Posts Tagged ‘‘Exodus’’

The Babylonian Condemnation of Libel and Slander

October 3, 2019

A few days ago I put up a few verses from the Old Testament, Exodus and Deuteronomy, which condemn telling lies. This was for the benefit of certain individuals, like Rachel Riley, who have been all too happy to make false accusations of anti-Semitism against others. When they themselves are criticised, however, they falsely accuse their critics of libelling them and threaten them with court action. Riley has done this to Mike and 16 others, after they blogged about how she and Tracey-Ann Oberman, in their view had bullied a sixteen year old schoolgirl with anxiety. The girl had put up a post supporting Jeremy Corbyn. This was then criticised by the two, who said they were going to ‘re-educate’ her and demanded that she meet them in London. The girl couldn’t as she had to be in school. They then accused her of anti-Semitism, and encouraged their supporters to pile in. When Mike put up his account of this sordid incident, Oberman appeared and claimed it was libelous. When Mike asked what was libelous about it, he received no reply. He was then informed that Riley was taking him to court.

The Babylonians, like the Hebrews, also condemned libel and slander. Their precept against it is preserved in the Counsels of Wisdom, a collection of short moral adages. These appear to have been copied sometime between 700 and 400 BC, although the texts themselves may date back to the period 1800-1000 BC. It runs

Do not utter libel, speak what is of good report,

Don say evil things, speak well of people.

One who utters libel and speaks evil,

Men will waylay him with the retribution of Shamash.

D. Winton Thomas, ed., Documents from Old Testament Times (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons 1958) 106.

Shamash was the Babylonian sun god.

Similar sentiments are expressed in the Ancient Egyptian The Teaching of Amenemope. The scroll of this held by the British Museum may date back to 1000-600 BC, but there is a fragment written on a potsherd which may date back 1100-946 BC. The precept against libel runs

Injure not a man, with pen upon papyrus-

O abomination of the god!

Bear not witness with lying words,

Nor seek another’s reverse with thy tongue.

(Page 182).

Thus, what Riley and Oberman appear to be doing to silence their critics, who seem to be mostly supporters of the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, is utterly wrong, even by Babylonian and Ancient Egyptian standards as well as those of Ancient Israel and today.

 

The Biblical Command to Support and Protect Refugees

September 26, 2019

One of the great passages in the Old Testament that speaks directly to today’s world, is the statement in Deuteronomy that God loves and demands justice for widows, orphans and foreigners. Deuteronomy 10: 18-19 runs

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

(Eyre & Spottiswoode Study Bible, Revised Standard Version).

A similar command is issued in Exodus 23: 9: ‘You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’.

The commentary on Exodus in The New Bible Commentary Revised, D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs and D.J. Wiseman, eds (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press 1970) states that the Hebrew word translated as ‘strangers’ is Gerim, which means ”refugees’, folk seeking political asylum.’ (p. 119). The same book’s commentary on the two verses in Deuteronomy states that ‘this demand for Israel to love the alien is without parallel in Ancient Near Eastern legislation. While the Israelites were commanded to honour and fear their parents and to listen to the prophetic message, they were commanded also to enter into a relation of affection with the sojourner as a reminder of God’s love during the Egyptian captivity.’ (pp. 217-18′.

Now imagine the horror amongst the Tories if the archbishop or some other leading member of the clergy quoted those verses in a sermon attacking Conservative attitudes to asylum seekers, using the literal translation of ‘refugee’. They’d go berserk criticising him or her for interfering in politics, just as they attacked Robert Runcie when he was Archbishop of Canterbury for daring to attack Thatcher’s policies towards poverty.

The Biblical Condemnation of Lying

Exodus Chapter 23:1-4 also contains proscriptions against lying and perverting the course of justice. These are

You shall not utter a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man, to be a malicious witness. You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his suit.

The people smearing decent, self-respecting, anti-racist women and men as anti-Semites, and suing them for libel when they dare defend themselves, like the odious Rachel Rily is trying to do to Mike, should not this passage and remember it.

Sam Seder and Co Lay into Anti-Democrat Party ‘Jexodus’ Movement

March 14, 2019

In this video posted on the 12th March 2019, Sam Seder and his friends at the Majority Report lay into the Jexodus movement, launched by Elizabeth Pipko, to encourage Jews to leave the Democrat Party because of ‘anti-Semitism’. It’s the Jewish counterpart to Brandon Strauka’s ‘Walkaway’ movement.

They play a clip from Fox and Friends in which Pipko appears to explain why they’re launching the movement. This begins with Trump hypocritically pontificating that the Democrats have been the anti- Israel, anti-Semitic party after the comments by Minnesota congresswoman Ilham Omar about dual loyalty to Israel. Jexodus, as the Fox presenters gleefully tell their audience, are a group of Jewish millennials. They stated that

We reject the hypocrisy, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism of the rising far-left. Progressives, Democrats, and far too many old-school Jewish organisations take our support for granted. 

Seder remarks that the fact they’re using Strauka’s walkaway movement without crediting him is really offensive.

Pipko herself then appears. She’s not only the movements spokesperson, but she’s also a former Trump staffer. Seder and his friends thus point out the contradiction. She can’t talk about Jews leaving the Democrat party as if she’s one of those giving up their membership, because she was never in it in the first place. Pipko explains that the movement’s called Jexodus after the Jewish people’s departure from Egypt. As Seder explains, Exodus is the book in the Torah – the first five books of the Bible – which describes how the Jews, then the Hebrews or Israelites, left Egypt. Exodus is already a term which refers to Jews. Calling their movement ‘Jexodus’ is therefore somewhat redundant. The Jewish Seder explains that it would be like saying that ‘this year at our house, we’re having a Jassover – a Jewish Passover’. He and his team then go on to make up other words combining ‘J’ and another element of Jewish faith or identity to show how ridiculous this is. Like ‘Jagels’ – bagels for Jews. Or ‘Jom Kippur’ – Yom Kippur’, but for Jews. ‘It’s like Jisrael – Israel, but for Jews!’ is another joke.

She then talks about how the anti-Semitism started under the Obama administration, and then got worse. But the Democrats have tried to hide it, refused to condemn it, and now its time for Jews to leave. The Fox presenters then talk about how there was going to be a resolution by the Democrats condemning anti-Semitism and specifically Omar’s comments, but due to pressure from the party’s left, this was changed to a more general resolution.

Pipko then moans that what was frightening wasn’t Omar’s original comment, but the lack of leadership by the Democrat party. As Seder jokes, they should have ‘jendemned ‘ – condemned it, but for Jews! They then go on with the ‘J’ jokes, as well as saying how they remembered Obama telling AIPAC that he was going to cut off their funding, ‘you goddamn load of shop-owners!’ Michael Brooks, who is also part Jewish, then spoofs Pipko’s attack on Obama as anti-Semitic by impersonating Obama calling them a load of Christ-killers while claiming to be politically correct. More of these jokes about Jews being ‘Christ-killers’ follow.

They then go to the Jexodus website, and its logo. This has the Star of David with the stars and stripes of the American flag, with ‘Jexodus’ underneath in mock Hebrew letters. They observe that it’s disturbing as it sort of resembles a White supremacist website, but one which believes the Jews really have taken over America, and this is what they’ll be doing soon – ‘Jamerica!’, Seder exclaims.

I’ve put this video up, as it shows how the Republicans and Israel lobby in America are using the same tactics to smear the Democrats and Israel’s critics as anti-Semites, just as Corbyn’s opponents within and outside the Labour party are doing over here. And it’s just as false. The accusations of anti-Semitism did start against Obama, it’s true, but it’s not because he was anywhere near anti-Semitic. It was Obama that gave Israel its Iron Dome missile defence system, for example. What enraged the Israel lobby in America was that Obama didn’t give the country all of the funding it wanted, though what Obama did give it was considerable. Hence there was the unedifying spectacle of pro-Israel groups whining about how anti-Semitic he was and claiming that America itself was somehow massively full of Jew-haters.

And obviously it’s colossally hypocritical for Trump to claim that the Democrats are anti-Semitic, when a large bloc of his supporters and cabinet were members of the Alt-Right and avowed anti-Semites and White supremacists.

Now there’s the question of the way Jexodus has conflated criticism of Israel not just with anti-Semitism but also anti-Americanism. There’s an interesting piece on the web – I think it might have been posted by the Electronic Intifada – which details the history of Zionism, and the way Jewish Zionists promoted their cause in the early 20th century in America by making deliberate parallels between themselves wishing to found a new land, and America’s own pioneers. This explains how it is that after Israel’s victories in the 1967 war the American Right could move over so easily to supporting Israel, with right-wing Christian fundamentalists proclaiming that ‘its values are our values’. In fact, as Tony Greenstein has explained on a post he has put up on his blog this morning, the question of dual loyalty and support for a foreign state – in this case Israel – which Ilhan Omar raised is a very good point. And it’s one that Israel itself has cause by declaring that Jews everywhere are citizens of Israel, even though half of the world’s Jews live outside it. It was a declaration that would have appalled the early Jewish opponents of Zionism, who were afraid that the founding of a Jewish state would lead them to be suspected of having greater loyalty to that nation than to their own native countries. This is why the British Jewish community by and large strongly opposed the Balfour Declaration pledging British support for a Jewish state in Palestine.

In Britain, America and other countries the Israel lobby and Conservatives, including those within the opposition parties, are using the charge of anti-Semitism as a weapon against the left and to shut down justified criticism of Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians. Ultimately this tactic will harm the Jewish community, as it gives the impression that it is full of dictatorial, domineering personalities who demand absolute, uncritical support for a foreign nation from gentiles and Jews alike. And it will demean the charge of anti-Semitism by using it so gratuitously to smear decent, anti-racist people.

 

Abby Martin on White Supremacism and Anti-Black Racism in Israel

September 2, 2017

This is another video from RT’s The Empire Files, presented by Abby Martin, showing the grim reality of Israeli racism and White supremacy. It’s about Israel’s persecution of Black immigrants. These include Black asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, and Ethiopian Jewish immigrants. She begins by stating that the Palestinians aren’t the only persecuted group in Israel, and the vicious racial hatred, discrimination and violence towards the Black minority is ironic, coming from a people, who have themselves been bitterly persecuted, whose monuments swear ‘Never Again’ to the horrors of genocide.

The Sudanese and Eritreans comprise only half a per cent of Israel’s population. They came to the country by crossing the Sinai from Egypt, having fled their own homelands due to persecution. The Eritreans seek asylum from conscription into the army, where they are forced to live and work in slave-like conditions. Israel has been forced to take more of them in after Europe has begun to close its borders to them. Yet despite their small numbers, they have been blamed and vilified for spreading crime and disease. Mary Regev, an Israeli politician, has described them as ‘a cancer in our body’. Another Likudnik claimed that they were responsible for a spate of rapes, but that the victims did not report them because their violators had given them AIDS. He also declared that ‘Israel belongs to the White man.’

The result of this has been a series of attacks on Black immigrants. One man was beaten to death by a youth, while a Black baby was left with brain damage after another man stabbed it in the head.

The claims of criminality are all wrong, like so much of the same bullsh*t that is retailed by the extreme Right here in the West about coloured immigrants. In fact, something like one per cent of all crime is committed by Black immigrants from these countries, and the areas inhabited by them have less crime than those of mainstream Israeli society.

In the film, Martin talks to some of these migrants, and hears their stories about fleeing from persecution and genocide in their countries of origin. These people cannot go back. If they do, they will be killed. But nevertheless the Israelis are building massive detention complexes in which to imprison them. Those so incarcerated include genuine asylum seekers, but they are nevertheless also libeled as economic migrants. After they have served their term, they are released and told that they have to go back to their home countries, even though this will mean death for many of them. She also cites the statistics showing that Israel has a far lower rate of granting asylum to migrants seeking sanctuary there.

The asylum seekers also describe how a market, which they set up so that they could buy their own food, was destroyed by the Israeli police.

Ethiopian Jews are also subject to vicious discrimination and persecution. They were allowed to settle into the country after a chief rabbi decided that they were proper Jews, and so could be allowed in under the law of return. Many of them immigrated in a series of airlifts by the Israeli military in the 1970s. I think the Canadian-Israeli film maker, Simcha Jacobovici, made a documentary about these entitle Exodus. Ethiopian Jews constitute only 2 per cent of the population, but are subject to discrimination and resentment. It has been revealed that the Israeli state had a eugenics policy designed to keep their birthrate extremely low by administering contraceptive or sterilizing drugs to Ethiopian women. They were told that they would not be allowed into the country unless they agreed to have these drugs. Martin interviews one Ethiopian young woman, who is part of a civil rights movement, who tells her how the Israeli medical services will not take blood donated by them, but will throw it away.

She also talks to Israelis attending an anti-immigration rally. One of them states that he is a member of Israeli Labour Party, and so considers himself left wing. But he opposes Black immigration, citing their supposed criminality. Not all Israelis accept the reality of this persecution in their society. Martin’s interview with the Ethiopian girl is interrupted by an angry Israeli man, who tells her that she’s wrong, and an argument begins.

I’ve posted up a series of pieces describing the Fascistic nature of the Israeli state. It has a system of apartheid directed against the Palestinians, in which the indigenous people are subject to arbitrary arrest and beatings, whose drinking water can be fouled at will, and whose homes may be occupied by gangs of Israeli settlers.

Critics of Israel have also pointed out that the Zionist settlers were Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe, who looked down upon the Arabs, including Arab Jews, as racially and culturally inferior. They were White supremacists, hence the pronounced racism against Blacks in Israel.

As for the forced sterilization of Ethiopian Jewish women, this is in direct contravention of the UN Convention on genocide. Israel isn’t alone in this policy, however. The Nazis did it. The Americans also did it to the indigenous peoples, apart from the mentally defective. The Swedes also sterilized those they considered ‘dysgenic’ until the 1970s. And the Czechs have also done it for decades to the Roma, the Gypsies, in their country.

So while they’re hardly unique, they’ve still committed a crime against humanity, defined as genocide under international law.

Yet despite this, the Zionist lobby is determined to smear anyone who dares to criticize Israel for its racism, genocide and ethnic cleansing an anti-Semite, include proud opponents of all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Those smeared include both gentiles and self-respecting secular and Torah-observant Jews. In the Labour party, the Zionist lobby in the form of the Jewish Labour Movement has tried to censor all discussion of Israeli racism. And the woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has done the same, demanding the expulsion and suspension of people, whose only crime is that they embarrassed the Zionists by revealing what they really don’t want people to know.

The Jewish Labour Movement is the companion organization to the Israeli Labour Party, which was responsible for a series of massacres of the Palestinian population under Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, and whose leader has described his deep hatred of the Palestinians and his desire to have the 61 Arab MKs deprived of their seats in the Knesset.

Instead of decent people like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein being subjected to trumped up charges of anti-Semitism, the leaders of the Zionist lobby, including Andrew Pollard of the Campaign Against Zionism, should have to answer for their support of a brutal, Nazi regime.

On Gender, Misogyny and the Word ‘Mouthy’

August 21, 2016

I was astonished to hear today that somebody had called Mike from Vox Political a ‘misogynist’ because he had called someone ‘mouthy’. Mike’s accuser was under the impression that ‘mouthy’ was a term that was only used against women.

Now I’m aware that a staple of misogynistic abuse and jokes down the centuries have been about women’s supposed greater predisposition to talk and gossip. There’s even been some scientific evidence presented for this. Supposedly, women on average talk so many more thousand words per day more than men. On the other, it’s also been claimed that male and female brains are biologically different, and this explains why women are better at language skills, while men have better spatial skills. This has also been challenged by neuroscientists, who’ve said that, except for people at the extreme ends of the scale of gender characteristics, there’s no difference between the brains of men and women. So that fact – that women talk more than men – may be another factoid.

But the term ‘mouthy’ is different. In my experience, it’s most definitely applied to both men as well as women. When I was at school, I can remember other boys being described as ‘mouthy gits’. And there’s the phrase, ‘all mouth and trousers’, which is certainly applied to men, who like the sound of their own voices. Similarly, noisy, ignorant men are described as ‘loudmouths’. And so on.
I also distinctly remember how this got into an RE lesson at school, when they teacher wanted to stop one of the boys from talking during class. She had just been teaching us about the appointment of Aaron as Moses’ spokesman in the events leading up to the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. The Hebrew term for ‘spokesman’ in the Bible literally means ‘Chief Mouth’. One of the lads was continuing to talk over the teacher, so she shouted out his name, and then said, ‘You Chief Mouth’, to the lad’s embarrassment and the hilarity of the rest of the class.

Mike ain’t a misogynist by any means, and neither is ‘mouthy’ a gendered term of abuse.

Vox Political on IDS Replacement, Stephen Crabb

March 19, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a piece giving a few choice facts about the man now filling IDS’ seat in Cabinet, Stephen Crabb. He points out that Crabb has enthusiastically supported all of the benefit cuts, including the 30 per cent reduction in ESA. However, he begins by talking about Crabb’s enthusiasm for curing gay people.

No, he isn’t a mutant crab. That was a bad joke.

Not a joke is his apparent belief that people who are gay can be cured of it. He is on record as having taken interns from a charity called Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), and sponsored a ‘gay cure’ event run by the same organisation in 2012.

Perhaps he thinks serious illnesses and disabilities like cancer, Parkinson’s disease and amputated limbs can also be cured. Let’s face it, everyone carrying out Work Capability Assessments seems to have that belief, so he wouldn’t be alone.

While times have changed and there is far greater acceptance of gays and homosexuality than there was when I was growing up, it’s fair to say that many people still believe that it’s wrong and unnatural, even though it is found amongst other animals, not just humans. What I believe is incontestable is that the alleged cures do more harm than good. There have been a series of scandals amongst the various religious charities and groups in America, which claim to be able to cure gay men and women. A number of the leaders of these groups, who claim to be ‘ex-gay’, have been exposed as hypocrites, actively carrying on a gay lifestyle while claiming to have successfully left it behind. Some have also engaged in intimate bodily contact with the people they claim they are trying to cure, under the pretext that they are just trying to check to make sure that such same-sex contact doesn’t arouse them. I believe the head of one of these organizations, Exodus, even resigned and admitted that the cure didn’t work and he was still gay.

What is equally worrying is the immense psychological harm that can be done by these organisation to vulnerable young people. There’s a South Park episode in which one of the characters is mistakenly diagnosed as being bisexual, and packed off to a special treatment centre run by one of these organisations. One of the jokes in the episode is about the young people incarcerated in this institution keeping on committing suicide. South Park is known for its grotesque humour, which is often in flagrantly poor taste, but like much of the show’s contents it does make a perfectly valid point: there is indeed a danger of the young men and women sent to them trying to commit suicide. Private Eye in one of its columns a few years ago reported the case of a teenage girl, who was suffering from depression. This young woman was packed off to one of these institutions, which had been given permission to open over here by one of the local authorities. The girl had a history of suicide attempts, and there was considerable fear for her safety. The cornerstone of the old Hippocratic Oath that doctors had to swear was ‘First, do no harm’. If the supposed treatment entails making a vulnerable person feel so depressed that they are in danger of taking their own life, then it’s clear that the treatment violates that cornerstone of medical morality and should be discontinued. And you don’t necessarily have to believe that homosexuality is right to consider that inflicting people with needless pain and suffering is at all moral.

Crabb’s attitude to curing people of homosexuality is only one of his qualities that make him manifestly unfit for government. As a supporter of the government’s austerity programme he will no doubt carrying with their work of murdering and culling the disabled through their chequebook euthanasia. IDS was a disgrace, and it’s disgraceful – but expected – that he’s been succeeded by this man.