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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You've made good points here. Christianity by its nature is very anti-Jewish. Many ugly stereotypes pass from one generation to the next without being questioned. Since faith is used by Christians as the mean to acquire knowledge, they just accept them, sometimes add spices and pass on. Is Christianity good for the world when by its nature it encourages hatred and crimes against humanity?
Tracking efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy.
Goucher College’s free speech expert puts kibosh on “pro-Palestinian” Jews
Posted on November 22 2009 by Cecilie Surasky under Educational Institutions.
More and more ridiculosity. Phil Weiss has the story on this latest dumb act of McCarthyism, aka Deploying Israeli-Exceptionalism While Claiming That It’s Everyone Else Who is Singling Out Israel.

After arrangements had already been made and approval granted, at the last minute, Goucher College president Sanford Ungar blocked the invitation made by Goucher Peace Studies students to two Jews: the US Campaign to End the Occupation’s Josh Reubner, and the Fast for Gaza’s Rabbi Brian Walt (photo to left), who is also the former head of Rabbis for Human Rights North America. Ungar reportedly had no problem with the invitation to the third panelist, Zahi Kahmis, originally from Nazareth. (Kahmis is a Goucher professor.) The students at Goucher are in an uproar and have filed official grievances regarding the violation of their rights.

In an interview with The Quindecim, Goucher President Sanford J. Ungar defended his decision, citing a history of anti-Israel speakers on campus, several of which have resulted in complaints from students, alumni, and parents. “We don’t want Goucher to end up on a list of schools with a reputation of bringing vehemently pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli speakers to campus,” said Ungar. “I don’t think it would be good for enrollment.”

What makes this more notable than usual is that Sanford Ungar, Goucher’s president, and a former journalist and All Things Considered host, actually teaches a course this semester called, natch, Free Speech, in which Ungar promises to “examine constraints on free speech in our daily lives, and the debate in this country over what it means to be patriotic and whether patriotism requires us to, or prohibits us from, saying certain things.”

It will be really interesting to see exactly what conclusions Ungar plans on drawing from this sequence of events and his role in them.

-Cecilie Surasky

Judaism is less of a problem for atheists because there aren't very many practicing Jews and because they don't proselytize. Israel does not equal Judaism. Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself, but that right shouldn't extend to the ethnic cleansing and apartheid they are engaged in.

Personally, I think the creation of Israel was a strategic error for ethnic Jews (the history of violence since 1948 seems to have been entirely predictable), but done is done. The state of Israel exists, is internationally recognized, etc, etc. That doesn't give them the right to bulldoze homes and shops of Palestinians, build walls to keep out the riffraff, and extend settlements into disputed territories. The state of Israel is doing things with my tax dollars that I would prefer they not do. It is irritating that the US supports Israel unconditionally, and I'm pretty sure that the only real reason it does so is because of largely unspoken religious solidarity. The US doesn't seem to have any practical reasons to turn a blind eye to the more egregious actions of Israel.
It isn't apartheid because Israel does not consider Gaza or the West Bank Arab lands to be part of Israel.
Israel built the wall to defend itself. If the Arabs dropped their arms there would be peace.
The mistake Israel made was to build settlements, and they are making a mistake right now expanding them.
The support is not unconditional. If not for Israel in non war times, the US would be spending a lot more in the middle east keeping things in check.
Also, the money that Israel gets is mostly spent in the USA. So when you take the multiplier effect into account, the USA doesn't get hurt very much.
"If not for Israel in non war times, the US would be spending a lot more in the middle east keeping things in check." Given the current situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the amount of aid the US gives to the Arab countries generally, I'm not sure how it would be possible for us to spend more in the region. In any case, that's sort of a difficult proposition to make a case for, since we have no way to run a historical experiment. It could as easily be that without Israel, the US wouldn't feel the need to meddle so much.
If Israel didn't exist is not a basis for an argument in the now.
Uh, that's sort of what I'm saying about your argument that we would spend more in the region if not for Israel. But OK, change it to "if we broke our alliance with Israel". I'm not convinced that would lead to greater expense for the US in the Middle East, and I think it could actually reduce our obligations.
How about this. If the US didn't aid Israel, Israel would have to defend itself in a more harsh way. And that way would upset the relationships between the oil producing nations and the USA.

Plus it isn't like Muslims don't attack Muslims. Since 1948, there have been 11 Muslim deaths during conflicts in the world. 35,000 were in and about Israel (Israel lost around 16,000 Jews in that period due to war and bombings). 10 million of the Muslim deaths though were at the hands of other Muslims. See Darfur for example.
Or, Israel would have a greater incentive to find a way to make things work with their neighbors, like they did with Egypt. Again, though, it's awfully hard to say without actually trying it. What we've been doing for the last 60 years hasn't been particularly effective that I can tell.

And even if Muslims kill Muslims, I'm sure they'll all be more than happy to sell us oil so they can keep killing each other. Again, it's not terribly clear to me that the US needs to spend so much on the region in order to get what we want.

That's not to say that there aren't good humanitarian reasons for engaging in the region and using diplomacy and trade to make things better where we can. I just don't see that the swagger and gunboat approach has worked all that well. It seems to hurt as much as it helps.
The US only started supporting Israel with aid during the time of Nixon. It had more to do with the Cold War than anything else.

And the land offered to the Palestinians from day one hasn't been acceptable to them. They were offered the entire West Bank for peace and declined the same time when Egypt accepted the offer of land for peace.
Wasn't the US one of the first countries to recognize the independent state of Israel in 1948? I think that counts as support. I grant that much of the military and financial support had to do with the Cold War, and mostly came later. Interesting: The UN, the US, and the USSR intervened against Britain, France, and Israel in the Suez Crisis of 1956. The US didn't want Egypt going to the Soviet bloc. I never knew that (before my time). When else did postwar US and USSR support the same side militarily?

So OK, the US has mostly supported Israel since independence, and increasingly since Nixon. I still don't think the alliance has benefited the US particularly, and in many ways, the relationship has allowed Israel to get away with things they shouldn't have (like the settlements).

That the Palestinians have not been pragmatic or trustworthy doesn't excuse the bad behavior of the Israelis. The fact is, Israel holds all the cards. They are in a position of power. They frequently abuse that power, which only harms their cause.

This side thread has gone pretty far off topic (mea culpa). If we want to continue, we should probably start a different thread. I'll just finish by tying back to the original topic: Israel does not equal "the Jews". It's a modern state with all that entails, good, bad, and otherwise, and, as a state, it has done a lot of things I don't like (as have many other states). I don't spend a lot of time worrying about Judaism, because it's not in my face. That said, a lot of the ammunition I use against Christianity comes from the Old Testament, so it often applies to Judaism (and Islam) as well. Ethnic Jews are just people, and like anybody else, they are all over the map ideologically, socially, economically, etc. It would have been much better if the thread had been titled "Why do we give Judaism a pass?"
"...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."

This is an extremely presumptuous sentence. You are assuming that Jews outside of Israel--American Jews, for example--justified Zionism to themselves and their children based on theology. As a blanket statement this is a load of shit. Historically, there have been a mixture of motivations and rationales, both secular and quasi-religious, but the secular motivations--with the exception of the expansionist fanatics--were always decisive. i.e. to rescue the Jews of Eastern Europe, and after the Holocaust, support for Israel was a foregone conclusion. Religious motivation by itself would count for very little, but it was part of the mix, and added ideological and emotional factor to bolster what was once a highly improbable enterprise. Actually, you don't give Jews a pass, you are probably as ignorant and anti-Semitic as the next person. You don't feel the need to learn about anybody different from yourself, so naturally you project the Christian mindset onto everyone.




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