Tag Archives: Terrorism

Love Your Enemies

isis-flag

Isis flag: What do the words mean?

The white banner at the top of the flag reads: “There is no god but Allah [God]. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.” This phrase is a declaration of faith used across Islam, and is known as the shahada.

Underneath is a white circle emblazoned with black writing reading “Mohammed is the messenger of God”, which is meant to resemble the Prophet’s seal, similar to that used to close an envelope.

al-qaeda-flag

Al Qaeda Flag

Jabhat al-Nusra is an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Its flag includes the white inscription at the top of the flag, which is the shahada, or the Islamic declaration of faith. Underneath the shahada is the name “Jabhat al-Nusra” in Arabic. Dec 16, 2014

Shahada

The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة‎ aš-šahādah audio (help. · info), “the testimony”; aš-šahādatān (الشَهادَتانْ, “the two testimonials”); also Kalima Shahadat [كلمة الشهادة, “the testimonial word”]), is an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God (tawhid) and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet.

The Islamic Declaration of Faith

Declaration of Faith (Shahadah) The most basic requirement of being a Muslim is to publicly state the words “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger”, in Arabic, with sincerity and without any reservations.

Love Your Enemies

Michael Berg, whose son Nick was beheaded in Iraq in 2004, told ABC News’ Aaron Katersky on Thursday (June 8, 2006) that he abhors that the U.S. military has killed al-Zarqawi.

“I will not take joy in the death of a fellow human, even the human being who killed my son,” said Berg, who blamed President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — and not al-Zarqawi — for the death of his son because of what Berg said is their role in making possible the torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

“Revenge is what killed my son,” said Berg. “My son died in a perpetual cycle of revenge that goes on and on, forever. It’s got to stop somewhere. As far as I’m concerned, it will stop with me.”

“I wish the Iraqi people, and the U.S. soldiers who mistakenly believe they are protecting us, good fortune in weathering the upcoming violence,” said Berg.

A man after God’s own heart. So, why did Mr. Berg  declare to the world that “Revenge is what killed my son.” But at the same time stated, “I will not take joy in the death of a fellow human, even the human being who killed my son,”

The Bible has a great deal to say about revenge. Both the Hebrew and Greek words translated “vengeance,” “revenge,” and “avenge” have as their root meaning the idea of punishment. This is crucial in understanding why God reserves for Himself the right to avenge.

The key verse regarding this truth is found in the Old Testament and quoted twice in the New Testament. God states in Deuteronomy 32:35,

Deuteronomy 32:35 (NKJV)

35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;
Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the day of their calamity is at hand,
And the things to come hasten upon them.’

 In Deuteronomy, God is speaking of the stiff-necked, rebellious, idolatrous Israelites who rejected Him and incurred His wrath with their wickedness. He promised to avenge Himself upon them in His own timing and according to His own perfect and pure motives.

The two New Testament passages concern the behavior of the Christian, who is not to usurp God’s authority. Rather, we are to allow Him to judge rightly and pour out His divine retribution against His enemies as He sees fit (Romans 12:19Hebrews 10:30).

Unlike us, God never takes vengeance from impure motives. His vengeance is for the purpose of punishing those who have offended and rejected Him. We can, however, pray for God to avenge Himself in perfection and holiness against His enemies and to avenge those who are oppressed by evil. In Psalm 94:1, the psalmist prays for God to avenge the righteous, not out of a sense of uncontrolled vindictiveness, but out of just retribution from the eternal Judge whose judgments are perfect. Even when the innocent suffer and the wicked appear to prosper, it is for God alone to punish. “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies” (Nahum 1:2).

As Christians, we are to follow the Lord Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), leaving the vengeance to God.

How does a man like Michael Berg love the enemies who beheaded his son? Through God’s undiscriminating love to all people

When Jesus said we are to love our enemies, He was creating a new standard for relationships.

He proclaimed to the crowds listening to His Sermon on the Mount that they knew they were to love their neighbor because the command to love our neighbor was a law of God (Leviticus 19:18).

That we must therefore hate our enemy was an inference incorrectly drawn from it by the Jews. While no Bible verse explicitly says “hate your enemy,” the Pharisees may have somewhat misapplied some of the Old Testament passages about hatred for God’s enemies (Psalm 139:19-22140:9-11).

But Jesus replaced this idea with an even higher standard: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus explained to His followers that they should adhere to the real meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors.

By using an illustration of the sun rising and the rain falling on both the good and the evil, Jesus shows God’s undiscriminating love to all people. We, as His disciples, must then reflect His character and exhibit this same undiscriminating love for both friends and enemies. Jesus is teaching us that we must live by a higher standard than what the world expects—a standard that is impossible for us to attain by our own efforts. It’s only through the power of God’s Spirit that we can truly love and pray for those who intend to do us harm. (Romans 12:14-21)

After giving us the admonition to love our enemies, Jesus then gives us this command: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). As sons of our Father (Matthew 5:45), we are to be perfect, even as He is perfect. This is utterly impossible for sinful man to achieve. This unattainable standard is exactly what the Law itself demanded (James 2:10). So how can Jesus demand the impossible? He later tells us, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). That which God demands, only He can accomplish, including the demand to love our enemies. What is impossible for man becomes possible for those who give their lives to Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.

Free Will and Wisdom

Police Shootings, ISIS Terrorism, Addictions, And Domestic Violence: Psychologists Explain Why It All Happens

Police shootings, ISIS terrorism, addictions, and domestic violence are increasing in our society. Many have described these incidents as senseless, but is it really?

Theories

 Police shootings, ISIS terrorism, addictions, and domestic violence are increasing in our society. Many have described these incidents as senseless, but is it really? Psychologists Sean Seepersad, Ph.D., Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., and Amanda Taub, who holds the unusual title of Senior Sadness Correspondent, and human rights expert, approach various aspects of society in a quest to make sense of the senseless.

 Police shootings, ISIS terrorism, addictions, and domestic violence are all symptoms and not the disease, according to these experts. Their separate conclusions weave a cohesive picture of a society breaking down because the building blocks of that society, namely people and relationships, are eroding.

 Fear, isolation, and a need for control seem to be the unholy trinity of all modern ills, based on the work of these experts.

 Reality

 Free will. According to Oxford Dictionaries, free will is defined as “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.”

According to Theopedia: Probably the most common definition of free will is the “ability to make choices without any prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition, and specifically that these “free will” choices are not ultimately predestined by God.

 So the question we as Christians need to ask ourselves is: “Do human beings truly have a free will?”

 Were the incidents described above due to “a society breaking down because the building blocks of that society, namely people and relationships, are eroding.” Or were they because we as a human race exercised our free will to decide without wise counsel. We reacted instead of being proactive and making wise decisions as to how to handle the outcomes.

 So, the answer to the above question as to whether or not human beings truly have a free will is YES! If “free will” means that God gives humans the opportunity to make choices that genuinely affect their destiny, then yes, human beings do have a free will.

 The world’s current sinful state is directly linked to choices made by Adam and Eve. Both Adam and Eve had a choice to make: to take a bite out of the apple or not take a bite. We already know the answer to their dilemma, but even though we say that man is born to sin (Romans 5:18-19), free will does not mean that mankind can do anything he pleases.

Our choices are limited to what is in keeping with our nature. For example, a man may choose to walk across a bridge or not to walk across it; what he may not choose is to fly over the bridge—his nature prevents him from flying. In a similar way, a man cannot choose to make himself righteous—his (sin) nature prevents him from canceling his guilt (Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”). So, free will is limited by nature.

This limitation does not alleviate our accountability. The Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely (Proverbs 12:26, Psalms 1:1-6). In the Old Testament, God chose a nation (Israel), but individuals within that nation still bore an obligation to choose obedience to God. And individuals outside of Israel were able to choose to believe and follow God as well (e.g., Ruth and Rahab).

 In the New Testament, sinners are commanded over and over to “repent” and “believe” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 1 John 3:23). Every call to repent is a call to choose. The command to believe assumes that the hearer can choose to obey the command.

 Jesus identified the problem of some unbelievers when He told them, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). Clearly, they could have come if they wanted to; their problem was they chose not to. “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7), and those who are outside of salvation are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20-21).

But how can man, limited by a sin nature, ever choose what is good? It is only through the grace and power of God that free will truly become “free” in the sense of being able to choose salvation (John 15:16). It is the Holy Spirit who works in and through a person’s will to regenerate that person (John 1:12-13) and give him/her a new nature “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Salvation is God’s work. At the same time, our motives, desires, and actions are voluntary, and we are rightly held responsible for them. But is all the pain and suffering in the world from the gift of free will worth it? Is free will the cause of evil? Some people think so and want to take away our freedoms. But, free will is not the issue. It never has been the issue. Jesus had free will and went about doing good (Acts 10:38). Jesus chose wisely, always thinking, saying, and doing the will of the Father (John 6:38).

 As stated above, the Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely. Why would God allow men to have free will when their hearts and minds do evil unceasingly (Genesis 6:5)? Is free will really that important to God? Yes, it is. The entire Gospel is all about free will and wisdom, letting men discover the truth and then choose wisely or unwisely. As an unknown author wrote, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it does not come back, it was never meant to be.” “The Prodigal Son” is a parable that nicely personifies this quote (Luke 15:11-24).

From the beginning, God knew all the risks and vowed to never let go of His eternal purpose for men, which is to let them choose, whether wisely or unwisely. God knew the risks and declared “free will” would be every person’s right no matter what. (Deuteronomy 30:19).

God set all men free with the hope they would choose to return (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God knew the risks but drank the bitter cup of rejection knowing many would never return. He allowed men to have free will. He allowed them to go. But in doing so, He also gave them the Gospel, a path back to the Father should they chose to return, like the Prodigal Son (John 14:6).

 Did God make the right decision by giving men the gift of free will? Yes, absolutely! Again, “Salvation is God’s work. At the same time, our motives, desires, and actions are voluntary, and we are rightly held responsible for them.”

If you were to ask your children if we (as parents) made the right decision to bring them into a fallen world they would answer, “Yes, absolutely!” They would answer in the affirmative not because life has been easy or fun or grand. It hasn’t always been, not for any of them. They would answer “yes” because they know free will is a gift and wisdom a means to manage the troubles and struggles on the narrow pathway of life (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Palestinian lives don’t matter to US media

Palestinian lives don’t matter to US media

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

 

As Israel ramps up its deadly attacks on Palestinians, mainstream US media outlets are actively concealing the alarming displays of genocidal racism emanating from Israeli Jewish society.

Violence against Palestinians is nothing new. Israel’s ongoing colonial project requires enormous levels of brutality against Palestinians. But this daily reality is only newsworthy when it blows back against Israeli Jews, which has been the case during the last week with a number of violent incidents against Israeli settlers.

Every unsavory act allegedly committed by a Palestinian since the drive-by shooting of an Israeli settler couple last Thursday has garnered major headlines. During the same time period, Israeli settlers and soldiers have terrorized Palestinians across the occupied West Bank in attacks that have injured nearly 1,000 Palestinians, including at least 66 people with live rounds.

Yet these acts of systematic violence have barely registered as an afterthought in establishment press reports, sending a very clear and chilling message. Palestinian lives, it seems, have no value until Israeli Jewish lives are affected.

Meanwhile, incitement to murder by Israeli leaders and Jewish lynch mobs chanting “death to Arabs” were comprehensively omitted from US media coverage, much like they were in the lead up to the burning alive of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair last year.

“Death to Arabs”

Following a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City that killed two Israeli settlers last Saturday, hundreds of Jewish extremists paraded through the streets of Jerusalem demanding collective vengeance against Palestinians.

Chanting their hauntingly routine “death to the Arabs” rallying cry, they broke into lynch mobs hunting for Palestinians to attack.

Anti-Palestinian race riots have erupted with increasing regularity in Jerusalem since the lead up to the 51-day assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014 that killed 2,251 people, the majority of them civilians. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “this time it seems that the Jewish mob which took to the streets was accepted by Jerusalemites with understanding, if not downright approval.”

The crowd was made up of extremists from an assortment of far right groups, including activists from Lehava, the anti-miscegenation group that equates mixed Arab-Jewish relationships and assimilation with genocide of the Jewish people. There were also more female participants than usual and they played a key role in riling up the crowds.

“We have to kill them all, including the Arab Druze in the army,” one woman was quoted as saying.

“Where were you at seven in the evening?” another woman shouted at the police. “Go beat up Arabs.”

“Let the people of Israel enter the gates and kill Arabs,” hollered a youth at the police.

Despite their hostility towards the police, the mob attacked their Palestinian targets with relative ease under Israeli police escort throughout the weekend.

On Saturday night Israeli extremists targeted a Palestinian worker with tear gas and attacked a Palestinian driver who struck a pedestrian in his frantic attempt to flee.

At the Jerusalem light rail, extremists asked passengers if they were Arab to determine whether or not to attack them. More disturbing than the mob itself was the lack of concern from bystanders, who “responded apathetically and tried to look the other way,” reported Haaretz.

“There were many drivers who honked in solidarity and vocally supported them. The cafes and restaurants along Jaffa Road were full of people watching the march of hatred passing back and forth.”

In stark contrast to the saturation of headlines about the Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers, just one major US media outlet mentioned the hate fests but only after four Palestinians were stabbed by an Israeli Jew in Dimona following a week of incitement and race riots that went unreported.

How to whitewash a lynching

The race riots continued into early Sunday morning, with a mob of rightwing Jews chasing 19-year-old Fadi Alloun, shouting to Israeli police, “Shoot him! He’s a terrorist! Shoot him!” and “Don’t wait! Shoot him!”

The police obliged, firing several gunshots. Alloun, unarmed and visibly terrified, was executed on the spot and the racist crowd rejoiced in celebration, cheering, “Yes! Yes! Son of a bitch!” and “Wow!” and “He’s an Arab!” and “Death to the Arabs!”

Israeli officials quickly justified the killing by claiming without a shred of proof that Alloun was shot after stabbing a 15-year-old Israeli boy.

Despite publicly available videos showing Alloun being shot in cold blood while posing no threat and despite Israel offering no evidence to corroborate the accusation that he stabbed an Israeli, US media outlets accepted Israel’s version of events as fact.

The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren and correspondent Isabel Kershner parroted Israeli police claims, reporting that Alloun “stabbed and wounded a 15-year-old Jewish boy on a road outside the Old City.” They went on to whitewash the video footage of Alloun’s killing, describing the lynch mob who hunted him as “Israeli civilians in pursuit,” as if they were good Samaritans tailing a dangerous criminal.

The New York Times published at least ten news stories about the recent spate of violence, yet it wasn’t until the tenth report on 9 October that it found space to report on a “death to Arabs” rally.

The Associated Press followed a similar rubric.

“A Palestinian teenager stabbed and moderately wounded a 15-year-old Israeli early Sunday morning in Jerusalem before being shot dead by an Israeli officer, police said,” was the extent of its coverage of Alloun’s killing.

The article went on to detail several instances of Palestinians allegedly behaving badly toward Israelis by hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, though a vague recognition that Palestinians had been injured by Israeli forces was buried towards the end of its report.

In a follow-up report the AP whitewashed a massive gathering of “thousands of Israelis” outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Monday night who were “demanding tough action,” according to the AP.

Who were these “thousands of Israelis” and what “tough action” were they demanding? The AP doesn’t say.

According to Haaretz, the protest was organized by the Samaria Settlers’ Committee, a far right group that produced an animated video earlier this year, which employed classical anti-Semitic tropes to incite against left-wing Jews.

In attendance were Israeli cabinet ministers Haim Katz and Yariv Levin, who demanded Netanyahu respond to Palestinian attacks on settlers by building more illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank. Settlement construction, saidLevin, will allow Israel “to beat terrorism in the most Jewish way possible.”

“Freezing [settlement] construction encourages the villains,” he told the crowd.

“Burn them in their villages”

Despite the US media’s refusal to report on them, the “death to Arabs” rallies have continued unabated.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of Jewish extremists marched through Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs” and “burn them in their villages.”

They were reportedly led by extremists affiliated with Lehava and the notoriously fascist Beitar Jerusalem soccer fan club La Familia.

If not for social media and a handful of English-language Israeli media outlets, the existence of these lynch mobs would be virtually unknown.

 Palestinians were attacked in Netanya, a city in present-day Israel, the same night by a hate mob chanting “death to Arabs” and “Netanya residents are taking care of the Arabs.”

Lighting the next match

The next lynching of a Palestinian isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

Even Israel’s security cabinet expressed concerns, predicting that another deadly attack by Jewish extremists similar to the burning of the Dawabsha family over the summertime is likely to occur.

And once again Israeli leaders will have lit the match.

Slamming Netanyahu for being too soft on Palestinians, Israeli justice minister and genocide advocate Ayelet Shaked openly agitated for collective punishment. “We need to do things that will hurt [the Palestinians], so they understand [terrorism] doesn’t pay,” said Shaked.

As “death to Arabs” riots erupt across Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat is imploring Israelis to carry their guns at all times to shoot potential Palestinian “terrorists.”

In the Israeli lexicon the word “terrorist” refers to any Palestinian who resists Israel’s matrix of oppression, including children who throw rocks. Israel’s security cabinet recently made it official by approving the use of live fire against Palestinian rock-throwers.

Therefore urging Israeli civilians to shoot “terrorists” amounts to giving vigilantes license to kill not only Palestinians who attack settlers but also children who throw pebbles or any Palestinian perceived as threatening to Israel’s colonial system.

“Eliminate the enemy”

During a visit to the far right protest outside Netanyahu’s home, Naftali Bennett, Israeli education minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, applauded as heroes Israeli settlers who shot alleged Palestinian assailants dead over the last week.

“Against the cowardly Arab terrorism, a wave of Jewish courage is rising to defeat it,” he told the protesters, encouraging them to “eliminate the enemy.”

“For the past 120 years, people are trying to kill the Jews here. The enemy changes, but we remain here, growing and building our land,” said Bennett. “We are the eternal nation, and we are raising our heads. Jewish heroism will defeat the enemy.”

Eli Ben-Dahan, the settler rabbi and deputy defense minister who decreed that Palestinians are “beasts,” called for faster demolitions of the family homes of Palestinian attackers and for the expulsion of their families.

“Demolishing terrorists’ houses and deporting their families is the best deterrent and most efficient way to deal with terrorism by individuals,” Ben-Dahan told an army radio station. He also urged Israelis armed with guns to “be alert and prevent another terrorist attack.”

Yinon Magal, an elected reperestive of Habeyit Hayehudi in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, tweeted and then deleted, “it is important to make an effort so that terrorists who carry out attacks are not left alive.”

He later clarified, “I’m not saying we should take the law into our hands and lynch people.”

He added, “Whoever is trying to kill us should be taken out.”

It remains unclear how this is different from his original tweet.

During a right-wing sit-in protest at the site of a stabbing attack in the Old City, Moti Yogev, a member of the Knesset from Habeyit Hayehudi, was captured on film shouting at an elderly Palestinian woman, “Go to the grave. You will not pass here! Only Jews!”

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears uninterested in provoking a Palestinian uprising at the moment, he is being pushed further to the right by the ultra-nationalist hardliners that dominate his governing coalition.

Not to be outflanked by Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu has declared “a fight to the death against Palestinian terror.”

This incitement has deadly consequences. Israeli soldiers executed six Palestinian protesters and injured another 60 in Gaza for allegedly throwing rocks at the border fence. And on Friday, a Jewish Israeli in Dimona stabbed four Palestinian workers.

The Associated Press, which has avoided covering incitement by Israeli leaders, rushed to report Netanyahu’s condemnation of the attack and then blamed Palestinians for fueling the unrest.

As Israel’s culture of hatred spirals out of control, the media outlets concealing the incitement from top Israeli leaders and the “death to Arabs” riots they help spawn are complicit, again.

Editors Note: At initial publication, none of the US media outlets discussed in this article had addressed “death to the Arabs” rallies. The article has been updated to reflect that after more than a week of ignoring the phenomenon, The New York Times eventually mentioned it in a report.

Dispatches from the Underclass

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

As Israel ramps up its deadly attacks on Palestinians, mainstream US media outlets are actively concealing the alarming displays of genocidal racism emanating from Israeli Jewish society.

Violence against Palestinians is nothing new. Israel’s ongoing colonial project requires enormous levels of brutality against Palestinians. But this daily reality is only newsworthy when it blows back against Israeli Jews, which has been the case during the last week with a number of violent incidents against Israeli settlers.

Every unsavory act allegedly committed by a Palestinian since the drive-by shooting of an Israeli settler couple last Thursday has garnered major headlines. During the same time period, Israeli settlers and soldiers have terrorized Palestinians across the occupied West Bank in attacks that have injured nearly 1,000 Palestinians, including at least 66 people with live rounds.

Yet these acts of systematic violence have barely registered as an afterthought…

View original post 1,773 more words