Christians Must Think Differently About Israel, Jews in Light of Past Atrocities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

Christians Must Think Differently About Israel, Jews in Light of Past Atrocities: Gerald McDermott

 

Jun 22, 2017 | 10:05 AM

 The majority of Christians have been wrong about Israel for most of their history, according to a leading Anglican theologian and Israel scholar.
(Photo: Reuters) An Israeli flag flies high in Tel Aviv, December 28, 2010.

For many reasons, Christians ought to think differently about the land of Israel and the Jews as God’s covenant people, Gerald R. McDermott, Anglican chair at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, explains in a new book.

In an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday, McDermott explained that his latest work, Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently About the People and the Land, articulates why it’s important for believers in Jesus to engage Israel with the utmost humility. This is necessary not only because of the geopolitical complexities present there but especially because “the Jews have been horribly wronged by Christians over the millennia.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Gerald McDermott)Gerald McDermott, author of Israel Matter: Why Christians Must Think Differently About the People and the Land.

“Even before the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Jews were murdered over the last 1,800 years by Christians as “Christ-killers,” McDermott said, noting at the time of the Holocaust Germany was the most Christianized nation in the world.

“Jews know these things and are afraid of us,” he said.

The error in thinking that Jesus departed from Judaism and began a new religion furthers the distance between Christians and Jews and makes Jews into an “other,” he said.

Yet in the past several decades, especially in the United States, a resurgence of what is known as Christian Zionism, the view that the land of Israel and ethnic Jews remain central to God’s eternal purposes, has occurred.

McDermott did not personally subscribe to this perspective because he associated it with dispensationalism, theology that considers biblical history as divided intentionally by God into specific ages to each of which He has allotted distinctive administrative principles. This teaching was popularized in the 1800’s by Anglo-Irish preacher John Nelson Darby.

But all that began to change for him upon doing further study of the Bible and history and he found that throughout the ages a minority has believed that one day, in accordance with Scripture, a massive in gathering of Jewish people to their historic homeland would take place.

(Photo: Courtesy of Gerald McDermott)Cover of the book “Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land,” by Gerald R. McDermott.

He realized he did not have to accept a dispensationalist approach to regard the land and people of Israel as an essential component of God’s ongoing work in the world. Nor did he have to subscribe to the often wild, apocalyptic end times scenarios some Christian Zionists have espoused in the past.

In Chapter 3 of Israel Matters the author showcases “Those Who Got It Right.”

From early Church fathers like Tertullian to more recent figures like American theologian Jonathan Edwards and Swiss theologian Karl Barth, each of these men believed that a day would come when the Jews would return to their ancient homeland.

During his ministry Edwards repeatedly warned against spiritualizing biblical promises to the Jews. When the modern state of Israel was established in 1948 Barth wrote that it was a “secular parable” and that the large numbers of Jews returning to the land was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

As is expressed throughout The New Christian Zionism, a volume of Christian scholarship on Israel released last year for which McDermott was the editor, Israel Matters argues strongly against supercessionism. This is also known as “replacement theology” which holds that the Church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.

Today, what is known as “fulfillment theology,” which some assert is merely an updated form of replacement theology, also holds that Jews do not have a God-given destiny in their ancient land. But instead of the Church replacing Israel, its proponents contend that Jesus fulfills in his life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews, including the promise that the land of Canaan would be their everlasting possession.

This theology considers the land insignificant and that the only Jews who are now significant to God are Messianic Jews, those who believe Jesus is the Messiah.

But several passages in the New Testament suggest both beliefs are wrong, McDermott explained.

“Paul says in Romans 11:28 that the Jews who did not accept Jesus as Messiah were ‘enemies of the Gospel’ but nevertheless ‘are beloved’ to God, and that their ‘gifts and calling of God’ to be His special people ‘are irrevocable,'” he said.

Moreover, the Apostle Paul was writing to the Romans 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection but even then was still saying that God’s covenant with ethnic Israel remains in place. This did not mean that all Jews were saved, but that they were still special to God in a particular way.

Likewise, in his Beatitude in Matthew 5:5, Jesus was quoting Psalm 37:11 word for word when he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the [earth.]” The Hebrew word for “earth,” which is used five times in Psalm 37, in every one of these five instances in Psalm 37 refers to the land of Israel, McDermott continued. So the Beatitude is better translated, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Land.”

And in Acts 1:6, “when Jesus’ disciples asked him just before his ascension, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ Jesus did not tell them they were wrong to think there would be a future Israel that God would establish,” he said.

“Instead, He (Jesus) said that the timing of that future was not to be known then.”

(Photo: Reuters)People walk near Damascus Gate leading into Jerusalem’s Old City, 2017.

In addition to the theological objections McDermott unpacks in the book, he explores the modern political history of the region, which is often characterized by intense and bloody conflicts.

Yet unlike some Christian Zionists who appear to think that the nation of Israel can do no wrong, McDermott is not afraid to criticize the Israeli government when it’s warranted.

He acknowledges in the book where Palestinians have been mistreated at times, how the Israeli government has broken promises, and how certain policies have been unwise. He also writes that the state of Israel should do more to protect Messianic believers. Whether an unjust action is perpetrated by a Jew or an Arab, he says, Christians need to feel free to raise their voices to criticize whoever is responsible when it is clear such an injustice has occurred.

Although imperfect, the state of Israel, “an oasis of freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” is inextricably linked with the Jews, McDermott insists.

“Even if the covenanted people of Israel and the state of Israel are not one and the same, they are intertwined in a complex way,” he writes in the book.

“The state could not exist without its people, and the covenanted people could not survive or flourish without the state. The state shelters the people, and the people — though not all are religious Jews — support the state. One without the other is unthinkable and impossible.”

For Christians who care about the Palestinians and their rights, McDermott encourages them to visit Israel since tourism helps everyone there, and to support the largely-unreported incremental steps Israel is taking to improve the lot of Palestinians.

(PHOTO: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN/FILE PHOTO) The facade of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel as seen on Jan. 20, 2017.

Written in a scholarly yet accessible tone, Israel Matters is likely to be a important resource for Christians looking to bring their faith to bear on current events unfolding in the United States and in the Middle East. Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed a waiver delaying the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, skirting a key campaign promise that he might or might not revisit.

CP asked McDermott if moving the embassy would constitute a blessing to Israel, as some scholars have argued.

Such a move would “help the cause for peace, not hurt it,” he replied.

“First of all, it would be the simple recognition of reality: Jerusalem and no other city is Israel’s capital,” McDermott said.

“Second, the Palestinian leaders are thugs who would realize by this move that they can no longer dictate as they did to Obama, whose policies hurt both Jews and Arabs.”

The only hope for improvement is for [Palestinian President] Abbas to understand that he has to talk to the Israelis and moving the U.S. diplomatic outpost to the capital would signal to him that he can no longer circumvent the Israelis and try to get what he wants from the United Nations, he added.

Aside from the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures and political considerations, Christians need to think differently about the people and land of Israel because Jesus was and is Jewish, McDermott stressed. And in order to relate to Jewish friends, getting in touch with His Jewishness is essential.

“The Jews were raised up by God as representatives of humanity,” McDermott said. “So that if the Bible shows their departures from God, it is really illustrating ours.”

“Jesus prized Jewish law, said that salvation is from the Jews, predicted that one day Jerusalem will welcome Him, and foresaw that His Apostles will one day rule over the tribes of Israel,” McDermott said.

If Christians begin to think they are somehow better because they believe in Jesus as Messiah and the Jews do not, they fail to understand God’s grace, he added.

“When we realize how profoundly Jewish Jesus was and is, we will feel greater kinship with those for whom Paul said he had ‘unceasing anguish in his heart.'”

Follow Brandon Showalter on Twitter: @BrandonMShow

Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: @BrandonMShow

Indiana Muslims Appalled By Accurate List of Muhammad’s Deeds

 

US

Indiana Muslims Appalled By Accurate List of Muhammad’s Deeds

GRACE CARR
06/07/2017
A billboard on the east side of Indianapolis is catching the attention of many drivers and angering lots of Muslims.

“The Perfect Man” poster references the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam and was put up by Truthophobes — a website dedicated to “exposing the truth about Islam.”

The billboard lists six boxes below things the prophet did or beliefs he espoused during his lifetime, according to Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

The billboard’s facts check out except for its first box stating Muhammad married a 6-year-old. In fact, his wife was 6-years-old when she became engaged to the prophet Muhammad and 9-years-old when they were married. The billboard signs off with “Educate Truthophobes.”

“I was a little disappointed when I saw that … We do support free speech, but we do realize this is also rooted in bigotry,” said Farial Khatri of the Islamic Society of North America, according to Fox59. “We’ve seen them in New York and several others cities on billboards as well as other transit ads,” he added.

Some groups spoke out against the display as disparaging to Muslims while other groups want to do more. The Muslim Alliance of Indiana plans to raise money to put up its own billboard nearby to spread a message of peace and kindness.

Rima Shahid, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, said she was “heartsick” when she saw a photo of the billboard, especially since it appeared at the start of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month. She strongly condemned the billboard for spreading lies and misinformation about Islam and its prophet. “These are completely false statements,” Shahid said, according to NBC news.

“It perpetuates hate. It perpetuates misconceptions about Islam, and it makes our neighbors think we believe things that just aren’t true … they’ve been misinformed,” she said. “This billboard is garbage,” Shahid added.

Shortly after the giant board went up, the Muslim Alliance of Indiana reached out to Mayor Joe Hogsett and Congressman Andre Carson about ways to challenge the billboard. It is important to note that the board was put up shortly after three separate terrorist attacks executed by Muslim extremists – Westminster Bridge, Manchester, and Borough – rocked the the UK.

FOX59 emailed “Truthophobes” to ask if the site’s operators are responsible for the billboard but they received no response.

Follow Grace on Twitter.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition And Torture Of Jews

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition

A close-up of one of Carvajal diaries
Image caption Luis de Carvajal used gold leaf from Bibles to decorate the diary

A story of torture, betrayal and persecution is captivating Mexicans almost 500 years after it happened.

The dramatic life and death of the Carvajal family in 16th-Century Mexico is in the spotlight after a decades-long search for a national treasure came to an unexpected happy ending.

Luis de Carvajal “The Young” came to Mexico – then known as New Spain – with his large, well-to-do family during the early colonisation of the Americas.

His family governed part of northern Mexico and soon made enemies, including a power-hungry viceroy keen to topple them from power.

The ambitious viceroy discovered that Luis de Carvajal was a practising Jew, a crime punishable by death in the times of the Spanish Inquisition

Older relatives had urged Luis de Carvajal to convert to Catholicism for his own safety, but he staunchly stuck to his faith.

Secret record

When he was first arrested, the authorities let him off with a warning but kept tabs on him.

Far from giving up his religion, Luis de Carvajal became a leader in Mexico’s underground Jewish community.

An employee holds the 16th-century manuscript by Spanish-born Jew Luis de Carvajal the Younger as it is displayed to the media at the Anthropology museum in Mexico City, Mexico March 23, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionLuis de Carvajal chronicled his fall from governor to being sentenced to death in his tiny handwriting

When the inquisitors caught up with him again a few years later, he was sentenced to death. He was just 30 years old.

Before he was executed, he was tortured so badly that he revealed the names of 120 fellow Jewish people, historian Alicia Gojman explains.

His captors forced him to listen as those “heretics”, which included his own mother, were tortured in the cell next to him.

“He tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t cope with having told them about his family and friends, but didn’t manage it,” says Ms Gojman.

We know the excruciating details of Luis de Carvajal’s persecution because he managed to keep secret diaries.

But these were not any old notebooks. They were painstakingly crafted, miniature manuscripts with almost microscopic handwriting in Latin and Spanish.

Some pages were intricately decorated with gold leaf he scraped from pages of a Bible.

Each of the three memoirs was no larger than a present-day iPhone, most likely so he could keep them hidden away under his hat.

An iPhone lies next to the manuscript
Image captionThe small size of the diaries meant they could be hidden easily

Luis de Carvajal wrote about being a young Jew in the New World, about exploring his heritage and practising his beliefs despite the dangers.

But much of the memoirs focus on his final tragic days before he was burned at the stake, with vivid descriptions of him falling to his knees upon hearing his mother’s tortured screams as she was pulled on the rack.

Luis de Carvajal found comfort in poetry, writing verses and prayers to reaffirm his faith in the face of so much cruelty.

Treasured artefacts

Luis de Carvajal’s memoirs are treasured by Mexico’s Jewish population as chronicles of keeping faith despite the ruthlessness of the Spanish Inquisition.

“Children who go to Jewish schools study the Carvajal family history,” says Mauricio Lulka, executive director of the Central Committee for the Jewish Community in Mexico.

A view of the manuscript.
Image captionThe history told in the diaries is taught in Jewish schools in Mexico today

For centuries, the delicate manuscripts were kept in Mexico’s National Archives. They were treasured as being among the first artefacts documenting the arrival of Jews to the Americas and were studied by researchers from around the world.

But in 1932 they vanished, leading to suspicions among the small group of academics who had access to them that one of them may have stolen the precious diaries. After all, they were small enough to hide under a hat.

With no trace of the documents, the search was eventually suspended and the trail went cold.

More than 80 years after their disappearance, the London auction house Swann in 2016 listed “replicas” of the manuscript at an initial price of $1,500 (£1,150).

But a US collector of Judaica, Leonard Milberg, was suspicious.

Why would someone go to the trouble of recreating the minuscule handwriting of Luis de Carvajal’s original to create a replica?

Intrigued, he contacted the Mexican consulate which confirmed that the originals were still missing and sent experts to check the “replicas” out.

Baltazar Brito is the director of the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico and one of the experts sent to assess the documents.

“When I got there, something told me they were originals, I knew it in my heart,” he says.

A man looks at the manuscripts at an exhibition
Image captionBaltazar Brito said he had a “gut feeling” the documents were originals

For Mr Brito, the documents have relevance beyond their time.

“They tell the story of religious intolerance that we shouldn’t let happen again in the world,” he says. “Despite that, it still happens.”

Leonard Milberg felt the manuscripts belonged in Mexico, so the collector made it his mission to deal with all the international agencies involved and covered the costs of sending them back.

Their safe return was welcome news for Mexico’s now thriving Jewish community of about 50,000 people, many of whom were drawn to the country by its modern-day commitment to religious freedom.

After they were briefly exhibited in Mexico City they are now safely stored in a special climate-controlled vault in the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico, as no one wants to risk the miniature manuscripts disappearing for another eight decades.

Related Topics

‘Iraqi Christians Are Infidels Who Must Be Killed or Converted,’ Says Top Shia Cleric

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

‘Iraqi Christians Are Infidels Who Must Be Killed or Converted,’ Says Shia Cleric

 

May 21, 2017 | 10:17 AM

About 200 Christian families in Iraq have filed a lawsuit against the head of the country’s Shia Endowment for inciting sectarian violence against the Christian minority by saying in a video that Christians should be converted to Islam or killed.

(Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)Iraqis attend the first Palm Sunday procession in the burnt out main church of the Christian city of Qaraqosh since Iraqi forces retook it from Islamic States militants, Iraq April 9, 2017.

“Either they convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya [a tax on non-Muslims],” said Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, who heads the government body which maintains all of Iraq’s Shia holy sites, in a sermon, according to a YouTube video uploaded by Middle East Monitor.

Declaring Christians to be “infidels and polytheists,” Al-Mousawi called for “jihad” against them. “Jews and Christians” must be fought and killed if they do not accept Islam, he went on to say.

The cleric is being compared to the Islamic State terror group, which is also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, which had asked Christians in Iraq’s northern provinces in 2014 to covert, flee or be killed. As a result of that warning, about 100,000 Christians had to flee at the time.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently met with Iraqi Christians during a visit to Jordan.

“People are divided from their children and families and have no idea what will happen. One woman has children in both Germany and the Netherlands, but has been refused entry to both so she doesn’t know when or if they will ever be reunited,” Welby said. “Young men are vulnerable to being recruited to extremist causes because their community and networks have been stripped away.”

Since 2003, as many as 1.5 million Christians, or close to 75 percent of all followers of Christ in Iraq, have fled the country, according to Josef Sleve, an Iraqi Christian lawmaker.

“The number of Christians living in the country now stands at between 500,000 and 850,000,” Sleve told Anadolu Agency earlier this month. “This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries.”

IS has said it wants to wipe out Christians, and has beheaded, executed, tortured and enslaved thousands of people within its captured territory, which extends into Syria and other regions.

However, some Christians are now returning to their homes on the Plains of Nineveh in Iraq, and three major church groups have come together to rebuild more than 12,000 houses that were destroyed or damaged. The Syriac Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church have formed the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee to plan and supervise the rebuilding of the houses.

Security forces backed by a U.S.-led international coalition last year took back several cities in Iraq from IS and liberated eastern Mosul in December. They are now trying to liberate the western parts of the city.

In an interview with Fox News earlier this year, Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “vicar of Baghdad,” said the “time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some say Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited.”

He added, “If there is anything I can tell Americans it is that your fellow brothers and sisters are suffering, they are desperate for help. And it is not just a matter of praying for peace. They need a lot — food, resources, clothes, everything. They need everything.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/iraqi-christians-infidels-killed-converted-shia-cleric-mousawi

 

Understanding The Bible’s Second Psalm

UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE’S 2nd PSALM

The 2nd Psalm: Coronation of the Lord’s Anointed

To me the Bible’s second Psalm is not a mystery, I do not say this as some sort of ‘brag’, I say it as an observation. I have studied the teachings of the Bible, Old and New Testaments since I was 10 years old, I am 60 now. During this time I have read through and studied through (there is a difference) the Bible many times. I am not going to say how many times I have done these things as studying G-d’s Word is not a ‘Cock Crowing’ contest. Studying the Scriptures is a practice of love just as Christianity is an act of love and obedience to our Creator. I ask you to please consider the definitions that I will give to you after I have completed typing in these 12 verses that make up the Second Psalm.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

The Kings of the Earth set themselves, and the Rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying,

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

He that sits in Heaven will laugh; the Lord will have them in derision (ridicule).

Then shall He (G-d) speak to them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure.

Yet have I (G-d) set My King (Christ) upon My Holy Hill of Zion.

I will declare the decree: the Lord has said unto me , You are My Son; this day I have begotten Thee.

Ask of Me, and I shall give You the heathen for Your inheritance, and the utter most parts of the Earth as Your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall break them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Be wise now therefore, O ye Kings: be instructed, ye Judges of the Earth.

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss The Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Bible scholars seem to have for the most part told us that King David of Israel wrote, or had a scribe do it for him, just about half (75) of Psalms 150 verses. 2nd Psalm is not one of those that is credited to King David. The 2nd and the 95th Psalm were not written by King David even though they are credited to an Israeli King. In the New Testament in the books of Acts 4:25 and in Hebrews 4:7 we gain the understanding that the King who pinned these two Psalms, his name translated into “Beloved of Yahweh”, and this was not King David. By the way, for the folks who do not already know it, Yahweh is the Hebrew name for G-d the Father. For those of you who are wondering why I have been spelling the word G-d this way is out of courtesy to my devout Jewish friends who do this out of respect to G-d just as some who even though they are quite fluent in the Hebrew language they tend to speak Yiddish, or some other language, again, out of respect to our Creator. Many feel that the average human is not worthy of speaking the “language of G-d”. Upon closing I bring you one other little tidbit of information concerning Psalms 2:7 and it’s fulfillment in the New Testament Book of Matthew 3:17, “G-d will declare Him to be His Son.”

Some folks think that the 2nd Psalm is talking about King David as David was indeed anointed by G-d to be an earthly King of Israel ( 1011-971 B.C.) David’s rule was temporal, when ‘The Christ’ descends from His home in Heaven the ‘New Jerusalem’ will have already been placed over the ruins of the current Jerusalem. ‘The Christ’ will sit upon His Throne upon ‘The Temple Mount’ and He will rule the whole world from there. At this time Christ will have banished Satan/Allah to His eternal home in the belly of Hell.

I hope you have enjoyed this short commentary and I hope that you will leave me any questions that you may have about this article, or pretty much anything else if you so wish. I did not get into the issue of Jesus being ‘The Christ’ as this issue easily makes for a longer article than this one all by itself so I will save that discussion/issue for another article. Thank you for taking of your time to read what I have written, I hope that you were able to enjoy the article.

Venezuela sends 2,000 troops to state hit by looting, protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Venezuela sends 2,000 troops to state hit by looting, protests

Workers of the health sector and opposition supporters take part in a protest against President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello
By Anggy Polanco | SAN CRISTOBAL, VENEZUELA

Venezuela said it was sending 2,000 soldiers on Wednesday to a border state that is a hotspot of anti-government radicalism after a night of looting in which one 15-year-old died as political unrest rumbled on in the volatile nation.

Most shops and businesses in San Cristobal, capital of Tachira state on the Colombian border, were closed and guarded by soldiers on Wednesday, though looting continued in some poorer sectors, residents said.

People made off with items including coffee, diapers, and cooking oil in a country where a brutal economic crisis has made basic foods and medicine disappear from shelves.

Barricades of trash, car tires, and sand littered the streets, as daily life broke down in the city that was also a hotspot during the 2014 wave of unrest against leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

Hundreds of thousands of people have come onto the streets across Venezuela since early April to demand elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid and autonomy for the opposition-led legislature.

Maduro’s government accuses them of seeking a violent coup and says many of the protesters are no more than “terrorists.” State oil company PDVSA also blamed roadblocks for pockets of gasoline shortages in the country on Wednesday.

In Tachira, teenager Jose Francisco Guerrero was shot dead during the spate of looting, his relatives said.

“My mom sent my brother yesterday to buy flour for dinner and a little while later, we received a call saying he’d been injured by a bullet,” said his sister Maria Contreras, waiting for his body to be brought to a San Cristobal morgue.

The state prosecutor’s office confirmed his death, which would push the death toll in unrest to at least 43, equal to that of the 2014 protests.

’21ST CENTURY JEWS’

With international pressure against Venezuela’s government mounting, the United Nations Security Council turned its attention to the country’s crisis for the first time on Wednesday.

“The intent of this briefing was to make sure everyone is aware of the situation … we’re not looking for Security Council action,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters after the session.

“The international community needs to say, ‘Respect the human rights of your people or this is going to go in the direction we’ve seen so many others go’ … We have been down this road with Syria, with North Korea, with South Sudan, with Burundi, with Burma.”

Venezuela’s U.N. envoy Rafael Ramirez in turn accused the United States of seeking to topple the Maduro government.

“The U.S. meddling stimulates the action of violent groups in Venezuela,” he said, showing photos of vandalism and violence he said was caused by opposition supporters.

Venezuelans living abroad, many of whom fled the country’s economic chaos, have in recent weeks accosted visiting state officials and their family members.

Maduro on Tuesday likened that harassment to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis.

“We are the new Jews of the 21st century that Hitler pursued,” Maduro said during the cabinet meeting. “We don’t carry the yellow star of David … we carry red hearts that are filled with desire to fight for human dignity. And we are going to defeat them, these 21st century Nazis.”

The German Nazis and their collaborators persecuted and killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during the 1930s and 1940s.

Social media has for weeks buzzed with videos of Venezuelan emigrees in countries from Australia to the United States shouting insults at public officials and in some cases family members in public places.

Maduro’s critics say it is outrageous for officials to spend money on foreign travel when people are struggling to obtain food and children are dying for lack of basic medicines.

But some opposition sympathizers say such mob-like harassment is the wrong way to confront the government.

Graphic on Venezuela’s economic woes: here

(Reporting by Anggy Polanco, additional reporting by Eyanir Chinea, Brian Ellsworth, Girish Gupta and Andrew Cawthorne in Caracas, Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations in New York; Writing by Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Andrew Hay)

Rise of Hard-liners Alarms Moderates in Indonesia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

World

Rise of Hard-liners Alarms Moderates in Indonesia

Protesters take to the streets in Jakarta on April 28 to demonstrate against outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP via Getty Images)

Jakarta, Indonesia- In¬mid-February, Muhammad al-Khaththath, leader of the hard-line Muslim Community Forum, held court on the top floor of a Jakarta fast-food joint. With key deputies gathered around, he explained the direction in which he hoped to push relatively secular, democratic Indonesia.

Sharia would become the law of the land, non-Muslims would lose their leadership posts and thieves, in accordance with Islamic law, would have their hands lopped off, he said. He also criticized Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s pluralist president.

Widodo “isn’t a liberal Muslim,” Khaththath said. “He’s a Muslim who doesn’t get it.”

Six weeks later, Khaththath was detained on treason charges, accused of plotting a coup. But in an April 19 runoff election for governor of Jakarta, his preferred candidate, fellow Muslim Anies Baswedan, defeated the Christian incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after a campaign laden with religious overtones.

Since then, hard-line Islamist groups have gained stature; their ability to mobilize huge crowds was considered crucial to securing Baswedan’s lopsided victory. But a strong backlash also has emerged, led by moderate Muslims who worry that conservative Islamists are wrecking Indonesia’s tradition of religious tolerance.

Khaththath had taken over as the leader of a powerful protest movement against Purnama, a Widodo ally, in the months leading up to the gubernatorial election, after the previous leader was summoned by police on pornography charges.

But police came for Khaththath in late March, escorting him from his hotel room to the detention facility where he remains. A few weeks later, on the eve of the election, Khaththath managed to send a letter to his supporters.

“From my detention room, I tap on the sky door,” Khaththath wrote. He hoped the tap would be felt by “every Muslim heart” and would persuade the faithful to “choose a Muslim governor.”

Not every Muslim heart felt the tap, but enough did to secure a clean victory for Baswedan. The high-stakes election campaign was marked by the largest conservative rallies in generations, as well as by intensifying — and controversial — legal efforts by the Indonesian government to rein in the hard-line groups’ leadership.

Now that the election is over, many moderate Muslim leaders say they are treating it as a wake-up call about the growing power of Indonesian hard-line organizations and the need to take stern action to stop them.

“I am not worried about the candidates who won,” said Sidarto Danusobroto, a former speaker of the Senate and key adviser to the president. “I am worried about the groups that supported them — the Islamic Defenders Front and Hizbut Tahrir.”

“Islam is different from how the Islamic Defenders Front portrays it,” said Mohammad Nuruzzaman, head of strategic research for Ansor, a moderate Muslim youth movement that has been working with the police to break up hard-line Muslim gatherings.

In one of a number of efforts in the past few weeks to curb extremists, police officials and nationalist groups in the central Javanese town of Semarang prevented the Islamic Defenders Front from opening a branch.

“We have a tolerant city,” said Iwan Santoso, a representative from the Red and White, a group that takes its name from the colors of the Indonesian flag. “We don’t want students to be instigated.”

This past week, police in East Java, apparently acting at the urging of moderate Muslims or nationalists, shut down a planned university event featuring Felix Siauw, a Chinese Indonesian convert to Islam who has become a major hard-line preacher. In a Web video subsequently uploaded to his Facebook page, Siauw said, “We should have a nation of laws, and the laws should apply to all.”

But moderate Muslim and civil society groups increasingly are calling for bans on organizations that push for the creation of a caliphate. Nuruzzaman, of Ansor, compared such organizations to the Indonesian Communist Party, a boogeyman from Indonesia’s past.

“The goal of Communists and those who support the caliphate are similar — both want all countries in the world to be run under one system,” he said.

Last Tuesday, police announced that they were reviewing the legality of Hizbut Tahrir because of the international Islamist group’s embrace of a global caliphate. Muhammad Ismail ¬Yusanto, a spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir here, protested that its goal of establishing a caliphate does not violate the Indonesian constitution.

“All we do is convey Islam’s teachings,” he said in an interview. Besides, he argued, the constitution can be amended.

Hizbut Tahrir is banned in many countries around the world, including Germany, China, Egypt and numerous other Arab states. But it has operated for nearly 20 years in democratic Indonesia.

Some rights activists oppose banning the group. Andreas Harsono, Indonesia representative of Human Rights Watch, said that although Hizbut Tahrir’s ideology is deeply discriminatory — toward women, LGBT people and minority faiths — that does not mean the organization should be shut down.

“It is not illegal to say, ‘I want to discriminate against women,’ ” he argued, acknowledging that the case is “complicated.”

More worrying to Harsono are the Indonesian government’s efforts to pursue radical religious leaders for alleged offenses unrelated to their Islamist activism, or on exaggerated charges. Habib Rizieq, perhaps the nation’s most powerful hard-line figure, was brought in for questioning by police over pornographic images he is alleged to have exchanged with a woman who is not his wife, while Khaththath was charged with trying to organize a coup.

“It’s very concerning,” said Harsono, who said he knows of no evidence that Khaththath was plotting the violent overthrow of the government.

Marcus Mietzner, an associate professor at Australian National University, expressed concern that heavy-handed charges would harm Indonesia’s democracy.

“What they should not do is arbitrarily throw criminal charges at individual leaders that are either excessive, like the treason accusation, or unrelated, as the pornography case,” he wrote in an email. “This, in turn, will only increase the sense of victimization among conservative Muslims.”

That already appears to be happening. Achmad Sofyan, a Khaththath deputy who was also investigated by police, said: “It isn’t fair. The case was engineered.”

Mietzner suggested that the government has legal ways to handle hard-line groups but has opted for different tactics in part to avoid a messy public debate. If the state prosecuted these groups, “it would have to argue in front of the courts why Islam should not be Indonesia’s primary legal-political foundation,” he wrote.

For Nuruzzaman, it is crucial to oppose the hard-liners, whatever the difficulties.

“We don’t want the government to take repressive measures,” he said. Nonetheless, “we have to confront them.”

The Washington Post

Four Thoughts Of Philosophy; 2 From Scripture, Then 2 Thoughts/Questions from Me

 

Two of these peaces of thought are from two Old Testament Scripture, the first is part of a prayer from Moses in the Book of Psalms the 90th Chapter. I got this idea from another blog about 2 or 3 days ago but I don’t remember which one, this prayer was part of that article. In slots number 2 and 3 I am going to drop in a couple of pieces of thought that I have jotted down the past couple of days. Then I am going to finish off this article today with a ‘thought’ from the Prophet Daniel. Please feel free to leave me comments on your thoughts, it is good to try to learn what other people think, and sometimes maybe even why they think different from we do, or maybe the same as we do.

1). The very strength of age is sorrow. What then is its weakness? Covet not extreme old age; but know that if it comes God must be our portion, or else life will be a burden.

2). This is why the whole world needs to be under a Socialists system folks: because that at the end of the day the only thing counts is who made the most cash today! When the masses are not needed even if their labor were totally free. When you are not making anything and you are costing someone else, then why should the top .1% continue to pay your way. O, but now what? Do those “little people” get to live a free breath? Or to be allowed to breathe at all? If all do not care for each other than there is no chance for the whole to survive without massive bloodshed at some point in time to either eliminate, or to care for each other.

3). Should there be storage sheds filled with excess food set back for the wealthiest of the world’s population? Personally I don’t see anything wrong with that being reality for some people if that is what they wish to do. With one notable exception or disclaimer if you will. That being okay as long as there are no people in the world going hungry at this same snapshot in time. If I have extra food and water yet I allow my neighbors to die from starvation or thirst, I fear looking our Lord in His eyes if we are guilty of such at on our Judgement Day.

 

4). This is from the Book of Daniel 9:3-4

And I set my face unto the Lord, to seek by prayer an supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth and ashes:

And I prayed unto the Lord my G-d, and made my confession and said, O Lord, the Great and Dreadful G-d. Keeping the Covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His Commandments.

 

Just wondering what your thoughts on these pieces of thought are. I hope you are all able to have a great weekend, stay safe, God bless.

 

Is President Trump Bluffing Again? Or, Does He Actually Know Something?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

If Trump has a Strategy on Israeli-Palestinian Peace, it’s Remaining a Secret

If President Trump has a real strategy to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it’s such a tightly held secret that even the parties involved don’t seem to know what it is. When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits the White House this week, that mystery will be on full display.

“I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said last week. “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”

Setting aside the patent absurdity of that statement, what’s clear is that the White House is willing to devote time and attention to new Middle East negotiations and the president wants to be personally involved.

The problem is there’s a glaring gap between Trump’s high-flying rhetoric and his still-unexplained strategy. As the Abbas visit approaches, there’s no clarity in sight.

Last week, a high-level Palestinian delegation led by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat traveled to Washington to prepare for the visit. The group met with Trump’s envoy on Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, as well as with White House and State Department officials.

Both sides are keeping expectations for the Trump-Abbas meeting low. Palestinian officials tell me the Trump team doesn’t seem to know exactly what Trump wants to discuss or propose. White House staff declined to say anything at all about their goals for the meeting. Some experts think that’s because there’s no depth to Trump’s approach.

“How you deal with Abbas is directly related to a broader strategy, which unless they haven’t announced it, they simply don’t have,” said former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller. “It’s hard to see that this is going to turn out to be much more than a stage visit.”

In truth, there really isn’t much Trump and Abbas can agree to. There’s little hope that Abbas will give Trump what the US side wants, namely a promise to address the issue of incitement in the Palestinian territories or a pledge to curb the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s policy of paying families of terrorists who have attacked Israelis and Americans.

Likewise, there’s no prospect that Trump will deliver what Abbas wants — a commitment to press the Israelis into a freeze of settlement-building that would meet Palestinian standards. The United States has secured an informal agreement with the government of Benjamin Netanyahu to place some limits on building new settlements, a version of the “build up, not out” framework from the George W. Bush administration. But that falls short of what Abbas says is needed before negotiations can begin.

The meeting could be significant by itself, if Trump and Abbas can establish a personal rapport to build on in the future. But therein also lies a risk.

“The president has never met Abbas and that makes it an important meeting,” said former White House and State Department official Elliott Abrams. “But if he forms the opinion that Abbas is not strong enough to do a deal and then implement it, that will have a real impact on American policy.”

Sure to be present at the meeting is Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is overseeing Greenblatt’s work. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, will reportedly join Donald Trump for a trip to Israel in late May.

Administration officials sometimes talk about an “outside-in” approach whereby a framework for peace negotiations would be arranged with Arab states and then folded into the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic. Details of that plan are hazy, and the Trump team has yet to explain how it plans to incentivize Arab states to buy in.

Martin Indyk, who served as President Barack Obama’s special envoy on this issue, said Trump’s approach of trying to find avenues to pursue is positive but cannot overcome the inability of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make the political compromises necessary for real progress.

“Based on experience, there’s one principle that I operate on. By American willpower alone, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved,” he said.

There are things the Trump team can do constructively, including bolstering Abbas by promoting economic development in the West Bank, Indyk said. Making small progress on the margins could improve the chances for peace down the line.

But by going for headlines, not trend lines, Trump is raising expectations and putting his administration’s already-thin credibility at risk. There can be dangerous consequences in the Middle East when high-stakes diplomacy fails. The new administration would be better off recognizing that peace is not in the offing.

The Washington Post

Forgive us, we did not know. Forgive him, he does not understand (JCC Bomb Hoaxer)

The parents of the JCC bomb hoaxer accused of a vast, relentless two-year campaign of vicious threats and internet crime do their best to explain the inexplicable

Source: Forgive us, we did not know. Forgive him, he does not understand