Archive for September 2016

Yousef in Gaza

September 30, 2016

The silence on Gaza is unconscionable—Muhammad writes about the horrible effects on children.

 

My youngest , always cutely wide-eyed , nine-year-old brother Yousef was given an assignment at school : To write about a personal  experience  that has taught him a  positive virtue or moral value such as love, peace, helping others .

 
Whenever I made a suggestion, he  replied, “I don’t have any  thing to say  on this . ”  H e couldn’t think of any positive ideas even when I tried to give him lots of hints. His own thoughts were :

 
“Could I write about the last war and how I ran into the basement when the next building was blown off, and how we saw dead bodies, and how warplanes were bombing everywhere in the night but the resistance won at last?”
“Should I write that Papa died just after I was born because of the blockade, and then the first war started… then the second… then the third and there is no electricity and no water?”

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I failed entirely to remember some tranquil memories that he or people in his very young age -group  had lived throughout this madness. It’s a generation that ha s opened  its eyes  to a  blockade, conflict and  death, with absolutely no  prospect of normality. I ended up that night feeling deeply helpless with a burning chest and an incurable wound. It  reaffirmed  my belief  that violence  will never solve our problems.

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Shimon Peres

September 29, 2016

Marc Ellis, Jewish American theologian

Peres played a key role in Israel’s development of nuclear weapons and encouraged and augmented Israel’s settlement project in Jerusalem and the West Bank. As important was Peres’s role in portraying Israel as a Jewish and democratic state around the world. From the beginning, Palestinians knew a different Israel and, with time, more and more Jews do, too. Though Peres will be widely celebrated in the upper echelons of American and European power in the coming days, Peres will be remembered for enabling a narrative of Jewish innocence and redemption that was, also, something much more sinister from the beginning. 

 

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The hope of Jonathan Kuttab pt.1

September 27, 2016

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Jonathan Kuttab is a distinguished Palestinian lawyer in Israel and Occupied Palestine with a long activist history in both places.an expert in international law, Kuttab is a rara avis in that he is a Christian in a predominantly Muslim community.
On September 26, Kuttab came to the boiler room of new ideas in Toronto, Beit Zatoun to discuss the present situation of impasse, a time when the two state solution is moribund but the language is still being used. The fact of 600,000 settlers who will not be moved, at a time when wholesale ethnic cleansing is impossible in the glare of international scrutiny , we are in the middle of a totally new moment in Israel/Palestine. It is a time of major rethinking.
Kuttab used as his fundamental motif the oft quoted line of Theodore Parker made famous by Martin luther King Jr:” “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Kuttab is a realist. Palestinians are tired, tired of waiting for the world to catch up with the brutal results of occupation, tired of Israel constantly flouting international law, tired of corrupt Arab countries and terribly disappointed in their own Palestinian leadership.
“Am I an optimist? No. But i am hopeful”.

As a Christian, Kuttab speaks of hope as a “spiritual quality” which is quietly operative. This has been a constant refrain of mine…hope is a theological virtue which trusts that there is hidden divine energy at work in history which does indeed bend toward justice. It is best expressed in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Evil he reminds us contains the seeds of its own destruction.
On July 31 of this year the resident scribe-prophet of Israel Gideon Levy wrote
After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.
But evil can not last. Kuttab channels the thinking of his fellow Palestinian who works with him in the Bethlehem Bible College, the Lutheran theologian Mitri Raheb, who uses the concept of la longue durée. No occupation ever lasts. The Berlin wall fell, Mubarak was ousted, segregation died in the USA, apartheid in South Africa.Occupation coming up to 70 years is in its death throes.

Kuttab admits he does not know how or when the tipping point arrives but it is coming. As a Christian he prays that it is not violent.

Obama: Bad for Israel

September 18, 2016

As usual Gideon Levy today  tells some diaspora Jews what they do not want to hear.

This continual support for an oppressive state which eats up one quarter of  the USA’s foreign aid is a scandal

Imagine indeed what 38 billion could do for Africa.

The cowardice of politicos like Obama, Governor Cuomo, NY mayor Di Blasio is shameful.

Barack Obama is a bad president for Israel. If the military aid he approved for the coming decade is the largest ever, then as a president he is the worst ever for Israel. The last thing Israel needs is more arms, which will push it toward more acts of violence. But Obama is president in a country in which each home has a small tin container — like the blue and white Jewish National Fund boxes over here — into which every U.S. citizen must place a few coins as assistance and charity for poor, needy Israel, weak as a frail leaf.
Three hundred dollars for each U.S. taxpayer for the next 10 years. Not toward America’s considerable social needs, not to assist truly needy countries – imagine what $38 billion would do for Africa – but to provide weapons for an army that is one of the most powerfully armed in the world, one of whose main enemies are girls brandishing scissors; to finance an army that is not fighting any other serious army now; the army of a country that few others can match in sheer recalcitrance, one which methodically defies the United States and the international community. And worst of all, this country will receive another free gift, without having to give anything in return. The money will go only toward arming it, which will push it toward more acts of aggression. That’s the deal and there has been no serious debate over it, neither in Israel nor in the United States.

 

Starving the War Machine

September 15, 2016

Chris Hedges in his latest missive writes:

The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling.

 

A good example of the above is the latest propping up of Israel apartheid. One is hard pressed to understand foreign aid sent to a wealthy country. Think of all the desperately poor countries who could use this money.

 

Out of luck. they are just poor and “Christian” America needs “strategic”allies like Israel a US surrogate, the country which has advanced the science and technology of penning people up and monitoring their every movement.
The United States will be giving Israel $38 billion in military aid to Israel.

Hilary Trump

Under the new agreement, Israel will be receiving $38 billion in military equipment from the United States, amounting to $3.8 billion per year over a ten-year period from 2019 to 2029, according to Haaretz. The current US/Israel military aid package, which is due to expire in 2018, originally allotted roughly $3.1 billion per year in subsidies to Israel’s military. Congress recently voted to increase that aid by $500 million annually. $5 billion of the new $38 billion deal is expected to be spent on missile defense systems.

 

Budgets as we know are moral document and the amount of money spent on the US empire with its bases all over the world continues to be a mortal sin given the domestic needs of not only its own people but other poor countries. Why underwrite an advanced country like Israel? Why spend so much money on war preparation?

 

Bernie Sanders quixotic presidential run was too idealistic for the bought and paid for US Congress— free college education, raise the minimum wage to $15, expand Social Security and address the widening income and wealth gap and the criminal justice system. Dream on Bernie. Spending on these things would starve the war machine.

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Michael Moore’s lovely film Where to Invade Next reminded Americans that many of these “unrealistic” and “socialist” ideals become a reality in many European countries. This will hardly dent the thick heads of Trump supporters who still believe America is the land of opportunity, the exceptional nation.

 
The military boondoggle and the outrageous gifts to Israel is obscene. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and National Priorities Project, 53.71 percent, or $598 billion, of the discretionary spending in 2015 was on the military, more than the combined spending on education, medical care and health, housing and community, energy and environment, transportation, science, food and agriculture, veterans’ benefits and government.

 

It is to weep.

Prayer of gratitude: teachers!

September 12, 2016

 

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In several Anglican parishes there is the blessing of the back packs for the young ones going back to school .I do not know if RC parishes do this.

A nice liturgical overture. It got me thinking.
At mass on Sunday my prayer was for the gratitude of teachers who more and more find themselves in loco parentis. The highest pratyer is always one of gratitude.
Teachers today are faced with heavier burdens than other generations and in particular God bless those marvellous elementary teachers who step up when divorce rates have skied. More and more kids are acting out in classes because they demand the attention they do not get at home.Into the breach,teachers adding what is not on the curriculum TLC.

 

A few years ago the teachers’ union in New Zealand reported that of those 80 percent, 64 percent spent up to $200 a year, 22 percent spent up to $500 and 14 percent spent $500 or more per year. Similar results in Ontario.

 

There is an apartment building a block north of our Catholic community and here I pointed it out . There was no plaque honouring Mary Sheehan my grade six teacher, a woman way ahead of her time. No Walk of Fame for teachers but a lot of low level gratitude all over the world.
Not only did she pound out that Note Dame Fighting song on that old piano
Cheer cheer for old Notre Dame
Wake Up the echoes cheering her name

This was a time when Notre Dame gave Catholics a sense of pride when Toronto was Little Belfast. Miss Sheehan also taught us our Latin after school so we could become altar boys.

Mary Sheehan presenté. Never forgotten.

Man, St. Pete’s was rundown when my dad went here. No matter . Great teachers  like

Mary Sheehan thrive everywhere.

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Paul Ryan the Man who Never Learned

September 9, 2016

Earlier this week, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson, both of Wisconsin, penned an op-ed stating—once again—their belief that charity and individual responsibility are the key to fighting poverty.

What is it with this guy and his Catholic cred?

Oh yeah, big C “pro-life Catholic but not when it comes to post-fetal life in the poor or his constant voting for bloated war budgets.
“This is how you fight poverty: person to person,” they write.

Ryan loves The Joseph project an admirable Milwaukee outreach which provides vans

Claire Markham described this:
To illustrate their point, they tell the story of The Joseph Project, a job assistance program run by the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee. Ryan and Johnson praise The Joseph Project for providing vans that drive Milwaukeeans to Sheboygan County, where they can earn $15 an hour working a factory job. In Milwaukee, by contrast, these workers would likely earn just $8 or $9 an hour.  The drive is an hour commute each way, but Ryan and Johnson assert: “That van represents the difference between poverty and opportunity.”

Yes, but no support for $15.00 per hour minimum wage.

and no understanding of the quality time lost taking thee workers out of town.

In Sunday school classrooms across the country, young Catholics are taught the simplest versions of the Catholic Church’s complicated theology: God’s love is represented by loving parents, Bible stories are boiled down to picture books, and stewardship of creation is taught by tending to one’s own little plant.  And one Sunday school classic, “The Two Feet of Love in Action,” makes it clear that larger systemic solutions are integral to fighting poverty.
“There are two different, but complimentary, ways we can walk the path of love,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains. “We call these ‘The Two Feet of Love in Action.’” One foot is charity: direct service to help meet the immediate needs of individuals. The other foot is social justice: structural change to end the root causes of poverty.
The van is charity; the minimum wage hike is social justice.

In April 2012 Ryan was taken to the woodshed when as a VP canmdidate he dared use Catholic Social Teaching, in particularly subsidiarity, as the basis of his budget proposal. 50 Catholic theologians and leaders blasted his proposals out of the water.

“Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms,” argue the signatories.

Give Ryan credit, he is not short of chutzpah he then marched over to Georgetown, the Jesuit university to defend the indefensible. Here he was met by a petition of 90 faculty members and administrators basically telling him he was totally out to lunch. They asked Ryan to justify  cuts to social programs which benefit the poor and no cuts to the shocking bloated military budget
Former America editor  Jesuit Fr.Tom  Reese, one of the organizers of the letter bluntly stated . “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

You can bet Ryan never heard of America Magazine

But he sure loves Ayn Rand, the high priestess of capitalism.

 

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Here are a few choice bon mots of Ryan on his literary heroine:

•    “I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand, that’s what I tell people.”

•    “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”

•    “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”
•    “But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”•
“It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”
•    “Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.”

Lots of Ayn Rand little of Jesus and Catholic Social Teaching