Israeli Far-Rights Calls for Women to be Expelled from IDF

“Rabbis and parents will not send their sons to an army that recruits women to mixed units”

Back in 2005 Christian Zionist writer and WorldNetDaily columnist Hal Lindsey heralded the establishment in Israel of a “Sanhedrin”:

Two remarkable developments took place recently that are extremely relevant to students of Bible prophecy.

For the first time in 1,600 years, the Israeli Sanhedrin was re-established. It occurred in Tiberius [sic], the site of the Sanhedrin’s last meeting in AD 425.

…On Feb. 9, just a few weeks after the Sanhedrin’s re-establishment, another enormously important development took place. The religious sages began to consider the rebuilding of the Temple and reinstitution of ancient animal sacrifices as prescribed in the Law of Moses.

Lindsey neglected to mention two rather important points: (1) The “Sanhedrin” is purely self-appointed and has no official standing whatsoever; (2) many members of the Sanhedrin are right-wing fundamentalist Kahanists who despise Israeli society – although a few slightly more moderate figures (most notably Israel Steinsaltz) have been drafted in to give an air of intellectual respectibility.

Not much has happened since, although in January 2007 the Sanhedrin’s leaders officially declared an Israeli Major General to be a traitor for obstructing some settlers – and although not spelt out, such “moshers” are traditionally deemed to deserve the fate that befell Yitzchak Rabin.

The “Sanhedrin” has now made a new pronuncement concerning the Israeli army:

The self-appointed Supreme Judicial Court of the Jewish People, also known as the Sanhedrin, passed down on Thursday a halachic ruling which calls to exempt women from army service and expel those who have already been recruited.

…The ruling stated that “rabbis and parents will not send their sons to an army that recruits women to mixed units. There is no place for any flexibility and compromise (in this matter).

Of course “rabbis and parents will not send” is different from saying they “should not send” or “must not send”, and so there is a bit of wriggle-room. However, I think we can see here the threat of a ruling against men participating in an IDF which has not been purged of women.

The problem is that the Israeli army is too soft, and women are responsible:

…The Sanhedrin’s ruling also mentions the IDF’s “failures in the battlefield”, stating that the establishment of mixed units has resulted in a “disruption of the conscience”.

“There seems to be a connection between the inability to make the distinction between the genders and the inability to make the distinction between friend and foe. Both of these characterize the post-Zionist army, which deems such distinctions racist,” the ruling stated.

Apparently, not kowtowing to the demands to a bunch of self-appointed religious dominionists is enough to make the IDF “post-Zionist” – a critique of a piece with an earlier Sanhedrin complaint that the Israeli Supreme Court is “anti-Jewish”. Given how much these people hate their fellow Israelis, one can hardly imagine the degree to which they must detest Palestinians.

(Hat tip: Failed Messiah)

Ugandan Media: Rick Warren Denounces Gay Rights

The Kampala Monitor reports:

Dr [Rick] Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. “We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,” Dr Warren said.

Warren was speaking in support of Ugandan Anglicans who intend to boycott the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, and this harsh rejection of tolerance for gays and lesbians may have serious consequences in a country where homosexuals face harrassment and and the threat of imprisonment.

Warren’s comment is of a piece with his support for Martin Ssempa, the Ugandan evangelist who has been a keynote speaker at a Warren conference, and who has received US global AIDS prevention funds. As I wrote in August, Ssempa wants to ensure that homosexuality remains illegal and that gays and lesbians are identified in the public mind as sexual abusers. Ssempa calls for media censorship against opposing views and the dismissal of dissenting academics, and last summer he organised a rally with the theme “A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality”, at which he railed against “molestation and sodomy.”

Another past Warren conference delegate is Janet Museveni, wife of Uganda’s increasingly autocratic president. I discussed the dubious consequences of Mrs Museveni’s evangelical approach to HIV and AIDS on Talk to Action here; Esther Kaplan has explored the issue in further depth. Warren is just one American evangelist to enjoy links with the Musevenis; soon after President Museveni dispensed with term limits Morris Cerullo declared his leadership to be blessed by God.

Warren is also influential across the border in Rwanda, which Warren wants to be the world’s first “Purpose-Driven Nation“. I explored Warren’s links with President Paul Kagame here.

UPDATE: In December 2009, Warren claimed that the Monitor had misquoted him:

What I said in an interview in Uganda was that there is no civil right to gay marriage guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Jeff Steele Regrets “Mean-Spirited” We Want America Back Rallies

BBC Documentary explores Southern Gospel music

Last week the BBC broadcast White Gospel, a fascinating documentary exploring the American Southern Gospel musical genre. The programme began with nineteenth-century “Sacred Harp” singing in rural backwaters, and charted the development of various quartets and family groups up to the inevitably slick and big-money music industry of today. Along the way we meet some remarkable characters, perhaps the most impressive of whom was Dottie Rambo, who overcame childhood hardship and in 1968 was the first Southern Gospel performer to use black singers as part of her backing vocals. A woman of sincere Christian faith, Rambo recalled how she stood on stage in Jackson, Mississippi, and dared the KKK to carry out an assassination threat.

The programme also featured Jeff Steele, who in 1996 penned a dominionist anthem for the Christian Right: We Want America Back. This hit song, performed by his family group The Steeles, inspired flag-waving rallies in mega churches, during which Steele would deliver a Jeremaid on the state of the USA under Bill Clinton. The song’s lyrics are widely available on-line; here’s an extract:

Something is wrong. Television daily bombards the senses of our nation with the idea that wrong is right, that the abnormal is normal, that the abhorrent is acceptable, and that what God calls an abomination is nothing more than an alternate life-style.

…The only hope that America has is that Godly men and women will stand together as one might army and declare to the immoral, the impure, the obscene and the foul, “Your days of unlimited access to the minds of America are over. The army of God, that has been silent for too long, is taking America back!”

Steele recalled that the song “exploded”:

We played a week in Branson, we’d never been to Branson, didn’t know anything about it. And the mayor of Branson comes out in the middle of the stage, and presents me with the key to the city and an official proclamation, and begins to weep while he’s presenting me with the proclamation.

Now, however, Steele has had second thoughts:

I just finally came to the conclusion that that’s not preaching, that’s rabble-rousing. That’s not preaching, that’s bashing. And I never got into songwriting of the Christian sort to be a bully. If I were to write that song again today, I would probably say 98 or 99 per cent of the same things, but I would not write it or present it in what I would call such a mean-spirited or heavy-handed way.

We can only guess whether this is a real change of heart or simply a strategic reassessment; the programme featured Steele and his wife Sherry singing the song again, softly and to a piano accompaniment. Easier on the ear, perhaps, but still the same song of Christian dominion – just arranged more in tune with the mood of 2008.

Christian Voice and Far-Right Group Protest Muslim Procession

UK news from Earlswood, Surrey, via This is Surrey Today:

Cultures clashed on Easter Sunday when Muslims marched in the streets to celebrate the birth of their prophet Muhammad…Shouting “Allah is great” and “Long live the Prophet” while waving Islamic flags, worshippers from across the country joined Surrey’s first Mawlid procession.

But in Brighton Road, the 450-strong crowd were confronted by Union flags and banners held by two opposing packs of protesters.

The “opposing packs” were Christian Voice and the British People’s Party; to describe either of these outfits as representing “culture” is a bit of a poor joke:

Holding placards reading “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Our Lord’s Day”, four members of the right-wing British People’s Party stood watching the parade pass.

“Right-wing” an understatement; the BPP is in fact is an extremely fringe far-right group that venerates the late neo-Nazi John Tyndall and rails against “ZOG” as well as Muslims.

As for Christian Voice, Stephen Green (for it is he) “bellowed Bible verses from a megaphone” and complained that

“Jesus is our living saviour and for them to be marching on this holy day of the Christian year is disrespectful to say the least.

“I think it’s intimidating.”

I happened to be in Walthamstow in east London a few years ago when one of these processions took place; I recall smiling crowds and being offered a free bottle of Coca Cola.

This is not the first time that Green has found himself protesting alongside (albeit against his wishes) a far-right group; a couple of years ago the BNP front organisation the Christian Council of Britain tried to hijack his protests against Jerry Springer: The Opera – I blogged on that here.

And here’s a picture of the pious Christians of the BPP, defending white Christian culture: 

Rev Moon’s Zambian Archbishop: “Last Renewal of the Church is Coming”

From the Times of Zambia:

ROMAN Catholic Church (RCC) excommunicated Zambian prelate archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, has said he is still committed to his ministry of healing and demon-exorcism.

…In response to a Press query, through an e-mail from South Korea where he is currently based, the 77-year-old Zambian cleric said the last renewal of the Church was definitely coming.

The reason why Milingo is based in South Korea, of course, is because he is now completely under the spell of Rev Sun Myung Moon. While the Catholic Church had sought to curb Milingo’s rather exuberant demon-battling antics by keeping him in Rome, the Unification Church restored his sense of importance and provided a wife. In return, Milingo is to help Moon create parallel churches in Africa in which priests will be able to marry. In Zambia, a Moon front organization called the “Peace Embassy” (linked to the Universal Peace Federation) recently facilitated the creation of the first of these, named the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia.

Milingo explains:

“What I am doing is not completely understood by those whose understanding and vision of the Church is narrow.

“More is coming in the Church, not as it is, but as it will be and ought to be. It is the era of the last renewal of the Church,” Archbishop Milingo said.

“I need a platform to preach, to cast out devils and to heal the sick. No time for quibbles.I am coming in few months,” he said.

Curiously, the Times article makes no mention of Milingo’s Moon links, which I have blogged fairly extensively. In one of my earlier entries I quoted a book by John Cornwall (Powers of Darkness, Powers of Light, pp. 330-334) which contains an interview with Milingo when the Archbishop was best known for his beliefs about the demonic. Here it is again:

…The archbishop’s eyes stretched wide. ‘We are now in the last days of Satan’s reign, and he is working overtime through his agents to complete the takeover of the world. His agents are nothing less than the Freemasons who have penetrated to the very heart of Christ’s Church. It is the task of the Freemasons to lull Christians, especially priests, into believing that the Devil and his demons don’t exist. Satan plays with priests like toys when they don’t believe in him.

…’Now Satanism is at its strongest throughout the world. These are the years of the Devil. Black Masses, and blaspheming God, and Judas priests. Before he died Pope Paul VI knew what he had done [post-Vatican II]. He knew it! He had let Satan free within the Church. He said he could smell the stench of smoke around the sanctuary. He said the truth!

…’I was in Holland two weeks ago!’ The archbishop was now shouting and spitting again. ‘I was praying in Amsterdam from seven-in the morning to half-past two, and the priests were falling like corpses before me. The Devil congratulated me for calling him a liar. A witch came to me and said, “How dare you!” I received a letter from the Devil telling me that I should never dare to speak to the demons like that. It said the devils are more powerful than me and they’ll be watching for their chance. But this isn’t true, you see.’…

Church Receives Farm from Mugabe in Return for Support

From Zimbabwe, a nice deal for the Apostolic Church of Africa:

Addressing hundreds of members of the Apostolic Faith Church of Africa in Lobengula Extension in Bulawayo, President Mugabe said there was need for indigenous influence to penetrate all facets of life, including the church.

…Earlier, the leadership of the church requested some assistance from the Government in the form of a farm and the tarring of the road that turns off Hyde Park Road to the church, an imposing monument in the suburb.

…Before President Mugabe’s address, Pastor Toni Tshuma gave a stirring sermon that generally centred on the need for the people to respect their political leadership and be self-reliant.

He read from Romans chapter 13 verses one to three, which says, inter alia, that all leaders are ordained by God. He also read from 1 Timothy chapter 2 verse one to four that calls for peace.

To that end, Pastor Tshuma said his church prayed for President Mugabe as the leader of the country. The church, he added also prayed for the political leadership from council level to ministers.

This blog has looked at Mugabe’s religious supporters a year ago. Tshuma is not the only pastor to receive worldly goods in return for offering Mugabe spiritual support; “His Disgrace” Bishop Nolbert Kunonga – who describes Mugabe as “more merciful than God” – also has a farm, which according to reports has been allowed to decay; despite severe food shortages, Kunonga wants to use the land for development.

(The above quote was taken from the Chronicle. A shorter and slightly rewritten version appears in the Herald)

China’s Religious Affairs Minister: Vatican Controls Cuba and Vietnam

Ye Xiaowen, China’s religious affairs minister, warns us of a Popish plot. AsiaNews reports:

“Cuba is administrated by them [by the Vatican]. Vietnam is administered by them. Among the socialist countries, only China has continued to ignore them”.

Ye also complains that the Vatican wants “the control and management of the Catholic Church in China”, which is supposedly unreasonable. This is of course related to ongoing dispute between the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which has government-appointed Bishops, and the actual Roman Catholic Church. Ye is particularly annoyed by canonisations that occurred in 2000, which he tells us honour “shameless libertines” and persons responsible for “horrendous crimes” (details of those canonised, the most prominent of whom is the martyr Augustine Zhao Rong, can be seen here).

Further:

“The Vatican”, Ye asserts, “recognises the illegitimate power of Taiwan, and does not recognise the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government”. From this, he concludes that anyone who has “secret contact with the Vatican . . . lacks the sense of patriotism that a Chinese citizen should have.”

AsiaNews gives a bit of commentary on all this:

…this interview was published while in Vatican City a Chinese delegation was meeting with members of the secretariat of state to study – according to information leaked by the Vatican – the possible steps for restoring the diplomatic relations interrupted by Beijing in 1951, with the expulsion of the nuncio at the time.

The question that many are asking is this: Why in the world, with a delegation at the Vatican to speak about future diplomatic relations, would a member of the same government continue to express outworn, closed-off positions? Some observers think that there is division in the Chinese leadership, between those who want greater openness and freedom and those who remain bound to Maoist and Stalinist perspectives. Others think that Beijing is simply playing a double game, in keeping with Chinese tradition. In this case, the overtures of the Chinese delegation and Beijing’s desire to establish diplomatic relations would simply be a means of “pacifying” the Vatican while China comes into the spotlight with the Olympics.  An expert on China has even told AsiaNews: “Don’t worry; after the Olympics, everything will go back to the way it was”.

Ye has featured on this blog in the past before; I’ve noted his (unsurprising) denunciations of the Dalai Lama, and in 2006 Rev Bob Fu of the China Aid Association described him as “the top Communist Party religious persecutor” who “is directly responsible for hundreds of arrests of House church pastors and other persecution cases to independent religious groups.”

Putin Activists vs Scientology

In the wake of the “Anonymous internet war against Scientology, a further move against the Church, this time in Russia:

More than 700 activists of Rossiya Molodaya (Young Russia), a youth group, were joined by students and lecturers of Moscow’s Bauman State Technological University (MGTU) in a rally on Friday to demand that a Scientologist office located in the vicinity of MGTU be shut down.

The claim, as ever, is that Scientology wants to “brainwash” people, which is rather ironic given that Young Russia is one of several “Putin Youth” movements. Mishchenko has led nationalistic protests on various issues (recently he was burning Estonian flags); a recent article from the Los Angeles Times explains the MGTU connection:

Across town, in the headquarters of Young Russia, students are shooting pool and plotting their next scandal.

These are radical Putin activists…They have taken over a prime piece of real estate, a sprawling building that was once a bar at the edge of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University campus.

“We kicked the owners out,” leader Maxim Mishchenko said casually.

Mishchenko doesn’t mind boasting about the influence and wealth commanded by his group members. His power flows from thuggery and connections.

Barely out of law school, Mishchenko is expected to get a seat in the parliament this coming term.

“We’re talking here about a civilised protection racket,” Mishchenko says, cool as ice. “If they don’t give us money, we attack them.”

Attacks, he explains, entail blocking roads or holding protests outside shops until they are forced out of business.

It would be interesting to know the extent to which the MGTU has been brought under the control of pro-Putin elements; as I blogged last year, to the disgust of students the Moscow State University is now a propaganda outlet for pro-Putin conspiracy theories and ultra-nationalism.

Name variations: Maksim Mishchenko, Maxim Mischenko, Maksim Mischenko, Maksim Mishenko

Pope Baptises Former Muslim

A bit of Easter theatre, from the AP:

Italy’s most prominent Muslim, an iconoclastic writer who condemned Islamic extremism and defended Israel, converted to Catholicism Saturday in a baptism by the pope at a Vatican Easter service.

An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim who is married to a Catholic, Magdi Allam infuriated some Muslims with his books and columns in the newspaper Corriere della Sera newspaper, where he is a deputy editor. He titled one book “Long Live Israel.”

How someone can be both “non-practicing” and also “Italy’s most prominent” Muslim is rather perplexing. Allam was featured on this blog last year, when I noted his organisation of a march through Rome in support of persecuted Christians (a march which brought together Abraham Foxman, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, and “post-fascist” politician Gianfranco Fini, among others).

Despite glee from some quarters at the thought of angered Muslims (“I hope the musslemans choke on it”, according to a commentator at Rod Dreher’s blog), Italian Islamic organisations have responded sensibly:

The Union of Islamic Communities in Italy – which Allam has frequently criticized as having links to Hamas – said the baptism was his own decision.

“He is an adult, free to make his personal choice,” the Apcom news agency quoted the group’s spokesman, Issedin El Zir, as saying.

However – and not unreasonably:

Yahya Pallavicini, vice president of Coreis, the Islamic religious community in Italy, said he respected Allam’s choice but said he was “perplexed” by the symbolic and high-profile way in which he chose to convert. “If Allam truly was compelled by a strong spiritual inspiration, perhaps it would have been better to do it delicately, maybe with a priest from Viterbo where he lives,” the ANSA news agency quoted Pallavicini as saying.

Zenit has translated Allam’a conversion narrative here (the Italian original can be seen here). It contains a call for Christians to follow the Pope’s example and be more assertive in trying to convert Muslims in the face of violent threats:

His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries. Out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries. Well, today Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims.

Allam already has a Catholic wife, Valentina Colombo, an academic who is connected to various neo-conservative think tanks. They have a son, and Allam has two children by a “previous relationship” – it is unclear whether that relationship was a marriage, which might have complicated the conversion process.

Perhaps the most dramatic Italian conversion to Catholicism from a non-Christian religion in modern times occurred in 1945, when the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, was baptized following years of study and a religious vision (which apparently his wife also saw). Pope Benedict’s recent support for a prayer for the conversion of the Jews has caused controversy, although some sources claim the objections were based on misunderstandings.

Xinhua: Many Countries Back China

From Xinhua, China’s government-approved news agency:

China garners broad international support over Tibet riots

And which countries are offering the “broad international support”? Xinhua’s choice of first place is rather weird:

A spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday strongly denounced the unsavory elements of their moves to seek “the independence of Tibet” and scuttle the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

I usually avoid blog-jargon, but I’ll allow myself a “LOL!” One wonders if someone working for Xinhua is deliberately subverting Chinese propaganda efforts – although the recent sight of Tibetan protestors being physically coerced into signing confessions on TV suggests that the Chinese leadership really doesn’t have much of a clue when it comes to “hearts and minds”.

Most of the other countries listed are either China’s regional neighbours or African nations now dependent on Chinese investments:

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Zainab Hawa Bangura said on Tuesday that her country sees clearly the intention of the Dalai Lama clique to instigate violence in Tibet to promote separatism of the region, and to disturb the Beijing Olympics.

Funny how Sierra Leone is using exactly the same phraseology as Beijing; is this a paraphrase, or did Bangura (known as a human rights activist) simply sign off on a statement prepared by the Chinese embassy? Ditto Benin:

A Benin government spokesperson strongly condemned the violence which was planned and instigated by Dalai Lama, saying that Dalai Lama uses these despicable methods to separate China and destroy the Olympic Games to be hosted by Beijing in August.

Also backing China is Fiji, Serbia (obviously seeing the parallels with Kosovo) and Syria.

A second report adds:

…The International Daily News of Indonesia appealed for a vigilant watch on attempts of such separatist forces as “Tibet independence” to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games.

The newspaper said in a commentary that, like in Indonesia, separatist and terrorist forces are also the major enemies of the Chinese government and people at present.

The criminal acts of beatings, vandalism, looting and burning, plotted by the “Dalai Clique”, were aimed at attaining the “dirty” political purpose of the clique, and should be resolutely condemned, commented the Chinese-language World News newspaper of the Philippines.

This report also mentions a “Zambia Council for Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China”; this is actually the “Zambia Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification of China”; it was formed a couple of years ago and is run by a Taiwanese businessman living in Zambia named Roger Lee. Such councils exist in more than thirty African countries, and in Zambia the organisation has been praised by information minister Mike Mulongoti.

Meanwhile, the Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s Religion Report (ABC has the best radio coverage of religion available anywhere, by the way) has an interview with John Powers, an Asian Studies scholar at Australian National University. Powers explains that the “Dalai Lama clique” rhetoric is completely off-base:

…There are many, many factions within the Tibetan community. There’s a younger generation that’s highly radicalised and many of them are very upset with the Dalai Lama’s middle-way approach. And the monasteries have always followed their own way. Since very early times in Tibet the monasteries have often been at odds with the Dalai Lama, and that’s the case today, the monasteries see their own interest as being somewhat different from his. And he’s trying to push for this middle-way approach for conciliation and for negotiation with China. A lot of the younger generation is just fed up. It’s been over 50 years of this sort of approach and the Chinese are not even talking to the Tibetans now. And they also look at other liberation movements; they look at the Palestinians and the amount of concessions that are being made as a result of violence in the Gaza Strip and so forth, and they say, ‘We ought to be doing that, too.’

[The Dalai Lama] has been saying for years now that he wants to retire as a public figure and be a truly religious figure. He really I think is very tired of the political struggle, because it hasn’t gone very well. He’s tried to follow Buddhist principles in negotiating with China. The Chinese aren’t Buddhists, and they don’t respect these principles, so it really hasn’t had any resonance on the other side.