Progressive Except on Israel


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Right on cue, a Princeton Seminary professor recently suggested for the Huffington Post that the revolution in Egypt was actually a time for pondering how American “hegemony” might be overthrown throughout the Middle East.  He also lamented how many fellow left-wingers are PEPS, i.e. “Progressive Except on Israel.”

The revolts in Egypt and Tunisia are special challenges to the Religious Left.  For much of 30 years it has said nearly nothing about human rights abuses in the Arab world, not even under pro-Western regimes. To do so would distract from exclusive focus on Israel as the primary regional villain.  Critique of Arab regimes also might risk critically examining political Islam, especially Sharia, which the Religious Left emphatically wants to avoid.  Such examination might impair its version of interfaith dialogue.  And it would distract from focus on the American Christian Right as the primary theocratic threat to global peace and justice.

Accordingly, Princeton theologian Mark Lewis Taylor was impatient with questions about whether Islam can generate an Enlightenment transition into modern democracy. He was far more interested in the “Christian Question,” which is: “Can Christians, especially in the U.S., discern the extent to which their own nation is an economically and militarily exploitative power in the Middle East/West Asia, and then voice and organize as part of a counter-power to that U.S. hegemony?”

Presumably Professor Taylor does not confine America’s hegemonic exploitation just to the Mid-East but was focusing on America’s crimes in that region in reaction to the latest Egypt events.   He complained that American celebrants of the Egyptian revolt were failing to “acknowledge the politics of abuse the U.S. has long tolerated in Egypt for its interest in controlling oil prices and maintaining alliance with Israel.”  He particularly faulted Egypt under Mubarak for “servicing both U.S. politics of oil price control and alliance with Israel.”

It’s not clear why Taylor tagged Mubarak’s Egypt, which is not a major oil producer, as an agent for suppressing America’s oil bill.  Almost certainly Taylor is more disturbed by Egypt’s role as an “ally” with Israel, or more factually, not being an open belligerent.  He was also troubled by Egypt’s ostensible fraternity with the “transnational elites” that similarly exploit “Main Street” USA as part of “U.S. neocolonialism.”  Taylor forlornly wondered whether U.S. Christians would “find their voice to name this U.S. imperialism?”

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  • Patrick Henry

    Progressivism is a highly deceptive ideology, which fools many of its supporters (correctly called "useful idiots" by Lenin) and disarms its mild-mannered critics.
    If they are for women's rights and gay rights, they would be the most vocal critics of Islamo-fascism. But they appease the Islamists. If they supported rising living standards for workers, they would be supporters of capitalism rather than socialism. If they were against militarism and imperialism, they would never have apologized for and appeased Communism. If they were for religious tolerance, they would support Western society, but they don't. They talk of western imperialism, multinational corporations and the like. This is the rhetoric of the anti-capitalist, the socialist, and the anti-colonial Marxists.

    Progressivism only uses the rhetoric of democracy and freedom to push for their true ends: totalitarianism.

  • muchiboy

    "it has said nearly nothing about human rights abuses …. pro-Western regimes. To do so would distract from exclusive focus on Israel as the primary regional villain. Critique of Arab regimes also might risk critically examining political Islam, especially Sharia, which the Religious Left emphatically wants to avoid. Such examination might impair its version of interfaith dialogue."

    Some interesting points here.Criticizing pro western regimes has short term dangers but long term benefits,or vica versa.And surely broad criticism does do a disservice to the Palestinian cause in that it distracts from Israel,a central ,contributing and precipitating problem in the region.However,the left,and right ,too,must have a balanced approach if not view of regional issues and concerns.Direct criticism of Islam and Sharia is opening a dangerous can of worms,but failure to engage or confront is equally dangerous without the benefits of engagement.Interfaith dialogue is laudable and may have significant advantages and benefits.muchiboy

    • PAthena

      The enmity of Arab regimes against Israel is based on religion, Mohammedans against Jews. Add to that the enmity of the Communists – following the Soviet Union, in the tradition of Tzarist Russia. It was Gamal Nasser and the Soviet Union in Cairo in 1964 who invented the "Palestine Liberation Organization," (PLO) with all the phony history and propaganda about Arabs as "Palestinians." "Palestine" always meant "land of the Jews" and "Palestinian" meant "Jew" from the time the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to "Palestina" in order to eradicate all memory of Judea and the Jews, and he outlawed Judaism. That is why the Zionists wanted to go back to "Palestine" and the Britain was given the "Palestine Mandate" after World War I to be "homeland to the Jews."
      The Arabs now miscalled "Palestinians" deserve nothing, and have no legitimate grievances.

      • Supreme_Galooty

        Facts are pesky things, but you, PAthena, seem to have mastered their use without visible detriment. When laying them out for the minions of the left to behold, however, you engage in an exercise similar to casting pearls before swine, although I will grudgingly admit that there is a wee, tiny possibility that some good may come of it.

        Leftists, for their part, are never wrong. It matters not if their ideas are poorly informed or if they utter endless inanities. Their only desire is what is best for others, and since their motives are so pure, questions of mere truth and logic can have no bearing on any of their positions. Armed with an incomplete vision, they march steadfastly into the breach. God help them – and us, should we ever again be so imprudent as to grant them any credence whatsoever.

  • StephenD

    Maybe Egypt can give to the Palestinians greenhouses and let them start to develop their own economy and perhaps lift themselves out of living like cave men. I don't think they'd destroy such a gift do you? They may prosper and not require continued support from around the world. Say, didn't Egypt already give them something like this and the Palestinians destroyed it? No, you're right it wasn't Egypt. Who else would have done such a selfless thing for them? Turkey? Jordan? Iran…it must have been Iran. They certainly care about the fate of the people there. Libya or Lebanon maybe? Syria. No, no, Saudi Arabia. All these folks really care about Palestine…I can tell by there hate for Israel.

  • stern

    Patrick Henry, you appear to be saying that the "current Palestinian Authority" originally had sovereign control of the West Bank and Gaza? You also appear to have missed the fact that apart from colonial powers like the Romans, the Ottomans and the British, the only true sovereignty that ever existed in that part of the Holy Land was Jewish and now, is Jewish once again. Wonder why you do that?

  • With God all things

    Progressives are always on the wrong side of spiritual and moral issues. That's why they will lick the boots of jihadists (until the jihadists cut off their heads, anyway) and support the destruction of Israel.

    King Solomon knew the source of courage and the source of cowardice: "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." (Prov 28.1). Progressives, steeped in wickedness like abortion and euthanasia, are cowards in the end.

  • With God all things

    Progressives are always on the wrong side of spiritual and moral issues. That's why they will lick the boots of jihadists (until the jihadists cut off their heads, anyway) and support the destruction of Israel.

    King Solomon knew the source of courage and the source of cowardice: "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." (Prov 28.1). Progressives, steeped in wickedness like abortion and euthanasia, are cowards in the end.

  • muchiboy

    "If one is born there, do they have the right to live there forever? What of the Jews who lived there for 3,000 years? "

    I can only give you my answer,Patrick Henry. Of course there are many others,some likely more to your approval.If the Diaspora ,over so much time and place,had and still have a right of return,so too do the Palestinian diaspora,given their displacement can be measured in our lifetime.I offer no justification nor authority.To me it is self evident,given the historical record.As to the right of the Jews to their homeland,long lost or newly recreated,they are welcomed to it.We in the West have hardly been welcoming to Gods own.In the same breath,the Palestinians must not be denied the right to their homeland,which is one and the same.muchiboy

    • MixMChess

      ".If the Diaspora ,over so much time and place,had and still have a right of return,so too do the Palestinian diaspora,given their displacement can be measured in our lifetime."

      As usual muchiboy, you ignore the basic fact that Jews maintained a continuous presence in the holy land and periodically flourished there over the past two millennia (since Roman expulsion). In fact, even after the Roman sacked Jerusalem, the Jews remained the majority of the population in Israel. The Jews simply moved to other parts of the country such as Safed, Hebron and the Galilee.

      Jews had been returning to the region for two millennia in period waves of immigration. The Zionists of the 19th and 20th centuries were merely part of this age-old pattern.

    • MixMChess

      "the Palestinians must not be denied the right to their homeland"

      How have the Palestinians been denied anything? Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and over 98% of the W. Bank is autonomously governed by the Palestinian Authority. In addition, Israel provides the Palestinians with millions in humanitarian aid and the financial and economic aid to allow the W. Bank economy to grow a record 8-9% in 2009.

      Of course, the Palestinians thank Israel by more terrorism and xenophobia and hatred. Why do you support the racist and immoral PaliNazis? You really have no idea do you?

    • ziontruth

      "…the Palestinians must not be denied the right to their homeland…"

      Indeed the Jews, the only true Palestinians, must not be denied the right to their homeland. Especially not in favor of the group of Arab settler-colonist invaders falsely claiming the name "Palestinian" to themselves.

      In the Indepence War (1947-9) the five Arab armies (Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq) had no problem declaring war on the fledgling Jewish state. At the end of the war they continued that line, but they discovered, to their wonder and dismay, that the idea of a score of Arab states wishing to obliterate one tiny Jewish state didn't wash with the world. Therefore they invented the faux-Palestinian nation, in order to be able to present the Arab imperialist ambition as a struggle of a stateless people against one that already has a state–to reverse David and Goliath. But the truth is unchanged: The Jews are the indigenous Palestinians, and the Arabs are colonists and invaders wishing to steal from them the little they have.

      Anti-Zionism is a cause of injustice. Anti-Zionism is illegitimate. Anti-Zionism needs to be swept into the same dustbin of history as Nazism, with which it shares many ideals.

  • MixMChess

    "While the Egyptian people do not owe the Palestinians,they obviously recognize the role Israel has played in their demise."

    Israel has not played any role in the demise of the so-called Palestinians. In fact the exact opposite is true. Under Israeli rule the Palestinian population has increased exponentially, over 80% from 1993-2004 alone! And just look at the W. Bank where the economy is literally booming with high-end stores, restaurants and shopping in Ramallah.

    "Should they decide to assist the Palestinian people in their righteous fight to regain their homeland"

    Palestinians homeland is not in Israel, it lies where the Palestinian Arabs originated from, THE SURROUNDING ARAB COUNTRIES (like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan etc.). That said, Arabs currently illegally possess over 85% of the Jewish National Homeland. Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and the P.A. autonomously governs over 98% of the W. Bank.

    I think the Arabs have stolen enough land for now, don't you?

    "Egypt does not have the moral baggage that Israel does,and may yet replace Israel as the most influential, stable and democratic power regionally."

    Your claim is laughable at best. Egypt has waged numerous wars of EXTERMINATION against Israel. Egypt suppresses women rights, gay rights and religious minorities (see Copts). Egypt pales in comparison when it comes to liberal democratic principles and the protection of equal civil rights for all its citizens. You are a joke muchiboy.