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Monday, August 31, 2009

Forward: Allah or Jesus

The Lubbock, TX forward 2 posts earlier reminded me of this and a few other forwards I've received over the years.

Here is one of the first of the Islam/terrorism emails I received as a result of 9/11, Iraq and other events of that time:

Allah or Jesus? By Rick Mattes Apr 6, 2004

Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their belief systems.

I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video.

After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.
When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked: "Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"

There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"

I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, "Yes."

I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven!"

The Imam was speechless.

I continued, "I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you one more question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and He wants you to be there, too?"

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.

Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the 'Diversification' training seminar were not happy with Rick's way of dealing with the Islamic Imam and exposing the truth about the Muslim's beliefs.

I think everyone in the U.S. should be required to read this, but with the liberal justice system, liberal media, and the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized. Please pass this on to all your e-mail contacts.

This is a true story and the author, Rick Mattes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry.


and a guy who talked to Mathes/Mattes (other websites listed as well):

I received this around 2003 (?) I think and responded to this one by simply linking to and copying and posting info from snopes. Why didn't I say that that guy is supposed to be Christian, as he calls Jesus his, so why does he have a problem with being his friend? We are supposed to love our enemies and I'm guessing that guy considers Muslims enemies.

The "friend" thing was offensive to me as a Christian. I am to love everyone and teach the truth. It is not my job to vilify and slander. It is insulting to me and to the Bible as well to frame the debate like this email- they want to kill you, follow Jesus instead. Besides this not being truthful, it belittles Christianity- it has so much more to offer.

Due to the liberal use of the word "liberal," I'm guessing this was taken from a conservative publication for mass distribution and immortalization online. I'm happy to say I haven't seen it again since that first time I saw it in my inbox.

It is the political debate that focuses on violence in Islam. Sometimes this, as well as other political tints, sneaks into the pulpit. Setting aside the question of the validity of the claim about the violence of Islam, the question of who wants to kill us shouldn't really matter to the Christian anyway (Matt 10:28). For me to believe a Christian presentation on Islam is not political, I'd need to see a comparison of beliefs that shows concern and respect for souls rather than an Islam=violence vs Christianity=peace type of deal that is typical. Political Islam that terrorists practice has a political agenda and so do Christians who use political Islam as a centerpiece for arguments.

It is what it is: Israel's PA-only Border Stamp

Contact your reps to oppose this policy:

And this is our "special relationship" with Israel in a nutshell. It is clearly more special for some than others. It's almost funny (stop that- no- stop that!- no-
stop that!- no)... if it weren't for all those people being denied food, water and rights in the OT because of this nonsense.

It makes me think of a bully in a schoolyard. The teacher kindly and repeatedly says stop and the bully keeps pounding kids into the sand.

Israel's not supposed to build settlements. It's not supposed to treat US citizens of Palestinian origin differently than other US citizens. But what can we do? "It is what it is," as Mr. Kelly says. When Iran or other countries mess with our citizens, we take action. With Israel- "it is what it is" - be it massacres, collective punishment, discrimination of our citizens. There are no consequences, no right, no wrong, no justice, no law. "It is what it is".

A follow-up on the PA-only stamp issued by Israel to U.S. citizens going into Israel, just to follow up on that. I saw that you guys released --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- something. You said that you’re engaged with the Government of Israel. Just more clarification. Have you complained to them about this specifically? Have you asked them to stop issuing it to your U.S. citizens, and do you consider it a violation of the Oslo Accords?
MR. KELLY: Oh, well, the latter – the latter issue that’s, I think, something that I probably would want somebody else to pronounce on if it’s a violation of the Oslo because I’m not familiar enough with the Oslo Accords to be able to make a judgment one way or the other.
As our note said last night, we have made it quite known to the Israeli Government, and this is, I think, really on the diplomatic level, that we expect all American citizens to be treated the same regardless of their national origin. And this kind of – these kinds of restrictions we consider unacceptable. And I’d refer you to the Israeli Government for – in terms of their --
QUESTION: So you don’t know if they’re going to stop doing it or not, or if you specifically asked them to stop issuing these specific stamps?
MR. KELLY: We have told them that we think this is – that we cannot accept this kind of practice.
QUESTION: Do you know at what level – do you know if – how many Americans have complained to the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem? How --
QUESTION: -- serious you consider this?
MR. KELLY: No. I’m not aware of the kind of numbers of – the number of people who have complained.
QUESTION: Different topic.
QUESTION: Wait, wait. Can I – can we go back? First of all, what does that mean we cannot accept this kind of practice? You also can’t accept, you know, continued building of settlements, and they seem to be doing that.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: So what exactly does that mean?
MR. KELLY: Well, it means that this kind of practice is something that the U.S. Government believes should not be done. This is not --
QUESTION: Yeah, but you say we can’t --
MR. KELLY: -- something that we can accept.
QUESTION: But it’s not – you have to accept it, if that’s what they’re doing.
MR. KELLY: Well --
QUESTION: What are you going to do if they don’t stop?
MR. KELLY: We will continue to protest.
QUESTION: But that won’t make any difference --
QUESTION: That – I mean, it’s not aLink question of whether you can accept it or not. They’re doing it.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
MR. KELLY: It is what it is. We don’t like the practice.

More on the border stamp:,8599,1917917,00.html

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Yes, it is not true. This is yet another viral email forward being passed through cyberspace "unchecked". There was one individual, no Muslims, there was no actual attack, and it was a prison, not a church of Christ building where the disturbance occurred. A disturbance at a prison. Go figure.

Please fact check your email forwards! We all believe things in email on occasion; it happens to the best of us! If snopes, hoaxslayer, or googling a sentence doesn't avail you of something, call or email the person/organization involved before passing something like this on. It not only is damaging to the group being falsely accused or talked about, it reflects poorly on Christians (in this case) and yourself!

Back to the email...
This happened in July, but it is making the email rounds (and church bulletin) the past few weeks. I saw it on a message board. Once on the internet, errors and all are immortalized, so I’m sure you’ll see this text again soon! But at least you won’t be duped.

For the clarifications and corrections:

And now..........

THE email forward:


Muslims disrupt prison ministry in Lubbock

This comes from an elder at Green Lawn Church of Christ in Lubbock.

For the last 8 years I, along with Robby Rhodes and Charles McGowan from the Green Lawn congregation have traveled to a prison every third Sunday to conduct bible studies, worship, visits and encourage the inmates who have become followers of Jesus Christ. The numbers are growing and we have been very encouraged with the work. However yesterday, we got a taste of what I believe is the future of Christianity in America .

Just before our assembly began about 15 inmates who have never been to our assembly showed up and asked if they could join us in our worship. Our Christian brothers welcomed them. As one of our brothers (who is an inmate) began the assembly several in the group, (who were Muslim) began to openly and rudely interrupt the assembly by asking questions and challenging the young Christian man who was trying to start the assembly by reading scripture. It became very apparent that these visitors did not come to listen but to interrupt and indoctrinate. They were starting to become belligerent and finally I stood up and told them that this was a Christian assembly for the purpose of worshiping the Creator of the Universe, and His Son, and that they were free to stay, learn and observe, but that it was neither the time nor place for such a public debate.

This seemed to calm them down only for the moment. The guard who was outside the room heard their shouting, stepped in and ordered the men to be quiet or leave. Later Robby Rhodes had to again address the Muslims because of their constant interruptions of the assembly. Later, when our brothers in Christ began passing the plates for the Lord’s Supper, the leader of the radical group grabbed a plate of bread, dumped it in his lap and told the whole assembly to “Eat this.”

At that point some of the Muslims came over to me and the other elders and started calling us Satan worshipers, white pigs and evil. They vowed to stop our preaching and teaching of Jesus. I thought, “How blessed we were to be verbally attacked because of the Name of Jesus.

Remember it was Jesus who said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11, 12). I believe that If it were not for the presence of the guard it would have become very violent, and possibly deadly. It will not surprise me that our continued visits will eventually lead to our being attacked and harmed.

Our guard was a female about the age of 50, and it is my firm belief that if those men had wanted to, they could have harmed or even killed us yesterday before she could have received the help needed to squelch the attacks. It is my conviction that yesterday was a glimpse of the future for all Christians in America . I also believe that any faith that is not deeply rooted in Jesus will not survive the future when the attacks come. Maybe this is God’s way of getting our minds back on the important things in the kingdom of His Dear Son . I have also concluded that we must pray for those who have been too deceived by the teachings of a man named Mohammed. I ask for prayers for me, not necessarily for my safety, but that God will continue to give me the boldness, wisdom and courage to continue preaching and teaching the gospel about Jesus Christ and Him crucified and the kingdom of God . All praise and Glory to Him.



Finally, some Christians will probably think I'm conceding something to "the Moslems" and some Muslims probably won't agree with my religious views that I may talk about next. Be that as it may, I think we can talk about Christian and Muslim beliefs among ourselves or with Muslims without the fearmongering. It is more profitable for all that way. I'm not minimizing the differences between Christianity and Islam or converting to Islam. I just want the facts. If you want to talk about the difference between Jesus in the Bible and the Quran, great. Just leave out "radical group" misnomer, irrational fear for ones life, opinions on "a glimpse of the future", etc.

"a glimpse of the future for Christians in America" - Really? How many of you have been prevented from worshiping or verbally attacked by Muslims here? Probably not nearly as many as the number of Muslims who have been attacked, verbally or otherwise in this country. That's just a guess, though.

There was a comment on the message board that I saw this on that this is easy to believe because this is a real danger given the way things are now. ??? This is the post 9/11 march to war on false pretenses garbage. We don't know Muslims, so we fear and hate them. It is a Cold War mentality. It is the same type of thing that allows Israel to be the eternal victim and hence it can do whatever it needs to do, even perpetrate acts of unthinkable violence on a large scale.

Also rather interesting is the timing of this blowup. Comments in response to this "article" in various places has been fear and concern about radicals and the "fact" that though Muslims appear peaceful, the Quran teaches hate and justifies violence in general and subjugation of women. Never mind that cherry picking in the Bible and ignoring certain text and context can and has brought some people to the same conclusion... Anyway, it's kind of funny (ironic) to hear this sort of talk during Ramadan-- during which they are to
"control anger, behave kindly, participate in community service, give to charity and generally help others,"* among other things. I don't get why Christians don't talk about these things more. If they did, seems like they'd have more of an opportunity to discuss salvation than in stirring up fear and talking about the more political issues- like "peace and freedom are being threatened by the growing influence of Islam."**

*= (quote from :

**= (quote from - Aug 23,2009 bulletin - a church bulletin is not the place for political commentary/opinion, IMO, clearly)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Family

Move over Birthers! This is not only crazy, but it’s true, too. I have been reading Sharlet’s book, The Family. Coincidentally, the recent Congressional sex scandals have brought this Family into the limelight again, so Democracy Now talked to Jeff Sharlet the other day. He distills his book into a summary better than I can possibly do it and adds more recent facts as well. He starts to go into the reach into the military after discussing the book and its hold on Congress. See the links below.

The Family. They have influenced politics here and abroad, strengthening our ties with crazy murderous dictators everywhere and all kinds of shady things thinly veiled as pushing prayer and Jesus plus nothing (that’s right, no Bible, not even Jesus’ teachings). This is not the Jesus you read about in the Bible. Their Jesus is a power hungry, proud, pro-bsiness, elitist, military leader whose adherents look to Suharto, Mao, Stalin, Hitler for their examples of power and influence and how to indoctrinate for Christ. Marital infidelity or a few massacres in your past (or present) doesn’t so much matter as a nod to this distorted Christ and a discussion in your prayer cell (Odd terminology? I thought so, but it’s par for that course) about how to get that deregulation passed, hate crimes legislation squashed, Iraq/Iran invaded, etc. Their “gospel” is about power and how to get more of it- thinly veiled as submission to their version of Jesus. After all, if the powerful “know Jesus” the love will just trickle down. That’s another thing, they think people just need love, not “hand outs”- not exactly Jesus’ example, but no matter- Scripture plays a very small role in the Family. This is disgusting. This is precisely why I value separation of church and state.

Some Christians worry about Islam (Islamofascism?) taking over. Personally, I would worry about this “Family” type of thing - it's way more prevalent than we realize and it's hijacked common sense, Christianity, and one or both parties in our political system. It’s bad for religion and the state both.

This is the Diane Rehm Show Sharlet was on about a year ago that got me interested:

This is yesterday’s piece with Sharlet on Democracy Now:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Congressional field trip courtesy of AIPAC

It's a few days old, but here it is:

These two items remind me of President Obama’s odd statement that struck me as at odds with American security. No matter how bold and decisive Obama is said to be with Israel, there won’t be peace until we wake up and realize our positions and actions go against international law and general commonn sense. We need to stand up for what’s right and shake Israel like a bad habit, if necessary. If we can be in harmony with law and friend to Israel, so be it.

Remarks by the President in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009:

“America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is
unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the
recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic
history that cannot be denied.”

I keep coming back to that word. Unbreakable?!


Headlines in Haaretz and other publications read: ‘Clinton slams evictions of Palestinians’

Here are her remarks:

"These actions are deeply regrettable. I have said before that the eviction of
families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with
Israeli obligations," Clinton told reporters on Monday.
"And I urge the
government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative
"Both sides have responsibilities to refrain from provocative
actions that can block the path toward a comprehensive peace agreement," the
chief US diplomat continued.
"Unilateral actions taken by either party cannot
be used to prejudge the outcome of negotiations. And they will not be recognised
as changing the status quo."

Hardly a slam, but the last sentence is a glimmer of hope compared to the usual slap on the wrist drivel that continually travels from Washington to Tel Aviv. Some think this and the settlement position Obama half-heartedly defends amounts to a rift. Perhaps they missed the Cairo speech- unbreakable- even if they bomb our ship, steal secrets and sell them back to us, spy on us...

Here is the real story, the proof that this is more than “regrettable” :


Apparently, a delegation of Republican Congressmen and later, Democrats, are going to Israel. Oh, and they will meet with Palestinians, too, but this is negligible since the stated mission is to improve relations with Israel (???). And to look at the challenges in the Middle East, especially those faced by Israel (???). Have I been missing something? Is Israel the victim, here? Are they under a brutal occupation that imprisons, assassinates, and kicks them out of their homes on a daily basis? By listening to Republicans like Cantor, you get a very different impression of the situation than what’s actually going on! Unbelievable! The guy’s hanging by a thread to reality concerning the Middle East. He might as well be an Israeli politician (far right hardliner, that is). You hear the exact same garbage from them.


Top US lawmakers to visit Israel, Palestinians

"…worried Obama has pressured Israel too much and demanded too little from the
Palestinians in return and not done enough to confront Iran."

--This guy has to be a spokesman for the Israeli government. Constantly trying to tie Iran to the Palestinian Israeli issues, trying to shift the attention away from broken Israeli promises to Iran.

"The purpose of the trip is to introduce to many members of Congress -- 25 of us
are going -- to the challenges on the ground in the Middle East, especially
those challenges faced by Israel," said the Virginia lawmaker.

--Sounds like an honest broker in the making, right? Sad. I guess it’s good they didn’t try and hide their motives. They are clear about who they want to understand.

--Challenges faced by Israel? You mean trying to look like the victim while oppressing millions of people? You could call that a challenge. That must be the PC term for lies, occupation, ethnic cleansing, subjugation, and apartheid. And here I was thinking Republicans weren’t into PC.

“Cantor said the Obama administration was wrong to demand Israel stop all
settlement activity in the occupied West Bank including annexed east Jerusalem,
which has drawn condemnation.”

--Wrong? Oh, that’s right. We did burn the Geneva Convention in our post 9/11 fury at Iraq/Afghanistan/Taliban/those A-rabs in general. It no longer exists. Human rights? No one deserves rights. You win them by force. Except that Jews have the ‘natural right’ to a state- their declaration of independence says so. And Americans- we have unalienable rights. Israel never cared much for international law anyway except the part of the resolution that recognized its creation. Sorry, Cantor, allowing Israel to build settlements just defies logic from every angle- peace, common sense, law.

"We are very concerned about the attention being given, and focus being placed,
on settlements and settlement growth when the real threat is the existential
threat that Israel faces from Iran, and the impending nuclearization of Iran,"
he said.

--Is this an Israeli official talking, here? I keep forgetting this guy is American. There is no thought to US interests even. Always with the threats to Israel, Saddam, Saddam, Saddam, and now the drumbeat is Iran, Iran, Iran. It is true that Iran is not exactly an ally, but the (stupid) belligerent confrontation Israel wants from us is what will cause the delicate relationship to turn nasty and draw the sort of showdown or war we are trying to avoid! Israel, I mean Congressman, get off our back on Iran!

--There is no attempt to look at the other side. What about the threats Israel poses and causes? Or does he honestly believe as the American Jew in the book I just finished reading that Jews don’t massacre. They are in fact the perpetual victims, regardless of circumstance. Because of the Holocaust, they cannot be blamed for anything; that would be criminal or anti-Semitic. Is this reality? Is it logical?

"We are also concerned about the emphasis on seeking concessions from Israel
without a simultaneous effort to get concessions from the Palestinians," said

--Somebody PLEASE tell me what to Palestinians have left to give?! They are fighting for their lives, livelihoods, and eventually hopefully rights every day. They have conceded land- they lived on 97% of the land, then 45% by some British or UN invention, then 20% by military might (Israel+Europe/US). Israel uses most of the water, blockades them, attacks power plants. What were the Jews prepared to concede to Hitler?

“…predicated on recognition by all of Israel's right to exist."

“But he added that insistence that Israel return lands it has occupied since
the 1967 Six-Day war and accept a "right of return" of Palestinians who fled
their homes in what is now Israel "is just like saying you don't accept the
historical right of Israel to exist."

--If Israel has a right to exist, so does Palestine. I still say the best compromise for all to satisfy the desire for land and rights is for one secular democratic state. Settlements are no longer an issue, right of return is allowed with Jewish immigration, access to holy places is solved, Jerusalem is shared and a capital and not a problem. Some will say this is Israel ceasing to exist and it’s anti-Semitic, but when you have to make ethnic cleansing policy to "exist" (as a Jewish state), then something's got to give- i.e the Jewish state idea. Throw it in the failed experiment category with the socialist utopian kibbutzim.

“And Cantor said he would push the Palestinians for "the continued rejection of
terrorism, and of course the rejection of the demonization of Israel that

--Perhaps if Israel stopped being a demon, the demonization could cease? Terrorism. Israel’s terrorists were founding fathers and freedom fighters. I guess since Palestinians aren’t gaining any ground with their operations, winning and claiming territory, they are simply terrorists to be crushed than freedom fighters to celebrate? Or is it the whole Christian confusion with Jews as God’s chosen vs. the Islam we know nothing about so it should be crushed.

“Cantor and Hoyer's trips will reportedly be underwritten by the American Israel
Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the powerful
American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

--Guess this tells you the purpose of the trip if nothing else does! And it isn’t understanding or peace. It’s to push Israel’s agenda, namely to try and get Congress to forget about human rights, law and Palestinians and to pick their fight with Iran…and fight it for them, of course. Isn’t that what friends are for?


Republican delegation in Israel criticizes Obama's policy on Israel settlements,0,4638658.story?track=rss

“… is designed to show solidarity with the Jewish state and promote Mideast

--Having hawkish, blindly pro-Israel Zionists as this in public office is always hard to watch. The good thing is they generally don’t try and make it look like they are ready for peace and justice, while employing stall tactics.

"Cantor said that instead of focusing on issues such as Israeli settlement
activity in the West Bank, Obama should concentrate on "the primary issue of
import ... and that is the existential threat that Iran poses not only to the
state of Israel but to the United States."

--Cantor and others supported Israel's handling of the eviction of two Arab families from a house in east Jerusalem earlier this week, a move criticized by the European Union and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"I don't think we, in America, would want another country telling us how to
implement and execute our laws," Cantor said.

--Would he say the same about Hitler and his state?? Is he kidding?? Ethnic cleansing against Jews he will no doubt have a problem with, as we all should. Injustice for Palestinians and ethnic cleansing he has no problem with, obviously!


Here's the Democracy Now blurb, proving once again, if there was any doubt, where Congress stands. We are apparently on the side of Israel before we are even on our own side. We are not committed to peace so much as Israel's interests, such as pro-Western regime change or destabilization of Israel's "enemies" at a minimum.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a group of Republican lawmakers met with Israeli
officials Tuesday in what they billed as a solidarity mission with the Israeli
government. Republican Whip Eric Cantor spoke after meeting Israeli President
Shimon Peres.

Republican Whip Eric Cantor: “We are here, first and
foremost, to reconfirm the message that the US Congress stands staunchly on the
side of Israel in its struggle, and we are here to figure out how to strengthen
the US Israel relationship.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Universal/Single Payer/Socialized Medicine vs our current mess of so-called "choices"

I wasn't really planning to write all this, but I saw something, looked some things up to find out more, and here we are.

I don’t know that universal or national health care is THE answer to all of our problems, but I would like us to have more discussion of actual pros and cons. I am sick of the invoking of the Red Scare (Sound familiar? Great tax debate of 2008, anyone?) and that being sufficient for everyone to run for cover and bury it for 30 or 40 years, no questions asked.

Universal health care does sound pretty good, though, and I think I’m leaning toward it so far. It seems better than what we've got. I know the links are going to make me sound like a huge proponent, but I'm just trying to sort it out and compare it to all the negatives I hear.


AMA Opposition to Obama Public Health Plan Echoes Group’s Decades-Long Resistance to Healthcare Reform (demonization of universal health care)

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that, the voice of actor Ronald Reagan, employed by the American Medical Association in their campaign entitled “Operation Coffee Cup” to stress that the government-sponsored health insurance system would lead to a form of socialism.


Socialized Medicine: Polemic or Panacea?

The movement for universal coverage in the United States goes back to the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, who first proposed the idea. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman also attempted to implement socialized medicine as part of their administrations' legislative accomplishments, but it was killed by a public campaign engineered by the American Medical Association which claimed, "Socialized medicine…will undermine the democratic form of government."


A Canadian doctor diagnoses U.S. healthcare
The caricature of 'socialized medicine' is used by corporate interests to confuse Americans and maintain their bottom lines instead of patients' health.,0,538126.story

What's Canadian Health Care Really Like?

Dr. DAY: I don't think there's a best system. I think that - and Canada and the United States, we have our own personalities, but I think that there are countries that we can look at the best practices from and copy what works in those countries, countries like Switzerland and Germany and Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, for instance, that are socialized democracies, that have an element of government care, but they're hybrid systems. They take bits of what Canada and the United States have. They do it more cheaply, more effectively and more efficiently and at a much lower cost than the United States.

Debunking Canadian health care myths

Physicians for a National Health Program

Netherlands' Health Care Reflects National Values

Series- Germany: Health Care for All

Prisoners- book review and comments

Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide
by Jeffrey Goldberg

First off, the title is a bit misleading. It should be renamed Jeff Goldberg and Jeff Goldberg across the Middle East Divide because it is far more autobiographical than about a conversation or friendship of Muslim and Jew. The title implies more history and insights from the Muslim than we get, which is next to nothing comparatively. He tells how he was hated by Christians growing up who called Jews Christ killers. He tells of being obsessed with reading about the Holocaust and listening to older relatives tell about it. He was enchanted by Kahane and other militant terrorist types at one point (and still can’t fathom why Palestinians would want to do the equivalent!). He went to Zionist socialist summer camps and longed to live in Israel for about a decade before he fulfilled the dream. Once there, he tried a kibbutz and the army before becoming disenchanted and returning to America. His time in the army at Ketziot prison during the first intifada is where the book takes place. Rafiq is the Muslim in the title and at that place they strike a tentative, cautious, tenuous, almost-friendship. Jeff is extremely critical of Palestinians, Islam and constantly suspects Rafiq of mal intent, notably when Rafiq gives him a clock and some other things to take back to America for a friend at the University and Jeff breaks into a cold sweat at night and smashes the clock to be sure it isn’t a bomb. Jeff doesn’t give us nearly the amount of history and insights on Rafiq as he does himself; I don’t think Jeff did him justice compared to the treatment in the title.

Jeff talks about a Jewish soldier who hates Arabs, but he justifies it in his mind because he got his arm blown off by a rocket. He doesn’t ever say the same of Palestinians- their rage is unjustifiable no matter the circumstances. He also shares (some stated, some my impression) his feeling about Arabs- they are dirty, stupid, guilty, want to kill Jews, all in prison are guilty, etc. He thinks Palestinians should try Gandhi and King’s methods, yet doesn’t say anything about Israel’s terrorist beginnings and if he thinks those are equally as appalling, wrong, criminal, immoral, etc. He spent his childhood longing to be an Israeli Jew with a gun instead of a weak Diaspora Jew and still can’t understand why Palestinians turn to violence to resist and survive. It makes no sense. He makes the assertion that Palestinians would have had a state had they tried Gandhi and King's methods. This is ridiculous for two reasons. First, Israelis who say this seem to forget how their state was formed- not by lessons from Gandhi- they looked more to Hitler. Second, Palestinian nonviolence was and is met with brute force, military crackdowns and death; if more engaged in it, I’m sure the death toll would mount and prisons would again fill up with those guilty of such horrors as waving a flag, praying, painting a slogan, etc and the US would give them more money to “put down the rebellion”.

He tells the story of a Jewish settler friend whose son was killed by Arabs and says he’s ready to give up that land for peace even though it would mean moving the gravesite. He wants to find a Muslim who thinks that way and says he hasn’t yet. I’m thinking it might have something to do with the amount of high level terrorists he has as contacts for his job. He talks to these guys about religion and can’t find a moderate. Go figure. He spent time at a Pakistani madrassa, did award winning pieces on Hezbollah, talked to Sheik Yassin and a ton of others. He also goes to talk to ex-prisoners, not all of whom are quite as forgiving as Rafiq about having started their lifetime prison careers for doing nothing but waving a flag or throwing a rock, without being charged for even that.

Jeff says he’s in search of a Muslim who wants peace more than to hate or kill Jews, but what he really wants is to find a Muslim to acknowledge Jewish suffering and 2000 year exile and triumphant return while ignoring the consequences of said return- al Nakba- massacres, unjust, unnecessary imprisonments (which ironically turned many from kids to revolutionaries and sometimes terrorist operatives), occupation, collective punishment that continue to today.

Not to mention, in addition to ignoring al-Nakba, we are to ignore the part of the Bible where the land promise is conditional upon obedience and the Israelites indeed were scattered, had famine, war, and pestilence visited upon them. My second problem is how after 2000 years of intermarriage with Europeans and other goyim, they are still considered Israelites returning from exile. My third would be how Jews exist after the coming of the Messiah, but I’m getting into theology now.

Jeff did not agree with punishing an individual for something he clearly did not do and took a stand in the prison on one occasion. He also stops a “friend” from beating an Arab he’d arrested to death. This is admirable, yet when it comes to admitting that Israel in fact frequently punishes those that have done nothing or dishes out punishments far in excess of the crime- he cannot fathom it.

nstead, you should read:
Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question by Edward Said - this is very comprehensive, but reads like a textbook and isn't what I'd call an easy read. Informative, though.

Drinking the Sea at Gaza by Amira Hass is enlightening.

Jimmy Carter's Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is good and short. It puts a lot of importance on his admin and US at the time of his presidency, though.

Queen Noor's book, Leap of Faith, has some good history in it, though it is baised toward Jordan. She leaves out how Jordan also screwed the Palestinians, but other than that it is a great book overall and has several passages about the major conflicts.

The Lemon Tree is a good one. It is the story of a 1948 Palestinian refugee who eventually meets and talks to the family that moved into his house weeks after his family was forced from it. This one is fairly balanced, though there is a ton about the Holocaust- probably due to the fact that the author is a Holocaust scholar. I was struck by how similar the Jewish march to trains to death camps were to the Zionist Jews killing and forcing Palestinians from their homes in 1948...

A Season of Stones: Living in a Palestinian Village by Helen Winternitz is good.

Gaza: A Year in the Intifada : A Personal Account from an Occupied Land by Gloria Emerson

Children of the Siege by Pauline Cutting

Days of Honey, Days of Onion: The Story of a Palestinian Family in Israel by Michael Gorkin

By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer
by Victor Ostrovsky

Norman Finkelstein, Paul Findley, Ghada Karmi, Noam Chomsky, Rashid Khalidi, John J. Mearsheimer are also good authors on this subject.

Israel's Cellcom commercial controversy

Commercials are entertaining. They familiarize us with old songs and popularize new ones. They spark catch phrases…I’m thinking about that wassuup one…I’m sure there are others. I don’t think they can spark peace, though.

When I first heard about this commercial, I was immediately sympathetic to the concern that it is making light of the Wall that is illegal and causes misery for so many- it’s not even supposed to be there. I did feel a bit guilty for a split second that maybe my taking sides was unnecessary when the ad voice over was just talking about everyone wanting to have fun and everyone was playing the game. But there are no Palestinians in the ad, which is odd, so whether it is so ingrained in Israeli society or it was an intentional slight, I think it says something. Not only is there a wall (at which peaceful protesters die, people and land are cut off, land is confiscated), but Israelis cannot bear to portray “the enemy” or those with whom they seek peace.

Maybe it was an innocent commercial, but I bet they carefully avoided images that would insult Israeli “sensibilities” that would more adequately describe working beyond barriers - breaking down the wall, jumping over it, parting it, portraying a section that has the wall currently simply without it or with a ghost of it, etc.

So, maybe it’s not so innocent?

That was the commercial. Then there’s the real life attempt. Maybe the residents of Bili’in had a “good idea, bad idea” moment and picked the wrong one. Was it hope, a spirit of nonviolence, pure curiosoity or a desire to provoke that caused them to toss the ball? Or maybe it is an analogy for the conflict.

THE commercial:

The village of Bili’in and the commercial

Palestinians mock 'bad taste' ad