Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christian Wahhabis... 2

Positively prophetic:

"Some of the 'holy' violence alarmed even the Church. In North Africa at the turn of the fifth century, the circumcellions became notorious not only for their suicides but for their vicious attacks on those who didn't share their particular Christian beliefs. One bishop was standing next to his altar when suddenly he found himself surrounded and beaten by men with clubs. Then his attackers tore his altar apart, beat him with its remnants, before finally stabbing him in the groin. Another priest found himself dragged from his house and, once the circumcellions had him outside, they gouged out his eye. Like the tailor-made tortures that awaited sinners in Hell, where blasphemers were strung up by their tongues, there was a ghoulish appositeness to these assaults. Eyes of the erring were gouged out because those who couldn't see the true religion were 'blind' anyway. Another bishop was seized, his hands chopped off and his tongue, which had preached falsehoods, cut out.

"The circumcellions roamed widely, vandalizing property, setting light to churches and torching houses. Just when people thought that these 'warriors', as they called themselves, could not have got any worse, they invented what Augustine called a 'new and unspeakable kind of violence, a piece of cruelty deserving of the Devil Himself'. By mixing together caustic lime powder and vinegar they created a solution strong enough to burn human skin. This they took to throwing into the eyes of priests, blinding them. Nowhere was safe: if a 'traitor' - as they called those who didn't share their beliefs - was known to be at home, the circumcellions would go into their house, drag them out, and then attack them. The more unexpected the attack, the more glorious the effect.

"Festivals of the old gods were a favourite target: circumcellions raided these, smashing statues and shouting their rallying cry of Laudes Deo - 'Praise the Lord' as they went. In a moment, a joyful, drunken celebration could be reduced to sheer chaos. Like so many before and since, these men wanted religious conformity and they would stop at little to get it. Because Matthew 26:52 advised Christians to 'sheathe your sword', with almost Jesuitical precision they adopted the club as their weapon of choice. Appalling violence could thus be done while sin was avoided. Besides, a club was efficient enough: they would beat to death as many as they could before melting back into the landscape. The sticks with which these men carried out this work became their proud trademark; they called them their 'Israels'." (The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey, 2017, pp 223-24)

Required Christmas reading.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Unfooled

It was Abraham Lincoln who famously observed, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Well, he was right, even in today's Benighted States of America:

"A reliable scientific poll of 2,000 Americans taken during 1-6 November 2017 - just a month before US President Donald Trump announced that America's embassy will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv - showed that 63% of Americans were opposed to the move, and 31% supported it." (Poll: by 2-to-1, Americans oppose moving US embassy to Jerusalem, Eric Zuesse, globalresearch.ca, 13/12/17)

Trump Declaration Protests in Australia

Melbourne and Adelaide had theirs yesterday.

For the rest:

Canberra
Fri 15, 2pm, Moonah Pl, Yarralumla
Perth
Sat 16, 11am, Murray St Mall, Murray St
Brisbane
Sat 16, 3pm, King George Sq, 110 Ann St
Sydney
Sun 17, 1pm, Sydney Town Hall, George St

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Those with 'Foreign Policy Fixations'

Bob Carr on political donations from those with - ahem - "foreign policy fixations":

"Sooner or later Canberra is going to decide to reset its relationship with Beijing... Here are seven things that can make it possible... Two, on foreign donations... Ban those from any source that may reasonably be thought to be seeking to influence Australian foreign policy, even from Australian citizens who may have foreign policy fixations." (Seven steps to ease fears over dragon at our door, The Australian, 12/12/17)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trump as God's Instrument

Those who would rather die than think:

"In a Pensacola, Florida rally Friday evening, Republican state Senator Doug Broxson suggested to supporters of Donald Trump that the president's controversial decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may usher in the biblical end times. 'Now, I don't know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem - where the King of Kings [applause] where our soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem, it is because  President Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel,' Broxson predicted. The crowd cheered.

"This week, theological scholar Dr Diana Butler Bass wrote a Twitter thread explaining the link between recognition of Jerusalem, evangelical Christians, and the apocalypse. That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times.' According to Bass, the counsel of evangelical advisers that Trump surrounds himself with take such 'End Times' prophecies literally. 'Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest,' she continued. 'Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God's will to these Last Days. They've been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God's enemies.'

"She warned that for some evangelicals this is considered a 'climax of history. And Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire,' Bass went on. 'People believe this. Really believe this. Have given their lives to these ideas, sing about them in their churches, evangelize others, teach them in Sunday schools. And, this morning, with the news of Jerusalem, these people are ecstatic. This is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. And Donald Trump is not only acting on a campaign promise, but enacting a theological one.'

"She went on to explain that the reason many white evangelicals supported Trump to the tune of 80% is more than an abortion issue. Many actually believe that Trump is unfolding God's purpose. 'They believe that Donald Trump is God's instrument to move us closer to the Rapture, the Judgment, and the End,' she wrote. 'Because to them, that's actually the beginning - the beginning of their reward and heavenly bliss.'

"Other religious groups might raise hell about the disruption of peace and stability, but Bass explained that evangelicals don't care because they're anticipating peace in another world than the Earth. 'What matters is that Jesus comes back in Judgment,' she continued. 'To these sorts of Christians, that Judgment is the only true peace. Everything is phony, deceptive, even evil. Millions of American Christians believe all this. Millions of Trump voters. Sacred history is unfolding right now because of Donald Trump and God. They've based their faith, their identity, their purpose, their eternal lives on these ideas. Trust me. There's no arguing with any of it.'

"Dr Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas celebrated Jerusalem officially becoming the capital of Israel because it will be where Jesus Christ returns. 'It is the place where Jesus, a Jew himself, was crucified and where he was resurrected. It is the place where he will set foot again on earth at his second coming,' he said in a statement. The United Church of God names the 7 prophecies that foretell the second coming of Christ:

1. The human race would have the ability to exterminate itself (nuclear weapons).
2. A Jewish homeland had to be reestablished in the Middle East (Trump has now proclaimed Jerusalem the capital).
3. There must be two leaders: The end-time king of the North and king of the South: "At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land [the Holy Land], and many countries shall be overthrown' (Daniel 11: 40-41).
4. An end-time union of European nations (European Union).
5. End-time rise and fall of Israel and Judah.
6. The gospel will be preached in all the world (YouTube).
7. Instant worldwide communications and God's final witnesses (The Internet)." (Theological scholar explains shocking reason Trump's supporters celebrated Armageddon at Florida rally, Sarah K. Burris, alternet.org, 9/12/17)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Matthew Levitt's 'Balfour Moment'

"Dr Matthew Levitt, an expert in counter-terrorism with pro-Israel think tank the Washington Institute, said he believed most dire predictions of critics would probably not happen, and noted that Trump's statement on the decision was nuanced, calling for all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites." (Trump's week of wins, at long last, Nick O'Malley, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/12/17)

Hello? Nuance? Trump?

You can just imagine the likes of Levitt commenting on the Balfour Declaration in 1917: 'Balfour's declaration was nuanced, stating that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".'

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Trump Declaration

A very comprehensive and insightful essay by Nada Elia on Trump's formal embrace of a Greater Israel. It hits just about every nail on the head:

"It is 'the morning after,' and the world, with few exceptions is denouncing Trump's declaration that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. With those few exceptions, politicians globally are making vapid statements about the 'dangers' of that declaration, namely that it would lead to an escalation of violence, and jeopardize the 'peace process.' There seems to be little recognition of the relentless violence of Israeli settler-colonialism, and the complete violation of the Geneva convention and international law by both Israel and the US president.

"There is something to be said about Israel's deeply-seated need for 'recognition,' of its right to exist, its right to 'defend itself,' and its claim that Jerusalem is its capital city. That need betrays the (sometimes repressed) knowledge that Israel is a usurper, that Jews globally do not have a 'right' to become settlers, and that what Israel is 'defending' is an illegal occupation. Specifically, in the case of Jerusalem, the city is illegally annexed, with a clear system of apartheid privileging one socio-political ethnicity over the indigenous people. It is no wonder a president, Trump, who openly aligns himself with white supremacy as home, would naturally favour Jewish supremacy in historic Palestine. This is his 'Lord Balfour moment,' in which, in a gesture of imperial largesse, he presumes to hand over land that is not his, to another people. Britain's gambit did not work out so well 100 years ago, and neither will Trump's gesture. It may satisfy his own ignominious hubris, his ambition to conclude 'the deal of the century,' but it cannot bring about justice.

"And yet Trump's announcement does not jeopardize the peace process. This is because 'Oslo' was still-born, it just has not been buried yet. Rather, for the past 20 years, it has been on life-support, with no chance of survival. And there has been no 'peace' during the 'process,' only growing injustice, more disenfranchisement of the indigenous people, ongoing ethnic cleansing, and a genocidal siege on two million Palestinians in Gaza. This is the 'process' that led to two intifadas, and created the political context of global grassroots solidarity in the form of BDS.

"And still politicians continue to prop up this cadaver. The European Union, for example, holds on to the chimera of a two-state solution, and 'negotiations' that will determine the fate of Jerusalem. 'There is a UN resolution on this issue and the issue of Jerusalem must be raised in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,' the EU ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, said as he announced that the EU will not be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has finally unplugged the useless apparatus. Whether the US embassy is moved or not - and that is yet to be determined, and cannot possibly be accomplished in under two to three years - what Trump has achieved is the formal recognition that the US has never been a fair mediator, a 'neutral broker,' but rather that it has always supported Israeli settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. Democrats have been more hypocritical about it, consistently increasing their financial aid to Israel even as they criticized the settlements as an obstacle to peace. Trump lacks any and all diplomacy, and if there is anything he is good at, it is his unabashed embrace of various oppressive systems. His national base is white supremacists, his global base is Zionism, another form of ethnic supremacy.

"The mask has come off. Both in the US as well as in Israel, which is open about its desire to keep on expanding. 'From the river to the sea' is not only the Palestinian dream of liberation, since all of historic Palestine is liberated, it is also the Zionist vision of Greater Israel, which the settlers have been slowly but surely making a reality, with the 'facts on the ground.'

"If any pain is felt today,and in the coming weeks, it is the pain that comes from removing a band-aid that has long covered up a festering wound. The wound will certainly heal better now. And the rage is an expression of the people's recognition that there seems to be no end to imperial hubris in sight. Yet now is not the time to glorify the 'sumoud narrative,' the pain, the rage, the outrage are too raw. Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem, will pay a very high price for for Trump's declaration. Yet we persist, because we must.

One of the earliest Zionist visionaries, Vladimir Jabotinsky, remains relevant today. In his 1923 treatise, The Iron Wall, where he laid out his vision for settler colonialism, he explains, with impressive foresight: 'It may be that some individual Arabs take bribes. But that does not mean that the Arab people of Palestine as a whole will sell that fervent patriotism that they guard so jealously, and which even the Papuans will never sell. Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of 'Palestine' into the 'Land of Israel.'

"No, Trump's declaration has made clear that, just as with South Africa last century, the US government is on the wrong side of history today. And just as with apartheid South Africa, the people of the land, along with the global community, will determine the outcome. Apartheid, or one democratic state?

"Even in the searing pain of 'the morning after,' as we look around and see a clearly-demarcated strategy of resistance, and take in the multiple expressions of global solidarity with the Palestinian people, we know we will overcome, someday." (Trump's 'Lord Balfour moment' is formal recognition the US was never an honest broker, mondoweiss.net, 7/12/17)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Jerusalem Tweets

Jeremy Corbyn - Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace. The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict. (6/12/17)

Meanwhile, on another planet entirely:

Malcolm Turnbull - 0
Bill Shorten - 0
Julie Bishop - 0
Tanya Plibersek - 0