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December 31, 2013 3

International New York Times Op-Ed Blames Israel and International Community for “Coming Intifada”

On Decem­ber 25, 2013, the Inter­na­tional New York Times ran an op-ed by Ali Jar­bawi, a for­mer Pales­tin­ian Author­ity gov­ern­ment min­is­ter and cur­rent con­tribut­ing opin­ion writer for the Times, titled “The Com­ing Intifada.” As evi­denced by its title, the premise of Mr. Jarbawi’s piece is that a vio­lent Pales­tin­ian intifada (Ara­bic for “upris­ing”) is loom­ing beneath the sur­face and could explode some­time in the near future. Most telling in Mr. Jarbawi’s piece is the absence of any sup­port or even men­tion of mov­ing for­ward with negotiations.

Sbarro Jerusalem Bombing

Mr. Jar­bawi writes that despite the appear­ance of nor­mal­ity for West Bank and Gaza Pales­tini­ans, “no one should be sur­prised if a new intifada erupts in the next few months.” He claims there are four fac­tors con­tribut­ing to this: an unful­filled hope for a Pales­tin­ian state, Israeli “vio­la­tions” against Pales­tini­ans (of which he includes the scur­rilous charge of “Judaiz­ing Jerusalem”), finan­cial chal­lenges fac­ing the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity, and the events of the Arab Spring.

While Mr. Jar­bawi goes to great lengths to blame many non-Palestinians – with a heavy focus being Israel — for what he warns is the com­ing intifada, he assigns no respon­si­bil­ity for the chal­lenges fac­ing Pales­tini­ans to the Pales­tini­ans them­selves. Attack­ing Israel for the fail­ures of the 20-plus years of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he makes no men­tion of the numer­ous Israeli offers – includ­ing from Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000 and from Ehud Olmert to Mah­moud Abbas in 2008 – rejected by the Pales­tini­ans. He also over­looks the repeated state­ments by Israeli lead­ers call­ing on their Pales­tin­ian coun­ter­parts to return to the nego­ti­at­ing table, which went unheeded until Sec­re­tary Kerry’s ini­tia­tives this past summer.

He fur­ther absolves the Pales­tini­ans of any respon­si­bil­ity for their finan­cial predica­ment by fail­ing to men­tion reports of ram­pant cor­rup­tion within the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity, and instead attacks Arab, Euro­pean and other inter­na­tional donors for not offer­ing suf­fi­cient aid.

Per­haps most dis­turbingly, how­ever, is Mr. Jarbawi’s claim that Israel is “Judaiz­ing Jerusalem.” The term “Judai­sa­tion” is fre­quently used by those who dis­miss the 4,000 year-old Jew­ish con­nec­tion to the land of Israel, and implies that Jews have no his­tor­i­cal right to a pres­ence in modern-day Israel. Stat­ing, as Mr. Jar­bawi does, that Israel is attempt­ing to “impose its pres­ence in the Al Aqsa mosque” fur­ther ignores the millennia-old reli­gious con­nec­tion to Judaism’s holi­est site, which shares this tiny piece of real estate, the Tem­ple Mount.

All this speaks to an ele­ment of self-deception on the part of the Pales­tini­ans at best, and, at worst, lays a foun­da­tion to jus­tify Pales­tin­ian vio­lence. By refus­ing to acknowl­edge com­plic­ity in the polit­i­cal and finan­cial predica­ment they find them­selves in, Mr. Jar­bawi and his Pales­tin­ian col­leagues delude them­selves into believ­ing that vio­lence is a jus­ti­fi­able reac­tion to their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. They seek to con­vince oth­ers that their cur­rent approach towards Israel, includ­ing threats of vio­lence, are accept­able, and it is incum­bent entirely upon Israel and the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity to change their posi­tions towards the Pales­tini­ans in order to resolve the conflict.

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December 18, 2012 2

Christian Conservatives Blame Elementary School Massacre On Lack Of Religion In Schools

In the wake of the shoot­ing of 20 young chil­dren and six adults at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut, peo­ple are search­ing for answers about how and why this tragedy hap­pened. Some promi­nent Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives are blam­ing the mas­sacre on the lack of reli­gion in schools and the sec­u­lar­iza­tion of Amer­ica more generally.

In an appear­ance on Fox News for­mer Arkansas Gov­er­nor Mike Huck­abee said, “We ask why there’s vio­lence in our schools, but we have sys­tem­at­i­cally removed God from our schools. Should we be so sur­prised that schools would become a place of car­nage?”  He later clar­i­fied that he did not think that prayer in school could have directly pre­vented the shooting.

Bryan Fis­cher, a spokesper­son for the Amer­i­can Fam­ily Asso­ci­a­tion, a non-profit that pro­motes con­ser­v­a­tive fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­t­ian val­ues, echoed Gov­er­nor Huckabee’s sen­ti­ments.  He said, “Here’s the bot­tom line: God is not gonna go where he’s not wanted…We have spent 50 years telling God to get lost, telling God, we do not want you in our schools, we don’t want to pray to you in our schools, we don’t want to pray to you before foot­ball games, we don’t want to pray to you at grad­u­a­tion, we don’t want any­one talk­ing about you in a grad­u­a­tion speech. We’ve kicked God out of our pub­lic school sys­tem. And I think God would say to us, ‘Hey I’ll be glad to pro­tect your chil­dren, but you’ve gotta invite me back into your world first. I’m not gonna go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman.’” 

David Brody of the Chris­t­ian Broad­cast­ing Net­work (CBN) wrote an online col­umn defend­ing Huck­abee and Fis­cher. Brody asserted, “Guess what folks? Huck­abee and Fis­cher are not alone. There are mil­lions of evan­gel­i­cals who believe the same thing. This is not heart­less. It’s based on the bib­li­cal prin­ci­ple of reap­ing and sow­ing. Not that these lit­tle chil­dren sowed any­thing but are our schools left unpro­tected because of the past actions of our nation when it comes to remov­ing God from our pub­lic schools? The con­ver­sa­tion is now all about ban­ning guns but should the con­ver­sa­tion really be about allow­ing God back into pub­lic schools?”  Joseph Far­rah, the edi­tor of World Net Daily, and William J. Mur­ray, the Head of the Reli­gious Free­dom Net­work, made sim­i­lar state­ments blam­ing the shoot­ings on the lack of reli­gion in schools.

For­mer head of Focus on the Fam­ily James Dob­son, cit­ing sta­tis­tics on the num­ber of abor­tions in Amer­ica and the accep­tance of same sex mar­riage, said on his radio show, “Some­body is going to get mad at me for say­ing what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my hon­est opin­ion: I think we have turned our back on the Scrip­ture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judg­ment to fall upon us.  I think that’s what’s going on.”  Oper­a­tion Save Amer­ica, an anti-abortion group that also opposes homo­sex­u­al­ity, sim­i­larly claimed that “we are los­ing our kids because we are ignor­ing God’s Law.”

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December 17, 2012 1

How Do We Talk to the Children?

The recent news of the shoot­ings of 20 young chil­dren and six adults at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut has had a dev­as­tat­ing impact on both youth and adults across the coun­try. In the face of this sense­less vio­lence, many are at a loss to find the words to express the depth of their feel­ings. Despite our best efforts to pro­tect chil­dren from the details of such inci­dents, they are often more aware than we imag­ine of what is hap­pen­ing in the world around them. When fright­en­ing and vio­lent inci­dents occur, chil­dren and teens are likely to expe­ri­ence a range of emo­tions, includ­ing fear, con­fu­sion, sad­ness and anger that can man­i­fest in many dif­fer­ent ways.

To coun­ter­act fear and help chil­dren feel safe, par­ents, teach­ers and care­givers can pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren to express how they feel and chan­nel their feel­ings into pos­i­tive actions. In order to pro­vide the reas­sur­ance and guid­ance they may need, it’s impor­tant for adults to real­ize the impact of these kinds of events on them per­son­ally and to come to terms with their own feel­ings.  Before talk­ing to your chil­dren, take time to process your own feel­ings and per­cep­tions with other adults.

Be alert to signs of upset in your chil­dren, which can include with­drawal and a lack of inter­est in engag­ing in activ­i­ties, exces­sive act­ing out, fear of going to school and other behav­iors that seem out of the ordi­nary, and pro­vide a quiet time for them to ask any ques­tions they may have.  Above all, reas­sure chil­dren in age-appropriate ways that they are safe. When talk­ing to preschool­ers, for exam­ple, your response can be sim­ple and direct: “I love you and I will always do every­thing I can to make you safe.”

Dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions like this can be an oppor­tu­nity to dis­cuss fam­ily and com­mu­nity val­ues, beliefs and tra­di­tions. You can find some help­ful guide­lines for talk­ing to chil­dren in the after­math of hate and vio­lence at:

http://www.adl.org/issue_education/Hate_and_violence.asp

http://www.adl.org/education/discussing_hate_spanish.pdf (Span­ish version)

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