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11 April 2014 Thought for the Week:

“Appalled at 'disgraceful behaviour' over Ukraine” Derby Telegraph March 22, 2014:
I was born and brought up in Derbyshire and spent the first 45 years of my life living and teaching there. I started work in Russia 10 years ago and now teach in several schools in Novosibirsk. I return to the UK and France (where I have a home) twice a year. The people I meet every day here are shocked by the reaction of the West and cannot understand why they should turn against Russia, which is acting wholly legally and correctly.

I am a British patriot but I am appalled at the disgraceful behaviour of the British establishment. It is obvious that Cameron and Hague are puppets of the European Union and the American government. The West in general, and the UK in particular, are in danger of making themselves the laughing stock of the world by their support for an illegal regime in the Ukraine. The BBC (which seems to be in the pocket of the establishment) is guilty of lies and propaganda. For accurate information, one must turn to the independent Russia Today channel.

The people of the Crimea have spoken unanimously in favour of a return to their homeland of Russia. The Ukraine has no constitution: it is an illegal junta and the sooner it is brought under Russian protection, the better. The fact that Russia is regaining her strength and power can only be good for the balance of power and true democracy in the West. If Russia becomes stronger, the West and the USA will be constrained from interference in matters which do not concern them. Let it not be forgotten that Britain, America and Russia fought a war in order to defeat the forces of Nazism - the very forces that are now manifesting themselves in the illegal junta sitting in Kiev.
Stephen Beet Novosibirsk, Russia. Read more here...


NOT JUST AMERICA BUT ALMOST ALL OF THE WEST IS “COMMUNIST”

by Richard Miller
Nicholas Pell (“America is a Communist Country” 4 March 2014 at Takimag.com) makes the point that the Left at university, and in general, don’t argue – they just “shoot the messenger”. The Left does not respect Liberal-democratic traditions of free speech. He cites an article by Sandra Korn in The Harvard Crimson, “The Doctrine of Academic Freedom” (18 February 2014) which says in its subtitle “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favour of justice”. The article starts up by discussing the 1970s IQ “debate” and the angry campus protests that greeted researchers such as Richard Herrnstein. Maybe his academic freedom was violated, but “so what?”

Korn asks: “If our university community opposes racism, sexism and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom?” Instead “justice” will rule : “When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.” And just whom decides that?

We can see how controversial Korn’s ideas about “justice” are when she goes on to say that the views of Professor Harvey Mansfield, which are contrary to feminism, should be suppressed and then she mentions the “boycott of Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine”. This debate about freedom of speech ignores the point that “there is no effective or substantial academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation.” Whether this is true or not is not my concern here; in Australia such boycotts have been seen as “racist” and there is a court case about it now. So I ask again: how can one decide what “justice” is, even from the side of the Left? Surely free speech is needed to even get the process off the ground?

You can be sure that the “research” at the modern university, devoted to what Alex Kurtagic (American Renaissance, 13 April 2012) calls the “great erasure” of Northern European people, will not be subjected to this principle of censorship. In Australia, for example, Arts disciplines teach numerous courses attacking and “deconstructing” Anglo-Australia. Especially all of Australian history prior to the arrival of post World War II migrants is “racist”. Library shelves sag from the weight of immigration history books produced by multiculturalists continuing this Grand Narrative. This is mainstream university work, not racial vilification according to our universities.

The universities are symbols or little models of the plight of Western man. Contrary to Kurtagic, it is not western man in general who has been his “own worst enemy” embracing “the psychopathology of the terrorist Left,” who has supported multiculturalism, feminism and mass migration. These are the evil dogmas of the university educated intelligentsia – the “New Class” elites – who have only one loyalty, to themselves, their own class. This enemy has to be countered by a movement outside of the university walls.

Hopefully the forces of globalism will pull this corrupt institution down while civilisation can be preserved outside its toxic boundaries. We here are doing our best in this battle for the soul of Western Man.


RACE VILIFICATION LEGISLATION: THE SAGA CONTINUES

Debating the Legal Issues, Ian Wilson LL.B.
Far more interesting than any TV soap opera is the continuing tragicomedy of the Coalition’s dilemmas in dealing with reform of the Race Discrimination Act which both avoids the “Andrew Bolt” decision, but keeps the ethnic lobby happy … well … at least not too hostile. Tony Abbott has been reported to have resisted both “Coalition rebels” and the ethnic communities in striving ahead to “reconcile” freedom of speech and the “rejection of racism.” (The Australian 19 March 2014, p.1) It seems that the Libs answer is to remove the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” from section 18C but retain “intimidate”.
But critics have argued that the Bolt result could still be obtained even just with this word as the judge in the Bolt case did not distinguish between these words. Surely almost everything which could “offend”, “insult” or “humiliate” an ethnic would also intimidate them?

Abbott looks like having some problems to deal with as Western Australian Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives, has threatened to cross the floor if the anti-vilification legislation is “watered down”, and Queensland’s Ewen Jones backed him. All the more reason to oppose the proposed Constitutional changes for Indigenous recognition.
Why do this if Australians cannot have their God-given right to freedom of speech recognised?

To be able to adequately debate the Constitutional changes proposed means that a debate on race issues must occur and that is precisely what we are being deprived of. “Vehement” opposition to the Libs proposed changes was made by representatives of the Jewish, indigenous Chinese, Greek, Arab, Armenian and Korean communities. The Australian quotes this “group” as saying: “These changes would mean that the federal government has decided to licence the public humiliation of people because of their race. It would send a signal that people may spout racist abuse in public, no matter how unreasonably and dishonestly.” This begs the question of the debate here by immediately branding the thought “racist abuse”.

Would the group consider thought which they as a group unit may or may not have commented on, such as the Andrew Bolt comments, as “racist abuse”? If so, they are opposing free speech because the line drawn in the sand in this debate by civil liberty folk is that Bolt’s comments should have been permitted. In fact the ethnic critique is contrary to the fundamental liberal democratic tradition, as Janet Albrechtsen argues (“Ivory Towers Shaken by Man Free of Legal Baggage,” The Australian 19 March 2014 p.10). She rightly notes that “rights are bestowed on us by virtue of our humanity. Within limits we all understand we have the right to do what we damn well please – including express ourselves as we see fit – and the government must make the case to limit our rights.”

She opposes the view that rights are created by laws such as the Racial Discrimination Act, and she mentions Jeremy Jones from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, who in his recent Lateline appearance “unwittingly gave us the perfect example” of this type of human rights legalism. Jones speaking of the Fredrick Tobin Holocaust denial case said that because of the legal judgement Holocaust denial was “seen to be something abhorrent.” Albrechtsen says that this legalism “treats us like idiots, too stupid to work that out for ourselves.”

But beyond that, what about if Tobin had won, that he had been given a “polite” statement of Holocaust denial that was crafted to escape the Racial Discrimination Act? If law is the sole criterion for abhorrence, then the restated Tobin version would escape criticism. In his article “Let’s Preserve Our Best Legal Weapon Against Racism” (The Australian 18 March 2014 p.10) Jones argues that racism is “a reality in contemporary Australia” and that the best means to redress it” is via section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. This law serves to “promote fairness, tolerance and community harmony.” For example, one elderly Tasmanian lady was distributing racist leaflets and cassettes but when the race vilification law was introduced and she was successfully prosecuted “Reports of racial incidents in her state dropped about 90 per cent.” So much for evidence of racism being “a reality in contemporary Australia.”

Jones gives other examples but conservative critics could argue that all of these complaints can be dealt with by either public debate or other laws. A mere handful of complaints does not show that there is some massive racist problem in Australia which is only held back by one law. If there was a racist problem, the racist wouldn’t be bothering about the consequences of law – as has occurred in various cases involving assault with abuse, assault of course being illegal.

An article along these lines appears above the Jones article and essentially refutes his core argument, that of Nick cater “Abbott Must Fix Problems in Race Act.” Cater points out that back when Keating introduced these laws the idea was that racial vilification was explicitly linked to acts of physical violence, not mere hurt feelings (as some of the examples given by Jones, we note are). But the Keating government, even though it was warned by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner at the time, went ahead and legislated against the causing of offence. The Commissioner had noted that such legislation in New Zealand had been “widely used and even abused by individuals complaining of insults or remarks of a relatively trivial nature.”

Section 18C sets the barrier too low because as Tony Abbott observed “All that is necessary to create a civil offence under this bill is for someone to have hurt feelings. What we need to combat racism is argument, not censorship.” Beyond all this even defenders of section 18C such as race relations commissioner Tim Soutphommasane (“Commentary on Section 18C often Blind to Substantial Body of case Law” (The Australian 14 March 2014 p.27) are often confused about how the Act works, Soutphommasane argues that section 18C involves an “objective test” whereas critics say that it involves a “subjective test” based on hurt feelings. To reject this he refers to case law which does in fact show that this is not just a mater of one member of a particular racial group being offended. He grants that would set the bar far too low as any defendant could then be convicted. That is how he defines “subjective” but that is a mistake.

In Eatock v Bolt the test was that of the likely impact a statement would have on a reasonable member of the group allegedly vilified. Bolt argued against this test maintaining that the correct test should not be the allegedly vilified community but the wider community as a whole. Using the vilified group is still subjective, contrary to Soutphommasane, because a vilified group may have biases that would not exists in a wider community. This flawed standard did not arise just with the Bolt judgement but has been present all along. Even the legislative introduction of an objective wider community standard test would improve matters.


SENATOR SCOTT RYAN GIVES GREAT SPEECH ON FREE SPEECH

We are not a nation of tribes. Free speech is for us all to use and defend
Senator RYAN (Victoria—Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education) (16:30):
I have said before that I am a first amendment type of guy. I have long admired the American culture that values freedom of speech as a critical, non-negotiable and - I think even more importantly - virtually un-conditional component of a free society. Senator Wong talks about people being attacked. I should probably declare at this point that I am a longstanding member and a former research fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs. What we have heard from the other side of this chamber—and from my good friend, Senator Cameron, who has just left—over and over again is the vilification of people merely by virtue of the institute at which they work. There is a reason why the Greens and the ALP hate the Institute of Public Affairs—it is because it is not part of their public sector mentality. It challenges the precepts that they put up, and it cannot be bowed by the fact that it is not on the public sector drip, the way they wish all civil society was.

What we have just heard from Senator Wong and what we have heard constantly from those opposite, including the Greens, relies on a profound misunderstanding of what our society is. They seem to view our rights, particularly our right to speech and our right to discuss - our right to participate in democracy and in a free flow of ideas - as coming to us via a licence from politicians or judges. They seem to think that, somehow, the laws in this place determine what we are allowed and not allowed to say. That is a profound misrepresentation of our constitutional and legal history. It is only in recent times that there have been such limits on things like speech. This is a profound fissure in what we view as the role of the state, and what we view as the role of the government and its relationship with the citizens of this country. Senator Wong accused Senator Brandis of celebrating the rights of bigots. What I will say is that I condemn the bigot, but I celebrate the rights of every citizen. And that is important, because a commitment to freedom of speech only really counts when it is tested. A commitment to freedom of speech only really counts when it comes to defending something you profoundly and viscerally disagree with - and that is where my commitment to free speech lies.

It is not about the public funding of artists. I do not have to fund someone to support their right to say something. There is a profound difference between the allocation of taxpayers’ resources to give someone the right to do something, and the question of whether or not they are allowed to say something. I will defend the right of someone to speak, but that does not entail and should not be confused with the idea that I should resource them to speak. We have heard the constant complaints of those opposite over the last 48 hours about ethnic community leaders, multicultural community leaders, and their views on this particular proposal. I said at the start that I was a first amendment type of person: I view the proposal put up by the government and Senator Brandis in the exposure draft as a compromise. I accept that my views are not typical of all those in this place, or indeed all those in this country, in supporting a very strong and almost unlimited commitment to freedom of speech. The problem I have is that those opposite seem to see us as a nation of tribes; as a nation where self-declared leaders of communities - communities defined by race - should somehow should have a special place in the consideration of legislation that any other Australian citizen should not. Every Australian’s view has an equal standing in this place - every Australian’s view, no matter what community they declare themselves to be from; whether it be one or many; and whether or not they declare themselves to be leaders of communities. The elected bodies in this country are the elected representatives of the Australian people. We don’t believe in a corporatist society, or in one where there are a series of tribes where, somehow, some people have more rights than others.

The ALP and the Greens seek to define this as a debate about racism when it is not. It is a debate profoundly about speech, its limits, and the role of governments, politicians and judges in limiting the rights of our fellow citizens to express ideas. How is it our role to empower certain people in Australia, in this case judges under the current law, to determine whether another opinion is arrived at or expressed in good faith? That is the current provision in section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act. What happened to Andrew Bolt was that a court said that his opinion was not expressed in good faith. It did not just ban the expression of that opinion; it banned its re-publication. It had to declare an Orwellian moment—that it never happened.
Source: Andrew Bolt’s Blog 27 March 2014.


WERE THE ABORIGINES THE ‘FIRST’ AUSTRALIANS?

by Peter Ewer
The present quest to recognise Aboriginals in the Constitution is based on the standard archaeological assumption that the Aborigines were the first Homo Sapiens Sapiens to occupy this landmass. In terms of evolution, the paradigm of this debate, this makes a decision to exclude all “proto-humans” or earlier humans from consideration. The “people” may not have left an archaeological record to survive.

Amateur archaeologist and historian Rex Gilroy in his book “Pyramids in the Pacific: The Unwritten History of Australia” (2000) challenged the Establishment archaeological picture of the Left-wing endorsed “Land Rights” movement. “He sees the traditional view as a “cudgel in the hands of those who argue that the European race has no right to Australia at all,” a dispossession which is really behind this debate.

Contrary to the standard view Gilroy alleges to have evidence that earlier races lived in this land and that Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved in Australia, not Africa. The Aborigines evolved here from the mixture of two earlier races. Among other things Gilroy claims to have discovered are fossil fragments of a giant human at least 300,000 years old. He has discovered tools such as clubs and knives weighing over 16.5 kilograms, the tools of giants. Aboriginal legends refer to the race of giants as “Jogungs” who lived in the central west of the continent. Mainstream archaeologists and anthropologists reject this evidence “not only because of their traditional reluctance to commit themselves to accepting any evidence which dares to question long established conservative dogmas concerning our ancient past, but because of pressure from certain quarters both inside and outside of the university establishment, to dismiss any evidence, which in our current climate of ‘political correctness’ tends to cast doubt upon the ‘nobody before the Aborigines’ dogma.” Even if one rejects everything Gilroy has to offer, there is still the case of the “wild Negritos” discussed in a Quadrant article some years back. These little people, who were not Aborigines, were even mentioned in text books before the age of political correctness. It has been conjectured that the Negrito people in fact inhabited Australia before the arrival of the Aborigines, and later died out. The Tasmanian Aborigines may have been a Negrito modification. Earlier authorities thought that the little people may have been the first humans to inhabit Australia.

In conclusion the past has more unknowns than knowns and it is a mistake to change Australia’s Constitution to recognise Aborigines as a “first people” when we do not know that this is true and where there is a case against it. At a minimum the issue at least needs to be discussed, not suppressed.


CLIMATE SCIENCE AND BOM – CALL FOR INDEPENDENT AUDIT

Call for Independent Audit of Bureau of Meteorology by Dennis Jensen in Australian Parliament https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQDjX9uVYMo#t=18 http://jennifermarohasy.com/2014/03/call-for-independent-audit-of-bureau-of-meteorology-by-dennis-jensen-in-australian-parliament/

Dennis Jensen, the Member for Tangney, spoke in the Australian Parliament about how the Australian Bureau of Meteorology plays “fast and loose” with critical temperature data. At the end of this important speech, Dr Jensen calls for an audit of the Bureau and in particular the methodology it uses for compiling temperature data. Dr Jensen emphasises the problem with the Bureau claiming unreliable temperature data for Australia prior to 1910, while supporting and contributing to a United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global temperature data base from 1850 including for Australia. There is a more detailed justification for an audit of the Bureau detailed in a letter to Minister Greg Hunt…

Q4. Given potential and actual conflicts of interest, could the Australian Bureau of Statistics, (ABS) rather than the Bureau of Meteorology, be tasked with the job of leading the high quality and objective interpretation of the historical temperature record for Australia? Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to treat data selectively and favour information that confirms their beliefs. Such bias can quickly spread through an organization unless there are procedures in place to guard against groupthink. Groupthink – Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascos (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1983) by Irving L Janis is the seminal text in the area and outlines how irrespective of the personality characteristics and other predispositions of the members of a policy-making group, the groupthink syndrome is likely to emerge given particular conditions; including that the decision-makers constitute a cohesive group, lack norms requiring methodical procedures and are under stress from external threats. This can lead to illusions of invulnerability and belief in the inherent morality of the group leading to self-censorship, illusions of unanimity and an incomplete consideration of alternative solutions to the issue at hand. All of these characteristics can be applied to the Bureau, which is particularly convinced of the inherent moral good in both its cause and approach to the issue of global warming.

The extent of the problem of groupthink within the Bureau, and the international climate science community more generally, became particularly evident in 2009 when the Climategate emails were released. These emails raised many disturbing questions about the way climate science is conducted; about researchers’ preparedness to block access to climate data and downplay flaws in their research; and about the siege mentality and scientific tribalism within the community. These emails show that managers at the Bureau including David Jones and Neil Plummer, rely on other climate scientists, particularly those at the heart of Climategate, for statistical advice and share the general contempt of the mainstream climate science community for rigorous scientific analysis.

For example, in an email dated 7th September 2007 Dr Jones wrote to Phil Jones from the Climate Research Unit that, “Truth be know,[sic] climate change here is now running so rampant that we don’t need meteorological data to see it.” In an email dated 5th January 2005, David Parker from the UK Met Office wrote to Mr Plummer resisting a suggestion that the period used to calculate temperature anomalies be corrected on the basis that “the impression of global warming will be muted.” In 2006 Edward Wegman, professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, chair of the US National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and board member of the American Statistical Association, was asked by the US House of Representatives to assess the statistical validity of the work of Michael Mann which contributed to many of the claims by the IPCC that the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year of the millennium. In his final report, Professor Wegman made damning assessments pertaining to the statistical competence of leading climate scientists.[4] In particular, and drawing an analogy with pharmaceutical research, Professor Wegman recommended:

Recommendation 3. With clinical trials for drugs and devices to be approved for human use by the FDA, review and consultation with statisticians is expected. Indeed, it is standard practice to include statisticians in the application-for-approval process. We judge this to be a good policy when public health and also when substantial amounts of monies are involved, for example, when there are major policy decisions to be made based on statistical assessments. In such cases, evaluation by statisticians should be standard practice. This evaluation phase should be a mandatory part of all grant applications and funded accordingly. The full text of the letter can be read here…


GENETICALLY MODIFIED ECOCIDE

by Brian Simpson
Yaneer Bar-Yam, Rupert Read and Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his on-line paper “The Precautionary Principle” argue that genetically modified organisms “could unleash global killer ‘ecocide’ across the planet, as Naturalnews.com reports (Mike Adams, 11 March 2014). Small risks can become multiplied over time so that the probability of ruin approaches 100 per cent (certainty) in the long term.

Genetically engineered crops which are designed to have a survival advantage over natural crops so they will compete and spread over time. This however will destroy genetic diversity so if and when the genetically modified crops fail, disaster reigns. Monoculture throughout history (e.g., the Irish Potato Famine) are highly vulnerable to failure. They state: “The modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the global. I do not wish to pay – or have my descendants pay – for errors by executives at Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there… simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental amage.”


BRAZIL LOOKS TO BAN MONSANTO’S ‘ROUNDUP’, OTHER TOXICITY RISKS

Source: http://on.rt.com/nm7gre, March 27, 2014
Brazil’s public prosecutor wants to suspend use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s pervasive herbicide Roundup. A recent study suggested glyphosate may be linked to a fatal kidney disease that has affected poor farming regions worldwide. The Prosecutor General’s office is also pursuing bans on the herbicide 2,4-D and seven other active herbicide ingredients in addition to glyphosate: methyl parathion, lactofem, phorate, carbofuran, abamectin, tiram, and paraquat, GMWatch reported.

The Prosecutor General of Brazil “seeks to compel the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) to re-evaluate the toxicity of eight active ingredients suspected of causing damage to human health and the environment,” according to the prosecutor’s website. “On another front, the agency questions the registration of pesticides containing 2,4-D herbicide, applied to combat broadleaf weeds.”

The two actions have already been filed with Brazil’s justice department. The prosecutor is also seeking a preliminary injunction that would allow the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply to suspend further registration of the eight ingredients until ANVISA can come to a conclusion.

The country’s National Biosafety Technical Commission has been asked to prohibit large-scale sale of genetically modified seeds resistant to the 2,4-D as ANVISA deliberates. Last week, Brazil’s Federal Appeals Court ruled to cancel use of Bayer’s Liberty Link genetically-modified maize. Earlier this month, France banned the sale, use, and cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically-modified maize MON 810. New research found insects in the United States are developing a resistance to the genetically-engineered maize.

As for glyphosate, new research suggests it becomes highly toxic to the human kidney once mixed with “hard” water or metals like arsenic and cadmium that often exist naturally in the soil or are added via fertilizer. Hard water contains metals like calcium, magnesium, strontium, and iron, among others. On its own, glyphosate is toxic, but not detrimental enough to eradicate kidney tissue.

The glyphosate molecule was patented as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s. The company soon brought glyphosate to market under the name “Roundup,” which is now the most commonly used herbicide in the world. Two weeks ago, Sri Lanka banned glyphosate given the links to an inexplicable kidney disease, Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology, known as CKDu, according to the Center for Public Integrity. CKDu has killed thousands of agricultural workers, many in Sri Lanka and El Salvador.

El Salvador’s legislature approved in September a ban on glyphosate and many other agrochemicals, yet the measure is not yet law. Source here. . .


EITHER CHRISTIANITY IS….

As editor of On Target and responsible for its content, I hesitated including the following article one week before Good Friday. Christians can be sure that at this most holy time in the Christian calendar, many articles will appear in the mainstream press sneering at their values and beliefs and at Christ himself. Because I did not want to weaken anyone’s faith and belief in God, I thought of introducing the article in the light of some recent research in the fields of history, archaeology and literary criticism that I have read. Some readers might be quite surprised at the amount of discussion and disagreement there is among theologians in these disciplines. Finally the words of Christ himself came as the answer to my hesitation. In the Lesson of the Fig Tree, Jesus tells his listeners, "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." - - Luke 21:32-33:

Now why won’t Jesus’ words pass away? In “The Realistic Position of the Church of England” C. H. Douglas challenges his readers to determine whether Jesus’ words are in the very fabric of the Universe – or whether Christian beliefs are merely ‘opinions’! "It must be insisted that Christianity is either something inherent in the very warp and woof of the Universe, or it is just a set of interesting opinions, largely discredited, and thus doubtfully on a par with many other sets of opinions, and having neither more nor less claim to consideration. The philosophy of Christianity, as I apprehend it, contends for certain immutable principles which may have many permutations ("Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my Word shall not pass away.")

Eric D. Butler would often remind us that nearly two thousand years of history had convincingly demonstrated that when the Truths enunciated by Christ were applied in human affairs, a new and creative type of society or community came into existence. He also saw that C. H. Douglas had shed a blinding light on much of what had appeared obscure or irrelevant concerning the Gospels and his presentation of the vital importance of the Doctrine of the Incarnation was a revelation yet to be grasped by many.
Enough said. - - Betty Luks


INVENTING THE JEWISH PEOPLE – From an Israeli Historian’s Viewpoint

by Peter Ewer
Shlomo Sand’s “The Invention of the Jewish People” (Verso, London 2009), is a profoundly important work, not primarily because of its originality (it is not), but for bringing under covers a wide range of challenging material. For a start the book challenges the foundation narrative of Israel, that God himself granted the descendants of Abraham the land of Israel. Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt and they conquered this land. However after Jewish uprisings against the Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD the Jewish diaspora occurred with the exiling of the Jews from Israel and their dispersal across the West. Only after WWII, with the defeat of the Arabs in Palestine did Israel come to exist again in 1948.
This is the foundation narrative.

Sand, an expert on European history at the University of Tel Aviv, challenges all aspects of this foundational narrative. Deleting mountains of scholarly rumination about nationalism and ethnicity we may summarise Sand’s position as generally deconstructive of all nationalisms, not just Jewish nationalism. German nationalism of the 19th century also comes in for a critique (e.g., 71-95). Only around p.115 does Sand turn to the discussion of the archaeological evidence for the foundation myth. Then, myths fall thick and fast. For example, biblical archaeology challenges the time of the Patriarchs: did Abraham migrate to Canaan in the 21st or 20th century BCE? But the stories of the patriarchs mention the Philistines who did not appear in the region before the 12th century BCE (p.117), the Aramaeans, who appeared in the 11th century BCE, and camels. But camels first were domesticated at the beginning of the first millennium BCE and were used as beasts of burden from the 8th century BCE (p.117). Scholars realised that the foundational dates couldn’t be right and that the patriarch stories were “a collection of late literary creations composed by gifted theologians” (p.117). This meant “that the detailed plots, the references to locations and the names of nearby tribes and peoples did not indicate a misty popular myth that had multiplied and improved over time, but rather a conscious ideological composition made hundred of years later”. (p.117)

Exodus is also a myth. At the time of Exodus Canaan was ruled by Egypt which meant that Moses led the Jews out of Egypt to Egypt again (p.118). Further, the people he led included 600,000 warriors along with women and children, constituting some three million people. There is no documentation of this, and apart from a miracle, the desert could not support even a fraction of that number of people (p.118). Etzion-Gever and Arad are mentioned in the Exodus narrative, but they did not exist at that time.

No walls of Jericho fell; late in the 13th century BCE Jericho was a small, unwalled town. Most of the cities mentioned in the conquest narrative, such as AI and Heshbon, were not settled at all (p.119). The conquest of Canaan is a myth, not history. The mighty kingdoms of David and Solomon are also myths – diggers revealed no traces of either kingdom, only simple pottery. The alleged remains as well were not destroyed during the reign of Herod as traces were uncovered, intact, from earlier periods (p.120).

“The inescapable and troublesome conclusion was that if there was a political entity in tenth-century Judaea, it was a small tribal kingdom, and that Jerusalem was a fortified stronghold. It is possible that the tiny kingdom was ruled by a dynasty known as the House of David. An inscription discovered in Tell Dan in 1993 supports this assumption, but this kingdom of Judah was greatly inferior to the kingdom of Israel to its north, and apparently far less developed” (p.121).

Hence there was no great united monarchy. This was the creation of later writers. These myths, Sand says justified nationalism. Sand has more to say which I cannot review here. Nevertheless this much not only undermines the foundation myth but also challenges many views of the historicity of the Old Testament. Food for thought, indeed. Further reading: here. . .


“Preachers, beware the hate-speech laws you defend”

writes Andrew Bolt on his Blog 1/4/2014
How hate-speech laws work in Britain: A Christian street preacher was wrongly arrested and held in a police cell for almost 19 hours after quoting verses from the Bible. John Craven, 57, recited from Revelation after two gay teenagers asked about his views on homosexuality.

But after he read from chapter 21, verse eight – which says sinners will burn in a lake of fire and sulphur – police arrested him on suspicion of committing a public order offence… He was fingerprinted, had to give a sample of his DNA and told he was being investigated for allegedly using insulting words with the intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress – which could have led to a six-month jail sentence… Yesterday he was awarded £13,000 in compensation after a three-year legal battle against Greater Manchester Police which is estimated to have cost the public purse £50,000.

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