- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2003

Christians and the Mideast

The story in The Washington Times on the visit of Israeli Tourism Minister Benyamin Elon to the United States to parlay with leaders of the American Christian right is most notable for several reasons. (“Israeli pits U.S. politics against ‘road map’ plan,” Page 1, Monday).

First, it is appalling to me to read again the oft-repeated mantra of Ed MacAteer of the Religious Roundtable and other fellow travelers that “Bible-believing” evangelicals are bound to support Israel in anything it does. The article indicates that these mouthpieces for the Likud Party are promoting the idea that not only must President Bush’s road map to peace in the Middle East be opposed on biblical grounds, but that all evangelicals are supportive of this mentality, presently and historically.

This is patent nonsense, given the fact that the dispensational premillennial school of biblical interpretation — which Mr. MacAteer, John Hagee and others employ in supporting an unequivocal alliance between the United States and the Zionist movement — did not even exist before its creation by John Nelson Darby in the British Isles in 1830. It did not become a significant part of American Protestant evangelicalism until Darby visited the United States after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865.

Its presuppositions and conclusions were unknown to Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and scores of other Christian thinkers before the first third of the 19th century. It is a method of biblical interpretation rejected by many scholars of modern times within the Protestant evangelical movement who have a high view of the Old and New Testaments, including the late Dr. O.T. Allis of both Princeton and Westminster seminaries, who exposed the presuppositions of dispensationalism in his magnum opus, “Prophecy and the Church.” It needs to be read by all evangelicals who have uncritically accepted the Religious Roundtable agitprop on this issue, before it is too late.

And politically, how does Mr. MacAteer feel about Jonathan Pollard spying for Israel, the theft of American nuclear secrets from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Israel’s stated policy of “targeted killings” of its opponents worldwide without judicial proceedings, its role in the death of Rachel Corrie and the expropriation of even those lands belonging to Palestinians who confess faith in Jesus Christ? Is this the Israel of God today? Or is it instead the Confessing Church of our Lord, comprising both Jews and gentiles who recognize that the kingdom of God is not racial, nationalistic, geographic or implemented by the methods employed by the Mossad and the CIA?

Finally, what are the political and financial relationships between many of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s leading agents of influence within the American Christian Right and the neoconservative movement, and the Israeli government and intelligence community? Thinking Christians and honest American political conservatives would like to know.

MARK DANKOF

North Wales, Pa.

In her article “Israeli pits U.S. politics against ‘road map’ plan,” Julia Duin writes about how upset the Christian evangelicals are that they can’t easily visit Christian sites on the West Bank. However, the greater tragedy is the destruction of those “living rocks,” the Christian people who live there. Such as 17-year-old Johnny Thaljieh, who was fatally hit by an Israeli sniper as he walked from Mass at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Or 12-year-old Christine Saadeh, who died when her parents’ car was sprayed with Israeli bullets on a main Bethlehem road.

Unfortunately, evangelicals deliberately program these tours so that their tourists never have a chance to actually meet or talk with these people. As American Christians, we would contribute more toward solving the conflict if we would only begin to develop a greater concern for the people rather than the real estate.

Right now, these Holy Land Christians have become the “forgotten faithful” just because they are Palestinian. That and the fact that the Christian right doesn’t want us to know about them.

SUSAN KERIN

Rockville

Faulty fishing?

Hmmm, could columnist Michelle Malkin simply be angling for support of her hobby when she cites a study by University of Wyoming professor James Rose, who claims that fish lack the brains to feel pain (“Gone fishing, guilt free,” Commentary, Saturday)?

Before taking the bait, readers should know that Mr. Rose has admitted that he’s an “avid angler.” Mr. Rose also has previously said that no animals, except humans, can feel pain. That includes your dog and chimpanzees. Such claims simply don’t float unless you flunked Biology 101.

A recent study by researchers at the Roslin Institute in Scotland shows that fish can feel pain, as all animals do. Lynne Sneddon, who led the study, concluded that fish “experience suffering” when they are impaled in the mouth and pulled into an environment in which they cannot breathe.

Catch-and-release advocates aren’t off the hook, either. Fisheries biologist Ralph Manns says that fishing is “inherently harmful” to fish, “whether we release them or not. There is no doubt they would be better off if we left them totally alone.”

Let’s get hooked on compassion, not cruelty, by trying animal-friendly activities such as hiking, camping or canoeing. To learn more, pleasevisit www.FishingHurts.com.

PAULA MOORE

Staff writer

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk

Manufacturing mayhem

I find it ironic that Bruce Bartlett admonishes analysts of U.S. manufacturing to be more careful (“Overblown ogre of ‘outsourcing.’ ” Commentary, Monday).

Mr. Bartlett’s own assertion is simply not true: Manufacturing output in the U.S. economy is at its lowest level since 1953.

Mr. Bartlett misses by analyzing the wrong facts: Goods production — which includes agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and construction, as well as manufacturing — instead of just manufacturing production.

In 1953, manufacturing accounted for 30 percent of total gross domestic product. Last year, manufacturing accounted for less than 14 percent. Outsourcing is a major culprit. Today, more than half of the manufactured goods Americans consume are made in foreign countries.

The decline of manufacturing has meant lost income and health insurance for laid-off factory workers and lower wages for service sector employees as more people compete for the same jobs.

It also has meant increased dependency on foreign manufacturing, even in industries critical to our national defense. Most alarming is the way analysts such as Mr. Bartlett and policy-makers in President Bush’s administration try to hide the plain truth: Manufacturing is in crisis.

ADAM S. HERSH

Economic Policy Institute

Washington

Club rules

I just read the article “Mayoral forums exclude whites,” (Page 1, Tuesday). I was fascinated to read such a blatant case of discrimination being reported in such a straightforward manner. There were explanations from forum organizers that “no one else asked even to be heard by the conference anyway” or perhaps e-mail invitations to white candidates were lost. Laughable.

I wonder what groups would be jumping up and down on what desks if a group of white people excluded black candidates. Discrimination is alive and well and living in Baltimore. The people who did this should be ashamed of themselves and prepared to keep quiet if the reverse happens in the future.

ELLEN HODGIN

Zionsville, Ind.


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