Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

December 7, 2005

Peace and Unity?

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:31 pm

Melanie Phillips reports:

Last weekend, London was host to something called a ‘Global Peace and Unity’ Conference presented by the new Islam Channel and sponsored by Emirates Airlines, Western Union and the Metropolitan Police. It was duly reported as a worthy event attracting some 20,000 Muslims from all around Britain.

Carol Gould also attended this event. This, in her words, is how the cause of ‘global peace and unity’ gets British Muslims to ‘engage and integrate in a peaceful way’:

The eminent barrister Michael Mansfield QC, wearing black and white keffiyah scarf, shouted into the mike about the heinous crimes of the Western coalition countries. The crowd chanted and thundered its appreciation. The terrifying demagogue George Galloway ascended the podium and exhorted the crowd to stand up for the redemption of the oppressed Muslim world or else the nation had better get ready for ‘rioting in every street in Britain’.

The ‘slaughter in Palestine and Iraq’ being only part of the equation, Chechnya, Bosnia and Kashmir were also mentioned all day by every speaker including a crazed, chador-clad Yvonne Ridley, who at any moment I expected to self-immolate, such was her fury at the Zionists, the Americans and her fellow Britons. To my utter disbelief, she condemned the British police force as some form of fascist brigade in ‘jackboot Britain.’ To all of these exhortations came cries of ‘Alllahu Akhbar’ from the enormous, simmering crowd of what looked to me like the angriest gathering of young men and women with whom I have ever had the misfortune to be seated in my lifetime.

An elderly sheikh in Pakistan was beamed in live to tell this excited crowd that he could hardly bring himself to articulate the word ‘Israel’ as this is not a country that even exists. (How would British Muslims like it if a rabbi got up and said partition had produced a country called Pakistan, a word he could barely utter because it is not a real country?)

The sheikh’s English was barely comprehensible but he appeared to imply that Jews from ‘eighty nations’ were brought to Palestine to drive the Arabs away and to commit murder, torture, imprisonment and theft of land and homes over fifty-odd years. The young and impressionable crowd seemed ready for a collective Jihad at this point.

What was interesting was the repeated theme by a string of sheikhs from across the globe that the leaders of Arab nations were a weak, spineless bunch of puppets of the Americans who did not have the guts to stand up to Israel and the United States. This theme caused tremendous excitement in the crowd, as if a global Intifadah might just start in this London arena.

[Melanie Phillips comments:]

Not surprisingly, Carol describes herself as being in a state of shock after this event. Her account needs to be brought to the widest possible public attention. The people participating in this hate-fest need to be exposed for the racist hate-mongers that they are. Her account should be shown to the government and to the Attorney-General with a view to possible prosecution for incitement to violence. Did I say prosecution? Fat chance! The Metropolitan Police was actually sponsoring this event. Someone should be asking it, as a matter of urgency, what the hell it thinks it is doing.

Living in Britain at present is like living in a dream world. Things are happening, trends are running and a particular logic has taken hold which are all driving the country towards an unspeakable future. Yet no-one talks about it, no-one acknowledges it and whenever the plain facts are blurted out by a brave and clear-eyed person like Carol Gould people’s eyes glaze over, they shuffle their feet and look the other way.

Wake up, Britain. Wake up.

Here’s more from Carol Gould’s report:

After the event I went to get some fresh air upstairs and as I looked out at a quaint old mill on the Quay a young English Muslim in a long robe and head covering asked me about this place where we stood, Canary Wharf. I told him it had been decimated and nearly obliterated by the Luftwaffe in the Blitz and that the conflagration could be seen as far away as Hertfordshire. I pointed out the lone mill and said it had miraculously survived the relentless wartime bombing raids. He looked at me and said, “Who did you say did the bombing?” I replied, “The Luftwaffe.” He said “Who are they?” I said, “The Germans.” He said “Really? Well, I’ve learned something today.”

The anger, aggression and totally obsessive nature of the day left me feeling shocked and personally assaulted. How far would a white Christian group get holding such a rally? Cries of racial incitement would ring far and wide and the police would be summoned.

When the Muslim community of Great Britain, with its multitude of organisations, mosques and even its own Parliament, can organise an enlightened and civilised event that makes Jews, Christians , Hindus and all nationalities — including Israelis and Americans — feel welcome, then Britain will have achieved a true multiculturalism.

Until then, I am not ashamed to say I am scared out of my wits and would suggest said Americans, Jews, Israelis and Hindus get out of here as soon as possible. British Christians? They have expended boundless energies on condemnations of Israel and the USA but the anger I saw on Sunday will also decimate them.

In this same week, Polly Toynbee has written a scathing piece about the repulsive nature of Christian imagery in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ She condemns religion in general but has particularly venomous feelings about traditional Christianity. Dare I say it was this faith that sustained Britain in its Churchillian ‘darkest hours?’ Wake up, dear, tolerant Britons, and stop expending energy on hatred of America, Zionists and your own Church and recognise the destructive turmoil within your shores before it is too late.

Closed for the Holidays

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:00 pm

There’s a (non-Reform) Jewish joke about Reform Rabbis bragging about how progressive and non-traditional their synagogues are, the punchline (SPOILER WARNING!) of which involves a Reform synagogue putting a sign out on Yom Kippur which says “Closed for the Holidays.”

I’m fairly confident that this is an exaggeration, one which actual Reform Rabbis would probably find somewhat offensive (to a degree depending on how humor-impaired they are). But apparently, some churches are doing the same thing — literally! And it’s not just one church, but a whole bunch of them:

Central Kentucky’s largest church will break with tradition and close its doors on Christmas Sunday so that staff and volunteers can spend more time with their families.

Southland Christian Church near Lexington, where more than 7,000 people worship each week, is one of several evangelical megachurches across the country that are opting to cancel services on one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar.

Supporters say the change is family-friendly. Opponents call it a regrettable bow to secular culture.

The list of closed congregations on Christmas Sunday reads like a who’s who of evangelical Protestantism: Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago area’s largest congregation; Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich.; North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga.; and Fellowship Church near Dallas.

There is one possible redeeming (no pun intended) fact …

For some evangelicals, it’s the day of the week — not the day of the year — that’s sacred. To them, closing the doors of the church on the Lord’s Day is unthinkable.

… But not really — because this year, Christmas is on Sunday! Nice try.

Now, I don’t really claim to be an expert on Christianity, and I don’t want to make the same error described in my previous post of assuming that different religions’ holidays are the same — but this does seem a bit odd — and there most certainly are churches that have services on Christmas even when it’s not a Sunday, and I know most Churches have services every (non-Christmas) Sunday, so I don’t think I’m too off-base in finding this odd.

(Hat tip: Bearing Blog, from Open Book, both of whom make similar points from a Christian perspective.)

Jewish Consistency — What kind of a tree is it?

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:46 pm

The latest Political-Correctness is the switch from calling these things “Christmas Trees” to calling them “Holiday Trees.” (For what it’s worth — they don’t do this in Spanish.)

What is the point of this? What is the only “holiday” with a tree? Christmas, right? So, why not call it a Christmas Tree?

Perhaps they think it’s somehow offensive to Jews, who do not celebrate Christmas, to call it a “Holiday Tree.” Well, they are wrong. What’s offsensive — well, not actually offensive, but definitely narrow-minded — is for Christmas-celebraters* to assume that since we Jews have a holiday around the same time of year, it must be basically the same as Christmas, so if they have trees, we must have trees. So it’s somehow “inclusive” to call it a “Holiday Tree” to “recognize” the “fact” that it for some people a Christmas Tree is a Some-Other-Holiday Tree.

Hello? This is bunk. Complete, utter bunk. Hannukah has as much to do with trees as Christmas has to do with yarmulkes — or for that matter, with shoelaces. That is, no connection at all. The object most associated with Hannukah is a Hannukah menorah — but would anyone call it a “Holiday menorah” to be inclusive to Christians? No, because Christmas as nothing to with menorahs. So don’t call it a “Holiday Tree” either — call it “Christmas Tree” or I, as a Jew, will be offended. Call it a Christmas tree — because that’s what it is, and that’s all it is.

I might even call it “religious imperialism” or some other PC-sounding insult, if you try to impose your symbols on my holiday. I might — but I won’t, since I know that most of the people doing this don’t really believe in Christanity anyway, so whatever they’re imposing on me is not “religious.” Perhaps they are imposing secularism on me.

Joshua Sharf expresses this much more eloquently (so why’d I bother typing all that?):

[Radio commentator Dennis] Prager was spending a great deal of time decrying the progressive (and Progressive) renaming of the Christmas Tree to the Holiday Tree. His ire was centered on what he saw as an attack on Christianity among the mendacious, and excessive sensitivity on the part of the immature. Right on both counts.

My object[ion], however, was different. As an Orthodox Jew, my concern is with building and perpetuating a cohesive and resilient Jewish community. The rationale for renaming Christmas Trees to Holiday Trees is that “Christmas” is exclusive, whereas “holiday” is inclusive. Personally, it just makes me want to be more reclusive, but that’s another matter. So the question is, what exactly are the revisionists including?

What do you think? They’re trying to include Hannukah. But I don’t want Hannukah included. Hannukah doesn’t have anything to do with trees, except perhaps burning them for the fire to make the latkes. Trees have no place in Hannukah, just as Christmas has no place in Judaism. This is the kind of syncretist nonsense that can only serve to undermine, dilute, and corrupt my holiday, and it reveals a leftist hostility not merely to Christianity, but to religion as a whole.

Christmas in the public square is fine, as long as it doesn’t try to include me.

By the way, it’s worth than you think: Amazon.com apparently has “Christmas in July,” but not in December.

(See also my previous post.)

* I use the term “Christmas-celebraters” rather than “Christians” in this context because — if I understand correctly – one who is born into a Christian family and celebrates Christmas is not considered a Christian unless he or she actually believes in the doctrines of Christianity.** I suspect that most of the people who prefer the term “Holiday tree” are not firm believers in Christianity, and thus might not be considered “Christians” by those who are firm believers. The term “Christmas-celebraters” is meant to include both believing Christians and others (presumably of Christian background) who celebrate Christmas.

** Note that this is different from Judaism — we Jews still consider a Jew to be a Jew even if he or she doesn’t actually believe in or practice Judaism.

Jewish Inconsistency

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:22 pm

Blogger SarahK, who is a Christian, has discovered Jewish inconsistency:

buy pork, get a free Hanukkah card

this is not a joke.

i was at Publix today, and i noticed the man behind me in line was buying a Hanukkah card. then i noticed he had a big package of pork ribs. right next to the card. in fact, i think the two were touching.

i wanted so badly to burst out laughing. i looked at the man with a suppressed grin on my face. he didn’t look amused, and i thought he might be packin’, so i just said hi and turned around.

I’d think it was funny too, if it weren’t so sad. The sad fact is, a disturbingly small percentage of Jews actually keep kosher. A generous estimate would be 20-25% — it could be lower. If I wanted to put a positive spin on this, I’d say that at least the fellow was “connected enough” with his Jewish heritage to be sending a card for a Jewish holiday — even if Hanukkah cards themselves are somewhat of an adaptation of a non-Jewish tradition. (Traditionally, if Jews send cards we send them for Rosh Hashanna, not Hannukah. No doubt Hannukah cards exists merely because there is a Christian tradition to send cards around that time of year.)

Before any Christians reading this get too smug about Jews not being so “Jewish,” don’t forget that a lot of the people who’ll be celebrating Christmas this year are thinking more about presents and days off than about “the reason for the season.” A lot of “Christians” are no more Christian than a lot of Jews are “Jewish.” (The only difference is where we put the quotation marks — we Jews still consider a Jew to be a Jew even if he or she doesn’t actually believe in or practice Judaism, whereas — if I understand correctly — one who is born into a Christian family and celebrates Christmas is not considered a Christian unless he or she actually believes in the doctrines of Christianity.)

It’s a sad thing all around — at least for those of us who take our respective religions seriously.

(See also my next post.)

Climate Change

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:08 pm

AP Reports:

Record Low Temps Seen in Parts of U.S.

Associated Press Writer
Dec 07 5:55 PM US/Eastern

DENVER - Bitterly cold air poured southward across the nation’s midsection Wednesday, dropping temperatures to record lows from Montana to Illinois. The mercury dived to a record 45 below at West Yellowstone, Mont., the frequently cold spot at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the National Weather Service said. The old record for Dec. 7 was 39 below, set in 1927.

The cold even extended south to the Texas Panhandle, where Lubbock shivered at a record low 6 above zero, the weather service said.

Global warming is starting to sound like a good idea!

In fact, it could even save lives:

The body of a homeless man was found huddled next to a fence in Denver, where the temperature hit 11 below Wednesday, and authorities were trying to determine if he froze to death. He apparently had shed his jacket in a phenomenon called “paradoxical undressing,” where victims of hypothermia become disoriented and hallucinate, deputy coroner Amy Martin said.

The Denver Rescue Mission opened all available space for the homeless.

Does this mean that those who advocate policies to prevent global warming are insensitive to to plight of the homeless?

Or perhaps it is an issue of church-state separation — “Denver Rescue Mission” sounds like a faith-based organization, so cold weather promotes religious affiliation, so the government must act to stop …. no wait, that’s backwards … perhaps the ACLU should sue the environmentalists by advocating politicies that drive the homeless into the arms of religious organizations?


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