From the category of “questions I’m too lazy to research,” how is it that famine happens on such a large scale? From what I understand, hunger is always been a problem, even when the human population was less than 1 billion people, so the growing population can’t be the only factor. Also from what I understand, we *do* have enough food to feed everyone in theory, but it’s getting the food to those who need it that is the sticky wicket. Why is food distribution so difficult/impossible? What, if anything, can we do about this?
I don’t typically hear about atheists who are as virulently homophobic as a fellow I met on Facebook. This discussion started when I posted on my wall about an anti-gay bill in Nigeria.
Royalist Humanist, an FB user, went on homophobic rants too numerous to repeat here but here are a few examples.
“I am an atheist, I have always stood for the equal basic right rights for all irrespective of any other qualifications. As a Humanist, I do not discriminate against anybody else on the basis of sexual orientation alone …! However, I have the liberty to socialize with a person of specific inclination or not, that is not discrimination…. that is my basic human right ….”
“Gay marriage is something new to Nigeria, therefore they are sticking to the already established moral code about sexual unions between adult and consenting male and female for sex through the vaginal route-called the natural or normal sex. Thoses who come with a new invention of homosexuality: Anal sex between men or anal-sex between a man and a woman on the name of gay-marriage has the burdern to prove their case….”
“Moreover, human anaal canal has not any defence mechanism against entery of sexual diseases through the male sex organ and the human male sex organ has not evolved any protection against the foul feces in the anal canal and therefore diseases like AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases like Gonorrea and Syphilis are 20-40 times commoner in the anal-sex practitioners like homosexuals and gays as well as in Bisexual men and women. The problems of Bisexuals: A Bisexual man is the one who pracrices vaginal as well as anal sex and thereby easily spreads diseases acquired through the anal route into women through vaginal route as he is a bisexual. A Bisexual woman is the one who allows men to have sex with her through vagina as well as through anal canal; she often gets sexual diseases from Biseual men and then other men get AIDS and other sex diseases through her….”
See if you know where to begin correcting Mr. Humanist. And ask: we might expect this sort of ignorant ranting from religiosi, but don’t we expect better of atheists?
While I am not religious (ya think?), nothing can change the fact that I’m ethnically Jewish. More importantly, nothing can change the fact that I believe in freedom and democracy. That’s why I stand with Israel.
Recently on Facebook, I shared an article about a proposed plan, which probably won’t go through, about sex-segregating the upcoming train system in order to appease the religious market. Part of what shocked me about this is that Israel is very liberal when it comes to sex and gender, in many ways much more so than the U.S. Women in Israel get drafted, just like men. (Yes, the terms are less for women, but the point is that both sexes get drafted.) They don’t have boy scouts and girl scouts; just scouts. The U.S. could learn a nice lesson from Israel.
The responses I got from my friends, though, veered off the sex segregation topic and into a wholesale attack on Israel and on Jews. As a Jewish woman and a supporter of Israel, I can’t help but take this personally. I know that many of you will disagree with me about all this, but I aim that if you follow my thoughts, you might be swayed. Either way, I wish you peace– shalom!
One commentator on my post called Israel a “disgusting country.” Another of my FB friends said about Jews, “Fucking goddie pieces of shit! The arrogance to think that the Lord and Creator of the entire universe would pick some backwards clan of violent Bronze Age sheep fuckers (literally) as His Chosen People is just so damned ridiculous! I don’t condone pogroms or the Holocaust, but I sure understand why they happened. I mean, any kid who went around talking about how cool and special he is in the playground would soon have his ass kicked for him and everyone would understand. Anti Semitism is the same thing; it’s just a matter of scale.”
I replied to these commentators: “@Bob– my mom lives in Israel and I don’t think it’s disgusting at all, but this isn’t one of its prouder moments. Likewise, the US has its share of shameful chapters.
@Anthony: *every* religion thinks it’s the “chosen people,” almost by definition of what religion is. Jews spent a lot of our history in our hidey-holes staying away from everyone else’s wrath, so I don’t think we were out there bragging in the marketplaces that much.
Let’s stick to the original post:) Shalom!”
One of the posters continued: “[Jews] bleated on incessantly about how special and chosen they are by some backwater god. The original Hebrews were a small nomadic tribe with next to no technology or literacy living in the shadow of giant advanced empires in a patch of land that has been called the world’s hallway since it is both in between much and yet contains nothing much of interest of itself. These backwater Bronze Age jackasses rambled on about how special they are on god’s eyes (a claim that can really only be made by monotheists) and the rest of the world has never stopped retaliating.”
In other words, we had it coming. I don’t think of Jews as any more “chosen” than anyone else, although I do think our contributions to the world are very significant, but as I said before, every religion thinks it’s “the best”! BTW, Jews were literate in much larger numbers (yes, even the women) in times and places where most other people were not.
Let’s start with why I see a need for Israel. Jews are in need of a sanctuary after what the world has done to us. Throwing us a bone in the form of a little strip of desert the size of New Jersey isn’t asking too much. All we want is a place to live in peace and to protect ourselves from our numerous enemies. (Please remember: there are tens of millions of people who would like Jews off the face of the Earth.) Perhaps Israel does not need to be geographically where it is, but we want the land more and we make better use of it. Jews came to Israel, purchased lots of the land, irrigated it and farmed it. It was much more desolate and poorer in the hands of Arabs. Now it has an important economy. It might interest my nerdier friends that a lot of internet pioneering was in Israel.
One of my commentators: “I lived in Israel for a year and my brother, sister and all of their children live there. I don’t want to get into debate about how nice it might be to live there but I’m sure if your mom was an arab, she wouldn’t think it such a nice place to live.”
I’ve already made my point when it comes to sexism, but if you still think Israel is a sexist/fascist/ultra-conservative country, compare it to its neighboring countries. I don’t think I need to spell out the details of how backward much of the Muslim world is, but in every liberal and progressive value, of which I hope you share with me, Israel is truly an oasis. By the logic of the above commentator, the measure of a country’s niceness is how it is to Arabs, so perhaps Saudi Arabia is the best nation in the world. (I’ll help you pack. Kidding.) Compare the progressive values of Saudi Arabia with those of Israel.
Think about where you’d rather live. Under whose administration you’d rather to live.
More about sexism. A commentator continued: “It’s pretty impressive how religions speak of the value that they have for women while at the same time, treat women like crap. The Jewish religion claims to hold women in greater esteem than men while not allowing them to have a voice. Many orthodox jews still believe that’s it’s even forbidden to hear a woman’s voice in song! Some members of my family even have separate beds.”
I replied: “I don’t know any Jews like the ones you’re describing, and I think even the most religious Jews out there share beds with their spouses (except during menstruation). Besides, in percentages, how liberal are Jews with regards to sex roles, or anything else, compared to Muslims? And I’ve never seen a Jewish woman wearing a burka, or even heard of such.”
The average Jew, in the US or Israel, espouses liberal and modern values. Can the same be said of the average Muslim? Not if you look at how their countries behave, at least.
Another commentator replies to the guy who said that while he didn’t approve of persecution of Jews, the Jews had it coming: “So the holocaust and the pogroms happened because the christians were appalled by the treatment of women and because the jews were so backgrounded? That is why the nazis burned Einstein’s books?
What is it with people that when they are thinking of the wrongs and crazy superstition of a people, they have to justify the pain those same people suffered?”
Good point about the holocaust and Nazis, but not so much the second matter. The above opinion ignores the point that all religions think theirs is the right one. As for Jews being a superstitious people, I replied:
“The wrongs and crazy superstitions of Jews? Compared to whom? I guess Einstein must’ve been crazy and superstitious… as are nearly all the Jews who are far over-represented in the sciences.”
While no one brought it up in this conversation, many people accuse Israel of racism, which I think is an unfair and untrue accusation, but that’s fit for another post. There are many issues involved in Israel and I don’t have the brainliness to address them all here today.
Israel is the one really free and democratic nation in the Middle East and is the only hope for that region. What really gets to me is that the world resents Israel and many nations in the developed world condemn it, while at the same time saying, “By the way, get out there and protect us from Islamic terrorism.”
Excuse the long post; I didn’t have time for a shorter one.
From December, ’08
Thanks to everyone who made my 30th birthday so special. I had a wonderful time as I enter this new decade of life. L’chaim! Even better, I found out that I’m getting another niece or nephew this June– I’m going to be re-aunted, as my friend Chris said.
Here’s an article that I hope to publish (for money), but is something I’m slow to do. Nu, it’s relevant to the site, so I’m posting it anyway, even though I realize that if I do publish it formally, it might be considered a reprint.
I recall sobbing with my head on my desk at Hebrew school. Me, age eleven, skinny as a rail with scraggly hair just beginning to grow out again after two years in a crew cut.
My teacher Yaffa came to console me. “You will like Israel,” she had said. “I’m from there. Is it so bad?” If it was so wonderful, why had she moved to the United States, I am inclined to ask in retrospect. At the time, I was too inconsolable to question her.
“I don’t want to go,” I said. “I want to stay here. I want to stay home.” I must’ve sounded younger than I was.
My mother had traveled to Israel with Young Judea before she started college at U.C. Berkeley, where she had met my father. She had worked on kibbutzim that year, full of hubris in building a nation. Always somewhat Israel-centric, I remember growing up with her telling me that the Israeli army was the most powerful in the world and if they had wanted, they could destroy NATO; that Israeli women were tough; that the Jewish people had to stand together and build themselves up as a people.
Still, Mom could hardly be described as devout. Indeed, Mom often editorialized about her more religious Jewish friends, describing them as meshuggah. I have, as an adult, described her religiosity as “quarter-assed conservative”: for example, she wouldn’t eat bread during Pesach, so she would keep it in the freezer all week. Other foods forbidden at that time, such as rice and legumes, were fair game. A devout Jew would have taken pains to remove these foods from the house entirely without trying to cut corners. In more recent years, she went to synagogue less and less and even started to eat pork and shellfish.
Mom had taught English as a foreign language in Israel the summer when I was ten, during which I stayed with my dad in Boston. She returned to the States glowing about her trip. I remember asking my mother if she would move to Israel and she told me no. She must have been saying that to lull me into a false sense of security because in the spring, she announced that she and I would be moving there for a year.
To put it lightly, I did not welcome the disruption in my life. I was about to start junior high—a major transition. I had noticed boys and one in particular, a friend with whom I fell in love. I was ready to start French and had even bought a minuscule French dictionary for a dollar at Wordsworth in Harvard Square. The Simpsons had just landed a series, which excited me as I had been a big fan of them since they began shorts on Tracy Ullman. I had friends that I loved and was starting to feel at home and grounded after a childhood riddled with moves and school changes (people today often ask me if my parents were fugitives or stalkers; at least these would have been valid reasons for their playing gypsy).
Mom made jokes about how I was so miserable. “You think it’ll be just like Hebrew School,” she said. “You’ll get off the plane, and a teacher will say, ‘here are your books.’” To dull my sense of outrage, if not actually change my mind, she sent me to therapists, who had the same wisdom: you both have very different needs. This was not the sort of problem therapy could solve, but the therapists were at least able to draw attention to the fact that my mother wasn’t necessarily right in her resolve. It was a crusade my mother would continue after the move to Israel, enlisting therapists, friends and, in one case, a rabbi to show me the light: that Israel was my destiny (incidentally, I never heard a rabbi swear so much). In the mind of my mother and her allies, it made no sense for me to want to stay home in the U.S. Less often heard was “that poor kid”—someone who realized what I was going through.
I wanted to do something, anything to cancel this banishment. I finally had to accede that this was just one year and then I would get my life back.
It was a tumultuous year for me, perhaps more so for Mom. My only thoughts were of my mother’s betrayal and my going home. I was young, on the cusp of adolescence, in a strange culture with a language I did not speak too well. It certainly didn’t help that my mother sent me to summer camp soon after our arrival, which evolved into a complicated traumatic experience for me– and religion played a large part. To my mother’s dismay, I was not willing to cooperate or snap out of my willfulness. A child is at the mercy of her parents, and not cooperating is a weapon of the weak: if you don’t like the results, then don’t do this to me. It’s as simple as that!
I extorted my mother in this way. I wanted to go home. I figured she might regret her move when she saw how miserable I was. With the 1991 Gulf War looming, I thought she might give in; instead, she made jokes about American diplomats “fleeing,” thinking that they were weaker than Israelis, which was probably true. Like real sabras (native Israelis), we carried our gas masks and created a sealed room. I wrote letters to my friends at home telling them it wasn’t as bad as it sounded on CNN. Mom seemed to think the whole thing was an exciting adventure. By then, we were living with Mom’s boyfriend, a likable compulsive cleaner, and I thought I might be the only kid in history whose parent used a war to justify shacking up.
As I counted the months until I could go home, if I had believed in God, I would no doubt have prayed and asked Him to free me from His will that I should live in His Holy Land. Amen.
When Mom demurred in the spring about returning home, her cousin, an older man of few redeeming qualities, told me without empathy that “promises were made to be broken.” I told him my mother would not do that to me, but soon she informed me that she would not be returning and that she wanted me to stay, as well. I stood my ground, furious at her betrayal, and made plans to live in Philadelphia with my father and my new stepmother …but that is a different saga.
What if Mom hadn’t returned to Israel when I was ten? What if the Gulf War began that year? What if something, anything, had weakened her mission to live in a land seven thousand miles away? And globally, what if history had not given Jews the horrible circumstances which necessitated the state of Israel?
I never did get my old life back. I did not forgive my mom for quite some time. The details of my year abroad are too many to describe here, but suffice to say that religion in part hurled me, against my strong wishes, to a life I did not want and was beyond the realm of normal experience for an American kid. Not many Americans decide to simply move to a country on a lark for no practical reason. And not many of those choose to remain expatriates.
“Promises are made to be broken.” It’s a difficult reality to be proven by your own mother. I think back to that scared, scrawny kid and how no one would listen to her.
Not My God is about the experiences of atheists in America because the U.S. is in the unique position of being a staunchly religious nation in the developed world. It’s part of what makes America America: having a gun in one hand and a bible in the other. As a result, atheists have it a lot harder here than in, say, France or Japan.
I recently spoke with a Turkish man who told me that, contrary to what I thought, it was easier to be an atheist in Istanbul than in the U.S! I still find that hard to believe, but it’s hard to deny it coming from him. I went to Istanbul for a short trip as a teenager and it certainly didn’t feel very progressive.
Even though Not My God is about the U.S., I always want to hear from our friends abroad. Especially since this puts American experiences in context. This is from a Scottish correspondent:
“I grew up in rural Scotland in the 80s and 90s, in a very small village, with an appropriately small primary school (for ages 4-5 to 11-12). When I was very young, it was the practice in my school for morning assemblies to feature a very christian theme. Prayers would be said before lunchtime meals, and visits by the local reverend were common. As a child, I had a very hard time following the words of these prayers (I had similar problems understand the lyrics in songs). One day, as we went into the tiny hall to eat our lunches, the dinner lady (a miserable, venomous personality) was leading the prayer as usual, and I started to wonder what would happen if, instead of struggling along pretending I knew the words, I simply said nothing.
“The result of this action was my being physically threatened and shouted at abusively by said dinner lady (her exact words during part of her tirade were “If you don’t join in I’ll wash your mouth out with soapy water”). Bearing in mind I was 6 years old at the time, and the thought of this filled me with dread, I did what any self-respecting 6 year old would do – I told my mother. Suffice it to say, neither of my parents are religious in any way, and had always encouraged me to think for myself. My mother took action immediately, and I was never harassed by that particular wretch again. Interesting how she felt the need to physically threaten a small child who could barely even comprehend what was happening.
“Soon though, another problem would surface. By age 10 I was healthily inquisitive, thanks to my father’s interests in science fiction, science/engineering and satire rubbing off on me (although before you make any conclusions, my father is a tradesman). Around this time the entire school was still congregating in the mornings for these christian themed assemblies. The tradition was to recite the Lord’s Prayer before assembly would begin – except that since I had no religious education outside of school (most other children went to Sunday school), I did not know the words. I also suffered from undiagnosed myopia, and could not read the words from where I usually sat. I had previously pretended to avoid trouble, but one day I decided to fight back.
“I was caught by the head teacher sitting, eyes open, saying nothing and looking entirely unenthusiastic during the prayer and was singled out and reprimanded in front of the entire school population. I believe this to be the pivotal moment in my journey towards total rejection of religious beliefs. I could not understand both their need to pray and their need to punish anyone who did not agree. I began to aggressively question ideas that others took as rote, and established a reputation as a troublemaker, an upsetter of the status quo. Not only that, but the idea solidified in my mind that I did not have God to thank for my achievements – only myself and those who supported me – and I tried as hard as possible to share these ideas with others. I know this may be a far cry from some of the more extreme examples where evangelism and Mormonism are concerned, but the running theme seems to be similar. Accept that a fictional entity is dictating your existence, or be punished.
“Later on, in high school, my religious education teacher (a Protestant) frequently opined that eventually I would understand better, and would subtly hint that I might be religious eventually. My father always said something to the effect that ‘people need religion in their lives because some essential part of their psyche is missing, or damaged, and you should be very careful with them – because their god figures absolve them of ethical responsibility in the long run.’ As I have travelled through life into adulthood, I have seen this demonstrated time and time again. I sincerely wish more people could have had parents like mine, for whom the concepts of mysticism, racism, sexism, homophobia et al simply did not enter the picture. As with religion, when I first encountered these similarly ignorant attitudes they were virtual unknowns to me, and quickly revealed their true colours.
“Thereafter I decided as a matter of principle to never again sit by the sidelines and listen, but rather to challenge the bearers of these ideas and test their convictions. I have only contempt in my heart for those who make the non-religious feel threatened and unwelcome in society.”
This is such a good illustration of what I think many atheists go through. What first struck me is that it reminded me of my mom and how when she was in school as a kid, they made all the students recite the Lord’s Prayer– and she was Jewish! I have no idea how “Christian” the school could possibly have been, since this was in Union, New Jersey, which was a fairly Jewish area.
Another aspect is “fighting back.” The writer (as a small kid, mind you) used forethought and deliberately resisted having religion imposed on him– even though he knew this would get him in trouble. How many of us had to sacrifice comfort or safety for what we know is right? How many of us could, either as adults or kids?
It is interesting that children are often able to see inconsistencies, such as those this writer saw in religion, that many adults would not see, particularly after a whole lifetime of indoctrination. From the mouths of babes, as it were. Many adults tend to think that children aren’t as “smart” as grown-ups, or don’t have the critical thinking skills (skepticism) that they will grow to have. Clearly, that’s not always the case.
That story about the Emperor’s New Clothes really captures a lot about atheism. Here we are, the kids, saying the Emperor is naked– and getting a mouthful of soap for our troubles.
Hi Diddly Ho Infidelerinos,
For those of you who haven’t heard the good news, I’m going to the Amazing Meeting with Andy, and I am performing stand-up at the talent show! However weirdly, I am performing in Las Vegas, in the best event center at Las Vegas Country Club. The Lаѕ Vеgаѕ Country Club hаѕ bееn ѕаtіѕfуіng gоlf enthusiasts іn Lаѕ Vеgаѕ ѕіnсе 1967. But thе rеѕt of thе world ѕееmѕ to hаvе tаkеn nоtісе оf thе сlub’ѕ еnvіаblе grееnѕ аnd lосаtіоn tоо — bоth the PGA аnd LPGA hаvе hоѕtеd tоurnаmеntѕ here. If уоu hоld уоur corporate mееtіng, wedding, оr social occasion at thіѕ vеnuе, уоur guests will еnjоу thе реrfесtlу mаnісurеd grounds and thе еаѕу access tо аll оf Lаѕ Vеgаѕ’ top аttrасtіоnѕ.
The article isn’t available online, but a shortened version of a chapter in Not My God, based on an interview with Sayid (not his real name) is in American Atheists magazine.
Although Not My God is about atheists in the U.S. since the religious atmosphere of my country persecutes atheists more so than most other developed nations, I always want to hear from people abroad– their personal stories, as well as their point of view about atheism and religion in the U.S. For example, In some ways, religion may present a greater challenge to many European nations than it does to us.
Sam White writes:
“I live in Northern Ireland and have been an atheist for a number of years now and proud of it. I’m also a life member of American Atheists. I read with interest every article published in the magazine, sent to me on a regular basis.
I was brought up in a strict Christian family, with a brother and sister. I went to church 3 times a week and 3 times on Sunday. I knew nothing else but god, Jesus, Christ, bible and holy spirit…….what a lot of baloney!!!!!! I was baptized as a baby, so-called saved at 7 and started preaching the word at 15. What a waste of my early years. I was not allowed to question anything, but I’ve certainly made up for it now.
The so-called Christian faith is full of hypocrisy and unanswered questions…..what is god, has anyone seen him, is god he/she/it, if he loves everyone, why is there a hell, where the hell is heaven???????etc.
One other question I have yet to get an answer to is: How was the world populated???? I can understand Adam and Eve and their sons, but that only makes 4. I can only assume that incest occurred…….sons and mum, daughters with dad and brothers. It’s all so confusing and no answers available, so why should I subscribe to that? The bible does not answer that for me and I’m sure no Christian could either.
I strongly believe that science has more answers for me than any so-called Christian faith.
I read your article about ‘Sayid’ with interest and conclude that my decision to become an atheist was the right one.”
Thanks again, Sam.
This is a post from a couple of weeks ago that I mistakingly put as a page, previously on the right by the About this Page stuff.
No results on the winner of the Christian Kitsch contest just yet…Corey of God is Pretend and I have so many great choices to contend with that our judgment day is very difficult!
This blog is about the personal stories of atheists, since there are many other blogs dealing (much better than I could) with political happenings, current events, evolution, skepticism, etc. When I started Not My God, I resolved to refer to such things tangentially lest I lose the mission of the project, but sometimes it’s hard to not mention those other subjects when they can weigh so heavily on my mind.
I think that along with global warming, militant Islam is the greatest challenge of our times and both scare me so much that I wish I had a prescription for Lisa Simpson’s Ignorital, but pay attention I must or else what else am I supposed to do?
The most recent book I read about the threat of Islam is Brigitte Gabriel’s
which not only scared the hell out of me, but provided ways we can fight back to preserve freedom and democracy. I was spellbound and horrified by what I read.
One of the obstacles of challenging Islam is political correctness/”cultural sensitivity” of the free developed world for the benefit of Islam. While I am in general skeptical of PC, well-intentioned though it may be, for reasons such as this example
Six Year-old Suspended for Sharing Lemon Drops
In the latest in a national trend, a six-year-old boy was suspended from school for half a day for giving a lemon drop candy to a classmate. Officials at Taylor Elementary School in Colorado Springs, CO summoned an ambulance and the fire department to respond when they found the boys in possession of the candies, which were bought by the student’s mother in a local health food store, and which school officials could not identify. The suspension came despite the mother’s assurances as to the identity of the candies, and despite those assurances, school officials urged the parents of both students to take the children to a local hospital for “tests.”
The school district’s policy treats any unfamiliar product as “drugs,” according to an administrator. The suspended student’s mother told the Denver Post that the school’s response was one of “complete hysteria” adding “I can’t believe these people are educating our kids.”
from THE WEEK ONLINE with DRCNet
ISSUE #20 – November 23, 1997
Drug Reform Coordination Network
I agree even more strongly about the danger of political correctness in abetting and emboldening our enemies.
While I do not think Gabriel herself is an atheist (she was raised, at least, as a Christian), I think that atheism, and the nation of Israel, will go a long way in our fight. While we’re on the subject of Israel, it fries me how the developed world chastises Israel for its attack (I would say counter-attack) of Muslims…all while saying, “Now get out there and save our asses from Muslim terrorism!”
The threat of Islam is relevant to me on a personal level– even if not exactly “the personal stories of atheists.” This could, in a very practical and horrible way, effect us all.
Please read Gabriel’s book, if for no other reason than for its practical advice about grassroots activism.
The answer is in your hands, as the story says. The free world defeated Naziism. We can defeat this, too.
Huzzah, everyone! One of my interviews was published in Secular Nation magazine. Right now, the article itself is only available in print, but the magazine site itself is http://www.atheistalliance.org/secular/index.php#new_issue
Also, please check out my Not My God video. Thanks again to all who participated. Let’s make another one if, Darwin willing, my book is picked up. I admit, though, I’m a little embarrassed by how I looked and sounded. Gosh, do I really sound like that?!? Ugh. How come no one tells me I sound so hideous?
Please check out my new submissions of people’s stories. Not every one will make it to the book I am writing, but nevertheless, everyone’s stories are worth reading.
It’s not directly about atheism, but…
Lots of people have been asking me, and I’ve been discussing online, the current situation with Israel. My mom lives there, so I have an affiliation to the country that biases me, although I think I would feel the same way no matter where she lived. To those of you who asked, she and her husband and friends are fine, thanks for asking, but naturally concerned. If you’ve read a couple of my older posts, you’ll know that I lived in Israel, as well, and yes, my feelings about being forcibly moved there were less than charitable, but today I acknowledge the importance of Israel.
I have a homemade poster in my room depicting the Israeli flag and the caption, “These colors don’t run, either. Stand with freedom and democracy.” Over my desk, I keep a copy of the Israeli National anthem, HaTivka (“The Hope”) which here I translate loosely:
As long as every (spiritually) living Jewish heart goes on,
We advance towards the East,
Our eye to Zionism.
We have not lost our hope,
The 2,000-year-old hope
To be a free people in Our Land
The land of Zionism and Jerusalem
Yes, I’m not religiously Jewish, but nothing can change the fact that I’m ethnically Jewish. Israel was created in part because, given the events of history, Jews need a sanctuary…although I’ve expressed some skepticism in the past that grouping us together in a small part of the world would make it that much easier for our enemies to “finish the job.” Think how easy it would be to club chickens in a chicken coop. That aside, here in Brookline, a very liberal city with a large percentage of Jews, we’ve had demonstrations for both Israel and Palestine. I told the pro-Israel demo that I was on their side, as they proudly held the flag, singing, “Am Yisrael Chai,” which loosely translates into “Long Live the Nation of Israel.” I sang along as I walked towards home.
Again, yes, I’m not religiously Jewish— but Israel is the only truly democratic and free country in the Middle East. It is a small free nation, surrounded by enemies on all sides, peoples who well and truly wish to destroy us. Obviously, I am sympathetic to innocent Palestinians who are dying, but I’m with Israel here.
My feelings are strong, as my feelings with regards to Islam have been strong in the last several years. I know that not everyone, not all Jews, nor all atheists, are with me on all this. For one of my discussions on the matter, look here. I would like to quote it here in full, but it would take up too much space.
I: You got that right.
In the case of Israel, Israel needs to exist. The US and the rest of the free world needs to think: who are our friends and who are our enemies? Your friend is the nation of people who live in a free country with a true democracy and not governed by religious dogma. Your enemy is the one whose people were cheering in the streets when September 11th happened.
V (Other poster): Sarah, it’s clearly a bigoted statement you’ve made there. If only reality were so prejudiced and myopic. I too saw video clips of Palestinian peasants cheering on Sept. 11th. This doesn’t persuade me that ALL Palestinians are enemies any more than a black riot or a white supremacist group’s lynching persuade me that ALL whites are racists and ALL blacks are angry bigots. Equally weak is the idea that any and all democracies are allies on every American concern or issue.
A war that is waged by a government, where millions of innocent civilians are killed, and excused by that government as “acceptable casualties,” is hardly more moral than a terrorist organization that targets thousands of innocent civilians and calls that “acceptable” turn-around.
In the “Isreal and her enemies” conflict, when it is not clear “who started it,” we can’t just take sides arbitrarily just because it’s politically expedient. Peace only happens with mutual consent and real compromise. In my understanding of Isreal’s history, it is not clear that Isreal has abided by treaties set down 40 years ago. Those that side with Isreal excuse her for breaking the treaties and making land grabs against the UN decisions. If that doesn’t really matter, then what does?
I: I know that I’m bigoted and I think it’s a justifiable and essential bigotry. I am no longer going to be “tolerant” of ideas that threaten me and freedom.
I am not at all saying that all Palestinians are our enemies. I am speaking of the entity itself. I look at the sheer numbers of supporters of Islamofacism, and there are a lot– not just a small niche like Caucasians in the KKK.
Again, Israel does not target civilians. Palestine does. Israel does not indoctrinate children to become suicide bombers. Palestine does. Do all Palestinians do this? Of course not. However, lots of them do. Look at the facts of the situation rather than accept things in the name of “tolerance.”
Again, who are your friends? Who are your enemies?
If you live in Boston, I invite you to join me for coffee and see that I’m not as bad as you think:)
(me again, not on the Amazon discussion)
Even now, Americans don’t know what it’s like to have your enemies next door, blasting rockets at you, so before any pro-Palestine people who are reading this think Israel isn’t really defending itself, think again.
Just kidding. This is Not My God, a site for the personal aspect of atheism. I'm putting together a book with that title, having already 20 interviews lined up, but I still want to hear from more of you.
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