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  • December 28, 2010

    “How Can A Liberal Defend Israel?”

    “How Can You Defend Israel?”
    by David Harris

    I was sitting in a lecture hall at a British university. Bored by the speaker, I began glancing around the hall. I noticed someone who looked quite familiar from an earlier academic incarnation. When the session ended, I introduced myself and wondered if, after years that could be counted in decades, he remembered me.

    He said he did, at which point I commented that the years had been good to him. His response: “But you’ve changed a lot.”

    “How so?” I asked with a degree of trepidation, knowing that, self-deception aside, being 60 isn’t quite the same as 30.

    Looking me straight in the eye, he proclaimed, as others standing nearby listened in, “I read the things you write about Israel. I hate them. How can you defend that country? What happened to the good liberal boy I knew 30 years ago?”

    I replied: “That good liberal boy hasn’t changed his view. Israel is a liberal cause, and I am proud to speak up for it.”

    Yes, I’m proud to speak up for Israel. A recent trip once again reminded me why. Read More

    Sorry Liberals, Jewish Tradition is Most Compatible With Conservative Ideals

    As one of the few Jews willing to admit to a politically conservative slant, I get asked the same question all the time, “How can you be both politically conservative and a Jew?” Most of the questioners are either liberal Jews who consider me something of a heretic, or a non-Jewish fellow conservative who is shocked at the rare find of a conservative who is a Jew.

    My response to the query is usually “How can a Jew not be politically conservative?”


    Conservative principals such as limited government, individual responsibility, and traditional morals are all deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. Even the fact that America’s founders intended for the county to be led by people who based their political decisions on religious
    values (something that scares the heck out of most liberal Jews) complements Jewish tradition.

    The creation narrative in Genesis explains that man is created in God’s image. But we also taught that our maker has no bodily form, so how can that be? The Bible is not teaching us that we are all dead ringers for ”big guy upstairs,” if that was the case the pictures on everyone’s drivers licenses would look alike and no one would be able to get a check cashed and CSI would be a very boring TV show.

    “Created in God’s image” is supposed to teach us that just as God acts as a free being, without prior restraint to do right and wrong, so does man. God does good deeds as a matter of his own free choice, and because we are created in his image so can man. Only through free choice, can man truly be, in the image of God. It is further understood that for Man to have true free choice, he must not only have inner free will, but an environment in which a choice between obedience and disobedience exists. God thus created the world such that both good and evil can operate freely; this is what the Rabbis mean when they said, “All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven” (Talmud, Berachot 33b). God controls all the options we have, but it is up to man to pick between the correct or incorrect option.

    As explained by the Rabbis, free will is the divine version of limited government. God picks the winning direction, but does not pick winners and losers.

    Because we all are created in God’s image, Jews believe that ”All men are created equal,” meaning that we all have the same ability to be infinitely good or wicked, and to forge a relationship with God regardless of intellectual capability, social background, physical strength, etc. It does not mean, as the liberals ascribe to, that when it comes to talents, predilections, or natural abilities we are all equal. Nor does it mean we all should have the same big screen TV, wireless internet, or savings account balance.

    Jewish tradition takes a positive view of both the institution of ownership and the accumulation of wealth. It respects economic success, so long, that is, as it is obtained honestly, and proper respect is shown for the social responsibility that comes with it. That social responsibility is an individual duty and a job for the community led by its religious leaders, but not for the government.

    The book of Leviticus (25:23) says

    “If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him proselyte or resident so that he can live with you”

    Notice it says live with you, it does not say live in a government facility, because the obligation is on the individual. In rare times the community was called on to pick up the slack but it was never the community government, but it was the local Rabbi who would lead the effort. The Hebrew word for charity, tzedaka, has in it root the word tzedek which means righteous, because we are taught that giving charity one of the keys to righteousness.

    I once read that when God created the world, sparks of his holiness were spread across the earth. Every time that a person makes the choice of performing a righteous act, one of those sparks is purified and sent back to heaven. Through that process we become closer to God.
    Liberal/Progressive government takes away that choice. It assumes that left to our own devices, we will do the wrong thing (or at least what they say is the wrong thing), government takes over the role of God, and steps in to control our decisions. Liberalism takes away our personal choice and gives it to the government, retarding our spiritual development and most importantly, the opportunity to get closer to our maker.

    Judaism also teaches us that we cannot rely on God to bail us out all of the time, the responsibility to take action falls upon each and every one of us. The famous story of Moses splitting the Reed Sea teaches that lesson (Red Sea was a typo made when the Torah was translated into Greek). In Exodus Chapter 14-15 Moses sees the Pharaoh’s troops bearing down on the Israelite nation, who are trapped against the sea. Moses starts praying to God, but God says stop praying and do something!

    And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.

    There is a rabbinical story that when Moses lifted his staff the water did not part. The Egyptians were closing in, and the sea wasn’t moving. The Israelites stood on the banks of the sea, frozen in fear until a man named Nachshon took the responsibility upon himself to act; Nachshon just walked into the water. He waded up to his ankles…his knees…his waist… his shoulders, and just as the water was about to reach is nostrils the water parted.

    This story teaches us that it’s one thing to have faith and believe God will eventually help us, but we cannot get that help until we take personal responsibility and act on our own.

    Sometimes that help does not come in big miracles like the splitting of the sea, but it comes simply, as in the success of one’s endeavors. In June 1967 Israel sent its air force to take out the Egyptian planes just a few hours before they were to be sent to attack the Jewish State, then they prayed for success.

    On the other hand a Liberal/Progressive government teaches citizens that the government will always bear the responsibility of protecting you; there is no individual responsibility, just the collective bailout. Instead of each one of us assuming a personal responsibility and using our good deeds to gain closeness to God, we become part of an overall group with no responsibility.

    Liberal Jews get very worried when they hear a political leader talk about God. If the political leader is a Christian (as most of them are in the US) they see the person as some sort of zealot who will eventually force everyone to become Christian. If the person is a Jew, they get angry the Jew is wearing their religion on his sleeve.

    In the story of the Exodus it is God who sets up the first Jewish Government, he chose to have a Political/Government Leader Moses, and a Religious Leader Aaron. Even though Moses was the governmental leader, the Torah tells us that Moses used God’s law and morality to make his “political” decisions. In that first Hebrew government set up by God there was no wall separating church and state. And political leaders were expected to consult with God’s law in making their decisions. If we are taught that it was fine for the government set up by God, why is it not OK for a government set up by man.

    The Founding Fathers of America guaranteed us freedom of religion that means that the Government cannot stop Jews from practicing the rituals and prayers of our faith, but it did not call for a separation of Church and State. In his farewell address, Washington said:

    Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    The Jewish picture of God is of a creator who instilled in us a personal responsibility to do the right thing, but he also provided us with the choice to accept that responsibility or not. There is no room in Jewish law for a government that forces us to do (their interpretation) of the right thing. There is also little room for a Government that does not include religion and morality in their consideration set before they make decisions.

    So the question should not ever be “How can a Jew be conservative politically?” It is political conservatism that best matches Jewish tradition. When it comes right down to it, tradition tells us that conservative principals such as limited government, individual responsibility, and traditional morals are all Jewish principals.

    Posted by yamit82 @ 10:18 pm | 26 Comments »
  • 26 Comments to “How Can A Liberal Defend Israel?”

    1. A liberal can defend Israel because it is our greatest ally in the war on sand Nazi terror.

      Israel is leaps and bounds better than the Soviet Union under Stalin, and yet Americans found common cause with Stalin to oppose the Nazis, who were the greater threat to decent humanity.

    2. Rick says:

      Usually a Jewish conservative is a liberal who has evolved past the young and lazy person who searches for the quick and easy solutions. Doing the right thing is neither easy nor a matter of a snap decision. It requires a certain amount of courage and many times a fair level of risk. It’s always worth it.

    3. Ted Belman says:

      Both these articles are excellent.

    4. Morris Orszewchofski says:

      BRAVO!

    5. Dr. Sanford Aranoff says:

      Excellent article. America’s Founding Fathers based their ideals and principles on the Hebrew Bible. B. Franklin wanted the Great Seal to be a picture of the Crossing of the Red Sea. Samuel the Seer strongly fought for weak government. The story of Rechovom, Solomon’s son, shows how high taxes destroys governments. For more, see the new book, Rational Thinking, Government Policies, Science, and Living.

    6. ilan Samson says:

      More and more I tend to disregard the L’s (‘leftists’, ‘liberals’) because more often than not these are people who a) tell OTHERS how to be good, and b) proclaim not what they full well know is right, but what they believe makes them sound ‘wonderful’.

    7. Miriam says:

      Rick hit the nail on the head!!!!!

    8. Roslyn Farmer says:

      Yamit, what you say is good and well written. But you seem to have missed the point of David Harris’s article. His main point wasn’t to promote liberalism but to defend Israel to liberals. He used his position in British clergy to defend Israel and he did it well – that’s quite something given the anti-Semitism that creeps throughout Britain and the non-evangelical church. Your article was good and well written and worth stating – but it was not a counterpoint to Harris’s article. Your two points of views are not related. In this you swallowed the camel and choked on the gnat.

    9. julia coriat says:

      Quote of the Week:

      “Any territory, which in some historical period was under Muslims, is considered a Muslim land forever. Therefore, creation of the State of Israel on the territory that once belonged to Muslims was a historic revolution for them. Muslims cannot accept this fact in principle. Nevertheless, they are still realistic politicians… They do not hurry. They are waiting. Their actions depend on the situation, on the difference of their military might and that of the enemy.”

    10. Rev J L Roach says:

      God loves Israel. I love God! I love what God loves & hate what God hates. Hopefully, the church and the government will wake up and make sure we’re on the right side concerning Israel and her people. Thanks for the excellent article!! I’m praying for the peace of JerUSAlem.

    11. yamit82 says:

      Yamit, what you say is good and well written. But you seem to have missed the point of David Harris’s article. His main point wasn’t to promote liberalism but to defend Israel to liberals. He used his position in British clergy to defend Israel and he did it well – that’s quite something given the anti-Semitism that creeps throughout Britain and the non-evangelical church. Your article was good and well written and worth stating – but it was not a counterpoint to Harris’s article. Your two points of views are not related. In this you swallowed the camel and choked on the gnat.

      I think your characterization, that I “swallowed the camel and choked on the gnat” Was a bit harsh and from what you wrote apparently you missed the point I was trying to make. Apparently everybody else, at least so far, has understood me.

      Both articles attempted to do the same thing from different perspectives, that being explaining to Liberals especially Liberal Jews. Harris from a Liberal Jewish perspective and Yid from a traditional perspective. For most liberals it’s both inconceivable that a liberal Jew can support Israel and that a Jew can be a conservative. Two sides I think of the same coin. The second article was not meant to be counterpoint but to show that Liberal Jews have a tough time coming to grips with anything relating to anything they aren’t! How 2 Jews from different world views respond in kind to liberal criticism.

      “Swallowed the camel choked on a gnat.” I like it think I’ll use it sometime in the future if you don’t object, thanks for that anyway.

    12. Roslyn Farmer says:

      Sorry, Yamit. I apologize. I was being harsh and judgmental. Thank you for being much more gracious in your response.

    13. Catarin says:

      Most of America’s Founding Fathers were Free Masons. They believed in God but not in organized religion. I think this attitude was directly attributable to the centuries of religious wars fought in England and France beginning in the 1500s which was partly brought about by Henry VIII’s removal of the British church from the Catholic Church (the Catholics would not give him a divorce so he could remarry) and Martin Luther’s list of complaints against the Catholic Church for selling indulgences and the priests fathering many bastard children. This lead to the Reformation and battles between Protestants and Catholics, Kings vs. Popes. Millions of Christians were killed.

      The Founding Fathers’ attitude was Not on America’s shores. Their purpose in the Constitution and Bill of Rights was to keep the American government out of religious matters. Ben Franklin at one time or another attended and donated to every church and synagogue in Philadelphia. At his funeral hundreds of people came out to march in his funeral cortege. Thomas Jefferson rewrote the New Testament taking out all of the miracles.

      I think it’s safe to say these men had the kind of relationship with G-d that Abraham had. No intermediaries were necessary. This is how I look at it, anyway.

    14. AmericanEagle says:

      The problem with liberals is that they rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. If people really knew their real intentions, which boils down to thinking they know what is good for everyone else better than they do, they would be roundly rejected by most rational people. This is why they need to hide behind euphemisms. When socialism went out of style due to its monumental failures wherever it was tried, they started calling themselves liberals. When we discovered this ruse, they started calling themselves progressives. Nothing they have ever done has led to progress for the human condition.

      I still can’t get over liberal Alan Dershowitz’s explanation of why he voted for Imam Obama – that he believed the Imam was strongly pro-Israel and would convince more liberals to support Israel, whereas conservatives and independents already did by lerge margins. In fact, Imam Obama was influenced not only by the dreams of his Muslim father, but by some of the most vicious anti-Semites and anti-American radicals in America, like Rashid Khalidi, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and Louis Farrakhan. When this was pointed out liberals would accuse us of finding him guilty by association. No. We were judging him by the company he kept on the principle that birds of a feather flock together.

      Thus liberals promote statism as a means of helping people when all the evidence shows that statism only helps the ruling elites and drags everyone else down towards the least common denominator.

      Just look at the economic mess that the liberal Imam Obama has made in just two years, while blaming Bush for inheriting a mess that Obama played a part in creating. The deficits averaged 3.4% of GDP under the 8 years of Bush. It is 11% now. The unemployment rate averaged 5% under Bush, it is 10% now. Everything Obama wants to do is going to make things even worse. The 110th and 111th Congresses, both controlled by the liberal Democrats, increased the national debt by $5 trillion in 4 years, whereas it had reached $8.5 trillion in the previous 230 years. All this was done while telling everyone that it was to help the poor and the middle-class. Yeah, right!

      Just see if you can find any sign from the liberal Imam Obama that he understands that the Palestinians have no intentions of a solution that includes israel. Would anyone who was familiar with the Hamas Charter pressure Israel to make any concessions? Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are as bad or worse. No one else counts on the Palestinian side. Fatah is a joke, and even they have refused to accept Israel as a Jewish state.

      In the case of Israel, these phony humanists ignore everything the Arabs and Palestinians have done from day one, which for me is the partition of 1947 which was intended to solve the competing claims by both sides. Thus they allow themselves to blame Israel for their actions in defending themselves from annhilation. They call for a “proportional response”. I’m not sure what a proportional response looks like against someone trying to wipe you out. It can only mean responding with deadly force while dying from being attacked.

    15. Roslyn Farmer says:

      Socialism has been a blessing here in Canada, but it was brought in by the social gospel movement in the Depression, not by politically correct theorists. Maybe that’s why it worked here. It was brought in by a Baptist pastor, Tommy Douglas, who became premier of Saskatchewan – a large province in western Canada, the economy of which depended on farming. He eliminated the province’s debts while at the same time eliminating all taxes on food, brought electrical power to farms and homes, gave free medical, hospital and dental services to pensioners, free medical treatment for diseases like cancer, tb, and mental illness for everyone, universal hospital access for a fee of $5 per person per year, affordable phone service throughout the province, expanded the University of Saskatchewan to include a medical hospital, and lots more. He did all this while balancing the provincial books, and, moreover, increasing the provinces wealth and prosperity. He was also the father of the Canadian medicare system, working years to bring it in when we could afford it (Trudeau was Prime Minister when that happened, and he was given credit for it). Douglas was also the father of our socialist party, the NDP. Socialism here was the result of Christian teachings – which came from Jewish teachings – on social justice, compassion for the poor, selflessness, etc. Our prime minister Harper, also a Christian from the western provinces, is a defender of Israel. It seems it’s the person who brings it in and their motives that creates the problems, not the socialism itself.

    16. yamit82 says:

      Sorry, Yamit. I apologize. I was being harsh and judgmental. Thank you for being much more gracious in your response.

      Roslyn, no apology necessary and as for being gracious? That’s just the way I am. Mr. Gracious :)

    17. yamit82 says:

      The problem with liberals is that they rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. If people really knew their real intentions, which boils down to thinking they know what is good for everyone else better than they do, they would be roundly rejected by most rational people.

      Your description of liberals sound a lot like you! Hmmmm.

    18. AmericanEagle says:

      Yamit writes:
      Your description of liberals sound a lot like you!

      Actually, it may sound like me to you, but the facts would show that it is actually you who fits the description perfectly. No conservative would drive a wedge between Israel and the US like you do. No conservative would be as bigoted and anti-Christian as you are. These are all liberal traits.

    19. julia coriat says:

      Has there ever been an evil right winger? I know Jews suffered under extreme right wing regimes in Czarist Russia – it seems they constituted the core of Jewish immigrants to America in the early days of the 20th century. Or am I being a party pooper?

    20. AmericanEagle says:

      Julia Coriat writes:
      Has there ever been an evil right winger?

      You can poop all you want here:-)) Of course there have been evil right wingers throughout history like Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun. Unfortunately, Jews have been pooped on throughout history.

      However, that was then and this is now. What we are talking about here is a modern political conservative, characterized, for example, on a national level in the USA by a Sarah Palin, and on this forum by me and a few others. We believe in lower taxes, less government intrusion in our lives, a strong national defense, American exceptionalism as a force for good, more democracies around the world, and the survival of Israel as a Jewish state with our monetary and military assistance as required.

    21. yamit82 says:

      Has there ever been an evil right winger? I know Jews suffered under extreme right wing regimes in Czarist Russia – it seems they constituted the core of Jewish immigrants to America in the early days of the 20th century. Or am I being a party pooper?

      What we call right wingers in Israel are a different animal than those you describe. Our lexicon is largely tailored to Israeli reality and history. Lots of nuances and paradoxes here.

    22. Roslyn Farmer says:

      Socialism works well in Canada. It was introduced during the social gospel movement of the Great Depression, by a Baptist minister who became the premier of Saskatchewan. He brought in huge reforms that all worked well, increased the standard of living dramatically, and at the same time eliminated all provincial debt. His brand of socialism wasn’t based on “knowing what was best for others”, but on improving standards of living, helping the poor and the sick and needy – Christian teachings, which in turn were based on Jewish teachings. All of our socialistic, liberal and conservative parties have left it intact. Our country has prospered, surviving the economic recession well. Our Prime Minister (unlike your president) speaks up for Israel. Unlike the States, there aren’t large differences between the parties and Canadians don’t strongly affiliate themselves with any particular party. Like the States, we do have a problem of increasing anti-Israel sentiments, but here those who fight against it are from across political spectrum.

    23. AmericanEagle says:

      Roslyn Farmer writes:
      Socialism works well in Canada.

      Not really. The part of Canada that works well is not the socialist part, it is the free enterprise part.

      Your health care system, which is socialist, probably works well for most Canadians who have less serious issues. However, it is imploding financially, not according to me, but the President of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Ann Doig. Her predecessor, Dr. Brian Day, said there are ONE MILLION Canadians on waiting lists for surgery and ANOTHER MILLION Canadians on waiting lists to see a surgeon to get on the waiting list for surgery. FIVE MILLION Canadians do not have access to a primary care physician according to Dr. Day. This out of a population of only 34 million. Many Canadians have to come to the US for tests and serious treatments if they want to live.

      I don’t know what Canada would do if it did not have an American security blanket over it and would have to spend more of its GDP to defend itself and democracy elsewhere. The American security blanket enables Canada to spend more of its GDP on its own social programs.

      Having said that, we are grateful that Canada helped out in Afghanistan, but not pleased that they wimped out in Iraq which is now well on the way to becoming a multi-party, multi-ethnic democracy thanks to George Bush. If it hadn’t been for its own sectarian radicals, aided and abetted by Al Qaeda, Syria and Iran, Iraq would have been well on the way to full peace and prosperity at least five years ago.

      Our Prime Minister (unlike your president) speaks up for Israel.

      Stephen Harper beat his chest in front of a Jewish audience and vowed to confront anti-Semitism “no matter what the cost”. Jewish Canadians were orgasmically ecstatic. Then he ran and hid under his desk when there was anti-Semitism to be confronted at York University, which has a long history of anti-Semitism and disrupting politically conservative speakers like American polemicist Ann Coulter who was warned by their administration to not say anything controversial against Canadian minorities even before they knew what she was going to say, and her speech was then cancelled due to security threats by radical Muslim student groups.

    24. sathari singh says:

      I’m a leftist and a Sikh. From Sikh history one can learn the dangers of having Muslim neighbors. Millions were driven out of Pakistan in order to make it ”pure of infidel”s, the fall of Israel to Muslims would be no different.Just recently the Taliban beheaded two Sikhs for refusing to ”convert” to Islam.
      The peoples of India especially Northern India know Israel’s predicament and support Israel. Their fight is the civilized worlds fight.
      The Left constantly calls for the end of USA aid to Israel but no call for an end to Iranian aid to the Hamas Fascists.True leftists cannot support a movement that destroys human rights, defends slavery, concubinage, oppression of non Muslims etc.Not all the left are devotees of the totalitarian Marx and his supporters calling for the genocide of Israel and Jews world-wide.Israel is the front line in the War against Fascistic Islam. It is not a religion but an imperialist ideology.If we wish to live as human beings with rights we must support Israels right to defend itself and give American lend lease to that cause. Israel is fighting our fight.

    25. Catarin says:

      Sathari, I could not have said it better myself.

      There is such a thing in Islam called ijtihad, which can be used to make changes in Islam. It seems Jews and Christians can read passages in our Holy books that reflect thinking from thousands of years ago, which now is barbaric to our modern sensibilities. We are able to keep those verses in context as reflecting a history that once existed but no longer does. Many Muslims follow Jews and Christians in this direction.

      But many Muslim leaders and clerics are unwilling to do this–they use these verses to control Muslims for their own unscrupulous purposes. They want to use these verses to make murder and thievery legal. Only the densest most ignorant people believe that a successful modern human society can be built on this. Maybe I’m going out on a limb, but is it too far off to say that the majority of the poorest people on earth are Muslims?

      I think Muslim women can be the saviors of Islamic civilization. I hope they get the chance.

    26. AmericanEagle says:

      Sathari Singh writes:
      I’m a leftist and a Sikh.

      Sardarji, Sasriakal! I am an American who was born and grew up in India. I am a Christian whose ancestry is from Goa but I grew up in Jabalpur in MP. No one in India suffered at the hands of the Pakistanis more than Sikhs. I’m sure you may have lost some family members yourself in the carnage in 1947-48.

      I believe that the dregs of India’s Muslim society followed the paranoid Jinnah into Pakistan. This is what has made most Pakistanis jihadis and they have ethnically cleansed Pakistan for all practical purposes. The Muslims who stayed behind and choose to live as a 14% minority in India are not quite the same. I’m sure you know that Indian Imams refused to allow the 9 jihadis who were killed in Mumbai to be buried in any Muslim cemetery in India because they had attacked and killed innocent people, and the Police Chief in Mumbai is also a Muslim.

      What puzzles me is that you introduce yourself as a leftist, whereas nothing you have written sounds like what a real leftist would write. I had a lot of Sikh friends where I grew up in India and I also know several Sikhs in America and not one of them is a leftist, i.e. someone who believes that the government knows what’s good for everyone else better than they do. They are all hard working and enterprising and independent.

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