Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three cheers for Catholic Care

It is with great delight that His Grace has learned that the Leeds-based adoption charity Catholic Care is to appeal against the April judgement which determined that it could not change its own constitutional objects to exclude homosexual couples.

The Charity Tribunal has confirmed that Catholic Care has applied for an appeal against the decision to the Upper Tribunal. If that appeal is granted, it will be the charity's fourth appeal.

You have to admire their tenacity. His Grace has consistently urged, supported and exhorted the charity to pursue this to its litigious end, not least because it consitutes a fundamentally important point of religious liberty: when the state determines to outlaw centuries of orthodox belief and practice on the basis of 'equality', there is no logical end to what the state may impose upon believers.

The charity facilitates about five adoptions a year: it is absurd to suggest that homosexual couples who wish to adopt are being discriminated against by this group. The charity is persuaded that their supporters will cease their donations if they are obliged to place children with homosexual couples. They argue that the Equality Act 2010 allows discrimination on the grounds of sexuality if this is 'a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'.

There are, of course, some who will view it unacceptably bigoted of the charitry to seek to place children with heterosexual couples. There are others who will question the Christian conviction of donors who might cease their charitable giving should Catholic Care be obliged to consider homosexual couples. Still others would like to see them closed down altogether, along with all religious groups in receipt of public funds.

But this is not a question of ‘homophobia’ (though the allegations will flow), and neither is it some irrational prejudice: most Christians will reasonably agree that there may be instances where placing children with a single parent or a homosexual couple is preferable to a loveless life in a local authority children’s home. This is about the Christian conscience and the freedom to act in accordance with it. This April judgement made it clear that there is now no question that Christians may no longer manifest their beliefs in the public sphere on this issue of sexual ethics: they may no longer worship God in spirit and in truth in their daily lives; they may no longer make their bodies a living sacrifice or act in accordance with their consciences, biblical teaching or Church history

When the last appeal was lost, Bishop Arthur Roche said: 'It is unfortunate that those who will suffer as a consequence of this ruling will be the most vulnerable children for whom Catholic Care has provided an excellent service for many years. It is an important point of principle that the Charity should be able to prepare potential adoptive parents, a service recognised for its excellence by the local authorities who are responsible for placing children, according to the tenets of the Catholic faith.'


When Labour were in power, the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith observed: "This is a tragedy. We are taking the ethos out of these adoption agencies and leaving them with a crisis, all because the Government wouldn’t listen."

Well, Labour are no longer in power, but it appears that Conservative hands are tied by being in coalition with the Liberal Democrats who seek to perpetuate the injustice and secularise the nation (if Dr Evan Harris has anything to do with it). It will take a majority Conservative government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.

In the meantime, we must thank God that there are people like Mark Wiggin, the charity's Chief Executive, who is clearly possessed of the stuff of which martyrs are made.

David Cameron, Zionist and good friend of Israel, rejects the Jewish National Fund

Back in 2007, David Cameron was a proud, self-declared Zionist. In 2009, he told the Conservative Friends of Israel that his belief in and love for Israel was ‘indestructible’. He said the same in 2010: “In me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible.” As recently as this month, he told Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netenyahu: "Britain is a good friend of Israel and our support for Israel and Israel’s security is something I have described in the past and will do so again as unshakeable. We are strong friends of Israel."

It must therefore have come as something of a surprise to Binyamin Netanyahu – not to mention the Conservative Friends of Israel – that the Prime Minister has severed all links with one of Britain’s oldest Jewish Charities, the Jewish National Fund, for which both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown acted as patrons throughout their terms of office (and remain so).

The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to assist Jewish people who wished to settle in their ancient homeland, then part of the declining Ottoman empire. From 1939, the JNF ‘raised money to buy land and create the necessary infrastructure to rebuild the Jewish homeland’. This, of course, was at the height of the ‘Mandate for Palestine’ entrusted by the League of Nations to the British Government – under which the British were under legal obligation to facilitate the creation of a Jewish national homeland in the region, including permitting Jewish immigration (which, incidentally, the British betrayed).

Today, much of the work of the UK branch of the JNF funds infrastructure projects in the Negev – specifically agriculture, irrigation and education – on desert land previously considered virtually uninhabitable.

The Palestinian lobby has long hated the JNF, and has even accused it of war crimes – a charge vigorously rebutted by the Fund’s Chairman, Samuel Hayek. In a letter to The Guardian last autumn, Mr Hayek, wrote: "Our environmental and humanitarian work is not based on any political or religious affiliation, but rather on supporting Israel and its population – whatever their background. This was the case before the modern state of Israel was created and will continue to be the case long into the future."

The phrase ‘whatever their background’ is one which is frequently overlooked or conveniently ignored: out of a population of 6.7 million, about 1.3 million — 20 per cent — are non-Jews (approximately 1.1 million Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze). It is also worth mentioning that Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs even sit in the Knesset and have held various government posts; one has also been a Supreme Court judge.

And it was that Supreme Court which ruled in 2002 that the Israeli government may not allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose. It is also worth noting that in 1948 there was one Arab high school in the country: today, more than 300,000 Arab children are educated in Arab schools.

It is a curious ‘apartheid state’ which grants such rights to ethnic and religious minorities: how many Arab states grant such liberties to Jews?

A Downing Street spokesman insists that David Cameron’s decision to resign as a patron of the Jewish National Fund is merely part of a ‘wider review of the Prime Minister’s involvement with charities’, but no others have been specified. Israel’s opponents are now fighting like ferrets in a sack to claim this victory as their own, though The Guardian puts it unequivocally down to the ‘Stop the JNF Campaign’, reporting simply that the ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ welcomed the decision: "It reflects the fact it is now impossible for any serious party leader to lend public support to racism," campaign director, Sarah Colborne, said in a statement.

The anti-JNF campaign have been spearheaded by anti-Israel MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn, who meets with Hamas officials and speaks alongside veteran terrorists like Leila Khaled , and continues to lobby for the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status to be revoked.

It is worth noting that the resignation as patron of this charity is not the only example of David Cameron’s actions belying his much-vaunted support for Israel. Since becoming Prime Minister he has made a speech in Turkey – one of Israel’s enemies in the region – in which he described Gaza as a ‘prison camp’. He also used the speech to pre-empt investigations into the Mavi Marmara affair to say that Israel’s boarding of the vessel was totally unacceptable whilst entirely ignoring the context of Hamas’ avowed intent to destroy the Jewish state and the constant shelling of Israeli cities, towns and villages which led to the closure of Israeli borders with the Hamas-led enclave.

The Prime Minister has also threatened that the UK will support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state - presumably with the borders of the Palestinians’ choosing - unless ‘Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’. He has imposed no conditions at all on the Palestinians, such as (for example) ceasing to use UK taxpayers’ money to fund incitement of Palestinian children to hate their Jewish neighbours. Instead, he has publicly welcomed the accord between the supposedly moderate Fatah and the openly terrorist Hamas, saying: "We have to take the positive, optimistic view that, although there will be all sorts of difficulties ahead, Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas should be a step forward and we must make sure that it is." The British Government still officially categorises Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Melanie Phillips recently examined the widening gap between his pro-Israel rhetoric and the actions that are emboldening Israel’s enemies. At the end she issued a warning to the Prime Minister: ‘...if you are not very careful indeed history will judge that you re-established a direct line back to the malevolence of the British in Palestine; back to that terrible time when Britain so foully betrayed the Jewish people and became a party to genocide.’

It is one thing to be positive; to negotiate optimistically and to be a true friend to Israel to the point of being open and honest about her faults and failings. It is quite another to cave in to the demands of the Palestinian lobby, and thereby tarnish the reputation of a charity which has done nothing to merit the opprobrium that is heaped upon it by Israel’s enemies. As we move towards September, when Palestinians will seek UN support in their unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, one might hope that the Prime Minister will recall his speeches of 2007, 2009 and 2010: one cannot be a ‘Zionist’ or a ‘good friend of Israel’ if one is giving succour to the very genocidal fanatics who wish to cleanse the land of Jews and wipe Israel off the map.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Billboards display posters declaring: JESUS: A PROPHET OF ISLAM

There’s a little spat going on down under about a few billboards which are carrying posters with the slogan: ‘Jesus: a prophet of Islam’. They form part of a campaign by the Islamic group MyPeace, which seeks to propagate the 'common ground' (as they see it) between Christianity and Islam. Future posters are planned, with slogans such as `Holy Quran: the final testament' and `Muhammad: mercy to mankind'.

Reactions have been polarised: Roman Catholic Bishop Julian Porteous, from the Archdiocese of Sydney, has referred to them as being ‘provocative and offensive’; he said it was important for religions not to antagonise each other with such statements: “For the sake of preserving social harmony and respect between major world religions these billboards should be withdrawn, along with others which carry messages directly offensive to Christians," he said.

But Anglican Bishop Robert Forsyth of South Sydney is of the opinion that it is ‘complete nonsense’ to say Jesus was a prophet of Islam: “Jesus was not the prophet of a religion that came into being 600 years later,” he said. But he didn’t find the posters offensive. “They've got a perfect right to say it, and I would defend their right to say it [but]...you couldn't run a Christian billboard in Saudi Arabia,” he observed.

His Grace finds this very amusing – a little reminiscent of contemporary reactions to The Life of Brian, with one journalist echoing: ‘He's not the son of God, just the support act’.

Of course Christians wouldn’t be able to display such posters in Saudi Arabia. And neither would Jews, Buddhists or Jedi Knights. But that is because there is no freedom of religion or freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia. The comparison is facile. It is absurd to insist that a liberal democracy should deny these rights to a particular constituency within it, especially on matters of theology. And no doubt there will be Christians who will seek to respond to this Muslim campaign with posters saying: ‘Mohammed: a false prophet of God’, which would be purposely designed to antagonise and offend.

His Grace would like to recommend a better way:

Instead of whingeing, fuming and fulminating, why not thank the Lord for the MyPeace advertisements, and as the Apostle Paul did at the Areopagus, seize the opportunity to tell Muslims that Jesus is not merely a prophet, but the Son of God and Saviour who died that they all may be free from the law of Allah which binds?
"Men of Islam! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found a billboard with this inscription: JESUS: A PROPHET OF ISLAM. Now what you worship as Isa the prophet I am going to proclaim to you...
This is a model for Christian proclamation. St Paul does not condemn the Athenians’ idolatrous false religion: he begins by commending their conviction to their faith. By employing the language of reason and invitation rather than reproach and condemnation, he offers the Church a model for proclamation in our own 'multicultural' time. He quotes the Greek poets and sees the light within their philosophy, and he builds on this to articulate the name of the God who is the source and destination of their quest for salvation.

If Greek philosophy can be a legitimate discourse for evangelism, then so can Islamic theology, however perverted a particular interpretation may be. If St Paul were to preach in Bradford (or Sydney or Brisbane) today, he would not vandalise offensive billboards or return hatred for offence. But neither would he ignore the statement and ‘turn the other cheek’: he would tell of the God of love who sent His own Son to die in order that we might live. He would begin by praising their loyalty and devotion to Isa their prophet, and then he would tell them that their lower-case prophet is also Prophet, Priest and King; the Word of God; the Spirit of God; Saviour and Redeemer of the world.

This is an opportunity for evangelism – to discuss who Jesus really is – and it is a Muslim group which is paying for it.

Praise the Lord!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

West Dunbartonshire Council bans all books published and printed in Israel

Criticising Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest. (Thomas L Friedman, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner)

His Grace does not know why these anti-Semites don't just go the whole hog and start burning all books written by Israeli authors. It beggars belief that any democratically-elected municipal council in Britain can get away with such blatant racial prejudice and discrimination. The Council has no concern for the crimes and inhumanities of China, Iran, Sudan, North Korea or Zimbabwe, all of which have appalling records on human rights. Their focus is Israel, and Israel alone.

By this act, West Dunbarton has made anti-Semitism respectable and acceptable in a country whose leader is intent on eradicating all expressions of Protestant-Catholic sectariansm. In the Council, the SNP form the largest group. It is rank hypocrisy with more than a hint of Goebbels.

But why stop at books? Ray Cooke has compiled a neat little summary of everything else West Dunbartonshire Council should be boycotting:

1. Computers & Technology

•Remove all Intel Pentium and Celeron computer processor chips from council personal computers (desktops, laptops and notebooks) as these were either developed or manufactured in Israel. Note that the revolutionary new Ivy Bridge processor will be manufactured in Israel.
•Any computers that still work need to have their anti-virus software and personal firewalls removed as this technology originated in Israel. Any computers running the Windows XT operating system must be turned off immediately as this was developed in Israel. All current Microsoft operating systems are not to be used as Microsoft is heavily reliant on its Israel R&D centre.
•The departmental firewall will also need to be switched off. Employees should no longer open external emails as most of these will be infected with viruses
•No outgoing emails can be sent. The algorithm (code) that’s used today for sending e-mails, was made by an Israeli who worked at the Ben-Gurion University in Be’er-Sheva in 1980
•Before accepting any printed material, check that the supplier has not used the Israeli device that might have saved up to 50% of the ink used.
•At home, do not use Facebook as many in-built and add-on applications are Israeli-developed.
•Do not watch videos on the Internet as the platform used to upload them may be from AOL and hence from an Israeli company.
•Do not use Video On Demand (VOD) to watch movies as you may inadvertently see an advert displayed using Israeli software
•Do not purchase any games devices as these are likely to use Israeli technology.
•Do not read books using an e-book as this may contain Israeli technology.
•Do not use data storage as it may have been developed at Israel’s storage technology R&D centre
•Do not buy an electric car as it is likely to be powered with an Israeli battery or use Israeli developed charging mats

2. Telecommunications

•Discard all mobile phones, as this technology was developed in Israel, where the first mobile phones were manufactured. Mobile chip technology from a single Israeli company has now been installed in over 100 million devices.
•Only department heads may retain mobile phones for emergency situations. However the use of SMS (Texting) is expressly forbidden as this facility was developed in Israel.
•No 4G devices can be used as the chipset is Israeli.
•Turn off your voice-mail service and delete any recorded messages. Israeli companies invented the voice-mail system.
•If your call is not answered by someone you know, hang up. Israeli call-centres and call-centre technology is in widespread operation in the UK.
•Do not use the Internet to search for answers to your questions as this may involve use of an Israeli-developed search engine. Better to remain unenlightened.

3. Food and Drink

•Council restaurants and canteens must dispose of cherry tomatoes, which were developed in Israel. Employees must ensure that no cherry tomatoes are included in sandwiches brought into office premises.
•The ban also applies to honey and any products derived from honey. Israel has developed solutions to the world-wide problem of bee-colony collapse, so that any products derived from bees might only be available now due to an Israeli invention.
•Avoid drinking any of the world-recognised award-winning Israeli wines
•No delicious home-made drinks from Israeli-manufactured household drinks machines
•Avoid any fruit from South Africa or Peru as produce from these countries is being marketed with Israeli brand names
•No agricultural products from the following areas must be consumed as they use water irrigation and agricultural technology provided directly from Israel:
◦Most of Africa
◦Indonesia (a Muslim country)
◦Many others – please check.
•Much fruit and vegetables (including organic) imported into the UK has been enhanced using Israeli technology. This saves millions of people from starving around the world but is not a good reason for you to eat it. For safety, only eat fruit and vegetables that you have grown yourself using seeds that have been in your family for generations.

4. Dealing With People

When interviewing prospective employees or holding meetings with members of the public or other organisations you must check that they have no association with the following countries and areas that have accepted aid from Israel. The council must avoid acknowledging Israel’s contribution to world relief. Also, any associated products from these areas may also have been contaminated by Israeli technology. These locations include:

•The Congo (oil tanker fire disaster July 2010)
•Angola (mines cleared by Israeli technology – July 2010)
•Mississippi (bioremediation technique used to clean up after oil spills developed in Israel)
•China (a major purchaser of Israeli technology, and recipient of medical aid and training)
•South Africa (Israelis trained their doctors to perform circumcisions to prevent the spread of AIDS – July 2010)
•Cameroon (opthalmologists from Haifa restored vision to patients and trained local medical teams in these procedures – Aug 2010)
•Haiti (Israel set-up the largest field hospital to treat victims of the earthquake and hurricane and provided vital assistance for over a year)
•Romania (Israeli doctors treated babies following fire at a neonatal unit – Sep 2010)
•Ghana (receiving technological aid from Israel since 2006; Israel is now providing neonatal units to save many of the 4,800 babies that die each year)
•Philippines (signed major trade agreement with Israel in Nov 2010)
•The Maldives (although non-Islamic worship is banned here, Israeli eye-doctors performed free operations for citizens in Dec 2010)
•Kenya (Israel’s Agency for International Development built a state-of-the-art Emergency Room in a hospital serving 6 million Kenyans in Jan 2011)
•Uganda (Israeli solar-powered refrigerators were provided to store vaccines used to eliminate an outbreak of Polio from the country in Jan 2011)
•Vietnam, whose milk industry is being totally transformed using high-yield Israeli cows (Feb 2011)
•Chile, whose rescued miners were treated to a tour of Israel as part of their “Pilgrimage of Thanks” (Feb 2011)
•New Zealand (Israel sent several rescue teams, temporary shelters and water purification systems following the Christchurch earthquake in Feb 2011)
•Japan (As well as rescue teams, Israel supplied geiger counters and Israeli thermal imaging cameras are monitoring the reactor cores – Mar 2011)
•Sri Lanka (Israel conducted a massive airlift with food, 50 medical staff and rescue teams only 48 hours after the Tsunami in Dec 2004)
•India (Israel sent an fully-equipped field hospital following Gujarat earthquake in Feb 2001)
•El Salvador (Israel relief aid following earthquake in 2001)
•Georgia (Israel contributed food and seeds for farmers following severe drought in 2001)
•Turkey (Israel relief aid following earthquake in 2000)
•Mozambique ((Israel relief aid following floods in 2000)
•Colombia (Israel sent medical aid and food following earthquake in 1999)
•Venezuela (President Chavez has forgotten Israel’s aid following floods of 1999)
•Central America (Israel sent emergency medical aid teams and equipment to help victims of Hurricane Mitch in 1998)
•Pakistan (2005) and Peru (2007) both accepted aid from Israeli NGOs following earthquake disasters.
•Peru’s hydo-electric power plants are also being built and run by an Israeli company.
•Rawanda, Mexico, Chad, Sudan (Darfur) and Malawi all have received medical assistance from Israel’s NGO IsraAID.

5. Health

•Destroy all personal medication. Many medicines will have been manufactured by Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest generic drugs company in the world.
•AIDS and HIV suffers note that AZT and Hypericin-based drugs have all have been developed or improved following research at Israel’s Weizmann Institute or Hebrew University; also a treatment that destroy HIV-infected cells without damaging healthy ones
•Diabeties sufferers – Israeli scientists have developed new devices for measuring and injecting Insulin
•Multiple Sclerosis -Copaxone - one of the most efficient medicines and the only non interferon agent, was developed by Teva
•Myeloma – the drug Velcade was developed over a period of 30 years by scientists at Haifa
•Emphasema – avoid the Israeli protein replacement therapy
•Check all vaccines as many of these have been developed in Israel.
•Ensure that all X-rays do carry a radiation risk, as the only radiation-free system is Israeli
•Do not use Epilady (or epilator) – this hair removal device was invented by two Israelis
•Ensure any colonoscopy or gastro investigation does not use internal Israeli cameras such as the Pillcam.
•Do not protect babies and infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with the Babysense system from Israel.
•Do not undergo surgery to install an artificial heart, as the first artificial heart transplant took place in Israel.
•Sufferers of Parkinsons must avoid the brain pacemaker – pioneered in Israel to stop tremors. Also Levodopa to reduce motor disturbances. Or magnetic cortex stimulation
•Do not take any form of medication to combat cancer. Israeli scientists have been developing treatments in this area for decades. Full list available on request.
•Kidney transplants must only use kidneys from donors of the same blood group. Israel’s revolutionary new methods allow donors from other blood groups.
•Treatments derived from Stem Cell research must be avoided as most of this is Israeli-developed
•If you or your family are struck with a bacteria infection, do not take alternatives to older, ineffective bacteria-resistant antibiotics as an Israeli discovery will have been responsible for the modern, effective drugs.
•Epileptics must avoid any treatment that may have benefited from the Israeli discovery of the underlying mutant gene.
•Employees of Arab origin must not make use of the only database for matching potential Arab donors of bone-marrow – in Israel.
•Check that any pain relief medication is not based on soya as an Israeli doctor discovered the beneficial effect of the soya bean.
•Before any surgery or medical tests, check that hospital catheters have not been protected from infection using the new plastic from Israel that disables micro-organisms
•Sufferers of sleep apnea must avoid tests using the breakthrough Israeli device for diagnosis.
•Employees with a family history of heart disease and arteriosclerosis must not use the Israeli device for early detection of these.
•Sufferers or relatives of sufferers of the eye disease Age-related Macular Degeneration must not use Israeli implants to arrest the disease.
•Avoid throat surgery as this may utilise Israeli surgical lasers.
•In the event of a spinal injury or disease, do not accept spinal implants – likely to be an Israeli product or development.
•Heart rhythm problems must not be solved with the Israeli-developed heart pulse generator.
•Any incident of stroke or head trauma or onset of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, epilepsy, glaucoma or brain tumour must avoid using any of the Weizmann Institute’s patented methods of treatment.
•Do not use the revolutionary new Israeli bandage that saved Arizona senator Gabriella Giffords after she was shot in the head.
•Do not allow dyslexics to benefit from the Israeli Internet-based reading system.
•Sufferers from liver disease must avoid using the Israeli-developed antibody immunotherapy treatment.
•All heart stents are off-limits as most of these originate from Israeli medical companies
•If you break a bone badly, reject any treatment that involves introducing collagen, as this may have been manufactured from Israeli plants.
•Reject all dental treatment as your teeth may need to be scanned with an Israeli-developed dental scanner
•Treat skin allergies only with steroid creams as the new safer non-steroid alternative is Israeli

6. Miscellaneous

•Reject all products from the USA. Analysis conducted in a typical US state shows that Israeli innovations were responsible for $2.4 billion in direct revenue to its economy in 2009 and generated nearly 6,000 jobs.
•Do not tutor your children in advanced Mathematics techniques which may have originated in Israel. Also, if these techniques are used in your children’s schools, withdraw your children immediately.
•Keen ornithologists should consider giving up their hobby as many rare species stop off or reside in Israel during their twice-yearly migration.
•Do not watch the new series of NCIS as the main actress is Israeli.
•Avoid going to any football matches featuring teams with Israeli players.
•Destroy all your recordings of Madonna, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Deep Purple, Bon Jovie, Justin Bieber, George Benson, Moby and many, many more artists who have ridiculed the stupid and illogical boycott and have proudly performed (or will shortly perform) concerts in Israel.
•Destroy any recordings of U2, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Beck, Rihanna Coldplay and any artist whose music has been recorded using the sound technology of the Grammy Award winning Israeli company Wave Audio. You also must get rid of any personal copies of Shrek, American Beauty and Star Wars. Do not trust anything recorded by Sony, JVC, Toshiba or Dell.
•Don’t go to see “The Black Swan” with Natalie Portman, or watch any old films with Elizabeth Taylor – both lovers of the Jewish State.
•Do not stay in hotels or visit shopping centres owned by Israeli companies (sorry, you will need to check which ones yourself).
•Do not have anything to do with the banks who are using Israeli software to prevent fraud.
•Do not use any Credit or Debit card as the Security monitoring system used by the Credit companies is likely to be Israeli.
•Do not buy an engagement ring containing a diamond as it is possible that this may have been cut in Israel.
•Do not travel by air as your plane might be towed by the Israeli-built “Taxibot”.
•Do not use public transport inside Amsterdam, Moscow or Northern China in case you benefit from Israeli transportation devices.
•If you suffer a power or network failure, be grateful that at least you haven’t installed the Israeli system that prevents power outages.

Finally, you need to leave all your taps running when you leave home and must never flush your toilet, because Israel provides water-saving technology to over half of the planet. It also is providing sewage treatment technology across the world, including to the UK.

In light of the above, does it not seem awfully petty, not to say more than a little mediaeval, that West Dunbartonshire Council has decided to ban Israeli books - the means by which Israel's academics, novelists, playwrights and poets may challenge anti-Semitic bigotry, prejudice and discrimination?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Referism - a movement for 'people power'?

There is a discussion going on over at Dr North's pad (EUReferendum) on the need for some sort of voters' alliance to rescue us from the political and economic morass into which we are sinking . It's worth a visit. His Grace observes:

Referism: '...is about the transfer of power, releasing people from the bondage of the elites and vesting in them control over their own government. It is about changing the relationship between government and the people, one in which the government says please...'

So, it's essentially a bottom-up Whiggish movement; a resurrection (or reinvigoration) of the 'Radical' which has been more than a little subsumed to the 'Tory' in what has become known as 'Conservatism'. But the Referism philosophy is thoroughly of the 'liberal-right': over the pond, it manifests itself in part as the Tea Party (small government, low budget), which some have attempted (without much success) to replicate here in the UK.

As Dr North knows well (from experience), it is not so much that a new movement needs a charismatic leader (though, however you want to reason it away, the people will demand a king - 1Sam 8); it is that such a leader will need to invest an awful lot of money (as Sir James Goldsmith found) for maybe a return of 2000 votes (if you work hard) in each constituency. Certainly, those 2000 may become instead a (sizeable) pressure group (ie, not a political paty), but that is precisely what 'The People's Pledge' are trying to achieve as far as the EU is concerned (and not without some success, though His Grace has not subscribed).

The problem with politics is the human ego. Each and every attempt at establishing a movement for change has foundered on the rock of aggressive assertions of individuality (often by the wealthy), such that A can't stand B, who refuses to work with C because of what D said to A five years ago, which was slanderous and resulted in B telling E, F and G never to work with D again because they simply can't be trusted. So, even though A-G all agree on the super-objective, they splinter into their own little cults to establish a coterie of like-minded disciples who will be faithful to their particular fragment of 'ever farther dis-union'. As a result, H, I and J just give up, even though their contributions and gifts would have been invaluable.

As someone very wise once said: '...a house divided against itself cannot stand.' His Grace will add that there's not a lot of point in building an entire estate of bungalows even if there's space for caravans and trailers. In the UK, Islam and the Greens have succeeded where (even) the Christians have not because they both (in different ways) induce fear: i) of civil unrest; ii) of plantetary destruction. His Grace is merely a philosopher and a theologian: perhaps a psychologist might care to comment.

UK Government condemns Bible burning in Iran

His Grace has for many years reported on the plight of both Christians and Muslims in Iran (eg here and here), living under the oppressive regime of President Ahmadinejad, who is determined not only to wipe Israel off the map but to purge his country of the distorted New Testament and Torah.

To achieve this, he needs to cleanse his land of the filthy Christian kuffar, especially the apostates of Islam who may lead Mohammed’s faithful astray.

Many Muslims tend to get a little tetchy when they hear of the Qur’an being burned. This is perhaps understandable when one considers that it is not simply a book to them, but the way, the truth and the life. The Qur’an is not the Islamic equivalent of the Bible; it is their salvation; their Jesus. The sorrow and anger felt by many Muslims at the burning of the Qur’an is more akin to the grief and indignation that may be felt by Christians when Jesus is mocked, derided and blasphemed.

But Christians tend not to respond with threats of violence and bloodshed. Those Islamist extremists who seek to eradicate the Christian scriptures by burning them are met by determined believers who will simply print and disseminate more. Last year, Elam Ministries distributed 100,000 New Testaments and 100,000 Bibles in Iran. Over recent years, with virtually no support, they have made available to inquisitive Iranians well over a million New Testaments and half a million Bibles. They have done this in spite of ferocious hostility from Iran’s government, and despite many of their workers risking their lives and liberty to see their fellow countrymen read the scriptures. Some are presently in prison for their work, suffering for their faith.

It was therefore a source of profound encouragement that the Iranian state persecution of Christians was recently debated in Parliament (fast-forward to 16:55). Foreign Minister Alistair Burt MP stated that the UK Government condemned the state persecution of Christians in Iran and the burning of Bibles by the Iranian authorities. He said: “We repeatedly call on Iran to respect the rights of all who choose their own faith and methods of worship in bi-lateral meetings in Tehran and London… We are aware of unconfirmed reports of the burning of Bibles in Iran. The UK wholly condemns the desecration of any spiritual or religious artifacts or symbols of faith including scriptures... We call on Iran to end this hypocrisy and religious intolerance.”

This unequivocal statement was in response to an earlier speech in which Andrew Selous MP had raised serious concerns regarding the treatment of Christians in Iran. Mr Selous said: “Iran wants to persecute Christians in secret but I believe the world should know and show its concern for what it is doing... Iran claims there is religious freedom but the reality is very different.”

He listed recent occasions on which Bibles were confiscated and burnt by the Iranian authorities. He said that in May 2010 hundreds of Bibles were intercepted and burnt on the Iraqi border, in October 2010 over three hundred Bibles were taken and burnt on the Turkish border and in February 2011 three hundred Bibles were seized in Salmas and there was a public burning. He pointed out that many of those in Parliament and around the world rightly condemned the Florida pastor Terry Jones for burning the Qur’an but went on to say that by contrast: “I'm not aware of any political leader in Iran, Islamic or otherwise, who has condemned these burning of Bibles. Indeed I hope that Muslim leaders in the UK will condemn this practice.”

Mr Selous went on to explain the broader situation. He observed: “There has been an escalation in the persecution, indeed there have been 282 known arrests of Christians in 34 cities since June 2010, of which 41 have spent between one and eight months in prison, mainly in solitary confinement. They have been subjected to hours of interrogation, facing verbal and physical torture, lack of medical treatment and they're called to renounce their faith. Prisoners are often expected to pay large amounts of money and the deeds to their properties in order to get out of prison.”

He then listed the names of a number of Christians still in prison for their faith and the dates on which they were first arrested. He called on the UK Government to be active in calling for the release of those arrested for their faith; to call for an investigation into the way the Iranian Government uses the death sentence for apostasy; to denounce the use of intimidation as a method of curtailing religious freedom; and to call on Iran to fulfill its constitutional provision for religious freedom and address its rhetoric and constitutional discrimination against religious minorities.

In Alistair Burt's statement, he confirmed that 'the demanding of large bails in Iran is sadly a common problem which is shared by all who feel the persecution of the system’. In reference to those Christians still detained he said: “We are aware of those mentioned by my honourable friend who were victims of the round-up and the crack-down on house churches after Christmas last year...a number remain in custody and we continue to believe there are no moral or legal grounds for their detention, a point we've made repeatedly to the Iranian authorities.”

In his conclusion he stated: “This intimidation on the grounds of faith and worship should stop immediately and we call on Iran to allow all members of all faiths to freely participate in open worship.”

As His Grace’s readers and communicants will know, freedom of worship and freedom of religion are non-negotiable to him. While we may occasionally be irritated and frustrated by the gradual erosion of some of our historic liberties, we must never lose sight of the fact that our brothers and sisters in Islamic lands are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and murdered for their beliefs. And when they are not being burned alive, decapitated or splattered over their church walls, they walk every day in fear, but live every minute thanking God that they have more precious hours to tell the descendents of Abraham and Ishmael of the One who was descended of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and that the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations…

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Obama lauds everything the UK has surrendered to the EU or subsumed to the ECHR

President Obama’s historic speech to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall was charismatically incomparable, rhetorically superlative and intuitively impeccable. His performance was measured and relaxed, and he appeared every inch a king. Certainly, there were a few errors in the content: in his opening line, he talked of it being an honour ‘to address the Mother of Parliaments’ (which is England, of course; not Westminster). And when talking of social diversity and immigrants, he said: “...if they come to England, they can make a new life for themselves and can sing God Save The Queen just like any other citizen” (it is curious how Americans insist on calling our country ‘England’ when that nation has been all but expunged by the British political class).

These are the sorts of errors which, had they been made by (say) George W Bush, would have made headlines in The Guardian and been spliced together and enshrined in perpetuity on YouTube with his other gaffes (like signing the Visitors’ Book in Westminster Abbey with the year 2008 [which is bizarre], and continuing his speech while the National Anthem was playing).

But this is a Democrat president, and they tend to be treated very differently by the left-leaning mainstream media and induce a degree of emotional ecstasy in their followership. Indeed, as President Obama was leaving Westminster Hall, it was disconcerting to see so many usually restrained British politicians stretching out their hands to touch the hem of his garment, as if this were the Messiah come to free the captives, heal the sick and proclaim the day of salvation.

The President’s speech pressed all the right buttons about that ‘special relationship’, pointedly mentioning ‘our shared history, our shared heritage; our ties of language and culture (and) the strong partnership between our governments’. And he alluded once again to the (unmentionable) Christian faith when he observed: “Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.” He paid passing homage to the fount of those values and beliefs when he referred to the fact that ‘all beings are endowed by our Creator with certain rights that cannot be denied’, which was delightful if only because it would have irritated the hell out of the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, who usually froth and splutter over every allusion to the transcendent and non-material.

But there was a certain irony in President Obama’s gushing appreciation of what the English (and Adam Smith) have contributed to the pursuit of freedom and human dignity. He observed:
Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders. Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in an elected parliament that's gathered here today.

What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world. But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic. As Winston Churchill said, the "...Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
Magna Carta includes the clause:
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, nor will we proceed with force against him, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
By virtue of this, the English and then the British have been able to take their governments to court if they believe those governments have misapplied the law. This remains the case in the United States, but it is not possible for EU citizens to challenge decisions forged in Brussels or stamped in Strasbourg. Habeas Corpus is being gradually supplanted by Corpus Juris, and the Bill of Rights 1689 appears has been replaced by the Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The UK has surrendered its sovereignty to the extent that decisions of unelected officials are immune from challenge, which has undermined democracy, accountability and the rule of law.

While Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights 1689 have (apparently) been (impliedly) repealed, the English system of Common Law is explicitly subsumed to the Napoleonic system. With the advent of the European Arrest Warrant, it is now possible to be extradited to another EU country, incarcerated in a foreign prison, refused an early appearance in court and required to prove that you have not committed the offence of which you stand accused (just ask Ben Herdman).

Corpus Juris has clearly brought an end to the presumption of innocence and the ancient rights of trial by jury and Habeas Corpus: unlike the UK, other EU countries are not obliged to charge you or bring you to court within 48 hours of arrest: indeed, you may now apparently be detained indefinitely at the foreign prince’s pleasure.

The founding texts of the British Constitution assert our liberties, create social harmony and sustain the peace of the realm. In this, President Obama is right to acknowledge that they guided America’s Revolution and constitute the founding principles of their Republic. The US Constitution codified the golden thread found in England’s disparate acts and treaties, namely that rights do not cascade down from government on high, but instead flow to the people from God, and it is they who determine the extent of the powers of government.

Yet the ‘Constitution for Europe’ turns this principle on its head: it includes an ‘enabling clause’ (Article II, Section 112) which permits the Commission and President to limit the rights and suspend the liberties of EU citizens should they see fit:
Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
Rights and liberties are sustained only to the extent that they ‘meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union’. This is why those who have exposed financial fraud or blown the whistle on the Union’s waste, corruption and anti-democratic activities have been suspended, slandered and dismissed (one thinks of Bernard Connolly, Marta Andreasen and Hans-Martin Tillack). It is perhaps only a matter of time before such people are imprisoned (without ‘the lawful judgment of his [or her] equals’): such tends to be the abuse of power exercised by all authoritarian socialist unions.

President Obama said he stood in the Hall ‘where the rule of law first developed and courts were established’, but he seemed oblivious to the fact that those courts are now subject to the European Court of Justice and so the rule of law has been negated. The ECJ behaves like the Star Chamber and is constitutionally obliged to rule in the interests of the Union: it cannot make a judgement which would be incompatible with the objective of ‘ever closer union’. All individual rights and liberties are subject to this sacred writ.

It is ironic that an American president so appreciates what successive British prime ministers have come to despise. The God-given rights revealed in the Judaeo-Christian scriptures and developed under the Anglo-American Enlightenment tradition of Natural Law have been usurped by a European Union Napoleonic system in which the state has become the ultimate arbiter of what privileges (‘rights’) are permitted and what liberties are protected. The state has been made omnipotent and has become both judge and jury, responsible for prosecution and punishment. And anyone who presumes to oppose any of this is labeled ‘extremist’ or ‘xenophobic’, and may be subject to ‘limitations’ which meet the ‘objectives...recognised by the Union’.

The United Kingdom bequeathed to the United States a supreme constitution which seeks to restrict governments rather than pretended they can create rights that only God can endow. The United Kingdom has abandoned that heritage, leaving the United States alone to articulate and manifest what we once meant by ‘liberty’ and ‘justice’.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Obama gaffe? Orchestra premature? Her Majesty rude?

It is clear what went wrong at the state banquet in honour of President Obama, but difficult to know precisely who was to blame. Either the President extemporised and inadvertently gave the orchestral conductor his cue to commence; or the conductor mis-heard that cue and began the national anthem prematurely. But the response of Her Majesty is interesting: she stands to semi-attention, politely saying to the President, "That's very kind," before turning from his raised glass to face the front. But this leaves him looking awkward and clearly embarrassed.

The professionalism of the actor is proportional to the extent to which he or she is able to conceal error from an audience. There is a well-known story that when Queen Victoria hosted a dinner for an African chief, when the finger bowls were served, being unfamiliar with the custom, he lifted it to his mouth and drank. After a few embarrassing seconds, Queen Victoria took her finger bowl and did the same, in order guard her distinguished guest from humiliation. Everyone then courtesously followed the Queen, all drinking the contents of their fingerbowls.

There is a clearly a time and place to adhere to tradition and strict protocol, and a time to relax or permit deviation: the difference between the pharisaical and the order instituted by Jesus. His Grace is not entirely sure that Her Majesty got it right here, but he is very keen to listen to the wisdom of his communicants. There is slavery to custom, and there is love; there is legalism, and there is grace; there is mental rigidity, and there is the heart.

If it were President Obama's custom to eat with unwashed hands and he inadvertently failed to honour the traditions of his host to wash, should the host wash in front of him? If the President felt it right to continue his speech over the national anthem and raise his glass, should Her Majesty turn away? One wonders what the President would have done had the Queen made the same mistake in Washington during the US national anthem. But then, of course, she would never.

David Miliband tweets his initial thoughts on Obama's speech

It is a curious tweet, demonstrating astonishing ignorance and impropriety with an utterly gratuitous swipe at 'Tory Britain'.

Does the former foreign secretary really believe that this first address in Westminster Hall by a US president was organised solely by the Conservative Party? Why did he equally not seek to tarnish 'LibDem Britain' with an implicit allegation of racism? Does he believe that the Liberal Democrats were not consulted on this occasion? Could he not have appreciated (at least) that 'Tory Britain' gave Parliament its first Jewish Speaker, who was most definitely on the 'British Establishment side'?

Perhaps Mr Miliband might suggest what proportion of the 'British Establishment side' he believes should have been made up of black, brown or other ethnic groups. And how many of these should have been lesbian, gay or bi. And then perhaps he might suggest how many of these should have been disabled.

Or, alternatively, perhaps he could just grow up.

The Special Relationship and the foundation which dare not speak its name

As the taxing of tea and agitations for independence were gradually forgiven (if not forgotten), the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom became one of the closest and most enduring bonds in global geopolitical history. Yesterday, both President Obama and the Queen paid tribute to our standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ through a century of appalling bloodshed: the US came to assist us in our darkest hours of need and the UK did not hesitate to offer unconditional support in the wake of the events of 11th September 2001. Churchill and Roosevelt had a close personal relationship based on trust which was pivotal to the ultimate success of the Allies in World War II. The ‘special relationship’ became virtual betrothal during the coinciding premierships of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: he called her ‘the best man in England’; she once said he was ‘the second most important man in my life’. The Blair-Clinton years were relaxed and friendly, and the Blair-Bush era was (perhaps surprisingly) one of mutual reciprocal admiration and honour-conferring.

As Barack Obama and David Cameron make their high-fives for the media, the warm, respectful and inoffensive speeches about our long, shared history are listened to attentively. But things are different. It is hard to forget that one of the very first acts of this President was to return (rater rudely) a bust of Winston Churchill which had stood in the Oval Office as a symbol of our nations' friendship. Certainly it was ‘on loan’, but the tenure was permanent. Its abrupt return was not merely undiplomatic; it was perceived as a distinct downgrading of the special Anglo-American alliance: this President would deal with ‘Europe’ (ie the EU), not simply one entity within. Just a few months later he was singing the praises of France, absurdly declaring: “We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.” Nile Gardiner has faithfully chronicled these insults against Britain. He rightly observes: ‘...to suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous... such a remark is not only factually wrong but also insulting to Britain...’

More recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has supported Argentina’s sovereignty claim on the Falkland Islands, even referring to them as the ‘Malvinas’. On meeting with the absurd EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton, Secretary Clinton referred to the Lisbon Treaty as ‘a major milestone in our world’s history’, having previously stated: “I believe (political integration is) in Europe’s interest and I believe that is in the United States’ interest because we want a strong Europe.” And echoing the President’s absurd comments about France, Vice President Joe Biden described Brussels as the ‘capital of the free world’.

If the special relationship reached its zenith in the Thatcher-Reagan years, there is something of a nadir about the Obama-Cameron era. Yes, the high-fives are congenial and the state banquets diplomatic. But bubbling beneath the surface is a tension of barely concealed contempt. Both the Queen and the President spoke effusively of our common language and shared culture; of our combined national interests, and military and economic ties. But there is something very much deeper, and the Queen took the President back to his inaugural address and reminded him of his references to a United States constructed on the values of honesty, hard work, courage, fair play, tolerance, curiosity loyalty and patriotism. She ventured that these are the values which underscore the life of the United Kingdom also.

It is a little disappointing that neither ‘leader of the free world’ dared to mention the fons et origo of these values: the Christian faith. The United States is secular by law, yet they have a President who openly talks of ‘one nation under God’ and calls his nation to prayer every year. The United Kingdom is Protestant Christian by law, but none dare mention this fact for fear of causing offence. And when the Prime Minister does dare to invoke the name of Jesus, even professing believers berate him for his ‘ludicrous and offensive’ remarks. No wonder the temptation is not to 'do God'.

A few days ago, Pope Benedict XVI declared (unashamedly) that Europe must go deeper than mere matters of trade and economics. Taking a favoured theme of John Paul II, he reminded his audience that the Christian faith is the spiritual foundation of the continent: as Europe moves toward political unity, we will fare better if those Christian roots are kept in mind. He said:
"Europeans are called to commit themselves to create conditions of a profound cohesion and an effective collaboration between nations. To build the new Europe on solid bases it is not enough to appeal solely to economic interests, but, rather, it is necessary to begin from authentic values, which have their foundation in the universal moral law inscribed in every man's heart."
While Roman Catholic social doctrine and interventionist statism have become the pervasive religious and economic philosophies on the Continent, the UK and the US share a distinct Christian foundation which might be summarised as consisting of those values articulated by both President Obama and the Queen: honesty, hard work, courage, fair play, tolerance, curiosity loyalty and patriotism. The ‘Protestant work ethic’ encourages individual responsibility and unashamedly exalts the type of social capitalism that can only be achieved through the nation state, accountability, and democracy. Of course, there are tensions between the market and morality, and between the citizen and the state. But David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ is as much about caring for widows and orphans, feeding the starving, and clothing the naked as any dimension of Catholic social teaching.

The key to the enduring success of the Anglo-American special relationship is that it is built upon the rock of Christianity. These two great nations know, somewhere deep down, that our souls are united by a commitment to liberty and dedication to truth; that earthly politics is fleeting; and that ultimate salvation lies only in the stark offence of the cross, under which the President, Prime Minister and Queen mean no more than the poor man at his gate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The President of the United States bows to the Queen of the United Kingdom

It's very subtle, but quite unmistakable: President Obama respectfully bows to Her Majesty just after taking his third step. His Grace applauds the reverence, even if the President's respect is not quite as deeply felt and ostentatiously expressed as it was for the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia:

What are Israel's defensible borders?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why not go back to Israel’s 63BC lines?

It never ceases to amaze His Grace: for every post he writes on just about any matter, there is usually reasoned consensus or intelligent criticism from diverse individuals who appreciate intelligent and erudite comment on matters religio-political. Yet when he writes about Israel, he receives insults and hate-mail (“Zionist Nazi”); his faith is called into doubt (“No Christian would...”); and otherwise silent communicants become rather assertive and dogmatic about the Lord’s perspective (“Jesus would never...”).

Last week, the President of the United States was clear in his view. He said: "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states." By ‘1967 lines’ he meant ‘pre-1967’, ie, Israel’s security is dependent on returning to the situation before the Six-Day War and reverting essentially to Israel’s 1949 armistice lines.

This has been soundly rejected by Benyamin Netanyahu: “While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible,” he said.

But don’t just blame intransigent and hard-hearted Jews: Hamas have also responded on behalf of the Palestinians, declaring: “The US administration will fail, just as all others have in the past, in forcing Hamas to recognise the occupation.” Their spokesman observed that President Obama's speech showed that the US was ‘not a friend to the people of the region’ (ie Palestinians).

The President’s plan for a peace based on Israel’s 1967 lines is already in tatters. So His Grace has a better proposal: Why not revert to the pre-63 BC lines? This was the year the Romans invaded Israel and Judah and divided the land into regional jurisdictions (Galilee, Judaea etc). Understandably, the inhabitants of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were not overly happy having to live under alien occupation, subjugated to Roman rule. Tensions began to rise which led to the ‘Great Revolt’ of AD 67 when the Jews decided to take on the might of Rome. In AD 70, Jerusalem was invaded and the Romans destroyed the Temple (has Berlusconi ever apologised for this atrocity?). Things reached breaking point in AD 132, when Jews were ethnically cleansed from the region and the Romans officially renamed the whole land ‘Palaestina’ (purposely and provocatively as an insult to the Jews; the Philistines being Israel’s most dangerous enemy prior to unification).

Readers and communicants will see from the above map (click for clearer view) that the tribes of Simeon and Judah actually predated the establishment of ‘Palestine’: the Jew was in Judaea long before the invention of the race now known as ‘Palestinians’. After Roman rule, whenever Jews attempted to reclaim their homeland their communities were destroyed and they were exiled. The pogrom continued under the Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, British, and the modern Egyptians. In all the heated talk of ‘occupation’ and ‘illegal Jewish settlements’ , you rarely hear about the indigenous Jewish populations of Gaza and the West Bank: all sympathies are with Hamas and Fatah, both of whom are pathologically programmed (if not constitutionally pledged and theologically dedicated) to finishing what was begun millennia ago: the extermination of the Jews and the eradication of the State of Israel.

The history of this region is fiendishly complex and solutions to seemingly intractable problems will not be found in crass geopolitical policy objectives which only take account of the most recent shifts in territorial lines. Israel is an historic nation: Palestine is a relatively recent invention. Only a sophist politician, ignorant of the history, steeped in moral relativism and with an eye on re-election, could reduce the existential threat faced by Israel to a trivial game of Risk.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Monarchy is a net contributor to the Treasury

A little trite levity, but illustratively educational:

Will the Duke of Cambridge ever be crowned King?

There is a certain irony that as the Government prepares to abolish hereditary peers of the realm, the Queen bestows a dukedom – the highest rank in the British peerage – upon Prince William. Such honorifics are, of course, the traditional gift of the Monarch to his or her direct descendents, especially on the occasion of their wedding. Prince Charles, the Queen’s firstborn and immediate Heir to the Throne, was gifted the Principality of Wales (which is quite a sizeable chunk of the UK); Prince Andrew got York (a pretty city with lots of history); Prince Edward got Wessex (a fairytale place most recently made popular by Thomas Hardy); Princess Anne simply became the Princess Royal (no territorial title at all). There’s probably a discrimination and equality issue there for Nick Clegg to sort out when he’s managed to get a first-born female Roman Catholic on the Throne.

Prince William of Wales is now also Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. It is a truly United Kingdom conferral, combining his Welsh princedom with an English Dukedom, a Scottish earldom and an Irish Viscountcy. King William V (DV) will be a truly Unionist monarch.

The title is an interesting choice at the present time, not least because of its Stuart inception. Having rejected all proposals to reform the Act of Settlement 1701, Her Majesty appears to be engaged in a little bridge-building with those of her Roman Catholic subjects who are irritated or outraged by this bigotry (which is closer to about 34 than the oft-quoted five million, and 15 of those probably work at The Daily Telegraph).

The Dukedom of Cambridge is not a peerage with a happy heritage: it was first conferred in 1664 when the Roman Catholic James Stuart was granted the title (as distinct from the Earldom). He died at the age of four. The title was then conferred upon Edgar Stuart, but he died at the age of three in 1671. Charles Stuart was styled Duke of Cambridge at his birth in 1677, but he died at just a month old.

The Dukedom then passed to the Protestant Hanovers. In 1714 George I became the first monarch to accede to the British throne as a direct consequence of the Act of Settlement: some 56 Roman Catholics bore closer blood ties to the deceased Queen Anne, but the Act demanded the nearest blood-related Protestant descendent of Sophia. This was long before the days when royalty changed their religion in order keep their place in the royal line of succession. Tory-minded Jacobites famously attempted to depose King George I and replace him with the Catholic James Stuart, but Whig ascendancy ensured their failure. This Duke of Cambridge spoke little English and was considered ‘dull and awkward’.

When George II ascended the throne in 1727, he was already Duke of Cambridge. He had numerous family problems and contended all his life with domestic tensions and foreign conflict. The title was next given to Prince Adolphus, the seventh son of George III, in 1801. His son was the last Duke and (like Prince William) married a commoner for love. However, the union was never recognised by the Sovereign. The title became extinct in 1904 owing to the lack of an heir. Cambridge reappeared as a Marquessate 1917 and then became extinct in 1981, again owing to no issue.

As the country now has a new Duke of Cambridge (with a most appreciable Duchess), one has to wonder if this one will fare any happier than his predecessors. With every political party now committed to the establishment of a ‘modern democracy’, it is evident, as David Cameron has said, that ‘those who make the laws of the land should be elected by those to whom those laws apply’. He would doubtless say of the Monarchy, as he said of the House of Lords, that the institution has ‘served the country with distinction’ and ‘performs its work well but lacks sufficient democratic authority’. It is hard to see the argument for an hereditary head of state if the principle upon which it is founded is antithetical to that which is important in a ‘modern democracy’. The present Queen has been exemplary, and her personal popularity has sustained the Monarchy through an era of considerable social revolution. But Charles, as King George VII with Queen Camilla at his side, is likely to diminish respect for the institution, especially if he persists with his demand to be ‘Defender of Faith’ and continues to meddle in political contentions.

Regicide is, of course, nothing new to the English, though doubtless in the 21st century it would be done with a little more compassion than it was in 1649. Whether the Duke of Cambridge is King in 2149 remains to be seen. But it is not likely if even the Conservative Party is no longer prepared to make the case for the principle of heredity. Like the Israelites, the British people may ask for a king, but the reverential era of the ‘great and the good’ is fading; a spirit of political revolution is stirring. As Charles I was executed, Milton wrote The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, in which he observed that a Christian king is the servant of the people: ‘But a king will either be no Christian at all, or will be the slave of all. If he clearly wants to be master, he cannot at the same time be Christian.’ King and governors are appointed by God to punish wrong-doers and praise those who act well, which is the will of God. Since monarchy and government are human institutions, both are corruptible, and if they should become destructive it is for ‘free men’ (1Pet 2:16) to remove what is bad and appoint what is good and advantageous for society.

Disraeli said: ‘I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few.’

If hereditary peers have really ‘served the country with distinction’ and the House of Lords has truly ‘performed its work well’, is it not the task and constitutional raison d’être of the Conservative Party to contend for the hereditary principle because it is seen to be good? If they will not, it is not likely, come the 500th anniversary of the execution of Charles I in 2049, that we will still possess an hereditary Monarchy with constitutional power and political authority. And Prince William will be but another unhappy Duke of Cambridge in a long line of ill-fated royals to have held that title.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Creationism, Islamism and the myopia of the National Secular Society

The Department for Education has deemed both Creationism and Islamism to be beyond the pale as far running a ‘free school’ is concerned.

Creationism: the religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being; associated with Intelligent Design: the claim that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection (Wikipedia).

Islamism: a set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system; the enforcement of sharia (Islamic law) on Muslims; of pan-Islamic political unity; and of the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world (Wikipedia).

His Grace does not usually quote from Wikipedia, for obvious reasons. But for the purposes of this post, these definitions will suffice. Essentially, applications to establish an academy which proposes to teach Creationism as scientific theory will be rejected, as will applications which intend to undermine the principles of liberal democracy.

A moment of jubilation from the National Secular Society caught His Grace’s eye, when they were publicly referring to lobbying meetings they had held with the Department for Education during which they appear to have been assured that no new free schools would be permitted to teach either Creationism as science or Islamism as citizenship. These restrictions seemed eminently sensible, but His Grace wondered at the correlation of the two prohibitions, and so entered into a little dialogue with the NSS. He asked if these two beliefs had somehow been equated, to which the following response was received:

They denied that they were ‘equated’, but confirmed that these were the only two prohibitions stipulated by the DfE. His Grace responded that the juxtaposition implies correlation: the intention to teach either automatically bars one from opening a free school. The NSS replied:

To which His Grace responded:

And there was silence.

One can perhaps understand why the NSS is obsessively prioritising its lobbying efforts on the eradication of Creationism from the science lab and Islamism from Citizenship classes, but it is awfully narrow and shortsighted of them to do so, not least because it is not at all clear how a school’s teaching of either can be monitored effectively. Ofsted visit every 4-5 years, during which an entire cohort of children will have passed through their compulsory secondary education. And it doesn’t take long at all to instill a particular belief perspective or inculcate a political worldview. As the Jesuits are wont to say: “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man.”

There is a curious and irreconcilable tension between the DfE’s desire to devolve and liberalise (indeed, abolish) the National Curriculum – encouraging free schools to forge their own – and the simultaneous desire to impose a National Curriculum on the vast majority of schools.

If Creationism and Islamism are to be banned, by what rationale is the DfE permitting the establishment of new academies founded upon ‘breathing philosophy’, the principles of sharia or extremist (ie intolerant) atheism?

But let us set aside Religious Studies for a moment and consider the History syllabus. Is it not something of a contradiction that an autonomous free school should simultaneously have imposed upon it a standardised national history syllabus which is to be written by someone vetted and approved by the Secretary of State?

And what is applicable for History must a fortiori be applicable to Religious Studies. Mr Gove cannot have it both ways. Either one trusts parents and teachers or one does not. Either one is prescriptively imposing a centralised national curriculum or one is not.

And if this Secretary of State is permitted by Act of Parliament to demand that academies teach a ‘Right-wing’ or an ‘Empire’ view of history, or prioritise the Christian traditions and foundations of the nation, or propagate a sceptical view of man-made global warming, then his successors will be endowed with that very same authority to ensure the teaching of whatever leftist, globalist, multi-faith, multi-cultural or ‘environmentalist’ creed he or she deems appropriate for the next generation of children.

When the NSS rejoice in their apparent success at the eradication of Creationists and Islamists from the classroom, one has to wonder at their level of comprehension of the complexities and their awareness of the reality: Creationism does not need to be taught in the laboratory for it to be inculcated as truth; Islamism does not need to be taught as Citizenship for it to be instilled in the mind of the child as fact. Students may be inducted into either of these ‘philosophies’ through the school’s ethos – a Greek word meaning custom, nature or disposition, referring to the characteristic spirit or attitudes of community.

What if a Christian school agrees with the DfE that Creationism does indeed not belong on the Biology syllabus, but then inducts children into believing that Religious Studies and the daily act of collective worship are of far greater significance than any other aspect of the curriculum? What if a Muslim school eschews Islamism, yet inculcates in every taught subject the supremacy of Mohammed and the infallibility Qur’an?

In what sense have either Creationism or Islamism been ‘defeated’?

If state education is to be handed to autonomous groups of parents and teachers, the state must retain the power to propagate its history, traditions and culture. If it abdicates that responsibility, we risk producing entire generations of children who will grow up ignorant of the origins of our language, literature and the art and science of our civilisation. Islamism is indeed a threat to our way of life. But Creationism?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Netanyahu rebuffs Obama on return to Israel's pre-1967 borders

If you're worried about being raptured away and want to be spared the sanctimonious waffle, just fast-forward to seven minutes, sit back and enjoy.

Obama turns his back on Israel – 1967 Macht Frei

Bygones, water under the bridge, times have changed and we need to move on. Or at least return to 1967. Perhaps, in President Obama’s mind, winding back Israel’s history 44 years amounts to progress. But not if you’re one of the 300,000 Jews living in Judaea or Samaria: regression to Israel’s 1967 borders would leave very large Jewish settlements under Palestinian control, and ethnic cleansing would ensue on a scale not seen since Kristallnacht. Week after week we would hear (if the BBC bothered) of the systematic slaughter of Jewish families: the appalling fate of the Fogels (DO NOT click HERE if you are of a sensitive disposition) would be revisited upon thousands of other Jewish children and babies as they slept in their beds. The animals who do such things love death more than we love life. “Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their children were representatives of the State of Israel," said Ruth’s brother, as he laid their coffins in the ground. "They died in the name of God, for Israel. We expect the state to do what is right to bring back the national pride and to prevent such incidents from happening again."

And a return to Israel’s 1967 borders will do nothing to prevent such massacres happening again. For ‘the state to do what is right’ there must be internal security and defensible borders. Until a state has established such, there can be no viable state; until a government achieves such, there can be no peace and security. Obama’s incremental plan for ‘mutually agreed swaps’ (though it isn’t clear what Israel gets out of these ‘swaps’) is appeasement of the terrorist aggressor and a betrayal of the friend and ally. After decades of staunch support for Israel – still the only democracy in the Middle East (despite the BBC’s crass assertion to the contrary) – the United States is pinning its hopes on a wave of ‘Arab springs’ which have yet to produce a stable democracy anywhere. By all means, let us encourage those across the Arab world who yearn for justice and freedom from tyranny and oppression. But it is a little premature to be embracing groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, whose ultimate objective is not liberty or democracy but a global Islamic Caliphate ruled by sharia law. The Brotherhood have spawned such terrorist groups as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and they have close links with Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. The unifying goal of all is the destruction of the state of Israel.

Back in 2004, the US was committed to ensuring Israel's survival and made it clear that Palestinian refugees would have to settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel. In just seven years – from George W Bush to Barack Obama – the US has shifted from an unequivocal commitment by both Houses of Congress that Israel would not have to withdraw to the 1967 borders, to a policy which will imperil her very existence.

President Obama says: "The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state."

The problem, of course, is that the ‘potential’ identified by Hamas and even some members of Fatah has nothing to do with democracy or contiguity: it is concerned with autocracy and supremacy. There is no border to be shared with Israel because Israel is an illegitimate entity whose destiny is destruction.

Announcing the policy to promote reform and to support transitions to democracy, the President proclaimed: "We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law and the right to choose your own leaders – whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran."

Right. Good luck with that.

And why did he not mention Riyadh?

Where in the world has there ever been an Islamic state concerned with the promotion of free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, or equality for men and women under the rule of law? In the beginning was Barack Obama’s word, but the realisation will dawn that it is not with God and it is not God. The President can spout whatever words of laudable objectives he wishes, but he cannot speak meaning into existence. And while he abandons Israel, leaving her alone and isolated in a hostile world, it is worth listening to one of Gaza’s freely-elected leaders, with whom the President is so eager to do business. This is Yunis al Astal, a member of the Palestinian Authority parliament, spelling out his vision for the genocidal annihilation of the Jewish people. As you will hear, he is deeply concerned with establishing a set of universal rights: he is passionate about free speech, wholly committed to freedom of peaceful assembly, enthusiastic about freedom of religion, and utterly dedicated to equality for men and women under the rule of law:

It beggars belief that the United States of America, which was founded upon the philosophical principles of liberty and justice drawn deeply from the Christian scriptures, should abandon Israel to the divine plan of Allah which would give the Arabs ‘the honour’ of annihilating ‘the evil of this gang’. In a few years' time, this democratically-elected Hamas politician predicts, the Zionists will understand that they were brought here for the purpose of being slaughtered in ‘a great massacre’. In language reminiscent of Nazi Germany, we hear the true perspective of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah: the Jews are more odious than all of the world's lethal birds of prey, dangerous reptiles and lethal bacteria combined.

And Barack Obama wants Binyamin Netanyahu to hand over Judaea and Samaria to Islamic leaders such as these. Was not the plea and assurance of the world after Auschwitz ‘never again’? The only guarantee for the protection of the Jewish people is the defensible State of Israel. If President Obama has conveniently forgotten those millions of Jews who were tortured, choked to death, burned and murdered by the Nazi Amaleks, it is for Prime Minister Netanyahu to remind him that Arab Amaleks are born of the same spirit. Never again, indeed.
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