Tuesday, July 15, 2008
-and-people-died-and-JohnHoward-knew-and-did-nothing-about-it story. It was almost painful listening to ABC Newsradio's Jennifer Byrne trying to harangue the ADF's Neil James into admitting that defence funding cuts were directly responsible for the deaths of these young soldiers. He wouldn't, but did mention that lack of resources prevailed during the 80's and 90's. Labor years. Oops.
Some salient points from the report included factors like "personnel... took higher risks during operations...had a 'can-do' attitude.... were not adequately supervised..."
Higher risks? Can-do attitude? Working unsupervised? Egads! We cannot have that in our defence forces! And let me get this straight; military personnel tried different, often risky, maneuvers to land helicopters, as part of their training??
Yes, this IS shocking. After all, when they are called to extract wounded soldiers from the Afghani-Pakistan border under heavy Taliban rocket fire, they should take it slow and easy. Relax! The Taliban are fully respectful of Australian Occ Health and Safety procedures. Don't fire on the chopper, Aziz, he's obviously a learner. The last thing we want is the worksafe inspector spoiling our jihad, with his high-viz jacket and clipboard an' all that. That would be really bad.
In more news, those madcap and zany mullahs in Iran have been test-firing rockets as a show of strength. They even sent one happy snap for western photo albums. Naturally, Reuters and AP jumped on it:
The Revolutionary Guards released this photo to the world to demonstrate it's unflinching readiness to defensively respond to the Israeli threat of responding to the Iranian threat to wipe out Israel. Problem is, some farsi-speaking genius in the Iranian agitprop department discovered how to use photoshop and one of those missiles isn't actually real. Here is the real, un-altered photo:
Well, okay, not entirely un-altered. The camera was way to far off to hear the clicking noise. But you get the point. Personally, if I was an Iranian Revolutionary guard, I'd be quite happy with three out of four Sahabs getting off the ground. After all, they were purchased at a Russian garage sale. So why the need to digitally alter a photo- to enhance the appearance of military might or computer geekness?
Of course, environmental groups were delighted. If you must insist on exterminating 6-7 million Jews, photoshopping the appearance of firing a fourth missile instead of actually firing it, reduces your carbon emissions by 25%!
Which got me thinking- why stop there? Surely Ahmadinejad can simply photoshop a picture of him standing atop the Temple Mount, above miles of decimated Israeli population, so the Iranians will have the impression of a conclusive victory over the Zionist cancer. Reuters wouldn't even find out unless someone tells them. It would keep everyone happy and nobody has to die.
Anyhow, the major news agencies were advised about the deception. Not only were the photos pulled but in some cases the "farsi-cal" event made it's own story. Which is unusual, since normally the media stops caring once they've sold their quota.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, however, were not swayed by the whistle blowing. They then released what they claimed was the REAL photo.
Friday, July 11, 2008
It's bad enough that C02 emission trading schemes are being thrust upon already crippled societies to solve a problem which doesn't exist. It's bad enough that green religious zealots are screaming "unclean!!" at those who would dare deny that humans are ruining the planet and must pay. Even worse that these green zealots are in our parliament and our media, shutting down all debate by saying it's over when it hasn't even begun.
I stumbled upon this post on Andrew Bolt's blog by an unidentified poster. If what he's saying is true, and it certainly appears credible, the implications (whilst a little subtle) should be shouted from the rooftops with the same hysteria as that practised by AGW disciples.
I've edited some of the heavier scientific concepts and added some emphases:
As a retired CSIRO Principal Research Scientist in the geoscience - sedimentary rock discipline, I strongly support the view that there is substantial real hard empirical science that refutes the notion that carbon dioxide is driving climate change, which is a natural continuum. Further, evidence (not assumptive modelling) suggests man-made carbon dioxide seems to be a trivial component in the full scope of climate variation.
The highly beneficial ... effects of carbon dioxide are largely ignored; ... recent modelling from Cornell University (Mahowald) shows a reversal in desertification is possible. If reversing the time-direction in climate prediction models cannot emulate known past climates, why should we believe their forward modelling?
This full science appears to be actively suppressed by much of our media. Let’s have a Royal Commission now, and sort this out for ourselves publicly. A close inspection of the real data from sedimentary layers in the ocean floor, lake floors, in ice-cores, stalactites, coral accumulations etc show a clear record of past climate, temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. Understanding and integrating all the disparate data ...is required.
On the bright side, there is some real hope contained in existing technologies to *re-cycle* CO2 as nature does with photosysthesis. I have provided pointers to this information and a proposed solution to recycle carbon dioxide into food and fuel - directly to all political parties by emails, and at the Science in Parliament Day in Queenland in 2003, and to colleagues in CSIRO. This technology was viewed at the time as highly disruptive, as it undercut research funding into (uselessly) burying CO2, and what increasingly seems like a fraud that underpins the calls for Emissions Trading.
Technology has existed for over 25 years to convert CO2 into algal protein and microbial oil using solar digestors, algae like Chlorella and Spirulina, and bacteria like Arthrobacter and yeasts like Candida. We require coal-fired base-load power stations to be oxygen fired, and then pipe the concentrated CO2 stream to solar farms for a closed-system recycling into food and fuel. Laboratory trials in Toronto in the early 80s suggested amazing yields of up to 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per hectare per year, as I recollect. At this rate all of Australia’s annual fuel requirements could be produced by 1600 hectares.
Worth a few dollars to investigate I would think, but it has not been funded appropriately if at all. Why?
I'd like to think the WCC are more than just a genteel collection of men in purple frocks and newly-ordained women fresh out of seminary. I'd like to think the WCC have stood tall and effectively for some noble issues. If their attitude to Israel is any guide, sadly it appears to be just another champion of social gospel crying for modern relevance.
Yep, we should all want peace. John Lennon wrote songs about it. It's the right thing to fight for. Sorry, did I say fight? Shame on me. The problem with peace, is that not everybody wants it. And if one side doesn't, it's pointless to pressure the side who does. Those who do may momentarily feel as though they have made a difference, but it's just the line of least resistance.
Orthodox traditional Christianity has always had an incessant desire to belong. Now they join the rest of a secular humanist society to push for a peace which cannot exist, and it's not for the first time. The WCC's Global week of International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel reads like a how-to guide on coddling Islamic terrorism and Jew-hatred.
It says "me too!" to the growing number of those who are pressuring a shrinking Israel, to give whatever battered limbs they still have to a people who seek their total destruction .
Why is it that everyone, from Islamic radicals thinly disguised as moderates, to self-loathing Jews, to former Prime Ministers, current MP's and religious leaders, puts the maximum pressure on Israel? Answer: Because they can.
They can send a bunch of purple frocks to walk along the Israeli defensive wall in Judea frowning and talking about the Berlin Wall and apartheid. They can send them to be "educated" by the top five pro-palestinian groups and self-loathing Jews, and claim to have heard "all" sides of the conflict.
They can say "these groups risk public censure and their personal safety" for "speaking the simple truth about the occupation", and so on. The irony of that. If it really was true, they wouldn't be there, with their tour groups and concerned, compassionate faces, making a true difference in the world. Try pulling those stunts in Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea...in fact just name any Islamic state.
It's not effective advocacy. It's actually quite cowardly. The parties most deserving of pressure are the most violent. Going after them is difficult. It's the line of most resistance. Neville Chamberlain wrote the book on it. Instead of standing up to Chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1938 he handed over half of Czechoslovakia. And boy, didn't that work a treat.
It's so much easier going after the ones who don't kill you for your trouble. In layman's terms, it's called "meddling". In Christian terms, this is called "salvation by works"- atoning for one's sins by attempting something which only God is capable of doing. Pointless.
Let's look at what the Australian chapter of the WCC are asking for, and what they're not asking for;
"...persistent advocacy for a freely and peacefully negotiated solution …whether in the form of two states or one"
A two state solution has been offered. It's been refused. There was never any nationalistic ambition from Palestinian Arabs, only a desire to inflict a "war of extermination and a momentous massacre" on Jews, to quote Arab League secretary General Azzam Pasha. And they lost, each time.
A “One State” solution already exists. Israel is free for people of all ethnicities and faiths - indeed the only country in the Middle East to be so. The Palestinian Authority makes clear in its constitution that it is an Arab Muslim country, with Sharia law as the only law.
"greater recognition of the plight of Palestinians after 41 years of military occupation;"
What a perfect way to empower terrorism with the sense of victimhood. The "plight of the Palestinians" enjoys massive western media coverage, because sensationalism sells. The cultural elite build an entire industry on the "plight of the Palestinians", in doing so giving social legitimacy to savagery, murder and terrorism. The lines between good and evil have been so muddied it's hard to tell whether or not these cultural elites, WCC included, care one tiny bit for the Palestinians rather than their image.
The term “occupation” is a fashion statement. It's popular, it evokes outrage, and makes for a soundbyte heavily critical of Israel. There's only one problem with it: it's entirely incorrect and shows a flawed reading of international standards.
Firstly, in order for there to be an "occupation", there needs to be a nation to occupy. France, Czechoslovakia and Poland were occupied in 1939. Tibet is occupied. Palestine is not occupied. It was never a nation.
There are numerous other reasons why "occupation" is just plain incorrect. At best, it can be argued by international lawyers ad nauseum. At worst, it is an outright lie. The WCC fashionably and uncritically use it as a given.
"a quadrupling of Australia’s aid contribution to the social and economic development of Palestine;"
Good grief. This is either terrifyingly naive or deliberately malicious.
Already, Palestinian territories contain the highest welfare-dependant population per capita on Earth and yet have substandard hospitals and schools, major human rights abuses by the controlling Palestinian powers, increased terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens, education and media hell-bent on indoctrinating children to Jew-hatred and violence, and persecution of Christians. Now the gatekeepers of Christian compassion insist we must reward this terrorism?
Talk about empowerment- supplying them with even more money to spend on arming themselves to the teeth, while their rank-and-file starve. No wonder they think we're stupid infidels.
So those were some of the calls of Australia's church leaders. Here's some snippets from the WCC's worldwide statements, beginning with their poetic, heart-wrenching and culturally elitist message “It’s time for Palestine” ;
"It's time for people who have been refugees for 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home".
Are they referring to the Palestinian refugee problem created by the Arab states who marched in and called for the Arabs to flee while they annihilate Israel, beginning in 1948? Or are they referring to the 800,000 Jewish refugees driven from their homes in now-Arab lands (including Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt et al), whose property was confiscated and never returned, all of whom were successfully absorbed by Israel?
Shouldn't the Arab refugees be given a permanent home in the countries who belligerently attacked Israel, who promised them annihilation of Jews and more land...but failed? You live by the sword...
"It's time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel".
Isn't that nice! We need to "help" the Israeli settlers leave their own sovereign land because the Palestinians refuse to live with them (did I mention the 1.5 million Arabs who live prosperously in Israel?). Yes, we "helped" them leave Gaza in 2005 in return for peace. What Israel got instead was a massive increase in rocket attacks from Gaza.
It's time for Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to be free to visit their holy sites.
The point is...? They currently are, at least in Israeli controlled areas where people of all faiths are free to visit their proclaimed holy sites. On the other hand, Muslim Waqf controlled areas such as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, have highly restricted access for Jews. Remember, Palestine and it's Islamic sponsors don't believe there is anything holy to Jews here at all, and insist there never has been, despite the masses of historically verifiable documents, texts, records and archaeological finds to the contrary. Perhaps this is why they continue their total destruction of Hebrew archaeological finds on the Mount.
When the town of Nablus was under Palestinian control, the tomb of Joseph was totally destroyed. Access is not really the most serious issue here.
Here is more from the WCC's website which clarify their thin attempt to appear neutral:
"This year (2008) is 60 years since the partition of Palestine hardened into a permanent nightmare for Palestinians. It is also 41 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples".
Such lamentations! But have these Christian leaders read Proverbs? They would find a thing or two in there about the destructive power of words.
The “partition” planned prior to 1948 was to give the Palestinian Arabs a state, the very goal they claim to have today, to hide the real goal of annihilating any Jewish presence. They failed to achieve that goal then, and have failed repeatedly since, and their welfare has degenerated as a result.
The WCC is implying that the “nightmare” for the Palestinians was their failure to wipe out Jews. What, exactly, are we supposed to be lamenting here?
And let's get something straight. There was never, at any time, a “peaceful vision of one land, two peoples”. The UN’s 1947 partition plan was for two lands, two peoples. Accepted by Israel, rejected by Arabs. Their intent was for one land, one people. One without Jews.
The WCC should know this. Their own book says they are "without excuse".
"In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, causing further waves of refugees. There are now some 4 million Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the Middle East and Palestine, many living in permanent refugee camps".
Ah yes, 1967. No mention of how Israel fought for it's survival against 5 nations and armies 50 times their size, who lined their borders with weapons and troops while their radio crackled with the commands to "drive them into the sea". No, the impression is that Israel just walked in and put down stumps.
But that's not even the main problem with the statement. There are not 4 million Palestinian refugees. There are some 750,000 refugees who had children and grandchildren. The UN definition of refugees clearly defines refugee status as not extending to children born in exile. Only in regards to the Arab-Israel conflict is an exception to this definition made. Why?
"Palestinians have the right of self-determination; their duly elected governmental authorities must be recognised, including the current leaders"
They MUST be recognised? Unconditionally? Because Hamas was "duly elected"? No mention that Hamas are a terrorist organisation who openly advocate and practise the destruction of Israel and the spilling of Jewish blood? Israel is, quite correctly, boycotting Hamas until it recognises Israel's right to exist and renounces violence. That the WCC demand one without the other is starting to look like more than simple ignorance.
"Settlements are illegal, as is their expansion; they are prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and incompatible with peace. Israeli soldiers and settlers must be withdrawn".
"The Fourth Geneva Convention"- words almost as popular as "occupation" and equally as abused.
It is precisely the often-quoted fourth Geneva Convention which defines all Israeli settlements as totally legal. The Fourth Geneva Convention pertains to territory conquered in an offensive attack. Israel was not the aggressor. It also refers to situations where the conquering force expel the conquered population. Israel never expelled Arab population from 1967 to 1994. In fact, the Arab population increased by over 1 million during this time.
Israel removed it’s settlements from Gaza in 2005, and were “rewarded” with a massive increase in attacks. There is no mention of this on the WCC website.
"The Separation Barrier is illegal. It is a grave breach of international law and humanitarian law, and must be removed from occupied territory".
I presume the WCC mean the West Bank security fence built to protect Israeli citizens from constant rocket attacks, snipers and homicide bombers. The mainstream press use "quotation marks" to de-legitimize it. After all, if Israel says it, it must be suspicious. Of course, if you were an Israeli citizen being peppered by rockets, or whose children are sniped by gunfire, you wouldn't question the term security fence.
Well, at least the WCC don't use quotation marks. Instead they give it a name which associates it with apartheid. So they've read Jimmy Carter's book. And they're just as wrong. The security fence’s illegality has never been established. It's another fashion statement.
It's not a separation barrier, an apartheid fence, the Berlin Wall, a Palestinian misery wall, a Pink Floyd wall, or any such like. It's a security fence. No quotation marks. It works. It has successfully reduced the number of fatal terrorist acts against Israelis by 90%.
However, in order for this to be relevant, you would need to first acknowledge that these attacks actually take place, and then you'd have to care about them. To the WCC, are the lives of Israelis of lesser importance than the convenience of Palestinians?
"Certain economic measures are legitimate forms of pressure for peace. The WCC encourages member churches to avoid investments or other economic links to illegal activities on occupied territory, and to boycott settlement products".
It's disturbing how much the WCC resort to obfuscated wording to give the illusion of impartiality, when in fact they are pointing the finger in only one direction.
They mean a boycott of Israel. The WCC base their policies and advocacy on the popular non-truths of “illegal occupation and settlements”, among many other misconceptions. Given this, the WCC is encouraging church congregations to unjustly prejudice Israel, a nation which is in desperate need of our support.
In fact, couldn't that be called a form of "collective punishment"? Doesn't the WCC themselves say “It's time to name the shame of collective punishment and to end it in all its forms”?
There's only one pattern forming here. The same old, tired calls for action based on perceptions which are without truth, aiming for a goal of peace without a partner, and with only one common thread of consistency; Israel is always to blame. The same types of people; some who hold to a faith, some who don't, but all trying to atone for their sins and gain salvation by works- the works of uncritically accepting the claims of a minority and "bravely" opposing their alleged enemy- namely those who will never harm you for criticising them.
Forget salvation by works, and try compassion. Compassion is more than philanthropy. Compassion is empowering people to be free from the influences which cause them hopelessness- drugs, prostitution, hatred or terrorism. It may entail pressuring them to renounce something. Compassion is advocating for moral clarity, not blithely apportioning blame based on the political claims of the oppressed. That's only the line of least resistance.
In the case of these poor, wretched Palestinian Arabs whose welfare and grief has been shamelessly exploited to make the world hate Jews even more, compassion does not mean political support and empowerment. Only the opposite will actually help.
So, World Council Of Churches...what's really your point?
"When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons."
-- Golda Meir, Israel's prime minister from 1969 to 1974
12-year-old Palestinian 'martyr' likely killed by his own people
Twelve-year-old Mohammed al-Dura and his father Jamal were on their way home in Gaza when, at the remote Netzarim junction, they were caught up in a firefight between Palestinian snipers and the Israel Defense Force.
Crouching in terror behind his father, who struggled in vain to protect his son from the gunfire, Mohammed was shot. He died there, cradled in his father's arms, after both father and son frantically pleaded for help. Since that day, Mohammed al-Dura has become the poster child, rallying cry and virtual symbol of the 2000 Al Aqsa intifada.
The dramatic footage of al-Dura's Sept. 30 death has been broadcast the world over. Palestinian television has created an edited version wherein pictures of an Israeli soldier shooting have been spliced into the original footage. Heart-wrenching photographs of the father and son have been posted alongside roads throughout the West Bank. And Egyptian authorities are reportedly naming the street on which the Israeli embassy is located after Mohammed al-Dura.
The Israeli military was quick to apologize for the deaths -- some say too quick.
The theory, backed by considerable evidence, has now emerged that the unthinkable actually occurred -- that a Palestinian shot the boy in cold blood to create a needed martyr -- on film -- to advance the Palestinian nationalist cause.
'The martyr is lucky'
Most Palestinians believe the establishment of the state of Israel was a terrible mistake, an injustice involving the forcible relocation of many of their forebears. Indeed, Israel's very existence has never been accepted by many in the Arab world.
As a result of this perceived injustice, many Palestinians teach their children, from the very earliest ages, unbridled hatred toward Israelis.
But to free the children to act on that hatred, a second teaching is deeply inculcated throughout their childhood. The Palestinians teach explicitly, as do many Arab nations, that to die in the "jihad" -- holy war -- against Israel purchases the "martyr" instant acceptance into heaven. And it is a very red-blooded and lusty male heaven they are promised, characterized first and foremost by endless sex with a multitude of virgins.
Recently, the mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Sheik Ikrima Sabri -- the highest religious authority in the region -- was interviewed by the Egyptian weekly, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi about his admiration for child "martyrs." Dozens of Palestinian youths reportedly have died since late September in violent clashes with Israelis after the meltdown of the doomed Clinton-brokered "peace process."
"I feel the martyr is lucky because the angels usher him to his wedding in heaven," said the mufti, appointed by Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. "There is no doubt that a child [martyr] suggests that the new generation will carry on the mission with determination. The younger the martyr, the greater and the more I respect him."
Lavishing praise specifically on the sacrifice of Palestinian children to the cause, Sabri reflected: "One [child martyr] wrote his name on a note before he died. He wrote: 'the martyr so and so.' In every martyr's pocket we find a note with his name on it. He sentences himself to martyrdom even before he becomes a martyr."
The interviewer then asked an incredible question: "Is this why the mothers cry with joy when they hear about their sons' death?"
"They willingly sacrifice their offspring for the sake of freedom," answered the mufti. "It is a great display of the power of belief. The mother is participating in the great reward of the Jihad to liberate Al-Aqsa."
In an apparent reference to the widely held belief that martyrs who die killing an infidel will be given 50 virgins in heaven, Sabri added: "I talked to a young man ... [who] said: '... I want to marry the black-eyed [beautiful] women of heaven.' The next day he became a martyr. I am sure his mother was filled with joy about his heavenly marriage. Such a son must have such a mother."
The Jerusalem Post's Oct. 27 edition revealed the shocking aftermath of the violent deaths of some Palestinian children.
"Interviewed by journalists after [recent] tragedies, some of the parents of these young victims refer to their children as shahids (martyrs), whose lives were given willingly and proudly to the Palestinian cause in fighting the hated Zionist enemy," wrote Post writer Gerald M. Steinberg.
"In an unbelievably shocking scene, one mother boasted that she bore her son precisely for this purpose, and the father proudly claimed credit for providing the training. The parents will also receive a sizeable financial 'reward' from the Palestinian Authority," he added.
The preparation for martyrdom begins early.
In a Palestinian television program called the "Children's Club," young children are shown singing songs about wanting to become "suicide warriors" and to take up "a machine gun" to direct "violence, anger, anger, anger" against Israelis.
During the show, which features children aged 4-10, one young boy sings, "When I wander into Jerusalem ... I will become a suicide bomber." Afterward, other children stand to call for "Jihad! Holy war to the end against the Zionist enemy." In another segment, a boy who appears to be no more than 8 or 9 years old chants: "My patience has run out. ... All Arab existence cries for revenge" against the Jews in Israel.
Media biased against Israel?
The Associated Press photo published in the New York Times and other newspapers in late September said it all: A club-wielding, screaming Israeli soldier stood above a blood-drenched Palestinian on the Temple Mount. Further proof of Israeli brutality against the Palestinians.
Except the "Palestinian" in the photo was not Palestinian at all, but a 20-year-old Jewish student from Chicago, named Tuvia Grossman, who was studying at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He had just been savagely beaten by a mob of Palestinians, and was, as the photo was taken, being protected by an Israeli policeman against his Palestinian assailants.
The New York Times, long criticized as biased against Israel, has plenty of company.
On Oct. 1, shortly after the outbreak of Palestinian rioting, National Public Radio's Jennifer Ludden reported: "Today is a repeat of the last three days ... You've got this Goliath of an Israeli army with guns. In some places yesterday they used armored tanks. There were battle helicopters buzzing overhead. At one point in the Gaza strip yesterday, Israeli soldiers fired an anti-tank missile. All this directed at young kids with stones."
But according to the pro-Israel group CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), this is just another example of extreme and long-standing anti-Israel bias on NPR's part.
"None of the Israeli weaponry cited has been 'directed at young kids with stones,'" according to CAMERA. "At that point, the tanks had not fired one shot at anyone, but were positioned as a deterrent. The helicopters had been brought in to help rescue an Israeli shot by Palestinians who was trapped and bleeding to death in defense of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. The anti-tank missile was used against Palestinian snipers firing at Israelis from high-rise buildings at the Netzarim junction in Gaza."
In the aftermath of the Al-Dura shooting, the international media glibly reported that "a French photographer" or "a French television crew" had filmed the tragedy. In reality, although the news organization was French, the photojournalist who actually filmed the shooting was a Palestinian named Talal Abu Rahma, who lives in Gaza. Rabbi Avi Shafran weighed in on anti-Israel media bias in the Oct. 13 edition of the Providence Journal-Bulletin. "When baseless biases are openly voiced, they are seen for what they are: ugly, evil, human faults," he wrote. "When subtly layered, though, into journalistic products' choices of photographs, captions, turns of phrase, stories' spins, they often slip by unnoticed, and proceed to infect and deform countless hearts and minds."
While National Public Radio correspondents routinely portray Israeli soldiers as jack-booted thugs, some in the international news media are even more openly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than the major American press:
Riccardo Cristiano, Mideast representative for the official state-owned Italian television station, RAI, placed an ad in the Oct. 16 edition of the main Palestinian Authority newspaper, Al Hayat al Jedida, promising he would never think of giving any bad publicity to the Palestinians or their cause.
"My dear friends in Palestine," the ad began. "We congratulate you and think that it is our duty to put you in the picture (of the events) of what happened on October 12 in Ramallah."
He was referring to the brutal beating and murder by a Palestinian mob of two non-combatant drivers in the Israel Defense Force, at a Palestinian Authority police station in Ramallah.
Apologizing for a rival, private Italian television station's filming of the brutal lynchings, he assured readers that it was not the official Italian news media that did so.
"Israeli television broadcast the pictures," Cristiano bemoaned, "as taken from one of the Italian stations, and thus the public impression was created as if we (RAI) took these pictures. We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way," the ad continued, "because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine. ..."
Cristiano added, "We thank you for your trust, and you can be sure that this is not our way of acting. We do not (will not) do such at thing. Please accept our dear blessings."
'Only one possible solution'
Palestinian leaders, realizing the profound influence world opinion will likely have on the ultimate outcome of the Middle East crisis -- particularly on the effort to "internationalize" Jerusalem and install U.N. "peacekeeping forces" in the region -- are very public relations-conscious. In fact, they are notorious for playing to the overly sympathetic and often one-sided international media's camera.
USA Today ran a story showing how the Palestinian news media have invented "atrocity" stories by reporting supposed Israeli soldier attacks on different Palestinian towns, which upon verification have turned out to be complete fabrications. There have also been reported instances of Palestinian ambulances sent out to pick up fake wounded -- for the sake of eager Western cameras.
Although there are moderate Palestinian voices, the leadership holds to a long-held, ambitious and somewhat secret (to the West, at least) ultimate objective -- to take over all of Israel. Indeed, the Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be understood unless it is recognized that the complete "liberation" of Palestine (which to the Palestinians includes all of Israel) is, and always has been, the endgame of the Arab leadership toward Israel.
Based on an enmity many trace back to Abraham, most Arab leaders -- as distinct from courageous souls like the late Anwar el-Sadat as well as many moderate Arabs both in the Middle East and throughout the world who have risen beyond this cultural and spiritual hatred -- still cling to the "jihad," the struggle to "reclaim Palestine," as a holy mission. Current Mideast leaders like Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat continually fan the ancient fires of hatred toward Israel that first burst into flame against the modern Jewish state one day after its establishment in 1948:
"This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." -- Arab League Secretary General Azzam Pasha, May 15, 1948, the day five Arab armies invaded the new state of Israel, one day after the nation declared its independence
"The Arab nations should sacrifice up to 10 million of their 50 million people, if necessary, to wipe out Israel ... Israel to the Arab world is like a cancer to the human body, and the only way of remedy is to uproot it, just like a cancer." -- Saud ibn Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia, Associated Press, Jan. 9, 1954
"I announce from here, on behalf of the United Arab Republic people, that this time we will exterminate Israel." -- President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, speech in Alexandria, July 26, 1959
"We shall never call for nor accept peace. We shall only accept war. We have resolved to drench this land with your [Israel's] blood, to oust you as aggressor, to throw you into the sea." -- Hafez Assad, then-Syrian Defense Minister, May 24, 1966, who later became Syria's president
"The battle with Israel must be such that, after it, Israel will cease to exist." -- Libyan President Mohammar Qadaffi, al-Usbu al-Arrabi (Beirut) quoted by Algiers Radio, Nov. 12, 1973
"There has been no change whatsoever in the fundamental strategy of the PLO, which is based on the total liberation of Palestine and the destruction of the occupying country ... On no accounts will the Palestinians accept part of Palestine and call it the Palestinian state, while forfeiting the remaining areas which are called the State of Israel." --Rafiq Najshah, PLO representative in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabian News Agency, June 9, 1980
"The struggle with the Zionist enemy is not a struggle about Israel's borders, but about Israel's existence. We will never agree to anything less than the return of all our land and the establishment of the independent state." --Bassam Abu Sharif, a top Arafat aide and PLO spokesman, quoted by the Kuwait News Agency, May 31, 1986
"The establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip does not contradict our ultimate strategic aim, which is the establishment of a democratic state in the entire territory of Palestine, but rather is a step in that direction."
--Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) interview with Al-Safir, Lebanon, Jan. 25, 1988
"We will enter Jerusalem victoriously and raise our flag on its walls ... We will fight you [the Israelis] with stones, rifles, and 'El-Abed' [the Iraqi missile]..."
--Yasser Arafat, reported by the Associated Press, March 29, 1990, at the start of the Gulf War
"The hands of the U.S. are fully stained with the blood of the Palestinians. There is only one possible solution to unrest in the Middle East, namely, the annihilation and destruction of the Zionist state."
-- Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a "prayer sermon" at Tehran University addressing hundreds of thousands of Iranians, Dec. 31, 1999
When it comes to sticky issues, you either straddle the apathy line or you make a choice. I've made my choice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am a Zionist. I am for the following two reasons;
1. It's a Biblically sound choice
2. It's a historically and geographically sound choice.
You can take away the first one and it's still a sound choice.
Sadly I don't know any Jews personally. I don't want to seem like George Costanza from Seinfeld, in the episode where he went out of his way to "make friends" with a black person- just because someone accused him of being racist. However, with Israel's 60 years of independence celebrations taking place this week I was determined to at least observe a Jewish gathering.
Yom Hazikaron is the "Day of Rememberance", a commemoration for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror, traditionally held the night before the official day of independence celebrations. Yom Hazikaron Melbourne was held at Monash University's Clayton campus on the evening of May 6th, and I was able to attend.
Sitting in the car waiting for the hall to open open, there was no escaping the significance of the event whilst listening to ABC News Radio, on a summary of the headlines-in-brief; "...and, Israel celebrates it's 60th anniversary since independence. How many others would celebrate with them if the occupation ended?..."
"Occupation"?? Even in a headline soundbite, someone has to editorialize.
I probably don't look in the least bit Jewish, if there is such a thing, so the door security officer pulled me up and politely asked me some questions. I was happy to oblige, as it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that a mass gathering of Jews would be an ideal target for protests (especially at a University)...or worse. The problem was I stumbled over my own tongue trying to explain to this friendly security guard (who could have been Mossad for all I knew) that I was not Jewish but I cared about Israel. He smiled politely at my attempt and showed me in. Ah! I can hear them all now...The racism of Zionists! Stopping anyone who doesn't appear Jewish! Racial profiling! No...it's called efficient security.
The tone of the evening was set by the instruction in the program: In keeping with the solemnity of the occasion there should be no applause. In the main hall, I was all alone, people-watching. There were young and old, ultra-orthodox and liberal. To me, demographically, it looked no different to a church gathering, but with yarmulkes, and even so not everybody was wearing them. There was no boisterousness, bad language, lack of manners...just a community of people, behaving pleasantly. They looked solemn, but with a mischievously gleeful glimmer of hope.
The young Jewish man beside me was deep in conversation with a young female friend. It was heavy stuff- relationships, disagreements between friends, some kind of crisis, but it was handled pragmatically by both. I heard the young lady say "You know what Jews are like...word gets around". It all sounded so normal. They wound it up pleasantly and she left.
The presentations were mostly done in Hebrew, and it flowed so much I almost developed an ear for it. I could pick up words like barach (blessing) and Ruach (wind/ spirit) and boker (dawn). They picked specific soldiers and victims of terror with links to Australia, and told their stories, and the relatives/ loved ones lit candles for them in a progressive sequence through the night.
Visiting Israeli paramedic Steven Friedland spoke of how he treated dozens on a battlefield in the second Lebanon war. His friend Itay Steinberger carried his medical equipment uphill so he could get to the injured faster. Steinberger then shielded him from a Hezbollah shell and died right there. It was only this which saved Steven and enabled him to tend to the wounded.
The incomparably Aussie-sounding Joe Salfas, who served in both the IDF and the RAAF, spoke of his cousin Ruth Moritz, who died in the first war of independence in 1948. Following evacuation orders she ran back up the minaret of an old mosque to fetch a missing comrade and was overrun by Jordanian troops. She was 18.
A video montage of images from the second Lebanon war was run. The pictures showed only funerals, grieving Israeli soldiers, embracing, united by loss. You couldn't watch it without crying, if you have a heart. Perhaps it's because we are conditioned to seeing death and murder in that region being cheered and celebrated. Yes there is grief and anguish from Palestinian Arab mothers. But I confess- I struggle to cry for them when, away from the western TV cameras, so many of those same mothers teach their children to desire and crave martyrdom through killing Jews. This is the same culture who sent their Persian children to clear Iraqi minefields, with the "keys to Paradise" hanging around their little necks. I'll cry for them-for entirely different reasons.
Scan the Israeli media and try to find bloodthirsty Zionist indoctrination of their schoolchildren, or ecstasy, celebration and cheering at the death of Palestinian terrorists. You won't. The terrorist boast is we love death more than you love life. How wrong they are. They underestimate how much Israelis love life.
Here was the revelation of the evening for me; we "celebrate" ANZAC day and remembrance day, the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month. We proudly honour our war heroes as heroes. To do this, by inference we are asserting moral standing. It's simple. They were wrong, we were right. We defeated them. We fought them. We killed them, and we lost our own in the process. We have WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. Our defence forces were, and are, heroes.
Israel have to do this remembrance every day. They have been at war every decade they have existed. While we obediently and willingly sent people overseas to assist the world, occasionally without a choice, sometimes with, Israel have fought for their own survival out of sheer necessity. These heroic, tragic, heart-wrenching stories are a part of their daily life, etched into their being and culture. Yet our mainstream media and cultural elite deny Israel the same moral standing which we afford ourselves.
I was caught out as prayers were offered and "will the gentlemen please cover their heads". Oops. Not only was I unaware of this practice, I had nothing to put on my head. Still, I wasn't the only one. As we sat down, the young Jewish man beside me quips "five minutes with your hand on your head....just doesn't work!". It's refreshing. He seemed to be there only because he felt he had to. Perhaps he is a non-religious Jew. Perhaps he wishes he wasn't identified with this estranged, harangued, libelled and endangered species. But he's there anyway, still being indentified, once and always, a Jew. A living, breathing, walking miracle.
His Excellency Yuval Rotem, Israel's ambassador to Australia made a speech, entirely in Hebrew. it included the following notable snippets;
Israel is not perfect. We have sinned. We have even been discriminatory. Sometimes our actions have been excessive and perhaps our reprisals too harsh. But in the final analysis it must be said that Israel have always tried to extend the hand of peace.
We have two large hands and a very large heart. One hand is to protect our people, and the other is to offer to our enemies, for peace, if they so desire it, or a fight, if they desire that.
Looking at history his words were, if anything, understated. I was caught out yet again as they sung the Hatikva (The Hope), the Israeli National Anthem.
Afterwards there was little or no socialising. I had no opportunity to chat to anyone. It was probably a barach in disguise. What on earth would I say? I'm a Christian Zionist...sorry about the 1,800 years of church-based anti-semitism? I blew my opportunity with the young man who chuckled about by non-head-covering during prayer time, where I could have explained that my excuse was "I'm not Jewish"! Perhaps I needed the opportunity to claim my Christian position, and graciously accept whatever the response- rejection, disdain, a warm welcome. I wondered if I was really capable of graciously accepting any response, had I been faced with it.
Way ahead of me however there are worldwide alliances of solidarity between Christians and Jews, albeit with Australian chapters slow to get going. If you were going to find only one commonality between us it would be this; Israel has a glorious future.
Even though the invitation to this evening was to "The Community" I got the feeling I was possibly the only Gentile there.
But what a privilege.
Oh dear. Here we go again. The Alzheimer's Story-telling troupe are on the march again. You know the ones- they go around to Alzheimer's sufferers and tell them the same story every night and charge them money each time. The patients don't know any different. They think they're hearing a new story.
The mockumentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus is now afflicting commercial television, as if making a big fuss on pay TV's Discovery Channel wasn't enough. Worse, it's executive producer is James Cameron of Titanic fame. As if I needed more reasons to detest that movie. No surprise that the network showing The Lost Tomb, is the one famed for pushing the boundaries of good taste off the edge of a cliff- Channel Ten.
And it's riding on a fresh wave of Jesus-conspiracy-theory-mania caused by the Da Vinci Code, itself a masterpiece of profiteering from old, overdone and completely implausible theories, dusted off and re-branded for a new generation of the unsuspecting...
In a nutshell this "dramatic discovery" that will "rock Christianity to it's core" (ho hum) was the discovery of a tomb in the Talpiot area of Jerusalem. The tomb contained ossuaries (boxes with skeletal remains) etched with names suggesting they belonged to people named Jesus, Joseph and Mary, and another Mary speculated to be Mary Magdelene. Yep- if it was, that means Jesus and M. Magdelene must have been married! Apparently if you piece together enough bits of rubbish, you almost get a fact.
Add to all that some DNA testing of old bones having absolutely nothing to compare them with, some fancy forensic-based technologies falsely linking one ossuary to another to support the speculations and voila, here's a groundbreaking piece of infotainment. One which tells you about the real Jesus, the human Jesus, the revising of history! Be enlightened by prime-time TV, with promos telling you in deep, booming voiceovers that it will "CHALLENGE---- EVERYTHING----YOU-----BELIEVE !!"
I disagree. I believe a fool and his money are soon parted. That hasn't been challenged at all.
So who exactly is making these ground-breaking and controversial and ratings-grabbing speculations? Archaeologists? Historians? Linguistics experts? Nope. Hollywood movie producer James Cameron and writer Simcha Jacobovici.
Here's some snippets from the real world:
1) Joe Zias, the curator for anthropology and archaeology at the Rockerfeller Museum of Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997, personally handled the Talpiot ossuaries when they were discovered in 1980 (yes, that's right. 1980. Not yesterday). His references to the Lost Tomb of Jesus docko are thus: “Projects like these make a mockery of the archaeological profession.” and "have no credibility whatsoever” and “are intellectually and scientifically dishonest.” I doubt Channel 10 will be using those testimonial soundbytes on their promos. Joe's own summary of the documentary can be found here
2) Professor Ben Witherington of Asbury Theological Seminary, an expert in early Christian antiquity, pointed out that the names on the ossuaries, which were not so much etched on, rather they were crudely scratched, were in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. There is absolutely no reason why a family tomb would have a Greek inscription when the earliest Jewish Christians spoke Aramaic. "This is a story full of holes, conjectures and problems. It will make good TV and involves a bad critical reading of history"
3) Amos Kloner, the Israeli archaeologist who supervised the original dig in 1980 and authored the official report, pointed out that it was a typical Jewish burial tomb containing some of the top ten most popular names in early Judea, and questioned why a Galilean family's tomb would be in Jerusalem. He said of the documentary in an interview with the Jerusalem Post: “It’s impossible. It’s nonsense.”
Strong words. He obviously knows nothing about television.
Furthermore, Kloner's original report in 1980 claimed the tomb was broken into and vandalised early in it's history.
Vandalised? Crudely scratched names? Interesting.
Wait. There's more. Jacobovici reckons the famous "Ossuary of James" , discovered separately, also belonged in the "Jesus Tomb". You see, James was a brother of Jesus. If it was in the same tomb, it would add weight to the speculation of a family tomb containing a very dead Jesus Christ! A crime lab method called "patina fingerprinting" is used to forensically link that ossuary to the others. This is the film's core reasoning behind this particular claim.
A quick history on the "Ossuary of James". The Israeli Antiquities Authority released a report in 2003 suggesting it was a forgery. The owner of the ossuary, a private collector by the name of Oded Golan, was arrested for forgery relating to other artifacts. In fairness, he was not charged. Personally I couldn't care less if this ossuary is of James brother of Jesus the messiah, or James brother of Jesus the fish salesman from Gaza.
Firstly, Golan had this ossuary in his collection from 1976, way before the Talpiot Tomb was discovered in 1980. And it's characteristics, including it's dimensions, differ it far too much from the Talpiot ossuaries for it to have been included.
But here's the bit that really gives me a giggle. The "Patina fingerprinting" method was a crime lab method never meant for archaeological use. The director of the crime lab consulted by the filmmakers issued a written denial of the docko's claims, saying he never said the ossuaries were a match and that "much more testing would be needed in order to draw any conclusions".
Naturally this is not the only case of the documentary giving a token academic the appearance of agreeing with the producer's findings, when in fact they don't. Jacobovici uses footage of distinguished epigrapher Frank Moore Cross reading the script of the ossuary inscribed “Jesus son of Joseph.” It is very clear from the footage, it's intended for the viewer to believe this scholar supports the view of two Hollywood filmmakers.
In fact Cross said to Jacobovici that he found it impossible to make such conclusions about this tomb. He was "upset" at the way Jacobovivi used footage of him. Likewise Isreali scholar Tal Ilan..."outraged" at misuse of her words by Jacobovici. In fact, Joe Zias said the following of the scholars used in the film: "...totally unaware of the premise of the documentary...totally opposed to the evidence as presented...edited in such a way as to give the false impression that they are in agreement with the film"
Yet the New York Times' review reads "almost all of the scholars interviewed support the filmmakers' case". Wrong, wrong and wrong. Still, this is the same newspaper who said The Da Vinci Code was "impeccably researched". I ask again: Who researches the New York Times?
Naturally the docko leans on the Gnostic Gospel craze to support it's Mr. and Mrs. Jesus theory, that other tired old speculation re-hashed so effectively by the Da Vinci Code. I won't waste time on that, other than what you can read here. I'm sure I saw a Gnostic Gospel for sale in an antique shop once. They really are starting to get up my gnose.
Hershal Shanks is a non-believing Jew from the Biblical Archaeology Society, and a close friend of Simcha Jacobovici. He describes the married-Jesus theories, and specifically referring to the logic used in Jacobovici's film, as "building very slim possibility upon very slim possibility until likelihood dissolves into evanescence". Amen, Hershal.
There is clearly a big difference between proving your speculation and selling it. James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici have done a masterly job of selling, but then they had $4 million and a sea of gullibility fresh from the Da Vinci Code. Even a non-believer who would say it's not impossible for this tomb to be that of Jesus of Nazareth, would question why such deception is neccessary to convince people it is.
Personally I'm surprised that Channel Ten didn't wait until Easter to screen this latest piece of re-hashed Jesus conspiracy mania. This is the usual modus operandi of the secular media. But there is actually something comforting for Christians. These very tedious attacks simply prove the very writings that they attempt to undermine. This bit, for example:
Even as there shall be false teachers among you, ... even denying the Lord that bought them, ... And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: - 2 Peter 2:1-3
I've quoted from a verifiable 2000 year-old document which has already given us all the information we need about the Tomb of Jesus. They found it. It was empty.
I love The Simpsons. They have a history of cutting-edge and witty humour. Plus the kids love the funny voices and cute characters. Sure there are some adult concepts which I would often try to keep the kids away from, but generally the subject matters were "sharp but reasonably harmless"
Whilst the humour is topcial without being too preachy, it's unavoidable that, like everything else on television, people feel as though they are informed and educated about real life through a popular show like this.
Occasionally little Lisa Simpson represents the "voice of reason", often standing up for some leftist views like Bhuddism or planet-worhipping disguised as environmental concern, And, with a couple of "token Christian" characters like the pushover Ned Flanders or the couldn't-care-less Reverend Lovejoy in the mix, Christian toes are tread upon. There are the usual secular themes and baseless stereotypes.
But considering just how venomous anti-Christian TV rhetoric can get, I could always take the Simpsons- the media and showbiz got their lashings also. This meant that The Simpsons never sold out to the popular politically-correct godless ideology, they cruised along at their own pace.
How times change. A recent episode played the theme of evolution taught in public schools. As though realising it for the first time, Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy use it to create a case to force religion back into schools, culminating in a court case attempting to ban the instruction of evolution. Naturally the voice of reason was Lisa Simpson ("But creationism isn't science!"). Through a mildly funny process involving Homer acting like an ape, evolution wins. Lisa consoles the useless Ned Flanders with "I really respect your beliefs and that you are so passionate about them, but religion really shouldn't be taught in schools any more than you would want science taught in church". How wonderfully patronising.
Along the way were the usual stereotypes- the irrational Ned Flanders screaming at his kids that evolution "just isn't true...because it just isn't", museum displays entitled "Irrefutable Fossil Evidence", and characters attacking evolution using nothing more than angry name-calling, manipulation and trickery.
So, there you have it. Evolution is fact. Simple. Anyone who opposes it is a brainless, unscientific rube who is actually dangerous to progress and education. The only people who oppose evolution are religious nutcases. Once again, pop culture comes to our rescue with lessons learned through entertainment.
Sure, evolution is science. The bit where species adapt to their environment? Not under any dispute whatsoever.
It's the bit where a bacteria grows arms, legs, brains, reproductive systems and a gazillion other brilliant things from a series of accidents, that we struggle with. As is the bit about DNA developing new, previously non-existent information magically from nowhere. Christians aren't the only ones who struggle with this. So do many eminent scientists. The theory of irreducible complexity also struggles with macroevolution. Heck, even those who promote macroevolution, such as Jay Gould et al, litter their theses with words like "possibly" and "maybe" and "probably" to fill in the massive blanks!
Did you hear all the fundamentalist, irrational, superstitious, Jesus-hysteria oozing from every sentence there?
Well yes, according to TV.
I can only presume the Simpsons' writers were drawing from Inherit the Wind, a movie/play about the Scopes trial. John Scopes was a teacher in the 1920's who was tried under a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution, and the case was made into a token religion vs. science debate. Or so the movie would have you believe. I thought the Entertainment Industry could not sink any lower in making fantasy from the Scopes' trial, in order to misrepresent the Christian view on this topic and stereotype Christians poorly.
Well, the Simpsons just sunk lower.
In The Simpsons, it was the religious rubes who "used" the question of teaching evolution to make a case and initiate the whole process using force and influence. In the Scopes' trial (the real one, not the movie version) the emerging American Civil Liberties Union were looking for a platform from which to start a campaign to have religious instruction thrown out of public schools. They initiated the whole process. The agressors, you might say.
Tennessee prohibited Darwinian teaching, albeit a light, conditional prohibition, so the ACLU placed an ad in the local paper asking for help in "tesing this law". It was answered by George Rappleyea, a Dayton county businessman who figured the community would benefit from the publicity. He pressured John Scopes into becoming the mule "accused" of teaching evolution. Scopes was a teacher without a degree in biology who had substituted for the ill biology teacher for a mere two weeks. He could not even remember teaching evolution, but he mentioned something about biology.
This was good enough for the ACLU, who offered to pay all expenses AND for his subsequent further education if he agreed to be their mule. Someone dobbed on Scopes to the State and so it began.
The prosecution simply wanted to put the evidence for evolution against evidence for creation as their case, and actually enlisted William Bryan, an experienced orator with sound scientific and political background, to do so. Bryan had studied Origin of the Species and had a well-prepared line of questioning.
According to the movie and The Simpson's parody, he was a loudmouth, fanatical, finger-pointing fundy lunatic, citing only religious dogma as his basis. Inherit the Wind had the case dragging on, with threats from the Christian community affecting jurors, and all sorts of treachery, until the final "tragic" loss of the case. Science and reason defeated by supersition and oppression! Yet the fanatical tyrant Bryan was still not satisfied. He screamed for blood.
In real life, before Bryan got to state his well-prepared case, the defence copped a plea and ended the trial early. They had planned this all along, to prevent Bryan from sounding rational.
The theatre version of Inherit the Wind had even more insidious low-brow swipes at Christianity with it's pathetically unreal stereotypes of redneck, uneducated fanatics screaming abuse at the enlightened pro evolutionists. Even the ficticious local Reverend calls down a curse on his own daughter for dating the Scopes' character.
In real life, even the openly anti-Christian journo HL Mencken reported that there was no animosity between the Christian townsfolk and Scopes' defenders.
Now why on earth would such corruption of the facts be neccessary? Could it be that evolution's salespeople need the sympathy vote? Strange. Because it seems that on TV the Christians are the angry, irrational ones manipulating public opinion, yet in the real life TV claims to mirror, it is their opponents exhibiting such behaviour.
No space for evolution arguments here. Suffice to say that the refutations to this popular theory are wide and scientific. Nobody "signed off" on evolution and concluded that, if you don't believe it, you do not belong in mainstream society. Yet turn on your TV and this is exactly what you hear.
More's the point is the use of evolution as the method by which to portray Christians (not Hindus, Muslims, Bhuddists, Humanists mind you, but Christians) as mindless, unscientific, blundering and backwards. Lisa Simpson summed it by saying "we don't want religion taught in schools any more than you would want science taught in churches".
That's right Lisa- us Christians even think light globes are evil and would have burned Edison at the stake had we half a chance.
Actually, we teach science all the time.
The law of Thermodynamics, for example-the observed, recorded fact that the universe is in a constant state of decay and energy loss, is something we don't mind reminding people.
The Bible itself; the whole reason we regard this collection of writings as a dependable account of the events it claims to describe, is because of science. The science of archaeology, hermenuetics, linguistics, etc.
We often mention that it was God who instructed Abraham to circumcise male children on the eight day. Biological science demonstrates that an infant's peak blood clotting and immunity is on their eighth day. Interesting. How did Abraham work it out- trial and error?
Christians seem to be the only group prepared to discuss the true, scientific biological properties of the deadly HIV virus. Nowhere on TV do I see that condoms cannot prevent the transfer of the virus, that there are recorded cases of infection from body contact sports and mosquitos, and that it is developing the ability to become airborne. Oh, and that the highest risk group is the homosexual community.
The Entertainment Industry prevents those facts from becoming known, because it will offend the gay community. The very same Industry tells us to believe that Christians are the enemies of science and information. Interesting.
Lesson? If it's on TV, it is most probably rubbish. If you want to see real life, turn off your TV. Do it soon before you actually start believing the stereotypes, although for some, I believe it may be too late. And if something says "Based on a true story", be afraid. Be very afraid.
Pity. I used to like The Simpsons. Now they've sold out.
Martyrdom. No, I'm not talking about the joy of blowing yourself up to please Allah and go to his big brothel in the sky (where DO they find all their virgins??). I'm talking about your normal, everyday martyr.
Or, another title to this topic could be "The power of victimology".
Haven't we all been, or been affected by, a martyr at some stage. Haven't we all resorted to the ancient art of victimology.
You know the scenario- person A insults person B, by saying something rude, disrespectful, manipulative, a complete put down. Person B reacts, as one would expect, either aggressively, sternly, critically or whatever.
Person A responds with "Oh, no.....you MISUNDERSTOOD me. You see, when I said you were ugly, stupid, and your mother dresses you all funny, you TOOK IT THE WRONG WAY."
Geddit? "YOU misunderstood ME". It's not my fault. In fact, I'M the victim of a misunderstanding. Not only am I going to avoid being accountable for my despicable behaviour, I'm going to make YOU feel bad. I'm going to get upset that you have ACCUSED ME of being rude!
An insult eloquently worded, is still an insult.
Clever, huh? Yet we all do it. The art of victimology. Friends do it, families do it, colleagues do it, governments do it. Countries do it.
Back in the 1930's, the oddly-named National Socialist Party of Germany convinced their people that Jews meant harm to the Ayrian race. THEY had stolen, THEY had cheated, THEY had persecuted. Look what THEY have done to US.
The same government wanted a region of Czechoslovakia, the Sudetan highlands, and could not conquer it by force. Furthermore, France and Britain had promised protection to the Czechs from ANY hostile incursion. So, Adolf and friends convinced the world that Czechoslovakia was mistreating a minority of "Germans" (i.e. German-speaking Czechs) in the Sudetan region. Despite the ex-pat Germans in the region being perfectly well off as Czechs, the Nazis convinced them they were hard-done-by, and stirred up enough dissention to provoke the Czechs into a military response.
Bingo. Job done. Now the ex-pat Germans in the Sudetanland were an "oppressed minority" living in "occupied territories". Poor Adolf was just sticking up for his kinsmen, said the British and French. He doesn't WANT to intervene with force, but he may HAVE TO, to stop the oppression. This would ignite war in Europe. We must convince the Czechs that they are better off trading a small amount of land "for peace", said the world's greatest pacifist, Neville Chamberlain.
So, without any consultation with the Czechs, Britain and France handed the region over to Hitler. Betrayed by the very people who had vowed to protect them, Czechoslovakia was then overrun by the Nazi military. In came the tanks, 6 months later, WW II. 50 million people dead. Some peace.
But that's some amazing demonstration of the effectiveness of victimology.
So, what have we learned from this? Well, nothing. Now we have entire nations who still desire the extermination of Jews, using "Palestine" as the victim. Palestine, a region that has never, ever, in 2000 years, been a self-governing or autonomous nation. Palestinians, who are infinitely better off under a productive Israel, than under the rule of an authority that takes billions in charity from the west and spends it - not on education, healthcare or housing, but on terrorism to destroy the very people giving them money. Yet the whole world is convinced that Israel is the big, bad, oppressive giant.
Back to the Nazis. SS chief Himmler was obsessed with the occult. He revered witches and witchcraft. He was a believer in Gnosticism, the old/new-age mysticism made popular by a recent bestsellling book and film I've been mentioning. Secret wisdom and knowledge was the key to power. He took up massive amounts of state resource to find evidence that witches and seers were persecuted and killed by Jews. Of course you can't just go out and kill Jews. You need to have a legitimate reason.
He didn't find any evidence, of course, and after a while the small matter of WWII took precedence and it all got shelved.
But, sooner or later, someone is going to point out that in fact it was Catholics who killed lots of witches and seers. Add a few zeros to the actual number killed (as was done by that bestselling book I mentioned) and bingo, you have a legitimate reason to kill Catholics. Or, instead of being quite so drastic you can simply persecute, slander and ridicule them, telling them it's their own fault and they deserve much worse and they should think themselves lucky. All this in a tolerant, politically-correct society, of course.
Speaking of religion- there is one that has been spread by the sword, by murder, assasination, suppression, censorship and terrorism. One that sends otherwise wealthy countries into a mire of corruption, poverty and ignorance. Yet this "religion" cries victim loud enough, blaming their own shocking lack of progress on everyone else, and blaming the body count it causes on the bodies themselves. And we believe it. Society panders to it. Nobody ever says anything contentious of this religion, it's founders or it's proponents, either factually or within the framework of fiction. Nobody dares. The last person who did was a Dutch film maker. Even the people who attended his funeral were mocked and threatened.
Job done. Not only are they never held accountable for their own despicable behaviour, they actually make everyone else feel bad about it. Like the child abusers teaching their victims that the abuse is all their own fault.
Another religion (for want of a better word), despite all it's faults, teaches "turning the other cheek" if your enemy strikes you. Love thy neighbour. Don't think you're better than anyone. Accept that you are no better. Don't play the victim.
Secular society, under the veil of "freedom of speech" insults, mocks, lays out false stereotypes and publically attacks one of those religions. Guess which one. Perhaps I'm running the risk of playing the victim with these words, but no matter. A spade is a spade. Look around you and see. I love freedom of speech. I just wish it was available to everyone. I wish you could tell everyone that the media is fooling everyone, shaping popular opinion to suit them, that even the 6 o'clock news is mostly rubbish. It's not news, it's a placebo. Something put there to make you feel like you're being informed.
But how would you tell everyone all this? You'd need the media.
You have to appreciate the effectiveness of victimology. Whether it's a country, or a religion, or an abusive person. There's something about being a martyr that just works. Political correctness is constantly revised and reshaped, proportional to how loud the martyrs are crying victim. I am guessing this is exactly why it is perfectly politically correct to insult Christianity. Not only do you get away with it, you can profit from it.
Congratulations on the whole movie thing. I bet after Angels and Demons/ Digital Fortress bombed you never thought you'd be a household name like Grisham. Quite a bonus for someone who started out simply wanting to "challenge long-held beliefs about religion". Since I am hoping that you are true to your roots, I have an idea for a big project that would be right up your alley.
You’ve proved that "research" is as simple as reading someone else’s conspiracy theory book, then uncritically accepting it when it suits your idea. No pesky cross referencing at the library, no consulting qualified peer-reviewed documents, with all their long papers and big words, no interviewing experts in the field. Nope, just snip, lift, paste, paraphrase a little, and it's yours. Heh heh, I like the line that your "expert historian" character Leigh Teabing says about Christianity being "the greatest story ever sold". Wasn't that the name of one such book you used?
Sure, the authors of these earlier books may get a little jumpy about that little thing called "plagiarism". But they know if you pull it all off successfully, their old books get dusted off and put right back on the shelves! Complete with fancy new covers and catch phrases like "before The Da Vinci Code, there was…". They love it, really. Their publishers won’t admit it though.
Nobody cares that both secular and Christian scholars totally debunked these conspiracy theories. Heck, that was 20 years ago. Nobody remembers them in the first place. That’s the whole point. It’s like milking a dead cow! It’s like repeatedly selling the same stories to people with Alzheimer’s disease!
So your claimed "facts" are nothing more than wild, baseless church-bashing speculation designed to generate publicity. Even if your fans find this out (fat chance), it’s still not the end of your intellectual reputation. Not by a long shot. If you’re ever confronted by that annoying reality of evidence, you can simply launch into the good old "what is Truth?" cliché (Pontius Pilate said it- that is, if he really existed). Dazzle everyone with philosophical semantics about truth being relative, the need to challenge accepted history regardless of the verifiable it is, and lament that you are simply trying to further wisdom and enlightenment, and so on.
Nope. You'll never have to answer to anyone, not even the real people and organisations affected by the slanderous inferences of your "fiction". We live in such a secular society. Everyone loves a good Jesus-bashing anti-establishment conspiracy theory. Besides, now that it's a movie you can just stay hidden away and let Ron Howard and Tom Hanks explain to the masses how the story isn't really offensive to Christians or Catholics. Artists are so good at making things look right even when they're just plain wrong.
Sorry to digress. So I have a project that I reckon will be a pushover for you. It involves hardly any research whatsoever. And I’m sure it will get massive publicity and make you even more money.
When it comes to fabricated, covered-up religious claims made by one person, to mislead and indoctrinate people and create wealth and power, look no further than ISLAM.
Okay, you wouldn’t be the first to write the horrifying legacy of Mohamed into a juicy "fiction based on facts" story. But then you weren’t the first to do that to the Leonardo thing either…just ask Lewis Perdue, author of 1983 "The Da Vinci Legacy" (yep, he made the same mistake as you with the artists’ proper name…but "The Leonardo Legacy" just sounds all wrong, doesn't it? ). Bad luck to him. You’re the one who made it a success, cashed in, and warded off those pesky plagiarism charges.
Well, now you can do exactly the same to the story of Mohamed and his army of poor, mislead followers. All 1.3 billion of them. How’s THAT for publicity?
Now, unlike your previous project, you don’t need to read, blithely accept and selectively pluck bits from a heap of existing, unoriginal conspiracy theories (or "plausible hypotheses" as your mate Michael Baigent likes to call them, since he can’t call it fiction, and can’t call it fact!). Oh no. Everything you need to piece together "possibly the biggest cover-up of our time" is IN THE KORAN and OFFICIAL ISLAMIC WRITINGS themselves!
Sure, there is a little chronological re-ordering to do, but from these very sources (verified by the religion of Islam itself) you will find out that;
- There is substantial evidence Mohamed was neglected, abused and molested as a child, subsequently becoming the abuser himself
- Mo was rejected by his mother and the women who were his unpaid carers, hence his, and Islam’s treatment of women
- Mo’s uncle was involved in profitable religious scams and cut him out of the inheritance, making Mo crave power and revenge
- "Allah" is not Arabic for "God", as Mo claimed to try and seduce Jews and Christians, but is actually one of 360 Arabic pagan gods. Indeed, earlier "revelations" from Mo named his magic God as Ar-Raman, an early Yemeni pagan idol.
- The illiterate Mo had to get third-hand accounts of the Torah and Bible to sound like a prophet, and needless to say he butchered them almost as badly as he butchered thousands of people
- Mo made up Islam as he went along, usually to justify some current lust or craving for booty, blood or slap and tickle.
- Mo suppressed people who spoke out against him, such as many poets of the time, by killing them. Much cheaper than advertising.
- The modern behaviour of terrorists is perfectly in sync with the legacy of Mo and Islamic teachings, not actually a "hijacking of peaceful Islam", as so many immams and politically-correct world leaders keep telling us.
And that's just a snippet. Just about every page of these documents (I use the word "documents" because it sounds more like there's a cover-up) is crying out to be exposed. Just waiting for a hero like you to "free the world to see the truth". Sorry to pinch a line from the Leonardo story. I hope I got it right. It might have been "The truth should be free", or was it "free the world from the burden of becoming properly informed about Christianity". Oh, by the way, I only have one problem with that line...the "truth" wasn't free. The hardcover edition cost me $24.95 (yet people have offered to GIVE me the gospels for NOTHING. What's up with that?)
Now Dan, when you are, ahem, "researching" all this, be sure and use older versions of the Q’uran and Hadiths, like Sirat Rasul Allah Bukhari and Sahih Al-Bukhari and Ishaq. Recent Muslim scholars have changed some bits, especially the bits that portray Mo’s atrocious behaviour, or the true meaning of "Jihad", or references to the true pagan identities of his "God", and lots of other stuff. A "cover up", you might say! Funnily enough they haven’t covered up the bit about Mo marrying a six year old girl. Maybe they figured it wasn’t so bad. After all, he didn’t consummate the marriage until she was nine. Wouldn't we call that paedophilia? Juicy stuff, huh?
Really, what better epic could there be than the illiterate Arabian camel-herder, abused and neglected as a child, hungry for revenge, power and boobies. He rustles up a massive following by pretending to be a prophet whilst not actually prophesying anything at all. All the ingredients are there- marrying into money, buying support, winning over uneducated, illiterate tribes with constantly changing divine "revelations", or just killing those that didn’t believe him. Maybe you can have Robert Langdon discovering all of this by reading a Koran in his hotel room whilst catching some rays in the Saudi Arabian desert.
You can impress readers with more "impeccable research", as the NY Times said of the Leonardo Code (I wonder…who researches the New York Times?). You’ll need to get into some history books on pre-Islamic Arabic culture to demonstrate how violent conquest only emerged post-Mohamed. Okay, so I lied- there may be a little research involved, but not much. If it does get too much for you, just do what you did with poor old Lewis Perdue. Look up guys who've already done all this- one is Craig Winn and he wrote some books which you’d find useful. His website is http://www.prophetofdoom.net/. There are many others, but why strain yourself?
Let’s face it, with all the terrorism these days, and coupled with your new-found popularity it’s a sure thing that you’d get bags of publicity. I know you’ve already succeeded in convincing everyone that the worst religious extremists out there are albino Catholic assasin monks, but remember those guys who flew those planes into those buildings (I mean in real life)? I don't think they were Southern Baptists. But I could be wrong. After all, what is Truth?
Yep, the whole world would flock to buy it. You could even write it with no plot or character development whatsoever and they’d still flock. Not that you did that with the Leonardo Code, of course. It sold purely on merit, not publicity.
And then...the movie! You would be the first to have a story that places Muslims smack bang in the middle of a nasty scandal. Nobody's done it yet. Well, I heard about some Dutch fellow making a film portraying Muslims mistreatment of women. But it couldn't have been that good, because nobody has seen or heard from the guy since. There was that movie "The Sum of all Fears" in which terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb in America. The book had them as Islamic terrorists, but Hollywood changed it to Neo-Nazis and South Africans so as not to offend Muslims! When will they ever learn that any publicity is good publicity? Even the Jewish Steven Speilberg pacified that whole "Munich" thing and portrayed the Jews and Muslims as equally culpable, over that real-life incident of Muslim terrorists killing Jewish athletes. To use Muslims as the token bad-guy would make you a pioneer!
After all, you said you wanted to "challenge long-held beliefs about religion". I reckon that’s a great idea. You’re not going to stop with Christianity, are you? You’re certainly not worried about offending people. In fact, that’s the modus operandi of any true writer- if all other publicity fails, offend someone (preferably someone who doesn't fight back, ). What’s the difference between offending Christians and Muslims? It’s all "religion", after all.
Don’t worry, I won’t expect royalties or intellectual property fees. It’s all yours if you want it. Even if I do have a change of heart later and sue you, think of the publicity.
Yours in conspiracy
24th April 2006
Some folks have asked me about the significance of the much publicised "Gospel of Judas". The story of this "gospel"'s discovery surfaced around Easter time. Funny that. Around the time that people might get to hear a peep or two about the notion that Jesus was supernatural in some way, and whammo, some new "shocking truth about Christianity" gets major media air time. The Gospel of Judas even got a mention on Rove Live. Well, then, it must be true.
The GoJ was part of a collection of antiquities that was dug up around 1970 then auctioned off to a rich Egyptian in 1982. But it only got all this publicity in Easter 2006.
In a nutshell this manuscript suggests that Jesus told Judas to betray him, among other things, and has Jesus rabitting on about aeons, luminaries and virgin spirits. It also had him scoffing at his disciples constantly, in a manner that would have earned him, not the adoration of crowds of Jewish peasants and fishermen, but a punch in the mouth. Blah ...This one gets thrown into the "Gnostic" pile. If you want more info on the Gnostics go here. The Gnostics did pretty much what the academia and media/ entertainment gurus of the world do today; design their own Jesus. In fact, the term "Gnosticism" has begun to be coined by the New Agers of late, since the New Age movement goes through constant facelifts.
In the case of the Gnostics, secret wisdom was the key to salvation. That's about the only theme one can derive. Apart from that, the Gnostic Gospels are an incoherent babble of esoteric, vague philosphical claptrap. The early Church fathers such as Irenaeus (c. 180 AD) acknowledged freely the heresy of the Gnostics, and there are reasons for them being being labelled heresy.
But, (sigh), as the world, and especially Australia, is prone to side with the underdogs, the term "heretic" gets redefined as "those poor free-thinkers who were persecuted by the big bad church for having their own ideas".
The main point here is that such a piece gets thrust down everyone's throat as though it has some kind of academic merit. Or even more ludicrous, that it should change early Christian history. Why? Because the Secular Poltically-Correct (SPC) insist on this thing called diversity. That Jesus was just this clever guy who told us all to be nice to our mothers and made a few slick comments. That Christianity fabricated the notion of Jesus' deity and singular path to salvation (a la Da Vinci Code, or should I say all the tedious conspiracy novels plagairised by it), when we'd much rather pretend that he promoted a whole glut of different spiritual ideas.
The SPC don't like the singular idea. Diverse spiritual ideas sound much better.
In much the same way, I don't like the idea of gravity either. But I have to put up with it sometimes.
What is particularly ridiculous about all this, is that the SPC are so desperate to promote the "other gospels" because of the attractiveness of diversity, that they lose sight of the only gospels that actually have consistency, sense, meaning and are the most textually verifiable.
You see, the bizarre collection of Gnostic gospels, to which the so-called Gospel of Judas belongs, are so completely devoid of any singular meaning or consistency the only diversity is diversity of error. In the Gospel of Phillip, for example, we have Mary Magdelene elevated to high priestess, giving the message of Goddess worship, yet in the Gospel of Thomas we have Jesus telling Mary to go away and uttering that women must become like men to enter heaven. So much for Goddess worship. We have a mish mash of strange, etherial spiritual beings, firmaments, ghostly events, and none of them collude or form a coherant message. It is quite evident the gnostics had way too much spare time to muse over their own fantasies.
Let's apply the secular logic another way. In 1000 years or so, archeologists dig up the lyrics to Rolling Stones songs. They will, no doubt, presume that the central religious belief of our time was worshipping the gods of Satisfaction through the high priestess Honky Tonk Woman, and that everyone was encouraged to have Sympathy for the Devil. All that silly Christianity stuff was a notion invented later by some corrupt oppressive regime.
That some ancient writings may promote "diversity" is totally irrelevant. What is relevant is what actually happened, and what the evidence says.
It's quite simple. The four gospels we have in the Bible:
- are the only ones that together make coherent, consistent sense
- were written in the first century by eyewitnesses or in close collusion with eyewitnesses of the events they describe
- were written with such cultural, geographical and textual accuracy that they demonstrate absolute scholarly credibility, and are often used in secular studies
These very Gospels tell of a Jesus who claimed to be God manifest as a man. A Jesus who was executed, dead and buried, then got up and walked out of his grave. These are the gospels which say that God dealt with the consequence of our own sin and this is the only answer for our screwed-up lives. A singular, specific idea. That's why society doesn't like it.
The contents of the Gnostic gospels, on the other hand
- resemble the ravings of an illiterate rock star with a drug problem
- were written at least 150 years after the events they claim to describe
- demonstrate little or no cultural sensitivity to the environment in which Jesus lived and worked, clearly don't know much about 1st century Judean life and therefore have no historical credibility.
The Gospel of Judas is being promoted by the Entertainment Industry. Like everything else there, it's not real. You don't get informed by people whose sole qualification is that they managed get their face on TV, or they sold a book, or they look good in a frock. The truth doesn't come to you for $24.95 at Dymocks. It's not sold to you with advertising on commercial TV. The truth is actually free.