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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Conservative logic and foreign aid

Conservatives are very vocal about the amount of money 'wasted' on Foreign Aid, regardless of whether it is for humanitarian or developmental purposes. The logic behind this opposition is that there are needs in our own country that should be met first. So far, this logic actually has some merit. There are needs in our own country which should be met. However, the logic falls apart the moment that said Conservative opposes addressing those needs, for instance, through social security, or socialised health, housing and educational programs.

The logic develops an even greater flaw when said Conservative is more than happy to see trillions of dollars wasted on illegal and expensive wars, such as Iraq and Afghanistan which have dragged on for a decade and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Additionally, the borrowing of over a trillion dollars to fund these wars has greatly contributed to the economic demise of the United States.

The logic is fatally flawed when Conservatives support providing billions of dollars to Israel to commit war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, such as killing and maiming civilians by attacking them with white phosphorous and depleted uranium, or continuing the construction of illegal settlements which breach the Fourth Geneva Convention, let alone the ongoing construction of the apartheid wall which imprisons Palestinians and prevents them from accessing hospitals, schools, jobs and their own farmland.

This is not logical.

Wealthier nations should be providing foreign aid AND social security to assist in making people's lives better, rather than funding the destruction of people's lives.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Repenting of the Palestinian Pogrom

Zionists justify Israel's genocide and ethnic cleansing in the name of God. The same God who gave them the Ten Commandments. The same Ten Commandments which the genocide is violating. 

On 29 November 2012, the United Nations voted to admit Palestine as a 'non-member state' of the U.N., implicitly accepting Palestine as a nation state. This was 65 years to the day, after the U.N. passed Resolution 181, from which the modern state of Israel was created.

Since then, a number of nations have told Israel to desist building illegal settlements and the United Nations has requested Israel's nuclear program be opened for access to the International Atomic Energy Commission.

Following the creation of modern Israel in 1948, many Christians claimed that it was a fulfilment of biblical prophecy. Unfortunately, they have used this to deny and ignore the many human rights violations that Israel has committed, and is continuing to commit against Palestinians.

Call me old fashioned, but if you're going to go Old Testament on a people-group then you should at least read ALL of the Old Testament. There is a little section in Exodus 20 that is very well-known ... and even netted God a movie deal. It's called 'The Ten Commandments'.

The crimes of modern Israel have been perpetrated in the name of Zionism, which claims that the Jews have an entitlement to the land because they lived there back in the day ... back in the Old Testament day. I have written on this argument in 'Road to Nakba'.

Rather than justifying these abuses in the name of God and the bible, the modern state of Israel and those who blindly support her, should get down on their collective knees and repent of the following breaches of the Ten Commandments:

  • 'You shall have no other gods before me': God has been replaced with Zionism and the modern state of Israel, which are treated with such great religious reverence that critics will apparently incur the curses of God. These curses are based, as a lot of Zionism is, on a misinterpretation of scripture. In Genesis 12:3 God told Abraham he would 'bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you'. Zionists have extended this verse to cover all of Israel, yet it was only ever meant for Abraham.
  • 'You shall not make for yourself an idol': yet Israel itself is idolised through Zionism, which is essentially nationalism, an extreme version of patriotism that puts the nation ahead of all criticism, morality and accountability. 
  • 'Do not take the Lord's name in vain': Zionists commit genocide and ethnic cleansing in the name of God and justify it through mispresenting scripture. The bible does not give Zionists this land and it certainly doesn't give them the right to commit ethnic cleansing. I have written more on that subject in 'Israel - Superstition, Prophecy and Human Rights'.
  • 'Keep holy the Lord's day': the Sabbath has been desecrated as Israel continues killing innocents and waging war on the day of rest.
  • 'Honour your father and mother': Zionists have desecrated the memory of those who suffered in the holocaust claiming that 'never again' will there be another holocaust, while they commit genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
  • 'Do not kill': Murdering Palestinians from 1947 to now, including women and children shot dead at gun-point by the Israeli soldiers and by the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas. Israel has used white-phosphorous and depleted uranium in civilian areas which is a war-crime. Even the illegal settlers kill Palestinians.
  • 'Do not steal': Stealing the land, houses and possessions of Palestinians often at the point of guns, tanks or rockets since 1947. The theft continues with the construction of illegal settlements which breach the Fourth Geneva Convention. 
  • 'Do not lie': Zionists have been lying about their genocidal actions and making up terrible lies about Palestine, such as a 'land without a people for a people without a land' to wipe an entire people-group from history and deny their very existence. The land was, and is, inhabited by a people-group who have thousands of years of history in this area.
  • 'Do not covet': Coveting land that was, and is, inhabited by others and then actively displacing those people so Zionists could take the land.

The Ten Commandments were handed down to the Jews as they escaped persecution in Ancient Egypt, while the above breaches of the Ten Commandments have been committed by some Jews fleeing persecution in Europe. This persecution was widespread, including being perpetrated by Nazis, Soviets and others. The pogroms and injustices that Jews in Europe faced were terrible, however, they cannot be used as excuses for similar crimes.

The creation of Israel occurred in the name of Zionism, which claims that biblical scripture prophesies the re-establishment of Israel (Zion) and the return of the Jewish diaspora to it. As mentioned previously, Zionists claimed that Palestine was a 'land without a people', that those who lived there had no culture and had not cared for the land.  This mantra was used 100 years ago in the Zionist campaign for the creation of Israel, and is still believed and repeated today.
'Land without a people' is a mantra aimed at legitimising the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

It is a lie.

It was particularly evident in the lead-up to the recent U.N. vote on admitting Palestine as a non-member state, in order to discredit any attempt to recognise Palestine as a state.

Contrary to Zionist propaganda, Palestine existed for thousands of years:
  • Prior to 1948, currency and passports were issued in the nationality of 'Palestine'.
  • In World War II, war in the Middle East was known as the Palestine Campaign and the British military issued a General Service Palestine Campaign Medal .
  • In World War I, war in the Middle East was known as the 'Palestine Campaign' and the British military issued a General Service Medal with Palestine clasp.
  •  In 1798-1799, Napoleon undertook his 'Palestine campaign' and was defeated.
  •  The Crusaders fought in and at one stage ruled Palestine.
  • The bible refers to Palestine.
  • The ancient Greeks referred to it as Palaistine.
  • Ancient Egyptians referred to the area as Peleset.

Many claims have been made by Zionists to discredit Arab claims to the land, including claiming the call for Palestinian nationhood is only a 20th century phenomenon and prior to that there was no common Palestinian identity. However, the same is true for Israeli nationhood and identity.The Zionist movement of the late 19th century was new and in response to antisemitism in Europe which had seen a number of genocidal pogroms waged against Jews. The Jewish diaspora never referred to themselves as Israeli, they referred to themselves as Jews or by the nation that they were living in, e.g. Polish, Russian, German etc.

Arabs in Palestine however, did identify with their location, referring to it as Palestine, to themselves as Palestinian, or by the town they lived in (e.g. Gaza, Jaffa), and of course by their religion, namely Muslim, Christian or Jew. Perhaps they did not call for a nation-state during the last 1,000 years, but neither did 'Israel'. It must also be kept in mind that the 'nation-state' is a modern concept. In Europe for instance, the nation-state only commenced around 360 years ago with the Peace of Westphalia treaties that were signed in 1648.

The 'land without a people' argument will sometimes acknowledge that the land of Palestine existed, but never with its own government. The argument states that the land has always been ruled by others. This does not mean that the land was without people. It also does not mean that the people were without culture. Ironically, the land of Palestine is the same land as Israel, which means all those years of foreign rule apply to Israel as well.

Zionists claim that Israel has a continuous history and the people have inhabited the land for thousands of years. Ironically, the same Zionists will declare that the Jews were exiled some 2,000 years ago which contradicts the 'continuous history' argument.  The land has not been ruled by Jews since 587BC, when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar captured it. Since then, the land has been ruled by numerous empires, none Jewish. Additionally, the claim of a continuous Jewish identity over thousands of years is misleading, as prior to 722BC, there were separate tribes, such as Judah, Benjamin, Levi and Israel. When the northern kingdom of Israel fell in 722BC, the southern tribe of Judah took control of the area. Nonetheless, the Jews have not ruled this area for at least 2,500 years.

Comparatively, it has been 3,000 years since the area was ruled by Palestinians, or the Philistines as they were known back then. In 1125BC the Israelites conquered the Canaanites. In 1050BC the Philistines conquered the Israelites and ruled until overthrown in 1000BC. While it has been 3,000 years since they ruled, the Palestinians have lived continuously in this area since at least then.

Zionists claim that prior to the establishment of Israel the people in that area had no culture and had not cared for the land. Are they saying that the richness of Islamic culture which is evident throughout Spain, the Middle East, Persia, Eastern Europe and Turkey, did not happen in Palestine? Are they saying that people who lived there for thousands of years did not care enough to grow crops and tend farm animals? Yet, the Palestinians managed to survive for all those thousands of years, did and do have a rich culture and did and do care for the land.
Zionism is a dangerous cult which has hijacked Judaism and Christianity. It is claimed to be of God in order to fulfil biblical prophecy, when it is of man in order to fulfil racist, genocidal policies and expand power and hegemony.

Zionists have a genuine belief that the next holocaust is just around the corner; that the whole world is conspiring to wipe Judaism from the planet. This is fundamentally flawed and inaccurate. The Holocaust was a major tragedy, as were the centuries of European pogroms against the Jews. However, those are no reason to perpetuate the pogroms through the ongoing slaughter and oppression of the Palestinians. It was not the Palestinians who waged these terrible atrocities on the Jews. The Middle East itself has been relatively peaceful with Muslims, Jews and Christians living harmoniously together compared to the violence of Europe in which many Jews found themselves persecuted. I have written in more detail on this in 'Liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood'.

To justify its paranoia, Israel claims that it has been attacked a number of times by its Arab neighbours. Yet, since 1948, there has only been one international attack on Israel; the fourth Arab-Israeli war (or Yom Kippur War) in 1973, in which Egypt and Syria attacked. Prior to that, Israel had initiated the attacks:
  • On 30 November 1947, the day after the UN passed resolution 181, Jewish forces immediately attacked Palestinian villages, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes. The first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 was in response to Israel's ongoing military aggression.
  • The second Arab-Israeli war, in 1956, occurred when Israel attacked Egypt and occupied the Gaza Strip.
  • In 1967 Egypt moved tanks into position along the border with Israel. The Knesset was briefed by its Generals who advised that Egypt's Army was at least a year away from being combat ready and that Israel's economy could not sustain a protracted war. The Generals recommended a preemptive strike by Israel. Some months later, the Knesset agreed and Israel attacked Egyptian forces, defeating them within 6 days. This was the third Arab-Israeli war, or the '6 day war'. Following this, Israel attacked Jordan and took control of the West Bank, which it continues to occupy to this day. (1)
  • In 1982, Israel attacked southern Lebanon because of the PLO headquarters there, even though the PLO had been abiding by a cease-fire until Israel fired rockets at them. The invasion resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

Some argue that it is the Palestinians who do not want peace. Yet, the Palestinians are still willing to negotiate after having lost 78% of their land. Hamas has stated 'Hamas is open to permanent peace with Israel if there is total withdrawal to the 1967 borders, 22% of historic Palestine and if the arrangement is supported by referendum of all Palestinians living under occupation'. (2)

Isaiah 41:10 tell us 'do not be afraid for I am your God', yet Israel lives in daily self-induced fear generated by its paranoia. The scriptures say to trust in God, but Israel is putting trust in itself, its military might and the billions of dollars provided by the United States. Any claim that Israel's military superiority is a blessing from God contradicts the scriptures, for instance, Hosea 1:7 which states 'Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horse-men'.

Peace in the region can only be achieved when Israel stops the illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, when it stops the illegal settlements and the brutality it unleashes on the Palestinians. Whether a one-state or two-state solution eventuates the only way to peace is for both Palestinians and Israelis to have the same rights as each other. The international community must hold Israel accountable by hearing allegations of war-crimes through the International Criminal Court.

A good start for peace, is for Israel to acknowledge its crimes, ask forgiveness, repent by removing the illegal settlements and tearing down the inhumane annexation barriers, return to the borders of 1967, or even 1948, and cease the violence by both the IDF and the settlers, opening the way for true love and peace with its neighbours.


1. Miko Peled (2012), 'The General's Son - Journey of an Israeli in Palestine', Just World Books

2. Rogers Waters address to the United Nations on behalf of the Russell Tribunal.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Owen Jones BBC Question Time

British columnist, Owen Jones, on BBC Question Time, exposing the truth behind Israel's attacks on Gaza.

Treating asylum seekers worse than criminals

Australia treats criminals, including pedophiles and rapists, better than it treats asylum seekers. Most criminals only get sentenced to a few years jail, if that, and are usually given a relatively comfortable cell to themselves. Whereas asylum seekers, who have committed no crime, are imprisoned without charge for years in cramped and inhumane conditions.

Jail may not be the most luxurious place to spend time, but Australian jails are far better than the detention centres that we incarcerate asylum seekers in. Asylum seekers, including children, are often imprisoned for years before being granted asylum.

Amnesty International's recent visit to Nauru found the camp to be 'a human rights catastrophe with no end in sight'. It found '... 387 men cramped into 5 rows of leaking, tents, suffering from physical and mental ailments - creating a climate of anguish ...'. Amnesty describes conditions at Nauru as 'cruel, inhumane and degrading'. No-one has legal representation and not one case for asylum has been heard yet. Our criminals have more rights and better treatment than that. Australia should be ashamed.

It is not illegal to arrive in Australia by boat and seek asylum, regardless of how much some politicians like to maintain that position. What is illegal, is for Australia to continue with inhumane conditions and off-shore processing. It is illegal because it breaches a number of conventions to which Australia is signatory to, including the Refugee Convention and other human rights conventions.

Hypocritically, Australia condemns the treatment of asylum seekers by countries which aren't signatory to the Refugee Convention, even though our treatment of asylum seekers is disgraceful and the worst in the western world. Other western nations, such as the UK, USA and European nations release asylum seekers into the community. In fact, Australia is the only country in the world with mandatory detention for asylum seekers.

The reason for the off-shore processing is because it is meant to deter people from making the dangerous journey by boat. The deterrence factor of off-shore processing is debatable. Australia is an island. That means that people will continue arriving here by boat.

Shamefully, last week the Australian government approached a number of church and community groups asking how we can make things harder for asylum seekers. This in itself borders on persecution. We make things harder for people seeking our protection than we do for people who commit crimes. We should be facilitating the processing of asylum seekers by working better with our neighbours and other countries.

Australia takes very few asylum seekers compared to other nations, and ranks 46th in the world for accepting asylum seekers. As an example, Sweden, with a population of 9.5 million, took 81,000 refugees in 2011. Australia has a population of 22 million and had 21,000 refugees in 2011. Sweden has 8.8 refugees per 1,000, compared to Australia taking 0.98 per 1,000 head of population. Yet, Australia is 17 times the size of Sweden. Refer to Table 22: 

We have politicised the issue at the expense of people's lives. Instead of Australians being so fearful of a few people who can contribute positively to our society, we should be extending a helping hand and assisting them to settle here. Apart from the human cost of these racist, inhumane policies, Australia also spends billions of dollars trying to stop people arriving here. After years of incarceration in crowded refugee camps, some in which the accommodation is barely better than a tent, we expect them to then fit straight into Australian society as well-adjusted citizens. Oh, and to be thankful for our magnanimous gesture.

The Fraser government worked with its neighbours to resettle refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1970s. This resettlement program helped to stem the flow of boats to Australia while settling many more refugees into Australia and neighbouring countries. While this was admirable, it was purpose was to stop the arrival of boats rather than assisting refugees. Fraser's theory was that by opening the 'front door' to refugees it would reduce the number entering through the 'back door', or by boat. Unfortunately, it set in place the idea that boat-people are arriving illegally. Nonetheless, the policy had some merit and may certainly be more humane than the current political-driven, fear-based policies that see Australia treating asylum seekers in a manner that is not commensurate with the idea of us being the land of the 'fair-go'.

While there is persecution in the world, people will flee it. The only way to truly stop people seeking asylum is to stop persecution. Of course, this is idealistic and unlikely to ever happen. In the meantime, we can honour the conventions we've signed and help asylum seekers settle into Australia, not via mandatory detention, but through being released into the community pending decisions regarding their claims.

Instead of being driven by fear and hatred, we should be driven by an altruistic sense of compassion and caring for those who are suffering. We should be treating asylum seekers with dignity and compassion, not treating them worse than criminals.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The History of Palestine

The below video provides a brief overview of the modern history of Palestine and, in particular, the influence of Zionism, which really was the beginning of the current conflict. It challenges issues such as 'land without a people' and the Zionist claim that Israeli occupation of Palestinian towns was peaceful and legal.

Friday, November 16, 2012

On the side of the oppressor

As Israel amasses a 30,000 strong Army on the border of Gaza, threatening a massacre of civilians in Gaza, world leaders have spoken out in defence of Israel, while silent on the massacres of Palestinians.

Today (16 November 2012) Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard condemned Palestinian rocket attacks, while the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, stated that Israel has a right to self-defence.

Christians across the globe are praying for Israel. Very few are praying for Palestine.

The Palestinians have been labelled terrorists. The Israelis have been lauded as the peace-loving victim. Yet, Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian territory since 1948. It has killed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and forced more than a million out of their homes. Israel is in violation of hundreds of U.N. resolutions, which it continues to flout.

Israel's actions are genocidal. The denial of Palestinian nation-hood and the erasing of Palestinian history is ethnic cleansing.

Who speaks up for Palestine?

Desmond Tutu once said, 'if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor'. Sadly, national leaders and millions of Christians are not neutral, they have blatantly, proudly and vocally joined the side of the oppressor, while being completely silent, or even hostile towards the oppressed.

Israel is guilty of arresting and detaining adults and children without charge for months, some for years. This is called 'administrative detention'. Israel has segregated, demonised, dehumanised and invalidated Palestinians. Israel may not be using gas chambers, but they are using Nazi tactics. For decades Gaza has been a massive concentration camp.

Israel has built a 'security barrier', which in most parts is a massive wall and in other parts a high, impassable fence. This security barrier is placed well within Palestinian territories and prevents Palestinians from accessing schools, hospitals, their own crops and jobs.

Some Palestinians fire rockets into Israel. Israel responds with military jets, tanks and personnel. They launch missiles loaded with white phospherous and depleted uranium that cause horrendous injuries to the survivors of the attacks. The missiles are launched into civilian areas.

Israel claims they have a right to self-defence. Based on this, Palestine could argue the same thing.

While Israel makes much of the recent rocket attacks from Gaza, it must be kept in mind that Israel has been firing rockets and bullets into Gaza for years, killing dozens of people. For example, Stop the War Coalition has reported the following:

  • In 2011, Israeli weapons killed 108 Palestinians, including 15 children and injuring 468 people. Israeli weaponry used in these attacks was 57% (310) military aircraft, 28% (150) live ammunition, 11% (59) tank shells, and 3% (18) mortars.
  • In September 2012, Israel killed 55 Palestinians and injured 257 people. 209 of these casualties were caused by Israeli Air Force missiles, 69 by live ammunition, and 18 from tank shells.
Over the years, Israel has been guilty of provoking Palestinians to retaliate. As documented by Maureen Clare on Electronic Intifada, Israel has been shelling and shooting Palestinians in the lead-up to the most recent attacks:
  • 11 November 2012 - Five Palestinian civilians, including three children, killed in the Gaza Strip in the last 72 hours. Four of these deaths occurred as a result of Israeli military firing artillery shells at children playing soccer. Additionally, 52 civilians were wounded, including six women and 12 children.
  • 8 November 2012 - a 13 year old boy playing football in front of his house was shot dead by the Israeli military.
  • 5 November 2012 - a mentally-ill man wandered close to the border and was shot by Israeli military. Israelis did not allow Palestinian medical personnel to attend to the man for six hours. It is believed this delay caused the death of the man.
At the moment, the world's media is upset at there being three Israelis killed. While the deaths are a tragedy, there has been no mention of the above Palestinian deaths or of the other 53 Palestinians who have been killed by Israel this year. Since 2000, there have been 6,617 Palestinians killed by Israel, while there have been 1,097 Israelis killed. The full report can be viewed at

Whether Palestinian or Israeli, killing cannot be condoned. However, the world's leaders, and sadly many Christian groups, are condoning the Israeli massacre of innocent Palestinians.

The violence has been grossly misreported, with little or no mention of Palestinian deaths in the mainstream media.

Israel accuses Palestinians of being terrorists. The Palestinians blame the violence on Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine. The following map shows how much land Israel has stolen from Palestine (the white areas show Jewish land, the green areas show Palestinian land):

Now, with 30,000 troops preparing to invade Gaza, I fear a massacre that will make the atrocities of Sabra and Shatila (3,500 deaths), Operation Cast Lead (1,400 deaths) and other brutal and ongoing attacks pale against it.

This is a continuation of the Nakba; the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

When will the world stand up to this brutality and hold Israel accountable?

When will the world stop trying to erase Palestinians from history? When will their existence be validated?

It seems that Palestinians are not entitled to the same human rights of safety, security and dignity that the rest of us are.

When will Christians pray for Palestinians instead of condoning Israeli aggression in the name of God.

Rather than backing the oppressor, it is time the world spoke up for the oppressed.

Speak up for Palestine!

The Palestinian Nakba

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sheep or Goat? Government or Church?

The influential religious right-wing, claim that the bible puts responsibility for the poor and downtrodden in the hands of the church and its people, not in the hands of government. This is used to justify smaller government and the removal of publicly funded welfare, health and education services. Yet one of the most famous passages in the bible, the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Matthew 25:32, tells us that all 'nations' will be held accountable to God. Nations are ruled by governments. 

For so long now, right-wing Christians have been stating that government is not meant to provide welfare or social security, that caring for the poor is the responsibility of churches and individuals. This belief has been used to justify lower taxation in order to remove or prevent government funded programs such as health, education, housing and welfare. The provision of these services by government is often seen as socialism, which is decried as being evil, as being a principality of Satan.

In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, in Matthew 25:32, Jesus tells us that 'all nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats'.

The parable doesn't tell us that 'all people will be gathered before Him', but all 'nations'. Nations are not just comprised of people, but have leadership; government. The nations will be held accountable for whether they looked after the 'least of these', those less fortunate, those who were unable to provide for themselves; those who need food, water, clothing, shelter, security, love.

In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus states that the 'nations' should have provided:
  • food - for I was hungry
  • drink - for I was thirsty
  • refuge - for I was a stranger
  • clothing - for I was naked
  • caring - for I was sick 
  • compassion - for I was in prison
Those who did provide this, were put with the sheep and will inherit the Kingdom of God. Those who didn't provide for the poor, will be with the Goats who will depart from God's presence into everlasting fire.

Why did God separate the nations into the sheep and the goats? Sheep need shepherds. For a nation, the government is the shepherd. It is the government that provides the direction and the protection for the people of that nation.

In Ezekiel 34:2-4, God warns the shepherds of Israel, 'You eat the fat clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them'.

The shepherds that the bible talks of are Kings and religious leaders. This scripture is criticism of both the government and the religious institutions.

Throughout the Old Testament, God did not just single out individuals for his warnings and blessings. He also directed his edicts towards nations, in particular the nation of Israel. He warned Israel of the need to care for the least of these, for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger. The stranger being someone who was not of that land, a foreigner.

While each of us is responsible for our actions ... and inactions ... God also holds governments accountable for their treatment of everyone, including the 'least of these'. In Matthew 25:40, He states 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me'.

In the parable of the sheep and the goats, government is held accountable for its treatment of poor, the destitute, the homeless, the refugee, the prisoner, the patient. It cannot be argued that this is not the responsibility of government, that only the church can provide these services. Besides that, most churches are only interested in providing these services to their followers, not to those who have no interest in their religion. Would the church provide refuge for Muslims fleeing a despotic regime, or would they only provide it to the Christians? Would they provide care and compassion to an openly gay person who may be dying? Some might, most won't.

Governments are responsible for caring for all members of their society, not just those who fit certain religious criteria.

And of course to take those services off government and give them to churches would be to overwhelm the ability of the church to deliver those services. Certainly there is a place for churches to provide these services, but not to be the sole providers of them. In a world with more than 7 billion people, can the churches truly claim that governments should not be used to deliver these services?

The parable of the Sheep and the Goats holds governments responsible for their treatment of the 'least of these'. As mentioned in Ezekiel, religious leaders are also held accountable. By undermining the ability of government to provide these services, religious groups are denying the 'least of these' access to food, clothing, accommodation, security and care. Is there an agenda that the churches are working towards by transferring social welfare from government to them? They can't possibly deliver services to all, so is it just a power-grabbing, money-making scam? Or is it a genuine concern for the poor?

Instead of pursuing their own agenda and fighting for essential services to be taken off government, religious groups should be working with government to ensure that the services are provided to all who need them.

There will come a day of reckoning.

Will government, will the church, be with the Sheep or the Goats?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Killing in the name of God

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (2 November 1917), when Arthur Balfour, the U.K. Foreign Secretary, issued a declaration that Britain intended on establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

It was a massive betrayal to the people of Palestine who had been promised independence by Britain if they fought alongside the Allies in the First World War, in order to conquer the Ottoman's. Britain was successful in defeating the Ottoman's, yet Palestine's promise of independence vanished with the issuing of the Balfour Declaration.

Ironically, 95 years later to the day, 2 November 2012, Australia is reconsidering whether to side with Israel and the U.S. in opposing a Palestinian state, or to vote for a two-state solution.

95 years after the Balfour Declaration, the world is still arguing over recognition of Palestine, even though the inhabitants had lived there for thousands of years.

The argument over the establishment of Israel has always been convoluted with biblical prophecy and promises of God. Christians have argued that God promised the land of Israel to the Jews thousands of years ago. Because of this, Christians justify or turn a blind-eye to the gross crimes committed by Israel since its establishment. There have been hundreds of United Nations resolutions issued against it, yet Israel continues to flout international law.

The irony of Christians blindly defending the human rights violations of Israel based on the Bible and the favour of God, is that in the same breath, they will condemn Islam and the Koran for creating suicide bombers. These Christians will say that Islam teaches Muslims to hate Jews and Christians, and to kill them in the name of Allah (God).

Suicide bombing should be condemned. It is unacceptable. It is inhumane. It is a crime.

Massacring or forcibly removing civilians is also unacceptable, is inhumane and is a crime against humanity. Bombing schools, hospitals or houses is unacceptable. Using depleted uranium and phosphorous bombs is unacceptable. Yet few Christians criticise Israel for these atrocities. A Palestinian might fire a rocket into Israel, and Israel will retaliate, not by arresting that person, but by using military aircraft to bomb the entire neighbourhood, often killing dozens of people who had nothing to do with firing the rocket. At best, this over-reaction is martial law without trial. At worst, it is a crime against humanity, which is a violation of international law.

Israel has a legal right to exist within the UN's 1947 borders and a right to live in peace, as do the people of Palestine. Palestinians should not be subject to the brutality that Israel has unleashed on them since 1947.

Palestine and its people must be recognised by the United Nations. To oppose recognition, is to oppose human rights and to condone ethnic cleansing.

Ironically, it was a Palestinian named Jesus, a Jew who 'so loved the world', who told us to 'love your neighbour as yourself'.

If ever there was a time and a place to 'love your neighbour', it is Israel and Palestine today. Instead of blindly supporting the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, we should be demanding an end to the brutality and supporting the recognition and peaceful liberation of Palestine.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Civilised Man v Savage - Going Colonialist on the Subway

Americans are being urged to go colonialist and support the 'civilised man' against the 'savage'. Yet there are international laws against colonialist agression; not that the law has ever stopped Israel!

Ride the metro in New York or Washington DC and you are likely to see a poster that reads:

'In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man!
Support Israel. Defeat Jihad'.  

The poster has been put up by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), led by Pam Geller and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What is civilised? The nation that has military superiority? The nation that uses military weapons to attack civilians? Having bigger bombs and a more organised army does not make for a 'civilised man'.

What is a savage? The American Indian? The Australian aborigine? Each of these had rich cultures and had developed law, language, art, hunting, marriage rites, religion, war and defence. They were no more savage, than their colonisers. In fact, their colonisers were brutal and had no concept of humanity as they dehumanised the indian, the aborigine.

Of course, the poster is referring to any nation that stands up to Israel as being the 'savage'.

Some Palestinians have been known to use throw rocks at Israeli settlers and soldiers. Some Palestinians have fired, wildly inaccurate home-made rockets at Israelis. The weapons may certainly be more primitive than what the Israelis use, but does that make the Palestinians savages? Israel responds by using jet fighters and military helicopters, killing thousands of Palestinians. Israel uses military grade weapons on civilian populations. Does that mean they are not savages? Use of better technology does not make a nation 'civilised'. Israel is far more brutal than the Palestinians have ever been. Palestinian terrorism has been a direct response to the genocidal actions of Israel as it continues to de-Arabise the area by ethnic cleansing and constructing illegal settlements. Israel sees all Palestinians as criminals, terrorists and obviously, savages.

The poster is no doubt also referring to Iran as the savage. Israel has been beating the drums of war over Iran, wanting to wage a pre-emptive strike in the name of 'self-defence'. Using the same logic, Iran would have grounds to wage a pre-emptive strike on Israel in order to defend themselves. Israel is concerned that Iran is manufacturing nuclear weapons. Yet Israel has flouted international law and developed nuclear weapons. So who is the savage?

The poster exemplifies colonialism and typifies the attitude of Israel towards Palestinians.

Israel was created and colonised by Europeans during the 20th century. And of course, over the last few centuries it was the Europeans who colonised the world at the point of a gun and cannon, who slaughtered those who dare opposed their 'right to rule' mentality.

Israel literally stole land from the Palestinians. The UN established borders in 1948, yet even before the resolution was passed, Israel was invading land outside of those borders. The following maps graphically illustrate the illegal land grab by Israel. These aren't just colours on a map, the reduction of green areas represents the loss of thousands of Palestinians lives and destruction of Palestinian culture and society. This is a graphic depiction of the ethnic cleansing that Israel has been undertaking since at least the 1940s.

The real savage is not one who does not have such a sophisticated social construct as another. The real savage is the one who destroys another's social construct. That is what European colonisation did in throughout the Americas, it is what happened in Australia, it happened in India and throughout the Middle East. It is continuing now in the Palestinian territories, as Israel blockades and prevents Palestinians from accessing their own lands, accessing clean water, accessing hospitals and schools, accessing their workplaces. It prevents them from establishing their own effective government. It is not the Palestinians who want to destroy Israel, it is Israel who wants to destroy Palestine, and in fact, IS destroying Palestine.

The AFDI posters take this a step further by stating 'Defeat Jihad'. Jihad is generally interpreted in the West to mean 'holy war' waged by Muslims. Yet who is waging the holy war? Israel is the one who claims that the land was given to them by God, and it is this belief that underpins their 'right to rule' mentality. Israel started the war and continues the war, in the name of God. The Palestinians are not waging this in the name of God, they are fighting in the name of self-defence for their lives, livelihoods and long history in this land.

The AFDI took their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to display the posters. Would the Supreme Court have also granted approval if the posters were pro-Palestinian and pro-War! Imagine if the posters read:

'In any war between the native and the coloniser, support the native'.
The posters make bold assumptions about what is a civilised man. Yet, war between 'civilised' man and the savage has usually been waged because the civilised man has invaded the territory of the 'savage'. These wars have been perpetrated by the civilised man who has raped, persecuted and murdered the 'savage' during these invasions. According to the AFDI posters, this is good and should always be supported.
Ethnic cleansing, genocide and military assaults against civilians are illegal and should never be supported.

In the war between the civilised man and the savage, take the side of the savage. They are the ones whose existence is being threatened.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Billy Graham & biblical values: polygamy, genocide and neglecting the poor?

Billy Graham & biblical values: polygamy, genocide and neglecting the poor?

... because nothing says 'traditional' like polygamy!

If legalising same-sex marriage could result in legalising polygamy, then why is acclaimed evangelist Billy Graham, backing Mitt Romney who is of a religion that actively practices polygamy? Why oppose abortion, and then oppose policies that protect the child once born? Why declare that your worshiop the God of love and justice and then back the genocidal policies of Israel?

The Arch-Bishop of Evangelism, Billy Graham, has publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for President of the United States of America, urging all Christians to base their electoral decision on 'biblical values and support for the nation of Israel'.

A copy of the advertisement can be seen at the bottom of this page.

The advertisement focuses on three things:
  • traditional marriage (aka opposition to same-sex marriage);
  • sanctity of life (aka opposition to abortion);
  • support for Israel (aka opposition to Palestine, Iran or any nation that criticises Israel).
These are hardly riveting policies on which the potential Leader of the Free World should base his campaign.

Firstly, it is interesting that Billy Graham has publicly endorsed Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. Not that Mormons shouldn't participate in all aspects of society, but up until Thursday (18 October 2012), the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website stated that Mormons belong to a cult. This was removed by the time Billy Graham announced, later that day, that Christians should support the biblical values of Mitt Romney, a Mormon. I guess that 'cult' thing is not as important as stopping a Democrat who is interested in providing health care to the poor.

On to the three policies that underpin the Billy Graham endorsement.

Billy Graham policy # 1: Traditional marriage

Billy Graham and his right-wing followers claim to support traditional marriage.  Which means that they strongly oppose same-sex marriage.

Much of the fear-mongering from the religious right regarding same sex marriage includes such bold statements as 'legalising same sex marriage will result in legalising of polygamy' (or bestiality or marriage with plushies ... or any number of things).

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, which is an actively polygamist religion, and Romney grew up in a polygamist community. His grandparents were polygamists who fled the United States because of its persecution of polygamy.

So, if there is genuine concern that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, why is it acceptable to endorse a member of a polygamist religion. Surely, there would be concern that he would legalise polygamy? Imagine if a Muslim was running for President. Critics would fear the introduction of polygamy, after all, Shi'ite men can marry up to four women. Or imagine if a Mormon was running for the Democrats. Would right-wing Christians be quite as welcoming? Would they make an issue of polygamy as they do when criticising same-sex marriage?

Graham calls for support of 'traditional marriage'. Nothing says 'traditional' like polygamy, after all, it has been a tradition for thousands of years, particularly in patriarchal societies.

Graham urges Christians to 'support the biblical definition of a man and a woman'. Like 'tradition', nothing says biblical like polygamy. After all, King Solomon, the wisest man in the biblical world, had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Billy Graham policy # 2: Sanctity of life

Billy Graham urges Christians to vote to 'protect the sanctity of life' (of course this is only while that life is in the womb). Once born it is on its own and there is no way that any politician who supports welfare and compassion for those who are born poor could possibly be supporting biblical values. I think that's what they are saying. Romney's policies negatively impact the poor and favour the rich. He will roll back Obamacare and give greater tax breaks to the rich than to those earning minimum wage.

Billy Graham policy # 3: Israel

Graham also urges Christians to vote to 'support the nation of Israel'. Yet, Israel has been the subject of hundreds of United Nations resolutions which condemn its treatment of Palestinians and its unwarranted use of force and military weapons on civilian populations. Israel has used depleted uranium and white phospherous in built-up civilian areas, and forcibly imprisoned almost the entire population through illegal 'security' barriers. Israel's agression and treatment of Palestinians over decades is tantamount to ethnic cleansing. Yet, Graham and other right-wing Christians never speak up about this; they fail to defend the victims of Israel's ethnic cleansing policies. Their God is supposed to be one of love and justice. Their God never gave Israel carte blanche authority to exterminate another people group.

Separation of church and state

Right-wing Christians criticise government intervention and push for smaller government. Yet, they are the ones who intervene in government matters. They are the ones who want government to pass  fascist laws to control society in the manner that suits their twisted interpretation of the bible.

Churches and religious organisations obtain massive financial benefits from the government in the form of low or no tax, yet want to greatly reduce the power of government and implement archaic policies in the name of 'morality' or 'biblical values'.

For a nation to be truly free and to represent the best interests of all members of its society, there must be separation of church and state. There must not be one interest group, (religious, business or other) which is favoured over another.

The reasons that Billy Graham gives for supporting Mitt Romney are weak, hypocritical and have nothing to do with running a presidential campaign or governing a nation. The endorsement is purely based on Romney being a Republican, a member of the right-wing, not on his 'biblical values'.

Graham should not be encouraging the easily-influenced and gullible on how to vote. It is not the role of the church or influential preachers to intervene in the leadership of government or in the democratic process.

If preachers are going to preach politics then they and their churches should pay taxes.

Billy Graham's ad calling for Christians to vote for Mitt Romney.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Who made who? A tale of greed and need.

The Welfare State: who's fault is it? Who's responsibility is it? Uber-capitalists have created the need for a strong social safety net, while condemning social welfare in favour of corporate welfare. 

Capitalistic greed has created a society of self-centred individuals, who think more about themselves and less about contributing to society, who place the individual above the good of society.

Individualistic importance is the cornerstone of capitalism. It is on this that the notion of uber-capitalism has grown. The type of capitalism that has placed big business over government and in many cases, replaced government by privatising services. It is no secret that businesses exist for profit. Why would they invest in unproductive activities such as caring for the poor?

The push to privatise government services results in services being undertaken for profit, rather than for the good of society. Government will always have unprofitable services to deliver. These services may be unprofitable, but they should not be seen as unproductive because productivity should not be measured in profit, but in benefit to society. For instance, the funding of public hospitals, public education, public housing and even safety nets in the form of welfare for those who have no way to meet their basic needs.

Capitalists claim that welfare recipients 'expect' a living from the government, yet it is the rich who expect tax breaks. Who has the welfare mentality? Business-owners or the unemployed? Ask any business-owner how much of their expenses are claimed as tax deductions. Many will claim deductions on things that should never be allowed. Why should the public purse subsidise tax deductions on luxury company vehicles, or business-class and first-class travel, or business lunches in expensive restaurants?

It is the rich who 'expect' tax breaks and who believe that they don't have an obligation to share the wealth for the good of society. They complain about rising crime, when there is not enough government money to fund police, education, public housing or even the dole... all those things that can lead to crime as people MUST meet their needs, such as food, clothing and accommodation.  At the very least, ALL members of society must have their needs met.

Capitalism favours the few at the expense of the many.

Who made the 'entitlement' mentality? It originally came from the upper-class who believed they were 'born to rule'. From this came colonisation, which saw less-developed nations conquered, raped and pillaged by more technologically advanced nations. Now, big business is engaging in commercial colonisation, by conquering, raping and pillaging smaller businesses and workers. To make this more palatable, they market the dream of wealth to all, market the 'born to rule' mentality and rights of the individual over the rights of society. This marketing includes victimising the victims of commercial colonisation, labelling the unemployed as parasites on society.

The victims are the scapegoats.

The real parasites, are those who feed off society and who get rich at the expense of everyone else.

The right wing sees social welfare, or socialism, as a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. However, capitalism, is not just redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, it is often wealth by extortion, through charging ridiculous prices for necessities. Capitalism depends on cultivating greed and fostering a 'want' mentality, in which people are conditioned to buy the latest and greatest thing, whether they 'need' it or not.

Who created the need for welfare?

The capitalists, the right-wing, the economic rationalists, blame the unemployed for the situation that they are in. They say that they should 'take responsibility' for themselves. Yet the majority have found themselves in that state through economic rationalisation, through the obscene profit-making of the big companies, with their record profits and 'job rationalisation'.

Who made who?

The unemployed didn't make the welfare state. Greedy, self-centred capitalists made the unemployed in their pursuit for profit. And of course, the more unemployed the greater the 'burden' on the tax-payer as government's provide welfare. The more people who are unemployed, the less money being spent on big business through our consumerist society. So it becomes a double-whammy for government, not only providing welfare to the unemployed, but also to businesses who demand government support during times of 'low consumer sentiment'.

Big business is the one who is expecting government to give to them. It expects government to give them tax-breaks, a free market, less red-tape in order to conduct nefarious business dealings without accountability. All of this comes at the expense of society, yet it is marketed as benefiting society. This has legitimised capitalistic extortion, by essentially stealing from the people.

Big business contributes to the 'working poor', by employing people part-time or casual and by paying the minimum wage legally allowed.

The capitalist theory of trickle-down economics, is fanciful at best, with few who truly benefit from it while most others suffer. The theory goes that the more money big business has, the more money will 'trickle-down' to everyone else. Yet, how often do we really see that? We have seen examples of businesses posting record profits, and then announcing mass-sackings of workers. For example, in Australia, Westpac bank announced a record $7 billion profit for 2011, and then on 2 February 2012, announced the sacking of 400 staff. Trickle-down economics at its finest.

There is no respect for the worker, while importance is placed on big business. Businesses certainly have a right to trade and exist, but they are nothing without their workers. Rather than exploiting workers, they should be cultivating loyalty.

Capitalists, the right-wing, blame the unemployed and other welfare recipients for the downfall in society. Yet, it was greed that caused the Global Financial Crisis, not workers, not the unemployed. It was the governments that had to bail out the capitalists who caused the crisis, by providing the ultimate in corporate welfare; providing far more than the combined payments to social welfare recipients.

So who is responsible for the downfall in society? Is it those who receive unemployment benefits and family supplements, or those who refuse to contribute towards social welfare, those who refuse to pay taxes while maximising obscene tax-breaks, those who campaign against public health, schools and so on, those who push for the wealth of the individual? Making some individuals wealthy at the expense of the community is the biggest threat to society.

Earning more money than someone else is not a problem. After all, there are those who are more entrepreneurial or higher qualified, but this does not mean that they should not pay their share of taxes or contribute to the good of society.

Prioritising the individual over community removes our responsibility to each other. No person is more important than another, yet the greed of capitalism takes a very Darwinian approach to society through 'survival of the fittest'. Greed is a natural human behaviour, and that is why it is so important that government exist to temper this greed. It is also natural for some people to be stronger than others. However, this is not the jungle, we must take care of the weaker members of society.

People complain about escalating crime and lack of respect for each other, while indulging their most selfish desires. People complain about the treatment of the elderly in nursing homes, yet most have had their elders institutionalised, rather than taking on the responsibility of caring for their parents in their homes. We used to live in a society where the extended family was revered. Where multiple generations lived in the one house. Now, we are more interested in our own needs, than those of our immediate family members.

This care for each other, isn't human rights, it is human obligation, as summed up by Soviet dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, when he said, 'It is time in the West to defend not so much human rights as human obligations'.

Capitalism has demonised the concept of social welfare, making scape-goats out of its victims. The importance of the individual has been marketed so well by uber-capitalists such as Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, that even some churches believe that Jesus was a capitalist who opposed government and didn't advocate social responsibility. Remember, it was Jesus who said 'render unto Caesar's the things that are Caesar's' ... and it was Jesus who said, ' ... for I was hungry and you have me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me'.

Helen Keller said, 'Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained'.

With the rampant greed of uber-capitalists, now, more than ever, we need to ensure that every member of society is cared for.

We should never prioritise ourselves over the good of society, or exploit others to benefit ourselves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Much ado about equality

Marriage Equality is about providing same-sex couples with the same rights, the equal rights, that heterosexual couples have in entering into a committed, legal marriage. It will not lead to bestiality, it will not destroy the family unit or the church or even plushy love. Yet the fear-mongering continues unabated.

Opposing same-sex marriage is an attack on freedom and equal rights!

Today the Lower House in Australia's federal parliament voted against the Marriage Equality bill by 98 votes to 42. Also today, Senator Cory Bernardi, the Parliamentary Speaker for the Leader of the Opposition, resigned because of a statement he made in the Upper House which concluded that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to legalising bestiality. His exact statement was 'these creepy people say it is okay to have consensual sex between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?' (1) So how does an animal give consent?

The debate around same-sex marriage has become quite heated at times from numerous groups who are either for or against it.

The argument is over equality. Yet, there are a lot of people who are vehemently opposed to affording other citizens the same rights that they enjoy.

Same-sex marriage is not an attack on society, the church or marriage. Opposing same-sex marriage is an attack on liberty.

Religious groups seem to be the most vocal opponents of marriage equality and the ones with the most exaggerated conclusions, such as:
  • legalising same-sex marriage will lead to legalising polygamy, bestiality, incest and a host of other activities that most people would be appalled by;
  • same-sex marriage is an attack on the institution of marriage;
  • same-sex marriage undermines the family unit; and
  • same-sex marriage is a threat to freedom of religion.
The drawing of illogical conclusions, such as polygamy and bestiality, is blatant scare-mongering. Homosexuality is a naturally, occurring sexual urge whereas polygamy and so on, are purely giving into sexual gratification and can be undertaken by either homosexuals or heterosexuals. In fact, the majority of people indulging in polygamy and incest for example, are heterosexuals. Should we ban heterosexual marriage?

The sexual urge that forms the basis of heterosexuality and homosexuality is different to the sexual gratification that drives people to indulge in activities such as polygamy, bestiality or incest. Linking these for the purposes of making an argument against same-sex marriage is illogical and playing on fear and disgust rather than making a logical, coherent argument. 

And then there is the argument that same-sex marriage is an attack on the institution of marriage, which seems to ignore the fact that no-one is opposing, or trying to end, heterosexual marriage. The only people arguing against marriage are those who are opposing same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage will not undermine heterosexual marriage.

Same-sex marriage is not an attack on the family unit. If anything, the harm that we have seen inflicted on many homosexuals has often been because of rejection within their family unit when they have either come out or been outed. If the family unit is valued so strongly, then no parent should disown their offspring for being gay. Supporting same-sex marriage is one way to strengthen the family unit, rather than weaken it. Additionally, there are many people in same-sex relationships who have had children to previous partners. Denying them the ability to formalise their commitment to a partner of the same gender is an attack on the family structure and is denying the provision of a stable, family unit for them and their children.

There is an argument that prohibiting same-sex marriage is protecting children from being bullied over having gay parents. Children bully each other regardless of same-sex parents. It is the role of parents to ensure that their children do not bully, that they learn to appreciate diversity and to deal with disagreements in an appropriate manner.

Religious groups in particular, feel that whenever someone disagrees with them, that it is an attack on religion.

Yet they often are the ones with the vitriolic attacks. People cannot be forced into believing in your religion or views. The beauty of living in a democracy is that we can speak our minds and stand up for what we believe in. We can criticise others. This is not an attack on religion. Certainly, vitriol should be kept out of any argument, whether arguing for or against marriage equality.

Those in favour of same-sex marriage are not advocating the systematic destruction of the church. If same-sex marriage is more powerful than God, then the church really needs to reevaluate itself.

The fear regarding marriage equality often reverts to allegations of sinister motives such as the 'gay agenda', as if there is a concerted effort to convert the entire world to homosexuality. The issue is marriage equality. That is, enabling gay couples to have the same rights, the equal rights, that heterosexuals do, in being able to marry if they chose.

Legalisation of same-sex marriage will not lead to bestiality or polygamy and it will not destroy families, the church or freedom of religion.

The opposition to same-sex marriage is an attack on:
  • equal rights;
  • the family unit; and
  • marriage.
While the Marriage Equality Bill was defeated in the federal Lower House today, there are a number of bills in various states such as Tasmania and South Australia. For instance, marriage equality passed the lower house of the Tasmanian parliament and is soon to be presented to the senate.

It is just a matter of time before marriage equality is legalised and people can move on with their lives, after which we will be wondering what all the brouhaha was about.


1. Hansard, Australian Senate, 18 September 2012, Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012, Senator Cory Bernardi (South Australia)

Related articles on

1. Adam & Eve meet Adam & Steve

2. The War Against Christianity's Fundamentals

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Remembering Sabra and Shatila

It has been 30 years today (16 September 2012), since Christian militia massacred up to 3,500 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. Israeli Minister of Defense, Ariel Sharon was found personally responsible by an Israeli Commission of Inquiry, but was never punished.

The camps housed refugees who had fled Palestine during the 1948 war, and later those who were driven from Jordan in 1970 by King Hussein, in which thousands of Palestinians were massacred in what became known as 'Black September'. Hussein, with pressure from Israel, had decided to drive Palestinians from Jordan following a number of attacks and aircraft hijackings by Palestinian militants. These attacks and hijackings were in retaliation for attacks on Palestinians by Israel and Jordan.

For years, Israel had been fighting with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Israel claims that they were seeking peace and that the PLO had been instigating acts of terror. The opposite was true. For years, the Israelis had been provoking the Palestinians while rejecting every offer of peace put forward.

Additionally, Christian Phalangists had a history of attacking the Palestinians. In April 1975, a bus carrying Palestinian refugees from the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps was attacked by Phalangists, killing 27. On 6 December 1975 (now known as 'Black Saturday'), 200 muslims were taken hostage and murdered by Christian Phalangists, supposedly in response to the murder of four Phalangist militiamen by Muslims. On 18 January 1976, Christians massacred up to 1,500 Palestinian, Kurd and Syrian Muslims in the Karantina slum. Later that year, Phalangists blockaded the refugee camps preventing supplies reaching the inhabitants. (1) 

Israel makes much of attacks by the PLO and other militants, but does not mention the attacks on innocent Palestinians. It does not mention its sustained oppression and bombings of Palestinians in Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.

In June 1982, the Israeli army bombed refugee camps in Beirut, reducing many to rubble. The Sabra, Shatila and Bourj el-Brajneh refugee camps sustained heavy bombardment. There were deliberate attacks on two hospitals, killing hundreds of people, including children. Eight of the nine Homes for Orphans were targetted and destroyed. Phosphorous bombs were used in the attacks by Israel, causing severe burns to the victims. Survivors were left in severe pain and were permanently scarred. Many did not survive.

Israel had declared that the refugee camps not only harboured terrorists, but that all Palestinians were terrorists: men, women and children. Therefore instead of attempting to capture one or two who may have committed crimes and taking them to trial, the Israelis felt justified in holding all guilty and issuing an excessive collective punishment which violated international law.

The Israeli bombardment lasted weeks and drove at least half of the 125,000 refugees from the settlements. Israel bull-dozed what was still standing in some of the refugee camps. During this time, Israel deliberately prevented medical supplies and food from being sent into the refugees. (2) 

During 1982, Lebanon was being ripped apart by an ongoing civil war and was occupied by both Israel and Syria. On 23  August 1982, Bachir Gemayel, a Christian Phalangist, was elected President of Lebanon. On 14 September 1982, he was assassinated and 26 others killed, when the Phalangist headquarters was bombed. The Lebanese wrongly blamed the Palestinians.

The Israel Army, in their pursuit of the PLO, had surrounded the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. The Israelis controlled access to the camps. They checked everyone who entered and exited. They had the camps under constant surveillance. When the Phalangists came looking for revenge for the assassination of Gemayel, it was the Israeli Army who let them in. For three days, the Israelis watched as the Phalangists brutally murdered innocent men, women and children. Witnesses tell of mothers nursing their babies as the militia stormed their dwellings, and shot the babies dead. Of children being murdered in front of their parents, or parents being murdered in front of their children. This was no military operation attempting to find suspects in a crime, this was a cold-blooded, calculated war crime. Bulldozers were used to scoop up bodies and dump them in mass graves. (3)

It was later found that the assassination had been carried out by Habib Tanious Shartouni, a Lebanese Maronite (Christian) who was affiliated with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

On 28 September 1982, the Israeli government established the Kahan 'Commission of Inquiry into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut'. On 8 February 1983, the Inquiry handed down its findings, which held that the Phalangists were directly responsible. The Inquiry found that Israeli Minister of Defense, Ariel Sharon, 'bore personal responsibility' for 'ignoring the danger of blood-shed and revenge', by allowing the Phalangists into the camps and then ignoring the massacre as the Israelis stood by and watched without taking any steps to stop it. The inquiry recommended that Sharon be dismissed as Minister of Defense. Sharon refused to leave the post. (4)

The massacre at Sabra and Shatila is just one of many attrocities committed directly or indirectly by Israel against Palestinians. These massacres form part of Israel's coordinated and long-term plan to completely take over the Palestinian territories and drive Arabs from the area, or annihilate those who remain. It is nothing short of genocide.

We can't just say that it happened 30 years ago and people need to move on. It is still happening today. (5) In 2002, hundreds of Israeli soldiers attacked the Jenin and Nablus refugee camps using tanks and helicopter-launched missiles, killing an unknown number of people. Israel refused to allow the UN to investigate allegations of a massacre, so the subsequent report was based on advice from Israelis, Palestinians and various aid agencies. (6) In 2006, Israel attacked Gaza with phospherous bombs, depleted uranium and Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME), killing more than 1400 Palestinians, injuring more than 5,000, destroying 4,000 homes and leaving 400,000 without water. (7)

Were these atrocities committed by Muslims, the world would be horrified and the entire religion would be vilified. Instead, the atrocities have been committed by Israelis and Lebanese Christian militia. No-one blames the entire Jewish or Christian religions for these atrocities. The United States continues to fund and arm the Israeli government even though numerous inquiries and UN resolutions have been issued against Israel for breaches of the Geneva Convention. Many Christians throughout the world support Israel based on an interpretation of biblical prophecy, without holding Israel to account.

The genocide has to stop. Western governments and conservative religious and political groups need to stop their blind support of Israel and their blind and naive hatred of Palestinians, if peace is to have a chance in the Middle East.

Recognising and understanding the terrible atrocities committed against the Palestinians is just the first step towards peace, respect and human rights.


1. Noam Chomsky, 'Fateful Triangle', pp 184-185, Pluto Press, 1991.

2. ibid, p197, pp223-226
3. ibid, pp362-375.
4. Karz-Cohl, 'The Beirut Massacre: The Complete Kahan Commission Report'.
5. Ilan Pappé, 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine', Oneworld, 2006
6. 'UN report on Jenin massacre flawed', ABC Radio National, 4 August 2002, reporter Peter Cave. (accessed 16 September 2012)
7. 'RIP Victims of Operation Cast Lead - 27 December 2008',

Further reading

Further comment on the invasion of Palestine, the legitimacy of Palestinians, the human rights violations of Israel and the misinterpretation of biblical scripture, refer to these articles at the Ranting Panda blog:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Animal Farm - an allegory of greed, power and exploitation

Today marks the anniversary of the first publishing of George Orwell's revolutionary novel, Animal Farm, which was an allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union under Stalin. It was also an allegory of the insidious evil of capitalism that exploits the greed and selfishness lurking in the heart of humans.

Capitalists often refer to Animal Farm when criticising socialism and communism as though the book was written in defence of capitalism.

George Orwell was in fact, a democratic socialist. He supported socialism. He did not support Stalin or any other government that abused the principles of socialism. He did not support capitalism.

As background, the book is set on a farm owned by Mr Jones. The animals, including the pigs, cows, dogs, chickens, all feel that they are enslaved and are being used to make farmer Jones wealthy while they live outside and do not receive the full benefit of their labours. This is an allegory of the greed, power, exploitation and inequality that underpins capitalism.

Eventually the animals revolt and drive Mr Jones from the farm. They chant, 'four legs good, two legs bad'.
An allegory of the mindless mantras and slogans that politicians use to manipulate the populace.

Following the revolution, the animals believe that they can be responsible for their own lives, that their labours will benefit all animals on the farm equally. No longer will one person or creature be made wealthy at the expense of others. They even agree on the '7 Commandments of Animalism'. An allegory of the principles of socialism and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto.

The original 7 Commandments of Animalism are:

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill another animal.
7. All animals are equal.

Because the pigs are smarter, some of them decide that they will determine how the produce will be shared. Eventually, the aspirational 7 Commandments become a bit cumbersome for the greedy and power-hungry pigs who realise that they can make themselves prosperous by exploiting the efforts of the other farm animals. An allegory of capitalism.

They move into the farm-house, sleep in the beds and drink alcohol. They employ the dogs to keep the other animals under control and outside, to ensure that they work hard without dissent. An allegory of Stalin and the KGB.

The original 7 Commandments are modified by the pigs:

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
6. No animal shall kill another animal without cause.
7. All animals are equal.

Eventually, the 7 Commandments are replaced by one phrase:




An allegory of the abuse of democracy by capitalism and the abuse of socialism by capitalist's masquerading as socialists.

The other animals are fed propaganda that explains why things are so much better under the new regime, while history and their memories of the Jones era is rewritten for them. An allegory of every government in the world.

The failure of Animalism becomes apparent when there is no longer any difference between the ruling pigs, who are now wearing clothes and walking on two legs, and the humans, as shown in the following paragraph from Chapter 10:

'No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which'.

Animal Farm is less an allegory of the failure of socialism and more an allegory of the failure of Stalinism. The book provides no defence for capitalism, expounding the woes of those workers who were exploited by capitalists. It shows the reason for socialism and for the revolution. It also shows that the biggest threat to socialism is greed.

Socialism is about ensuring that all are looked after. Capitalism, at its most ideological, claims that the wealth of the few will trickle down to the rest of society, thus ensuring that all are looked after. In reality, those with wealth accumulate more from the efforts of workers, while allowing as little as possible to trickle down. Workers are essentially working to make the rich richer.

The difference between the economics of Stalin and the extreme capitalism of the western world is minimal:  the labours of the workers are exploited for the few. Both are driven by greed, power and exploitation. Both are based on selfishness and individual gain at the expense of all others.

True socialism attempts to temper greed and the abuse of power, however, it requires a dedication by all to all. It requires that we respect each other and care for each other. Perhaps this is too much to expect when the lies of capitalism pander to the greed within each of us.


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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sinister crusaders

The religious persecution of homosexuality is tantamount to the medieval demonisation of left-handedness.

'Twas a time, not so long ago, that true believers, pious Christians, would force left-handed people to become right-handed. You see, being left-handed was considered to be a sin. It was believed that those unfortunates who favoured their left-hands did so because of an evil spirit - not because they were 'born that way'.

These days Christians of similar piety believe they can 'pray away the gay'. In other words, that homosexuality is not natural, that people are not 'born gay', so therefore all homosexuals can 'become straight'.

The bible no doubt favours the right hand.  After all, Jesus sits at the 'right-hand of the Father'. When imparting a blessing on someone, it was the right hand that would be laid upon them. The left hand was seen as a sign of deceit, foolishness and sin. Take Ecclesiastes 10:2 for example, 'a wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart at his left.' The Judgement Day parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, has Jesus separate them by placing the sheep on the right and the goats on the left. The parable ends with the sheep being welcomed in and blessed of God, while the goats are cursed and ordered to depart into everlasting fire.

Even the word 'sinister' reveals the dark nature of being left-handed. One definition of sinister is 'bad, evil, base or wicked'. Another is, 'of or on the left side; left'. So there you have it, being left-handed is out of favour with God and is evil.

Too bad that people are naturally born left-handed ... regardless of what the pious witch-burners of yester-year claimed with their twisted scriptures and scientific ignorance.

Some might quite cleverly argue that the bible does not actually say 'thou shalt not be left-handed', nor that we actually force the left-handed out of anyone these days, so comparing attitudes to left-handedness with attitudes to homosexuality is fallacious. Most of the right-wing religious folk have grave issue accepting that anyone can be 'born gay', because to do so kind of makes it a little difficult to call it a sin. Some pious folks will accept that maybe some people are born gay, however, they believe that it is a condition that can be healed. Interesting points of view, however, if people are naturally homosexual, are 'born that way', then how can they be accused of sinning. No other congenital condition is considered a sin.

The way that some pious folks carry on, anyone would think that homosexuality is the new black (or in this case, the new left) when it comes to demonising people, that it is the worst sin in the world.

Romans 3:23 says 'for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'. 'All have sinned'! The scripture goes on to state in verse 24, 'being justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus'. Because all have sinned and we have all been justified by the grace of God, none of us can boast of being more righteous than anyone else. Just a few scriptures after these, in verse 27, 'Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith'.

If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, then keep in mind that in God's view it is no worse than any other sin. Yet the pious folk want it outlawed and those who are homosexual to be banned from marrying. There is more campaigning against homosexuality then there is against poverty, yet there are literally thousands of scriptures that quite clearly state that we are to care for the poor. In fact, the same pious folk who campaign against homosexuality, also campaign against any activity of the government that redistributes wealth from the rich to the poor because they fear it is 'socialism'.

Where are these people's priorities? To ban love and ban charity. In spite of their precious bible being based on love and charity. Instead of banning gay love, instead of rejecting gay people, we should love them, treat them as we would anyone else.

The pious are happy to trot out statistics that indicate that homosexuality leads to a life of abuse, homelessness and living on welfare. What they fail to understand is that those who do end up in these situations have often been rejected and abused by their own families and peers - rejected by the heterosexual community. The abuse, bullying and the gay-hate crimes of the staunchly heterosexual or pious Christian, are often the cause of gay children running away from, or being kicked out of, home. To the pious, Matthew 7:5 says 'you hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye'.

If it is so important that the pious ban gay love, then perhaps they should ban left-handedness. After all, homosexuals have a greater propensity to be left-handed than their heterosexual counter-parts, as claimed in this extract from a scientific study: 'male homosexuals are about one third (31%) more likely than heterosexuals to be left-handed, while lesbians are almost twice as likely (91%) to be left-handed as heterosexual women' - Lalumire, M.L.; Blanchard, R.; Zucker, K.L. (2000): "Sexual orientation and handedness in Men and Women: a meta-analysis." Psychological Bulletin 126, 575-592.

If almost defies belief, that in the 21st century there are still people who have similar ignorant, superstitious and hateful attitudes as those that dominated the Dark Ages - a time when left-handedness was a sign of witch-craft and devil possession. Future generations may well look back on us with the same disbelief and horror as we view the Dark Ages or the violent and intolerant Crusades.

Whether you believe that homosexuality is a sin or not is irrelevant. We do not have a right to tell consensual adults that they cannot have a committed relationship with each other, enjoying the same benefits as those in a heterosexual marriage.

If you believe homosexuality is a sin you still do not have a right to legislate against it. You can't legislate homosexuality into non-existence. Laws won't change the fact that people are gay, whether they are born that way or not. In terms of spirituality, there are gay Christians and their relationship with God is between them and God.

There is no room or excuse for persecution in the name of religion.

Instead of hateful and superstitious crusades against nature, Christians would do better to apply the scripture as it is written in terms of love for all, extending grace, mercy and charity to everyone, whether they meet your standards of morality or agree with your political or religious persuasion.

Instead of banning love, we should be the embodiment of love.

We are not commanded by God to wage crusades of fear, hate and ignorance.

We are commanded by God to love our neighbours, to love everyone - unconditionally!


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