• World Council of Churches attacks Israel . . . again

    The World Council of Churches versus the Jewish State, Once Again,” writes Gerald Steinberg (Religious News Service)

    The WCC attacked Israel for its March 6 vote in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) that would deny entry visas to activists who call for the boycott of the Jewish state. Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary-general of the WCC, told numerous media outlets that the new law would “make it impossible for him or senior people in his organization to visit member churches or sacred sites in what Christianity regards as the Holy Land.” …

    Ironically, the church body deserves much of the credit for inspiring the entry ban through its campaigns to isolate and demonize Israel internationally.

    For years, the WCC has played a leading role in this harsh political warfare. The organization’s top officials participated in the virulently anti-Semitic NGO Forum of the 2001 U.N. Durban Conference, at which Israel was labeled as an apartheid state. –Gerald Steinberg

    This latest attack is part of a pattern of anti-Israel advocacy, according to NGO Monitor.

    The WCC is a central promoter of the Kairos Palestine document, which characterizes terrorist acts of “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance” denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, calls to mobilize churches worldwide in the call for BDS, and compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime. . . .

    WCC documents (May 2013) imply that Israel’s very existence is illegitimate, accusing it of “sixty-five years [] of continuing dispossession of Palestinian people—Christian and Muslim alike—from their land by Israeli occupation.”

    Refers to Christian Zionism “as a form of Christian fundamentalism” and claims that “Christians who promote “Christian Zionism” distort the interpretation of the Word of God and the historic connection of Palestinians—Christians and Muslims—to the Holy Land, enable the manipulation of public opinion by Zionist lobbies, and damage intra-Christian relations.”

    During the 2014 Gaza conflict, WCC released several statements placing sole blame for the conflict on Israel and ignoring Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians. –NGO Monitor

    Comment: Israel and its supporters take the boycott movement very seriously, less because it directly affects their economy, more because it aims at delegitimizing the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. That’s the point of using vitriolic and misleading terms like “apartheid” and “colonialism,” which imply Israel is not only acting badly, its existence is a colonial outcropping that should be removed. The World Council of Churches has repeatedly endorsed these anti-Israel views without directly saying Israel should not exist.

    The WCC’s position–demonizing Israel and often demonizing America–matches that of left-wing Christian denominations in the US. Those denominations are shrinking and are increasingly organized around a romantic, progressive political vision rather than worship. What’s growing? Evangelicals who are focused on their religious beliefs and, typically, are patriotic and pro-Israel. Their support for Zionism is at least as strong, and often stronger, than the liberal wing of American Judaism.

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . .Friday, January 6

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Good choice to head US intelligence. Amid Trump’s frictions with the intelligence community, he has made a smart move in nominating retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) to become Director of National Intelligence. Coats, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is a serious, well-informed professional, a strong critic of Putin and Russia, and respected on both sides of the aisle for his national-security expertise.

    ◆ Related story: Senate hearings show strong, bipartisan support for US intelligence findings about Russian hacking and information operations during 2016 campaign. No evidence they hacked into the vote count. The findings sharply contradict Pres.-elect Donald Trump’s statement. (New York Times)

    ◆ DNC makes another unforced error. Candidates vying to become new head of Democratic National Committee will debate. No news there. What is news is the Dems’ choice of venue: the Washington restaurant of a virulent anti-Israeli activist. The staff are encourage to wear clothes that proclaim leftist and anti-Israeli views,
    and the restaurant features signs supporting the Gaza flotilla and so on. (Washington Free Beacon)

    ◆ Aussie advertisements that went viral ruled “totally inappropriate. You do not often see headlines like this:

    SBS’s ‘F*ck, That’s Delicious’ and ‘CU in the NT’ banned by ad watchdog; ‘BCF-ing’ fun is okay (Mumbrella)

    “SBS” is an Australian television network. “NT” is the abbreviation for Australia’s Northern Territory. The ad for the NT was put out by the territory’s official tourist bureau.

    Here’s an actual screenshot of one ad. (A screenshot for the other one is beyond the pale for this blog.)

    Comment: McDonald’s is also considering that slogan.

    ◆ Cutting Planned Parenthood’s federal funding could jeopardize health-care bill. Paul Ryan and House GOP leaders are determined to cut the funding. They have the votes in the House, but they will need 50 votes in the Senate. CNN says two of the 52 Republicans there could balk; they are pro-choice Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. With the Vice President’s vote, the bill would still carry, but Kentucky’s Rand Paul is saying he will not approve any health-care bill because the underlying budget numbers don’t balance.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Paul Mirengoff
    for the story on the Democratic National Committee. Paul writes for the valuable blog, Power Line, which commented on the story.


  • US-Israel Academic Collaboration Rises Dramatically

    ◆ Israel is most visible on college campuses when it is being blackballed. But there is quiet pushback from serious scholars.

    The anti-Israel movement is known at “BDS,” which stands for “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel.

    It means boycotting not only Israeli products, but severing cooperation with Israeli universities and the faculty who teach there. The goal is to delegitimate the Jewish state, and it is pushed non-stop by Palestinian students and their allies among activist Muslims and student leftists.

    ◆ Comment: BDS has largely failed. The movement has garnered plenty of attention, but it has failed in its more ambitious goals, at least in the US. (In Europe, the picture is grimmer. Anti-Israeli sentiments and full-blown anti-Semitism have risen to toxic levels, on both left and right.)

    In the US, the BDS movement has gained some traction among left-wing students and faculty in the humanities and some social sciences, as well as Muslim activists. These groups constantly harrass pro-Israel students, demonstrating whenever there is an “evil Zionist speaker,” a benign Israeli birthday celebration, and so forth. Beyond that, the movement has accomplished little. They embrace defeat and futility as marks of honor. Every spring on college campuses across America, they hold “Israel Apartheid Week” and attempt to build broader opposition to Israel.

    They are not gaining much support beyond the committed left and self-proclaimed Social Justice Vigilantes.

    • No universities or corporations have agreed to boycott investments in Israel.
    • Corporate investments in Israel are very strong, especially in the high-tech areas where Israel is a global leader.
    • Many universities have also increased their collaboration with Israeli counterparts.

    ◆ Beneath the surface, there are also important signs of rising civic and academic cooperation between the US and Israel. A recent report shows a dramatic rise in collaboration between US and Israeli scholars, particularly in biomedicine and the physical sciences. (Times of Israel) The study, led by Dr. Daphne Getz, looked at academic papers with co-authors from both Israel and the US.

    The highest number of joint U.S.-Israel publications are in the field of Medicine, followed by Physics and Astronomy, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, Material Sciences and Earth and Planetary Sciences. –study by Dr. Daphne Getz of the Samuel Neaman Institute

    There is also extensive cooperation in information technology and cyber-security, fields where Israeli scientists are among the world’s leaders.

    The study also shows a 78% increase in the number of American students attending Israeli universities between 2004 and 2014.

    The leading Israeli research universities are

    • Technion: Israel Institute of Technology
    • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Weizmann Institute of Science
    • Tel Aviv University
    • Bar-Ilan University
    • University of Haifa

    Comment: The rising numbers of research collaborations and international co-authorships reflect the strength of Israeli academic institutions and much lower costs of communicating among co-authors around the world. They also show that street demonstrations by aggressive anti-Israel activists mask a rising connection among serious scholars.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Ron Hassner
     for the news item


    ◆ Send interesting stories to
    Charles (dot) Lipson at Gmail (dot) com


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Tuesday, Nov. 22

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–

    Linked articles in bold purple

    putin-on-horse Putin moves nuclear missiles closer to Europe as a strong statement against NATO and its defense of Baltic states (Telegraph)

    ◆ Palestinian activists in the US and Europe try to delegitimate Israel with “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” tactics.

    anti-semitism-on-campus-140px-margins-on-all-sidesThey have many tactics to attack the Jewish state, but one of their most important is to “Boycott all Israeli products, Divest from all investments in Israel or Israeli-companies (or sometimes all companies that do business in Israel), and Sanction Israel, Israeli institutions (such as universities), and sometimes ordinary Israeli citizens.”

    Boycott, Divest, and Sanction–BDS–is popular with the left on college campuses.  Miriam Elman, a professor at Syracuse University, clearly explains what BDS is and why it is despicable. Well worth reading. (Syracuse.com and the Post Standard)

    kim-jung-un-on-flag-300px-square-no-margins◆ China, eager to protect its North Korean ally, blocks internet searches for “Fatty Kim the Third”  (ABC17News)

    ◆ Hampshire College bans the American flag: it’s just too controversial.

    Students at the western Massachusetts school took down the flag on Veterans Day and burned it, protesting the election of Donald Trump.

    So Hampshire did what any institution of higher learning would do: they replaced the flag and immediately announced it would be flown at half-staff,

    both to acknowledge the grief and pain experienced by so many and to enable the full complexity of voices and experiences to be heard –Hampshire College, announcing US flag would be flown at half-staff after Trump election

    Not good enough for students at the western Massachusetts college. And, oddly enough, some military families thought it might be disrespectful.

    So, once again, Hampshire acted decisively. They have now removed all US flags from campus since, as the college president noted, people have a “range of views” about the nation’s symbol. The Washington Post story is here.hampshirecollegelogo

    ◆ Meanwhile, students at Oxford University have appointed an official to protect its students from microaggressions. (Heat Street)

    doj-dept-of-justice-logo-clear-200px◆ The Department of Justice has fined the city of Denver $10,000 for hiring only US citizens as police officers. DOJ says the citizenship requirement is unlawful. (Daily Caller)

    ◆ And a great picture, thanks to Robin Steward, who claims “it’s not mine!”regret-nothing-tatoo


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Timothy Favero
     for the Hampshire College story
    ◆ Miriam Elman for her article on the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement
    ◆ Robin Steward for the tattoo picture

  • More on Free Speech. Excellent, thorough article by Matt Foldi

    Matt Foldi, a student at the University of Chicago and a prominent conservative, explains the background to the Dean’s letter. Foldi introduced a free-speech resolution at the Student Government last year, but, incredibly, it was defeated by the Social Justice Warriors. Still, the defeat may have encouraged university administrators to recognize that free speech was endangered, even at the U. of Chicago, which has strong principles on the subject and recently reiterated them.

    Foldi recounts several disruptions at the University of Chicago, and adds:

    In addition to these events on the University of Chicago’s campus, earlier this year, DePaul University in Chicago descended into chaos when its chapter of College Republicans invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus, and Donald Trump’s rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago was shut down before it even started. I was at both the Milo and Trump events, and both were absolutely insane. I have problems with both Milo and Trump, but I was also legitimately interested in hearing what they had to say, which was denied to me when both of their events were cancelled entirely. The events chronicled in detail are only the ones that I have first or second-hand knowledge of (Jason Riley has an excellent first person account of what it is like to be disinvited as a campus speaker here)!

    The whole piece is well worth reading.  (An Elephant in the Woods, blog)