy

ruth ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — here in her chambers during a 2019 interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg — died on Friday at the age of 87.
Shuran Huang/NPR

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. –Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB)

I’m sure most people reading this know by now that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Baden Ginsburg is dead. What you probably also know, if you follow social media, is that this event has erupted into a major emotional storm, depending on your politic, and as it turns out, religious views.

Here’s what I said on Facebook after I ran head first into one:

Oh wow. Someone, purportedly a Christian, posted a meme (I won’t repeat it here) celebrating the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I pointed out why disagreeing with her legal opinions didn’t mean we should have wanted her to die, and also pointed out how even the Almighty did not celebrate the death of the Egyptians after Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea. I woke up this morning and saw many notices from that conversation basically condemning both me and Ginsburg, including a pretty rough statement from another supposed Christian on how he would defile Ginsburg’s grave by urinating on it. This is the difference between studying the Bible and pondering its wisdom vs. reading it and then letting some less than kind or informed religious leader tell you what it all means. Please do not paint all believers with the same broad brush. We aren’t all the same, and some of us are pretty far apart from others.

What prompt my response? This image, well, the video it represents:

fb
Screenshot from Facebook

I was the first to reply to this person who is my “friend” on Facebook:

[All names and other identifiers have been removed from these comments except for my name]

James Pyles: No, I won’t do it and this is why. After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and the Egyptians drowned, according to Jewish legend, God refused to let even the angels celebrate. He said “they are my children, too.” While I may have disagreed with Ginsburg on a good many things, I will not celebrate her death (Yasser Arafat’s yes, but that’s a completely different story). She was and is a child of God and someday we will all have to stand before our Judge. I’m no better than the next person.

The author responded to me, and then many others did as well:

M: James Pyles I am no better than than the next person, and I am worse than many. But I am glad the protector of Roe V. Wade can no longer bring about millions and tens of millions of deaths through abortion.

James Pyles I understand what you’re staying, but moral decisions and consequences are complicated and painful. You know this better than most. No matter what she said and believed, if I am to consider myself even a poor disciple of Jesus, then I cannot do what I know he wouldn’t.

LJ: James Pyles Exodus 15 — a song of Moses giving glory to God for the drowning of the Egyptian army. Good is also a judge.

T: If she was not in Christ, she was not God’s child.

Je: Then let us pray that somehow she has been given grace, even while we rejoice that she can no longer do harm.

James Pyles I have long since stopped presuming to know exactly how God will judge. I have my own life in my hands and my own sins. God will take care of the rest. I need to be accountable to what I have done and who I am. I don’t have time to pull a splinter out of someone else’s eye when I’ve got a log in mine.

Another M: “If she was not in Christ, she was not God’s child.”
THIS

S: James Pyles He kicked the moneychangers out of the Temple.
Look. She did much evil, and was a blatantly racist eugenics (“some groups shouldn’t have kids”). Her decisions in cases to try and her lack of support for involuntary treatment of the mentall…See More

B: James Pyles
I think this is M’s page. She has a right to her interpretation of whats just & saying something again will not move her will – everyday she trys to save lives Everyone speaking well of RBG should have held her accountable while living
She never cared about any babies of God

GF: James Pyles then go do you elsewhere. You’re not anyone’s moral teacher and I for one would dance on the witch’s grave before relieving myself on it.

That last comment is when I decided to stop reading. Oh, I’ve truncated the list for reading time, plus there’s only so much of this I want to take.

fb witch
Screenshot from Facebook

It’s embarrassing as a believer to have to defend against such vitriol, especially on social media where the many atheists liken Christians to everything that is evil. When we behave down to the lowest levels of those expectations, then how do we uphold the cause of Christ?

Having said all that, I’ve been just as guilty as anyone else as mixing up my faith with my politics. Oh, but it gets worse.

It seems that while many Christians are celebrating Ginsburg’s death with more than just a little antisemitism (she couldn’t be a child of God because she wasn’t a Christian), not too many years ago, the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia elicited a tremendous amount of “unkindness” from those who opposed him politically, probably the same people who mourn Ginsburg today.

Oh, people even make fun of that too:

meme
Screenshot of a Facebook meme

But as disciples of King Messiah, I mean if we really are disciples, shouldn’t we live that out? How else will anyone really believe we live the lives we lecture and sermonize about? They’re the same folks who think we believe this

meme
Screenshot of a Facebook meme

The horrible thing is that they may be right, at least about some, perhaps a great many of us.

What do you think? More importantly, what do you believe and how do you live that out?

For more, read about my friend Kat’s Mini Rant.

Israel is Jewish – Part Four: The Myth of an Ancient Arab Palestine and the “Five Nos”

husseini
Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, 1937 [Getty]
There is no place in Palestine for two races. The Jews left Palestine 2,000 years ago. Let them go to other parts of the world where there are wide vacant places.” –Amin al-Husseini, 1936

And that, in a nutshell, is why there will never be a two-state solution, not because Jewish Israel hasn’t been bending over backwards trying to agree to one, but because the Arab leadership will never accept it. They never have from the start.

By the way, just because I stuck in that link from ForeignPolicy.com doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with their opinion. It was just handy.

I’ve decided this will be the fourth and last installment in my “Israel is Jewish” series. Here are the other three:

  1. Is There a “Palestine?”
  2. Israel is not Apartheid
  3. The Creation of the Palestinian Refugee

Of course, what started it all was the wee piece Israel is NOT an Apartheid State or an “Occupier” : A Beginning. I’m getting sick and tired of bullies who manufacture “war crimes” and “human rights crimes” against Israel in the service of exterminating the Jewish citizens of the Jewish state.

So let’s talk about “the occupation.” In order for the Jews to “occupy” Arab “Palestine,” there had to be an Arab Palestinian people in the first place. Were there ever such a people?

Before that, going to the quote from Amin al-Husseini, did the Jews completely abandon “Palestine” for a full 2,000 years?

As it turns out, there has always been a Jewish presence in the Land, regardless of who the conqueror was at the time. Sometimes the population was larger than others. Sometimes Jews were allowed to return to their Land in great numbers. There was even a time when the Jewish population started planning the construction of a third Temple. Other times, they were driven out so that only a few thousand remained. But they remained.

Both in David Brog’s book Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace and at BesaCenter.org, we see that between the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and the forming of the modern state of Israel in 1948, Jews have always lived in their ancestral land, so no, they didn’t abandon Israel for 2,000 years. They were just the victims of an endless sea of occupiers.

So what about the Arabs? Were they the ones in charge? Depends on who you ask. The site ancient.eu covers some of it, but not in enough detail, at least not during the time frame I’m examining.

After the Romans, there were the Byzantines. Then starting in the Middle Ages you had the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid periods, the Fatimid period, the Crusader period, the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods, and then there was the Ottoman period.

That ended only with British rule. During that time, while the Jews always clung to their Land as their ancient inheritance, from an Arab perspective, it was simply a part of southern Syria and they, the Arabs, were whoever the conquerors were. For instance, from the 15th century onward, they were Ottomans, not Palestinian Arabs. If anything, they would have more identified as Syrians.

So at no time did “Palestinian Arabs” come on the radar until the 20th century, and it wasn’t seriously considered and then claimed until after the Six-Day War in 1967, nearly 20 years after the formation of modern Israel.

Even in the early 20th century, before World War Two, the Zionists who had planned a Jewish return to “Palestine” were determined to displace no Arabs at all, and sought only to live in unclaimed land, mainly the Negev which was an unpopulated desert.

As I said before, if the Arabs had accepted the British partition plan in 1948, they would have had a “Palestinian homeland” and there would have been exactly zero Palestinian refugees. However, instead, they decided to wage a “Civil War” against their Jewish neighbors the day the State of Israel was born, and after the British mandate ended, many other Arab nations came across the border for the purpose of making sure a Jewish state would never exist.

Up until the late 1960s, the concept of a Pan-Arabism was one of the primary forces behind opposing the continuance of Israel. While the concept of an “Arab Palestine” didn’t exist as such, the Arab nations believed that the entire Middle East should be one, single Arab domain. No room for other people groups, particularly Jews.

Only after 1967, when the Pan-Arab dream was abandoned, did the Arabs in and near Israel consider themselves “Palestinian.”

So you see, it’s pretty hard to say that the Jews displaced Palestinian Arabs when such an entity did not exist. Also, even after the 1948 war, there were still Arabs in abundance who hadn’t left and they were welcomed in Israel.

The history is long and complex, but the Jews have always been willing to share. The Arabs, or at least their leadership, were absolutely opposed.

In his book, Brog coins the phrase, the “Five Nos.” There were the five primary occasions where Palestinian Arabs were offered deals that included their own sovereign land, each offer being sweeter than the last. Each and every time, they said “No.”

Camera.org says the Palestinians said “No” only three times:

  1. The original UN Resolution 181, the Partition Resolution, passed in November 1947, called for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in the land which at that point was controlled by the British-run Palestine Mandate. We know about that one. The Arabs decided to kill the Jews instead.
  2. In the summer of 2000 US President Bill Clinton hosted intense peace talks at Camp David between Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli leader Ehud Barak, culminating in a comprehensive peace plan known as the Clinton Parameters, which was similar to the later Olmert Plan, though not quite as extensive. Despite the vast concessions the plan required of Israel, Prime Minister Barak accepted President Clinton’s proposal, while Arafat refused, returned home, and launched a new terror campaign against Israeli civilians (the Second Intifada).
  3. In 2008, after extensive talks, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and presented a comprehensive peace plan. Olmert’s plan would have annexed the major Israeli settlements to Israel and in return given equivalent Israeli territory to the Palestinians, and would have divided Jerusalem. This was the single most generous offer Israel could possibly make and Abbas still said “No.”

Brog is counting the 1937 partition plan based on the Peel Commission’s recommendation that less than 20% of Palestine be set aside for the Jews. In spite of the inequity of the offer, the Jews jumped at the chance. Not so the Arabs.

He also adds the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War. In spite of the security concerns, Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria. Israelis were divided on whether to return the West Bank to Jordan or to empower the Palestinian inhabitants to govern themselves.

Brog states:

These dreams of peace were quickly dashed. In late August 1967, the Arab League met in Khartoum, Sudan, and adopted a hard anti-Israel line. Among the resolutions these Arab states approved was one specifying that there would be “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” The West Bank Arabs who had been negotiating with Israel decided to fall in line and their talks ended.

It seems that as far as establishing an Arab Palestinian “homeland,” the Arabs are their own worse enemies, at least as long as they are determined to be the enemy of the Jews.

It’s interesting to note that at the 2000 Ehud Barak, Bill Clinton, Camp David peace summit, time after time Yasser Arafat continued to say “No” to each offer, without proposing a counter-offer or giving any details about why he was refusing. Brog records:

Arafat didn’t accept Barak’s offer. Nor did he make a counteroffer. He simply let the clock run out. At the close of the summit, President Clinton “blew up” at Arafat, shouting at the Palestinian leader that he had “been here fourteen days and said no to everything.”

Based on both ancient and modern claims, the Jews do have a right to their historic lands, and even though they have tried again and again to broker a peace with the Arab population, offering them exceedingly generous deals. They have said “No,” just “no.” After Arafat, Abbas followed suit, saying “no” with no counter-offers and no explanations.

However, this series is going to end differently than I expected. I just learned that Israel and United Arab Emirates strike historic peace accord. I want to be excited. I want to say “at last.” But everything I know about the history of Palestine going back two thousand years, or even just going back a century, tells me it’s not going to be that easy. After all of the conflict and enmity between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East and the absolute Arab refusal to accept a Jewish homeland within their midst, how is it ever going to be that easy?

It’s not. To quote the FT.com article:

But the move has infuriated the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership rejected the “surprising” announcement by the US, Israel and UAE, calling it “an assault on the Palestinian people and an abandonment of the rights of the Palestinians and the holy sites”.

See? Told you.

So, when various civil rights groups in the U.S. vandalize synagogues and Jewish businesses, painting “Free Palestine” on those structures, and perhaps feeling justified in attacking American Jews as if they are somehow responsible for the so-called “occupation,” they are most likely operating in ignorance of the facts. If they choose to ally themselves with Arab terrorists groups such as Hamas, then maybe they understand things all too well, more’s the pity.

I know none of this will convince those who have already been convinced by decades of anti-Israel propaganda, and centuries if not millennia of hatred against the Jewish people. Anti-semitism seems to be the only form of bigotry that’s acceptable when all other forms are not.

The ancient Israelites were slaves in Egypt approximately 3,500 years ago and they were reportedly enslaved for 430 years. They have suffered unspeakable losses for those thousands of years, so you’d think anyone else who feels the need to rise up against the inequities of their background would study that history and find kinship, rather than ignoring that history and condemning the Jews and their right to exist as a nation.

Addendum: and speaking of Hamas and terrorism.

Addendum 8-14-2020: Erdogan: Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal

The Palestinian response is of course, violent.

Addendum: 8-15-2020: Rockets fired from Gaza, after IDF incendiary balloon response strike.

Just another reminder that there has Always been a Jewish presence in Israel.

Addendum 8-19-2020: You see, this is exactly why the Palestinians will never consent to a two-state solution. Their leaders say any cooperation with Israel is treason, probably punishable by death. The Palestinians’ own leadership is their worst enemy, not Israel.

Addendum 8-24-2020: More antisemitism.

Addendum 8-30-2020: 10th of Elul: https://www.aish.com/dijh/Elul_10.html

Addendum 8:31-2020: Los Angeles, today.

Addendum 9-22-2020: New Report Shows Palestinian Textbooks Still Rife With Antisemitism, Glorification of Terror, Despite Promised Changes

Israel is Jewish – Part Two: Israel is not Apartheid

Image credit: Gulf News – not other specifics cited

In Part One of this series, I covered pretty effectively not only that the long-term history of Israel from ancient times was undeniably (even though people deny it all the time) Jewish, but whatever you want to call “Palestine” is not and never has been Arabic.

I know a lot of people don’t like to face that because of the common and mistaken idea that the Arabs were living in Palestine until the Jews came and subjugated them in 1948. However, that’s not objective history, but propaganda.

Let’s start with the basics. What is “Apartheid?”

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness”) is the name of the policy that governed relations between the white minority and the nonwhite majority of South Africa during the 20th century. Although racial segregation had long been in practice there, the apartheid name was first used about 1948 to describe the racial segregation policies embraced by the white minority government. Apartheid dictated where South Africans, on the basis of their race, could live and work, the type of education they could receive, and whether they could vote. Events in the early 1990s marked the end of legislated apartheid, but the social and economic effects remained deeply entrenched.

In fact the term is totally embedded exclusively in the history of South Africa. So much so, that a search of Google (at least a casual one) doesn’t easily turn up a list of other nations that practiced the same policies.

So why do people call Israel (which obviously is not South Africa) “apartheid?”

A 2017 report by The Washington Post was headlined Is Israel an ‘apartheid’ state? This U.N. report says yes. Yet when I clicked the link to read the actual report, I got a “Page Not Found” error. Either the report was moved to another URL or it was pulled entirely.

The article begins:

If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.

The findings from an Arab-led group were not cleared or fully backed by U.N. leadership and do not set new policies toward Israel. Yet they reflect another attempt to use a U.N. forum to denounce Israel and seek to put its Western allies on the defensive at a time when some have questioned Israel’s hard-line approach, including expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

Okay, the allegation already sounds a tad suspicious. I mean even the U.N. didn’t fully endorse it.

Actually, I looked pretty hard, but it was difficult to find a reputable source that supported the idea that Israel was apartheid. The Guardian published an op-ed piece last year who sees similarities between Israel and South Africa based on experience of fighting South African apartheid:

As a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist I look with horror on the far-right shift in Israel ahead of this month’s elections, and the impact in the Palestinian territories and worldwide.

Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations led Archbishop Tutu to declare that the treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse.

That statement was to some degree based on a 2014 Haaretz article where Desmond Tutu said that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians reminded him of Black South Africans.

Incidentally, this is also probably the attraction of America’s Black Lives Matter to the Palestinian “cause” if we can believe they are all the same thing.

But as we’ve seen, apartheid isn’t simply racial or ethnic differences or tensions.

Interestingly enough, an older article by The Guardian was titled Israel has many injustices. But it is not an apartheid state. In part, the writer says:

I have now lived in Israel for 17 years, doing what I can to promote dialogue across lines of division. To an extent that I believe is rare, I straddle both societies. I know Israel today – and I knew apartheid up close. And put simply, there is no comparison between Israel and apartheid.

The Arabs of Israel are full citizens. Crucially, they have the vote and Israeli Arab MPs sit in parliament. An Arab judge sits on the country’s highest court; an Arab is chief surgeon at a leading hospital; an Arab commands a brigade of the Israeli army; others head university departments. Arab and Jewish babies are born in the same delivery rooms, attended by the same doctors and nurses, and mothers recover in adjoining beds. Jews and Arabs travel on the same trains, taxis and – yes – buses. Universities, theatres, cinemas, beaches and restaurants are open to all.

They go on to state:

However, Israeli Arabs – Palestinian citizens of Israel – do suffer discrimination, starting with severe restrictions on land use. Their generally poorer school results mean lower rates of entry into higher education, which has an impact on jobs and income levels. Arab citizens of Israel deeply resent Israel’s “law of return” whereby a Jew anywhere in the world can immigrate to Israel but Arabs cannot. Some might argue that the Jewish majority has the right to impose such a policy, just as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states have the right not to allow Christians as citizens. But it’s a troubling discrimination.

A major factor causing inequity is that most Israeli Arabs do not serve in the army. While they are spared three years’ compulsory, and dangerous, conscription for men (two years for women) and annual reserve duty that continues into their 40s, they do not receive post-army benefits in housing and university study.

However…

How does that compare with the old South Africa? Under apartheid, every detail of life was subject to discrimination by law. Black South Africans did not have the vote. Skin colour determined where you were born and lived, your job, your school, which bus, train, taxi and ambulance you used, which park bench, lavatory and beach, whom you could marry, and in which cemetery you were buried.

Israel is not remotely like that. Everything is open to change in a tangled society in which lots of people have grievances, including Mizrahi Jews (from the Middle East) or Jews of Ethiopian origin. So anyone who equates Israel and apartheid is not telling the truth.

If I were to stop here, we could reasonably conclude that Israel is not a perfect country, and yes discrimination does exist, but the nature of that discrimination does not resemble apartheid.

The article concludes:

So why is the apartheid accusation pushed so relentlessly, especially by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement? I believe those campaigners want Israel declared an apartheid state so it becomes a pariah, open to the world’s severest sanctions. Many want not just an end to the occupation but an end to Israel itself.

Tragically, some well-intentioned, well-meaning people in Britain and other countries are falling for the BDS line without realising what they are actually supporting. BDS campaigners and other critics need to be questioned: Why do they single out Israel, above all others, for a torrent of false propaganda? Why is Israel the only country in the world whose very right to existence is challenged in this way?

An ADL.org story says:

No such [apartheid] laws exist in Israel, which in its Declaration of Independence pledges to safeguard the equal rights of all citizens. Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the full range of civil and political rights, including the right to organize politically, the right to vote and the right to speak and publish freely. Israeli Arabs and other non-Jewish Israelis serve as members of Israel’s security forces, are elected to parliament and appointed to the country’s highest courts. They are afforded equal educational opportunities, and there are ongoing initiatives to further improve the economic standing of all of Israel’s minorities. These facts serve as a counter to the apartheid argument, and demonstrate that Israel is committed to democratic principles and equal rights for all its citizens.

Moreover, Israel’s acceptance of a two-state solution as the outcome of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations belies accusations that Israel’s goal is the persecution of Palestinians.

The Algemeiner presents eight critical points about why Israel is not apartheid, and even an op-ed piece by The Los Angeles Times declares “Israel isn’t, and will never be, an apartheid state”.

The evidence I’m presenting may not be exhaustive, but it is extensive, and you’ll need to click the links I’ve provided to get the full context.

The term “apartheid” is being aimed at Israel in an attempt (and a seemly successful one, oddly enough) to stir up an emotional, rather than a reasoned response, to Israel, painting them with the same broad brush as South Africa so that no one will have to consider anything except how they felt about the injustices against the black majority population by the white minority.

Even though the two nations and their bodies of law are not similar, some people will believe anything they hear because they want to. It confirms their biases that at least Israel, if not the Jewish people as a whole, are unjust and even criminal.

Like I said, it’s not like Israel is completely free of discrimination. But that doesn’t make them apartheid.

In Part One, I established the historic right of the Jews to the land of Israel, and that the Arabs did not have such an historic claim. Just now, I addressed why Israel is NOT an apartheid state. In Part Three, I’ll talk about why Israel is not “occupying Arab land.”

Israel is NOT an Apartheid State or an “Occupier” : A Beginning

This is a topic that’s been burning a hole in me for a long time. Now, because the whole Black Lives Matter antisemitism is taking off (no one dares question their bigotry for fear of being called “racist” … go figure), hate of Jewish people and Israel has resurfaced with a vengeance. I’ve wanted to do a detailed study of exactly why the allegations against the Jewish people and Israel are false, but a number of different factors have gotten in the way. I saw the image above on twitter. It’s a beginning.

The Presence of Justice

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Photo credit: KIVI Staff – Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Idaho State Capitol

There’s quite a push in social media and in the news regarding phrases like “silence is concent” and “silence is violence.” In other words, if you are white and you don’t say something about “systemic racism,” and a very specific something, then you are accused of giving tacit approval to racism in general and violence against people of color in particular.

I don’t know about that. The Bible has a lot to say about times when it is better to be silent rather than speaking out of emotion or impulse. Make no mistake, there’s a lot of emotion and impulse in both social media and the real world.

Having Jewish family members, my traditional focus relative to justice is the battle against antisemitism, and, after all, bigotry is bigotry, right? Would not the words I’ve written on this blog for so many years apply to the current situation?

Apparently not.

It seems that the same people who are demanding justice over the death of George Floyd are also attacking Jewish synagogues and businesses. Apparently, Jews in America are being equated with Jews in Israel, which the protesters consider oppressors to the “Palestinians.”

I won’t go into how erroneous that notion is because it’s a very long article all by itself. It does, however, speak to part of the reason why I don’t have a “default setting” of siding unquestionably with the protesters and against police officers.

Am I a racist? No, not as I evaluate myself, but given terms like “systemic racism” and “silence is violence,” I can imagine some folks out there would assume I am. Reading this, they will assume I am because, as I said, I don’t give at least some expressions of protest (the violent expressions that destroy property and hurt and kill people) my undying, absolute support.

Also, some celebrities, such as Rosanna Arquette (although she said this nearly a year ago) suggest that in order to support these protests, support justice, and shun racism, I must not only be ashamed of myself as a white person, but I must hate my “whiteness.”

Okay, so maybe she’s an edge case and most white Americans who are protesting don’t despise themselves (though watching a lot of these people kneel at the feet of people of color seems less like justice and more like subjugation). Some white Americans are pretty upfront with saying they suffer from white guilt, but the response seems to indicate that’s just another kind of privilege.

There are all kinds of opinions about the role of white people in these protests, and some people of color view white protesters as following a trend, albeit a much needed one.

We are encouraged to read books on systemic racism, promote black causes, support black businesses, and otherwise showcase the works of people of color.

As an aside, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America recently issued a statement of support for Black Lives Matter, with some highly specific suggestions about what its membership (and any science fiction and fantasy reader actually) can do to support artists/writers of color. That’s not a bad thing, and SFWA has been pretty supportive of artists of color anyway, but at the end of the day, these are still all suggestions and its up to the conscience of every individual in how we respond.

And then there are the police.

Tons and tons of people are calling to defund the police in their communities, and the city of Minneapolis has voted to get rid of their police force altogether, eventually replacing it with…well, I don’t know with what because they don’t seem to have a plan yet.

As a white person, for the most part, I’ve had reasonably good experiences with police officers. In the 1990s, I was an investigator for Child Protective Services in Southern California and I worked with multiple law enforcement agencies. Some were really very community friendly, and a few were a pain in the neck.

But if I were a black person, my experience might be a very different one. I mean, black parents have to teach their children at a very tender age what it is to be black in America, which includes how to behave around police.

But it’s become much worse than that. Right here in my own little corner of Idaho, a little white girl learned to be afraid of the police. Fortunately, members of the Kuna Police Department helped her get past her anxiety.

I did see on twitter that when a young black girl was approached by an officer, she immediately raised her hands. As it turns out, the officer just wanted to say “hi”. A lot of people think the child’s fear was caused by police brutality in the first place, or maybe it’s become a learned behavior in the black community. Maybe too, the recent emphasis of depicting all police officers as racist and violent has something to do with it.

And some of it is just plain silly, such as the call to remove Chase the Police Dog from the Paw Patrol cartoons and books (my granddaughter loves them).

So, as you can see, there’s a lot to digest let alone respond to.

After posting a few of my past blog articles to social media and getting no response (I don’t know why I expected any), I figured that was that. What was I supposed to say that hasn’t already been said? We’ve had Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Boise. I didn’t feel compelled to attend. Oh, they were really peaceful, except that one dumb 18-year-old guy accidentally discharged his handgun into the ground. Yes, he was white, and yes, he was arrested.

sanchez
Credit: KTVB News

Interestingly enough, Boise City Councilwoman Lisa Sanchez wrote a letter to the kid’s parents saying his privilege protected him, and if he were a person of color, things would have turned out differently. Maybe they would have.

She signed her letter:

Lisa Sánchez, Brown woman who chose not to have children for fear of their abuse and murder by white people.

While I don’t doubt her experiences and feelings are real, as a politician and Boise city leader, she might have tried to say something that would de-escalate anxiety and tension rather than the opposite.

Having said all this, I still wasn’t going to craft a response to the “silence is violence” supporters, that is, until I read an op-ed piece written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (yes, the former basketball player and actor). He did a very good job at getting me to be able to listen to his anger and described very well (to the best of my ability to understand, with me not having a lived black experience), how black people and white people are going to respond differently to the death of George Floyd.

Addendum: I suppose I should comment about this because, yes, when black people are angry, and they say white people are bad, I do have a problem not taking it as a personal insult. That’s my problem, I suppose, but after all, I do have trouble making it through everyday halfway sane without having these pundits adding to it. I know there is heinous injustice in the world, but I’m trying very hard not to hate myself on command.

He ended his missive with:

What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.

Now I would guess, given the article’s larger context, that he meant justice for people of color and not judging them for angry and even violent responses.

But what does that look like?

On one level, it probably means something like reforming the nature of police work across the board, although, as I suggested above, not all police departments are the same, so their responses in violent and crisis situations probably won’t be the same.

Police officers who commit crimes do need to be brought to justice, and perhaps a more stern justice since they broke the community trust and violated their oath as peace officers.

Sooner or later, the protests will die down, and the caldron of America will cool off again, going from a boil to a simmer…that is until next time.

In the 1997 film Air Force One, Harrison Ford playing (fictional) American President James Marshall delivers the line “Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.”

In Bruce Springsteen’s music video for Born to Run he says “Remember, in the end, nobody wins unless everybody wins.”

In the 1999 film The Matrix, Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, says:

I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.

Maybe that’s all there is to it. We just begin without necessarily knowing where the road will lead or what the journey will be like.

Perhaps we should always have these protests before us, just to make sure we’re still paying attention. When they go away, and they probably will, in our rush to return to our “old normal,” sweeping George Floyd and COVID-19 aside, we’ll go back to sleep and pretend nothing’s wrong.

I chose to write this on my “religious blog” rather than my writer’s blog because you have no love, or truth, or justice without God.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? –Micah 6:8 (NASB)

I’ve seen so many opinions, but even those activists who are believers seem to have sidestepped what we really need, not just as white people or black people, or even as Americans. Is God not the God of all people everywhere? Didn’t the Apostle Paul say that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” (Romans 3:23).

I’m not going to tell you how this will end, but I will tell you how we can begin, all of us. By making teshuvah, repent of our sins, which should also be a continual process, for our sins are always before us.

I kneel in the Presence of the Almighty during prayer, but don’t necessarily feel compelled to do so in the presence of people. However, if someone else feels that their path of repentance requires kneeling before people who they feel they’ve somehow hurt, who am I to say they shouldn’t. The important thing is to do so not out of a misplaced sense of guilt or shame, but because we truly do seek to do justice, love kindness, and have a humble walk before our God.

In the end, everybody wins because the Presence of God is the presence of justice.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:31-39

Addendum: I just read a Fox News article (yes, I know what some of you are going to say) referencing a New York Times Op-Ed piece written by Mariame Kaba who really means she wants to abolish (mostly) the police. Her perspective is that, given more resources, particularly good jobs, housing, and so forth, the root cause of crime will be greatly reduced and people will just naturally learn to cooperate and become more community minded.

Apparently, she doesn’t believe what I quoted above from the Apostle Paul. Also, this comes to mind:

Rebbe Chanina, the assistant High Priest, says: Pray for the welfare of the government. For without fear of it, people would swallow each other alive. –Chapter 3, Mishna 2

Retiring in Israel?

israelAbout a month or so ago, my wife surprised me again. She doesn’t do that very often. After all, we’ve been married for over 35 years, so we know each other pretty well by now. However, after the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting and several other antisemitic incidents that made the news, she said if it gets much worse, she’d consider having us move to Israel.

Yes, you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather.

Her making aliyah and having us move to Israel used to be a dream of mine back in the day, but that was a day when our children were still young and we all would have moved together. My wife and I discussed it and I did a bit of research, but life went on and we never seriously pursued it. My passion for living in “the Land” faded over time, and well, that was that.

Until my wife made her rather earth shattering pronouncement.

She hasn’t mentioned it since, and I haven’t seen her do anything else about it, plus, as my mother ages and her memory continues to deteriorate, the missus has seriously discussed moving my Mom up here from southwestern Utah, and I can only imagine that precludes any further discussion of my wife making aliyah.

To be honest, in addition to my Mom, I don’t think I could make myself leave my grandkids. Oh sure, my son (their Dad) is Jewish and he could make aliyah as well, but I don’t see that in his future, and certainly his ex-wife would prevent their two children from leaving the country on a permanent basis because it would severely inhibit her visitation rights.

But retiring to Israel is an interesting thought. I wasn’t going to write about it, but then, I read an Aish.com article titled Why We Left a Secure Life in the U.S. and Moved to Israel by Rabbi Jonathan Feldman, PhD. Of course, Rabbi Feldman is writing from a Jewish perspective, which doesn’t touch upon what it would be like for a non-Jewish spouse to go through the experience.

I found a news item from 2013 at Haaretz called Does Israel Hassle non-Jewish Spouses?, but it seems more directed at Israeli citizens who marry foreign non-Jews.

At a legal website, I found Aliyah for family members – immigration for non-Jewish nuclear family which was far more informative. The article states in part:

The Law of Return states that “a family member of a Jew” can mean a child or grandchild of a Jew, or the spouse of a Jew, or the child or grandchild to a Jew. The law does not provide for the immigration of other family members, such as siblings or half siblings and grand-grandchildren.

Therefore, if a non-Jewish member of another religion only has a Jewish father, or Jewish grandparents, and does not have a Jewish mother, he or she, would be entitled to immigrate to Israel legally, in accordance with the Law of Return allowing Aliyah for family members. It is important to note that hundreds of thousands of people have made Aliyah to Israel as family members of Jews, despite not being considered Jewish by the law of return, but were eligible for Aliyah as a family member of a Jew.

However, relative to some members of my readership, the article goes on to say:

In fact, in the Supreme Court verdict 2708/06 Steckback v. the Interior Ministry (Court ruling from the 16th of April 2008) it was clearly determined that a Messianic Jew would be entitled to immigrate to Israel, as a family member of a Jew, according to Section 4a(a) of the Law of Return, provided that he or she does not have a Jewish mother.

The same logic would seem to apply to a Messianic Jew/Christian, whose mother converted to Messianic Judaism, or Christianity, or any other religion, before the birth of the person in question. As the mother had converted before the birth of the Aliyah applicant, this individual was not born to a Jewish mother, and would therefore not be defined as a Jew, according to Section 4(b) of the Law of Return.

As I mentioned above, all of this is probably moot. However, my Mom turns 87 this year and although she’s in good physical condition for her age, at some point, she will pass. Also, the grandchildren will grow older, and although I will always love and adore them, they might not need Grandpa and Bubbe as much in ten years. Assuming my wife and I are still alive and healthy then, it’s possible that we may still choose to retire in Israel.

Again, the probability isn’t high, but it’s still non-trivial, so who knows?

But what is life like in Israel for the non-Jewish spouse of a Jew? At this point, I can only wonder.