Tag Archives: Middle East

The Week In Review

Visits from last Saturday to this moment- Oh Africa… oh Islamic Republic of Iran… oh other tiny Mid East countries… you’re breaking my heart. But, you, Greenland… your absence last week hurts most of all…


Let Me Be Perfectly Clear About This

Since I’ve already gotten a bit of ‘hate mail’ because of the previous post:

1- I love Israel, and I love my Israeli friends.
2- I think the use of terror to harass and torment them by Hamas is evil.
3- But I also love the Palestinians (and most especially our Christian brothers and sisters there).
4- And I think, no, I know they deserve a ‘place of their own’.
5- So I abhor the forcing of Palestinians off their land and into a walled ghetto.
6- Finally, I believe there won’t be peace until the Unites States cares as much about the Palestinians as it does about the Israelis.

These are my views. I will not apologize for them. If you find them disdainful I suggest you go elsewhere, because your missives of contempt won’t change them.

Thanks, Israel

America’s ‘ally’ in the Middle East is at it again and we will all pay the price.

World oil prices rallied on Wednesday as dealers seized on news that Israel had killed a top Hamas commander in an air strike, stoking geopolitical tensions in the crude-rich Middle East region.  In late afternoon London deals, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in December spiked $1.58 to $109.84 per barrel.  New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for December or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), gained 87 cents to $86.26 a barrel. “Crude oil prices have jumped back once again after news of fire fights breaking out in the Middle East as Israel launched an airstrike on Gaza killing a Hamas commander, in retaliation for rocket attacks on Israel earlier this week,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.  “This has prompted retaliatory action and reignited the geopolitical risk premium trade over supply concerns in the event of an escalation, as talk of an Israeli ground operation gains traction.”

Retaliation is the only negotiating tool known in the region, by both sides.  Pretty soon (eventually) the Mid East Conflict will end, when everyone in the region is dead.

Death and violence: it’s all the inhabitants of the region know.

Rep. Wolf, I Can Answer Your Question

Congressman Frank Wolf, who has been a champion of human rights, is hard pressed to understand why U.S. churches are silent when it comes to advocating for persecuted Christians. The Republican Virginia rep. specifically called out big-name pastors such as Rick Warren and John Piper for their non-activity, especially at a time when Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Egypt are at greater risk for persecution. “The church in the West is relatively silent,” Wolf said on “The Janet Mefferd Show” this week. “Where are the (Dietrich) Bonhoeffers (20th century German Lutheran pastor who stood against Nazi dictatorship)? Where’s Rick Warren? Where’s John Piper? Where are the people? Why aren’t they speaking out on this? “I just have a hard time wondering why more in the West are not speaking out.”

Congressman, the answer is simple: raising the issue won’t help Rick Warren or John Piper boost their public image or raise funds for their financially faltering mega-‘ministries’.  Persecuted Christians in the Middle East aren’t a topic they care to address, furthermore, because it would require that they contradict their Christian Zionist supporters who insist that only Israel matters.

In sum, there’s nothing in it for them and the rest of the mega-churchers.  And if there’s nothing in it for them, if there’s no way to turn it to their P.R. advantage, they just don’t care.

Where Are Your Tax Dollars Being Sent Overseas?

Here are the top ten beggar states living off the American taxpayer:

10- Tanzania
9- Ethiopia
8- Nigeria
7- Kenya
6- Jordan
5- Egypt
4- Iraq
3- Pakistan
2- Afghanistan

And the largest beggar nation receiving the most American money? No surprise here at all:

1- Israel

Looks like we love Africa and the Middle East and have no use for Asia. Or maybe the Asians aren’t the sort of folk who have their hands out all the time.

Anyway, add up all that foreign aid flushed down foreign toilets and enriching foreign dictators and just imagine how many schools, roads, and hospitals we could construct and how many of our own people could find meaningful well paying jobs.

Our ship of state is captained by imbeciles. That’s why we’ve run aground and are taking on water.

Two Seemingly Unrelated Tweets Tell the Story of the Middle East

These two tweets arrived within seconds of each other and they tell the story of the Middle East concisely and understandably; for they show what’s wrong with the entire region.

To wit, on the one hand 15th century Islamic culture is returning in many quarters, and on the other bias and hatred and bigotry are never-endingly interwoven into the very fabric of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prejudice and ignorance are the mother and father of destruction and death.  Those two give birth to every ill.  Those two are alive and well in the Middle East and until they are done away with that region will always be the birthplace of horrors.


The Government of Iraq, Backed by the US, is Helping Iran Skirt Sanctions

So once more American policy in the Middle East allows us to shoot ourselves in the foot whilst wasting billions of tax dollars to do it. Well done, US Government.

Iraqi banking institutions have been helping Iran sidestep regulations imposed by the United States, said American officials. The country’s cozy relationship with Iran little more than eight months after American troops left Iraqi soil has caused concern among American leaders, and Obama placed a call to Iraq’s prime minister recently after learning that Iranian supply planes were passing through Iraqi airspace en route to Syria.

Who’s in charge in Washington?  No one intelligent, that’s for sure.

God, Israel, Iran, and Baywatch…

Nina Burleigh binds them all together in a new essay at the HuffPo which you’ll wish to read.

Donna D'Errico and Jeremy Jackson. Baywatch Re...

In the news, two apparently unrelated stories:  The first is that Baywatch “babe” Donna D’Errico got badly bruised climbing Mount Ararat looking for Noah’s Ark. The second is a leaked document of Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s first-strike plan for Iran.  Many people have a hard time seeing the connection between a Hollywood TV bunny looking for proof of God on a hilltop in Turkey and Israeli national security state calmly planning to trigger World War 3.  Look again.  After a month visiting Biblical sites in the Middle East, the connection between God and conflict in the Middle East becomes inescapable. Israel is filled with sites holy to all three major religions, and religious Jews regard the entire nation as a sacred site. It’s not just a country with a flag, and a bureaucracy, and a budget, it’s actually God’s country. It’s the spiritual made real.

And even better

Israel religious-nationalist politicians’ sense of entitlement, inherent in plans for unilateral pre-emptive bombing, always provokes an “end of days” resignation among Americans. That passivity is just one end of a spectrum related to belief in the “history” contained in the Bible.   On the other end of the spectrum, one finds people like World of Bible Ministries “archaeologist” Randall Price taking money from donors to search for Noah’s Ark, and it’s not cheap. One also finds documentary filmmakers and writers cashing in handsomely. One of them was backed by no less a Hollywood patriarch than James Cameron. The producers have claimed to find things like Christ’s DNA in a Jerusalem cave, or the actual nails that nailed the Messiah top the cross, or John the Baptist’s Cave. They “find” them and then as reliably as the Little Drummer Boy tooting through every Rite Aid on the day after Thanksgiving, they get their “new evidence” in front of millions of Americans around Easter-time on Discovery Channel or National Geographic TV.  For the same reason that James Cameron would back such a documentary — gulled and moneyed blind American faith in Biblical truth — our government will tacitly go along with many of Israel’s craziest, maddest schemes.

Nail on the head, Nina.  See it all.

Is Joe Pitts the Dumbest Man In Congress?

I realize Congress is loaded with the inept, but is it really, really possible, or plausible, that a United States Congressman is as ignorant as Joe Pitts?

Apparently, my congressman believes that the solution for peace in the Middle East will be reached by encouraging negotiations between a vegetable and a dead man.  My father recently received a form letter response from Joe Pitts (Pennsylvania’s 16th district). A year ago, after visiting me in Ramallah, my father contacted Pitts’ office, expressing his opposition to House Resolution 268, a one-sided resolution that condemned Palestinians and reaffirmed the US “commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. The incredibly baffling, much-delayed response from Pitts included this gem:

With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process that has collapsed.

How stupid is this man?

This response was dated April 20, 2012. I realize that members of Congress use form letters to communicate quickly with their constituents, but when they are as outdated as this on an issue that is so central to US foreign policy, one might question the intelligence or efficacy of such a politician. I wonder to whom Pitts thought he was giving those standing ovations when Netanyahu spoke to Congress?

Ineptitude.  Shame on the people of Pennsylvania for electing such a dullard.  And small wonder the country is in the miserable shape it is.  We don’t elect the best and brightest, we elect the dumbest and most incompetent.  With thanks to Irene Hahn on FB for pointing out the misery.

Egypt’s Not Quite So Welcoming Anymore, At Least for Christians

Nabil Gergis, a Coptic Christian, lived for nearly two decades in the Egyptian town of Amriya, raising his children and managing a modest business. Those ties couldn’t protect him after a sex video purportedly showing his brother with a Muslim woman began to circulate.

Angry residents in the conservative, Muslim-majority town held protests and set fire to the Gergis family businesses. None of the attackers was prosecuted. Instead, a committee of tribal elders, local lawmakers and security officials ordered the 11 members of the Gergis family — the brother, Nabil and others — to leave town.

The story of Amriya demonstrates one of the reasons Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority and even some in the Muslim majority feel the situation is precarious, particularly since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. The rule of law, they and human rights groups say, is being eclipsed by such “reconciliation councils,” trying to fill the security vacuum left by Mubarak’s fall.

Christians are being forced out of many places in the Middle East (Iraq, Egypt, etc.).  They’re a dying species in Muslim lands.  Or more exactly, an endangered species in the places where ‘the religion of peace’ reigns.  Muslims, therefore, shouldn’t be surprised when many Christians perceive that Islam is waging a war of extermination on Christianity.  Islam has only itself to blame for its negative P.R. since it stands by and allows the attacks to go unchallenged.

Because Our Elected Officials Are The Toadies of Big Business…

English: Tehran, Iran: City Theatre. Pahlavi e...

Every time a butterfly flaps its wings in the Middle East, you and I pay the price.

Oil prices jumped over 2% Tuesday, crossing the $100-barrel-mark after Iran threatened to choke off the flow of oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian threat came in response to a recent tightening of Western sanctions against Iran that attempt to limit the amount of oil that country can export.

But instead of developing a policy leading to energy independence, our moronic leaders continue to dip from the well of the oil industry. Their shortsightedness and ineptitude will nevertheless be overlooked and they will be returned to office by Americans dim of wit.

Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to ‘Holy Land’ Theology

When I learned of this volume I was very keen to read it and the good folk at Baker Academic have graciously sent along a review copy.  I’ve finished it and the review has been uploaded here.

In Jesus and the Land, respected New Testament scholar Gary Burge describes first-century Jewish and Christian beliefs about the land of Israel in order to help contemporary readers develop a Christian theology of the land and assess Bible-based claims in discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Burge provides a full survey of New Testament passages that directly address the question of land and faith and offers an honest and compelling presentation of present-day tensions surrounding “territorial religion” in the modern Middle East. This accessibly written volume will appeal to undergraduate and seminary students, pastors, teachers, and anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Introduction: Land, Place, and Religion
1. The Biblical Heritage
2. Diaspora Judaism and the Land
3. Jesus and the Land
4. The Fourth Gospel and the Land
5. The Book of Acts and the Land
6. Paul and the Promises to Abraham
7. Developments Beyond Paul
8. Land, Theology, and the Church

In a word- read it!

That’s Because Congress Doesn’t Care About Palestinians

Christian notes

Congress Votes To Let Palestinian Children Starve.

Christian shouldn’t be surprised though.  The US is only willing to let Palestinians die because it is an ‘honest broker of Middle East peace…’ (ok it isn’t and I gagged just writing such a lie).

You see, the truth is, policy makers in the US are the lap dogs of Israeli politicians. And lap dogs always do their owner’s bidding.

Netanyahu Killed the Peace Process

Boy, when Bill Clinton is right, he’s right.

Who’s to blame for the continued failure of the Middle East peace process? Former President Bill Clinton said today that it is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — whose government moved the goalposts upon taking power, and whose rise represents a key reason there has been no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Clinton, in a roundtable with bloggers today on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, gave an extensive recounting of the deterioration in the Middle East peace process since he pressed both parties to agree to a final settlement at Camp David in 2000. He said there are two main reasons for the lack of a comprehensive peace today: the reluctance of the Netanyahu administration to accept the terms of the Camp David deal and a demographic shift in Israel that is making the Israeli public less amenable to peace.

“The two great tragedies in modern Middle Eastern politics, which make you wonder if God wants Middle East peace or not, were [Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination and [Ariel] Sharon’s stroke,” Clinton said.

Read it all. He’s absolutely right. Absolutely.  And this is exactly why Obama shouldn’t even consider a UN veto of Palestinian statehood and why it is morally reprehensible of the government to continue on that path.

Gas Price Gougers

Gas prices don’t usually spike over the Labor Day weekend, but this year could become the exception. The average price for a tank of gasoline is already 80 cents higher than it was a year ago. At $3.62 for a gallon of regular, that’s close to the all-time record for this time of year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.  And prices could continue to rise. The average price for a barrel of crude oil has spiked in recent weeks, from $82.26 in the middle of August to around $89 at the beginning of September.

As if the gas gougers need any excuses, they have one ready made-

The increase appears related to lingering effects from Hurricane Irene. Most refineries along the East Coast closed down last week in anticipation of the storm. That led to a temporary dip in production that, combined with pressure from speculators betting the price would continue to rise, appears to be at least partly responsible.

And of course the rain in the Gulf Coast will cause prices to shoot up too.  Because that’s how the greedy oil companies work.  If a fly farts in the Middle East the price of gas goes up and if a seagull poops in the Gulf of Mexico it goes up too.

We like to deceive ourselves into thinking that if we were independent of foreign oil we would all be better off.  But the fact is, oil companies will find ways to keep prices high no matter the source of crude.  And when oil does run out and we’re using other forms of energy for cars and transport, you need not falsely hope that the same scenario won’t apply.

At the end of the day the providers of energy will shaft the public every time.  We need it, they have it, they will get what they want for it.  Because that’s how greed works.

I Suppose Some Would Call Hosea and John the Baptist Anti-Semites Too

When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day, I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name Not pitied, for I will no more have pity on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. … When she had weaned Not pitied, she conceived and bore a son. And the LORD said, “Call his name Not my people, for you are not my people and I am not your God.” — Hosea the Prophet

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. — John the Baptist

Biblically speaking, it isn’t semen and egg which make one a child of God, a citizen of the kingdom of heaven; it is faith. Hence semen and egg grant no particular privilege, even according to the Prophets of the Old Testament. To say such a truth isn’t antisemitism, it’s sound theology.

So for that reason all claims that Israel, a modern secular state whose inhabitants, by virtue of connection to semen and egg traced back to an ancestor millenia ago, has a special claim on God or a special relationship to God which others do not is both theologically bankrupt and ideologically driven.

Christian Zionism is a heresy because it misrepresents divine revelation. Christian Zionists are heretics not because they are bad people, but because they contort the truth of revelation to their own political (and it is nothing other than a political) agenda.

Their last refuge is the slur of antisemitism. When biblical exegesis and theological understanding abandon them (as they must), their only recourse is a historically villainous slander which, as a straw man, they hope will distract attention away from the truth of their theological ineptitude and incompetent exegesis. But what they don’t even have the good sense to recognize is that the biblical authors lambasted Israel’s unbelievers more soundly than any modern antisemite could imagine.

So, when you stand on the side of equality and fairness for all peoples of the Middle East (and everywhere) and a Christian Zionist assaults you with the slander of antisemitism, calmly open the Bible and point them to Hosea and John the Baptist and see what they say next. It will, I promise you, be amusing, inappropriate, and a complete evasion of the biblical witness.

And Now We See What the ‘Lead Codices’ Nonsense is Really All About

It’s about suckering gullible people into spending huge sums on absolute rubbish sold by immense dilettantes.

Ancient Antique copper Lead Christian book,14cmx10cm

‘Copper lead’? Really?

US $13,000.00

Seriously? If you’re that senseless I’ll sell you an ancient piece of the true cross for $5000.

And oh the description:

Ancient old book . I am not sure copper or lead . I found this book my self in the Middle East , don’t know much about it but it has 7 pages . there is a small character in the pages but can’t get it with my camera . I think it’s old jewish or Aramic . It could be Christian or jewish Religious .

So he calls it an ‘ancient old book’ (!!) that he found him self (!) and it has small characters which he can’t photograph but which he’s informed enough to know it might be (!!) ‘old jewish’ (!!!!!) or ‘Aramic’ (whatever that’s supposed to be. And it could be ‘Christian or jewish Religious’ (!!!!!)

Seriously, if this doesn’t stir mockery in even the most placid of you, you just don’t have any wit or sense of humor at all. With thanks to David Meadows for the tip. I think he might buy it. He’s rolling in the dough.

Syria Continues to Eat Its Young

Syrian forces shot dead 14 protesters Friday despite President Bashar al-Assad’s pledge that his crackdown on dissent was over, activists said, as thousands marched across Syria, spurred on by U.S. and European calls for him to step down.

Meanwhile, back in the US and Europe… oh that’s right, just talk.   Syrian pledges are as meaningful as, yes, Syrian pledges.

Liars Do What Liars Do: They Defend Their Lies

Tom MacMaster, the man behind the hoax blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus”, has claimed he invented the character to raise awareness of the plight of oppressed Syrians.

Sure he did. Because he’s a Syrian lesbian… and he wants the world to know how he’s suffered the oppression of a regime under which he does not live and simultaneously endangering every legitimate Syrian blogger trying to get the truth out. Since now, if any of them are kidnapped or go missing, who will care?

Mr MacMaster, an American student at Edinburgh University, has been unmasked as the author of an internet diary about the struggles of a lesbian in Syria. The married 40-year-old has been accused of betraying the thousands of followers of the blog, who believed it was a genuine account. However, Mr MacMaster has claimed that he invented Amina Arraf because people did not take the views of an American man on Middle East issues seriously. He claimed the fictional character’s story should not be dismissed because it accurately reflects condition in Syria, which is embroiled in escalating violence between the government and pro-democracy demonstrators.

Liars always have to defend their lies. Or try to anyway. Just ask Mr Weiner.

Michael Klare on the ‘Collapse of the Old Oil Order’

A must read post with a must read book excerpt about the current policy concerning energy and its end.  Fascinating stuff.

Whatever the outcome of the protests, uprisings, and rebellions now sweeping the Middle East, one thing is guaranteed: the world of oil will be permanently transformed.  Consider everything that’s now happening as just the first tremor of an oilquake that will shake our world to its core.   For a century stretching back to the discovery of oil in southwestern Persia before World War I, Western powers have repeatedly intervened in the Middle East to ensure the survival of authoritarian governments devoted to producing petroleum.  Without such interventions, the expansion of Western economies after World War II and the current affluence of industrialized societies would be inconceivable.  Here, however, is the news that should be on the front pages of newspapers everywhere:  That old oil order is dying, and with its demise we will see the end of cheap and readily accessible petroleum — forever.

Society as we know it has to change its energy policy or die.  It’s probably already dead and just hasn’t been buried yet.  Via Jose da Silva on FB.