God's Politics

God's Politics


Jeff Carr: An Open Letter to Bush about Iran

posted by gp_intern

As we continue our preparations for our delegation’s trip to Iran, one of my Mennonite colleagues (director of the MCC Washington Office and member of my local church), Daryl Byler, has written an Open Letter to President Bush about our trip. Daryl articulates clearly my hope not only for our trip, but also my wishes for our own government and leadership by President Bush. I hope you will take the time to read his letter. Here are some key points:

“I know you have concerns about Iran’s words and actions. That’s precisely why it is so important for you to talk with Iran. Middle East experts from both political parties are urging you to do so.

The recent bipartisan Baker-Hamilton report called for direct U.S. talks with Iran. Prominent members of your own party are encouraging your administration to engage Iran.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., wrote recently in The Washington Quarterly that the United States should be willing to begin bilateral negotiations with Iran. “A good
starting point for U.S.-Iranian relations would be to treat them as equals for the purpose of negotiations,” wrote Specter, who has a long history of holding conversations with adversaries. Similarly, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., have called for direct U.S. talks with Iran.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Wayne Gilchrist, R-Md., recently sent you a letter signed by 18 other members of Congress urging your administration to open up direct diplomatic channels with Tehran.”

Plus, a spoonful of sugar for this medicine:

“I commend your administration for the recent talks with North Korea. They have proved fruitful. The world will be safer as a result.

I wish you were talking to Tehran, too.”

Jeff Carr is chief operations officer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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HASH(0x117c0210)

posted February 16, 2007 at 6:39 pm


I will watch for reports of your visit with great interest. I trust that your conversation will be civil and mutually informative. The people of Iran need to know, as do the people of the US, that there is no need for continual hostility between us. We need to convey this to our governments in no uncertain terms. My best wishes for a very successful trip. I wish I were going with you.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 16, 2007 at 6:50 pm


Jeff, The open letter from Daryl Byler to the president is a step in the right direction. I hope the persons making the trip will have the opportunity to talk about how each of their groups in the US might coordinate.Former US Senator Paul Simon said of Rowanda that the outcome might have been very different if just 20 citizens had contacted each member orf congress at that time. Many groups which support peace and justice issues ask members of their group to contact their members of congress on those issues, but there is little being done to coordinate those separate efforts, from what I can see. “Change the wind” could be more effective than it is now, absent that coordination.



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Paul

posted February 17, 2007 at 12:22 am

butch

posted February 17, 2007 at 1:07 am


fyi paul I’m not supprised that your reference is from “Christian Educational Ministries, Whitehouse, TX.” One more end times right wing christian group and I us lower case for christian.



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Debbie

posted February 17, 2007 at 2:55 am


More information about this delegation (including delegate names and various articles about the delegation) can be found at http://mcc.org/iran/delegation/. Blessed are the peacemakers!



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 3:16 am


Debbie, Thanks for the link. My impression is that the president of Iran is less influential about policy in Iran than is the top Muslim. I wonder what consultation routinely occurs between the top Muslim in Iran and the Muslim leaders the group will be meeting with. Also, whether the group might succeed in a dialog with the Muslim leaders about the hopes of many US citizens that there be no widening of the war in Iraq to extend to Iran.



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Jeff Carr

posted February 17, 2007 at 4:06 am


Mike, One of the Ayatollah’s we will be meeting with is a member of the Council of Advisors, which is the religious leaders group that actually elects the Supreme Leader. So, he has a significant role as a leader in the Islamic government structure, which has religious elements and civic elements.



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kevin s.

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:07 am


Jeff, I really do hope all goes well for you. I hope you are going into this endeavor with a “grain of salt” attitude. This effort may well be an attempt to garner positive public relations for a tyrannical regime.That isn’t to say nothing positive could come of this, but I hope you will stand firmly on you ground, because you are bound to hear some manipulative rhetoric. You would expect it from our own president, yes?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:17 am


Jeff, Thank you for sharing that information with us. May this effort contribute toward some improved relations between the people of the US and the people of Iran! Best wishes to you and the other members of the group from the US… and to the members of the group from Iran… may the words continue…



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moderatelad

posted February 17, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Best of luck – I will pray for your safety – maybe your talks could have a positive effect? I don’t hold much hope for many in the Iranian gov’t were students that took over the American Embassy during the Carter Adm. I don’t think that you can trust them. IF – if we would go into an agreement of some sort with them…we need to be able to verify that they are holding up their part of the bargain. Later – .



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Mark

posted February 17, 2007 at 4:32 pm


They only way to defeat EVIEL is with as mush force and then greater force to put it down. I hoped at one time and still do to some degree that the Muslim community could do this. Like anything that we fight against in your own life if you attack one point of a problem or problems in your life and WIN it will cause the others to fall eseaser and faster. So with that said if we do take out Iran who said that they are at WAR with us right now (if they would have said what they did 50 years ago we would have boomed them right away) it will cause the terror groups to fall eseaser and faster they would have no place to hide or train or promote their brad of Islamic terror.



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Paul

posted February 17, 2007 at 4:55 pm


Butch, I guess the fact that you are not suprised confirms that fact that you deal with people according to your stereotypes of them rather than engaging their ideas. I don’t necessarliy agree with the thoughts presented, but want to make sure I have done my best to come to terms with as many points of view as possible. The truth of a proposition is logically independant of the source of the proposition. If our positions are to be maintained with integrity, then we must engage ideas rather than simple name calling as you seem to indulge in.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 6:32 pm


Paul, An extract from the link you provide says the following (which sounds very similar to what Mark just said): “…Now you may reasonably ask me what the Bible has to do with any of this. How can this shed light on the Bible, or the Bible shed light on this war? The answer is not going to please anyone, but we might as well face up to it. The answer is that you fight a war with whatever brute force is necessary to ensure that you don t have to do worse later. You brutally pacify a city like Fallujah in Iraq, and you do it the first time you threaten it. You don t back down or negotiate with criminals and terrorists. You kill them…”. How is this a “take-away lesson” from the bible…as the writer of the article says it is… I don’t think I’m taking this piece of the link out of context…



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Paul

posted February 17, 2007 at 7:21 pm


Mike Hayes, Thanks for proving my point. Did I say I was defending all of the piece? Really listening would serve you well. I do, however, see the author genuinely struggling with the issues in a way I have not seen here. If you get a chance, see the video “prisoners out of control” and see if your ethics are capable of dealing with the realities there. If not, then your ethics are nothing but romanticised nonsense, and you may need to rethink them. cheers, Paul



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 7:52 pm


Subject: Iraq, not Iran This is a little off topic, but it’s related… http://action.truemajority.org/campaign/iraqres_transcript/The link is an opportunity to find out whether your representative in the US House of Representatives spoke during the debate about the Iraq resolution… and then to contact them about their remarks (or, if they did not spek, to ask them about their views on the matter).



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 7:56 pm


Paul, I don’t see how the author struggles with the issue of what ought to be done in Iraq or Iran… he says that the bible directs us to kill them all… sounds like he’s not struggling with the issue very much… I think that’s what he concluded, and that’s what I was asking you… you provided the link…



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Mike Hayes

posted February 17, 2007 at 9:01 pm


To: Supporters of the values in “God’s Politics” Subject: Message to congress http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/ufpj/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3414 The link is a draft email message to your members of congress (once you fill in the address information) asking them to oppose an attack on Iran. It is pretty wordy, so you might want to consider reducing each paragraph to just one sentence. Please consider it! Thank you.



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butch

posted February 17, 2007 at 10:06 pm


Paul “The truth of a proposition is logically independent of the source of the proposition. If our positions are to be maintained with integrity, then we must engage ideas rather than simple name calling as you seem to indulge in.” All very true even the part about me! Scott Peck wrote “The People of the Lie” which says don’t make deals with the devil. I don’t make any deals with what I think are devils in the religious right. I don’t want to weave my way through evil to find the one well reasoned point. As you know I call some here Republi-Nazi Apologist because they come with well-crafted lies or “spin” in my terms. I don’t care to engage in little logical games when the issues are so big and important. I don t think you are in fact playing a game, not that you need my approval but I feel you are sincere.



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Robert Chapman

posted February 18, 2007 at 3:27 am


My comment is somewhat off topic, in that it concerns the losses the US could suffer from an attack on Iran, more than the mission there. The President stated on Lincoln’s Birthday that he is “not going to war” with Iran. However, given his record, we cannot assume that this is the case. We can only hope that he is not weaseling and planning assaults on Iran short of war. The burden of proof for initiating hostilities with the Iranians should rest upon the Bush Administration. The facilities the Iranians have built are compatible with nuclear energy applications and do not fit the profile that military establishments would have. Several countries including the Netherlands, Germany and Japan have nuclear facilities similar to the ones that the Iranians are building that are used for solely for energy generation. The Iranians’ plans to build atomic energy plants is compatible with their plans to industrialize and to sell their oil to raise capital for this purpose. Air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities will result in hostilities. It is clear that even without nuclear weapons Iran has the capacity to seriously endanger US security if hostilities commence. Commencement of hostilities with Iran would immediately bring about the nightmare scenario in the middle east that President Bush sketched in 2.14.07 press conference. Iran would certainly embargo the US, they could destroy or blockade the Iraqi oil fields and they would certainly use their influence to abet attacks against American nationals and property throughout the region. In view of the easily foreseeable consequences that hostilities with the Iranians would bring, I cannot see why the Bush Administration is behaving so truculently toward them. I can only hope that the Iranians will greet this delegation as a citizens group and not reflect upon them the frustration they must experience in trying to deal with our government. Robert Chapman Lansing, NY



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Mike Hayes

posted February 18, 2007 at 4:05 am


Tonight the priest spoke about the expectation that Christians return violence with non-violence.He asked what we would have thought if Jesus were here today and had asked us after September 2001 to forgive those who flew planes full of innocent people in to building occupied by innocent people. He then acknowledged that he would wonder about the messenger… Alongside that, he spoke about how our circumstances define our perceptions… and he repeatedly pointed to his own way of reacting to circumstances in ways that are contrary to Jesus’ words of forgiveness. He asked us what we think of when we see a sun over the ocean… and several persons responded that we think of a sunset. Then he pointed out that persons on the east coast would likely say that they would think of sunrise. That was a pretty effective way to get us to examine our own thought processes. At one point he said that we should try to move from seeing Jesus as a Californian to seeing Jesus as he was.



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Janet Pierce

posted February 18, 2007 at 4:41 am


To Jeff… You should be on your way now…I hope you enjoy your trip as well as accomplish your mission. Iran is such an interesting country and most of us US citizens have so little knowledge of it’s land or people. I was able to visit there in ’04 and ’06 while my son and wife were involved with the MCC student exchange there. I was glad to see Ed Martin in your group. I had the opportunity to meet Ed when my son and wife were in Iran. Watch out for the traffic and air pollution in Tehran.Mutual ignorance of each other’s country and people can lead to so many missunderstandings. The citizens here in the US are first to bring up the infamous hostage incident but seem pretty much unaware of the part our country played in overthrowing of the elected leader there in the 50’s.I feel that both of our country’s leadership are to blame for the standoff that has lead to even more missunderstanding and disstrust. I found the common people there to be very much like our own in the US..some agree with their administration, some totally dissagree and most seemed to be somewhere in between… I hope your trip can be one of many firsts in engaging with the leadership and citizens of that beautiful country. I was treated so very well by the people I met there. As a supporter of Sojourners I am very happy to see your trip happen and am anxious to hear your impressions when you return. janet pierce, nashville, tn



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kevin s.

posted February 18, 2007 at 4:48 am


“However, given his record, we cannot assume that this is the case.” Whose record? Bush or Ahmadinejad’s? “I was able to visit there in ’04 and ’06 while my son and wife were involved with the MCC student exchange there.” Son and wife? Janet? Tennessee? “Watch out for the traffic and air pollution in Tehran. ” And the extremists. You’ll want to mind those as well. ” The citizens here in the US are first to bring up the infamous hostage incident but seem pretty much unaware of the part our country played in overthrowing of the elected leader there in the 50’s.’ i’m aware of it. However, the whole “wiping Jews off the map” thing has my attention at present. howzabout you? “As a supporter of Sojourners” Natch.



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Stephen Davidson

posted February 18, 2007 at 2:16 pm


Sojo joining a coalition to Iran. The blind leading the apathetic?What can “progressives” offer Muslims bent on worldwide Islamic totalitarianism? If not opposition, then what?



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Paul

posted February 18, 2007 at 2:39 pm


Butch, Must confess to being initially surprised at someone citing Peck as an authority for intellectual dishonesty, but after a bit of reflection realized that I was mistaken to be surprised. I appreciate your sharing that, it certainly explains much of your behaviour. As one of my best grad school profs put it, “if you are going to be a protestant, go to a catholic school… if you are going to be a conservative go to a liberal school. Make sure you understand the best arguments possible against your position.” Another friend of mine team taught a philosophy of religion class with Anthony Flew (when he was still an atheist). The atheist students thought they would easily get good grades from him and the theist students thought they would easily get good grades from her. Both groups of students were wrong. Only those who demonstrated that they fully understood the best arguments the other side had to offer did well in the class. cheers, Paul



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butch

posted February 18, 2007 at 5:47 pm


Paul, I do understand your position very well. The example of the professor doesn’t work for me here because he had complete control of the grades and I don’t doubt he was fair. 1. We don’t have time and the format doesn’t allow careful vetting of those posting here or their purpose. 2. I believe that some are here just to interrupt; either paid or are dupes of the neo-cons. 3. SoJo has a generally stated purpose but doesn’t moderate the blog so you or me can do good or bad on purpose. I could play nice, academic, logical all the types of things I would do if you were in my living room or Sunday school class and we had time. After some undefined period of time I would decide your purpose, intellect or heart and deal with you on that basis. Here I feel I have to pigeonhole certain people and deal with people based on those judgments. One poster is usually 1st or early on any subject to post and my judgment is that he is here to disrupt. I don’t trust his purpose so I’m not wasting my time dealing with him gently. The matters are so important and large that I’m not ready to make nice with the devil.



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butch

posted February 18, 2007 at 5:55 pm


paul, “As one of my best grad school profs put it, “if you are going to be a protestant, go to a catholic school… if you are going to be a conservative go to a liberal school. Make sure you understand the best arguments possible against your position.” I feel that we the US must go to Iranian (catholic school) school to learn, since they won’t just go away and clearly they are not responding to our threats. If you know Covey’s book “The Seven Habits…” then his principle of “Seek to understand before you can be understood” is what we must do. I would love to do that here but the format and time does not allow it. That is what I’m trying to do with you now.



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Paul

posted February 18, 2007 at 5:57 pm


Butch Proverbs 18:13 NASB: He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. (NASB 1995) GWT: Whoever gives an answer before he listens is stupid and shameful. (GOD’S WORD ) cheers, Paul



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butch

posted February 18, 2007 at 6:07 pm


“Proverbs 18:13 NASB: He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. (NASB 1995) GWT: Whoever gives an answer before he listens is stupid and shameful. (GOD’S WORD ) cheers, Paul” I think my last post addresses this post and I agree to the limit of our ability to do so here. You could argue properly that I must or should do so here. All I can say is I’ve explained why I’m not.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 18, 2007 at 6:36 pm


butch, It is pretty frustrating, I think. Dobsen, Falwell, and Robertson do not provide opportunity for their values to be attacked in an unmoderated forum like this. Not that I’d take the time with doing that. Kevin previously pointed out that Pat Robertson’s group has a blog, and when I checked that one out I found out that it is moderated. Hopefully there will be some opportunity in the future for moderated groups that can be utilized by supporters of the values in “God’s Politics”. Then, supporters could have a conversation among ourselves and utilize this blog to communicate in the broader population. From contacts with a few persons from prior Yahoo! groups I’ve spoken with about the format here, one observed that they don’t pay attention to the “comments” anymore and that they just read the initial topic posts by Jim Wallis and friends.



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Kevin

posted February 18, 2007 at 7:10 pm


I believe the progressive movement in America is completely compatible with Islam, so the two should have no problem meeting and agreeing that the US is the great Satan and to blame for all the worlds evils. When they come home from the meeting in Iran, they can go to work on the Obama in 08 campaign and put a Muslim in the White House! As an aside, If you aren’t aware, in Islamic law, if your father was a Muslim, then you are a Muslim, period. Obama may go to a church but that doesn’t make him a Christian unless he has renounced Islam and accepted Jesus as his savior. This all adds up to my belief that the progressives and Islam have similar goals. I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of revealing things come out of this meeting but it’s so predictable that I’ll probably go to sleep reading them.



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Kevin C

posted February 18, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Excuse me, in the above post, I failed to notice that there was another Kevin posting, so the post dated 2:15 PM is Kevin C. Sorry for any confusion.



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butch

posted February 18, 2007 at 8:22 pm


“If you aren’t aware, in Islamic law, if your father was a Muslim, then you are a Muslim, period.” If you aren’t aware, in Christian law “If he is too poor to bring a lamb to the Lord, then he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons as his guilt offering and the other his burnt offering. Leviticus 6Since Obama is following Christian law he has my support.



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kevin s.

posted February 18, 2007 at 9:27 pm


” Obama may go to a church but that doesn’t make him a Christian unless he has renounced Islam and accepted Jesus as his savior.” From what I have read, Obama has been ambiguous in this regard. It’s a lose-lose for him. If he says he has accepted Christ as his personal saviort (thereby implicitly ascribing that definition to Christianity) then he loses the primary. If he says that he is a Christian, but hasn’t accepted Christ, then he loses the Christian following he is working to build. I don’t agree, however the Islam and progressive politics have similar goals in mind. I find great irony in the fact that one group goes overboard to promote understanding of a religion that stands completely antithetical to any of their values.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 18, 2007 at 10:15 pm


May leaders of the two peoples find the ingenuity to bring peace to the people of Israel and Palestine, so these two peoples can have some opportunity to live without fear of violence… http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/18/mideast/index.html is about the upcoming talks about Israel/Palestine. An excerpt: “…During Monday’s trilateral talks, Olmert plans to ask Abbas whether he chose Palestinian unity over strategic peace in the region when he negotiated the Hamas-Fatah government, a senior Israeli official told CNN. ‘While Israel will continue to talk to Abbas as the head of the PLO, they will not negotiate a final agreement with him while this unity government is in effect,’ the official said. ‘He can’t have it both ways.’…”



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Jim M

posted February 18, 2007 at 10:44 pm


In reading the original post, I am heartened to see that there are caring Christians out there that are willing to engage Iranians in dialog. That is a far cry from simply labeling the Iranian government as part of the axis of evil and playing the drumbeat of war under the guise of some sort of national christianity. (small letters like butch uses) Blessings to you and the MCC for following the gospel of peace! Jim



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butch

posted February 19, 2007 at 12:22 am


Kevin “If he says that he is a Christian, but hasn’t accepted Christ, then he loses the Christian following he is working to build.” I have to assume you are the final arbiter of who has accepted Christ.BTW, I don’t believe you have accepted Christ, I feel you have accepted a post as the Republi-Nazi Apologist assigned to this Blog with no other purpose than to further the GOB neo-con agenda. I pray for you everlasting soul. We re talking about improving relations with Iran and you sneak in with little jab at Obama questioning his faith. The other day it was a little jab at Kucinich, don t forget Hilliary and Edwards or will you wait for another thread.



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kevin s.

posted February 19, 2007 at 1:14 am


“BTW, I don’t believe you have accepted Christ, I feel you have accepted a post as the Republi-Nazi Apologist assigned to this Blog with no other purpose than to further the GOB neo-con agenda. I pray for you everlasting soul.” Actually, right now I’m not doing any political work of any kind. Just straight PR. Thank you for your prayers.



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Bacc

posted February 19, 2007 at 6:07 am


Christ is the answer for all the worlds ills. Let us evangelize Iran,and all third world countries.



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Kevin Wayne

posted February 19, 2007 at 7:35 am


Bush gets credit for Korea? I’m sorry but China & the UN get more credit for that IMHO. Kudos to the Mennonites who are doing their job of conflict resolution. Even if people like Kevin S. don’t understand, it’s much better than the constant drip drip drip of Anti-Islamic ideology were al constantly fed. Two wrongs don’t make a right.



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Don

posted February 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm


Regarding Barak Obama: It is too early for me to know whether or not I could vote for him (or any of the other declared presidential candidates for that matter). But I’m disturbed about the “secret Muslim” rumor that is floating around, and the fact that Fox News has shamelessly continued reporting it even after it was effectively debunked (check CNN and Snopes.com). First, the Constitution forbids any religious test for public office. Second, if Obama really were a Muslim, I believe he would have the integrity not to hide that fact. Would he be so afraid of a backlash from fundies and other rigid religious types that probably wouldn’t vote for him anyway that he would be willing to hide his own convictions from the public? These slanderous rumors reveal far more about those who are making and broadcasting them than they do about Barak Obama. Third, I read Obama’s account about his conversion in 1985. It sounds like a legitimate Christian conversion experience to me. It ought to satisfy the most skeptical Christian, except I suppose those who refuse to believe that any “true” Christian could possibly be a member of the “liberal” United Church of Christ. I’m willing to take Obama at his own word that he is a Christian; it seems to be the only proper biblical response (I’m thinking of the passage, I believe it’s in Paul somewhere, about not judging another man’s servant.) Finally, this “Obama is a Muslim” thing seems to be an example of the proverbial tempest in a teapot. Martin Luther was reputed to have said that he would rather be governed by a competent Turk (i.e., Muslim) than an incompetent Christian. I think it would be wise for us to ponder that thought for a while. Regarding Mr. Carr’s trip to Iran, I hope it goes well for him and that they can plant a Gospel seed in Tehran. But it ought to be the President who is making this trip. The inflammatory talk and action coming from Washington is scary. The Bush administration needs to tone down the rhetoric and take the advice of the Baker/Hamilton Commission. We can’t afford out and out hostilities with Iran. Amazingly, the Iranian people still like Americans. But that could turn quickly if we continue provoking them. Scary times, these we live in. Peace,



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Truthteller

posted February 19, 2007 at 3:36 pm


Well stated. Don.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 19, 2007 at 7:41 pm


Don, Yes, scary times… added to the disregard by the administration for the unanamous conclusions and recommendations of the bi-partisan Iraq study group…



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jacob

posted February 20, 2007 at 5:14 am


God speed, Jeff Carr. We need more contact with Iran on citizen level. We can then become more passionately knowledgeable and “infect” others. I see this site is also infested with cockroaches and fake ham sandwiches. We must ignore them and keep shining the light of truth all around.Does anybody know of any good AIPAC spray?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 5:52 am


jacob, I’m grateful anytime a new person speaks up… most persons who view messages on online discussion groups do not speak up… May the effort by Jeff and others in the group succeed… and may new persons like you begin to speak up and balance the fear of Islam that grew out of the September 2001 attacks on our country… …words, not war… with Iran… And, new words…on this blog… from new persons… …signing off… I’ll try… Mike Hayes



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:20 pm


” fake ham sandwiches.” Just to be clear, are the sandwiches themselves fake, or are you referring to a sandwich made with a sort of potted meat (a la SPAM). A clarification would be appreciated.



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butch

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Kevin you are funny, bright, well written. Wish you would apply that to positive work.



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jacob

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:36 pm


That would be “ham sandwich”, on the whole, made from reconstituted cockroach puke. Where’s that AIPAC spray when I need it? Iran’s unforgivable sin, of course, is NOT allegedly trying to possess nukes in 5 to 10 years, or the bombing of the American embassy decades ago(Japanese killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of GIs is WWII but they are currently our biggest ally in Asia), or allegedly aiding Sunni insurgents (they are the ones killing American troops–Shiias arming Sunnis?), but not recognizing Israel’s “right” to exist, which is the same sin committed by former Iraq and Syria. Recognizing the existence of Israel is one thing (all rational Palestinians and Iranians do; it is there), but recognizing Israel’s “right” to exist, meaning Jews were JUSTIFIED in taking Palestinian land AND practicing genocide as we speak(2050 killed since Sept. 2000), is quite another. Palestine, before Israel, was 20% Christian; now it is less than %4 (Syria is 10% Christian in comparison). Bethlehem was 80% Arab Christian, but currently sealed off by Israeli security fence, it is less than 20% Christian; you see the effect wherever Israelis have set down their boots. Cluster bombed Lebanon, twice since 1982, is 40% Christian. So, the focus of our concern should not be Bush, Rumsfeld, and “republi-nazis”, but Israel and its outpost here in the U.S., AIPAC. I think someone in the New Testament talked about “the synagogue of Satan”.



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Don

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:21 am


Ooohhhh, Jacob. I don’t know if I can travel down this road with you. I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m very concerned about the rhetoric of the Bush administration regarding Iran. They have been demonizing the Iranian government for the past four years, beginning with the infamous ‘axis of evil’ speech, and one result has been a dangerous escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington. I fail to see how similarly demonizing Israel can accomplish anything more positive than we have experienced with Iran. The fact is that Israel, while some of their conduct has been rephrehensible and deserves censure, is not solely responsible for the tensions and other problems there. The Palestinians and their Arab supporters are complicit in the hostiliites and the violence and have been since the 1920s. There is plenty of blame to go around on all sides, but the issue is much too complex to distill into a brief blog comment. Briefly, though singling out one side for all the blame will not bring us any closer to an easing of hostilities, much less a true resolution. I don’t know much about AIPAC; in fact I’m not even sure I know what the initials stand for. But from what you say, they apparently are a pro-Israel lobbying group in the US. I grant you that. If so, they certainly have an axe to grind, and their statements and positions should accordingly be weighed against more objective evidence. But your intemprate words are hardly objective either. Filling your post with loaded terms like genocide, or talking about the Israelis’ “taking” Palestinian land away (when it was mostly empty land at the time that they PURCHASED from absentee landowners) won’t increase understanding or ease tensions. Although commentators differ in their interpretations, the “synagogue of Satan” referred to in one of the letters to the seven churches of Revelation is probably a religious congregation or community. I’m not sure the phrase applies to a secular, parliamentary, Western-style democracy. (Israel, last I checked, is not a theocracy, religious parties notwithstanding.) I have read some pro-Israel propaganda that similarly demonizes the Palestinians. I’m certainly not going to blow the Israelis’ horn or hold them blameless. And I’m certainly not an “Israel is fulfilling Bible prophecy” dispensationalist (check out my posts to the “rapture” entry on this blog). But I ask you to please weigh in again when you can speak more objectively and less emotionally about the topic. You might want to find some sources for more objective fact-checking as well.In peace,



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:41 am


Don, AIPAC stands for American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is arguably the most powerful political lobby in the U.S. government and society at large. Its purpose is to make sure the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is completely pro-Israel all the time and the Israeli issues are front and center. Everyone in government knows of AIPAC’s power. It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one, EVEN IN PRIVATE, may speak ill of. You will not find a SINGLE U.S. politician whether Democratic, Republican, Green, or Independent, opposed to AIPAC’s pro-Israel policies. When one makes the slightest objection in questioning its fairness to the Palestinians for example, AIPAC, which effectively controls the U.S. media, will label that person as an anti-semite. AIPAC makes sure that in the U.S. government, anti-Israel means anti-semitic. If the person does not offer swift, profuse, repeated, and very public apologies to the Jewish community at large and AIPAC in particular, AIPAC will fund one’s opponent at the next election cycle so that one will not see political day light ever again. All political lobbies try to do this to varying degrees of success, but AIPAC does it PHENOMENALLY well. It sponsors and funds various think tanks in the U.S. like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institue. Billionaire Haim Saban of the Saban Entertainment (Power Rangers) recently set up the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the once venerable and moderate Brookings Institution making sure that Brooking’s Middle Eastern views are unabashedly pro-Israel. AIPAC and its derivatives also sponsor similar foreign affairs-Middle Eastern study centers at most Universities in the U.S. Of course it has powerful allies in the U.S. media. It has many ways to make sure that only pro-Israel view point ever makes it in the news, so a typical American is practically brainwashed. Israeli military’s atrosities are hardly ever mentioned like the cluster bombing of Lebanon or the recent massacre of an extended family of 25 Palestinians by artillery bombardment. When it is, it is always presented in qualified, sympathetic light. It reaches out to all significant segments of society developing key liasons in each, one of the most important being the Evangelical Christians which comprise roughly 40% of the American electorate. The Neocon Agenda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4MdyJDnSoI 10min long, explains the political situation Google Video — “Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land”. 1hr 20min long, Israel lobby’s control of U.S. media. Viewed over 895,000 times. Also, if you don’t mind reading, “The Israel Lobby and the U.S. Foreign Policy” Walt and Mearsheimer (2006) available free in pdf at cnionline.org under New Study of Israel Lobby. The best explanation of what AIPAC is and does. Stephen Walt is Academic Dean and Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. John Mearsheimer, a graduate of West Point and a 5 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, is a Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, where he is an authority on security affairs and international politics.



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butch

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:12 am


“There is plenty of blame to go around on all sides, but the issue is much too complex to distill into a brief blog comment. Briefly, though singling out one side for all the blame will not bring us any closer to an easing of hostilities, much less a true resolution.” We really need a careful study of every lobby and who, what, and where their influence extends. I do feel that we don’t have balanced coverage of the Israel/Palestinian question. The thing that troubles me the most is the hate within the Muslim community because of it. An effective fair settlement would bring much positive and reduce our huge cost/expense in the area greatly. Since modern Israel came into existence we could have gold plated every square inch of Israel and Palestine with the money we’ve spent. What is wrong with this picture?



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:33 am


butch, For two months now, I’ve been reading British newspapers online. I was racking my brain searching for non-AIPAC influenced U.S. site and all I came up with is KKK-Aryan stuff. Well, there is the Christian Science Monitor, but they still soft ball many issues concerning Israel. The ones I found useful are the Guardian and the Independent. I posted some comments on “The Comment is Free” on the Guardian(fun site, MUCH more free wheeling than U.S. comment forums concerning Israel; very refreshing. I found some cool facts too. Muslims local and abroad feel free to pitch in unlike here in U.S.) and the locals recommended Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn at the Independent for in-depth and insightful coverage of the Middle East issues. Fisk tends to be heavy on details, but once I got used to his style, it was alright. I have just begun sampling Cockburn. He’s alright too. I agree with you on money spent on Israel. I was just about to post this. Israel, with 0.001% of the world’s population (6 million), with the good help of AIPAC, receives one third of ALL U.S. foreign aid to the world. We give them $6 BILLION a year in grants and pseudo-loans(never paid, always cancelled–given with this prior understanding). In fact, the U.S. government BORROWS money to give to Israel, which they in turn LOAN IT BACK TO US WITH INTEREST. This double whammy interest, together with tax deductions on private donations(yes, donations to Israel–but no other country– is tax deductible!), costing tax payers additional $280 to $390 million, brings the grand total tax payer burden to $10 BILLION per annum. Talk about AIPAC’s power. What does this buy Israel? 95% of this aid is military. As the consequence, Israel is categorically unmatched in the Middle East militarily. It has the greatest number of F-16 and F-18 fighters outside of the U.S. Unlike the portrayal of Israel boosters, it is NOT in a struggle for survival, but is in a struggle for the JUSTIFICATION of its regional hegemony. It is the only nuclear power in the Middle East, having in possession, circa 1984, an estimated 250 to 300 war heads. Current figures could be MUCH higher. Germany, Israel’s next biggest donor in the form of war restitutions and foreign aid, $31B to date, has recently sold them 5 more diesel submarines capable of delivering these nuclear warheads to places like Tehran. Israel is THE MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. In the military parlance, talk(intention) has to match capability. Israel is the ONLY country in the ME to do so.It has invaded every one of its neighbors and occupies lands in each; Lebanon-Shebaa Farms, Syria-Golan Heights, Palestine-ALL their lands.Iran, on the other hand–trash talking aside, is a pretty harmless country. It has not invaded another country in OVER 250 YEARS.



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butch

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:05 am


“Israel, with 0.001% of the world’s population (6 million), with the good help of AIPAC, receives one third of ALL U.S. foreign aid to the world. We give them $6 BILLION a year in grants and pseudo-loans(never paid, always cancelled–given with this prior understanding).” As it works out that is about what Israel spends on arms!



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butch

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:08 am


“Unlike the portrayal of Israel boosters, it is NOT in a struggle for survival, but is in a struggle for the JUSTIFICATION of its regional hegemony. It is the only nuclear power in the Middle East, having in possession, circa 1984, an estimated 250 to 300 war heads. Current figures could be MUCH higher.” This is little known fact and never reported or discussed in the press.



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butch

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:13 am


You and I are about to be called anti-semitc. I want a fair lasting peaceful solution, sending all these arms will not do it. This general lack of knowledge in this country will not promote a solution.



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:47 am


‘The governing dynamic’ according to John Nash of “The Beautiful Mind”, is ‘The Money’ — given to the Israelis by American tax payers. Invasions and occupations are expensive; without this money Israel will be forced to peace by default.Americans, due to our Christian heritage are taught to forgive, that forgiveness is a virtue; Nickel Mines Amish comes to mind–all of America was astonished and impressed. If Japan can be our ally, so can Iran. In fact, we should normalize relations with them and negotiate a free trade agreement. Nuclear stuff is a side issue; they are correct in that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows them to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Force Israel’s hand to go back to pre-1967 lines and to grant the Palestinians the right of return to their familial lands. Give the Palestinians a legitimate sovereign state with security guaranteed by the U.S. and also prosperity by free trade with the U.S. (I’m an absolute free trader–free trade promotes peace; blood is thicker than water, but money is thicker than blood). Iran’s Supreme Ayatollah has said that if the Palestinians accept Israel, they will also; I assume the rest of the Middle East will follow suit. Al Qaeda will always be there, but once this happens, they will be marginalized, like the KKK in the U.S. and Osama will just be another loony. Unless we stop this money, we will be defunding wars in the Middle East, calling our congress(wo)men and senators, and marching in anti-war protests, posting in anti-war blog sites till the Kingdom come. Christ, is of course sovereign over money , blood, and water. He freely creates and destroys them all. I often wonder why God doesn’t instantaneously bring peace to the Middle East and the world, because he can, overnight. I think we Christians are supposed to be humbled by our individual and collective human inability and failings in the face of evil and tragedy, and then turn to God in utter need. The Church’s collective and purposeful humiliation before God, the way the new priests prostrate themselves on the Vatican floor, will bring ‘peace on earth and good will toward man’.



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Don

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:06 pm


Jacob: I looked at the piece by Walt and Mearsheimer that you recommended, and while it states some facts that I too am concerned about (especialy regarding American evangelicals’ sometimes uncritical support for Israel), it isn’t very convincing. Despite the authors’ academic credentials, they do a very poor job of arguing their case. Specifically, they’re guilty of begging the question. In other words, they start out by presuming that Isreal is entirely responsible for the Middle East crisis in order to prove that Israel is entirely responsible for the Middle East crisis. Sorry, but that’s not a convincing argument. To “support” this argument, they make some unsupported assertions. For example, they call Palestinians “innocent”; hardly a reflection of the reality (though many innocent Palestinians have suffered–but so have many innocent Israelis). And then they make the incredible assertion that criticism of the Israeli government’s actions is being stifled. I wonder where. It certainly isn’t being stifled in Israel, where disagreement with the government is every bit as lively as it is here. And even here in the USA, it’s hard to take that assertion seriously. A truly all-powerful “Israel lobby” would probably have successfully prevented the publishing of Jimmy Carter’s latest book, for example, or at least pressured booksellers against carrying it. And debate about Israel is quite lively on college campuses; in fact, reports from students indicate that Middle East Studies departments in many institutions seem to stifle pro-Israel arguments, not the other way around, according to some news reports I have read (sorry, I can’t remember the sources or I would give them). For example, just think of the movement for higher education endowment funds to divest themselves from companies that do business or that have ties with Israel. The authors’ assertions about the Israel lobby also contain some elements of historic anti-Jewish conspiracy theorizing. They aren’t blatantly anti-Semetic; it’s just that their report contains some assumptions of an all-powerful Jewish cabal, and that Jews somehow act in complicity–all elements of historic Jewish conspriacy theory that true anti-Semites have used in the past. I’m not saying they don’t have some valid concerns. But their overall arguments are not convincing. They’ll have to do far better than this. Peace,



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Mike Hayes

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:20 pm


http://www.paxchristiusa.org/news_Events_more.asp?id=1218 The link is to a report by a member of the delegation traveling with Jeff Carr. It’s very general, but it is one report back and perhaps there will not be time for other reports back until the delegation is on its way back. Best wishes to all those ordinary citizens participating, from the US and Iran! Words, not war.



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:44 pm


Don, “Some readers will find this analysis disturbing, but the facts recounted here are not in serious dispute among scholars. Indeed, our account relies heavily on the work of Israeli scholars and journalists, who deserve great credit for shedding light on these issues. We also rely on evidence provided by respected Israeli and international human rights organizations. Similarly, our claims about the Lobby s impact rely on testimony from the Lobby s own members, as well as testimony from politicians who have worked with them. Readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial.” Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Walt & Mearsheimer,Mar. 2006 Sorry you remain unconvinced. I can’t help you there. By the way, NO AMERICAN PUBLISHER will print their work, so, the paper was published in The London Review of Books, the British literary magazine–to high acclaim. Carter, being an ex-President and a novel laureate, based on his work in Middle East peace, as well as Carter Center initiatives, and Habitat for Humanity, carries his own center of gravity, which the publisher was willing to rest on. Predictably, critics from the left and the right, predominantly Jewish–the fact that concerns many Jews–have called him “many things”, like anti-Semite and biggot. He has never been called such things in the past.



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm


To further the citizen initiatives, how about concerned people here in the U.S. each getting an Iranian internet pen-pal? I certainly wouldn’t mind a couple of emails or posts a day. We can help the University students there with things like U.S. grad school application essays and such. Help them practice English. I’m sure they would be delighted. Sounds kind of fun to me. May be such a thing already exists, and if it is, I would appreciate being enlightened.



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Don

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial. That s my point. Their evidence is largely nonexistent, and consists primarily of anti-Israel talking points. Their arguments are circular. This isn t a well-argued paper, despite their scholarly credentials.By the way, NO AMERICAN PUBLISHER will print their work…That by itself proves nothing. It could be they didn t really try to secure an American publisher. It could also be that the document didn t pass peer review muster because of its lack of sound argumentation.Carter, being an ex-President and a novel [sic] laureate, based on his work in Middle East peace, as well as Carter Center initiatives, and Habitat for Humanity, carries his own center of gravity, which the publisher was willing to rest on.But that s another point I made: it demonstrates the fallacy of the notion of a highly powerful Israel lobby. If they were as powerful as claimed, they could certainly prevent the publishing of one book, even one written by former President and Nobel laureate. Or they could prevent its sale and distribution.Predictably, critics from the left and the right, predominantly Jewish–the fact that concerns many Jews–have called him “many things”, like anti-Semite and bigot. He has never been called such things in the past.Presuming the validity of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories in a pseudo-scholarly diatribe is bound to get them labeled a few uncomplimentary things. And I would suppose that they weren t called such things before because their previous works contained sounder scholarship than this one does. From an earlier post of yours: Force Israel’s hand to go back to pre-1967 lines and to grant the Palestinians the right of return to their familial lands. Give the Palestinians a legitimate sovereign state with security guaranteed by the U.S. and also prosperity by free trade with the U.S.Totally agree. But most of this was offered to Arafat in 2000 and instead of accepting it, he started a new Intifada. Jacob, I don t totally disagree with everything Walt & Mearsheimer wrote, or with everything you have written. Surely Israel bears some culpability in the Middle East hostilities. So do a host of other parties, including the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors. Your statements about humility and about seeking an alliance with the Iranians are valid. But back to my original point: we still won t solve anything by demonizing Israel in the same way that the Bushies are demonizing Iran. Peace,



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:57 pm


Sorry you remain unconvinced. I can’t help you there.



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:02 pm


“That s my point. Their evidence is largely nonexistent, and consists primarily of anti-Israel talking points.” The 81 page paper is one half reference. I suggest you check it out.



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Don

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Jacob: Since I read your recommendation, here’s one for you: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/dershowitzreply.pdf Yes, it was written by Alan Dershowitz–whom Walt and Mearsheimer label an Israel apologist. But read it anyway. It sheds some interesting light on what the academic community really thinks about this paper, and also on the nature of the groups that have “highly acclaimed” this work. Dershowitz also deals with W & M’s arguments and sources in far more detail than I have been able to. Happy reading,



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jacob

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm


This is the same Alan Dershowitz who said Carter’s apartheid analogy “is especially outrageous” and “It’s obvious that Mr. Carter just doesn’t like Israel or Israelis.” He also said that if he defended Hitler, he would win. Dershowitz is first and foremost a lawyer and NOT an international relations expert as Walt and Mearsheimer are. I do not doubt his famously eminent ability to make a mole hill look like a mountain and a mountain appear like a mole hill. I do not believe in engaging in an exercise in futility. If you were to show me an argument in the form of peer review by other IR experts, I wouldn’t mind reading them.



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Don

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:35 pm


Jacob: I didn’t think you would read this. Although I was quite willing to read something you recommended, you seem unwilling to read anything that might challenge your current thinking. I found Dershowicz’ reply to Walt & Mearsheimer in a Google search after my last posting to this blog on my reactions to W & M. I have no knowledge about any comments he made about Carter’s book or about defending Hitler. But I have read stuff from him before and have found him thoughtful and scholarly. True, he is a law professor and not an international relations expert, but I don’t think one needs to be an expert in diplomacy to speak or think intelligently about international relations topics. Moreover, he is familiar with the requirements of scholarly research, and as I said his work is scholarly–meaning well documented and well argued, something that cannot be said of this piece by W & M. I’m sorry you aren’t willing to engage thoughtful reflection on the intemperate things you wrote about Israel. Maybe another time and place… Signing off,



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