Why I’m ‘Pro-Israel’

I found the Four Points: Arguments for Israel rather validating:

When it comes to Israel, tempers sometimes flare, and sometimes we don’t even know how to respond. We might hear a new argument or a new perspective, and the limited knowledge we have proves to be insufficient. Especially in the age of sound-bites and knee-jerk politics, we need to have more facts at our fingertips, organize what we know, and be prepared to respond effectively.

Recognizing this, here is a “Four-Point” educational campaign produced by Hasbara Fellowships. Each of the following 10 topics has four bullet-points — to help deepen our understanding of the major issues of the Mideast conflict.


1) Jews can live in Mexico City, Bangkok, St. Louis, and any city in the world (except in Saudi Arabia) — but the PA wants to forbid Jews from living in the very cradle of Judaism.

2) The only period in the last 3,000 years without a continued Jewish presence in the West Bank was the 19 years between 1948-1967 when the Jordanian government banned Jews from living there.

3) In 1979, Ariel Sharon dismantled Yamit and other settlements in the Sinai when it was absolutely clear that compromise would bring a true peace.

4) Since the disputed territories were never part of a sovereign nation, and were acquired in a defensive war, international law permits the voluntary settlement of the land. Recognizing this, the Oslo agreements never addressed the issue of Jewish or Arab settlements.


1) There would be no refugee problem if seven Arab nations had not attacked Israel upon its inception in 1948.

2) Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have consciously chosen to isolate refugees as political pawns,rather than integrate them into a normalized life. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 reads that all governments involved must share responsibility.

3)800,000 Jewish refugees were expelled from Arab countries in 1948, but their descendents are normalized today because they were absorbed by Israel and other countries.

4) As opposed to refugees in Arab countries, Israel integrated Arabs within its borders as citizens, and 1.2 million Israeli Arabs now enjoy citizenship, benefits, and governmental representation in Israel.

Compromises for Peace

1) Israel signed independent peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), each time giving away either land, oil, settlements, or strategic military advantage to achieve a peaceful agreement.

2) Israel gave the Palestinian Authority land, money, weapons, training, and intelligence, all in the hope that the PA would reciprocate with an end to terror and incitement.

3) The very formula “Land for Peace” indicates that Arabs compromise for what they want most — land, while Israel compromises for what it wants most — peace.

4) In 1917, 1937, 1947, 1956, 1979, and 1993 Israeli leaders established a pattern of accepting the handover of land in exchange for peace agreements with its Arab neighbors.

Waiting for a true Partner

1) The real PLO took the Israeli Olympic delegation hostage in the 1972 Munich Olympic games, and after failing to extort the release of Palestinian prisoners, killed 11 Israeli athletes.

2) The real PLO invented the idea of skyjackings in 1970, and instilled fear in travelers across the world.

3) The real PLO shot and killed the elderly, unarmed, wheelchair-bound, U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro cruise liner in 1985.

4) The real PLO continues to incite violence against Jews, promote the armed struggle to “liberate all of Palestine,” and indoctrinate Palestinian children into a culture of hatred where death is the ultimate prize.

The 3,000-year Jewish connection

1) The only independent sovereign nations to ever exist in the Land of Israel were the two ancient Jewish commonwealths, the second of which was destroyed in 70 of the common era.

2) For 3,000 years, Jews have expressed the desire to return to their ancestral homeland: at the Passover Seder, the Yom Kippur service, in daily prayer, in the blessing after meals, under the wedding canopy, on the yearly day of national mourning Tisha B’Av, and by placing Israeli soil in the coffin of their deceased.

3) Even after exile, Jews managed to keep a continual presence of Jewish communities in such cities as Jerusalem, Tzfat, Tiberias, Shechem, and Hebron.

4) Centuries before the inception of Islam, Jews were yearning to return to Israel, and the Koran itself records this in many suras (chapters), such as 17:7, 17:104, and 5:21 that tells the Jews to “enter into the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you.”

Holy Sites

1) When Israel gained control and reunified Jerusalem in 1967, rather than forbid Muslim worship or close the mosques, it allowed the Muslim Waqf (religious authority) to administer and control the Temple Mount and maintain the Al-Aqsa mosque.

2) Under Jordanian rule, Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall; the Mount of Olives cemetery and 58 Jewish synagogues were destroyed. However, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim sites are open to all worshippers under Israeli rule — except for the site of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Temple Mount, where Jews are normally forbidden to pray.

3) When Israel transferred military control to the PA, angry mobs burned and destroyed Jewish holy sites and religious artifacts at Jericho, Hebron, and Joseph’s tomb in Nablus.

4) In 2002, Palestinian terrorists took 30 monks hostage in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity  because they knew Jewish soldiers would not shoot inside. After the hostages were freed, investigators found the Church profaned and desecrated.


1) Mecca and Medina are the holiest cities to Muslims; Vatican City is the seat of Catholicism. While Jerusalem has significance to many religions, Jerusalem is supreme and holiest only to the Jews. When it was conquered by Jordan in 1949, no Muslim dignitary or leader visited Jerusalem in any official, public, or religious capacity.

2) Jerusalem has been central to Judaism since biblical times, when it was made the eternal spiritual capital of the Jewish people.

3) Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since 1840, and there has been a continual Jewish presence in Jerusalem since the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 of the common era. (Paul Johnson, History of the Jews)

4) Jerusalem is for everyone only when it is in Israeli control.

The UN and International Law

1) The 1917 Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate, the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and Israel’s 1949 admission into the UN reaffirmed Israel the international right to exist as the Jewish homeland.

2) UN Security Council Resolution 242 reads that Israel should relinquish land only if it is in the context of a “peaceful and accepted settlement.”

3) UN Resolution 242 requires that all states in the area recognize Israel’s “right to live in peace with secure and recognized borders free from threats or acts of force.”

4) Until 2002, Israel was the only UN member state ineligible to sit on the Security Council, and today that right is still only limited and temporary. Since the 1970s, an Arab-Soviet-Third World Bloc reinforced Israel’s outcast status by barring Israel from other key UN bodies and making Israel the object of more investigative committees and special representatives than any other state in the UN.

Israel’s Excessive Restraint

1) Israel is facing a serious threat — Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly fired at civilians and soldiers from hospitals, mosques and schools, using humans as shields and ambulances to transport weaponry.

2) Though the intifada has heaped violence upon Israel, there have been, on average, less than one person injured per Palestinian riot. Israel is currently training 26 other countries in technology it has created to minimize injury in crowd and riot control situations.

3) During “Black September” in Jordan in 1970, 2,500 Palestinian rioters were killed in 10 days by the Jordanian army. In 1993, UN Peacekeeping troops justified the killing of almost 100 Somalis by noting that, “Everyone on the ground in the vicinity was a combatant, because they meant to do us harm.”

4) In April 2002, IDF ground forces went door-to-door to target known terrorists in Jenin, rather than use artillery or carpet bomb the city from above. Israel put its own troops at risk and lost 23 of its own soldiers because of this concern to not injure the innocent among its enemies.

Palestinian Lexicon

1) Hudna: strategic ceasefire engineered to rearm for the next battle, in English it is referred to as a “peace agreement.”  In the West, we tend to think of a “ceasefire” leading to peace – a Hudna is designed to lead to war.

2) Fatwa: Religiously inspired death warrant on the head of an enemy, all Jews living in Israel have a fatwa issued by Hamas leadership.

3) Occupation: Term describing a Jewish presence in any of the Land of Israel, including Israeli cities such as Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Hadera; in Western media it is tailored to refer only to the West Bank and Gaza.

4) Jihad: The religious struggle to eradicate the Jews from Israel and establish an Islamic society in their stead.

And for us as Christians, the once British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, adds an additional perspective: Queen Victoria of England once reportedly asked her then Prime Minister (Disraeli) the following question: “Mr. Prime Minister, what evidence can you give me of the existence of God?” And after he thought for a moment, he replied, “The Jew, your majesty.”

I think that what he was trying to say was that to his mind, the primary evidence that God exists was (is) the existence of the Jewish people. But then as God Himself says:

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

– Genesis 12:3


Rumours of Pope Resigning in 2012

Reuters is covering the murmurings:

The Vatican dismissed an Italian newspaper report on Sunday that Pope Benedict was considering resigning next year when he turns 85.

“The pope’s health is excellent,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. “We don’t know anything about it. Ask the person who wrote it.”

Catholic writer Antonio Socci, writing in the Italian newspaper Libero on Sunday, said the pope was considering resigning when he turns 85 next April. He did not cite any sources or reasons.

In a book last year, the pope said he would not hesitate to become the first pontiff to resign willingly in more than 700 years if he felt himself no longer able, “physically, psychologically and spiritually” to run the Catholic Church.

Lombardi noted that the pope was “holding up very well” during the trip to his German homeland. “It’s clear that he is still able to deal with very difficult commitments,” he said.

Several popes in recent history, including the late Pope John Paul, considered resigning for health reasons instead of ruling for life.

The last pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months. Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the Holy See.

And as it is pointed out on the blog Rorate Caeli,

This same rumor was put forward repeatedly during the last decade of the pontificate of John Paul II – can anything like it be taken seriously?

From Antonio Socci, writing for Italian daily Libero (mentioned by Andrea Tornielli for La Stampa).

Papal resignation… Let us pray that God may preserve him for us for a long time

25 September 2011

For the moment, it is a rumor (a personal hypothesis of Joseph Ratzinger) and I hope it will never become news. Yet, because it circulates in the most important halls of the Vatican, it deserves great attention.

In a word: the Pope does not exclude the possibility of resigning when turning 85, that is, in April 2012.



Three Nuggets from Pope’s Germany Trip

The National Catholic Reporter has them:

It probably says something about the low-key nature of a papal trip when its biggest news flash involves the shooting off of an air gun – not even a real gun, mind you – two hours before the pontiff’s arrival, in the vague direction of two security agents stationed in the central square of Erfurt in advance of an open-air Mass.

The thirty-year-old who fired the air gun was quickly apprehended, and nobody who attended the Mass was even aware there had been a brief security scare. Nonetheless, media outlets jumped on the story, largely because the Sept. 22-25 trip itself did not generate the sort of immediate political excitment that drives talk shows and news pages.

Benedict XVI warned Germans in advance not to expect a “spectacle” or “sensations” from his third homecoming but first official state visit, and the four-day swing seemed to deliver on those expectations.

For the most part, the pontiff steered clear of commentary that could have been given a political spin, such as reflections on Germany’s role in Europe, which is a matter of controversy these days given the continent’s fiscal crisis and perceptions of German unwillingness to bail out weaker economies, or the hot-button cultural issues that swirl around the Catholic church, such as abortion, gay rights, and the family.

Benedict did draw protestors, including an opposition demonstration in Berlin estimated at some 9,000 people, but for the most part his message didn’t give them much to work with.

Instead, Benedict focused on what German theologians call the Gottesfrage, or the “question of God.” His basic argument was that beneath the pressing issues of the moment lies a deeper question: Is there space for God, for a reality beyond self-interest and the human will to power, in the ultra-secular cultural milieu of the 21st century?

Only by replying “yes”, Benedict implied, will the other problems of the day become soluble.

Beyond that core point, there were three nuggets worth lifting up from the trip’s record…

They are:

Inter-religious relations

Ecumenism and Christian Geography

Small Christian Communities

Read more on these here.



Police Ban Bible in Christian Café

eChurch Blog brings us the ominous report:

Police have requested that a cafe owner in Blackpool  – Jamie Murray, Salt & Light Coffee House – stop displaying Bible texts on a video screen, because it breaches public order laws.

Apparently the police told him that displaying offensive or insulting words is a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and that the Biblical texts contravened this.

It seems that police were alerted to this heinous ‘crime’ following a complaint about “insulting” and “homophobic” material.

You can read about it here in the Daily Mail.

And this video is put together by the Christian Institute:

Political correctness gone mad!


Archbishop John Hepworth’s Ambiguous Story

The Herald Sun has this opinion:


The more Archbishop John Hepworth talks, the more it seems a great wrong has been done. But perhaps not to him.

Hepworth is the primate of the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion who claims he was raped by an Adelaide Catholic priest, who we will call X.

Since his allegations were made public three weeks ago, much of the media has treated them almost as proven already.

The headlines give the flavour: “One man’s life, and how the church he loved let him down”, “Clergyman’s long road to resolution” and “Abused Archbishop John Hepworth ready to forgive”.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon seemed so sure of Hepworth’s story that he was the first to name the alleged rapist — in the Senate, which means he cannot be sued for defamation.

And that may have been the smartest thing Xenophon did.

I don’t say Hepworth hasn’t been sexually abused. The Catholic Church has already paid compensation for the abuse he suffered from two priests, both now dead, when he was a teenaged seminarian in Adelaide.

But the allegations made against X are different.

Let’s first remind ourselves that “rape” generally means the victim was forced to have sex against their expressed will, usually because they were too weak to resist. The rapist must also know that the victim was objecting.

It’s a terrible accusation, and X has now had his reputation trashed. Who believes a Catholic priest is innocent when the hostile press brays that he’s a rapist or might be?

Yet even the most basic facts of this case raise grave doubts.

Hepworth says he was at least 24 years old when X allegedly raped him; X was one year older. This is not the stereotype of an older priest intimidating a boy.

Nor is it obvious that X could have overwhelmed Hepworth with his strength. Hepworth is 1.88m tall — or six feet two. X is shorter.

Hepworth doesn’t claim he was drugged or drunk, either…

Hepworth describes his reaction hours later as not one of anger, but guilt…

Couldn’t this suggest that Hepworth’s “no” was a quiet no from his conscience, not a loud one to his “rapist”? Indeed, Hepworth claims he was sexually assaulted by X up to seven more times, yet not once did this tall man forcefully resist. He says he felt “so weakened physically and emotionally” by his past abuse that he just gave in.

To the ABC, Hepworth told a similarly ambiguous story.

ABC: Why were you unable to stop it?

Hepworth: Even though I was six foot two and I was fairly light in those days, but I always thought myself a very small person, very weak person.

I was trying to befriend a few people, priests. I think it was out of a sense of loneliness, also a sense of an effort to belong. And then the experiences of (his past abuse) particularly, of overtures that I couldn’t resist and didn’t know how to, repeated itself a number of times…

Even on his evidence, there seems more reason to doubt Hepworth was raped than there is to believe it.

In fact, X strongly denies any rape, and at his press conference one parishioner called him “a good shepherd” and another, a retired judge, “a good bloke”.

Moreover, Hepworth’s credibility has been challenged in the past.

He concedes he faced a Ballarat court about 30 years ago, charged with misappropriating $1200 — a lot of money back then — from his Anglican parish to pay for his son’s baptism party.

“I pleaded not guilty. The magistrate refused to find any verdict,” Hepworth told the Canberra Times.

“I was trying to stop the marriage breaking up. My then wife wanted a big party and I could not afford it.

“The diocese brought (the charge) because I had wrongly used … (a parish account) and regretted it … I had paid an account intending to pay it back.”

Hepworth was also accused of financial irregularities at Glenelg, an Adelaide parish he administered in 1974, but says his bishop refused to confirm any allegations to an investigator.

Again, he denies any wrongdoing and we must give him the benefit of the doubt.

But who has given that benefit to the priest Hepworth accuses so curiously of raping him?

Even Senator Xenophon insists X is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but just to name him was already to punish him.

As X wrote to Xenophon: “For over 40 years I have served with integrity and honour as a Catholic priest … You irreparably smeared and denigrated my reputation.”

And on what flimsy, flimsy grounds.

The whole piece is here.

And it’s more than a tad nauseating.