Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Various arrests in Fogel case by Israeli military

Since I fretted here about the dearth of information on the investigation of the Fogel family massacre in Israel, I thought it only fair to post this update. It seems that the Israeli military is in fact making arrests and taking fingerprints and DNA samples from quite a number of people at the "Palestinian" village of Awarta, near Itamar, where the murders took place. Apparently the investigation is being carried out more or less secretly--that is to say, without release of details to the public--by the IDF.

This could mean that the report in WND of the arrest of men from Fatah (hence, plausibly men who had been trained by the U.S.) was correct, though the IDF sweep seems to be trying to catch conspirators as well as for those who actually carried out the murders.

Hmmm. Good luck to the investigators. I still wish they had the d.p. there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New manuscript, apparently from W.I.M.P.S.

Hah! Some of you may recall the "ancient manuscript" discovered and published here from the Worship! Iconium Ministerial Peace Society, rebuking the Apostle Paul for his confrontational manner.

The satire bug is difficult to resist. A new and similar manuscript has surfaced, in connection apparently with what is known as "hellgate"--the controversy over Rob Bell's universalism. Personally, I consider Rob Bell to be more or less beneath notice, though unfortunately very influential. I suppose (sigh) that someone has to write about him. This new discovery of further rebukes of Paul for being "unloving" (in the book of Galatians) is very funny. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lent II collect

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
One of the most beautiful collects in the Prayer Book. It suddenly dawned on me today that I have always interpreted and prayed for myself about the "evil thoughts" in a way that may well be different from that intended by the author. (According to an invaluable book, The Collects of Thomas Cranmer, by C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F. M. Zahl, the "author" in this case is someone, name unknown, writing in the 500's or even earlier. The collect comes to us by way of the Gregorian Sacramentary. Thomas Cranmer translated it for the Prayer Book.) I have always taken the "evil thoughts" to be worries, nightmare scenarios that suddenly assault the mind (and it definitely feels like that), or the inability to stop thinking about pieces of horrible knowledge one wishes one didn't have. The Internet, of course, raises the odds that one will accumulate such pieces of knowledge. In this interpretation I have probably been influenced by Elizabeth Goudge, who takes the phrase that way in the novel Pilgrim's Inn, which deals in part, as so many of Goudge's novels do, with severe mental strain.

I suddenly realized, though, that the original writer probably intended the "evil thoughts" to be temptations--the desire to do evil, the sudden thought of doing evil, perhaps coming to the mind as an assault from the Wicked One. That would be more in keeping with Lent, and I gather that the collect was originally written for Lent.

But one can pray the collect to God with either meaning, or with both.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Criminal Justice

I regularly read (and link in the sidebar) an Israeli blog called Israel Matzav. The blogger, Carl in Jerusalem, is an Orthodox Jew who apparently lives over the "green line." He has been blogging a lot recently about the Fogel massacre, about which I've done a couple of posts here at Extra Thoughts.

The thing that as an American reader I find most frustrating about the coverage of this is the absence of any criminal justice approach to the evil. Carl has recently embedded a video, which I don't intend to watch and advise others to avoid, that contains and is headed by graphic pictures of the slain. (I'm deliberately not linking the blog from this particular post lest an unwary reader go, scroll down, and inadvertently see the picture heading the video.) Carl is trying to stir up appropriate outrage. With that I agree. But the proper response, the active and positive use of outrage, is to demand that evil men be brought to justice as individuals. Even though we in the rest of the world cannot personally do anything, we at least need to have something clearly appropriate, something a healthy mind rightly seeks, to say that others should do. Otherwise dwelling on horror becomes an end in itself, which is not healthy.

I've asked again and again at the site for confirmation of the report that two "Palestinians" have been arrested for the murder--no response. There is, in fact, no discussion of the topic of catching the murderers and of how that is going in any of the posts I have read at the site. It begins to look like the progress of the case and the facts about any arrest are secrets in Israel, even at a "right-wing" blog. In America, of course, whoever was in charge of the investigation would be hounded by the press and asked what progress he was making in catching the murderers. The arrest of the murderers could not possibly be a secret.

Actually, I have to admit that I don't even know how that works in Samaria (aka "the West Bank"), given the semi-independence of the "Palestinian Authority." Is it difficult or impossible for Israel even to make an arrest? But if so, why is there a report of arrests going around? Who would have made those arrests? Even just spelling that out for American readers would be helpful.

Perhaps someone will respond that one should not take a criminal justice approach to terrorism. I'm not sure what the point of such a response in this context would be. The right and natural next step after feeling due outrage is to want these evildoers arrested and punished.

But it's even more frustrating than that, because Israel does not have a death penalty. In fact, Israel has released even horrific Palestinian killers like Samir Kuntar, who also slaughtered an innocent Israeli child, in order to get back the dead bodies of Israeli soldiers. So the whole thing begins to look like a rather bitter game to an American eye. The murderers of the Fogel family will never get anything like justice. At the most they will be arrested and spend some time--almost certainly not the rest of their lives--in prison. And the world may or may not find out about that. It's terribly frustrating.

In that justice vacuum, if I may so call it, one begins to wonder about the point of harrowing readers with an embedded video headed with a graphic image that I, for one, did not want to see. Perhaps the idea is to get some on the left to start to see the darkness in the hearts of the Jew-hating "Palestinians" and the impossibility of making peace with them; I doubt if this tactic will succeed. In any event, the murder of real, concrete people should call forth first and foremost a cry for justice for them, the punishment, individually, of their killers.

I hope that this post will not enrage any Israeli readers and especially that it won't get me banned from commenting on a valuable site. I realize that there may be reasons for the news blackout on the criminal case, reasons that we in America simply do not know. But it may be useful for anyone on the Israeli right who happens to read this to know how these things play out in the minds of those already most sympathetic to "settlers" and most angered by the slaughter of the Fogels.

Anniversary of the beginning of Terri Schiavo's murder [Updated]

Bill Luse points out that March 18 was the sixth anniversary of the beginning of Terri Schiavo's lengthy murder by dehydration. He is kind enough to mention my articles along with others on this topic.

My article in The Christendom Review cites and links several trial transcripts of witness testimony in Terri's case. With the help of some of the lawyers involved in the case, I was able to gather these witness transcripts in one place. I'm not recommending that anyone read through them in their entirety, but I think that as original source documents they are important, and as far as I know they are available in their entirety only on my site. Here is the portal for those documents. Feel free to download them and also to upload and make them available elsewhere. (It would be courteous to link back to my site when you do so and also to give credit to Attys. Bell and Anderson for the material.) It was difficult to get these documents, and they should be able to be found in Google searches by researchers. My Touchstone article on Terri's death (unfortunately not available on-line) is "Road to a Kill," Touchstone Magazine, June, 2009, pp. 44-47, and in it I describe some ways in which the availability of the transcripts is important for understanding the cavalier and biased way in which the court approached Terri's case. The testimonies of Diane Meyer and Joan Schiavo are especially significant. [Update: The ever-alert Bill Luse pointed out to me that I am now allowed to post the Touchstone article on-line. Here is the link.]

Terri's slow death was an agony for her parents, and those who became heavily involved in the case at a distance via the Internet entered in some small and even mysterious way into that agony. Yet it would be an impertinence to imply that in any sense her murder was about the rest of us and what we felt, what we thought. Her murder was about her, about her parents' horrific pain, about those who killed her. It is difficult, but we must pray that they will repent of their great evil.

Here is a wonderful Easter video put together by Bill Luse and featuring pictures of Terri as well as of other people who had died during the year preceding the video.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"America will get at you?"

The murders of the Fogel family in Israel do not exactly reflect glory on the U.S. A report from World Net Daily claims that two arrests have been made in the case and that both of those arrested are members of Fatah forces--the forces that have received training from the U.S. I've been disgusted by this for a long time, and it goes back to the Bush administration. More of this Good Muslim/Bad Muslim nonsense, in which we, the rubes, go in and lavish help on those we've decided to define as "good Muslims." In this case, the Moderate Ones happen to be the PLO.

Anybody remember when Fatah was just called "the PLO" and was openly spoken of as a terrorist organization? Yeah, well, that was a long time ago. Maybe I'm showing my age. We changed our minds about considering them to be terrorists, and instead we trained them to fight the "bad Muslims"--that is, Hamas. And now it looks like the "good ones" are murdering Jews. Great. I've tried to get confirmation of this arrest story from a source other than WND but haven't yet succeeded. I will post if and when I do get some sort of independent confirmation.

There's an expenditure of foreign aid funds I could really get enthusiastic about: Funds spent training and aiding Palestinian terrorists.

Here's another zinger: Benjamin Netanyahu visited the family and friends during their mourning. He spoke to Tamar, the twelve-year-old daughter who came home from a youth activity and found the bodies of her parents and siblings. Guess what she says? "What will happen if you do anything? America will get at you?"

Ouch. Take that, Barack Obama.

Jeff Jacoby on the slaughter of the innocents in Itamar

Here's a good article on the horrible slaughter of most of an Israeli family, the Fogel family, by Palestinian Arabs. Best quotation (emphasis added):

There are those who believe passionately that all human beings are inherently good and rational creatures, essentially the same once you get beyond surface disagreements. Such people cannot accept the reality of a culture that extols death over life, that inculcates a vitriolic hatred of Jews, that induces children to idolize terrorists. Since they would never murder a family in its sleep without being driven to it by some overpowering horror, they imagine that nobody would. This is the mindset that sees a massacre of Jews and concludes that Jews must in some way have provoked it. It’s the mindset behind the narrative that continually blames Israel for the enmity of its neighbors and makes it Israel’s responsibility to end their violence.

The truth is simpler, and bleaker. Human goodness is not hard-wired. It takes sustained effort and healthy values to produce good people; in the absence of those values, cruelty and intolerance are far more likely to flourish.

I'll have a bit more to say about the slaughter of the Fogels in a later post. I'm trying to confirm or disconfirm reports of an arrest in the case. For the moment I'll just say--Israel definitely needs the death penalty.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All these will I give thee

Today's Gospel reading was the temptation of Jesus. I've often mused a bit about the temptation in which the Devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will fall down and worship him. Does the Devil have the kingdoms of the world to offer, or was the offer just a fake?

We know the Devil doesn't actually play fair, but I've always suspected that he really did have the kingdoms of the world to offer. Jesus Himself called the Devil "the prince of this world." Human beings have free will, but they're usually only too ready to listen to the wrong leaders and the wrong promptings. If Satan really wanted to set someone up to rule the world, unless God chose to intervene and stop it, I would guess that Satan could do it.

If this conjecture is right, then Jesus turned down a genuine offer of world-wide rule in place of the road to Golgotha.

And it may be, too, that the Devil sometimes offers us things as well--really offers them to us. If we will only be dishonest, we can get something we couldn't otherwise get. Maybe that's true. Maybe we could really get away with it. Jesus said that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light. If one is wise as a serpent but not harmless as a dove, one may do better than all the doves.

I don't imagine many of us feel anything like a direct temptation to bow down and worship Satan in exchange for earthly rule. But in any life there are temptations to gain earthly advantage by less-than-noble means--lying, fudging, faking, cheating, or even bullying and manipulation come to mind.

It's almost frightening to reflect that for a time, maybe even a long time, these techniques might really work. The Devil is far more likely to promise, and give, tangible success than God is. And the worst of it is that once one has been getting away with something for these many years it becomes extremely difficult to back out of it, especially if other people are involved.

Well. None of this is our business for anyone but ourselves. But it's worth reflecting and asking God to help us hear in the misleading thoughts that occur to us the voice softly whispering, "All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me..."

Friday, March 04, 2011

"Good" Muslim Brotherhood vs. Bad al-Qaeda

Here we go again. I hope I'm not the only one who gets sick of liberals (and paleoconservatives) who roll their eyes and tell the rest of us that we're ignorant cretins for not knowing all about how the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims somehow means that Islam is not all bad. (Al-Qaeda is Sunni. Hezbollah is Shia. Yep, that's real helpful in distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys.)

Get ready for a new manufactured excuse for the liberals to roll their eyes. The administration is telling us that Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood (both Sunni) are also very different in this same way. Barry Rubin skewers this:

Get it? Al-Qaeda is bad because it wants to attack U.S. embassies, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon.

BUT the Muslim Brotherhood is good! Because it merely wants to seize state power, transform Egypt into an Islamist state, rule almost 90 million people with an iron hand, back Hamas in trying to destroy Israel, overthrow the Palestinian Authority, help Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood overthrow the monarchy, and sponsor terrorism against Americans in the Middle East.
Thanks, Barry. I couldn't have said it better.