I was reading an article in the "Atheist Revolution" blog and I came across this snippet:

When I encounter a parent telling her children about Santa Claus, I may find it unfortunate that someone would lie to one's own child merely for entertainment purposes. The potential for harm here seems trivially small. I cannot say the same for the Muslim parent instructing his son in the virtues of martyrdom or the Christian who tells her daughter that her Jewish friends will go to hell because they have not been "saved."

Could we not add something like the following to the last sentence:

...or the jew who tells his kids that he's "chosen" and has a covenant with god that entitles him and his "people" to the land of Israel, and then uses that as justification for a bloody occupation of Palestine.

The one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead is approaching (Dec. 27th) and I think we should take a look at where we've come since then. The Goldstone Report: buried. Settlements: expanding. Palestinian house demolitions: continuing.

As atheists, we should be appalled whenever religion is used to justify actions that result in suffering or death. We do not seem to hesitate to speak out when a child dies because a Christian Scientist eschewed Western medicine in favor of prayer. We do not seem to hesitate to speak out when a Muslim nutjob finds motivation in his religion to grab some firearms and gun down some people. Why are we silent when an ethnic group uses a story about chosen people and covenants in The Big Book of Jewish Fairy Tales (aka, the Old Testament) to justify what is looking more and more like a slow, methodical ethnic cleansing campaign? Why do the Jews need to have Jerusalem all to themselves? Why is it so important to them to have a Jewish majority that they'll turn Gaza into a prison camp and The West Bank into Swiss cheese where the Palestinians are forced to live on smaller and smaller plots of land and endure more and more restrictions on their movement? If this were being done to a Jewish population they'd be screaming about a second holocaust.

The bottom line is that all three major religions are guilty of many modern-day atrocities and have a great deal of blood on their metaphorical hands. Why do we only bewail the actions of two of those three major religions?

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I take exception to the usage of Apartheid. It is rhetoric at this point. Now, I'm critical of Israel, I've always been against the settlements, and I think it is time for Israel to define its borders. To date, they haven't had anyone to negotiate with as the PLO and HAMAS have been into the complete destruction of the Jewish majority state.
The current offer on the table by the Arab states is a non starter because with the Right of Return it would turn the Jewish majority state into a Muslim majority state.
If Israel defined its borders to include the entire West Bank and Gaza and still didn't give the Arabs in those regions equal rights, then it would be an Apartheid state. But as it is right now, these lands are disputed territory. The West Bank used to be under Jordan's governance, but Jordan doesn't want it anymore. The thing is that it is not Palestinian territory by default because in effect the land was won by Israel during war.
That being said, it would be great if Israel didn't have one settlement in the West Bank, but now there are 300,000 settler. Moving most of them is pretty much unthinkable. We are talking real cities there.
There needs to be some sort of land swap.
To those that it would matter to, I also would be seen as an ethnic Jew.

I figured as much, from some of your previous comments, Jeff. The origin of my faint Jewish ethnicity goes back many generations. I hope that we can keep this discussion going in a constructive way. Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

Do you see Israel as an occupier of territory within the '48 borders?

I'm only a little familiar with the complexities of the arrival at the '48 borders. I know that a lot was determined by the military superiority of the IDF. I'm not so concerned with what's happened, though any meaningful conversation can't be had without taking the past into account, as I am with what can be done to assure the humane treatment of all of the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine. Nationalism in any form is counterproductive to that. As long as there are Israelis and Palestinians working for a peaceful solution, and the rest of the world can see things in the region for what they are, not as part of the outworking of God's immutable plan for his chosen people, we'll get closer to a resolution. The apathy that's so commonly heard "Those people have been killing each other for thousands of years. They'll never have peace. Why bother?" doesn't help.

Thanks again, Jeff, for reading my comments in the spirit in which they're given.
My pro-Israeli sentiments have nothing to do with religion or Biblical destination.

I wouldn't expect that they do. What do you think of the Goldstone report? What do you feel to be the motivations behind it?
The "critical response" you cite, Jeff, is actually a criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinians and a response to the "conceit" its author perceived in the NYTimes Op-Ed piece The Gaza Report's Wasted Opportunity:

If you want to have that debate, go ahead. If Israelis want to have that debate, let them. In fact, they did not need this report to have this debate and what’s mysterious about the whole conceit of this editorial is to claim that Goldstone’s report “should have been” about producing an internal debate in Israel. Just let that wander around the mind for a minute: the death, starvation, and mass internment of Palestineans is still for this author a matter of internal debate in Israel—a debate, by the way, that is ongoing and far more livelier than in the US.

You can deny this report only by deliberately responding to the set of fact it displaying, not by suggesting that it was not supposed to make any factual claims, but merely start a philosophical conversation on just war theory—a debate that outside of this context finds generally agreed answers. Because for the Palestineans, it matters little whether there is “deliberate disregard for innocent human life” or simply “disregard for innocent human life.” And isn’t that enough to condemn it? Or is this really about keeping a debate going on in Israel while the lives it takes in its untenable apartheid structure (one ultimately destructive to the Israeli state) continue to mount?

Frankly I think you no interest in the Israelis. I have no idea what your spin is.

Thanks for the veiled accusation. Fuck the Palestinians, right?

All the Jews complaining about how their government treats Palestinians are anti-Semitic? I know you're smarter than that.
What areas are you calling Palestinian? Are we talking '48?
Fuck the Israelis, right?

The Palestinians know who they are. The Israeli soldiers do too. I don't think there's any confusion about that on the ground.

are you telling me Jews and Christians have equal status with Muslims in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt (or in the rest of the Arab World)?

Are you suggesting that Muslim governments set the standard for how the government of Israel conducts its business? This is classic Tu Quoque(Two Wrongs Make a Right). In other words "Jews have been and still are oppressed in many parts of the world. Israel is just turning the tables." If your thinking comes down to this, we have nothing further to discuss. Just know that when you equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism you're employing non sequitur. I'm thankful that there are Jews in Israel that are outspoken on this issue and that are capable of seeing a complicated situation as requiring more than "yes/no" answers.
For me, it isn't about giving any religion a pass. They are all wrong and all deserve to be called out. I live in an area where there are virtually no Jews or Muslims and where I regularly have fundamentalist Christianity shoved in my face. Thus, my daily life is filled with experiences that make me contend with Christians.
I did a couple of videos around three years ago justifying Israel's existence. This was before the Gaza war.
For those interested I touch on moral comparisons, and real history of Israel and the Zionist movement.
Note: the stupid hat and the the stupid blanket in the second video was just for attention:

This is indeed a very good question. I think part of why we give Jewish people a pass is because they don't try to convert others. I have indeed been very annoyed about any group of people trying to define their existence as chosen above any other group of people by the invisible, sky Daddy, God.
Obviously sympathy on a humanistic level is warranted. I have to ask why this collective American sympathy is not expressed to the Ukrainians? Stalin killed millions and we seem to have brushed it aside.

I think in the direct aftermath of WWII the American sentiment was genuinely humanistic, and maybe we felt somewhat guilty for not having entered the war earlier than we did. However, that is the past!

The "free pass" you speak is an ugly reality which stems from the war but is no longer tied to it. It is safe to say that most Americans would accept military action where there is evidence of genocide, but the collective morals this country projects to the rest of the world are not determined by its everday citizens. It is the upper echelon of our society who decides what is morally acceptable. The average citizen is coerced into accepting the moral views of the elite as the status quo. If you consider other acts of genocide, such as Rwanda, you will see that "America" will voice opposition to it, but will not act unless there is some economic or political agenda to be satisfied. The Kurds? We all know Iraq is about oil, not the acts of genocide committed by Saddam. We never "send in the troops" unless our wallet is in jeopardy! Or if we are assisting England, as in the Falkland Islands.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with the Jews? Well, in America, the Jews have successfully integrated into our society, and that is fine with me, but they have done so well that as a whole they they have the highest per capita income of any other religious group, or any specific ethnic group, period. A Pew Research Poll put 49% of Jews earning $100,000 or more per year. Despite their rather low population in the U.S. this does make them a voice to be heard. So, over the past few decades the upper echelon of our power structure that I spoke of earlier have come to accept, depend, and in some cases cater to them. If you couple this with the underlying guilt the average citizen still feels for the holocaust it becomes acceptable for the atrocities taking place in Isreal and Palestine to continue. It is obvioulsy not accepted on religious grounds! If the Christians had their way they would be occupying the holy land!

In closing I must say that while I despise the relilgion of the Jews, I must admire them as a people! Their social cohesion, forced or otherwise, is astounding! And hey, I would take a free pass if it were offered to me! So would many others. If anything, I despise the corruption of the American value system by greedy politicians and social elitists.
Here is what I find telling. Since 1948 35,000 Palestinians have died because of the conflict with Israel. We are talking during quite a few wars and constant terrorism.
Israel seems to get tremendous attention when you consider that since 1948 11 million Muslims have died in conflict. And over 10 million of those deaths were Muslim versus Muslim:

Is Israel (and Jews) held at a higher standard than Muslims? Or is there something more to it?
- When religious group A is oppressing religious group B based on religion, I tend to rush to the defense of B. Not because they are at all innocent but because A is often no less guilty and being horribly hypocritical.

- Where I live (20th/21st century America), Jews are almost always getting the short end of the stick and oppressed based on slander, fear, ignorance, and ugly stereotypes. So yeah, when a Christian calls someone a dirty, greedy Jew, I'll rush to defend, besides reminding them that Jesus is a Jew.

- I've never once had a Jew try to sell me on converting to their religion or even suggest to me that I'm a lesser person because I'm not Jewish. I grew up in a largely Jewish neighborhood. As a whole, WAY nicer than the Christians in the neighborhood (I was raised Christian btw).

- The food they serve at their functions is exponentially better than any church pot-luck I've ever been to. ;-)



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