God's Politics

God's Politics


Politics Pushes Uneven Policies (by Jim Wallis)

posted by God's Politics

This latest contribution to The Washington Post/Newsweek On Faith online discussion responds to the question: To what extent are problems in the Middle East about religion, and to what extent are they about politics? Does it matter?
Well that’s complicated. The chief motivator for American foreign policy in the Middle East is clearly geopolitical, with a primary emphasis on oil. But for a vocal constituency in a segment of the American evangelical community, an unquestioning and unequivocal support for the Israeli government’s policies is clearly a religious conviction. And that religious conviction of a key political constituency (especially for the Bush administration) bolsters the demonstrably uneven U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The completely one-sided support for Israel from some conservative evangelicals rests on two things: one, a very dubious interpretation (I’m being generous here) of biblical prophecy and eschatology (the theology of the “end times”) in which the modern state of Israel is still equated with the Old Testament notion of “God’s chosen people;” and two, a complete denial of the very existence of Palestinian Christians.
I had dinner two weeks ago with one of those beleaguered Palestinian Christian leaders who carries feelings of profound sadness and abandonment by other members of the body of Christ. The number of Christians in Palestine continues to decline dramatically as they are caught between Islamic fundamentalism and American fundamentalism. I have always believed that if most American Christians could see the daily and constant humiliation of all Palestinians at Israeli check points in the West Bank they would think such behavior is wrong — but they never see it or even hear about it in the American press. For any serious debate about Israeli governmental policy you must turn to the BBC, international press, or to the press in Israel itself, which regularly features a far more evenhanded and robust discussion than can be found anywhere in the U.S. media.
One of the most hopeful signs, however, was a recent letter to President Bush by evangelical leaders who clearly dissented from the militant perspective of their Christian Zionist brothers. It said: “We also write to correct a serious misperception among some people, including some U.S. policymakers, that all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, who sign this letter, represent large numbers of evangelicals throughout the U.S. who support justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
These evangelical leaders are clearly committed to the existence of the state of Israel, to its real security, and its protection from horrendous terrorist attacks — but also for justice and self-determination for the Palestinian people and their protection from the continual assaults of the Israeli Defense Forces. They are committed to a viable two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and call the United States to take a much more even handed role in resolving it. Last week, their representatives were visiting the State Department.
I include myself in that new evangelical group and hope and pray our number will grow. I can tell you that one Palestinian Christian leader was enormously heartenedby this new evangelical initiative . Let’s hope this religious conviction can help lead to a better political direction.



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Deryll

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:15 pm


[For any serious debate about Israeli governmental policy you must turn to the BBC, international press, or to the press in Israel itself, which regularly features a far more evenhanded and robust discussion than can be found anywhere in the U.S. media.]
How true , yet some will soon state here that the US press is totally one sided against Israel. “Those of you with eyes and ears; use them!”



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squeaky

posted September 17, 2007 at 4:12 pm


Kevin,
“Does anyone seriously think a two-state solution will bring about peace, or that this is the real goal of the Palestinians?”
Are you saying that peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is something we shouldn’t bother praying about or hoping for because there is no way it could ever happen? Are you saying it is solely the Palestinians’ fault and that Israel has no responsibility for the unrest?



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kevin s.

posted September 17, 2007 at 4:44 pm


“Are you saying that peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is something we shouldn’t bother praying about or hoping for because there is no way it could ever happen? Are you saying it is solely the Palestinians’ fault and that Israel has no responsibility for the unrest?”
I’m saying that, realistically, we are going to see a two-state solution, and that Palestine will an peace treaty signed therein. That has no bearing on whether we should pray for peace. I am obviously suggesting that Israel’s role in perpetuating the struggle has been overblown, especially considering that they are surrounded by enemies.
If you had to guess, Squeaky, would you say that Palestine will or will not honor a peace treaty as part of a two-state solution? If you believe that they will, would you guess that Israel will break it?



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Eric

posted September 17, 2007 at 4:47 pm


What I find interesting is that Wallis, in addressing this very, very broad question: “To what extent are problems in the Middle East about religion, and to what extent are they about politics? Does it matter?” decides to focus on the views of a very, very narrow slice of American evangelicals.
Is this really the crux of the problems in the Middle East? A small group of American evangelicals that supposedly support Israel no matter what? This group of people Wallis is talking about hardly influences US policy at all. You can’t tell me this group was responsible for the Clinton Administration’s devoted support for Israel, or other American presidents’ before him. In addition, focusing on Israel doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the “problems” within the Middle East. There’s a whole host of issues – dictatorial societies based on oil wealth, the legacies of colonialism, lack of basic freedoms, foreign intervention by the U.S. and Europeans, a Muslim faith that is easily radicalized, etc. The problems are mostly political, not religious.



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Eric

posted September 17, 2007 at 4:50 pm


To follow what I wrote above, this post by Wallis makes me think either that he doesn’t write everything posted under his name here or he can’t resist an opportunity to criticize conservative evangelicals no matter how silly it sounds.



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squeaky

posted September 17, 2007 at 5:03 pm


Kevin S,
It depends on how well the two-state solution is constructed. Can I guess who would cause the solution to disintegrate? Actually, no. I think it is a very complex situation, as Eric points out above, and when a situation is very complex, it doesn’t take that much for everything to break down–Either could be the cause of a breakdown either directly or indirectly.
I would hope that if a two state solution were well-constructed and implemented, and peace had an actual chance to take hold giving people a taste of true peace, those who would cause dissent would be taken care of within by their own people because the people are sick and tired of the violence.



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Don

posted September 17, 2007 at 5:09 pm


While everyone weighs in here on the debate about whether US media and American Christians are biased toward Israel, Rev. Wallis’ second point is ignored. I guess that is appropriate, since his second point is the fact that US Christians and media have virtually ignored Palestinian Christians.
What should we do about that? And regardless of one’s stand toward Israel, how should we show support and solidarity to our Christian brothers and sisters, who indeed are being squeezed by the region’s geopolitics?
The emigration of Christians from Palestine means that there may well come a time when the region is left without any Christian witness. The Christians there have played a bigger role than their numbers would indicate. They have been salt and light to the region. Of course, this role has been ignored, just as they themselves have been. But that may not last for long. How should we respond?
In my opinion, these questions are more important than the Israel debate itself.
Peace,



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kevin s.

posted September 17, 2007 at 5:20 pm


What role have Palestinian Christians had in forming Palestinian policy? None, I hope. But that is the problem. They are not in chrage of the political structure in Palestine. That is certainly unfortunate, but it necessitates that we first deal with Palestinian leadership, which is rabidly opposed to Israel’s existence.



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Anonymous

posted September 17, 2007 at 5:54 pm


Eric’s comments are right on target. The thing that is missing from this post is the majority position of Evangelicals – a position that supports peace for Palestinians (Muslim and Christian) and Israelis (Jews, Arabs, and so on). The fact of the matter is there are very few hard-core dispensationalist and prophecy types who build their viewpoints about the middle east around mistaken theology. The vast majority of Evangelicals find themselves saddened by the anti-Christian and anti-Jewish extremism of the two dominant wings of Palestinian politics – the secular Fatah, once led by Arafat, and the fundamentalist Hamas.
Sadly, the mass exodus of Christian Palestinians from Gaza, Bethlehem and other places is not due to the military actions of Israel, it is also due to the remarkable hostility that Palestinian society now harbors against Christians. To be a nationalist Palestinian often means a very public and strident embrace of more militant, politicized permutations of Islam.
After having lived in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, and having had exposure to a wide variety of Christians in the U.S., I have yet to encounter someone who denies the right of the Palestinians to a state. I know those Hagee people are out there, it appears their bark is much louder than their bite and they have little, if any influence on broader evangelical or American culture.
To be entirely fair, the “evangelical” position often presented by Sojourners is one that doesn’t really exist, except among the fringes.
To insist otherwise is motivated, I think, by a tendency to create a conservative evangelical “other” for the evangelical left to militate against.
As for the causes of Middle East trouble, it is by no means the result of “Christian” zionism. The reality is much more complex and longstanding than that. Britain and France bear most of the blame for selfishly carving up the Middle East post WWI and collapse of the Ottoman Empire into colonies to suit their economic purposes. The US didn’t formally engage the ME political situation until the 1950s, and that involvement still played a supporting role to the British and French imperial designs in the region.
In fact, Britain messed up Iraq in the first place and should be ashamed of the on-going legacy of their missteps there.
Point is, the Middle East problems are a sticky mess of religious and political problems, but to chose the evangelicals as the scapegoat of said problems, especially in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is inaccurate.



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Don

posted September 17, 2007 at 6:44 pm


The role the Palestinian Christians have played is one of leaven to the society, not one of policy-making leadership. But it has been no less important. The Christians in Palestine have tried to be reconcilers and peacemakers.
“…but it necessitates that we first deal with Palestinian leadership…”
Who do you mean by “we”? American Christians? I suggest that American Christians should first deal with their Palestinian brothers and sisters. What do we have in common with either the secular or maybe quasi-religious but certainly not Christian Israeli leadership or the Islamic Palestinian political leadership? Where should our first loyalties be? Shouldn’t we be standing shoulder to shoulder with our partners in the Faith? Shouldn’t we be trying to help them find solutions to their dilemma?
Peace,



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James

posted September 17, 2007 at 9:32 pm


Christian Zionism is rooted in Dispensationalism. As Dispensationalism caught on and its adherents got into public office, they called for a state of Israel to fulfill what they believed was prophecy. The current state of Israel was brought about by the pressure of British Dispensationalists on their government. Start with the article on Christian Zionism in Wikipedia, and then go on to the links provided for further confirmation.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 17, 2007 at 11:32 pm


Palestinians don’t want parts of Israel, they want ALL of it and will not rest until all of Israel will be obliterated. Even then, they will probably attack the rest of the world because they believe that everyone should be Muslim and that it must be spread through the sword.
That’s just not entirely the case — about one-third of Palestinians are Christians (at least nominally) and thus wouldn’t apply. Besides, building on what others have said, European countries decided to form modern Israel to deal with their own “Jewish problem” by pushing it onto the Arabs, who already felt exploited. That’s a recipe for bloodshed no matter how you slice it.



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James

posted September 17, 2007 at 11:53 pm


None of this political debate is relelvant. Dispensationalists believe that Jesus can’t return unless Israel is restored. Israel was created to bring Jesus back, and they must cling to Israel at all costs to make sure Armageddon happens. This is point of the Left Behind series. Also, read John Hagee. Christian Zionism has nothing to do with justice or politics–it has to do with the Rapture.



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2007 at 12:58 am


“Who do you mean by “we”?”
I guess I mean it in two ways. As Christians seeking justice, we must contend with the fact that Palestinian Christians are victims of the same brutal leadership and ideology to which the Israeli people have been subjected.
As a nation, we need to address the leadership issue, and ensure the safety of our allies. We call Israel an ally, and Palestine has done nothing to deserve equal footing, on a leadership level.
“None of this political debate is relelvant.”
Yes it is.



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canucklehead

posted September 18, 2007 at 1:52 am


>>>I know those Hagee people are out there, it appears their bark is much louder than their bite and they have little, if any influence on broader evangelical or American culture.
>>>To be entirely fair, the “evangelical” position often presented by Sojourners is one that doesn’t really exist, except among the fringes.”
Posted by: | September 17, 2007 5:54 PM
I don’t know who posted the above but permit a comment or two from a Canadian perspective. Frequent consultations with Christian television schedules and bestselling Christian books in this country reveal that names like Hagee, Van Impe and Left Behind far outnumber the programs/publications of whatever moderate evangelicals you are talking about. Given that audience numbers are a significant factor in determining which U.S. programs are carried here, I suggest you’ve grossly overstated your case.
On a general note, I don’t know why the Israel-lovers on this blog are so reluctant to acknowledge that nation’s faults. Doesn’t the Bible present a fairly convincing case that they had a pretty consistent affinity for obstinance?



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canucklehead

posted September 18, 2007 at 1:56 am


By the way, does anybody know if Ariel Sharon is still chalking up a medical bill somewhere, or did he finally pass on?



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Robert Alu

posted September 18, 2007 at 3:50 am


Kevin S,
What solution(s)do you offer?
Okay:
Israel does exist.
It clearly cannot be wished away. Neither can it, with one of the most advanced militaries in the world, be simply blown away by its enemies.
Your assertion that the Palestinian leadership is “rabidly opposed to Israel’s existence” does not change this status, whether true or false.
Palestine, such as it is, exists wholly at the mercy of the state of Israel. This is a fact that you can ascertain from dozens of sources in Israel and elsewhere, online, free of charge. Do your research.
Sadly, over the years, since the policies of the Israeli government – or the consequences of the ‘intransingence’ (as some prefer) of the Palestinians, ‘Israeli right to self-defence’, you know, have resulted in a fluid border – and that is not all …
Sojourners and God’s Politics are clear that they are ‘Christians for Peace and Justice’. They are not responsible for the reality, painful as it is for you to read. It is painful for me, too, but I’d rather get information here than be reading World Net Daily or the Jerusalem Prayer Team’s website, or John Hagee’s!
The thing is, there is always some sad news coming from that region. Painfully human beings’ lives are caught up in a never ending tragedy that one cannot, in all good conscience, continue to simply blame on one or the other of the parties. Oh, maybe one can.
Now,
You may have visited the Middle East. I have not. Yet, like yourself, I am immensely interested in the place. After all, it has always been in the Bible – and in the news! For years, due to my admiration for tough little Israel, which, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, is “God’s chosen nation” I used to curse the ‘Arabs’ and Palestinians every time they ’caused trouble.’
And then I met Christ.
I started reading my Bible and quickly realised that I simply did not like Arabs, well, not much. I had to repent. I read the Bible a bit more and realised that there were so many prejudices and assumptions that I needed God’s help to overcome.
My reading of all the news coming from the Middle East was coloured by my misconceptions and ignorance. I had been too lazy to ask such simple questions as why Palestinian children would arm themselves with stones against soldiers in tanks.
I had been unaware of my narrowmindedness. I was guilty (in a sense no doubt always will be) of ‘profiling.’ I had to repent. I still have to repent fairly regularly of some prejudice or bigotry.
What was happening in Palestine was (AND IS) not any different, you see, from a Chinese student standing in front of a line of tanks at Tiananmen Square – or black South African schoolchildren defying orders to take instruction in the occupiers’ Afrikaans language. Or George Washington and company refusing to pledge allegiance to the king of England.
You can understand that. It is about self-determination, dignity, human rights, justice.
Then I had to confront the prejudice of fellow Christians and the church. I am an African, and am aware of the use of the Bible to perpetuate slavery and segregate people in South Africa and the American South, among many other very regrettable positions. Horribly wrong, as even some Christians very slowly, very gradually, began to understand.
Did all Christians oppose apartheid and segregation? Of course not.
Closer to America, did all Christians support the civil rights movement? I know that, on the contrary, many many white churches actively opposed Martin Luther King. For all I know many possibly still do.
(They need to repent).
Thankfully much of the foregoing is information that is available in the public domain, which is how I obtained it. Talking about apartheid, for instance, I know that Bishop Desmond Tutu has likened what is happening in Palestine to that. He is not a Palestinian Christian.
YET,
To my shame and sorrow, Kevin S, I read in the article we are commenting on that the news sources in the most developed country in the world are not so reliable in regards to the Middle East!
Try to find out what the Vatican, the Mennonites, the Quakers, the Anglican Church, the World Council of Churches and so on have to say on the subject. They are Christian, are they not? You can trust them, can’t you? Find out what Brother Andrew (‘God’s Smuggler’) has to say after his numerous visits to Palestine and interaction with both Christians and Muslims.
You could also try Jewish sources, in America (Peace Now, the Middle East Fellowship, etc) and in Israel itself (B’tselem and so on) to get more balance.
Before I get LABELLED let me make myself clear:
Israel needs to have a homeland. Israel has a homeland. Palestine needs one too. Palestine doesn’t yet have one.
The world needs to condemn the atrocities committed by BOTH SIDES. Western powers especially need to will politically to encourage peace talks. All needs to be done to have the two parties approach all negotiations as equals. Northern Ireland would be a good template to cut and paste from.
Christians need to pray for ‘the peace of Jerusalem’, SUPPORT ALL PEACE initiatives and NOT TAKE SIDES in the name of Christ: if for no other reason than that Jesus Christ has commanded us to spread the gospel to ALL (the Jews and Arabs included).
I like to think of myself as a Christian, Kevin S. Now, in these parts of the world many Pentecostal, Evangelical (I am one) church leaders model themselves on American televangelists and love to talk about how “Israel” are “God’s chosen people.”
Many of my fellow Christians believe that Palestinians are ‘bad’; Israel ‘good’. I do not know if that is what you believe too. It would explain your position though, at least partly. I thoroughly, totally disagree, however. God made us ALL in His image.
I have no problem with Israel being ‘God’s chosen people’. But I interpret Israel as the spiritually regenerated ‘sons of God’, in other words, born again Christians or followers of Jesus Christ. John 1:10-18 is just one passage that reminds me of this. It is possible that I am wrong, and that it is the nation-state of Israel, formed by Britain in 1948, which is God’s chosen nation. If that is the case, sir, why are the good Christians of America arming her to the teeth? Ought not they to leave the battle to the Lord?
Now, being the new Israel brings with it responsibilities. It calls for the death, constantly, of many little things that we hold on to dearly. It challenges us to get out of our comfort, sometimes.
It may even mean telling our political leaders to care about people in a far off land (who are suffering as a result of our nations’policies) and fix problems that they started a few decades ago.
God’s Politics regularly carries a Palestinian Christian viewpoint, Kevin S. Do you suppose that it is not useful for American Christians to listen? Find out what the organisation ‘Churches for Middle East Peace’ are saying and doing, for example.
When 3 of us started a Middle East Fellowship here we were just reacting to the war in Lebanon last year. We were concerned that, in order to rescue 3 Israelis, Palestine and Lebanon had to be invaded. In one of our first meetings we met with a Palestinian gentleman who left Gaza 20 years ago. He cannot go back home. In the past he would travel to Egypt to meet his relatives. But these days they may not always get permission to travel from Gaza. He has given up.
Listen – he is a Muslim and, according to him, Israel does not want peace. So we have both sides blaming each another! What use is it? Of course they don’t want peace, that is why they have war!
But,
The Bible is unequivocal:
“God is love … For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” Okay, maybe Palestinian Christians are not our brothers, but even if they are our enemies, we are still commanded to “love your enemies.”
Christians are urged to be peacemakers. We have the ‘Prince of Peace’, dont’ we? If we did nothing but wage peace, starting on this page, we would truly be ‘Sons of God.’
Assalaam alleykum!
Shalom aleichem!
Peace be upon you!
- Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Moderatelad

posted September 18, 2007 at 8:44 am


Jimmy – Jimmy – jimmy…
‘…completely one-sided support for Israel from some conservative evangelicals…’
In a word – ‘BULL!’
There are many of us that have look for and prayed for a solution that is beneficial to all parties. Many of us ‘one-sided conservative evangelicals’ have been open to a ‘two state’ solution or something else. We know all too well about the plight of our Palistinian Christians brothers and sisters.
‘…Islamic fundamentalism and American fundamentalism.’
This could be the problem too. One is ‘religious’ and the other is ‘political – soceitial’. Islam is religious and knows no political or national boundries, American is more national or regional.
‘…militant perspective of their Christian Zionist brothers.’
How are you talking about? If you are going to label people at least give us name of leaders or groups that you are talking about. Even Kennedy and Fawell would not fall into this group. They supported Israel but also talked about others in the area and their right to live there. Yes – they talked more about Israel but I believe that was in response to others in that region that talked about the demise of Israel.
‘…large numbers of evangelicals throughout the U.S.’
Please let us know who signed and what denominations that they are from – we know how you have embellished in the past. Something a little more concrete would be nice.
(I’m being generous here)
Define ‘generous’, looks like the same old ‘dis’ of those that you believe ‘get it wrong’.
Blessings -
.



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2007 at 9:54 am


“What solution(s)do you offer?”
Forge a two-state solution, in exchange for peace. If the Palestinians violate the peace treaty, Israel may declare war.
At that point, they deserve America’s (and the rest of the world’s) support. No “robust” discussions. No Palestinian Christians writing blogs about big bad Israel.
If you don’t think Israel should have the right to defend itself after making such a concession, then you simply don’t believe in Israel’s right to exist, and you should be forthright about that fact.



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Robert Alu

posted September 18, 2007 at 10:18 am


Hi Moderatelad,
There are lots of blogs out there that you would readily endorse.
I am just curious, why do you read and respond so regularly to articles on God’s Politics, Jim Wallis’ site, if you are so offended by what he and others here have to say? Why bother? Just to read his ‘embellishments’?
It would be very good to know.
Now, all you need to do is click on that little word, ‘letter’, up there to get the below names of Christan leaders who wrote the letter to President Bush and their denominations/organisations.
Ronald J. Sider, President
Evangelicals for Social Action
Don Argue, President
Northwest University
Raymond J. Bakke, Chancellor
Bakke Graduate University
Gary M. Benedict, President
The Christian & Missionary Alliance
George K. Brushaber, President
Bethel University
Gary M. Burge, Professor
Wheaton College & Graduate School
Tony Campolo, President/Founder
Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education
Christopher J. Doyle, CEO
American Leprosy Mission
Leighton Ford, President
Leighton Ford Ministries
Daniel Grothe, Pastoral Staff
New Life Church (Colorado Springs)
Vernon Grounds, Chancellor
Denver Seminary
Stephen Hayner, former President
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor
Northland Church
Member, Executive Committee of the NAE
Jo Anne Lyon, Founder/CEO
World Hope International
Gordon MacDonald, Chair of the Board
World Relief
Albert G. Miller, Professor
Oberlin College
Richard Mouw, President
Fuller Theological Seminary
David Neff, Editor
Christianity Today
Glenn R. Palmberg, President
Evangelical Covenant Church
Earl Palmer, Senior Pastor
University Presbyterian Church Seattle
Victor D. Pentz, Pastor
Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Atlanta
John Perkins, President
John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development
Bob Roberts, Jr., Senior Pastor
Northwood Church, Dallas
Leonard Rogers, Executive Director
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Andrew Ryskamp, Executive Director
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Chris Seiple, President
Institute for Global Engagement
Robert A. Seiple, Former Ambassador-at-Large,
International Religious Freedom
U.S. State Department
Luci N. Shaw, Author, Lecturer
Regent College, Vancouver
Jim Skillen, Executive Director
Center for Public Justice
Glen Harold Stassen, Professor
Fuller Theological Seminary
Richard Stearns, President
World Vision
Clyde D. Taylor, Former Chair of the Board
World Relief
Harold Vogelaar, Director
Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice
Berten Waggoner, National Director
Vineyard USA
Peace, brother!
-Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 18, 2007 at 12:13 pm


Jesus tells us to be ‘wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.’ Yet the most aggressively vocal segment of the Church in the US is consistently ‘wise as doves, and innocent as serpents.’ Wake up, brothers! Smell the wolf musk under those wooly white fleeces. Read the Book, get to know your Savior better.
John 3:17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.



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Moderatelad

posted September 18, 2007 at 12:28 pm


Posted by: Robert Alu | September 18, 2007 10:20 AM
Thanks for the list!
First – just because I am a conservative does not mean that I only want to hang with the homies. I enjoy talking with most of the people on this site about our differences. Some have softened my heart in some areas – reinforced my resolve in others.
Now the list – this is hardly an overwhelming support for Mr. Wallis. With over 9000 denominations in North America alone and how knows how many para-church organizations…he has a very small percentage of support. Not that it could not grow – it might. But when you have Author, Lecturer, Pastors, Professors on you list – these are not really ‘leaders’ of note. That Leighton Ford is on the list makes me want to look a little deeper into the issue as I have respect for the man. That others I know are on the list – not always impressed.
Blessings -
.



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mark

posted September 18, 2007 at 12:28 pm


Thank you Alu for bringing some balance and understanding into this discussion.
It would really help us all if everyone who posted would first put themselves in the shoes of a Palestinian from Hebron (you can find out what life is like for them by going to the Christian Peacemaker Teams site) and in the shoes of a fearful Israeli (you can no doubt find out what life is like for them without much effort). If people had made the effort to do that, most of the comments on this strand would not have been made…
A brief response to M’lad, who when talking about competing fundamentalisms says:
“Islam is religious and knows no political or national boundries, American is more national or regional.”
As a citizen of what feels increasingly like a US client state, and a resident in another, I think “imperial” is a better description than “national or regional”. Why else would you have over 700 military bases outside your own territory, in over 100 countries? And the pursuit of empire carries with it its own religious values (as a Brit I know this only too well) which are regularly used to subvert the truth of the gospel and distort the church.
Mark



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Moderatelad

posted September 18, 2007 at 12:38 pm


Posted by: mark | September 18, 2007 12:28 PM
Why else would you have over 700 military bases outside your own territory, in over 100 countries?
Why does my city of Mpls have 20+ Police Stations all around the city. Why not have just one big one in the DT location?
We have bases around the world because we have been invited to these countries and their ecconomy is stronger for our being there. I have been on record as to bring all the military home and never going to war again unless we are threatened with an attack. (others believe we have to be attacked first, we have to bleed before they bleed)
The other question would be – why isn’t the UN out there protecting the worlds people? Why is it when a country is in trouble either by another nation or natural disaster. More often than not – the first one they call on is the US as the UN is ineffective most of the time.
Blessings -
.



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mark

posted September 18, 2007 at 12:52 pm


Kevin says:
Forge a two-state solution, in exchange for peace.
I agree, but there are so many issues that could determine whether a two-state solution is viable from a Palestinian point of view. Do they have full rights to their own water? (at present being abstracted by Israel) What boundaries? (the separation wall, apparently built to split up Palestinian communities, is an unacceptable boundary and would have to be torn down in any just settlement.) If the Palestinian state is given something less than the 1967 boundaries, what compensation will they be given? What compensation do Palestinian families get for dispossession during and since the establishment of Israel? – assuming that their right of return is an unrealistic aspiration. What happens to the zionist settlements on the West Bank? Will Israel unequivocally agree to respect Palestinian territorial integrity? (And I’ve probably left out one or two important questions.)
To expect a settlement to adequately address these issues is a matter of justice, not partisanship, and is also the position of several Jewish-based human rights groups within Israel itself.
And, btw, I believe in Israel’s right to exist.
Mark



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Eric

posted September 18, 2007 at 1:48 pm


mark – You know as well as I do that that is all a moot point unless the Palestinians give up terrorism. We all know that even if Israel gave the Palestinians access to their water, removed all the settlements, established acceptable boundaries, etc that terrorist attacks against the Israeli people would continue. That’s the source of the specific Israeli-Palestinian issue right there.



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mark

posted September 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm


M’lad:
Why does my city of Mpls have 20+ Police Stations all around the city. Why not have just one big one in the DT location?
Does Mpls have police stations in other municipalities’ territory?
M’lad:
We have bases around the world because we have been invited to these countries
Sometimes, sometimes not. The invitations are frequently by corrupt governments which don’t represent the peoples’ will. And no doubt many are made reluctantly as part of a larger deal. And when we want you to leave it’s very difficult to get rid of you.
M’lad:
and their ecconomy is stronger for our being there.
Oh yeah? My experience of US bases in Britain is of closed communities which have everything shipped in and contribute nothing but a few menial jobs to the local community. But maybe that’s not typical. After all, Subic Bay has done wonders for the Phillipine sex industry…
M’lad:
I have been on record as to bring all the military home and never going to war again unless we are threatened with an attack. (others believe we have to be attacked first, we have to bleed before they bleed)
Well that would be a good start.
M’lad:
The other question would be – why isn’t the UN out there protecting the worlds people?
Because it is not adequately funded to do so. Who do you think the UN is? – it’s not a “thing” in its own right, it’s all the nations of the world supposedly working together. Who manages it? – all the nations of the world, and particularly those which are on the security council. If they (and the rich ones in particular – especially the US) don’t resource it adequately, it is bound to fail.
M’lad:
Why is it when a country is in trouble either by another nation or natural disaster. More often than not – the first one they call on is the US as the UN is ineffective most of the time.
Oh come on. This is beginning to sound like all those Hollywood WW2 films that portray British heroes as American… but I suppose I can’t be too critical of you for living in a fishbowl…
However, there is a more serious point which is more relevant to the original discussion. Your country has a strong strand of imperial pride in its self-understanding which many of you don’t seem to acknowledge – talk of “manifest destiny”, of the ever-widening frontier, and so on, are vital parts of your national myths. Your nation exists largely because you have driven other people (native Americans, Mexicans, etc) off their land or into submission. I don’t say this out of a sense of superiority – I grew up with a pride in the achievements of the British empire, but the decline of Britain as a world power made it relatively easy to challenge those sentiments and to repent.
Because of this strand in your history, I think many of you find it easier to identify with the Israeli who builds a life for himself on confiscated land than with the Palestinian who continues to demand a right of return or at least compensation generations later.
I will no doubt now be accused of being “anti-American”, as well as “anti-Israel” and presumably also “antisemitic”. Believe me, I’m not. But I think that, for the sake of the world – and of Christian faith in the US – some preconceptions need to be challenged.
Mark



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Mark

posted September 18, 2007 at 2:00 pm


Eric says:
mark – You know as well as I do that that is all a moot point unless the Palestinians give up terrorism
And I say:
It’s a matter of both and, not either or. Both Israel has to agree to a just and sustainable settlement, and Palestine has to give up terrorism and the territorial claims over Israel proper which justify it.
Mark



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Moderatelad

posted September 18, 2007 at 2:28 pm


Posted by: mark | September 18, 2007 1:54 PM
‘…but the decline of Britain as a world power made it relatively easy to challenge…’
I have several conservative friends that over the last 8 to 10 years have prayed that God would damn the US into a second rate nation and some have prayed that we would become an occupied nation. Wonder how we would look then and how would the world be better off without the US. One thing for sure – we would find out who the real believer(s) are in the US when the Church in the US is no longer allowed to worship freely as they once did.
Here’s to becoming second rate and occupied.
Blessings -
.



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Payshun

posted September 18, 2007 at 2:45 pm


Donny asked:
The real question is: Why do “Progressives” and Liberals” call thmeselves “Evangelicals?”
me:
as one progressive I can claim I am not an evangelical. I don’t follow religions that lack depth.
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 18, 2007 at 4:13 pm


The real question is: Why do “Progressives” and “Liberals” call thmeselves “Evangelicals?”
Most, in fact, do not because they do not pretend to be Christians. But if you have a personal and corporate relationship with God through Jesus Christ and believe in making Him known throughout the world, you are by definition an evangelical. Ideological beliefs have nothing to do with that.



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Ingrid

posted September 18, 2007 at 4:26 pm


Yael wrote:
“When I was a little girl my dad told me that Arabs had blood in their eyes. I thought my dad was exaggerating and being prejudiced. I see now that my father is unfortunately correct.”
Yael, I will not write much because I have not personally suffered on either side of the conflict, as it appears that you have. However, I must point out that your father’s statement remains prejudiced because it makes no distinction among individuals of a certain ethnicity, as many have also done at the expense of Jews, African Americans, and others. Countless Arabs contradict that statement every day, and I hope you will have the opportunity to get to know some of them–and I pray for peace for your family and theirs.



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Kevn Wayne

posted September 18, 2007 at 4:45 pm


I suspect that Wallis, like many of his European and Arab friends (participating in a robust discussion as they are), believes that Israel has no right to exist
Dunno about Wallis, but there many Jews who (wisely) concur.



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ds0490

posted September 18, 2007 at 5:02 pm


When the modern nation of Israel was first created by the UN, were the Palestinians that were displaced compensated for their property?



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Kevin Wayne

posted September 18, 2007 at 5:12 pm

kevin s.

posted September 18, 2007 at 6:00 pm


“Dunno about Wallis, but there many Jews who (wisely) concur.”
And that’s what this is really about.
“Because of this strand in your history, I think many of you find it easier to identify with the Israeli who builds a life for himself on confiscated land than with the Palestinian who continues to demand a right of return or at least compensation generations later.”
This isn’t about compensation. I do find it easy to identify with a nation that was attacked my several armies on soil granted to them by the U.N., fought of their attackers, and declared an independent nation for themselves. That is not particularly similar to the history of the United States.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 18, 2007 at 7:28 pm


When the modern nation of Israel was first created by the UN, were the Palestinians that were displaced compensated for their property?
For the most part, no. In many cases they still have the deeds to the property and the keys to the houses they were forced to flee, even after nearly 60 years.
I read an article a number of years ago written by an expert in the Torah. The gist was that not even Abraham thought himself above the people he was living with; when it was time to bury Sarah he insisted on buying the property when the people were willing to give it to him.



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Kevin Wayne

posted September 18, 2007 at 7:29 pm


And that’s what this is really about.
Huh? You don’t agree with the Jews who think Israel should be dismantled.



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canucklehead

posted September 18, 2007 at 8:16 pm


Donny – please advise as to your next appearance at Yuk-Yuk’s.
>>>”Now the list – this is hardly an overwhelming support for Mr. Wallis. With over 9000 denominations in North America alone and how knows how many para-church organizations…he has a very small percentage of support. Not that it could not grow – it might. But when you have Author, Lecturer, Pastors, Professors on you list – these are not really ‘leaders’ of note. That Leighton Ford is on the list makes me want to look a little deeper into the issue as I have respect for the man. That others I know are on the list – not always impressed.
Blessings -
.
Posted by: Moderatelad | September 18, 2007 12:28 PM
Ergo, if a name on a list meets ModLad’s approval, it is a reliable list. If a name on a list doesn’t meet ModLad’s approval, it is not a reliable list. And that folks, is scholarship at its finest. Oh, and lest you missed it, authors, lecturers, pastors, professors are NOT really leaders of note. The only people who are leaders of note are those who transmit their ideas via a secret spiritual osmosis, subscriptions to which are available only thru ModLad.
Unbelievable!



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jerry

posted September 18, 2007 at 8:17 pm


jim has has his “new evangelical initiative”.
another “progressive” cause to exploit. does his last statement combine politics and religion? is that what we want?



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2007 at 8:41 pm


“Huh? You don’t agree with the Jews who think Israel should be dismantled.”
No. I think this debate is about whether Israel has the right to exist. There is nothing that Israel could do to please Jim Wallis because he doesn’t really believe Israel has the right to exist. Neither do many of his enlightened international friends.



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Mark

posted September 18, 2007 at 9:17 pm


Kevin, for most of us (including Jim I expect), Israel’s right to exist is a given.
However, we dispute Israel’s right to regularly invade its neighbours. We dispute Israel’s right to draw its water from aquifers under Gaza without the informed consent of the people of Gaza. We dispute Israel’s right to put up walls through the middle of Palestinian communities. We dispute Israel’s right to bulldoze peoples’ homes. We dispute Israel’s right to kill thousands of Lebanese and turn a quarter of that country’s population into internal exiles. We dispute Israel’s right to hold on to territory won in war forty years ago and treat it as if it has a right to it. We dispute Israel’s right to let its settlers carry out regular sabotage attacks on the basic livelihood of Palestinian villagers.
And so do a lot of Israelis.
Israel has a right to exist – despite the techniques of some of those who established it. But it does not have a right to expand at the expense of other peoples.
I would like to know why you can see the Israeli victims of Palestinian violence but cannot see the larger number of Palestinian victims of Israeli violence.
Mark



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2007 at 9:25 pm


“Kevin, for most of us (including Jim I expect), Israel’s right to exist is a given.”
Then, when Israel accepts a two-state solution in exchange for peace, if that peace is broken by the Palestinians, Israel has the right to defend themselves. Am I right or am I wrong?
Because I can guarantee you that, if such a treaty is broken (and I can just about guarantee you that it will be) Wallis will decry any Israeli military response.
“I would like to know why you can see the Israeli victims of Palestinian violence but cannot see the larger number of Palestinian victims of Israeli violence.”
I see the victims, but I disagree as to the cause. Were German citizens in WW2 victims of American violence, or were they the victims of Hitler’s policies? I see the two situations as analagous, but maybe you explain where you differ.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 18, 2007 at 10:06 pm


Then, when Israel accepts a two-state solution in exchange for peace, if that peace is broken by the Palestinians, Israel has the right to defend themselves. Am I right or am I wrong?
Did you see the actual boundaries of the Palestinian “state” proposed years ago? It was checkerboard. Anyone who believes that the Palestinians would accept that is nuts.



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Moderatelad

posted September 18, 2007 at 11:07 pm


Posted by: canucklehead | September 18, 2007 8:16 PM
Ergo, if a name on a list meets ModLad’s approval, it is a reliable list. If a name on a list doesn’t meet ModLad’s approval, it is not a reliable list.
That is not what I said – I never asked or told anyone that I had the final approval on any list.
It is just that Wallis says that those ‘…who sign this letter, represent large numbers of evangelicals throughout the U.S…’ and that is not true. This is a small sample of evangelicals throughout the US. One of the signers is a person from my denomination and I believe that he only represents at best 15% of the people in our denomination.
And that folks, is scholarship at its finest. Oh, and lest you missed it, authors, lecturers, pastors, professors are NOT really leaders of note.
They are just ordinary people like you and I.
The only people who are leaders of note are those who transmit their ideas via a secret spiritual osmosis, subscriptions to which are available only thru ModLad.
What the %^&* are you talking about.
Unbelievable!
That is one thing that I can agree with -
Blessigs -
.



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mark

posted September 19, 2007 at 1:23 am


Kevin:
Then, when Israel accepts a two-state solution in exchange for peace, if that peace is broken by the Palestinians, Israel has the right to defend themselves. Am I right or am I wrong?
Under international law, any state has the right to defend itself against attacks on its territory. (But that doesn’t include pre-emptive strikes or hunt-and-destroy raids into other peoples’ countries.)
So when is Israel going to accept a 2-state solution, then? – a viable one, I mean, which will mean dismantling the settlements in the west bank, dismantling the separation wall, dismantling the development east of Jerusalem which threatens to split the west bank in two, allowing equal rights to water, and withdrawing to 1967 boundaries or something very similar.
Kevin:
Were German citizens in WW2 victims of American violence, or were they the victims of Hitler’s policies?
Both, but in different ways. (I assume that – in the best traditions of Hollywood – you include as “American” all the British, Canadian, Australian, Indian, Russian, free French, free Polish, Serbian, etc soldiers who were fighting the nazis.)
I see the two situations as analagous, but maybe you explain where you differ.
I don’t know where to start, the two situations are so different. Though pre-1967 I would have seen a degree of similarity.
Mark



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Robert Alu

posted September 19, 2007 at 1:53 am


Hi all,
What percentage of Christians in America support Jim Wallis’ viewpoint is not the message of his article(s).
As a matter of fact – and I stand to be corrected – Jim Wallis very often points out that THE MAJORITY of American evangelicals do not quite see things the way he does.
So, 15% of your congregation would endorse the letter by the evangelical nonleaders … So what? You should applaud the fact that you are in the majority and Jim Wallis is in the minority, oughtn’t you? And, that being so, what’s your quarrel with the man?
Do you want him to agree with you, to share your religion?
To God’s Politics’ credit they do not hide what they are about. They say up front that a NEW CONVERSATION has began.
Speaking for Christians here, in East Africa, the majority of Pentecostals (who I am) admire the television version of American Christianity that is as available as local programming here.
A minority of us are aghast.
We know we are a minority, but we are growing. As opposed to, say, 5 years ago when John Hagee, T D Jakes, Pat Robertson, Rod Parsley, Joyce Meyer etc, etc, you know, the TBN crowd were every Christian’s staple on television. Their popularity is waning. Slowly but surely.
We too have started having a new conversation about this ‘Coca Cola Christianity’ – sorry. What does it mean to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’, for example? Are Palestinians children of a lesser God? Does God love a white American Christian girl just the same as He loves a little Iraqi or Afghanistani girl? Can the God of these smartly clad men and women sitting on golden thrones find Africa on the map without milking the fact for all its worth?
Why are Americans sending us nonsensical email petitions about the ‘hate-crimes bill’ and so on and so on …
Does the God of the majority of Christian Americans divide Christians into classes, where Americans come first; Israelis (even though not Christian) second; I don’t know who comes third, but possibly Arab Christians come last?
What does it mean to ‘love your enemies’? A few months ago Brother Andrew asked the following question: “Have you prayed for Osama Bin Laden today?”
Now,
Brother Andrew would quickly sign the letter that you think so little of, if he was American, I guess. Since he is not American you may simply know him as the author of ‘God’s Smuggler’. He visits Palestine very very frequently.
To share in a new conversation may mean making a conscious decision to be ‘open-minded’. I believe open-mindedness is Christlike. Certainly Christians here, in one way or another, accuse Muslims of the opposite almost as a reflex action.
The trouble with Christ, though, is that he wants ME to examine MYSELF, first, then the other.
And, when I examine myself, I find that the love of Christ is not always in me. I find that I do not listen to others very well. I find that, hey, I don’t even want to listen.
As for those who do not think like me? Well, I mentioned that Pentecostals here ‘APE’ American Christianity, or what they perceive it to be. It’s only fair to also mention that non-Pentecostal believers, not to mention people of other faiths, think that we are phony, deluded, even that we may need to have our heads examined.
More and more I think they are right.
In Mark 12:30 the Lord tells us to love God with all our “MIND” among other things. I find that the MAJORITY of CHRISTIANS, as with a sample of the majority of anything, make up their minds on little but hearsay, emotions, authority, media, church leaders, parents, whatever.
To be fair it is difficult to stretch one’s own mind and stressful to challenge ingrained thinking, but such is progress. It is also Christian behaviour. As some once wrote “Christ Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” If that is true then I say, God bless you Jim Wallis. This blog site is doing Christ’s work.
The day it represnts the majority viewpoint I will be concerned, though. I know that ‘God has no grandchildren’, you see, and would like to be in a minority of disciples who dearly love the Lord and yet retain a PERSONAL relationship with the Lord that is not dependent on others’, ‘the majority’s’ views. A minority of one.
I know that there is security in numbers, but knowing what the majority did to Jesus, following him just for miracles and then enjoying his crucifixion along with Pilate and the Chief Priest I think I should have my head examined should I find myself as part of a majority religious anything.
Once again,
GOD BLESS YOU JIM WALLIS.
- Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Mick Sheldon

posted September 19, 2007 at 3:07 am


- Alu
Dar es Salaam
The news had a rare newstory tonight . A women in Iran was being shown stoned to death . Not sure if was for adultry of prostitution . I would say God loves those who stoned her equally with white Fundamentalists in America .
But that is only the beginning of the conversation, the perversion you glean from your strawman talking points leaves out the message of the Gospel and love of Christ .
Once again God bless Jim and all .



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Moderatelad

posted September 19, 2007 at 8:19 am


Posted by: Robert Alu | September 19, 2007 1:53 AM
I believe that you are talking to me although you did not reference my handle.
Wallis and I are of the same religion. I have never questioned is commitment to Christ. I take offence to the ‘Coke Cola Christ’ label but – whatever.
I had stated in the past that I am not a ‘fan’ of some of the faithful that are on TV. That is the reason that I have not supported them $$ with my offerings. I believe that God puts people in places of power and influence and He can remove them too. But I have never take the pully pulpit – because I don’t have one – like Wallis and ‘called them out’ like he has. No – I do not support Paul and Jan Crouch – period. I have used them in conversation with people that I believe that they are Christians and they are doing some wonderful things around the world. I supported Billy Graham and the work that he was called to do. I looked at Billy Graham and the Crouch’s as being on parrel tracks. Reaching different communities in the world for the Kingdom. We have several people who came to faith because of the Crouch’s and (oh this one hurts) Tammy Faye Bakker. But these people as they grew in their faith came to the understanding that faith was a little deeper. Unlike Wallis – I will not ‘dis’ another leader in the faith to advance my agenda.
I will point out (in most cases in private conversation) where I differ with them or where I believe they are not correct. I will not ‘dis’ another persons religion, but I will show how the ‘Christian Faith’ differs from the ‘Hindus’ in that Salvation is a free gift because Christ paid it all.
Blessings -
.



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Moderatelad

posted September 19, 2007 at 9:34 am


Posted by: Mick Sheldon | September 19, 2007 3:07 AM
I would say God loves those who stoned her equally with white Fundamentalists in America.’
Islamic Fundamentalists murdering a women and white Fundamentalists in America – only on Sojo.
Yes – God loves them all. While we were yet sinners – Christ died for us.
The difference is what each individual or group has done with the Savior. Have they surrendered their lives to the Savior or do they see Him as only a Prophet and not significant to their eternal soul.
Blessings -
.



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Robert Alu

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:16 am


Moderatelad,
It would be dishonest to say that I did not, at least partly, address myself to you. I am sorry that I offended you, though. Please forgive me.
About the ‘Coca-Cola Christianity’ label, M’lad, you should be congratulating me for my originality! Coca Cola travels, as do many things American, like blue jeans. Why do you take offence? You didn’t invent Coca Cola or America … You are not responsible for the particular brand of religion that I allude to …
I’ll explain my thinking. There is a peculiar form of the gospel that MANY, not ALL, American TELEVANGELISTS export. It is a template that sits uncomfortably with MANY, not ALL, believers here in East Africa. It is one of the most predominant ‘faces’ of American culture available on our media.
More and more Christians here are beginning to question many of the teachings and worldview (or America-view).
Allow me to speak for myself. I see a very materialistic, casual, even indifferent group of brothers and sisters in Christ putting on excellent television productions and wonder … Maybe it is the medium, Moderatelad but what I see is A SHOW.
As a result we are moving from the extreme of agreeing with these IMPORTS in totality – as most of us used to – to some MODERATION (like your handle)! The shock and awe has become passé. What God’s Politics represents, to me, is that moderation.
I ramble, but am thankful that you pay attention to what I write.
Now, my prayer is that you will approach all that I have to say with a listening ear. Try to respond to what SUBSTANCE there may be and kindly try to avoid picking through to see what offends. I did write a lengthy piece, you know …
However, if you have as much difficulty listening as I do then I promise you I will try to understand.
But, better still,
Never mind me, like yourself I don’t have a ‘bully pulpit’, I only respond here to articles by Jim Wallis and others. Please try to appreciate them and their efforts once in a while, would you? It does take time to resaearch their stories. To have a heart to share their experiences may also be actually what they are called to, you know.
On a related note I see that you point out how you only express how you disagree or differ with some Christian leaders in ‘most cases in private conversation.’ I admire that. It is a Christlike virtue (maybe) to have.
Wait a minute …
Did you really mean that, seriously? I’ll start reading your posts more carefully.
Thank you and God bless you, Moderatelad.
- Alu
Dar es Salaam



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squeaky

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:34 am


Kevin S.
“There is nothing that Israel could do to please Jim Wallis because he doesn’t really believe Israel has the right to exist. Neither do many of his enlightened international friends.”
On what evidence do you base this assumption about Wallis?



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jerry

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:44 am


wallis is sooooooooo wrong again. the chief motivator for u s foreign policy is not oil it’s terrorism. where has he been and where is he going. his hatred of bush and republicans has tainted his authority and credibility.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:47 am


Robert Alu — Some rare common sense from across the pond. We in America need to hear more of that.
You are not quite right in saying that this is “a new conversation.” The right never even talked to anyone outside its purview; thus, until now it was never really a conversation to begin with.
However, you are spot on in saying that we evangelicals should never seek to be a “majority”; the early church operated much like an underground movement, without sanction from the majority culture, and thus freed from the need to be stroked.
FWIW, the leader of my small denomination (the CMA) also signed the letter. It should be noted, however, that it is respected around the world because virtually no church per capita sends out as many missionaries, who tend to bond with the culture and thus know how people think. On top of that, almost 90 percent of its membership is overseas — which should give pause to think.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:56 am


[H]is hatred of Bush and Republicans has tainted his authority and credibility.
Since when does strong disagreement represent hate?



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squeaky

posted September 19, 2007 at 11:22 am


Jerry,
“the chief motivator for u s foreign policy is not oil it’s terrorism. ”
Ummmmmmm….
Maybe since 9-11 that is true or partly true…However, look at it historically.
Exactly why do we have dealings with the Middle East at all? Is it because of the world-economy driving trade in Persian rugs and mouth-watering figs?
My point is we would not be there at all if it weren’t for our oil interests in that region. And oil certainly is an important motivator even with regards to terrorism–if that region were to destabilize, what would happen to our economy? Think about it.



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Moderatelad

posted September 19, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Posted by: Robert Alu | September 19, 2007 10:16 AM
There are many of us ‘conservative evangelicals’ that have been conserned about how we are viewed over-seas. We thought that there are many out there that are more into ‘franchizing’ rather than ‘evangelizing’. But for the most part we have kept our mouth shut allowing God to deal with them rather than taking them on publically so that we send the wrong message to the rest of the world. Sadly – for all the good things that Wallis and Co. have promoted and talked about. They have taken on several ministries publically with an arrorgance that makes conservatives look good. Two of these ministries – the founder of them has died in the last few months and is now in heaven. (one more and they have a ‘hat trick’)
This is why I believe that God puts people into areas of influence and He can remove them at anytime. There is enough trouble and challenges in the world for everyone. If we would focus on poverty – evangelism – homeless – education – etc and and not attack other ministries for what they (Sojo) sees are their shortcomings. All of us as believers in the One True and Living God have more than enough to do for the Kingdom. Let us focus on what God has for us as individuals to do and not on what the other person is doing.
Blessings -
.



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jerry

posted September 19, 2007 at 2:10 pm


squeak; how do you know that “if it weren’t for our oil interests in that region” we would not be there? if that region were to destabilize i suspect that there would not be much change in this country’s economy,,,,,except that the money markets would shudder and oil companies would become more creative. remember, only 5%
of our oil is from iraq/iran. the rotten saudis would pick up the slack in order to keep the castles going. and there’s always chavez and mexico. get off the anti-capitalism/conservative and start thinking non-christian because that is who is in power. not academacians and religious professionals. which is exactly why wallis is so wrong so much of the time. out of step with reality.
gee rick;;;; i go CMA, why don’t we think the same? hate; regard with strong aversion or ill will.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 19, 2007 at 2:41 pm


America is in Iraq because of the oil.
It’s why we were in Iran before that many years ago.
That’s also why we can’t ever leave – and won’t – we would lose the possibility of controlling it to someone else, squandering all the military and economic investment we made so far.
The American way of life – both that of financial elites and the average person’s commuter lifestyle – depends upon foreign oil fueling it. And there’s not enough to go around to top off the tank of everyone else in the world who now wants it in the same manner to which we’ve grown accustomed.
Everything else is merely commentary or obfuscation.



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Mod,
Sojourners has not attacked anyone. You are oversensitive to the critiques they level against Conservative ideas. Not once have they called Fallwel or Dobson a bad word or out of their name. they have attacked their ideas but what’s wrong w/ that?
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 19, 2007 at 3:00 pm


how do you know that “if it weren’t for our oil interests in that region” we would not be there? if that region were to destabilize i suspect that there would not be much change in this country’s economy,,,,,except that the money markets would shudder and oil companies would become more creative.
Yeah, there would be, because our European allies, with virtually no reserves of their own, get more oil than we do from the Middle East. Trade would certainly be slowed down, if not altogether stopped, between us and the Continent.
I go CMA, why don’t we think the same?
Because our leadership probably doesn’t think the same — if my church supported a right-wing agenda I wouldn’t be there. Over the past couple of decades we’ve developed a considerable interest in social justice issues, by necessity because it’s located in an “at-risk” neighborhood, and Wallis would definitely be welcome in our conservative, evangelical, straight-gospel-preaching pulpit. The senior pastor at my church is actually a big shot in the CMA and is helping to transform it into something that he says will reflect heaven.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm


…and the commentary our rabbis give us is that since we want that oil, Jesus tells us to go get it.
We just have to have a little pre-game huddle where we pray to win, and then we think He commands us, “Victory in Jesus, boys!”
Blab it and grab it!
Creflo Dollar, thankyou and God Bless!
Of course, to our secular elites, it’s obfuscation and a really splendid conveyance of wealth, in the immortal words of Conrad Black.



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm


“On what evidence do you base this assumption about Wallis?”
His refusal to criticize Palestinian leadership for starters.



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Moderatelad

posted September 19, 2007 at 3:39 pm


Posted by: Payshun | September 19, 2007 2:55 PM
I not in agreement with that. I remember reading several items by Wallis that lead me to believe that if I were to support Sojo – I would not be able to support Dobson.
But is it correct to attack their ministry? Why?
Wallis could have said that he did not agree with them ‘because I believe this…’ without making them part of the issue. (the person or the ministry)
I know – some will state that they started the attacks. I don’t think so but even if they did – that makes it OK for Wallis to do the samething even when he has been hypercritical of those who he sees as ‘wrong’. Wallis and Co. would advance their agenda and I believe have a bigger support group if they would focus on what they see as the ‘main-thing’ – and totally ignore those that would disagree with him. The enemy is poverty not conservative evangelicals.
Blessings -
.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 19, 2007 at 4:36 pm


If Focus on the Family, as a ministry, had remained as “focussed” as it claims to have been on family issues and supporting families, then there’d be no reason to substantively criticise that ministry.
However, psychologist James Dobson sought to become a “kingmaker” within the Republican Party. Where did that leave blue-collar union families? Nowhere, because in exchange for the kingmaker status of delivering millions of his supporters’ votes, James Dobson became a supporter of and culturally identified with the interests of billionaire Republican elites. He will have only the rich on his board – he is a multimillionaire himself. Mercenary war contractor Blackwater CEO Derek Prince’s mother is a prominent board member.
The ministry has come to reflect the interests that are the interests of its board.
Focus, although what it has to do with families is tenuous, is strongly pro-war and pro-military. Just War is constantly invoked but never explained. The soldier is compared constantly to Jesus in that he is making a sacrifice for us similar to that of Jesus. The military in its eyes is a divine institution.
Yet is the military made up of Christians only, or primarily? No.
Does not the military life often destroy family life? Does not war destroy family relationships? Do not military bases sustain an economy of redlight districts outside the base gates around the world, obliterating family life? Focus never deals with any of these issues.
One can make the argument that the organisation has become somewhat typical of the reactionary “Faith, Family and Tradition” movements that were financed by oligarchs and propped up conservative authoritarian regimes in Latin America – it has been even split into political and religious wings for tax purposes.



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squeaky

posted September 19, 2007 at 4:45 pm


Kevin
“On what evidence do you base this assumption about Wallis?”
His refusal to criticize Palestinian leadership for starters.”
You need better evidence than that. You don’t like it when people put words in your mouth, so stop putting words in his mouth. You insist on sources from others often on this site, so you of all people should know not to make inflammatory statements without the sources to back them up.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 19, 2007 at 4:45 pm


Additionally, as regards Focus on the Family, there is a policy of trying to have those who do not agree with its theological or policy positions be removed from other ministries.
This pressure is orchestrated against those with differing views within umbrella organisations they are not even members of. The methodology is to target an individual and then attempt by communication and pressure to those higher in the hierarchy to have the individual disagreeing with Focus’ policies fired or muzzled.
Former House Majority leader Dick Armey, a Republican, ass well as self-proclaimed Christian, spoke from experience about these tactics, characterising James Dobson as a bully.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 19, 2007 at 4:50 pm


Additionally, as regards Focus on the Family, there is a policy of trying to have those who do not agree with its theological or policy positions be removed from other ministries.
Which explains why he tried to have Richard Cizik fired or disciplined by the NAE for signing off on that global climate concern.



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squeaky

posted September 19, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Jerry,
“squeak; how do you know that “if it weren’t for our oil interests in that region” we would not be there?”
Let me ask you–historically, what interests do we have in the Middle East? If not for oil, why would we be there at all?
“if that region were to destabilize i suspect that there would not be much change in this country’s economy”
Do you remember the oil embargo of 1973? And as for “region” I’m refering to the middle East, not just Iraq. The Saudis live in the Middle East, and would be under tremendous pressure not to help us from their neighbors. It would be worth your time researching the complexities of the geopolitics of oil. It’s pretty eye-opening stuff, and it’s something every American needs to learn about.



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Anonymous

posted September 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm


nimrod; obfuscation;darken, obscure,bewilder. there is a glut of oil in the world. refinement is the problem. you are dependent on oil, not me. you are obsessed with dislike for current politics and you have no where to go. good luck with you progressive politicos.
rick; your certain knowledge of what our european allies (i didn’t know we had any)would do is extraordinary. why would trade stop if oil from iraq stopped? countries don’t control oil, oil companys buy it. stop obsessing over bush’s politics and get real. your progressives will perpetuate exactly what bush did. its all about money and terror.
my church supports a right wing agenda? what wonderful knowledge you have, seems almost like you know everything. i can support CMA’s agenda without looking for a progressive big shot pastor who is trying to transform CMA into what he sees as the image of heaven. hello. you gotta be kidding, right?
wallis would be welcomed into our church, although it is sorta small for his head but you rick are bush, come on over anyway. you no longer have credibility with me. you baa strangly like a
lost sheep.
and now for squeak; let me ask you what interest do we have in korea, phillines, japan, indonasia, turkey, germany, etc. they like our money, the saudis want protection for their money interests, our global businesses want protection. oil , yeah, but mostly security. that’s why the real needs of the poor, africans, etc don’t get met. wise up dude. research what? i remember 73, so what? yeah oil but money will produce more and economies will go on. you can’t blame oil interest for your jaded outlook on world conditions. hate bush if you want, condemn christians if you want, evil exists in the world and reinventing christianity and blaming good people for not solving what you see as solvable problems wil only get you nothing. your progressive agenda and finger pointing is all about you. narrow, intolerant vision. i respect your speach but i don’t get it. your day may come and i will hopefully be here to see it.



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jerry

posted September 19, 2007 at 6:36 pm


sojo moderator: where is my answer to nimrod, nowlin and squeak? there was nothing in it to deserve censorship. what????????



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Timbuktoo

posted September 19, 2007 at 10:53 pm


“They are just ordinary people like you and I.”
With the difference being that they can spell.



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2007 at 11:17 pm


“You need better evidence than that. You don’t like it when people put words in your mouth, so stop putting words in his mouth. You insist on sources from others often on this site, so you of all people should know not to make inflammatory statements without the sources to back them up.”
I made an assumption, and stated it as such. It can’t be that inflammatory when about half the responders here agree with it. Wallis has been tremendously unfair to Israel in a way that makes me suspect that he does not (if he is being honest) respect their right to exist or, at minimum, their right to defend that existence.
I am willing to bet that a survey of the old Post-American pages would reveal quite a bit more (like his disturbing “boat people” quote”) but I do not have them at my disposal, and I doubt Sojo will be putting them online anytime soon, for obvious reasons.



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Anonymous

posted September 19, 2007 at 11:34 pm


Posted by: Timbuktoo | September 19, 2007 10:53 PM
With the difference being that they can spell.
What can I say – I’m a byeproduck of pubic edukasion. (LOL)
What a sad comentary on education in MN.
Have a great one -
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 19, 2007 at 11:55 pm


I made an assumption, and stated it as such.
You complained about Jim Wallis not criticizing Palestinian leaders. That’s not really an assumption.



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TheOtherJames

posted September 20, 2007 at 6:10 am


“Wallis has been tremendously unfair to Israel in a way that makes me suspect that he does not (if he is being honest) respect their right to exist or, at minimum, their right to defend that existence.”
From what I’ve seen, Wallis just wants an even-handed approach towards Israelis and Palestinians. The ones who are being unfair are those who excuse anything Israel does either based on an irrational disdain for Arabs and Muslims or based on a seriously flawed dispensationalist theology.
When I was 17 I traveled to Israel and lived with an Israeli family for 2 and one half months. I witnessed firsthand the manner in which Palestinians were treated. It was terrible. We do Israel no favors by giving them free reign to do whatever they want. If they had traded land for peace 40 years ago when they captured the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza,they would be much better off today- they would have avoided a whole generation of seething, angry Palestinians from rising up to become terrorists.
Jersusalem is a holy city for three of the world’s major religions. Christians should have the least stake in what happens to it (Jesus said that we don’t need Jerusalem, we need to woship God in spirit and in truth). Having said that, it should be an international city admninistered by the UN as a World Heritage Site with Jews, Christians and Muslims having access to their holy sites without the city being controlled by one religion or the other. But alas, if that were to happen half of American Christndom would head for the mountains and live in caves thinking that that is the definitive sign of the end times being upon us. Gotta love how fundamentalist theology, whether it be Muslim, Christian or Jewish impedes rational thinking.



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squeaky

posted September 20, 2007 at 9:57 am


Jerry,
“you are dependent on oil, not me. ”
By this I assume that you must be Amish (not sure how it is you apparently have a computer or justify the use of electricity…). Unless you don’t drive, don’t grow your own food and make your own clothes, you are dependent on oil.
“and now for squeak; let me ask you what interest do we have in korea, phillines, japan, indonasia, turkey, germany, etc. they like our money, the saudis want protection for their money interests, our global businesses want protection. oil , yeah, but mostly security. that’s why the real needs of the poor, africans, etc don’t get met.”
The simple fact is that oil drives the US economy and therefore the world economy. this is very important to understand because any disruption in oil supply will cause at minimum a recession, at worst, a worldwide market collapse. You can’t trade with any of those countries unless you can bring the goods in, and it is oil that does that. Cheap, reliable, easy to extract and use oil. I suppose we could go back to sailing ships, but that would slow down trade considerably, and also have a huge effect of the markets.
“wise up dude.”
I’m not a dude. don’t assume.
“research what?”
As I said, oil geopolitics. It’s all tied together. Take some time to learn. Buy “The End of Oil” on Amazon. That’s a good start.
“i remember 73, so what? yeah oil but money will produce more and economies will go on.”
You remember ’73, but apparently forgot the gas lines, the recession and high inflation, and the rising prices of food and goods. Remember what happened to gas and food prices after Katrina? These disruption was a drop in the bucket compared to what would happen if the Middle East goes into a melt down. Think about it. Our entire economy is built on cheap energy, and if that were to be taken from us, our economy is in major trouble.
“hate bush if you want, condemn christians if you want, evil exists in the world and reinventing christianity and blaming good people for not solving what you see as solvable problems wil only get you nothing. your progressive agenda and finger pointing is all about you. narrow, intolerant vision. i respect your speach but i don’t get it. your day may come and i will hopefully be here to see it. ”
What’s up with this? You don’t know anything about me, yet you put all these words in my mouth, none of which I actually said. Speaking the truth about oil does not equal hating Christians. How do you even make that connection? I hope you can be more Christlike in the future.



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Robert Alu

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:00 am


TheOtherJames,
Thanks a lot for your comments.
There is an extremely disturbing Scripture that may be prophetic, as far as our times are concerned:
Matthew 27:1.
The problem with religionists such as those who opposed Jesus is that (he said so himself) were so zealous to defend their narrow, parochial traditional ways of thinking that they were willing to kill rather than be challenged.
I notice that you have lived in Israel.
Now, as these things happen, in today’s issue of Ekklesia, an online Christian Magazine, is an article by Timothy Seidel, a Mennonite clergyman who also was there for a few years (in Palestine, 2004 – 2007).
Here is part of what he writes:
“Christianity in Palestine-Israel today is experiencing what many describe as a crisis. This crisis is not due to the growth of so-called Islamic fundamentalism or the persecution of “believers” by their Muslim neighbors, misrepresentations that are unfortunately used to distract from the realities of military occupation. Instead, the plight of the Palestinian Christian is very much connected to that of the Palestinian Muslim in that both, whether in the Occupied Territories or inside Israel itself, are experiencing daily injustices in the form of oppressive policies imposed on them by the Israeli government. Palestinian Christians, like their Muslim brothers and sisters, have experienced a long history of dispossession and have not been immune to Israeli policies of occupation and discrimination. If anything, they have felt more strongly the feelings of forsakenness, knowing full well that many Christians in North America and Europe support without question the state of Israel in its oppression of their people. Meanwhile, daily experiences of humiliation at checkpoints, of land confiscation to make way for the separation barrier, the illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory, lack of mobility and access to basic services, unemployment, poverty, and no sense of hope for a better future for their children all contribute to a growing emigration of Palestinian Christians from the historical land of Palestine.”
Sadly, even after all the information that keeps coming our way, indicating how misguided, from a Christian standpoint, unqualified support for Israel is, TheOtherJames, Timothy Seidel and all others who bring this unfavourable message will be vilified.
Just you wait and see … Someone will promptly write saying that the Palestinians are not innocent because they support terrorists who hate Israel – which God gave to the Israelis. Another will state that TheOtherJames is a progressive, or something (similarly rerrible, haha), that Timothy Seidel is a friend of Wallis and that they all “don’t get it”. Just what it is that needs to be ‘got’ will remain unclear.
It would all be very tiresome, frankly, if real human beings were not suffering in the name of someone’s Jesus.
May the good Lord have mercy on us!
- Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Bob Wittrien

posted September 21, 2007 at 2:52 am


I believe one of main reasons for the US government’s support of Israel is because if any congressman of either party says anything in opposition to the Israeli’s treatment of Palestinians that member is committing political suicide. The Jewish lobby will commit large sums of money to unseat that person at the next election.



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DHFabian

posted September 23, 2007 at 10:59 pm


If the US government, and/or its conservative faction were committed to (or legitimately allied with) Israel, would billions of dollars of US weapons continue to be sold to the Arab nations?
With friends like that…
For years, the US government has been pouring buckets of fuel, so to speak, onto the Mideast fires. It has been profitable, significantly increasing weapons production in the US, etc. I don’t believe those in government who broker the deals…er, I mean set the policies…have even the slightest concern about the lives of Israelis or those in the Arab nations. As long as we can keep the conflict going, we can assure a very profitable (to US arms manufacturers).
As for the supposed power that American Jews have over our government, the facts simply don’t support it. Check the list of America’s richest, and those who have had the most influence on the Bush administration. America’s alliance with Israel is limited to a tepid support, based on principle, of a democracy.



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