Archive for December 2014

Pope Francis moving ahead on climate justice

December 29, 2014


More indigestion for the JP ll/Ratzinger bishops who showed little or no interest in the greatest moral issue of our time: climate change. It is just reported that Pope Francis will be speaking for climate justice in the new year. Catholics will be specifically targeted with a papal encyclical after the pontiff visits Tacloban the Philippine city devastated by the typhoon Hayan in 2012. Undoubtedly there will be a fresh call to the 1.5 billion Catholics to get moving on this issue—and put the pelvic issues aside for now.

Pope Francis will have his hands full with the world’s 5,000 bishops, most chosen for their strict adherence to everything that came out of Rome in the long pontificates of Woytyla/Ratzinger. In reality this was one reactionary pontificate a pushback against the liberal reforms of Vatican ll. iI was pure Newtonoian physics, action and reaction. The reaction eventuated in massive lay defections from the Roman Catholic church particularly in the developed world where the best educated Catholics in history resided.

The Woytyla/Ratzinger papacy was long on topdown Soviet-style diktats from Rome central to the outlying provinces. The absolute ecclesial thought control failed for two simple reasons.In the 50 years since the end of the Council lay theological education accelerated and the quality of the priesthood declined. Foreign imports came with a reactionary theology topped off too often with a misogyny. In a culture nourished on human rights and participatory democracy, North American Catholics rebelled.

Secondly there was the lay internalization of the sensus fidelium, that the Holy Spirit was given to the whole church not to a subset of clerics. When the hierarchs refused to listen to the collective wisdom of the baptized the faithful resisted the ecclesial thought control and walked. 30 million left the Catholic church in the USA.

Today a pope who shows little concern for how he is perceived by his bishops is moving ahead with celerity on the agenda of Vatican ll where social justice is an integral part of the gospel and baptism not Holy Orders is the essential sacrament.

So immovable object (the JP ll/Ratzinger bishops are meeting the irresistible force, a progressive pope and the lay people who are buying into his Vatican ll agenda.The pope in many ways is way ahead of his bishops so much so that he is almost being seen as “the enemy”. many are not happy campers.
So far in Canada the JPll/Ratzinger bishops have failed the laity. The classic example was in Toronto, the largest Catholic diocese, where nothing was done by the hierarchs to engage the laity in adding their insights to the synod on the Family. This was requested by the pope bug basically ignored and never promoted by the archbishop.There was no pastoral plan or active engagement with the faithful.
Pope Francis has correctly identified climate justice as the morel issue of the day but do not look for the weak bishops of the last two decades to get on board. They have collectively shown little or no interest in this. Their focus is inward. They have lost the next generation who intuitively understand how dire the situation is and do not look for the church for any inspiration here.

It is absolutely stunning that there has been no pastoral planning around this crucial issue.

Make no mistake. This Jesuit pope has his ear to the ground and his eye on the overwhelming “sign of our time”, the destruction of the Body of God, our earth. He has already told the Latin American and asian landless peasants “Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”

Now Pope Francis is going deeper by ratcheting up the stakes among his bishops. Watch how the Canadian bishops respond.

Exciting times for sure.

We understand you!

December 26, 2014
We understand you

We understand you

Merry Palestinian Christmas

December 24, 2014


This year the wise men  and women can’t get into Bethlehem!

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8
Reading for Midnight Mass 2014

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Yes, all quiet here under brutal Israeli occupation
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yes, and huge walls and stolen agricultural land
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
Blazing from Gilo and Har Homa, illegal settlements
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary…
The just fruit of a Palestinian womb
The holy seed of resistance shouts throughout Judea
“This shit’s got to stop!”

Ted Schmidt

and from the Israeli Defense Forces, Happy Hanukkah


Happy Hanukkah from the IDF

December 22, 2014


Happy Holidays from the Israel Defense Forces!

This was no parody. And you cannot make this stuff up.

This is how sick Israel has become.Many great people for sure but as a country it lives in‘a bubble.Having elected nobody who has not come out of 1948 war on Palestine thinking, it is still trapped in a militarist mind set.A psychiatrist can have a field day with this photo.

Catholic churches in the USA often have the flag on the altar (empire allegiance) but Jesus has yet to show up with a machine gun.

One wag in response to this pathetic picture wrote an interesting comment:
Seriously, imagine the reaction if a Palestinian militant were to tweet a photo of himself breaking the Ramadan fast while wearing his military attire. The Israelis would leap on this as ‘proof’ that just about everyone and everything in Palestine is a legitimate target, and the next time a mosque in Gaza was bombed, we’d be reminded of that photo and how, for Arabs, religion and violence were inseparable blah blah blah.

No wonder the dude in this photo doesn’t dare to show his face.

Bethlehem, the Wall and the Verboten Other

December 20, 2014


The CBC ran a feel-good piece on Friday night, a warm and fuzzy Christmas story about 4 Jewish women coming to Bethlehem as part of a tour group.They of course had to get special permission because Israeli Jews can not enter Bethlehem versa without the strictest permissions.
This is the racist state’s long thought out policy to keep the two groups apart. They simply do not want israelis to see Palestinians as the Other. This way it is easier to stereotype and continue the policy of incremental genocide, pushing the Palestinians out “dunam by dunam, goat by goat.’” They go about their dehumanizing policies  slowly so as not to get their protector the USA too angry.

To anybody who has been to bethlehem the story was hilarious. The lovely Jewish women had a ball. They were received with typical Palestinian hospitality. They were invited into homes for dinner but oyvey, their husbands and family were going crazy with worry. They had bought the Kool aid that the Palestinians are savages who want to kill us etc.

One poor chump phoned his wife 3 times asking her if she was all right!
Now there are Jews in palestine 500,000 settlers in the West Bank who live there in violation of international law. They travel on “Jews only” roads and never have to meet the dreaded Palestinians. They surrounded by guard towers laughing at the USA as they establish “facts on the ground” so there can never be a contiguous palestinian state their blood brothers. The Separation Wall is well named. Keeping people apart is the evil, inhuman policy which guarantees Israelis will never have to meet “the Other.”
Needless to say the four women had a ball but their families are still encased in a bubble of fear

Pope Francis and ‘the signs of the times”

December 19, 2014


Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church’s top theologians on December 13 to listen to what ordinary Catholics have to say and pay attention to the “signs of the times,” rather than just making pronouncements in an academic vacuum.


The pontiff told International Theological Commission that they must “humbly listen” to what God tells the church by understanding Scripture but also by taking into account how ordinary Catholics live out their faith.


“Together with all Christians, theologians must open their eyes and ears to the signs of the times,” Francis said. He should have been speaking to the worldwide College of bishops as well. The theologians are the least of his problems.


This must be shocking news to the JPll/Ratzinger bishops who acted as if the Holy Spirit was their private preserve.Most of these are still autistic when it comes to the signs of the times especially to the sign that that we are collectively destroying the earth.The biggest moral issue of our time of course is climate justice, a “sign of the time” which is so stark and self-evident that it is beyond discussion.Creation is being mangled in the name of profit and the instityutional church ciollectively is doing litthle about it.


But apparently it is to these men.The best example was Cardinal Dolan’s absence from the 400,000 person march on behalf of the climate in New York city.Like many of his bishop friends raised to the purple for their slavish obeisance to Rome and not to the “sensus fidelium”, Dolan was missing in action.


As are most of these bishops.It would be interesting given the severity and seriousness of the issue to see how many have any pastoral plans on the go.


Poor Francis, a general with few episcopal troops in his army.

Hanukkah abused by Netanyahu

December 18, 2014

Wednesday morning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proudly sent around joyous picture of how he views Hanukkah. it was the first day of the Festival of Lights.This holiday ranks quite low  in the Jewish canon and  as such was hijacked by Zionism. Originally a time of contemplation and gratitude, with ideologues like Netanyahu it now serves as a model of Jewish nationalism. with Likudniks  it salutes the tough Jew, the new Hebrew rather than the traditional Torah Jew who championed interiority,humility and compassion.In capitalist America it gives Jews a chance to compete with Christians in the consumer orgy of “the holiday season.

Here’s the bellicose PM with guard dogs and 2 members of the IDF looking like members of the NRA.


Such is the season of peace in Israel.

After lighting the first Hanukkah candle Netanyahu then launched into an absurd paean of praise for the IDF,”the most moral army in the world’. That is Netanyahu’s world.This is an army which regularly dehumanizes  and humiiiates Palestinians.

These sad leaders are locked into an out of date bellicose, macho worldview inimical to peace and understanding.They will even stoop to co-opt the sacred symbols of Judaism.Wait till you see what they do with passover and the liberation of the oppressed.

Happy Hanukkah, Mr Prime Minister!

Another Religious Jew of Conscience

December 17, 2014

Judah Magnes was an American reform rabbi and founding president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But even more importantly, he preached the ideal of coexistence built on equality and self-determination for both Palestinians and Jews.His prophetic instinct that the failure to address “the Arab” question would undo the new state of Israel.this would prove to be the original sin of Zionism.


Charley Manekin

So at the age of 54, Charley Manekin, a professor of philosophy and Orthodox Jewish studies in Baltimore and Israel started a blog, The Magnes Zionist, in which he began to publicize updated versions of Rabbi Magnes’ views and testimonies. As a Catholic well acquainted with Magnes prophetic work, I have been devouring the Magnes Zionist for years. He is simply a Jew of conscience who has seen first hand the parlous state of his beloved Israel and the damage Israel has done to Judaism itself.

In the last decade these marvelous Jews of conscience have found their voice.They are no longer afraid of the bullies at AIPAC; they have moved beyond the self-censorship and pressure from families whom have reflexively supported the Jewish state and everything done it in its name.This led Charley to Jewish Voice for Peace as he describes it, “the only Jewish organization I know that fully embodies those ideals today—justice, equality and freedom for both peoples.” And let’s face, it organizations are needed to speak collectively for justice in Israel/Palestine.

How did an Orthodox Jew and an American Israeli end up like this? the Magnes Zionist says,”The answer is simple. I was raised by my parents with solid humanist values. In fact, my family’s Judaism was inconceivable without those values. It never would have occurred to me that a commitment to justice could clash with a commitment to Jewish peoplehood.”



But then Charley Manekin aka the Magnes Zionist moved to Israel and saw that clash constantly “in the treatment of women in the religious court system, in the treatment of non-orthodox religious denominations, but above all, in the treatment of the Palestinian people, whether living under occupation, or as citizens excluded from Jewish nation state, or as refugees from their Palestinian homeland.”


Still, he wanted to believe that Israel had the inner strength to deal with its problems on its own, and so he supported liberal Zionist parties.



It took the breakdown of the Oslo accords, and the brutal suppression of the Second Intifada to convince me that what was needed was a genuine partnership between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, and a willingness to think outside the tribal box.


Israel/Palestine is now his home, but it is also the home of millions of others. The people who live there are not enemies but rather potential allies in dispelling the darkness of chauvinism, bigotry, and excessive tribalism.


So now Charlie asks Americans to support the Jewish Voice for Peace 1611 Telegraph Ave, Suite 1020 Oakland CA 94  612



But I am a Canadian who wishes to keep my plummeting dollar in Canada so i am sending my Hanukkah/Christmas money to the very brave Canadian analogue to the JVP, our very own Independent Jewish Voices

Independent Jewish Voices PO Box 26113 MPO
Winnipeg  MB

In Nazareth the whole world was watching

December 16, 2014


On July 17,1948 Ben Dunkelman a 35 year old Jew from Toronto was commanding the Israeli forces which the previous day had conquered the Galilean city of Nazareth. The World War ll vet, an expert on the use of mortars, brazenly refused the order from his superiors to expel the local population.

He later wrote that this was “one of the most sanctified shrines of the Christian world”(Jesus’ hometown)and was thus aware of the very bad optics and the “severe international repercussions” of such an action.”

Lest the halo shine too brightly on this fellow Canadian’s moral scruples, the Seventh Brigade according to historian Ilan Pappe was particularly known for their barbarous behaviour.

This was all part of Plan D, which had been agreed on in March.It simply meant “transfer” a nice euphemism for kicking out native Palestinians from the country they had been part of for eons. From the text of this plan—“In the event of resistance, the armed force must be wiped out and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state”; and the razing of their villages: “Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control.

Previously the locals in Nazareth had agreed to surrender on one condition—they would be left alone and allowed to stay.The next day he received a direct order from General Moshe Karmil his superior to depopulate the city. Dunkelman refused on the grounds that he had pledged to leave the population alone. Karmil immediately asked his boss, the Defense Minister and Prime Minister Ben Gurion .The latter allowed the locals to stay. His cynical remark says it all:”Here the world is watching us.”

The decision ultimately gave Ben Gurion ulcers.750,000 Palestinians were expelled and a few towns and small cities were allowed to stay.Nazareth was one.

When he toured the Galilee in 1953 he was outraged at the presence of so many Arabs ”It is not enough to expel the foreign invader (Palestinians!), we have to replace with Hebrew settlers.”



Today Nazareth is still the only Arab city, in the whole state. Since it is in Israel proper and not the Occupied Territories many Jews now live there in the more commodious Upper Nazareth—but that’s a story for another time.



Now more than ever,”the whole world is watchng”.

Israelis are fed up with Netanyahu

December 14, 2014

ISRAELIS ARE fed up with Binyamin Netanyahu. They are fed up with the government. They are fed up with all political parties. They are fed up with themselves. They are fed up.
So begins 91 year old Uri Avnery’s latest column.

Credentials impeccable: fought in the 1948 war which established the state of Israel, then sat in the Knesset.
Now like many Jews of conscience he watches as Israel rapidly implodes. all under the catastrophic misleadership of the territoirial expansionist and Arab hater, Bibi Netanyahu.

Uri refreshes our memory:.
In 2000, In the evening after the election, when it was announced that Netanyahu had been defeated, there was an explosion of enthusiasm. Tens of thousands of delirious citizens streamed spontaneously to Tel Aviv’s central Rabin Square and cheered the savior, Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party. He announced the Dawn of Another Day.
Safdly the jubilation was premature!
Unfortunately, Barak turned out to be a sociopath and an egomaniac, if not a megalomaniac. He missed the chance of peace at the Camp David conference and in the process almost completely destroyed the Israeli peace movement. The Right, this time under Ariel Sharon, came back. Then under Ehud Olmert. Then under Netanyahu again. And Again.
And now again?
God forbid!

What does the future hold—new elections, maybe another Netanyahu government which woulod omly lead Israel deeper into the abyss.Uri 3 weeks ago wrote:

The Netanyahu government is leading the country towards disaster. It is systematically destroying all chances for peace, enlarging settlements in the West Bank and especially East Jerusalem, stoking the fires of a religious war on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, denouncing both Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas at the same time. All this after the superfluous Gaza War, which ended in a military draw and a human disaster that continues unabated to this day.

At the same time, the government is bombarding the Knesset with an endless stream of racist and anti-democratic bills, each worse than the last, culminating in the bill called “Israel: the Nation-State of the Jewish People”, which eliminates the term “Jewish and Democratic State” as well as the word “Equality”.

The worst of the above is the shockingmove toward citizenship is not based on basic democratic rights but the rights of an ethnocracy.Jews in, Arab citizens out. So much for the “only democracy in the Middle East” which utterly marginalizes 20% of the country’s citzizens.

Uri holds out hope–a coalition, a bloc of centrist and leftist parties
“The declared purpose should be to put an end to the catastrophic drift of the country towards the abyss and to oust not just Netanyahu, but the whole bunch of settlers, nationalist and racist demagogues, war-mongers and religious zealots. It should appeal to all sectors of Israeli society, women and men, Jews and Arabs, Orientals and Ashkenazis, secular and religious, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. All those who fear for the future of Israel and are resolved to save it.”


Good luck,Uri, a consummation devoutly to be wished.