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Friday, March 27, 2015

If you want to know why Tehran has been so successful in stalling against Obama and SecState John Kerry, look no further than right here. They — and the rest of the world — were given, courtesy of the Obama administration and free of charge, some of Israel’s most vital national security secrets.

 Our peevish, petulant, and impetuous president has struck again.

In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel’s nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent .But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel’s nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.


The timing of the revelation is highly suspect,
given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu’s March 3 address in Congress.The timing of the disclosure puts to rest any notion that President Obama acted out of spite for Bibi Netanyahu’s election win last week — but this is still a sellout of Israel, and the reason for it is plain.
Bad as that is, it gets worse.

If you want to know why Tehran has been so successful in stalling against Obama and SecState John Kerry, look no further than right here. They — and the rest of the world — were given, courtesy of the Obama administration and free of charge, some of Israel’s most vital national security secrets.

And that was when there was still six weeks of negotiation time left to go. The mullahs must be drooling at the prospect of what Obama/Kerry might let them have going into the final hours. The March 31 deadline is just days away, and Obama and Kerry are more desperate than ever for a deal, any deal, no matter the cost to Israel’s security.

Never have such two sold out so many for so little.

What must our other allies — I’m assuming for the sake of argument we still have some left — be thinking? “Obama revealed nuclear secrets over a speech?” This is not the action of a reliable ally, or even of a grownup. The man-child behind the Resolute desk is like Anthony Fremont in the classic Twilight Zone episode, “It’s a Good Life.” (2.5 minute capsule version above.) Like little Anthony, Obama has near-omnipotent powers at his disposal, but little use for them other than his own ego gratification, and for meting out harsh punishments to any who dare challenge his narrow worldview. Only instead of holding hostage a small town in Ohio, Obama plays his deadly games across a global stage.

The IMDB plot synopsis of “It’s a Good Life” concludes with the question, “Is there anything more dangerous… than a spoiled, selfish, stuck-up little brat who always gets his way?”

No, there isn’t.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Elements of American Jewry have fallen captive to what can only be described as Tikkun Olam Paganism."



Op-Ed: The Rise Of Tikkun Olam Paganism

I have long had a pet peeve about the vulgar misuse and distortion of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by assimilationist Jewish liberals in the United States and elsewhere. 


I have long had a pet peeve about the vulgar misuse and distortion of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by assimilationist Jewish liberals in the United States and elsewhere.

Elements of American Jewry have fallen captive to what can only be described as Tikkun Olam Paganism. Tikkun Olam Pagans are people who misrepresent Judaism as nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit of the liberal social action political agenda, all in the name of a suitably misrepresented Tikkun Olam. It is the banner waved by the countless "social action" committees at synagogues across America and in other liberal Jewish circles in support of liberal-leftist causes, including some that are harmful to Jews and some that are just plain wacky.

The Tikkun Olam Pagans` pseudo-religion consists of the following reductionist "theological" foundations:

1. Judaism in its entirety is essentially the advocacy and promotion of social justice.

2. Tikkun Olam means pursuit of peace, environmentalism and economic equality.

3. Justice, peace and equality are synonymous with this week`s PC liberal-leftist political fads.

Ipso facto, all of Judaism is reduced to the pursuit of being a nice liberal. Now, as it turns out, each one of the propositions listed above is totally false.

This Judaism-as-Liberalism form of reductionism is extremely common in the Reform synagogue (especially its misnamed Religious Action Center) and is universal in the Reconstructionist movement. It is popular among many Conservative Jews and even has its Orthodox advocates. A search for the term Tikkun Olam on the Internet will show you how near-universal is the equating of this concept with liberal "social activism." Even the far-left anti-Israel magazine Tikkun, published by "Rabbi" Michael Lerner, has misnamed itself after the concept. Indeed Tikkun magazine has even advocated the use of illegal psychedelic drugs by Jews and demanded that Jews understand Osama bin Laden`s "pain, " all in the name of Tikkun Olam.

The equation of Tikkun Olam with liberal political activism is so commonplace that it is recited as an ethical basis by many of the same liberal "social activists" who cannot recite the Shema prayer correctly, who practice no Jewish ritual, and have no idea of what any other concepts are in Judaism. For a nice laugh, ask some of these people to explain even one basic Jewish concept other than Tikkun Olam.

But a clarification is in order. Tikkun Olam does indeed play an important role in Jewish theology and ethics, but its meaning is nothing like that understood by the Tikkun Olam Pagans. Tikkun Olam, the "correcting" of the universe, has little if anything to do with things like social inequality, environmental cleanliness, and distribution of wealth and jobs. Rather, it refers to the Messianic era, when G-d`s laws will replace human laws, when G-d himself will be the acknowledged ruler, when all forms of idolatry will cease and all will turn their hearts to the One G-d. In other words, Tikkun Olam is a theological notion and not a trendy socioeconomic or political one.

 Tikkun Olam is mentioned in a major place in the Aleinu prayer that closes all prayer sessions, but again it is in conjunction with the wish to see idolatry and paganism erased from the earth. There is no mention of "social justice" or environmentalist issues, no gun control proposals and no AIDS marches. This will no doubt come as a rude surprise to Jewish assimilationist liberals. It is all the more ironic that Tikkun Olam is dredged up as underpinning for some forms of "activism" that are themselves little more than idolatry, such as the worshiping of trees, whales and nature in the name of "Eco-Judaism" by some radical Jewish environmentalists.

Even if one believed a certain amount of "social justice" could be squeezed under the Tikkun Olam theological umbrella, this would hardly justify the hijacking of the concept as artillery support for the liberal-leftist political agenda. At most, Tikkun Olam can only be conscripted as support for liberal social activism if one believes that this activism really promotes social justice. If it does promote social justice, then the incantations regarding Tikkun Olam are superfluous -- the "causes" are justified on their own merits. But does anyone today seriously believe that liberals and leftists only promote causes that are "socially just" and moral? Suppressing school choice and supporting Palestinian terrorism, affirmative action apartheid, and many other liberal causes promotes injustice and immoral outcomes.

The real issue is whether or not liberal political fads promote justice and peace and morality. And the only way to settle that question is to debate these "causes" analytically and on their own merits: Tikkun Olam has nothing to do with it. Analytic debate, of course, would require some training and study of social science, policy analysis, cost-benefits accounting, and history, and liberal poseurs are far too lazy for all that, preferring effortless ethical posturing and recreational compassion. They are much too busy patting themselves on their ethical backs.

To emphasize these points, let us state what is not covered under the heading of Tikkun Olam:

1. There is nothing in the Torah concept of Tikkun Olam that can justify government programs that take people`s private wealth and property away from them to help the poor. There is, of course, a Jewish religious precept requiring charity for the poor -- at least 10% of one`s income in two years out of seven -- but never to exceed 20% of one`s wealth, even if one is feeling ultra-compassionate. This charity, however, is privatized welfare and generosity, never state-run confiscation of property in the name of doing good. There seems to be rabbinic disagreement over whether government taxes that take away more than 10% of one`s income, especially to finance the welfare state, exempt one even from this 10% tithe. The only other biblically-mandated income redistribution involves supporting the Levites.

2. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be considered to be a judgment holding that income and wealth disparities are evil in and of themselves. Wealthy people are expected to give charity to help the poor; the poor are expected to give charity to the poorer. No one is expected to give charity to those too lazy to work or who are poor because they are drunks or addicts.

3. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as a condemnation of materialist desires and pursuits. Quite to the contrary, Judaism is not embarrassed at all about asking G-d to make us rich, such as in the Havdala prayers, where we ask for lots of silver.

4. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that could be remotely regarded as justifying affirmative action programs that discriminate against Jews. There is nothing that can justify pursuing ethnic "equality" through quotas, through lowered standards and preferences, and certainly not through programs that give other ethnic groups preferences ahead of Jews.

5. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as sanctioning (illicit) relations. Indeed, the Torah makes these a capital offense.

6. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as supporting the public school monopoly or single-payer health care system. People who want such things should have the intellectual honesty to come out and debate these on their own merits (if they have any), not by hijacking the concept of Tikkun Olam.

7. There is not even the tiniest inkling of a rationalization in Tikkun Olam for granting Palestinians or anyone else territorial rights within the Land of Israel.

8. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refraining from retaliating militarily against those who attack Jews.

9. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for claiming that  all ("non-human") species have "rights." (Must be kind to all species)

10. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refusing to acknowledge that human environmental goals must be traded off against other social and private goals.

11. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for abortion on demand.

12. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for opposing capital punishment for convicted murderers. To the contrary, the Torah explicitly endorses capital punishment for murderers.

A first giant step toward real Tikkun Olam would be the renunciation and discrediting of Tikkun Olam Paganism.
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Steven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of The Scout (available from Gefen Publishing House: http://161.58.167.199/shop/indi_scout.htm).

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/1760#.VRIGXCxAvzL

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How To Measure The Troubles Of Childhood

Can Family Secrets Make You Sick?

In the 1980s, Dr. Vincent Felitti, now director of the California Institute of Preventive Medicine in San Diego, discovered something potentially revolutionary about the ripple effects of child sexual abuse. He discovered it while trying to solve a very different health problem: helping severely obese people lose weight.

Felitti, a specialist in preventive medicine, was trying out a new liquid diet treatment among patients at a Kaiser Permanente clinic. And it worked really well. The severely obese patients who stuck to it lost as much as 300 pounds in a year.

"Oh yeah, this was really quite extraordinary," recalls Felitti.

But then, some of the patients who'd lost the most weight quit the treatment and gained back all the weight — faster than they'd lost it. Felitti couldn't figure out why. So he started asking questions.

First, one person told him she'd been sexually abused as a kid. Then another.

"You know, I remember thinking, 'Well, my God, this is the second incest case I've seen in [then] 23 years of practice,' " Felitti says. "And so I started routinely inquiring about childhood sexual abuse, and I was really floored."

More than half of the 300 or so patients said yes, they too had been abused.

Felitti wondered if he'd discovered one of the keys to some cases of obesity and all the health problems that go along with it.

That possibility made him very curious: What if having a bad childhood could affect health in other ways?

The idea that childhood abuse and neglect could affect adult health was a revelation to Felitti. But a poll released Monday (from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) finds that the public widely believes this to be the case today.

How To Measure The Troubles Of Childhood
As he continued to explore the idea in the 1990s, Felitti got together with an epidemiologist named Dr. Rob Anda, who at the time was on staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They came up with a set of questions to trace, in a larger group, how tough childhood experiences might affect adult health.

They called their work the study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE.

The 17,000 or so patients in this study were mostly middle-aged white people, upper- and middle-class, from San Diego. Felitti and Anda asked them to think back to their childhoods and list how many of 10 different types of adverse childhood experiences they'd had, including sexual, physical or emotional abuse; neglect; loss of a parent due to death, divorce or incarceration; mental illness in a parent; and drug or alcohol abuse by a parent.

The researchers wanted to get a sense of how being exposed to these different categories of adverse experience early in life might affect long-term health. So, on Felitti and Anda's score sheet, having undergone any one of those different categories of trauma or neglect before age 18 would add one point to a person's ACE score. Whether someone had been sexually abused one time, or dozens of times, the experience would count as one point in their study. Being habitually abused, and losing a parent to death, would add up to an ACE score of 2.

Even though Felitti and Anda were just getting a rough measure of the severity of the patients' experiences, when Anda's team at the CDC crunched the numbers, he was shocked.

One in 10 of the patients surveyed had grown up with domestic violence. Two in 10 had been sexually abused. Three in 10 had been physically abused.

"Just the sheer scale of the suffering — it was really disturbing to me," Anda remembers. "I actually ... I remember being in my study and I wept."

And then came the part where he found out what happened to all those people when they grew up: "very dramatic increases in pretty much every one of the major public health problems that we'd included in the study," he says.

Cancer, addiction, diabetes and stroke (just to name a few) occurred more often among people with high ACE scores.

Now, not everyone who'd had a rough childhood developed a serious illness, of course.

But, according to the findings, adults who had four or more "yeses" to the ACE questions were, in general, twice as likely to have heart disease, compared to people whose ACE score was zero. Women with five or more "yeses" were at least four times as likely to have depression as those with no ACE points.

When ACEs Are Very High
Carol Redding, one of Felitti's patients, answered yes to every single ACE question, and she ended up with an ACE score of 10. Ten out of 10.

Today Redding lives in a tidy, peaceful house outside San Diego. The walls of her home office are lined with degrees and certificates — at age 58, she's working on a Ph.D. From the outside, she's a success.

But inside — in her body as well as her mind, Redding says — she has been battling all her life.

She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of those childhood experiences. "I had the flashbacks," she says, "the depression, the anxiety — Oh, my lord! Anxiety, like ... if it were a tangible thing living in the house with me, I'd need another room just to house that."

In childhood, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. In adulthood, she had a thyroid condition and has survived three different types of cancer: leukemia, breast cancer and lymphoma.

Learning about the ACE study and her own results made Redding wonder if all of that — maybe even the cancer — might be partly connected to her troubled childhood. After so many years, all of a sudden, "all those very confused, very scattered puzzle pieces of my life just locked together in one big, amazingly clear picture," she says.

This revelation meant so much to Redding that she started a newsletter about the ACE study and later worked for the CDC, publicizing the study's results.

And she did all that because one big question kept nagging at her: Why didn't more people know about this research?

Medical Community Initially Skeptical
Anda says that when he and Felitti first published their results in the late 1990s, the response from the medical community was frustrating.

"I thought that people would flock to this information," Anda says, "and be knocking on our doors, saying, 'Tell us more. We want to use it.' And the initial reaction was really — silence."

In fact, it took a long time to even get the study published. A number of top medical journals rejected the article, Anda says, "because there was intense skepticism."

Sarah Floud, an epidemiologist at Oxford University in England, says she understands that skepticism and thinks it may still be warranted.

"An association doesn't necessarily mean that one thing causes the other thing," says Floud. She thinks doctors and patients should take care not to overinterpret an ACE score — it's not a crystal ball that predicts health or illness.

Rather, Floud says, this rough indicator of a difficult childhood is just one risk factor in the mix with lots of others, such as your genes, your diet, whether you drink heavily or smoke, for example — factors known to be strongly related to some illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

So if you're otherwise healthy, not a smoker or a drinker, and not obese, can childhood trauma alone increase the likelihood of diseases like cancer and heart disease?

"I don't think there's quite so much evidence for that," Floud says. "But that's not to say that it might not be true. It's just that ... that seems to be harder to prove."

Now, 15 years after the ACE study came out, some scientists are trying to connect the dots — to get a clearer picture of what exactly adverse childhood experiences do to the body and why the study results came out the way they did.

"Well, you've reshaped the biology of the child," says Megan Gunnar, a developmental psychologist at the University of Minnesota who, for more than 30 years, has been studying the ways children respond to stressful experiences. "This is how nature protects us," Gunnar adds. We all become adapted to living in "the kinds of environments we're born into."

And if you have scary, traumatic experiences when you're small, Gunnar says, your stress response system may, in some cases, be programmed to overreact, influencing the way your mind and body work together. Research in animals and people suggests that the part of the mind that scientists call "executive function" — thought, judgment, self-control — seems to be most affected, she says.

"Over time, especially when you're young, experiences of neglect and abuse and stress impair those circuits," Gunnar says. "You're less able to tell yourself not to eat the ice cream, or smoke the cigarette, or have that additional drink. You're less capable of regulating your own behavior. And that seems to be terribly important for linking early experiences with later health outcomes."

This growing body of research indicates that, right now, the health of millions of children is being shaped by abuse and neglect. As they grow up, these children will be more likely than other children to use behaviors like smoking, drinking and overeating to cope with stress.

Preventing childhood trauma in the first place, Felitti, Anda and their proponents now believe, is one of the biggest opportunities to prevent disease — and save billions in health care costs. It's an opportunity, they say, that American medicine and the health care industry still seem to be missing.

This story is part of the NPR series, What Shapes Health? The series explores social and environmental factors that affect health throughout life. It is inspired, in part, by findings in a poll released Monday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/can-family-secrets-make-you-sick/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"But fundamentalists and other Bible-believers treat these texts as a package, a set of perfect and complete revelations essentially dictated by God to the authors, which is why they all too often end up pitting themselves against ethical, compassionate treatment of children."...

The Glaring, Brazen Hypocrisy at the Heart of American Right-Wing Christianity

For a faith that professes to value "life" many right-wing Christians seem strangely blasé about children's rights and lives. 
 
Why do the same people who fight against abortion argue that parents should have the right to beat their children and deny them medical care or education, as some conservative Republicans have done recently? How can someone oppose family planning because a pill or IUD might have the rare and unintended consequence of interfering with implantation, and then endorse beating a child, which might have the rare and unintended consequence of battering her to death?

These two positions fit together seamlessly only when we understand the Iron Age view of the child imbedded throughout the Bible, and how that view has shaped the priorities and behavior of biblical literalists.

Extreme Biblical Parenting
In 2014, Pentecostal parents Herbert and Catherine Schaible went to jail after a second of their nine children died from easily treatable bacterial pneumonia. The Schaibles belong to a sect that relies on prayer for physical as well as spiritual healing. In a police statement, Herbert Schiable explained that medicine "is against our religious beliefs." Sects like their point to the New Testament books of Matthew and Mark, which both say that devout believers can pray for anything in faith and God will grant their request (Mark 11:24 and Matthew 21:22). All that is required, according to the writer of Matthew, is faith the size of a tiny mustard seed. The Schaible’s pastor blamed the deaths of the two children on a “spiritual lack” in the parents.

Most devout Bible believers turn to science when their children can’t breathe, but 38 US states have now passed laws to protect parents who don’t—along with parents who beat their children in accordance with biblical advice, or deny them education on religious grounds.

The Schaible case is a chilling example of how these laws work. In 2009, the Schaible’s two year old son, Kent, died of pneumonia after having his illness treated by prayer alone. Under Pennsylvania’s faith-healing exemption both parents were allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges. The result was a sentence of probation; and after agreeing to seek medical care for their children in future, the Schaibles were allowed to keep custody of their other kids. But In 2014 the Grim Reaper struck again in the form of another untreated infection. This time, the couple was jailed after 8 month old Brandon died. The parents were sent to prison, not for killing a child, but for violating the terms of their earlier probation.

Republicans Double Down on Protecting Parents over Children
In spite of similar tragedies around the country, legislators in multiple states are looking to expand laws that exempt parents like the Schaibles from criminal charges. Georgia recently introduced legislation that appears to offer legal cover to parents who beat their children (and men who beat their wives) for religious reasons. In Idaho, despite more than a dozen child deaths linked to one small sect called the Followers of Christ, Republican state legislators introduced a bill in February granting parents broader leeway to harm children—as long as their motives are religious. The bill secures faith healing exemptions from medical neglect laws; reduces the court’s power to protect abused children; discourages doctors and teachers from reporting suspected abuse; and excuses religious parents from education requirements that otherwise apply to Idaho residents. On March 23, 2015, it passed the Idaho Senate 27-7, along straight party lines.

In 2011, after a series of child deaths from medical neglect, Oregon’s Democratic governor took the opposite tack, stripping faith-healing parents of legal protection from criminal charges. Oregon children stopped dying, but some extreme families moved to Idaho. In the words of law professor Marci Hamilton, “Idaho has become a haven for parents who martyr their children for their faith.”

Emboldened by Hobby Lobby

Since the Supreme Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, conservative Christians in the U.S. are testing “religious freedom” claims as a means to opt out of a wide array of rules and responsibilities that otherwise apply to all Americans. Much of the focus has been on exemption from reproductive healthcare, queer equality rights, and finances (what churches give and get when it comes to public funds and services.) But exemption from child rights and protections should be thought of as a fourth leg of the “religious freedom” agenda.

Devout Bible believers regularly oppose child protective services, insisting that the right of religious adults to do as they choose trumps the right of children to be free from harm. Evangelical Christian leaders fought the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, making the U.S. one of two countries (along with Somalia) that failed to endorse it. In some U.S. locales, like the State of Virginia, they have sought and won the right to deny children basic education, including the ability to read and write.

The Embryo Anomaly
But while conservative Bible believers look bent on depriving born children of any and all human rights, they simultaneously claim that every fertilized egg merits protection. Ignoring the fact that most fertilized eggs, when left alone, simply die before implanting or else self-abort, believers oppose stem cell research, abortion and even contraception that might harm embryonic human life.

The Religious Right’s extreme devotion to embryonic life was on display in a recent bill aimed at protecting women and children from sex trafficking. Conservative Republicans inserted language that would deny abortion care funding to young girls who got pregnant after being coerced into sexual slavery, forcing them instead to carry pregnancies and give birth.

To a person imbued with modern secular ethics, such priorities may be immoral; but in the Iron Age worldview of the Bible writers and fundamentalist believers, they actually make sense.

A Modern View of Childhood
Modern secularists think of children as persons with rights based on their capacity to suffer and feel pleasure, to love and be loved, to be aware and self-aware, to have preferences and intentions that are expressed via decisions and actions, and to have dreams and goals that place a value on their own future. These capacities, which make human life uniquely precious, emerge gradually during childhood, which is why children can’t take care of themselves. Parents are thought of as custodians, who have both rights and responsibilities that change over time, based on the ways in which a child’s own capacities are limited.

In this view, as children become more capable, their rights increase within developmentally appropriate limits, while parental rights and responsibilities decrease. If a five year old prefers vanilla ice cream over strawberry, most people believe that, all else being equal, he or she should be allowed to choose. A seven year old has little say in a custody agreement, but a fourteen year old who prefers to be with one or the other parent can get a hearing from a judge. Similarly, the capacity for sexual consent emerges gradually during adolescence. Young teens may be capable of consenting with each other, but their vulnerability to manipulation and exploitation means they are protected legally by the concept of statutory rape.

In 1923, Kahlil Gibran published his much loved book, The Prophet,which contains his poem “On Children.” Gibran’s poem, though deeply spiritual, reflects a modern view of childhood:
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Gibran’s 20th Century view would have been completely alien to most of the Bible writers.

A Biblical View of Childhood
In the Iron Age mindset of the Bible writers, children are not individual persons who have their own thoughts, with corresponding rights. Rather, like livestock and slaves, they are possessions of the male head of household, and the biblical framework governing treatment of children is property laws, not individual rights laws.

The term chattel refers to moveable personal property, economic assets that are not real estate. In the Bible, children, like slaves and livestock, are chattel. Male children grow up to become persons, while females remain chattel throughout their lives, first as assets of their fathers, then as assets of their husbands.

The texts bound together in the Bible were written over the course of hundreds of years, and they reflect the evolution of social and ethical norms within Hebrew culture during that time span. Some express a more compassionate and dignifying perspective toward children than others. But fundamentalists and other Bible-believers treat these texts as a package, a set of perfect and complete revelations essentially dictated by God to the authors, which is why they all too often end up pitting themselves against ethical, compassionate treatment of children. Taken as a whole, the biblical formula for parenthood is based on several core assumptions:

§  Children are property of their fathers. This is why God can allow Satan to kill Job’s children  during a wager over Job’s loyalty—and then simply replace them. It is why a man who injures a woman causing her to miscarry must pay her husband for the loss.
§  Children are born bad and must be beaten to keep them from going astray. This mentality combines the idea of original sin because Eve defied God and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, with “spare the rod, spoil the child” admonitions from the book of Proverbs. It is one reason that early Christians believed that Jesus, as the perfect “lamb without blemish” could not have a human father and so added the virgin birth story to the Gospels at the end of the 1st Century.
§  A father’s right of ownership extends even to killing his child. This is why it makes sense for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac or Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter, or even God to give his “only begotten son” as a human sacrifice. In the Torah, a man can send his child into battle or sell his child into slavery. The Torah advises that a rebellious son should be put to death.
§  The primary value of adult females is to produce valuable children, meaning male children of known origin. Hence, a female’s virginity is a core part of her economic value. This is why a rapist can be forced to marry the damaged goods in the Torah as is sometimes the case in conservative Islam today, or a female can be stoned for pre-marital sex. In the Hebrew Torah, the wives of the patriarchs send their slave girls to get pregnant by their husbands to up the baby count. In modern America, Evangelical girls attend purity balls and receive promise rings by which they pledge their sexual purity to their fathers until they can be “given in marriage.”

In this context, the seemingly bizarre and hypocritical stance of defending embryonic life while simultaneously defending child abuse is coherent. A man has a right to offspring. Woman was made to bear them. (As both Bible writers and Church leaders through the ages have reminded us over and over, that is her purpose and her salvation, the way she makes up for Eve’s act of defiance, even if it kills her.) Within the hierarchy of the family, a woman has authority only over the children and only by proxy: she acts as an administrator of God’s will and that of her husband. A child is not a person with intrinsic rights but a man’s possession, to bring up according to his own values and beliefs, and paternal rights have few limits.

By Way of Analogy
For a modern reader, the concept of chattel is simplest and easiest to understand when applied to livestock: A rancher owns cows for the purpose of breeding them, and he guards their fertility carefully to manage the kind of calves he wants. A young, fertile cow is worth more than an older less fertile cow. A bred cow is worth more than an open cow. A cow has no right to avoid pregnancy, however unpleasant or risky, and no-one but her owner can decide when she has given birth to enough calves. Someone who deliberately caused a cow to miscarry would be stealing from the owner. Once calves are born, they belong to the owner, who has the right to poke or prod or hit or kick (or castrate) them to get the kind of behavior he wants.

At one point in American history, this was how many Christians thought of slaves, and they cited the Bible to back up this view. Today most Christians find human slavery appalling. But because the Bible and Koran bind believers to the Iron Age, echoes of the Iron Age chattel structure can be found in the views and values of devout believers.

Female Birth Control Violates Biblical Property Rights
In this worldview there is little room for abortion or even pregnancy prevention, or for that matter any form of reproductive agency on the part of a woman. God is in charge, and every baby is a blessing, an arrow for the man’s quiver, one of his economic and spiritual assets. “Let go and let God,” women are told. A female is defined by her sexuality and childbearing—as a virgin, mother or whore—and contraception turns the first two of these into the third.

Modern Catholicism’s Madonna-whore dichotomy and anti-contraceptive theology may have evolved as a competitive breeding strategy designed to serve the religion itself. But Catholic antipathy to female contraception has more ancient and primitive roots in the Iron Age culture of the Bible writers, and perhaps—beneath that—in the biological instinct that nudges individual males to control female fertility and engage in competitive breeding of their own.

Coerced pregnancy is one means to this end, and freely given prior consent is “not a thing” in either the Hebrew Torah or the Christian New Testament: Eve is created for Adam when none of the other animals are found to be suitable companions for him. Women are given in marriage as transactions between men throughout the Torah. Sexual slavery abounds, with God providing instructions on how to purify virgin war captives before they are bedded. (See Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible.) In the gospel story of the virgin birth, Mary is told (not asked) by a powerful being that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will get pregnant. Of course she is thrilled—if a woman’s role is to bear children, what greater honor than to bear the child of a god?—but the bottom line is that intentional, volitional decision making by females about childbearing is simply beyond the consciousness of the Bible writers.

Abortion—a woman’s decision to end an ill-conceived pregnancy—violates the biblical worldview in yet another way. In the Bible, bearing and ending life are roles that clearly split along gender lines. Females may have the power to bear life, but only males can end it. Man holds the right of life and death over his own chattel, just as God holds the right of life and death over humans, his sheep. The Bible says a man can beat his slave to death, and as long as the slave survives for a day or two afterwards, the owner is within his rights. In fact, the Bible endorses men terminating life for many reasons: eating or sacrificing animals, vengeance, territorial dispute, eradicating witchcraft or paganism, punishment, displays of power, and religious rituals, to name a few.

A Degraded Concept of Personhood
What about the Religious Right’s Personhood movement, which seeks person-rights for embryonic humans? Doesn’t it contradict this framework? No. The anti-abortion Personhood movement, which attempts to equate personhood with human DNA, is part and parcel of this same worldview. In the Personhood movement, the qualities normally associated with personhood (sentience, feelings, thoughts, preferences, intentions, self-awareness, etc.), the qualities that create the basis for independence and rights, are irrelevant.
The Personhood movement allows Religious Right leaders to co-opt centuries of human rights law and political philosophy while simultaneously undermining any concept of personhood that grants rights or autonomy based on the lived experience of another being. Consider, for example, the Alabama law which assigns “personhood” to a fetus—and then hands all associated rights to a (usually white male Christian) attorney. Fetal Personhood laws which equate personhood with DNA secure the Iron Age hierarchy of God and man over woman and child (and, tangentially, man over other chattel like non-human animals and artificial intelligences).

Beyond the Bible
In sum, it is much easier to extrapolate from the biblical worldview to the idea that a parent has the right to beat his child or withhold medical care, or that a teenage sex slave should be forced to bear a child, than to derive the idea that we have a responsibility to bring children into the world under the best of circumstances and to acknowledge their rights as individuals once they arrive. These are fundamentally post-biblical ideas, as is the notion that empowering women to delay or limit childbearing is a positive social good.

For those who are not bound to the priorities of the Iron Age, fetishizing fetal life while hurting and disempowering women or children is morally incoherent. Thanks to science and scholarship, we know much more than our ancestors did about embryonic development--a reproductive funnel that requires many fertilized eggs to produce a few healthy babies. We also have learned much about child development, the gradual process by which a child takes on the unique psychological capacities of the adult human. And we know more than ever about the lived experience of sentient beings—including women and children. None of this knowledge supports the moral priorities of the Iron Age.

Instead, in this alternate worldview, thoughtful, intentional childbearing empowered by the full spectrum of family planning care goes hand in hand with a value on thriving women and children. A woman is an independent person and so are her children, and it is her right and responsibility to plan her family so as to live her life to the fullest and stack the odds in favor of her children having rich, full lives of their own.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of "Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light" and "Deas and Other Imaginings." Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com. 
 
http://www.alternet.org/belief/glaring-brazen-hypocrisy-heart-american-right-wing-christianity

"When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. "

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  
In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled, Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.
I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz
Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.
Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.
I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again."



Almost immediately after Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic electoral victory, Barack Obama and his administration announced that they were going to reconsider U.S. policy towards Israel. If Israel was going to withdraw its support for a two-state solution, American would find ways to bring it about without them.  This new policy might cause the U.S. to “reevaluate” its position on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, perhaps dropping its opposition to the UN recognizing Palestine as a nation, as well as not opposing Israel being brought before the International Court at The Hague for committing war crimes in the recent Gaza war.
These threatened measures are in response to Netanyahu’s strength and Obama’s inability to bring about his defeat.  Now, Netanyahu will most likely have the ability to put together a coalition resulting in a new Israeli government of the center/right with himself as the prime minister.  That must really irk Obama.  It also puts Netanyahu in a stronger position to oppose a weak deal with Iran.  In order to weaken and neutralize him, it makes sense to paint him as a right-wing extremistFor that task, the compliant defenders of Obama in the press must paint a portrait of Netanyahu in the darkest of colors.  To these writers of the mainstream liberal press, anything is fair game when it comes to demonizing Bibi. They suffer from what I call Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS).
First, they inevitably begin their argument by claiming that before the election he had cynically switched his position on the two-state solution from pro to con and that he had definitively stated that there would be no two-state solution and Palestinian state while he was prime minister.  In doing this he had repudiated his 2009 speech in which he publicly stated that he favored two states living peacefully side-by-side.
In fact, Netanyahu had not changed his position nor repudiated his earlier statement. In 2009 he said at Bar-Ilan University that “in my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.” The key is the last part of his statement, noting “mutual respect” and neither threatening each other, which is mandatory for any such treaty.
He sought to clarify his position after the election in a much-discussed interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, telling her:
I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.
Here, in his very first sentence, Netanyahu does not say he is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, but that today conditions in Palestinian society and the Middle East make it impossible to achieve and foolhardy to attempt.  Netanyahu made it quite clear, as The Times of Israel reported, that he had not changed his policy or retracted his 2009 position at all. What has changed, he told  Mitchell, “is the reality.” The PA united with Hamas, refuses to recognize the Jewish state, and insists on the right of return; hence, a “sustainable, two-state solution” is not on the horizon no matter how many offers Israel makes and land it is willing to hand over.
Despite Netanyahu’s clarification of his position, and his assurances in an interview with Fox News that he would continue to cooperate with the United States, the official U.S. position has not changed.  Instead, White House press spokesman Josh Earnest harped back to the prime minister’s pre-election statements, and told the assembled media that “words matter” and that the administration would not back down on the charge that Netanyahu used “divisive rhetoric” and opposed a two-state solution.
As bad as the White House’s distortion of Netanyahu’s actual position is, the avalanche of editorials and op-eds demonizing him is even worse.  Today, the New York Times featured a story that is actually an anti-Israel editorial masked as a news report. It emphasizes that young American Jews are turning away from Israel, because of what has taken place during Netanyahu’s time in office. The story ignores why so many Israelis voted again for Bibi, and the security concerns that are, in fact, shared by his election opponent, Isaac Herzog, and his center-left Zionist Union Party. You would not know from the story that Herzog agrees, as does the Israeli public, with Netanyahu’s tough position on Iran.
The story even cites what is perhaps one of the most egregious columns, that by J Street’s favorite journalist, Peter Beinart. In his latest column for Israel’s leftist paper Haaretz, Beinart proclaimed in a fit of moral self-righteousness that the arguments for supporting Israel have “been discredited.” This self-proclaimed “supporter” of Israel writes that “for almost half a century, Israel has wielded brutal, undemocratic, unjust power over millions of human beings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Adopting the Palestinian narrative that the failure to come to an agreement on a two-state solution is all Israel’s fault, Beinart neglects to mention what happened when Israel withdrew from Gaza, expelled the settlers and handed it over to the Palestinians.  In return they got Hamas and rockets. What is Beinart’s prescription for progress? Pressure on Israel, “backing Palestinian bids at the United Nations,” boycotting products made in the settlements, denying visas to Israelis of whom he disapproves, and “to punish-yes, punish-the Israeli government for rejecting” Obama’s peace plans. “The peace process is over,” he writes, “and the pressure process must begin.”
Other columnists have joined in and even gone further.  Since it is obvious from the vote that the Israeli people stand with Netanyahu in his security concerns, columnists like William Saletan in Slate argue in effect that Israel has to produce another people who will vote differently. The problem, then, is not with Bibi, but with Israel itself; his article is subtitled “We No Longer Have a Netanyahu problem.  We have an Israel Problem.”  So if you don’t like the results of democratic elections in the one democracy in the Middle East, U.S. policy should be that of opposition to Israel and collective punishment. And that means that Israel has to pay a price for how its people voted. No more enabling of Israel, Saletan argues. Instead,  Israel must be forced to accept a two-year timetable to make peace, which means a withdrawal of Israel’s security forces from the West Bank. That such a move might in fact lead to Israel’s destruction is not anything Saletan concerns himself with.  Either Israel must move to recognition of a Palestinian state, he says, or it must “stand alone.”
The truth is that none of these opponents of Israel treat the Jewish state fairly, or even seriously analyze the reasons for Netanyahu’s decisive victory.  As the astute conservative writer Peter Berkowitz points out, he is not the “chest-thumping ideologue” the left makes him out to be. Netanyahu, he predicts, will move to cooperate with centrists like the new center/right Kulanu party formed by Moshe Kahlon, whom he might even appoint to a position in the government.
In the end, it comes down to securing a deal with Iran, which Obama seems so desperate to achieve. What the president and his acolytes in the press do not let the public know is that even the Israeli opposition did not support endangering Israel’s security by adopting  a nuclear agreement with Iran no matter what the cost.
So now that Netanyahu is even stronger and can make more trouble, the Obama administration finds it necessary to demonize him, which is leading to attacks on the entire state of Israel and its people. It is indeed time for the media, the Obama administration, and the paternalistic “supporters” of Israel to end their Bibi Derangement Syndrome.




Read more:
 http://pjmedia.com/ronradosh/2015/03/20/time-for-the-obama-administration-and-the-media-to-end-bds-bibi-derangement-syndrome/#ixzz3Uylc1y00

Friday, March 20, 2015

“I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel.”

The Crisis Has Exploded


The crisis in the relationship we discuss in our new editorial statement has entered a new and potentially unprecedented phase.It may well be that the president is going to present American Jews with a choice over the coming months no American president should ask us to make—to become parties to and participants in his effort to create what, in 2009, he called “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.

First, to the two-state issue. There’s simply no question Netanyahu was willfully and purposefully misunderstood late last week when hostile reporters announced he had withdrawn his support for a two-state solution. That was not true. What he said was this: “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel.” The key word is “today.” Today. He did not say never. He said such a state was impossible today, and that is simply a statement of fact. So when, in a television interview this afternoon, he told Andrea Mitchell that yes, he believed in the two-state solution, he was saying nothing new. Any minimally fair interpretation of Netanyahu’s remarks makes that clear. We are told Netanyahu reiterated the point in the phone call with the president, and that he was told Obama didn’t believe him.

[UPDATE: In response to this piece, some have claimed I distorted Netanyahu’s view because he replied “indeed” when an interviewer asked whether he was saying there would be no Palestinian state during his premiership. But that “indeed” is entirely of a piece with the “today” comment—one can support the two-state solution as the only theoretical answer to the problem and still be pretty sure no such solution is in the cards for another four years. 

It was the Palestinians who walked away from the table in 2013, not Israel; and Gaza’s ruling Hamas party wasn’t even involved in the talks. Netanyahu’s own stated principles for a Palestinian state—that it renounce terror, recognize the Jewish state as a Jewish, forego the so-called “right of return”—would have been the basis for any negotiation, even by the Center-Left coalition, and the Palestinians are so far away from any such acknowledgments the issue of statehood was barely raised during the Israeli election campaign.]

The fact that the president is using the twisting of Netanyahu’s words as one basis for a reassessment of the relationship is the purest evidence yet of his hanging-judge cast of mind when it comes to Israel and its prime minister. He is looking for any excuse to come down hard on the foreign politician Obama loathes the most—and to create that “daylight” for which he is so eager.

Now to the question of Arab voters. Let me stipulate for the purposes of this discussion that the Facebook post was a terrible mistake, since it has had deleterious consequences and was entirely unnecessary. It came only a few hours before the polls closed and, as we now know, the size of Likud’s victory on Monday was so decisive nothing Bibi said so late could have done much to boost Likud’s enormous 200,000 margin over the second-place Zionist Union coalition. 

Let me stipulate as well that concerned American Jews have every right to feel what Likud did was wrong, although I think it is important to note no effort was made to suppress a single Arab vote but rather to frighten potential Likud voters with the prospect of a strong showing by the state’s non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Arab parties—to get them not to waste a vote on a smaller right-wing party but to go with Bibi instead.

But fine. If you want to hate what Netanyahu said, hate it. Here’s the thing: How the prime minister of Israel talks about Israeli citizens who possess equal rights under the law and have their own means of redress under the law if they are mistreated should have no basis whatever in the “assessment” of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Israel. 

The president has spent years making very nice patter with Turkey’s Erdogan and other foreign leaders whose treatment of minorities do not deserve mention alongside Israel’s and whose suffering small sub-populations have no means of achieving redress.

So even those who are furious with Netanyahu should really take a breath and a close look and consider this point carefully: The Arab-vote business is a pretext. American presidents, this one especially, typically do not revisit special strategic relationships based on election-day maneuvers in a democracy, however unpleasant they might find them.

 In my view, Obama is hoping once again to use liberal Jewish disaffection in the United States with Netanyahu as a wedge to give him space to make a major policy pivot from the special relationship—one for which he has hungered since he came into office.

Hovering over and above and behind all this is, of course, the negotiation with Iran—and Netanyahu’s standing to criticize it as the most influential foreign leader outside the United States with a view of it.

 Pummelling Bibi now and compelling him to take whatever steps he can to mollify the president before Obama announces he will accede to moves against Israel in various international fora has the added advantage to the president of raising the stakes on further Netanyahu criticism of an Iran deal to a level Bibi may not be willing to risk.

We may be hard upon a great moment of testing for American Jews.

 Are they going to fall for this? Are they going to allow themselves to be used as a wedge against Israel in hostile territory like the United Nations? Are they going to provide more ammunition to the president and his effort to still his critics only weeks before the United States might be announcing its acquiescence to the gravest existential threat the Jewish people have faced since the Holocaust?

 https://www.commentarymagazine.com/2015/03/19/the-crisis-has-exploded/