Selling Out Pentecost to Islam

Next Sunday, Christians are celebrating the feast of Pentecost. A Protestant church in the Netherlands is using the occasion to propose the abolishment of the public holiday for the second day of Pentecost. The Dutch have officially been enjoying this holiday since 1815, but the church wants it replaced by an official holiday on Eid-al-Fitr, the day marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

With its proposal, the Christian group says, it wants “to do justice to diversity in religion.” That is politically-correct claptrap. Browsing through today’s papers, I can, however, understand why many Dutch are in a festive mood once Ramadan is over! These days, the headlines are full of incidents, which De Telegraaf, the leading newspaper in the Netherlands, describes as Ramadan rellen (Ramadan riots).

Suppose Christians would, on an annual basis, start to riot after leaving church on Pentecost and demolish property, arson cars, attack police, throw stones through the neighbor’s windows. Suppose the police would feel obliged to mark the Christian Lent in the calendar as days of heightened tensions. Would we not begin to wonder whether there was something wrong with Christianity?

Or suppose Jewish gangs would terrorize entire town districts on Yom Kippur day. Would we not beginning to wonder what they were being taught in their synagogues? Or would we just accept it, celebrate it even, as indications of the cultural “diversity” of our society?

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The World of Misconceptions About Israel

Beyond the Cusp

The first and most grievous misconception which persists no matter how many times it has been debunked is that Israel initiated the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In order to address this there are a few facts which need discussion. At the end of the 1948-9 Arab War of Annihilation of the nascent Zionist Entity, Israel, where over a half dozen nations sent large military contingents in order to crush the life out of the Jewish State the morning of her birth, the world using either the refused division of the land or using the Peel Commission plan, they claimed Israel had conquered territory in a war the Jew started. The reality is that after the Arab League refused UN General Assembly Res. 181, it became defunct and left Israel with the Jordan River and Mediterranean as her borders that fateful May 15, 1948 morning. This means that Israel lost the areas…

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Philip Roth’s Newark

In March 1969, 19 months after riots had devastated Newark, Philip Roth took to the New York Times with a plea to save the city’s library. In a budget-cutting move, the Newark City Council had proposed slashing funding for the library’s main branch and the adjoining Newark Museum, two notable landmarks constructed during more prosperous times in the early twentieth century. “When I was growing up in Newark,” wrote Roth, “we assumed that books in the public library belonged to the public. Since my family did not own many books, or have the money for a child to buy them, it was good to know that solely by virtue of my municipal citizenship I had access to any book I wanted from that grandly austere building downtown on Washington Street.” Soon after Roth’s appeal, city council members found the money to keep the library and museum operating, most likely because they never really intended to shutter two of the city’s signature institutions. The threat was likely a way to dramatize Newark’s accelerating decline.

Nearly five decades later, Newark is described as a failed city, “a classic example of urban disaster,” “the worst American city,” and “America’s most violent city.” One of Roth’s own characters, Swede Levov, from his 1997 novel American Pastoral, calls Newark a place that once “manufactured everything” but turned into “the car theft capital of the world.” Still, Roth, who left Newark in 1951 for college and a writing career that includes a novel titled Letting Go, has been unable to let go of the city. Last October, he announced that he was bequeathing his collection of 4,000 books to the Newark Library—recognition of the role that Newark played not only in his life but also in his work.

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Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing

A few days before she turned 61, writer Anne Lamott decided to write down everything she knew for sure. She dives into the nuances of being a human who lives in a confusing, beautiful, emotional world, offering her characteristic life-affirming wisdom and humor on family, writing, the meaning of God, death and more.

The British Election: Will Voters Opt for Intolerance and Xenophobia?

On June 8, British voters will head to the polls, three years early. When Prime Minister Theresa May called last month for a snap election, the assumption was that she would win easily and increase her parliamentary majority. Recent numbers, however, show the gap closing between May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn – who was given 200:1 odds of when he ran for the party leadership in 2015 – is doing surprisingly well again. This is despite the fact that Labour has been under fire for anti-Semitism in its ranks, and Corbyn himself has been accused of anti-Jewish bigotry. Corbyn denies having a problem with Jews, claiming that he is merely anti-Israel. Even if it were possible to hate Israel without being anti-Semitic – and I am not sure that it is – Corbyn’s words and deeds demonstrate that he often uses virulent anti-Zionism as a cover for his soft anti-Semitism.

For example, in a speech last year, he said that Jews are “no more responsible” for the actions of Israel than Muslims are for those of ISIS. In 2009, he announced: “It will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well.”

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The Six Day War: Israel’s Costs vs. Its Benefits

The June 1967 war was a major watershed in Israel’s political history. The astounding military victory was a key factor in driving parts of the Arab world to confront the reality of Jewish statehood. The war’s territorial acquisitions, by contrast, are often seen as a mixed blessing. For although these gains gave birth to the land-for-peace formula (commonly associated with Security Council resolution 242 of November 1967), which led to the historic March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Israel’s continued control of the Golan Heights and the West Bank has put it under persistent international pressure. The fiftieth anniversary of the war offers an auspicious vantage point for rethinking the pros and cons of retaining these territories.

Military and Strategic Importance

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