Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
The Forward has a biting piece tomorrow about the newfound friendship between “John Hagee, the firebrand evangelical Christian minister from San Antonio, Texas,” who stole the show at Aipac’s convention in March, and a growing number of Jewish federations:
âIf you search through Jewish stories around the U.S., a lot of us have pieces of personal memory where non-Jews were there for us â not because they had a hidden agenda, but because they believed it was the right thing to do,â said Michal Kohane, the Israeli-born executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region. âThere is a strong aspect of CUFI in which they are the descendants of that ideological concept.â
Just as liberals have criticized Aipac for giving Hagee the dais, they are now speaking out against the pastorâs grass-roots fundraising dinners. Most recently, a Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, Betty McCollum, declined an invitation to attend an April 29 âNight To Honor Israelâ in Brooklyn Park, a suburb of Minneapolis, citing what she called âHageeâs extremism, bigotry and intolerance.â
Critics complain that Hageeâs hawkish, biblically based views on Israel do not serve the Jewish state, and that his conservative domestic agenda â including opposition to gay marriage, abortion and immigration â is squarely at odds with the liberal views of most American Jews.
âI donât like that they would not like to see Israel trade land for peace, because in my view thatâs a very important formula,â said Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Temple Beth El in Madison, Wis. âThe real bottom line is the fact that this organization would like to exacerbate tensions in the Middle East so it will lead to Armageddon.â
Evangelicals and Jews have had an unusual alliance over Israel for years—from the Israel-Christian Nexus, which I encountered at the Israel Independence Day Festival at Woodley Park last Sunday, to the Jerusalem Prayer Banquet being held in Beverly Hills on May 17, which will bring together Pat Boone and Ehud Danoch, among others.
This morning, one of my colleagues asked me why some Christians fervently support Israel. Last November, the New York Times attempted to answer that question under the headline,
For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel Is âGodâs Foreign Policyâ
In short, Christians with a certain reading of the book of Revelation—theologians call them premillennialists—believe Christ’s 1,000-year reign on Earth, before he takes his children home, will not occur until Israel has been restored to the Jews. (This was a premise of the “Left Behind” book series.)
12.5.13 at 7:11 am | In some of the most astounding news I've heard. . .
12.3.13 at 7:11 am | The Supreme Court granted certiorari in ...
11.25.13 at 8:55 am | Judge Crabb ruled that the clergy housing. . .
11.23.13 at 7:46 pm | A time-lapse starting with Hinduism in 5,000 BC. . .
11.16.13 at 10:41 am | His kebab cafe on hard times, Zablon Simintov. . .
11.4.13 at 8:04 pm | The all-time leader in games played among ...
11.23.13 at 7:46 pm | A time-lapse starting with Hinduism in 5,000 BC. . . (183)
12.3.13 at 7:11 am | The Supreme Court granted certiorari in ... (146)
12.5.13 at 7:11 am | In some of the most astounding news I've heard. . . (130)
May 2, 2007 | 6:02 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Jim McGreevey, the former New Jersey governor who came out of the closet while in office and resigned because of an alleged affair, has converted into the Episcopal Church and will enter its General Theological Seminary in Manhattan. (The ordination of gay priests has become, to put it mildly, a contentious issue in the U.S. branch of King Henry’s church.)
Here’s the word from the Newark Star-Ledger, which broke the story online today:
“This is something he’s been thinking about for years,” said David France, who last year co-authored McGreevey’s best-selling memoir, The Confession. “His spiritual life has always been central to who he is. From the time he was a kid, he thought about going into Catholic seminary a number of times. The idea of going into the Episcopal seminary has been in his mind for at least a couple of years.”
McGreevey, 49, resigned in August 2004 after announcing he was gay and had an affair with a male staffer, who has denied it.
News of McGreevey’s plans come a day after his estranged wife, former first lady Dina Matos McGreevey, released her own tell-all memoir, called Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage. The McGreeveys are embroiled in a nasty divorce and custody battle, which has boiled over in recent weeks and led a Superior Court judge in Elizabeth to instruct the couple to use common sense and remember that their daughter will one day read everything they’re saying about each other.
While in office, McGreevey’s pro-choice political stance put him at odds with the Catholic church. And soon after his resignation, McGreevey began attending Episcopal services. A central point of contention between the McGreeveys in their divorce is whether their 5-year-old daughter, being raised Catholic by Matos McGreevey, should be allowed to accept communion while at services with her father.
Of the Episcopal discernment protocols, Bean said: “There’s a whole process that takes place within his parish here at St. Bart’s, of discernment. That is followed by a process of further discernment at the diocesan level, involving the bishop and all. The decison to go to seminary is part of a more thorough process of discernment to ordination. It’s not just going to seminary that gets you ordained ... It’s a pretty extensive.”
May 1, 2007 | 6:18 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Have you heard that story about Richard Gere? No, not the gerbil hoax that tainted Dr. T when I was a kid. But the one about Gere smooching Bollywood babe Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi last month.
As my friend Manya Brachear points out on her blog for the Chicago Tribune, Gere’s actions “enraged some Hindus who thought the public display violated laws of public obscenity.”
If apprehended, Gere can be sent to jail for up to three months, fined or both. He is not in India now but can be held if he visits the country again, which he does for at least three weeks each year to study Tibetan Buddhism under the tutelage of the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India. He is also involved with AIDS prevention groups there.
Daniel Gold, a professor of South Asian religions at Cornell University, said exceptions are traditionally made for Bollywood stars and Westerners who do not abide by Hindu laws.“In general public displays of affection are not part of Indian traditional culture and most people are rather restrained about that,” Gold said. “The world of Bollywood stars is a whole other world. They have inter-caste marriages, inter-religious marriages. People accept it. But itâs nothing that they would do.”
But Vasudha Narayanan, a professor of religion at the University of Florida, said it wasnât until recently that kissing was considered acceptable by censors, no matter how sexually suggestive an actorâs gestures might be.
“As a general rule of the thumb it would be expected that any visitor to the country should follow the norms and customs of that place and not do anything that would be knee-jerk offensive,” she said.
“Many people are against these types of lawsuits saying it depicts India in a very negative light and India is in many ways an extraordinarily progressive country,” she added. “But like any other place particularly so in India, itâs a land of extremes.”
According to Britian’s gossip magazine Now, Shetty thinks the whole scandal is ridiculous:
“Can you believe it? It’s so, so stupid,” Shilpa, 31, exclaims. “The lunatic fringe went ballistic over nothing.
“Richard was bending me backwards and he kissed me on the cheek. But the news stations were rewinding and replaying the same shot over and over again on primetime TV. They didn’t talk about the HIV problem that faces this country.
“I was furious when I saw people burning effigies of Richard. That sort of behaviour is not representative of my country.”
April 30, 2007 | 11:57 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Massive protests in Turkey yesterday highlighted the growing tension between religious Turks and their secular sisters in the predominantly Muslim country.
Two weeks after three Bible sellers were murdered by Turkish zeoloats, the at least 700,000 secular protesters were concerned about what Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s campaign for presidency would mean for non-religious Turks living in Istanbul and other major cities.
âPeople here are the real Turkey,” one protester told the New York Times:
It is an emotional reaction to a relatively new layering of society that began 20 years ago but has accelerated recently. A massive migration from rural areas to Turkeyâs cities and a large-scale economic boom have drawn an entirely new class of religious Turks from the countryâs heartland into the life of its secular cities.
The class is represented by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is challenging the secular elite, forcing a presidential candidate upon them whom they find completely distasteful.
On Friday, the military gave him a warning. It has ousted four elected governments since 1960, and seemed to be considering whether to make Mr. Erdoganâs the fifth. On Sunday, Mr. Erdogan gave a warning of his own: He will continue to push his candidate, an action that will probably lead to early national elections.
Secular Turks fear that Mr. Erdogan has a secret agenda to impose Islamic law on Turkey and that his partyâs move to secure the presidency, the highest seat of secularism in Turkey, is one of the final steps needed to start that process.
But Metin Heper, a professor at Bilkent University in Ankara, said: âThey fear these people, but these fears are groundless. Gradually, they will see that these people are no different from themselves.â
April 27, 2007 | 11:09 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
LAFD’s public image continues to spiral down. My colleague, Eugene Tong, reported yesterday that someone had gotten on the PA of a fire station in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood (synonymous with L.A. Jewry) and sung, “Who let the Jews out?” to the tune of the Baha Men’s hit song.
That story hit the wire and caught the eye of New Yorker Sam Apple, who is Jewish and two years ago published a book called “Schlepping Through the Alps,” described by The Washington Post as “The liveliest, most unusual travel tale in recent memory.”
To promote his book, Apple created a Passover parody that he put up on YouTube.
Jewcy rated it the second best Jewish Viral Video based on “Jewishness, re-watchability and viral impact (basically, whether you would be proud to forward it).” Apple’s video, which features a distraught Pharoah and a caravan of Israelites driving slammed Caddies through a parted Red Sea, was called “Who let the Jews out?”
Apple, who obviously suffers from Jewish guilt, called Tong to apologize for any indirect harm he may have caused.
April 25, 2007 | 11:13 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Swiss scientist Michel Mayor, who was credited with co-finding the first planet outside our solar system, is now sleuthing for signs of alien life. What if he finds it? What would that mean for the religious faithful on planet Earth?
It’s a vexing question, mostly because it seems impossible to know the importance of the answer. Two years ago, Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders told me the existence of extraterrestrials wouldn’t contradict theological doctrine. Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists already believe aliens exist, though not the kind that tried to eat Sigourney Weaver. Scientology, on the other hand, is built upon scary space creatures.
From an article I wrote for The Sun (no longer available online):
The theological significance of extraterrestrial life has been debated for centuries. In the Middle Ages, as today, some argued that God could have created worlds better than ours; others maintained that Earth was the center of God’s universe.
“Although it became heretical to deny that God could create other worlds, it was dangerous to claim he had,’ Joseph L. Spradley, a physics and astronomy professor at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., wrote in 1998 for a fellowship of Christian scientists.
The verdict from most Christians is still out. However, many theologians say, if God did create other worlds and other people, that would not contradict the biblical story of the sin of man being redeemed by the son of God.
“How God shares the story of creation and of love and of the ultimate hope for the restoration of all things in God’s design, I think that can be worked out in many different ways,’ said Philip A. Amerson, president of the Claremont School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary.
There could be different paths to God on different planets, Amerson said. Others accept a more traditional salvation model.
“Saint Paul would suggest to indicate, and it is just a hint, that if there is life on other planets, and these beings needed salvation or redemption, the death of Christ on planet Earth would be a sufficient price,’ said the Rev. John Jefferson Davis, a Presbyterian and professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston.
Another possibility is that extraterrestrials would not need atonement, Seventh-day Adventists believe. Because these beings would not have been borne of Adam and Eve, they would be perfectly moral beings incapable of sin.
April 25, 2007 | 11:18 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
It doesn’t matter what rhetorical polishing President Bush’s team has done to market the “War on Terror.” Outside the United States, it’s perceived as an effort to undermine—even attack—Islam, according to a report by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a research group affiliated with the University of Maryland.
“While US leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the Islamic world clearly perceive the US as being at war with Islam,â said Steven Kull, editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org.
Via the Bible Belt Blogger:
Muslims have raised concerns about the “War on Terrorism” since President Bush briefly dubbed it a “crusade” back in September 2001. [The word, which conjures up images of medieval battles between Christians and Muslims, was quickly scrapped.]
In Egypt, 92 percent of those polled believe one of the U.S.‘s goals is to weaken and divide the Islamic world. Only four percent disagreed. Seventy-eight percent agreed with the statement in Morocco, and 73 percent shared that view in Pakistan and Indonesia.
While suspicious of U.S. foreign policy, the people polled also expressed opposition to terrorism. Attacks aimed at civilians to carry out political goals are “not at all justified” according to 57 percent of Moroccans, 77 percent of Egyptians, 81 percent of Pakistanis and 84 percent of Indonesians.
U.S. Muslims were not surveyed. Though Muslim Americans might not believe the United States is at war with Islam, they have grown increasingly concerned about home-grown Islamophobia. When I wrote about this two weeks ago, it incited some e-mails that warranted their fears.
But this statement from WorldPublicOpinion’s press release helps explain why some Americans broadly paint Muslims as scary:
Most respondents have mixed feelings about al Qaeda. Large majorities agree with many of its goals, but believe that terrorist attacks on civilians are contrary to Islam.
Many people would stop reading after that first sentence.
April 24, 2007 | 11:08 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?”
Hitler reportedly asked that question of his commanding generals in 1939, as he prepared to rid the world of Jews. Holocaust historians site this quotation when trying to explain Hitler’s rational for how his acts would escape world condemnation. And yet, Jews—who have so much in common with Armenians—have struggled to embrace Armenians as true kindred spirits, diaspora people like Jews, who, though they did not suffer the Holocaust, suffered a holocaust.
Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the beginning of what most historians call the Armenian Genocide. And though most Western countries have recognized the acts as genocide, the United States and Israel have not. The U.S. has not wanted to offend an important military ally, and Israel has been hard pressed to condemn the founding fathers of the best friend in the Muslim world.
But the tide has shifted.
Two years ago, the Daily News’ Lisa Friedman reported that Rep. Mark Lantos, Congress’ only Holocaust survivor, had changed course and now supported a resolution to call the slaugthering of Armenians by Ottomon Turks a genocide. Media outlets have been all over the story this year, the year handicappers predict Congress might finally pass a non-binding resolution calling the atrocities genocide. (The LA Times had a front-page story Saturday and an Opinion cover Sunday.) A January headline in the Turkish Daily News proclaimed, “US Jewish lobby warns Turkish MFA: Even we might not be able to block the Armenian genocide bill if you donât move.”
Valley Beth Shalom, a Conservative Encino synagogue, has begun pushing for Jewish recognition. I covered an event the synagogue held in January that brought together Armenian and Jewish youth for a screening of the moving “Screamers,” a documentary following the rock band System of a Down’s campaign to have the genocide acknowledged across Europe and the U.S.
“Amnesia of the past foreshadows amnesia of the future. Forget yesterday’s tragedy and the threat to tomorrow is denied. Forget the first genocide of the 20th century—the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915—and the memory and atrocities of the first genocide of the 21st century in Darfur turn invisible, and the world response is muted,” Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom wrote in this week’s Jewish Journal.
” ... Every genocide is singular. But a kinship of suffering unites us all. To play the shameless game of “one-downsmanship” is an invidious sport. My blood is not redder than yours, my suffering not more painful than yours. Hatred consumes us all indiscriminately.”
Schulweis, who founded the group Jewish World Watch, which is working against the genocide in Darfur, also will preside over a shabbat dinner for Armenians and Jews at his temple Friday night. He will be joined by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, Western Diocese/Armenian Church of North America.
Turkey does not dispute that more than a million Armenians were killed from 1915 to 1923, but it attributes the deaths to civil strife and notes that many Turks died then, too; there are even statues to who lost their lives.
“Let’s unearth the truth about what happened in 1915 together,” the Turkish embassy said in a full page ad on the back of the LA Times A section Monday. “We can face the truth about our past; we call upon the Armenians to do the same.”