Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

Ugandan Jew shares experiences in trip to Augusta – The Augusta Chronicle

For Kokasi Kesi, one of the hardest parts of being a counselor at Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Ga., this summer came after the meal. Hed watch as the plates were collected and food scraped off into the trash.

I would feel bad when I would see the food dumped, said Kesi, a 26-year-old Ugandan Jew, who is spending two weeks in Augusta, where he will be raising money for his village, which has been wracked with food shortages because of drought.

He is staying with members of the Congregation Children of Israel, and there will be a reception for him at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, at the home of Rabbi Shai Beloosesky. For more information, call the temple at (706) 736-3140.

This is the second year Kesi has visited Augusta. He worked at the camp last year as well. He spoke in Atlanta and Florida before traveling to the Augusta area where he arrived Aug. 13 and leaves Aug. 20.

Kesi is part of the Abayudaya Community in the village of Baganda in eastern Uganda. Its a small group of Jews who have an unusual history. Kesis uncle, Gerhom Sizumo is the rabbi and a member of the Ugandan parliament.

The community will celebrate 100 years of Judaism in 2019. Judaism came to the village through Christianity, according to Kesi. Missionaries brought Christian Bibles to the village, but one of the residents began reading more of the Old Testament or the books of the Torah. He began practicing what he saw contained in those writings so that his faith resembled more of Judaism.

They would keep shabbat, and they would keep high holy days, he said.

Judaism flourished, and decades later, a Jewish traveler told them that what they were practicing more closely resembled Judaism.

Persecution came under the leadership of Idi Amin, who overthrew the government and declared himself president in 1971. He ruled until 1979 when he was exiled. Under Amin, an estimated 300,000 people were killed.

He was quoted as saying he believed Hitler was correct in killing 6 million Jews, according to his 2003 New York Times obituary. Amin is reported to have killed indiscriminately, killing judges, hospital officials, Christian clergy, educators, bankers and tribal leaders.

Many of the Abayudaya Jews converted to Christianity during Amins rule; however, since 1979, the numbers have risen to about 1,000 Jews in the community and 2,000 Jews in the country of Uganda, said Kesi.

There is a school in the village as well, and Kesi wants to pursue his masters degree to be an administrator in the school.

This wont be the first time this year that the Congregation Children of Israel has helped the Ugandans. In May, Judah Breland celebrated his bar mitzvah and helped raise $2,500 for a friend of Kesis to return to his village and take food with him.

Donations can also be brought to the Temple at 3005 Walton Way.

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Ugandan Jew shares experiences in trip to Augusta – The Augusta Chronicle

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Fleeing repression, Jewish immigrants found success in Gold Rush SF – San Francisco Chronicle

Of all the groups that arrived in Gold Rush San Francisco, the Jews who fled a legacy of oppression in Europe may have experienced the most remarkable success.

In their Central European homelands, these German speakers had been confined to ghettos, prevented from marrying and barred from professional occupations. When they got to California, former peddlers, petty traders and craftsmen found a land where they were free to prosper and in the years to come, they created some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the state.

Many of the Jews who were to become merchant princes of San Francisco came from the same small region: Upper Franconia in German-speaking Bavaria. Indeed, several grew up in the same small town. Three men who would become business titans in San Francisco William Haas, Isaias Wolf Hellman and Isaac Walter were childhood friends who all came from the same rural town of Reckendorf, population 1,000. The most famous of them all, Levi Strauss, grew up in the town of Buttenheim, just 20 miles from Reckendorf.

The story of Haas, who built one of San Franciscos most storied residences, the still-standing Haas-Lilienthal House on Franklin Street, is typical. Haas grew up in a society where the anti-Semitic bigotry that dated from the Middle Ages was still present. Bloody anti-Jewish riots had taken place as recently as 1819, and Jews were oppressed by punitive taxes and an infamous law called the Matrikel, which allowed only the oldest son in a Jewish family to marry.

Starting in the 1840s, these repressive laws led to a wave of German Jewish immigration to the United States. No fewer than 200,000 German Jews would leave for what was known as the Golden Land.

The climate did improve as Fred Rosenbaum writes in Jewish Americans: Religion and Identity at 2007 Franklin Street, the Matrikel and most other discriminatory laws were abolished in 1861. Like Hellman and Walter, Haas received a fine education at a Jewish primary school in Reckendorf, then an even better one at a secondary school in nearby Bamberg.

Haas arrived in San Francisco in 1868 and went to work for Haas Bros., the wholesale grocery company started by his older brother, Kalman, who had arrived in 1851. Like many other Jews during the Gold Rush, Kalman had realized that staying in San Francisco and opening a business mining the miners, as the expression went offered better prospects than heading to the gold fields.

William Haas started out as a clerk, then became a salesman, then a partner. His living conditions improved accordingly. When he arrived, he sometimes slept on a shelf in the store. Within two years, he bought a modest house worth $1,000. In 1886, he spent more than $18,000, not including the land, to build his ornate Victorian mansion on Franklin Street.

The Haas family was part of a new German-Jewish aristocracy, most from Bavaria, made up of several dozen families. This commercial elite, which emerged in San Francisco faster than anywhere else in the country, was filled with names that are still famous today both because of their successful businesses and their philanthropic largesse.

Most of them made their fortune in dry goods or clothing. The most famous clothing kings were Levi Strauss and his brother-in-law, David Stern, whose company patented and manufactured the riveted pants that are today the most famous and best-selling line of clothing in the world. Other dry goods magnates included William Steinhart, Louis Sachs and Lazarus Dinkelspiel.

German Jews established most of the citys leading department stores, including Raphael Weills White House, Isaac Magnins I. Magnin and Solomon Gumps eponymous store. Produce and tobacco kings included Haas, Frederick Castle, Joseph Brandenstein and Moses Gunst.

Simon Koshland ran a wool empire, and Louis Sloss and his brother-in-law Lewis Gerstle founded the Alaska Commercial Co., which controlled the market in salmon and seals. Aaron Fleishhacker made his pile in cardboard boxes, while Anthony Zellerbach made a fortune in paper. Bankers included Isaias Hellman and Philip Lilienthal.

Just as remarkable as the meteoric success of San Franciscos Jews was the fact that they encountered very little anti-Semitism far less than in New York and other U.S. cities. The reason was simple. San Francisco was a brand-new city, devoid of a status quo. There was no establishment to draw up ranks against perceived outsiders; everyone was an outsider.

In the frenzy of the Gold Rush, the ethnic, class and social distinctions that loomed large on the East Coast vanished. All nations having come hither, shades of color, of belief, peculiarities of physique, of temper and habit were less distinctly marked, historian Hubert Bancroft wrote in California Inter Pocula.

Bancroft also noted that the entire raison detre of the Gold Rush, the desire to get rich quick, undercut one of the traditional sources of anti-Semitism, the belief that Jews were grasping and greedy.

Gold was here, and in common with the gentiles Jews loved gold, he wrote. Money was the humanizing bond. … Christian and Jew loved money.

The casual use of anti-Semitic tropes was acceptable and well-nigh universal in the United States at the time, but in San Francisco, such offensive attitudes seem to have been mostly rhetorical. Indeed, Jews were widely admired as upstanding citizens and leading businessmen.

In 1858, Steamer Day the much-anticipated, carnival-like day when the Pacific Mail Steamer arrived with mail from the East Coast was actually postponed by the city because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Its hard to imagine this taking place anywhere else in the country.

The next Portals will explore the manners and mores, and the city-changing philanthropy, of San Franciscos Jewish elite.

Gary Kamiya is the author of the best-selling book Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, awarded the Northern California Book Award in creative nonfiction. All the material in Portals of the Past is original for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: metro@sfchronicle.com

Trivia time

Previous trivia question: Who happily strummed a guitar as he strolled down Haight Street on Aug. 7, 1967?

Answer: George Harrison.

This weeks trivia question: What percentage of San Franciscans voted for Donald Trump in the November presidential election?

Editors note

Every corner in San Francisco has an astonishing story to tell. Gary Kamiyas Portals of the Past tells those lost stories, using a specific location to illuminate San Franciscos extraordinary history from the days when giant mammoths wandered through what is now North Beach to the Gold Rush delirium, the dot-com madness and beyond. His column appears every other Saturday, alternating with Peter Hartlaubs OurSF.

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Fleeing repression, Jewish immigrants found success in Gold Rush SF – San Francisco Chronicle

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

What This Rabbi Found When He Went To Charlottesville – Jewish Week

It was a surreal moment. Approaching the Robert E. Lee Monument in the center of Charlottesville, Va., a young black woman, Aliya, joined her white friend Tom in placing a placard in front of the statue. Covering the words Robert E. Lee the placard read: The Heather Heyer Memorial. Heather Heyer was the 32-year-old woman who was murdered when a car driven by a white supremacist rammed into a crowd of counter protesters at a white nationalist rally.

Together with my colleagues Rabbis Shmuel Herzfeld, Etan Mintz and Uri Topolosky, we asked if we could join in. Together we stood, singing We Shall Overcome. White supremacists try to divide America, declaring its us vs. them. We were humbly responding its us, all of us, we, together.

We had come to Charlottesville to express solidarity with the beleaguered Jewish community and with all of Charlottesvilles citizens. Sitting with Rabbi Tom Gutherz, rabbi of Charlottesvilles Congregation Beth Israel, we were overwhelmed by his story. He shared with us that he had received a call last Friday from municipal officials telling him they had picked up information that the synagogue was under threat. The rabbi asked for protection and was told that not enough personnel was available.

From L to R: Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, Rabbi Etan Mintz, Rabbi Uri Topolosky and Rabbi Avi Weiss on a solidarity trip to Charlottesville. Courtesy

He continued by sharing with us that on Saturday, the Sabbath morning, three neo-Nazis were standing in front of the synagogue with semi-automatic weapons as congregants assembled for prayer. The rabbi again asked for protection, but none came.

His account echoed an article posted by synagogue president, Alan Zimmerman, where he stated: On Saturday morning, I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services.

Incensed, we walked a few blocks to the Charlottesville City Hall, insisting that we see the city manager, Charlottesvilles highest government official. One of the assistant city managers, Mike Murphy, spoke to us. Rabbi Herzfeld chastised the Charlottesville Police for not offering the synagogue protection. I added, It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that with many, many hundreds of neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville on Friday night with KKK type torches, declaring Jews will not replace us, the synagogue needed to be guarded. That protection should have been automatic, without any request coming from the synagogue at all.

From our perspective, the lack of police protection deserves an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

The memorial for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Courtesy of RabbiShmuel Herzfeld

We made our way to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Rabbi Mintz had served there years ago, and knew the supervising chaplain, Mildred Best. Mildred shared with us that the open lobby where one enters the hospital had been transformed into a closed emergency center during the hours of crisis on Saturday. She arranged that the full chaplaincy staff join us in a prayer service. It was important that we show support to the spiritual healers who had been there, offering help during the crisis. Even the healers need healing.

Fifty years ago, I started singing this song with millions of others during the dark days of the civil rights movement. Never would I have imagined then that decades later we would still be facing similar times, singing the same melody, the same simple but piercing words.

We gathered around as Rabbi Topolosky, on his guitar, led us in Rabbi Shlomo Carlebachs heart-wrenching song of one word Ruach. Ruach literally means wind but more deeply refers to the image of God, a spirit that unites all of humankind. Some of the chaplains were in tears. We held hands as our visiting group offered the blessing: May the Lord guard your going out and coming in; May the Lord offer renewal of body and soul for all the injured.

Our final stop was meeting with the Chabad rabbi at the University of Virginia, Rabbi Shlomo Mayer. Raised in Romania, he described how late on Friday night, after the white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, he was awakened by a loud noise. For an instant, he said, I thought I was back in Romania with the Jewish community under attack. As it turned out, the noise was not a danger. But the rabbi told us that the fear he was feeling was palpable.

White supremacists, foreground, face off against counterprotesters, top, at the entrance to Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. Getty Images

As I left Charlottesville, my mind wandered to the moment, perhaps the most piercing of the day, where we stood at the very spot where Heather was murdered. Flowers and notes were everywhere. As I looked up, I could see a police car blocking the intersection. If only the police would have placed a car there on Saturday Heather would still be alive. We chanted the prayer for the dead.

And then we began to sing We Shall Overcome Some Day. Fifty years ago, I started singing this song with millions of others during the dark days of the civil rights movement. Never would I have imagined then that decades later we would still be facing similar times, singing the same melody, the same simple but piercing words.

Then and there I offered a silent prayer: O God, we shall overcome someday. Someday no longer works for me. America cannot wait. The world cannot wait.

We need more Aliyas and Toms, more Mildred Bests. We need white, black, brown and yellow, Jewish, Christian, Muslims singing together we shall overcome not some day, but today, today, today.

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What This Rabbi Found When He Went To Charlottesville – Jewish Week

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Why Do Nazis Hate Jews? How Christian Politics Fuels Anti-Semitism in the United States – Newsweek

Newsweekpublished this story under the headline of Again, Anti-Semitism on February 16, 1981. In light of the recent neo-Nazi, white power and alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Newsweekis republishing the story.

Charles Benjamin, a leader of the Jewish community in his quiet, suburban New Jersey town, came home to find bright red swastikas painted on his back door. The outdoor furniture had been dumped into the pool. The mailbox had been looted. “My knees buckled,” Benjamin later told a television interviewer. “I sat down on the ground, not believing that this could happen in… my little patch in the United States. “Anti-Semitism is an ancient story that is suddenly making news across the United States. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reported 377 anti-Semitic “episodes” in 1980, a nearly threefold increase in one year. Most of these sporadic incidents involved little more than scrawled graffiti or vandalism, but there were also 10cases of arson, four fire-bombings and several death threats. No one has been killed or seriously injured, and no evidence suggests a campaign of any scale; most of the incidents have been juvenile pranks. Yet many American Jews are worried. “Hitler started with a handful of people and paint brushes,” says Jeffrey Maas of the ADL in New Jersey. And many government officials agree that the incidents cannot be shrugged off. “There is a tendency… to treat incidents of anti-Semitic or racial vandalism as isolated acts of mischief,” warns New Jersey Attorney General John J. Degnan. “Unfortunately … these acts may represent deep-seated racial and religious hatred.”

To combat the flurry of anti-Semitic incidents, Degnan and other law-enforcement officials around the country have stepped up their investigations, often forming special police and prosecution units. Many Jewish leaders have begun holding seminars on bigotry and rallies against anti-Semitism, such as one that drew 3,000 people in California’s San Fernando Valley a fortnight ago. Not satisfied with these steps, Jewish militants have redoubled their own controversial efforts at self-defensepatrolling Jewish neighborhoods and training Jews in the use of high-powered rifles and pistols.

Some Jewish organizations are reluctant to read too much into the new statistics of anti-Semitism, noting that vandalism and violent crime are on the rise generally. “It will take another year of monitoring to find out what the numbers actually mean,” says a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee in New York. Other Jews see the low-level violence and harassment as part of a larger pattern. With mounting alarm, they note the renewed organizing efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party, the tone of some of the criticism of Israel in the United Nations and above all the bloody attacks on Jews in several European cities last year. “There is a feeling,” says Murray Wood, an executive of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, “that all roads somehow lead to Auschwitz.”

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Anti-Semitism in the United States today hardly compares in virulence with the anti-Jewish attitudes and actions in the 1920s and 1930s. Then, Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent (circulation: 700,000) ran anti-Semitic diatribes with headlines such as JEWISH GAMBLERS CORRUPT AMERICAN BASEBALL. More damaging, unstated quotas and restrictions kept Jews out of schools, jobs, neighborhoods and hotels. Today, most such barriers have fallen, and many public-opinion polls show a continuing decline in prejudice against Jews. In one survey last year, for example, only 8 percent of those questioned thought Jews had “too much political influence.”

But other polls indicate a persistent suspicion and distaste for Jews as “pushy, clannish, unethical.” In Anti-Semitism in America, published two years ago, authors Charles Y. Glock and Harold E. Quinley reported that a third of Americans share such negative attitudesabout the same number, according to a more recent poll, that suspect Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to the United States.

Alan Sandler and his bride, Zipporah, had just returned from their honeymoon in New York City. The mailbox of their Cranston, R.I. home was brimming with congratulatory cards. One was decorated with two lovebirds on the front. But inside was a swastika and the words. “We are back. ” Many experts blame the nation’s economic problems for the new signs of anti-Semitism. “Times of distress, social unrest and economic depression [are] often preliminary to outbreaks of anti-Semitism,” explains the Rev. Edward H. Flannery, author of another book on the subject, Anguish of the Jews. In hard times people find it comforting to have a scape-goat, Flannery says, “And they always look in the direction of the Jews.” In the spotlight of full media coverage, one episode often leads to others. Says New York City police official Patrick J. Murphy: “The incidents feed off each other. The kids read about themselves…and any dope can see himself immortalized.” In three days last month, officials at the University of Florida in Gainesville found thirteen examples of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus. After the wife of university President Robert Marston spoke out forcefully against such bigotry, her telephone rang. “This is the Florida-wide organization of Hitler,” said the caller. “I am going to kill you.” In fact few of the reported incidents seem directly connected with extremist groups. “If it were more organized,” says Long Island ADL director Melvin Cooperman, “we could zero in and nail them.” But both the Nazi Party and the Klan have run avowedly anti-Semitic candidates for public officewith disturbing success. Harold Covington, 27, chairman of the National Socialist Party of America in North Carolina, won more than 43 percent of the vote in the state’s Republican primary for attorney general last year. The rise of racist groups also seems to create a climate favorable to individual extremists and a certain public tolerance for isolated incidents.

The dramatic growth of Christian fundamentalismand Moral Majority politicsmay also spur anti-Semitism. Just last week, the Rev. Dan C. Fore, Moral Majority leader in New York City, told a reporter: “Jews have a God-given ability to make money, almost a supernatural ability…. They control this city.” Even without such stereotyping, the fundamentalist emphasis on “Christian politics” and efforts to convert Jews are threatening, says William Gralnick of the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta. “What it says is that the Jewish faith is not a valid path to salvation; it tends to separate us from grace.” Last year in Macon, Georgia, says Gralnick, Protestant ministers refused to speak out when the head of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” It was shortly after 1 a. m. when two men drove up to the synagogue in Temple City, California.They pried open a window, poured gasoline over a wooden pew and set the synagogue ablaze. Seven stained-glass windows were shattered and other damage to Temple Beth David was estimated at $180, 000. The incident was followed” by nearly 30 more anti-Semitic outbursts in the Los Angeles area over the last eight weeks.

The randomness of anti-Semitic incidents, and the absence of links to organized groups in most cases, makes prosecution difficult. In the 377 cases reported by the ADL last year, only 20 arrests were made. Even when there are arrests, the charge is normally a misdemeanor State assemblymen in California and New Jersey have proposed legislation that would stiffen penalties for religiously motivated vandalism. “When a cross is burned or a swastika is smeared, the terror it generates is as intense as from a bomb threat,” says New Jersey Assemblyman Byron Baer. But some judges prefer to sentence juvenile perpetrators to study Jewish history and the Nazi Holocaust. Said one such youth: “I am beginning to realize through these books the great deal of suffering I must have caused.”

Many Jewish organizations have escalated their own programs of public education. Last week the ADLworking with the Urban League and the U.S. Justice Departmentsponsored a conference in Providence, Rhode Island, on “extremist groups” and another in Boston on “religious and racial harassment.” About 1,500 people attended an anti-Nazi rally last month at the Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles, itself a target of three anti-Semitic attacks earlier this year. But education didn’t seem to do much good at Great Neck North Senior High School in New York. Though the school has offered courses on the Holocaust for five years, vandals spray-painted the walls with “KKK” and “Hi’Hitler” last October, And police in many areas reported a flurry of similar anti-Semitic incidents after the “Holocaust” series on television.

Such incidents have only encouraged militant groups like the Jewish Defense League to expand their often provocative paramilitary operations. The JDL plans to offer 10-week courses in “warfare tactics” at secret sites in southern California, Michigan and upstate New York. Most mainstream Jewish organizations see these steps as an inflammatory overreaction. But equally dangerous, they agree, would be simply to ignore the current upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents. “There’s no reason to panic; the country is not being overrun byanti-Semites,” says Art Teitelbaum of the Anti-Defamation League in Miami. “But it is something to be vigilant about.”

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12. Neo-Nazis were among those present. Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

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Why Do Nazis Hate Jews? How Christian Politics Fuels Anti-Semitism in the United States – Newsweek

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A Gellman the Dog sighting – Plattsburgh Press Republican

Q: Hello, Rabbi Gellman, My name is N … and a friend recently gave me a copy of your column from the Raleigh News & Observer, May 7, 2017. I am a puppy walker for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and I was the starting home for a puppy named Gellman in the summer of 2014. I knew he had a sponsor, but never knew the origin of his name. In August of 2014 he went to a puppy walker at the University of Georgia named Kaitlyn. I was wondering if this is the puppy your congregants sponsored. Kaitlyn and I have a lot of pictures of this sweet boy if you are interested.

A: When I retired from my synagogue in 2014, my dear congregants sponsored a guide dog puppy in my honor and gave him the name “Gellman.” Although at first I was a little confused to know that in our world there is now a Gellman the Rabbi as well as a Gellman the Dog, I was also a bit embarrassed to know that somewhere someone was shouting, “Gellman! Don’t pee on the rug!”

Nevertheless, I was happy and proud to continue my support for this terrific and holy organization. I lost track of Gellman the dog and I am sure that your kind note was a message from God (and Gellman). Please send pictures. I think the odds of there being two guide dogs with the name “Gellman” is in the zero range, and the timeline matches. I hope Gellman is helping someone see. That is all I have ever tried to do in my own way. Thank you and God bless you!

Q: I was raised Catholic. Everything I read in the Bible (teaches) that everyone was Jewish. How did I become Catholic? Where did (Catholicism) come from? I asked several people, including a priest and haven’t gotten an answer. I think it would make a great article. From J on Long Island, N.Y.

A: Well dear J, let’s begin by correcting your misapprehension that everyone in the Bible is Jewish. In addition to the big empire guys (Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Philistines) there were also a lot of smaller non-Jewish tribes in biblical times like the Jebusites, Hittites, Amalekites, and a variety of other and assorted “ites”). However, on the line you are concerned about, the Jewish people began around 1,800 years before zero in the time of Abraham. They left Egypt in the Exodus with Moses around 1,200 BCE and the kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon occurred around the year 1,000 BCE. Jesus comes into the picture obviously around the year zero.

It is true that Jesus and all his disciples were Jewish. In fact whenever people try to convert me to Christianity I ask them, “Was Jesus Jewish?” They answer “Yes” and so I say, “Well, if it was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me!”

The split between Judaism and Christianity occurred after Jesus’ death with the Apostle Paul in the first century. Paul found that the Jewish laws concerning circumcision and not eating pork had severely limited his work in converting gentiles to Christianity and he began to preach that keeping such ritual provisions of Jewish law were no longer necessary for new Christians.

This violation of Jewish law plus of course the claim that Jesus was the Messiah caused a final split between Paul and the Jerusalem Church led by James, and with it a final split between Judaism and Christianity. This is the period of what is called the Apostolic Church and it lasted until 325 when the Emperor Constantine under the influence of his mother Helena declared Christianity to be the religion of the Roman Empire.

The whole Roman Empire was transformed from an empire that fed Christians to lions to an empire that worshiped Jesus as God. This gigantic empire caused Christianity to split into five sees or districts by the mid-6th century called the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. With the rise of the Islamic Empire in the 7th century the Eastern sees that were within the Islamic empire were cut off from Rome, which became the center of the Roman Catholic church. In the 16th century the Christian world split into Catholicism and Protestantism and that is how the Christian world looks today.

In the meantime the Jewish world slowly grew on its own and eventually became the target of anti-Semitism, which was condemned by Pope John XXIII in the 1960s as a sin that was rejected from all Catholic teachings.

All of this made possible the God Squad and my friendship with Father Tom Hartman, and all this enabled us to write a column where I could explain to you where all the Christians came from and where all the Jews went to.

Send all questions and comments to the God Squad via email at godsquadquestion@aol.com.

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A Gellman the Dog sighting – Plattsburgh Press Republican

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American Cyrus: How Desperate Christians Anointed Trump – HuffPost

As best anyone can tell, the nonsense began with Lance Wallnau, an evangelical Christian and self-styled leadership coach who boasts a doctorate in theology from an institution that awards academic credit for life experience such as hobbies, extensive reading, and television courses.

As Wallnau tells it, the Lord spoke to him in early 2016, revealing that Donald Trump, then a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, was a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.

A bit later, God followed up with another message for Wallnau: a vision of Trump as the 45th president and a command to read Isaiah 45.

Forty-fifth president, 45th chapter. Get it?

The section in the Hebrew bibles Book of Isaiah to which Wallnau was summoned lauds the Persian king Cyrus the Greats release of the Jews from their so-called Babylonian Captivity. The Jewish kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC. Jerusalem was razed and its king and people hauled off to Babylon. Fifty years later, after the Babylonians were in turn conquered by Cyrus, he allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem.

Isaiah (or, more accurately, the unknown author of chapter 45; there are most likely 3 different authors writing during different time periods) was ecstatic at this outcome, going so far as to praise Cyrus as mashiah, the anointed one. Believing that God had stirred up the pagan Cyrus to justice, Isaiah rapturously proclaimed that God could use even an ungodly man like the Persian king for good.

And there it was: the birth of the nonsense. Wallnau immediately concluded that God had revealed to him that Trump was the new Cyrus who would lead American exiles back to the promised land. Morally corrupt though he was, Trump was clearly Gods anointed instrument in a cosmic battle against the demonic agenda imperiling America.

Wallnau was so excited by the revelation that he furiously churned out and hurriedly published his own prophetic book, God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling.

Wallnaus screechy, exclamation point-laden tome appeared just a month before the November 2016 election. His announcement that Trump was Gods instrument was an instant hit with Trump-leaning Christians (and a handful of orthodox Jews) who were nonetheless uncomfortable with the candidates sordid history of sexual groping, mockery of the disabled, fetish for deception, shameless self-promotion, shady business dealings, willingness to throw his own people under the bus, pettiness and petulance in speeches and tweets, disrespect for imprisoned and slain GIs, character assassination of the press, penchant for bullying, and obvious indifference to Christianity.

God used Cyrus, they shouted with relief, and God can use Trump, too! So they swallowed their reservations, overlooked everything repugnant in Trumps character, and put him in the White House to redeem America and stand up for Christian values.

Thats when the anointing of Trump as the American Cyrus transitioned from nonsense to tragedy. The character flaws that sat uneasily with his evangelical supporters have been on full display during the 7 months of his administration, and have ripped the nation apart. If God really is using Trump to restore America, Gods taking his own sweet time going about it.

But in truth, Trump is no Cyrus, and Christians who voted for him out of either genuine hope or cynical pretense that he is made a bargain with the devil. Regardless of their intentions, they embraced one of the most dangerously expedient principles going, and one that in other circumstances the vast majority of them wouldve surely condemned: the end justifies the means.

Opposition to abortion and same-gender marriage was the deciding issue for many conservative Christians when they stepped into the voting booth to cast their ballots for Trump: that was the end. They were willing to hold their noses and even pretend enthusiasm for a candidate whose moral flaws comprise a catalog of virtually everything Christianity is not: the means.

I get that this couldnt have been a pleasant position for them to be in, and that the Cyrus nonsense propagated by Wallnau made the bitter pill go down just a bit easier.

But overlookingnot to mention whitewashingthe presidents egregious moral failings by insisting that God can write straight with Trumps crooked lines is more of a desperate Hail Mary pass than an act of faith, as bitter months of his broken leadership have demonstrated.

The takeaway is what we all know in our heart of hearts, even if we dont always live by it: No end ever justifies corrupt or evil means. That a large percentage of the nations Christians ignore this truth by defending Trump is a scandal that will haunt American Christianity for decades to come.

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American Cyrus: How Desperate Christians Anointed Trump – HuffPost

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Jews, Christians, and the Law – Commentary Magazine

And yet realism is currently in crisis.

Realism was once a sophisticated intellectual tradition that represented the best in American statecraft. Eminent Cold War realists were broadly supportive of Americas postwar internationalism and its stabilizing role in global affairs, even as they stressed the need for prudence and restraint in employing U.S. power. Above all, Cold Warera realism was based on a hard-earned understanding that Americans must deal with the geopolitical realities as they are, rather than retreat to the false comfort provided by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

More recently, however, those who call themselves realists have lost touch with this tradition. Within academia, realism has become synonymous with a preference for radical retrenchment and the deliberate destruction of arrangements that have fostered international stability and prosperity for decades. Within government, the Trump administration appears to be embracing an equally misguided version of realisman approach that masquerades as shrewd realpolitik but is likely to prove profoundly damaging to American power and influence. Neither of these approaches is truly realist, as neither promotes core American interests or deals with the world as it really is. The United States surely needs the insights that an authentically realist approach to global affairs can provide. But first, American realism will have to undergo a reformation.

Realism has taken many forms over the years, but it has always been focused on the imperatives of power, order, and survival in an anarchic global arena. The classical realistsThucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbesconsidered how states and leaders should behave in a dangerous world in which there was no overarching morality or governing authority strong enough to regulate state behavior. The great modern realiststhinkers and statesmen such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, and Henry Kissingergrappled with the same issues during and after the catastrophic upheaval that characterized the first half of the 20th century.

They argued that it was impossible to transcend the tragic nature of international politics through good intentions or moralistic maxims, and that seeking to do so would merely empower the most ruthless members of the international system. They contended, on the basis of bitter experience, that aggression and violence were always a possibility in international affairs, and that states that desired peace would thus have to prepare for war and show themselves ready to wield coercive power. Most important, realist thinkers tended to place a high value on policies and arrangements that restrained potential aggressors and created a basis for stability within an inherently competitive global environment.

For this very reason, leading Cold Warera realists advocated a robust American internationalism as the best way of restraining malevolent actors and preventing another disastrous global crack-upone that would inevitably reach out and touch the United States, just as the world wars had. Realist thinkers understood that America was uniquely capable of stabilizing the international order and containing Soviet power after World War II, even as they disagreedsometimes sharplyover the precise nature and extent of American commitments. Moreover, although Cold War realists recognized the paramount role of power in international affairs, most also recognized that U.S. power would be most effective if harnessed to a compelling concept of American moral purpose and exercised primarily through enduring partnerships with nations that shared core American values. An idealistic policy undisciplined by political realism is bound to be unstable and ineffective, the political scientist Robert Osgood wrote. Political realism unguided by moral purpose will be self-defeating and futile. Most realists were thus sympathetic to the major initiatives of postwar foreign policy, such as the creation of U.S.-led military alliances and the cultivation of a thriving Western community composed primarily of liberal democracies.

At the same time, Cold War realists spoke of the need for American restraint. They worried that Americas liberal idealism, absent a sense of limits, would carry the country into quixotic crusades. They thought that excessive commitments at the periphery of the global system could weaken the international order against its radical challengers. They believed that a policy of outright confrontation toward the Kremlin could be quite dangerous. Absolute security for one power means absolute insecurity for all others, Kissinger wrote. Realists therefore advocated policies meant to temper American ambition and the most perilous aspects of superpower competition. They supportedand, in Kissingers case, ledarms-control agreements and political negotiations with Moscow. They often objected to Americas costliest interventions in the Third World. Kennan and Morgenthau were among the first mainstream figures to go public with opposition to American involvement in Vietnam (Morgenthau did so in the pages of Commentary in May 1962).

During the Cold War, then, realism was a supple, nuanced doctrine. It emphasized the need for balance in American statecraftfor energetic action blended with moderation, for hard-headed power politics linked to a regard for partnerships and values. It recognized that the United States could best mitigate the tragic nature of international relations by engaging with, rather than withdrawing from, an imperfect world.

This nuance has now been lost. Academics have applied the label of realism to dangerous and unrealistic policy proposals. More disturbing and consequential still, the distortion of realism seems to be finding a sympathetic hearing in the Trump White House.

Consider the state of academic realism. Todays most prominent self-identified realistsStephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Christopher Layneadvocate a thoroughgoing U.S. retrenchment from global affairs. Whereas Cold War realists were willing to see the world as it wasa world that required unequal burden-sharing and an unprecedented, sustained American commitment to preserve international stabilityacademic realists now engage in precisely the wishful thinking that earlier realists deplored. They assume that the international order can essentially regulate itself and that America will not be threatened byand can even profit froma more unsettled world. They thus favor discarding the policies that have proven so successful over the decades in providing a congenial international climate.

Why has academic realism gone astray? If the Cold War brokered the marriage between realists and American global engagement, the end of the Cold War precipitated a divorce. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. policymakers continued to pursue an ambitious global agenda based on preserving and deepening both Americas geopolitical advantage and the liberal international order. For many realists, however, the end of the Cold War removed the extraordinary threatan expansionist USSRthat had led them to support such an agenda in the first place. Academic realists argued that the humanitarian interventions of the 1990s (primarily in the former Yugoslavia) reflected capriciousness rather than a prudent effort to deal with sources of instability. Similarly, they saw key policy initiativesespecially NATO enlargement and the Iraq war of 2003as evidence that Washington was no longer behaving with moderation and was itself becoming a destabilizing force in global affairs.

These critiques were overstated, but not wholly without merit. The invasion and occupation of Iraq did prove far costlier than expected, as the academic realists had indeed warned. NATO expansioneven as it successfully promoted stability and liberal reform in Eastern Europedid take a toll on U.S.Russia relations. Having lost policy arguments that they thought they should have won, academic realists decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater, calling for a radical reformulation of Americas broader grand strategy.

The realists preferred strategy has various namesoffshore balancing, restraint, etc.but the key components and expectations are consistent. Most academic realists argue that the United States should pare back or eliminate its military alliances and overseas troop deployments, going back onshore only if a hostile power is poised to dominate a key overseas region. They call on Washington to forgo costly nation-building and counterinsurgency missions overseas and to downgrade if not abandon the promotion of democracy and human rights.

Academic realists argue that this approach will force local actors in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia to assume greater responsibility for their own security, and that the United States can manipulatethrough diplomacy, arms sales, and covert actionthe resulting rivalries and conflicts to prevent any single power from dominating a key region and thereby threatening the United States. Should these calculations prove faulty and a hostile power be poised to dominate, Washington can easily swoop in to set things aright, as it did during the world wars. Finally, if even this calculation were to prove faulty, realists argue that America can ride out the danger posed by a regional hegemon because the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Americas nuclear deterrent provide geopolitical immunity against existential threats.

Todays academic realists portray this approach as hard-headed, economical strategy. But in reality, it represents a stark departure from classical American realism. During the Cold War, leading realists placed importance on preserving international stability and heeded the fundamental lesson of World Wars I and IIthat the United States, by dint of its power and geography, was the only actor that could anchor international arrangements. Todays academic realists essentially argue that the United States should dismantle the global architecture that has undergirded the international orderand that Washington can survive and even thrive amid the ensuing disorder. Cold War realists helped erect the pillars of a peaceful and prosperous world. Contemporary academic realists advocate tearing down those pillars and seeing what happens.

The answer is nothing good. Contemporary academic realists sit atop a pyramid of faulty assumptions. They assume that one can remove the buttresses of the international system without that system collapsing, and that geopolitical burdens laid down by America will be picked up effectively by others. They assume that the United States does not need the enduring relationships that its alliances have fostered, and that it can obtain any cooperation it needs via purely transactional interactions. They assume that a world in which the United States ceases to promote liberal values will not be a world less congenial to Americas geopolitical interests. They assume that revisionist states will be mollified rather than emboldened by an American withdrawal, and that the transition from U.S. leadership to another global system will not unleash widespread conflict. Finally, they assume that if such upheaval does erupt, the United States can deftly manage and even profit from it, and that America can quickly move to restore stability at a reasonable cost should it become necessary to do so.

The founding generation of American realists had learned not to indulge in wishfully thinking that the international order would create or sustain itself, or that the costs of responding to rampant international disorder would be trivial. Todays academic realists, by contrast, would stake everything on a leap into the unknown.

For many years, neither Democratic nor Republican policymakers were willing to make such a leap. Now, however, the Trump administration appears inclined to embrace its own version of foreign-policy realism, one that bears many similarities toand contains many of the same liabilities asthe academic variant. One of the least academic presidents in American history may, ironically, be buying into some of the most misguided doctrines of the ivory tower.

Any assessment of the Trump administration must remain somewhat provisional, given that Donald Trumps approach to foreign policy is still a work in progress. Yet Trump and his administration have so far taken multiple steps to outline a three-legged-stool vision of foreign policy that they explicitly describe as realist in orientation. Like modern-day academic realism, however, this vision diverges drastically from the earlier tradition of American realism and leads to deeply problematic policy.

The first leg is President Trumps oft-stated view of the international environment as an inherently zero-sum arena in which the gains of other countries are Americas losses. The postWorld War II realists, by contrast, believed that the United States could enjoy positive-sum relations with like-minded nations. Indeed, they believed that America could not enjoy economic prosperity and national security unless its major trading partners in Europe and Asia were themselves prosperous and stable. The celebrated Marshall Plan was high-mindedly generous in the sense of addressing urgent humanitarian needs in Europe, yet policymakers very much conceived of it as serving Americas parochial economic and security interests at the same time. President Trump, however, sees a winner and loser in every transaction, and believeswith respect to allies and adversaries alikethat it is the United States who generally gets snookered. The reality at the core of Trumps realism is his stated belief that America is exploited by every nation in the world virtually.

This belief aligns closely with the second leg of the Trump worldview: the idea that all foreign policy is explicitly competitive in nature. Whereas the Cold War realists saw a Western community of states, President Trump apparently sees a dog-eat-dog world where America should view every transactioneven with allieson a one-off basis. The world is not a global community but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage, wrote National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn in an op-ed. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.

To be sure, Cold War realists were deeply skeptical about one worldism and appeals to a global community. But still they saw the United States and its allies as representing the free world, a community of common purpose forged in the battle against totalitarian enemies. The Trump administration seems to view U.S. partnerships primarily on an ad hoc basis, and it has articulated something akin to a what have you done for me lately approach to allies. The Cold War realistswho understood how hard it was to assemble effective alliances in the first placewould have found this approach odd in the extreme.

Finally, there is the third leg of Trumps realism: an embrace of amorality. President Trump has repeatedly argued that issues such as the promotion of human rights and democracy are merely distractions from winning in the international arena and a recipe for squandering scarce resources. On the presidents first overseas trip to the Middle East in May, for instance, he promised not to lecture authoritarian countries on their internal behavior, and he made clear his intent to embrace leaders who back short-term U.S. foreign-policy goals no matter how egregious their violations of basic human rights and political freedoms. Weeks later, on a visit to Poland, the president did speak explicitly about the role that shared values played in the Wests struggle against Communism during the Cold War, and he invoked the hope of every soul to live in freedom. Yet his speech contained only the most cursory reference to Russiathe authoritarian power now undermining democratic governance and security throughout Europe and beyond. Just as significant, Trump failed to mention that Poland itselfuntil a few years ago, a stirring exemplar of successful transition from totalitarianism to democracyis today sliding backwards toward illiberalism (as are other countries within Europe and the broader free world).

At first glance, this approach might seem like a modern-day echo of Cold War debates about whether to back authoritarian dictators in the struggle against global Communism. But, as Jeane Kirkpatrick explained in her famous 1979 Commentary essay Dictatorships and Double Standards, and as Kissinger himself frequently argued, Cold War realists saw such tactical alliances of convenience as being in the service of a deeper values-based goal: the preservation of an international environment favoring liberty and democracy against the predations of totalitarianism. Moreover, they understood that Americans would sustain the burdens of global leadership over a prolonged period only if motivated by appeals to their cherished ideals as well as their concrete interests. Trump, for his part, has given only faint and sporadic indications of any appreciation of the traditional role of values in American foreign policy.

Put together, these three elements have profound, sometimes radical, implications for Americas approach to a broad range of global issues. Guided by this form of realism, the Trump administration has persistently chastised and alienated long-standing democratic allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific and moved closer to authoritarians in Saudi Arabia, China, and the Philippines. The presidents body language alone has been striking: Trumps summits have repeatedly showcased conviviality with dictators and quasi-authoritarians and painfully awkward interactions with democratic leaders such as Germanys Angela Merkel. Similarly, Trump has disdained international agreements and institutions that do not deliver immediate, concrete benefits for the United States, even if they are critical to forging international cooperation on key issues or advancing longer-term goods. As Trump has put it, he means to promote the interests of Pittsburgh, not Paris, and he believes that those interests are inherently at odds with each other.

To be fair, President Trump and his proxies do view the war on terror as a matter of defending both American security interests and Western civilizations values against the jihadist onslaught. This was a key theme of Trumps major address in Warsaw. Yet the administration has not explained how this civilizational mindset would inform any other aspect of its foreign policywith the possible exception of immigration policyand resorts far more often to the parochial lens of nationalism.

The Trump administration seems to be articulating a vision in which America has no lasting friends, little enduring concern with values, and even less interest in cultivating a community of like-minded nations that exists for more than purely deal-making purposes. The administration has often portrayed this as clear-eyed realism, even invoking the founding father of realism, Thucydides, as its intellectual lodestar. This approach does bear some resemblance to classical realism: an unsentimental approach to the world with an emphasis on the competitive aspects of the international environment. And insofar as Trump dresses down American allies, rejects the importance of values, and focuses on transactional partnerships, his version of realism has quite a lot in common with the contemporary academic version.

Daniel Drezner of Tufts University has noted the overlap, declaring in a Washington Post column, This is [academic] realisms moment in the foreign policy sun. Randall Schweller of Ohio State University, an avowed academic realist and Trump supporter, has been even more explicit, noting approvingly that Trumps foreign-policy approach essentially falls under the rubric of off-shore balancing as promoted by ivory-tower realists in recent decades.

Yet one suspects that the American realists who helped create the postWorld War II order would not feel comfortable with either the academic or Trumpian versions of realism as they exist today. For although both of these approaches purport to be about power and concrete results, both neglect the very things that have allowed the United States to use its power so effectively in the past.

Both the academic and Trump versions of realism ignore the fact that U.S. power is most potent when it is wielded in concert with a deeply institutionalized community of like-minded nations. Alliances are less about addition and subtractionthe math of the burden-sharing emphasized by Trump and the academic realistsand more about multiplication, leveraging U.S. power to influence world events at a fraction of the cost of unilateral approaches. The United States would be vastly less powerful and influential in Europe and Central Asia without NATO; it would encounter far greater difficulties in rounding up partners to wage the ongoing war in Afghanistan or defeat the Islamic State; it would find itself fighting alonerather than with some of the worlds most powerful partnersfar more often. Likewise, without its longstanding treaty allies in Asia, the United States would be at an almost insurmountable disadvantage vis–vis revisionist powers in that region, namely China.

Both versions of realism also ignore the fact that America has been able to exercise its enormous power with remarkably little global resistance precisely because American leaders, by and large, have paid sufficient regard to the opinions of potential partners. Of course, every administration has sought to put America first, but the pursuit of American self-interest has proved most successful when it enjoys the acquiescence of other states. Likewise, the academic and Trump versions of realism too frequently forget that America draws power by supporting values with universal appeal. This is why every American president from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama has recognized that a more democratic world is likely to be one that is both ideologically and geopolitically more congenial to the United States.

Most important, both the academic and Trump versions of realism ignore the fact that the classical postWorld War II realists deliberately sought to overcome the dog-eat-dog world that modern variants take as a given. They did so by facilitating cooperation within the free world, suppressing the security competitions that had previously led to cataclysmic wars, creating the basis for a thriving international economy, and thereby making life a little less nasty, brutish, and short for Americans as well as for vast swaths of the worlds population.

If realism is about maximizing power, effectiveness, and security in a competitive global arena, then neither the academic nor the Trump versions of realism merits the name. And if realism is meant to reflect the world as it is, both of these versions are deeply deficient.

This is a tragedy. For if ever there were a moment for an informed realism, it would be now, as the strategic horizon darkens and a more competitive international environment reemerges. There is still time for Trump and his team to adapt, and realism can still make a constructive contribution to American policy. But first it must rediscover its rootsand absorb the lessons of the past 70 years.

A reformed realism should be built upon seven bedrock insights, which President Trump would do well to embrace.

First, American leadership remains essential to restraining global disorder. Todays realists channel the longstanding American hope that there would come a time when the United States could slough off the responsibilities it assumed after World War II and again become a country that relies on its advantageous geography to keep the world at arms length. Yet realism compels an awareness that America is exceptionally suited to the part it has played for nearly four generations. The combination of its power, geographic location, and values has rendered America uniquely capable of providing a degree of global order in a way that is more reassuring than threatening to most of the key actors in the international system. Moreover, given that today the most ambitious and energetic international actors besides the United States are not liberal democracies but aggressive authoritarian powers, an American withdrawal is unlikely to produce multipolar peace. Instead, it is likely to precipitate the upheaval that U.S. engagement and activism have long been meant to avert. As a corollary, realists must also recognize that the United States is unlikely to thrive amid such upheaval; it will probably find that the disorder spreads and ultimately implicates vital American interests, as was twice the case in the first half of the 20th century.

Second, true realism recognizes the interdependence of hard and soft power. In a competitive world, there is no substitute for American hard power, and particularly for military muscle. Without guns, there will notover the long termbe butter. But military power, by itself, is an insufficient foundation for American strategy. A crude reliance on coercion will damage American prestige and credibility in the end; hard power works best when deployed in the service of ideas and goals that command widespread international approval. Similarly, military might is most effective when combined with the softer tools of development assistance, foreign aid, and knowledge of foreign societies and cultures. The Trump administration has sought to eviscerate these nonmilitary capabilities and bragged about its hard-power budget; it would do better to understand that a balance between hard and soft power is essential.

Third, values are an essential part of American realism. Of course, the United States must not undertake indiscriminate interventions in the name of democracy and human rights. But, fortunately, no serious policymakernot Woodrow Wilson, not Jimmy Carter, not George W. Bushhas ever embraced such a doctrine. What most American leaders have traditionally recognized is that, on balance, U.S. interests will be served and U.S. power will be magnified in a world in which democracy and human rights are respected. Ronald Reagan, now revered for his achievements in improving Americas global position, understood this point and made the selective promotion of democracyprimarily through nonmilitary meansa key part of his foreign policy. While paying due heed to the requirements of prudence and the limits of American power, then, American realists should work to foster a climate in which those values can flourish.

Fourth, a reformed realism requires aligning relations with the major powers appropriatelyespecially today, as great-power tensions rise. That means appreciating the value of institutions that have bound the United States to some of the most powerful actors in the international system for decades and thereby given Washington leadership of the worlds dominant geopolitical coalition. It means not taking trustworthy allies for granted or picking fights with them gratuitously. It also means not treating actual adversaries, such as Vladimir Putins Russia, as if they were trustworthy partners (as Trump has often talked of doing) or as if their aggressive behavior were simply a defensive response to American provocations (as many academic realists have done). A realistic approach to American foreign policy begins by seeing great-power relations through clear eyes.

Fifth, limits are essential. Academic realists are wrong to suggest that values should be excised from U.S. policy; they are wrong to argue that the United States should pull back dramatically from the world. Yet they are right that good statecraft requires an understanding of limitsparticularly for a country as powerful as the United States, and particularly at a time when the international environment is becoming more contested. The United States cannot right every wrong, fix every problem, or defend every global interest. America can and should, however, shoulder more of the burden than modern academic and Trumpian realists believe. The United States will be effective only if it chooses its battles carefully; it will need to preserve its power for dealing with the most pressing threat to its national interests and the international orderthe resurgence of authoritarian challengeseven if that means taking an economy-of-force approach to other issues.

Sixth, realists must recognize that the United States has not created and sustained a global network of alliances, international institutions, and other embedded relationships out of a sense of charity. It has done so because those relationships provide forums through which the United States can exercise power at a bargain-basement price. Embedded relationships have allowed the United States to rally other nations to support American causes from the Korean War to the counter-ISIS campaign, and have reduced the transaction costs of collective action to meet common threats from international terrorism to p.iracy. They have provided institutional megaphones through which the United States can amplify its diplomatic voice and project its influence into key issues and regions around the globe. If these arrangements did not exist, the United States would find itself having to create them, or acting unilaterally at far greater cost. If realism is really about maximizing American power, true realists ought to be enthusiastic about relationships and institutions that serve that purpose. Realists should adopt the approach that every postCold War president has embraced: that the United States will act unilaterally in defense of its interests when it must, but multilaterally with partners whenever it can.

Finally, realism requires not throwing away what has worked in the past. One of the most astounding aspects of both contemporary academic realism and the Trumpian variant of that tradition is the cavalier attitude they display toward arrangements and partnerships that have helped produce a veritable golden age of international peace, stability, and liberalism since World War II, and that have made the United States the most influential and effective actor in the globe in the process. Of course, there have been serious and costly conflicts over the past decades, and U.S. policy has always been thoroughly imperfect. But the last 70 years have been remarkably good ones for U.S. interests and the global orderwhether one compares them with the 70 years before the United States adopted its global leadership role, or compares them with the violent disorder that would have emerged if America followed the nostrums peddled today under the realist label. A doctrine that stresses that importance of prudence and discretion, and that was originally conservative in its preoccupation with stability and order, ought not to pursue radical changes in American statecraft or embrace a come what may approach to the world. Rather, such a doctrine ought to recognize that true achievements are enormously difficult to come byand that the most realistic approach to American strategy would thus be to focus on keeping a good thing going.

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Jews, Christians, and the Law – Commentary Magazine

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Inherently American to be pro-Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Washington Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776, by Emanuel Leutze, 1851.. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

The presidents of the USA, by far, have always taken a pro-Israel stance.

From Unitarian president John Adams expressing his desire to see the Jews return to their land and establish a state, to Baptist president Harry S. Truman, who was the leader of the free world when he recognized the State of Israel in 1948, and all the way until Presbyterian President Donald J. Trump. Even through President Trump has disappointed on the embassy issue, he has nonetheless proven to be a true friend of the Jewish state, US-Israel relations have almost always been on the amicable side.

While each leader may have had his own personal beliefs, the courage to implement them came from the Father of His Country. George Washington set a standard for his successors, and it was clearly made known in a letter he wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, following a visit there on August 17, 1790.

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid, he said. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

Washingtons response was meant to further strengthen the ideology of separation of church and state and to strengthen the right of each individual to practice his or her religion.

However, Washingtons treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country.

Washington, baptized as a child into the Church of England, was a practicing Christian his whole life, but what exactly he practiced is still debated by scholars.

He did live in a society influenced by the Puritans, who believed themselves to be like the Israelites fleeing Egypt, wandering into the vast and unknown wilderness and reaching the promised land of the New World. They used the Bible as their guide, adopted biblical customs, established biblical codes, such as observance of the Sabbath, and gave their children Hebrew names.

As Washington wished for the freedom of the Jews in Newport and in the United States in general, he made it clear that this was his wish for all the Jewish people, and all nations.

Since Washington asserted the principle of asylum [in general orders from April 18 1783] and wished that the Jewish people would find in America their ‘vine and fig tree’ [in his letter to the Newport congregation] it is safe to assert that he would have favored the existence of a justly established homeland for Jews in Israel, wrote Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, in his book George Washington & Israel.

Washingtons views about Israel helped set the direction that American presidents have taken toward Israel until now, he wrote during the tenure of president Barack Obama.

To learn more about the role of the Bible in history and the roots of Christian Zionism, check us out at @christian_jpost, on Facebook.com/jpostchristianworld/ and see the best of the Holy Land in The Jerusalem Post – Christian Edition monthly magazine.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

A Message to all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists – HuffPost

I am tired of being Mr. Nice Guy!

I immigrated from Syria in 1984 and became an American citizen in 1989. I bask in what this country offers from freedom to democracy to opportunity to dreams of a better life. And like you, I get to vote. My voice counts.

As a matter of fact, I just voted for my governor in Alabama this week and then called my three children and screamed: I JUST VOTED. They know the ritual. They know their father gets extremely excited when he votes. For 18 years of my life, I have witnessed enough corruption in Syria to last a lifetime.

Last night, I attended the Stand Against Hate march in downtown Birmingham, and I didnt see you racists there. I wanted to stick a small yellow flower in the front of your shotgun.

Karim Shamsi-Basha

I do have a message for you

No matter what you do, we will not go away the people who see no skin color.

No matter how much terror you inflict, we will not be scared the people who care about he poor.

No matter how many people you injure, we will stay the course of reconciliation, tolerance, and love the people who help those who have not.

And no matter how many people kill and scare and push and yell at, we will keep marching, we will keep protesting, and we will keep raising our voices until we are heard the people who want to live and let live.

Heres a fact you may find delightful: Despite my being born in Damascus, I am more American than you are.

You were raising Confederate flags in Charlottesville, a flag that stood for slavery and drove this country into its most gruesome war. You were also raising swastikas, a symbol that stands for the most horrific event where six million Jews perished. Neither of these symbols is a gathering symbol. They stand for death, inequality and horror. You are not a patriot. You use the ugly past to forge an uglier future.

Tonight, I saw signs preaching love and compassion. I saw homemade posters colored by little ones hoping we leave them a decent planet to inhabit. I saw white hands holding black and brown hands. I saw blue smiles, hopeful eyes, and reverent bows.

Karim Shamsi-Basha

What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend would probably repeat. After all, we have one of you in the White House. The point is not whats taking place or whos insulting whom. The point is whats on the inside of our hearts and souls. Until that heart is sparkling with only love as the driver, we will again hear the echo of Charlottesville.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart gets rid of racism.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart squelches intolerance.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart crushes prejudice.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart tramples xenophobia.

And we will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart silences bigotry.

The human heart does not know racism when young, it learns racism later in life. Lets keep our heart young and innocent.

My message to the neo-Nazis and white supremacists?

Love is more powerful than you will ever be. Love will destroy you like it has destroyed your ancestors millions of times over the last few centuries. Even if it looks promising for a while, love will ultimately crush you.

Love is mighty, effective and potent. I dare you to mess with it.

For more, visit arabinalabama.com.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Ugandan Jew shares experiences in trip to Augusta – The Augusta Chronicle

For Kokasi Kesi, one of the hardest parts of being a counselor at Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Ga., this summer came after the meal. Hed watch as the plates were collected and food scraped off into the trash. I would feel bad when I would see the food dumped, said Kesi, a 26-year-old Ugandan Jew, who is spending two weeks in Augusta, where he will be raising money for his village, which has been wracked with food shortages because of drought. He is staying with members of the Congregation Children of Israel, and there will be a reception for him at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, at the home of Rabbi Shai Beloosesky. For more information, call the temple at (706) 736-3140. This is the second year Kesi has visited Augusta. He worked at the camp last year as well. He spoke in Atlanta and Florida before traveling to the Augusta area where he arrived Aug. 13 and leaves Aug. 20. Kesi is part of the Abayudaya Community in the village of Baganda in eastern Uganda. Its a small group of Jews who have an unusual history. Kesis uncle, Gerhom Sizumo is the rabbi and a member of the Ugandan parliament. The community will celebrate 100 years of Judaism in 2019. Judaism came to the village through Christianity, according to Kesi. Missionaries brought Christian Bibles to the village, but one of the residents began reading more of the Old Testament or the books of the Torah. He began practicing what he saw contained in those writings so that his faith resembled more of Judaism. They would keep shabbat, and they would keep high holy days, he said. Judaism flourished, and decades later, a Jewish traveler told them that what they were practicing more closely resembled Judaism. Persecution came under the leadership of Idi Amin, who overthrew the government and declared himself president in 1971. He ruled until 1979 when he was exiled. Under Amin, an estimated 300,000 people were killed. He was quoted as saying he believed Hitler was correct in killing 6 million Jews, according to his 2003 New York Times obituary. Amin is reported to have killed indiscriminately, killing judges, hospital officials, Christian clergy, educators, bankers and tribal leaders. Many of the Abayudaya Jews converted to Christianity during Amins rule; however, since 1979, the numbers have risen to about 1,000 Jews in the community and 2,000 Jews in the country of Uganda, said Kesi. There is a school in the village as well, and Kesi wants to pursue his masters degree to be an administrator in the school. This wont be the first time this year that the Congregation Children of Israel has helped the Ugandans. In May, Judah Breland celebrated his bar mitzvah and helped raise $2,500 for a friend of Kesis to return to his village and take food with him. Donations can also be brought to the Temple at 3005 Walton Way.

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August 19, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Fleeing repression, Jewish immigrants found success in Gold Rush SF – San Francisco Chronicle

Of all the groups that arrived in Gold Rush San Francisco, the Jews who fled a legacy of oppression in Europe may have experienced the most remarkable success. In their Central European homelands, these German speakers had been confined to ghettos, prevented from marrying and barred from professional occupations. When they got to California, former peddlers, petty traders and craftsmen found a land where they were free to prosper and in the years to come, they created some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the state. Many of the Jews who were to become merchant princes of San Francisco came from the same small region: Upper Franconia in German-speaking Bavaria. Indeed, several grew up in the same small town. Three men who would become business titans in San Francisco William Haas, Isaias Wolf Hellman and Isaac Walter were childhood friends who all came from the same rural town of Reckendorf, population 1,000. The most famous of them all, Levi Strauss, grew up in the town of Buttenheim, just 20 miles from Reckendorf. The story of Haas, who built one of San Franciscos most storied residences, the still-standing Haas-Lilienthal House on Franklin Street, is typical. Haas grew up in a society where the anti-Semitic bigotry that dated from the Middle Ages was still present. Bloody anti-Jewish riots had taken place as recently as 1819, and Jews were oppressed by punitive taxes and an infamous law called the Matrikel, which allowed only the oldest son in a Jewish family to marry. Starting in the 1840s, these repressive laws led to a wave of German Jewish immigration to the United States. No fewer than 200,000 German Jews would leave for what was known as the Golden Land. The climate did improve as Fred Rosenbaum writes in Jewish Americans: Religion and Identity at 2007 Franklin Street, the Matrikel and most other discriminatory laws were abolished in 1861. Like Hellman and Walter, Haas received a fine education at a Jewish primary school in Reckendorf, then an even better one at a secondary school in nearby Bamberg. Haas arrived in San Francisco in 1868 and went to work for Haas Bros., the wholesale grocery company started by his older brother, Kalman, who had arrived in 1851. Like many other Jews during the Gold Rush, Kalman had realized that staying in San Francisco and opening a business mining the miners, as the expression went offered better prospects than heading to the gold fields. William Haas started out as a clerk, then became a salesman, then a partner. His living conditions improved accordingly. When he arrived, he sometimes slept on a shelf in the store. Within two years, he bought a modest house worth $1,000. In 1886, he spent more than $18,000, not including the land, to build his ornate Victorian mansion on Franklin Street. The Haas family was part of a new German-Jewish aristocracy, most from Bavaria, made up of several dozen families. This commercial elite, which emerged in San Francisco faster than anywhere else in the country, was filled with names that are still famous today both because of their successful businesses and their philanthropic largesse. Most of them made their fortune in dry goods or clothing. The most famous clothing kings were Levi Strauss and his brother-in-law, David Stern, whose company patented and manufactured the riveted pants that are today the most famous and best-selling line of clothing in the world. Other dry goods magnates included William Steinhart, Louis Sachs and Lazarus Dinkelspiel. German Jews established most of the citys leading department stores, including Raphael Weills White House, Isaac Magnins I. Magnin and Solomon Gumps eponymous store. Produce and tobacco kings included Haas, Frederick Castle, Joseph Brandenstein and Moses Gunst. Simon Koshland ran a wool empire, and Louis Sloss and his brother-in-law Lewis Gerstle founded the Alaska Commercial Co., which controlled the market in salmon and seals. Aaron Fleishhacker made his pile in cardboard boxes, while Anthony Zellerbach made a fortune in paper. Bankers included Isaias Hellman and Philip Lilienthal. Just as remarkable as the meteoric success of San Franciscos Jews was the fact that they encountered very little anti-Semitism far less than in New York and other U.S. cities. The reason was simple. San Francisco was a brand-new city, devoid of a status quo. There was no establishment to draw up ranks against perceived outsiders; everyone was an outsider. In the frenzy of the Gold Rush, the ethnic, class and social distinctions that loomed large on the East Coast vanished. All nations having come hither, shades of color, of belief, peculiarities of physique, of temper and habit were less distinctly marked, historian Hubert Bancroft wrote in California Inter Pocula. Bancroft also noted that the entire raison detre of the Gold Rush, the desire to get rich quick, undercut one of the traditional sources of anti-Semitism, the belief that Jews were grasping and greedy. Gold was here, and in common with the gentiles Jews loved gold, he wrote. Money was the humanizing bond. … Christian and Jew loved money. The casual use of anti-Semitic tropes was acceptable and well-nigh universal in the United States at the time, but in San Francisco, such offensive attitudes seem to have been mostly rhetorical. Indeed, Jews were widely admired as upstanding citizens and leading businessmen. In 1858, Steamer Day the much-anticipated, carnival-like day when the Pacific Mail Steamer arrived with mail from the East Coast was actually postponed by the city because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Its hard to imagine this taking place anywhere else in the country. The next Portals will explore the manners and mores, and the city-changing philanthropy, of San Franciscos Jewish elite. Gary Kamiya is the author of the best-selling book Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, awarded the Northern California Book Award in creative nonfiction. All the material in Portals of the Past is original for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: metro@sfchronicle.com Trivia time Previous trivia question: Who happily strummed a guitar as he strolled down Haight Street on Aug. 7, 1967? Answer: George Harrison. This weeks trivia question: What percentage of San Franciscans voted for Donald Trump in the November presidential election? Editors note Every corner in San Francisco has an astonishing story to tell. Gary Kamiyas Portals of the Past tells those lost stories, using a specific location to illuminate San Franciscos extraordinary history from the days when giant mammoths wandered through what is now North Beach to the Gold Rush delirium, the dot-com madness and beyond. His column appears every other Saturday, alternating with Peter Hartlaubs OurSF.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

What This Rabbi Found When He Went To Charlottesville – Jewish Week

It was a surreal moment. Approaching the Robert E. Lee Monument in the center of Charlottesville, Va., a young black woman, Aliya, joined her white friend Tom in placing a placard in front of the statue. Covering the words Robert E. Lee the placard read: The Heather Heyer Memorial. Heather Heyer was the 32-year-old woman who was murdered when a car driven by a white supremacist rammed into a crowd of counter protesters at a white nationalist rally. Together with my colleagues Rabbis Shmuel Herzfeld, Etan Mintz and Uri Topolosky, we asked if we could join in. Together we stood, singing We Shall Overcome. White supremacists try to divide America, declaring its us vs. them. We were humbly responding its us, all of us, we, together. We had come to Charlottesville to express solidarity with the beleaguered Jewish community and with all of Charlottesvilles citizens. Sitting with Rabbi Tom Gutherz, rabbi of Charlottesvilles Congregation Beth Israel, we were overwhelmed by his story. He shared with us that he had received a call last Friday from municipal officials telling him they had picked up information that the synagogue was under threat. The rabbi asked for protection and was told that not enough personnel was available. From L to R: Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, Rabbi Etan Mintz, Rabbi Uri Topolosky and Rabbi Avi Weiss on a solidarity trip to Charlottesville. Courtesy He continued by sharing with us that on Saturday, the Sabbath morning, three neo-Nazis were standing in front of the synagogue with semi-automatic weapons as congregants assembled for prayer. The rabbi again asked for protection, but none came. His account echoed an article posted by synagogue president, Alan Zimmerman, where he stated: On Saturday morning, I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services. Incensed, we walked a few blocks to the Charlottesville City Hall, insisting that we see the city manager, Charlottesvilles highest government official. One of the assistant city managers, Mike Murphy, spoke to us. Rabbi Herzfeld chastised the Charlottesville Police for not offering the synagogue protection. I added, It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that with many, many hundreds of neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville on Friday night with KKK type torches, declaring Jews will not replace us, the synagogue needed to be guarded. That protection should have been automatic, without any request coming from the synagogue at all. From our perspective, the lack of police protection deserves an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. The memorial for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Courtesy of RabbiShmuel Herzfeld We made our way to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Rabbi Mintz had served there years ago, and knew the supervising chaplain, Mildred Best. Mildred shared with us that the open lobby where one enters the hospital had been transformed into a closed emergency center during the hours of crisis on Saturday. She arranged that the full chaplaincy staff join us in a prayer service. It was important that we show support to the spiritual healers who had been there, offering help during the crisis. Even the healers need healing. Fifty years ago, I started singing this song with millions of others during the dark days of the civil rights movement. Never would I have imagined then that decades later we would still be facing similar times, singing the same melody, the same simple but piercing words. We gathered around as Rabbi Topolosky, on his guitar, led us in Rabbi Shlomo Carlebachs heart-wrenching song of one word Ruach. Ruach literally means wind but more deeply refers to the image of God, a spirit that unites all of humankind. Some of the chaplains were in tears. We held hands as our visiting group offered the blessing: May the Lord guard your going out and coming in; May the Lord offer renewal of body and soul for all the injured. Our final stop was meeting with the Chabad rabbi at the University of Virginia, Rabbi Shlomo Mayer. Raised in Romania, he described how late on Friday night, after the white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, he was awakened by a loud noise. For an instant, he said, I thought I was back in Romania with the Jewish community under attack. As it turned out, the noise was not a danger. But the rabbi told us that the fear he was feeling was palpable. White supremacists, foreground, face off against counterprotesters, top, at the entrance to Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. Getty Images As I left Charlottesville, my mind wandered to the moment, perhaps the most piercing of the day, where we stood at the very spot where Heather was murdered. Flowers and notes were everywhere. As I looked up, I could see a police car blocking the intersection. If only the police would have placed a car there on Saturday Heather would still be alive. We chanted the prayer for the dead. And then we began to sing We Shall Overcome Some Day. Fifty years ago, I started singing this song with millions of others during the dark days of the civil rights movement. Never would I have imagined then that decades later we would still be facing similar times, singing the same melody, the same simple but piercing words. Then and there I offered a silent prayer: O God, we shall overcome someday. Someday no longer works for me. America cannot wait. The world cannot wait. We need more Aliyas and Toms, more Mildred Bests. We need white, black, brown and yellow, Jewish, Christian, Muslims singing together we shall overcome not some day, but today, today, today.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Why Do Nazis Hate Jews? How Christian Politics Fuels Anti-Semitism in the United States – Newsweek

Newsweekpublished this story under the headline of Again, Anti-Semitism on February 16, 1981. In light of the recent neo-Nazi, white power and alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Newsweekis republishing the story. Charles Benjamin, a leader of the Jewish community in his quiet, suburban New Jersey town, came home to find bright red swastikas painted on his back door. The outdoor furniture had been dumped into the pool. The mailbox had been looted. “My knees buckled,” Benjamin later told a television interviewer. “I sat down on the ground, not believing that this could happen in… my little patch in the United States. “Anti-Semitism is an ancient story that is suddenly making news across the United States. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reported 377 anti-Semitic “episodes” in 1980, a nearly threefold increase in one year. Most of these sporadic incidents involved little more than scrawled graffiti or vandalism, but there were also 10cases of arson, four fire-bombings and several death threats. No one has been killed or seriously injured, and no evidence suggests a campaign of any scale; most of the incidents have been juvenile pranks. Yet many American Jews are worried. “Hitler started with a handful of people and paint brushes,” says Jeffrey Maas of the ADL in New Jersey. And many government officials agree that the incidents cannot be shrugged off. “There is a tendency… to treat incidents of anti-Semitic or racial vandalism as isolated acts of mischief,” warns New Jersey Attorney General John J. Degnan. “Unfortunately … these acts may represent deep-seated racial and religious hatred.” To combat the flurry of anti-Semitic incidents, Degnan and other law-enforcement officials around the country have stepped up their investigations, often forming special police and prosecution units. Many Jewish leaders have begun holding seminars on bigotry and rallies against anti-Semitism, such as one that drew 3,000 people in California’s San Fernando Valley a fortnight ago. Not satisfied with these steps, Jewish militants have redoubled their own controversial efforts at self-defensepatrolling Jewish neighborhoods and training Jews in the use of high-powered rifles and pistols. Some Jewish organizations are reluctant to read too much into the new statistics of anti-Semitism, noting that vandalism and violent crime are on the rise generally. “It will take another year of monitoring to find out what the numbers actually mean,” says a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee in New York. Other Jews see the low-level violence and harassment as part of a larger pattern. With mounting alarm, they note the renewed organizing efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party, the tone of some of the criticism of Israel in the United Nations and above all the bloody attacks on Jews in several European cities last year. “There is a feeling,” says Murray Wood, an executive of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, “that all roads somehow lead to Auschwitz.” Daily Emails and Alerts – Get the best of Newsweek delivered to your inbox Anti-Semitism in the United States today hardly compares in virulence with the anti-Jewish attitudes and actions in the 1920s and 1930s. Then, Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent (circulation: 700,000) ran anti-Semitic diatribes with headlines such as JEWISH GAMBLERS CORRUPT AMERICAN BASEBALL. More damaging, unstated quotas and restrictions kept Jews out of schools, jobs, neighborhoods and hotels. Today, most such barriers have fallen, and many public-opinion polls show a continuing decline in prejudice against Jews. In one survey last year, for example, only 8 percent of those questioned thought Jews had “too much political influence.” But other polls indicate a persistent suspicion and distaste for Jews as “pushy, clannish, unethical.” In Anti-Semitism in America, published two years ago, authors Charles Y. Glock and Harold E. Quinley reported that a third of Americans share such negative attitudesabout the same number, according to a more recent poll, that suspect Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to the United States. Alan Sandler and his bride, Zipporah, had just returned from their honeymoon in New York City. The mailbox of their Cranston, R.I. home was brimming with congratulatory cards. One was decorated with two lovebirds on the front. But inside was a swastika and the words. “We are back. ” Many experts blame the nation’s economic problems for the new signs of anti-Semitism. “Times of distress, social unrest and economic depression [are] often preliminary to outbreaks of anti-Semitism,” explains the Rev. Edward H. Flannery, author of another book on the subject, Anguish of the Jews. In hard times people find it comforting to have a scape-goat, Flannery says, “And they always look in the direction of the Jews.” In the spotlight of full media coverage, one episode often leads to others. Says New York City police official Patrick J. Murphy: “The incidents feed off each other. The kids read about themselves…and any dope can see himself immortalized.” In three days last month, officials at the University of Florida in Gainesville found thirteen examples of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus. After the wife of university President Robert Marston spoke out forcefully against such bigotry, her telephone rang. “This is the Florida-wide organization of Hitler,” said the caller. “I am going to kill you.” In fact few of the reported incidents seem directly connected with extremist groups. “If it were more organized,” says Long Island ADL director Melvin Cooperman, “we could zero in and nail them.” But both the Nazi Party and the Klan have run avowedly anti-Semitic candidates for public officewith disturbing success. Harold Covington, 27, chairman of the National Socialist Party of America in North Carolina, won more than 43 percent of the vote in the state’s Republican primary for attorney general last year. The rise of racist groups also seems to create a climate favorable to individual extremists and a certain public tolerance for isolated incidents. The dramatic growth of Christian fundamentalismand Moral Majority politicsmay also spur anti-Semitism. Just last week, the Rev. Dan C. Fore, Moral Majority leader in New York City, told a reporter: “Jews have a God-given ability to make money, almost a supernatural ability…. They control this city.” Even without such stereotyping, the fundamentalist emphasis on “Christian politics” and efforts to convert Jews are threatening, says William Gralnick of the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta. “What it says is that the Jewish faith is not a valid path to salvation; it tends to separate us from grace.” Last year in Macon, Georgia, says Gralnick, Protestant ministers refused to speak out when the head of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” It was shortly after 1 a. m. when two men drove up to the synagogue in Temple City, California.They pried open a window, poured gasoline over a wooden pew and set the synagogue ablaze. Seven stained-glass windows were shattered and other damage to Temple Beth David was estimated at $180, 000. The incident was followed” by nearly 30 more anti-Semitic outbursts in the Los Angeles area over the last eight weeks. The randomness of anti-Semitic incidents, and the absence of links to organized groups in most cases, makes prosecution difficult. In the 377 cases reported by the ADL last year, only 20 arrests were made. Even when there are arrests, the charge is normally a misdemeanor State assemblymen in California and New Jersey have proposed legislation that would stiffen penalties for religiously motivated vandalism. “When a cross is burned or a swastika is smeared, the terror it generates is as intense as from a bomb threat,” says New Jersey Assemblyman Byron Baer. But some judges prefer to sentence juvenile perpetrators to study Jewish history and the Nazi Holocaust. Said one such youth: “I am beginning to realize through these books the great deal of suffering I must have caused.” Many Jewish organizations have escalated their own programs of public education. Last week the ADLworking with the Urban League and the U.S. Justice Departmentsponsored a conference in Providence, Rhode Island, on “extremist groups” and another in Boston on “religious and racial harassment.” About 1,500 people attended an anti-Nazi rally last month at the Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles, itself a target of three anti-Semitic attacks earlier this year. But education didn’t seem to do much good at Great Neck North Senior High School in New York. Though the school has offered courses on the Holocaust for five years, vandals spray-painted the walls with “KKK” and “Hi’Hitler” last October, And police in many areas reported a flurry of similar anti-Semitic incidents after the “Holocaust” series on television. Such incidents have only encouraged militant groups like the Jewish Defense League to expand their often provocative paramilitary operations. The JDL plans to offer 10-week courses in “warfare tactics” at secret sites in southern California, Michigan and upstate New York. Most mainstream Jewish organizations see these steps as an inflammatory overreaction. But equally dangerous, they agree, would be simply to ignore the current upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents. “There’s no reason to panic; the country is not being overrun byanti-Semites,” says Art Teitelbaum of the Anti-Defamation League in Miami. “But it is something to be vigilant about.” White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12. Neo-Nazis were among those present. Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

A Gellman the Dog sighting – Plattsburgh Press Republican

Q: Hello, Rabbi Gellman, My name is N … and a friend recently gave me a copy of your column from the Raleigh News & Observer, May 7, 2017. I am a puppy walker for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and I was the starting home for a puppy named Gellman in the summer of 2014. I knew he had a sponsor, but never knew the origin of his name. In August of 2014 he went to a puppy walker at the University of Georgia named Kaitlyn. I was wondering if this is the puppy your congregants sponsored. Kaitlyn and I have a lot of pictures of this sweet boy if you are interested. A: When I retired from my synagogue in 2014, my dear congregants sponsored a guide dog puppy in my honor and gave him the name “Gellman.” Although at first I was a little confused to know that in our world there is now a Gellman the Rabbi as well as a Gellman the Dog, I was also a bit embarrassed to know that somewhere someone was shouting, “Gellman! Don’t pee on the rug!” Nevertheless, I was happy and proud to continue my support for this terrific and holy organization. I lost track of Gellman the dog and I am sure that your kind note was a message from God (and Gellman). Please send pictures. I think the odds of there being two guide dogs with the name “Gellman” is in the zero range, and the timeline matches. I hope Gellman is helping someone see. That is all I have ever tried to do in my own way. Thank you and God bless you! Q: I was raised Catholic. Everything I read in the Bible (teaches) that everyone was Jewish. How did I become Catholic? Where did (Catholicism) come from? I asked several people, including a priest and haven’t gotten an answer. I think it would make a great article. From J on Long Island, N.Y. A: Well dear J, let’s begin by correcting your misapprehension that everyone in the Bible is Jewish. In addition to the big empire guys (Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Philistines) there were also a lot of smaller non-Jewish tribes in biblical times like the Jebusites, Hittites, Amalekites, and a variety of other and assorted “ites”). However, on the line you are concerned about, the Jewish people began around 1,800 years before zero in the time of Abraham. They left Egypt in the Exodus with Moses around 1,200 BCE and the kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon occurred around the year 1,000 BCE. Jesus comes into the picture obviously around the year zero. It is true that Jesus and all his disciples were Jewish. In fact whenever people try to convert me to Christianity I ask them, “Was Jesus Jewish?” They answer “Yes” and so I say, “Well, if it was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me!” The split between Judaism and Christianity occurred after Jesus’ death with the Apostle Paul in the first century. Paul found that the Jewish laws concerning circumcision and not eating pork had severely limited his work in converting gentiles to Christianity and he began to preach that keeping such ritual provisions of Jewish law were no longer necessary for new Christians. This violation of Jewish law plus of course the claim that Jesus was the Messiah caused a final split between Paul and the Jerusalem Church led by James, and with it a final split between Judaism and Christianity. This is the period of what is called the Apostolic Church and it lasted until 325 when the Emperor Constantine under the influence of his mother Helena declared Christianity to be the religion of the Roman Empire. The whole Roman Empire was transformed from an empire that fed Christians to lions to an empire that worshiped Jesus as God. This gigantic empire caused Christianity to split into five sees or districts by the mid-6th century called the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. With the rise of the Islamic Empire in the 7th century the Eastern sees that were within the Islamic empire were cut off from Rome, which became the center of the Roman Catholic church. In the 16th century the Christian world split into Catholicism and Protestantism and that is how the Christian world looks today. In the meantime the Jewish world slowly grew on its own and eventually became the target of anti-Semitism, which was condemned by Pope John XXIII in the 1960s as a sin that was rejected from all Catholic teachings. All of this made possible the God Squad and my friendship with Father Tom Hartman, and all this enabled us to write a column where I could explain to you where all the Christians came from and where all the Jews went to. Send all questions and comments to the God Squad via email at godsquadquestion@aol.com.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

American Cyrus: How Desperate Christians Anointed Trump – HuffPost

As best anyone can tell, the nonsense began with Lance Wallnau, an evangelical Christian and self-styled leadership coach who boasts a doctorate in theology from an institution that awards academic credit for life experience such as hobbies, extensive reading, and television courses. As Wallnau tells it, the Lord spoke to him in early 2016, revealing that Donald Trump, then a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, was a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness. A bit later, God followed up with another message for Wallnau: a vision of Trump as the 45th president and a command to read Isaiah 45. Forty-fifth president, 45th chapter. Get it? The section in the Hebrew bibles Book of Isaiah to which Wallnau was summoned lauds the Persian king Cyrus the Greats release of the Jews from their so-called Babylonian Captivity. The Jewish kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC. Jerusalem was razed and its king and people hauled off to Babylon. Fifty years later, after the Babylonians were in turn conquered by Cyrus, he allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem. Isaiah (or, more accurately, the unknown author of chapter 45; there are most likely 3 different authors writing during different time periods) was ecstatic at this outcome, going so far as to praise Cyrus as mashiah, the anointed one. Believing that God had stirred up the pagan Cyrus to justice, Isaiah rapturously proclaimed that God could use even an ungodly man like the Persian king for good. And there it was: the birth of the nonsense. Wallnau immediately concluded that God had revealed to him that Trump was the new Cyrus who would lead American exiles back to the promised land. Morally corrupt though he was, Trump was clearly Gods anointed instrument in a cosmic battle against the demonic agenda imperiling America. Wallnau was so excited by the revelation that he furiously churned out and hurriedly published his own prophetic book, God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling. Wallnaus screechy, exclamation point-laden tome appeared just a month before the November 2016 election. His announcement that Trump was Gods instrument was an instant hit with Trump-leaning Christians (and a handful of orthodox Jews) who were nonetheless uncomfortable with the candidates sordid history of sexual groping, mockery of the disabled, fetish for deception, shameless self-promotion, shady business dealings, willingness to throw his own people under the bus, pettiness and petulance in speeches and tweets, disrespect for imprisoned and slain GIs, character assassination of the press, penchant for bullying, and obvious indifference to Christianity. God used Cyrus, they shouted with relief, and God can use Trump, too! So they swallowed their reservations, overlooked everything repugnant in Trumps character, and put him in the White House to redeem America and stand up for Christian values. Thats when the anointing of Trump as the American Cyrus transitioned from nonsense to tragedy. The character flaws that sat uneasily with his evangelical supporters have been on full display during the 7 months of his administration, and have ripped the nation apart. If God really is using Trump to restore America, Gods taking his own sweet time going about it. But in truth, Trump is no Cyrus, and Christians who voted for him out of either genuine hope or cynical pretense that he is made a bargain with the devil. Regardless of their intentions, they embraced one of the most dangerously expedient principles going, and one that in other circumstances the vast majority of them wouldve surely condemned: the end justifies the means. Opposition to abortion and same-gender marriage was the deciding issue for many conservative Christians when they stepped into the voting booth to cast their ballots for Trump: that was the end. They were willing to hold their noses and even pretend enthusiasm for a candidate whose moral flaws comprise a catalog of virtually everything Christianity is not: the means. I get that this couldnt have been a pleasant position for them to be in, and that the Cyrus nonsense propagated by Wallnau made the bitter pill go down just a bit easier. But overlookingnot to mention whitewashingthe presidents egregious moral failings by insisting that God can write straight with Trumps crooked lines is more of a desperate Hail Mary pass than an act of faith, as bitter months of his broken leadership have demonstrated. The takeaway is what we all know in our heart of hearts, even if we dont always live by it: No end ever justifies corrupt or evil means. That a large percentage of the nations Christians ignore this truth by defending Trump is a scandal that will haunt American Christianity for decades to come. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Jews, Christians, and the Law – Commentary Magazine

And yet realism is currently in crisis. Realism was once a sophisticated intellectual tradition that represented the best in American statecraft. Eminent Cold War realists were broadly supportive of Americas postwar internationalism and its stabilizing role in global affairs, even as they stressed the need for prudence and restraint in employing U.S. power. Above all, Cold Warera realism was based on a hard-earned understanding that Americans must deal with the geopolitical realities as they are, rather than retreat to the false comfort provided by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. More recently, however, those who call themselves realists have lost touch with this tradition. Within academia, realism has become synonymous with a preference for radical retrenchment and the deliberate destruction of arrangements that have fostered international stability and prosperity for decades. Within government, the Trump administration appears to be embracing an equally misguided version of realisman approach that masquerades as shrewd realpolitik but is likely to prove profoundly damaging to American power and influence. Neither of these approaches is truly realist, as neither promotes core American interests or deals with the world as it really is. The United States surely needs the insights that an authentically realist approach to global affairs can provide. But first, American realism will have to undergo a reformation. Realism has taken many forms over the years, but it has always been focused on the imperatives of power, order, and survival in an anarchic global arena. The classical realistsThucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbesconsidered how states and leaders should behave in a dangerous world in which there was no overarching morality or governing authority strong enough to regulate state behavior. The great modern realiststhinkers and statesmen such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, and Henry Kissingergrappled with the same issues during and after the catastrophic upheaval that characterized the first half of the 20th century. They argued that it was impossible to transcend the tragic nature of international politics through good intentions or moralistic maxims, and that seeking to do so would merely empower the most ruthless members of the international system. They contended, on the basis of bitter experience, that aggression and violence were always a possibility in international affairs, and that states that desired peace would thus have to prepare for war and show themselves ready to wield coercive power. Most important, realist thinkers tended to place a high value on policies and arrangements that restrained potential aggressors and created a basis for stability within an inherently competitive global environment. For this very reason, leading Cold Warera realists advocated a robust American internationalism as the best way of restraining malevolent actors and preventing another disastrous global crack-upone that would inevitably reach out and touch the United States, just as the world wars had. Realist thinkers understood that America was uniquely capable of stabilizing the international order and containing Soviet power after World War II, even as they disagreedsometimes sharplyover the precise nature and extent of American commitments. Moreover, although Cold War realists recognized the paramount role of power in international affairs, most also recognized that U.S. power would be most effective if harnessed to a compelling concept of American moral purpose and exercised primarily through enduring partnerships with nations that shared core American values. An idealistic policy undisciplined by political realism is bound to be unstable and ineffective, the political scientist Robert Osgood wrote. Political realism unguided by moral purpose will be self-defeating and futile. Most realists were thus sympathetic to the major initiatives of postwar foreign policy, such as the creation of U.S.-led military alliances and the cultivation of a thriving Western community composed primarily of liberal democracies. At the same time, Cold War realists spoke of the need for American restraint. They worried that Americas liberal idealism, absent a sense of limits, would carry the country into quixotic crusades. They thought that excessive commitments at the periphery of the global system could weaken the international order against its radical challengers. They believed that a policy of outright confrontation toward the Kremlin could be quite dangerous. Absolute security for one power means absolute insecurity for all others, Kissinger wrote. Realists therefore advocated policies meant to temper American ambition and the most perilous aspects of superpower competition. They supportedand, in Kissingers case, ledarms-control agreements and political negotiations with Moscow. They often objected to Americas costliest interventions in the Third World. Kennan and Morgenthau were among the first mainstream figures to go public with opposition to American involvement in Vietnam (Morgenthau did so in the pages of Commentary in May 1962). During the Cold War, then, realism was a supple, nuanced doctrine. It emphasized the need for balance in American statecraftfor energetic action blended with moderation, for hard-headed power politics linked to a regard for partnerships and values. It recognized that the United States could best mitigate the tragic nature of international relations by engaging with, rather than withdrawing from, an imperfect world. This nuance has now been lost. Academics have applied the label of realism to dangerous and unrealistic policy proposals. More disturbing and consequential still, the distortion of realism seems to be finding a sympathetic hearing in the Trump White House. Consider the state of academic realism. Todays most prominent self-identified realistsStephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Christopher Layneadvocate a thoroughgoing U.S. retrenchment from global affairs. Whereas Cold War realists were willing to see the world as it wasa world that required unequal burden-sharing and an unprecedented, sustained American commitment to preserve international stabilityacademic realists now engage in precisely the wishful thinking that earlier realists deplored. They assume that the international order can essentially regulate itself and that America will not be threatened byand can even profit froma more unsettled world. They thus favor discarding the policies that have proven so successful over the decades in providing a congenial international climate. Why has academic realism gone astray? If the Cold War brokered the marriage between realists and American global engagement, the end of the Cold War precipitated a divorce. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. policymakers continued to pursue an ambitious global agenda based on preserving and deepening both Americas geopolitical advantage and the liberal international order. For many realists, however, the end of the Cold War removed the extraordinary threatan expansionist USSRthat had led them to support such an agenda in the first place. Academic realists argued that the humanitarian interventions of the 1990s (primarily in the former Yugoslavia) reflected capriciousness rather than a prudent effort to deal with sources of instability. Similarly, they saw key policy initiativesespecially NATO enlargement and the Iraq war of 2003as evidence that Washington was no longer behaving with moderation and was itself becoming a destabilizing force in global affairs. These critiques were overstated, but not wholly without merit. The invasion and occupation of Iraq did prove far costlier than expected, as the academic realists had indeed warned. NATO expansioneven as it successfully promoted stability and liberal reform in Eastern Europedid take a toll on U.S.Russia relations. Having lost policy arguments that they thought they should have won, academic realists decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater, calling for a radical reformulation of Americas broader grand strategy. The realists preferred strategy has various namesoffshore balancing, restraint, etc.but the key components and expectations are consistent. Most academic realists argue that the United States should pare back or eliminate its military alliances and overseas troop deployments, going back onshore only if a hostile power is poised to dominate a key overseas region. They call on Washington to forgo costly nation-building and counterinsurgency missions overseas and to downgrade if not abandon the promotion of democracy and human rights. Academic realists argue that this approach will force local actors in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia to assume greater responsibility for their own security, and that the United States can manipulatethrough diplomacy, arms sales, and covert actionthe resulting rivalries and conflicts to prevent any single power from dominating a key region and thereby threatening the United States. Should these calculations prove faulty and a hostile power be poised to dominate, Washington can easily swoop in to set things aright, as it did during the world wars. Finally, if even this calculation were to prove faulty, realists argue that America can ride out the danger posed by a regional hegemon because the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Americas nuclear deterrent provide geopolitical immunity against existential threats. Todays academic realists portray this approach as hard-headed, economical strategy. But in reality, it represents a stark departure from classical American realism. During the Cold War, leading realists placed importance on preserving international stability and heeded the fundamental lesson of World Wars I and IIthat the United States, by dint of its power and geography, was the only actor that could anchor international arrangements. Todays academic realists essentially argue that the United States should dismantle the global architecture that has undergirded the international orderand that Washington can survive and even thrive amid the ensuing disorder. Cold War realists helped erect the pillars of a peaceful and prosperous world. Contemporary academic realists advocate tearing down those pillars and seeing what happens. The answer is nothing good. Contemporary academic realists sit atop a pyramid of faulty assumptions. They assume that one can remove the buttresses of the international system without that system collapsing, and that geopolitical burdens laid down by America will be picked up effectively by others. They assume that the United States does not need the enduring relationships that its alliances have fostered, and that it can obtain any cooperation it needs via purely transactional interactions. They assume that a world in which the United States ceases to promote liberal values will not be a world less congenial to Americas geopolitical interests. They assume that revisionist states will be mollified rather than emboldened by an American withdrawal, and that the transition from U.S. leadership to another global system will not unleash widespread conflict. Finally, they assume that if such upheaval does erupt, the United States can deftly manage and even profit from it, and that America can quickly move to restore stability at a reasonable cost should it become necessary to do so. The founding generation of American realists had learned not to indulge in wishfully thinking that the international order would create or sustain itself, or that the costs of responding to rampant international disorder would be trivial. Todays academic realists, by contrast, would stake everything on a leap into the unknown. For many years, neither Democratic nor Republican policymakers were willing to make such a leap. Now, however, the Trump administration appears inclined to embrace its own version of foreign-policy realism, one that bears many similarities toand contains many of the same liabilities asthe academic variant. One of the least academic presidents in American history may, ironically, be buying into some of the most misguided doctrines of the ivory tower. Any assessment of the Trump administration must remain somewhat provisional, given that Donald Trumps approach to foreign policy is still a work in progress. Yet Trump and his administration have so far taken multiple steps to outline a three-legged-stool vision of foreign policy that they explicitly describe as realist in orientation. Like modern-day academic realism, however, this vision diverges drastically from the earlier tradition of American realism and leads to deeply problematic policy. The first leg is President Trumps oft-stated view of the international environment as an inherently zero-sum arena in which the gains of other countries are Americas losses. The postWorld War II realists, by contrast, believed that the United States could enjoy positive-sum relations with like-minded nations. Indeed, they believed that America could not enjoy economic prosperity and national security unless its major trading partners in Europe and Asia were themselves prosperous and stable. The celebrated Marshall Plan was high-mindedly generous in the sense of addressing urgent humanitarian needs in Europe, yet policymakers very much conceived of it as serving Americas parochial economic and security interests at the same time. President Trump, however, sees a winner and loser in every transaction, and believeswith respect to allies and adversaries alikethat it is the United States who generally gets snookered. The reality at the core of Trumps realism is his stated belief that America is exploited by every nation in the world virtually. This belief aligns closely with the second leg of the Trump worldview: the idea that all foreign policy is explicitly competitive in nature. Whereas the Cold War realists saw a Western community of states, President Trump apparently sees a dog-eat-dog world where America should view every transactioneven with allieson a one-off basis. The world is not a global community but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage, wrote National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn in an op-ed. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it. To be sure, Cold War realists were deeply skeptical about one worldism and appeals to a global community. But still they saw the United States and its allies as representing the free world, a community of common purpose forged in the battle against totalitarian enemies. The Trump administration seems to view U.S. partnerships primarily on an ad hoc basis, and it has articulated something akin to a what have you done for me lately approach to allies. The Cold War realistswho understood how hard it was to assemble effective alliances in the first placewould have found this approach odd in the extreme. Finally, there is the third leg of Trumps realism: an embrace of amorality. President Trump has repeatedly argued that issues such as the promotion of human rights and democracy are merely distractions from winning in the international arena and a recipe for squandering scarce resources. On the presidents first overseas trip to the Middle East in May, for instance, he promised not to lecture authoritarian countries on their internal behavior, and he made clear his intent to embrace leaders who back short-term U.S. foreign-policy goals no matter how egregious their violations of basic human rights and political freedoms. Weeks later, on a visit to Poland, the president did speak explicitly about the role that shared values played in the Wests struggle against Communism during the Cold War, and he invoked the hope of every soul to live in freedom. Yet his speech contained only the most cursory reference to Russiathe authoritarian power now undermining democratic governance and security throughout Europe and beyond. Just as significant, Trump failed to mention that Poland itselfuntil a few years ago, a stirring exemplar of successful transition from totalitarianism to democracyis today sliding backwards toward illiberalism (as are other countries within Europe and the broader free world). At first glance, this approach might seem like a modern-day echo of Cold War debates about whether to back authoritarian dictators in the struggle against global Communism. But, as Jeane Kirkpatrick explained in her famous 1979 Commentary essay Dictatorships and Double Standards, and as Kissinger himself frequently argued, Cold War realists saw such tactical alliances of convenience as being in the service of a deeper values-based goal: the preservation of an international environment favoring liberty and democracy against the predations of totalitarianism. Moreover, they understood that Americans would sustain the burdens of global leadership over a prolonged period only if motivated by appeals to their cherished ideals as well as their concrete interests. Trump, for his part, has given only faint and sporadic indications of any appreciation of the traditional role of values in American foreign policy. Put together, these three elements have profound, sometimes radical, implications for Americas approach to a broad range of global issues. Guided by this form of realism, the Trump administration has persistently chastised and alienated long-standing democratic allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific and moved closer to authoritarians in Saudi Arabia, China, and the Philippines. The presidents body language alone has been striking: Trumps summits have repeatedly showcased conviviality with dictators and quasi-authoritarians and painfully awkward interactions with democratic leaders such as Germanys Angela Merkel. Similarly, Trump has disdained international agreements and institutions that do not deliver immediate, concrete benefits for the United States, even if they are critical to forging international cooperation on key issues or advancing longer-term goods. As Trump has put it, he means to promote the interests of Pittsburgh, not Paris, and he believes that those interests are inherently at odds with each other. To be fair, President Trump and his proxies do view the war on terror as a matter of defending both American security interests and Western civilizations values against the jihadist onslaught. This was a key theme of Trumps major address in Warsaw. Yet the administration has not explained how this civilizational mindset would inform any other aspect of its foreign policywith the possible exception of immigration policyand resorts far more often to the parochial lens of nationalism. The Trump administration seems to be articulating a vision in which America has no lasting friends, little enduring concern with values, and even less interest in cultivating a community of like-minded nations that exists for more than purely deal-making purposes. The administration has often portrayed this as clear-eyed realism, even invoking the founding father of realism, Thucydides, as its intellectual lodestar. This approach does bear some resemblance to classical realism: an unsentimental approach to the world with an emphasis on the competitive aspects of the international environment. And insofar as Trump dresses down American allies, rejects the importance of values, and focuses on transactional partnerships, his version of realism has quite a lot in common with the contemporary academic version. Daniel Drezner of Tufts University has noted the overlap, declaring in a Washington Post column, This is [academic] realisms moment in the foreign policy sun. Randall Schweller of Ohio State University, an avowed academic realist and Trump supporter, has been even more explicit, noting approvingly that Trumps foreign-policy approach essentially falls under the rubric of off-shore balancing as promoted by ivory-tower realists in recent decades. Yet one suspects that the American realists who helped create the postWorld War II order would not feel comfortable with either the academic or Trumpian versions of realism as they exist today. For although both of these approaches purport to be about power and concrete results, both neglect the very things that have allowed the United States to use its power so effectively in the past. Both the academic and Trump versions of realism ignore the fact that U.S. power is most potent when it is wielded in concert with a deeply institutionalized community of like-minded nations. Alliances are less about addition and subtractionthe math of the burden-sharing emphasized by Trump and the academic realistsand more about multiplication, leveraging U.S. power to influence world events at a fraction of the cost of unilateral approaches. The United States would be vastly less powerful and influential in Europe and Central Asia without NATO; it would encounter far greater difficulties in rounding up partners to wage the ongoing war in Afghanistan or defeat the Islamic State; it would find itself fighting alonerather than with some of the worlds most powerful partnersfar more often. Likewise, without its longstanding treaty allies in Asia, the United States would be at an almost insurmountable disadvantage vis–vis revisionist powers in that region, namely China. Both versions of realism also ignore the fact that America has been able to exercise its enormous power with remarkably little global resistance precisely because American leaders, by and large, have paid sufficient regard to the opinions of potential partners. Of course, every administration has sought to put America first, but the pursuit of American self-interest has proved most successful when it enjoys the acquiescence of other states. Likewise, the academic and Trump versions of realism too frequently forget that America draws power by supporting values with universal appeal. This is why every American president from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama has recognized that a more democratic world is likely to be one that is both ideologically and geopolitically more congenial to the United States. Most important, both the academic and Trump versions of realism ignore the fact that the classical postWorld War II realists deliberately sought to overcome the dog-eat-dog world that modern variants take as a given. They did so by facilitating cooperation within the free world, suppressing the security competitions that had previously led to cataclysmic wars, creating the basis for a thriving international economy, and thereby making life a little less nasty, brutish, and short for Americans as well as for vast swaths of the worlds population. If realism is about maximizing power, effectiveness, and security in a competitive global arena, then neither the academic nor the Trump versions of realism merits the name. And if realism is meant to reflect the world as it is, both of these versions are deeply deficient. This is a tragedy. For if ever there were a moment for an informed realism, it would be now, as the strategic horizon darkens and a more competitive international environment reemerges. There is still time for Trump and his team to adapt, and realism can still make a constructive contribution to American policy. But first it must rediscover its rootsand absorb the lessons of the past 70 years. A reformed realism should be built upon seven bedrock insights, which President Trump would do well to embrace. First, American leadership remains essential to restraining global disorder. Todays realists channel the longstanding American hope that there would come a time when the United States could slough off the responsibilities it assumed after World War II and again become a country that relies on its advantageous geography to keep the world at arms length. Yet realism compels an awareness that America is exceptionally suited to the part it has played for nearly four generations. The combination of its power, geographic location, and values has rendered America uniquely capable of providing a degree of global order in a way that is more reassuring than threatening to most of the key actors in the international system. Moreover, given that today the most ambitious and energetic international actors besides the United States are not liberal democracies but aggressive authoritarian powers, an American withdrawal is unlikely to produce multipolar peace. Instead, it is likely to precipitate the upheaval that U.S. engagement and activism have long been meant to avert. As a corollary, realists must also recognize that the United States is unlikely to thrive amid such upheaval; it will probably find that the disorder spreads and ultimately implicates vital American interests, as was twice the case in the first half of the 20th century. Second, true realism recognizes the interdependence of hard and soft power. In a competitive world, there is no substitute for American hard power, and particularly for military muscle. Without guns, there will notover the long termbe butter. But military power, by itself, is an insufficient foundation for American strategy. A crude reliance on coercion will damage American prestige and credibility in the end; hard power works best when deployed in the service of ideas and goals that command widespread international approval. Similarly, military might is most effective when combined with the softer tools of development assistance, foreign aid, and knowledge of foreign societies and cultures. The Trump administration has sought to eviscerate these nonmilitary capabilities and bragged about its hard-power budget; it would do better to understand that a balance between hard and soft power is essential. Third, values are an essential part of American realism. Of course, the United States must not undertake indiscriminate interventions in the name of democracy and human rights. But, fortunately, no serious policymakernot Woodrow Wilson, not Jimmy Carter, not George W. Bushhas ever embraced such a doctrine. What most American leaders have traditionally recognized is that, on balance, U.S. interests will be served and U.S. power will be magnified in a world in which democracy and human rights are respected. Ronald Reagan, now revered for his achievements in improving Americas global position, understood this point and made the selective promotion of democracyprimarily through nonmilitary meansa key part of his foreign policy. While paying due heed to the requirements of prudence and the limits of American power, then, American realists should work to foster a climate in which those values can flourish. Fourth, a reformed realism requires aligning relations with the major powers appropriatelyespecially today, as great-power tensions rise. That means appreciating the value of institutions that have bound the United States to some of the most powerful actors in the international system for decades and thereby given Washington leadership of the worlds dominant geopolitical coalition. It means not taking trustworthy allies for granted or picking fights with them gratuitously. It also means not treating actual adversaries, such as Vladimir Putins Russia, as if they were trustworthy partners (as Trump has often talked of doing) or as if their aggressive behavior were simply a defensive response to American provocations (as many academic realists have done). A realistic approach to American foreign policy begins by seeing great-power relations through clear eyes. Fifth, limits are essential. Academic realists are wrong to suggest that values should be excised from U.S. policy; they are wrong to argue that the United States should pull back dramatically from the world. Yet they are right that good statecraft requires an understanding of limitsparticularly for a country as powerful as the United States, and particularly at a time when the international environment is becoming more contested. The United States cannot right every wrong, fix every problem, or defend every global interest. America can and should, however, shoulder more of the burden than modern academic and Trumpian realists believe. The United States will be effective only if it chooses its battles carefully; it will need to preserve its power for dealing with the most pressing threat to its national interests and the international orderthe resurgence of authoritarian challengeseven if that means taking an economy-of-force approach to other issues. Sixth, realists must recognize that the United States has not created and sustained a global network of alliances, international institutions, and other embedded relationships out of a sense of charity. It has done so because those relationships provide forums through which the United States can exercise power at a bargain-basement price. Embedded relationships have allowed the United States to rally other nations to support American causes from the Korean War to the counter-ISIS campaign, and have reduced the transaction costs of collective action to meet common threats from international terrorism to p.iracy. They have provided institutional megaphones through which the United States can amplify its diplomatic voice and project its influence into key issues and regions around the globe. If these arrangements did not exist, the United States would find itself having to create them, or acting unilaterally at far greater cost. If realism is really about maximizing American power, true realists ought to be enthusiastic about relationships and institutions that serve that purpose. Realists should adopt the approach that every postCold War president has embraced: that the United States will act unilaterally in defense of its interests when it must, but multilaterally with partners whenever it can. Finally, realism requires not throwing away what has worked in the past. One of the most astounding aspects of both contemporary academic realism and the Trumpian variant of that tradition is the cavalier attitude they display toward arrangements and partnerships that have helped produce a veritable golden age of international peace, stability, and liberalism since World War II, and that have made the United States the most influential and effective actor in the globe in the process. Of course, there have been serious and costly conflicts over the past decades, and U.S. policy has always been thoroughly imperfect. But the last 70 years have been remarkably good ones for U.S. interests and the global orderwhether one compares them with the 70 years before the United States adopted its global leadership role, or compares them with the violent disorder that would have emerged if America followed the nostrums peddled today under the realist label. A doctrine that stresses that importance of prudence and discretion, and that was originally conservative in its preoccupation with stability and order, ought not to pursue radical changes in American statecraft or embrace a come what may approach to the world. Rather, such a doctrine ought to recognize that true achievements are enormously difficult to come byand that the most realistic approach to American strategy would thus be to focus on keeping a good thing going.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Inherently American to be pro-Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Washington Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776, by Emanuel Leutze, 1851.. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons) The presidents of the USA, by far, have always taken a pro-Israel stance. From Unitarian president John Adams expressing his desire to see the Jews return to their land and establish a state, to Baptist president Harry S. Truman, who was the leader of the free world when he recognized the State of Israel in 1948, and all the way until Presbyterian President Donald J. Trump. Even through President Trump has disappointed on the embassy issue, he has nonetheless proven to be a true friend of the Jewish state, US-Israel relations have almost always been on the amicable side. While each leader may have had his own personal beliefs, the courage to implement them came from the Father of His Country. George Washington set a standard for his successors, and it was clearly made known in a letter he wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, following a visit there on August 17, 1790. May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid, he said. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy. Washingtons response was meant to further strengthen the ideology of separation of church and state and to strengthen the right of each individual to practice his or her religion. However, Washingtons treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country. Washington, baptized as a child into the Church of England, was a practicing Christian his whole life, but what exactly he practiced is still debated by scholars. He did live in a society influenced by the Puritans, who believed themselves to be like the Israelites fleeing Egypt, wandering into the vast and unknown wilderness and reaching the promised land of the New World. They used the Bible as their guide, adopted biblical customs, established biblical codes, such as observance of the Sabbath, and gave their children Hebrew names. As Washington wished for the freedom of the Jews in Newport and in the United States in general, he made it clear that this was his wish for all the Jewish people, and all nations. Since Washington asserted the principle of asylum [in general orders from April 18 1783] and wished that the Jewish people would find in America their ‘vine and fig tree’ [in his letter to the Newport congregation] it is safe to assert that he would have favored the existence of a justly established homeland for Jews in Israel, wrote Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, in his book George Washington & Israel. Washingtons views about Israel helped set the direction that American presidents have taken toward Israel until now, he wrote during the tenure of president Barack Obama. To learn more about the role of the Bible in history and the roots of Christian Zionism, check us out at @christian_jpost, on Facebook.com/jpostchristianworld/ and see the best of the Holy Land in The Jerusalem Post – Christian Edition monthly magazine. Share on facebook

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

A Message to all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists – HuffPost

I am tired of being Mr. Nice Guy! I immigrated from Syria in 1984 and became an American citizen in 1989. I bask in what this country offers from freedom to democracy to opportunity to dreams of a better life. And like you, I get to vote. My voice counts. As a matter of fact, I just voted for my governor in Alabama this week and then called my three children and screamed: I JUST VOTED. They know the ritual. They know their father gets extremely excited when he votes. For 18 years of my life, I have witnessed enough corruption in Syria to last a lifetime. Last night, I attended the Stand Against Hate march in downtown Birmingham, and I didnt see you racists there. I wanted to stick a small yellow flower in the front of your shotgun. Karim Shamsi-Basha I do have a message for you No matter what you do, we will not go away the people who see no skin color. No matter how much terror you inflict, we will not be scared the people who care about he poor. No matter how many people you injure, we will stay the course of reconciliation, tolerance, and love the people who help those who have not. And no matter how many people kill and scare and push and yell at, we will keep marching, we will keep protesting, and we will keep raising our voices until we are heard the people who want to live and let live. Heres a fact you may find delightful: Despite my being born in Damascus, I am more American than you are. You were raising Confederate flags in Charlottesville, a flag that stood for slavery and drove this country into its most gruesome war. You were also raising swastikas, a symbol that stands for the most horrific event where six million Jews perished. Neither of these symbols is a gathering symbol. They stand for death, inequality and horror. You are not a patriot. You use the ugly past to forge an uglier future. Tonight, I saw signs preaching love and compassion. I saw homemade posters colored by little ones hoping we leave them a decent planet to inhabit. I saw white hands holding black and brown hands. I saw blue smiles, hopeful eyes, and reverent bows. Karim Shamsi-Basha What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend would probably repeat. After all, we have one of you in the White House. The point is not whats taking place or whos insulting whom. The point is whats on the inside of our hearts and souls. Until that heart is sparkling with only love as the driver, we will again hear the echo of Charlottesville. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart gets rid of racism. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart squelches intolerance. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart crushes prejudice. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart tramples xenophobia. And we will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart silences bigotry. The human heart does not know racism when young, it learns racism later in life. Lets keep our heart young and innocent. My message to the neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Love is more powerful than you will ever be. Love will destroy you like it has destroyed your ancestors millions of times over the last few centuries. Even if it looks promising for a while, love will ultimately crush you. Love is mighty, effective and potent. I dare you to mess with it. For more, visit arabinalabama.com.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed


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