Commentary Magazine


Topic: Bishop

Flotsam and Jetsam

Now anti-Israel venom is even featured on sports talk. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone (with an assist from Israel-hater Desmond Tutu) calls for a sports boycott of Israel: “In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel’s botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip — where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu … once said is Israel’s apartheid-like thumb — could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel’s deadly occupation of Palestinians?” (h/t New Ledger)

Now, as Cliff May reminds us, Jew-hatred is quite fashionable elsewhere: “The fever of anti-Israelism seems to be rising too fast to be reduced by the cold compress of truth. Jew-hatred is increasingly acceptable, even fashionable, not just in the Middle East but in Europe and in some of America’s finer salons — and journals and blogs. And now, apparently, interest in a ‘final solution’ — to borrow Hitler’s apt phrase — is emerging as well. Helen Thomas’s sudden retirement is unlikely to significantly slow that trend. The quaint idea that, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, civilized people would ‘never again’ tolerate genocide has become a cruel joke — one repeated in Cambodia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and beyond. Radical anti-Semites of the 20th century had a goal: the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Radical anti-Semites of the 21st century also have a goal: the extermination of the Middle East’s Jewish state.”

Now Obama’s ineffectiveness is so apparent that Joe Biden has become the administration’s principal spokesman.

Now the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers come with a warning label. A small publishing company slaps this on a volume of the documents: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Any such parent needs a warning label.

Now Rand Paul is annoying libertarians. But good to know he thinks “there are times when we have to go in and prevent, at times, people that are organizing to attack us.”

Now we have the quintessential un-Obama : “[Chris]Christie has already put the state on a tough new fiscal regimen and set it on course toward being solvent once again. Refusing to raise taxes, he’s challenged the entrenched, vested interests and has dared to take on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s powerful teachers union. And now he’s out to enact a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases. Through it all, he seems remarkably willing to take the flak that’s inevitably come his way. At town meetings across the state he tells crowds: ‘I think I know why you elected me. I know you didn’t elect me for my matinee idol looks or my charm. So, I’m trying to do what you elected me to do.'”

Now all those “Harry Reid bounces back” headlines will have to be rewritten: “Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.”

Now, if we only had a president who believed this: “It’s not just that the Israelis are being held to a different — and immeasurably higher — standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now ‘guilty until proven guilty.’ Sadly, it is no surprise to see angry mobs on the streets of Tehran or London calling for Jewish blood. It seems that we now must accustom ourselves to similar scenes playing out in Istanbul as well. Yet what is far more troubling is that we are now hearing these critiques being echoed right here in the United States.”

Now anti-Israel venom is even featured on sports talk. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone (with an assist from Israel-hater Desmond Tutu) calls for a sports boycott of Israel: “In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel’s botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip — where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu … once said is Israel’s apartheid-like thumb — could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel’s deadly occupation of Palestinians?” (h/t New Ledger)

Now, as Cliff May reminds us, Jew-hatred is quite fashionable elsewhere: “The fever of anti-Israelism seems to be rising too fast to be reduced by the cold compress of truth. Jew-hatred is increasingly acceptable, even fashionable, not just in the Middle East but in Europe and in some of America’s finer salons — and journals and blogs. And now, apparently, interest in a ‘final solution’ — to borrow Hitler’s apt phrase — is emerging as well. Helen Thomas’s sudden retirement is unlikely to significantly slow that trend. The quaint idea that, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, civilized people would ‘never again’ tolerate genocide has become a cruel joke — one repeated in Cambodia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and beyond. Radical anti-Semites of the 20th century had a goal: the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Radical anti-Semites of the 21st century also have a goal: the extermination of the Middle East’s Jewish state.”

Now Obama’s ineffectiveness is so apparent that Joe Biden has become the administration’s principal spokesman.

Now the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers come with a warning label. A small publishing company slaps this on a volume of the documents: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Any such parent needs a warning label.

Now Rand Paul is annoying libertarians. But good to know he thinks “there are times when we have to go in and prevent, at times, people that are organizing to attack us.”

Now we have the quintessential un-Obama : “[Chris]Christie has already put the state on a tough new fiscal regimen and set it on course toward being solvent once again. Refusing to raise taxes, he’s challenged the entrenched, vested interests and has dared to take on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s powerful teachers union. And now he’s out to enact a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases. Through it all, he seems remarkably willing to take the flak that’s inevitably come his way. At town meetings across the state he tells crowds: ‘I think I know why you elected me. I know you didn’t elect me for my matinee idol looks or my charm. So, I’m trying to do what you elected me to do.'”

Now all those “Harry Reid bounces back” headlines will have to be rewritten: “Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.”

Now, if we only had a president who believed this: “It’s not just that the Israelis are being held to a different — and immeasurably higher — standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now ‘guilty until proven guilty.’ Sadly, it is no surprise to see angry mobs on the streets of Tehran or London calling for Jewish blood. It seems that we now must accustom ourselves to similar scenes playing out in Istanbul as well. Yet what is far more troubling is that we are now hearing these critiques being echoed right here in the United States.”

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Tutu Chimes In

Recall that Obama awarded Medals of Freedom to both Mary Robinson and Bishop Desmond Tutu. What do they have in common? Well, this report (forwarded by a longtime reader) on a recent gala at Ford’s theater, gives you the answer:

Tutu said he “object[s] most strongly to the vicious attacks that have been leveled at Judge Richard Goldstone,” a South African whose report on the 2008-09 Gaza war concluded that both Israel and Palestinians had committed serious violations of international law.

“We cannot accept, unless we want to destroy ourselves . . . the blockade of Gaza,” Tutu said in an invocation calling for peace and recognition of human rights across the world “but especially that critical part of the world, the Middle East.” Tutu said that relief supplies brought in by ship should be allowed to land in Gaza and insisted that “true security is not something that comes at the barrel of a gun.”

There you have it — a perfect distillation of the left’s hatred of Israel. The hanging judge of Tutu’s South Africa is now a hero for misrepresenting facts and indicting Israel for defending itself. The blockade has to go because Israel really doesn’t have the right to defend itself. And it apparently should disarm because weapons aren’t going to allow Israel to defend itself. You see the pattern?

It’s the same line that J Street spouts, as do many liberal Jews who enjoy the protection of American armed forces (which from time to time wind up killing civilians) but who would circumscribe Israelis’ right to the same security. It is the Mary Robinson-Desmond Tutu-J Street mentality that finds great favor with this president, who showers attention on and  doles out accolades to those who share his view of Israel as oppressor, victimizer, and obstructionist.

Recall that Obama awarded Medals of Freedom to both Mary Robinson and Bishop Desmond Tutu. What do they have in common? Well, this report (forwarded by a longtime reader) on a recent gala at Ford’s theater, gives you the answer:

Tutu said he “object[s] most strongly to the vicious attacks that have been leveled at Judge Richard Goldstone,” a South African whose report on the 2008-09 Gaza war concluded that both Israel and Palestinians had committed serious violations of international law.

“We cannot accept, unless we want to destroy ourselves . . . the blockade of Gaza,” Tutu said in an invocation calling for peace and recognition of human rights across the world “but especially that critical part of the world, the Middle East.” Tutu said that relief supplies brought in by ship should be allowed to land in Gaza and insisted that “true security is not something that comes at the barrel of a gun.”

There you have it — a perfect distillation of the left’s hatred of Israel. The hanging judge of Tutu’s South Africa is now a hero for misrepresenting facts and indicting Israel for defending itself. The blockade has to go because Israel really doesn’t have the right to defend itself. And it apparently should disarm because weapons aren’t going to allow Israel to defend itself. You see the pattern?

It’s the same line that J Street spouts, as do many liberal Jews who enjoy the protection of American armed forces (which from time to time wind up killing civilians) but who would circumscribe Israelis’ right to the same security. It is the Mary Robinson-Desmond Tutu-J Street mentality that finds great favor with this president, who showers attention on and  doles out accolades to those who share his view of Israel as oppressor, victimizer, and obstructionist.

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Strange Herring

Porn star drops out of Louisiana race, compares herself to Sarah Palin. Would have been worse if it had been the other way around.

Germans fine Catholic bishop $13K for denying Holocaust. I always thought you couldn’t put a price on stupid. Leave it to the Germans.

Italy is the safest place on earth to give birth. And it has nothing to do with prenatal care or better midwifery. It’s because God loves Italians better than anyone else and wants to make sure there are always plenty around. It’s a proven fact. Look it up in one of those newfangled science books already…

Anthropology prof insists degrees should be offered in UFO Studies. They already exist. I mean liberal arts degrees, not UFOs.

Seems Blago is going to be charged with a “near-constant conspiracy of extortion and kickbacks after his 2002 election.” Near constant, but not constant. So he has that going for him.

And seems Eliot Spitzer’s a multitasker. (Oh I can see those campaign ads now…)

Comet eaten by the sun. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg insists calorie content be displayed prominently.

Speaking of NYC, it’s about to charge the homeless rent. Because they have all that disposable income. Because they don’t pay rent. Because they didn’t have any money in the first place. (Your turn.)

More NYC news: An agreement has been reached to finally close those “rubber rooms.” No, not at Bellevue, but at your local “reassignment center,” where abusive, drunk, stupid, and/or lazy public school teachers spend the day fast asleep — sometimes for years, and on full salary — while their “cases” are investigated. Instead of closing these centers, they should put abusive, drunk, stupid, and/or lazy students in the same room with them. There would at least be some kind of symmetry, not to mention poetic justice.

Steven Seagal’s reality TV show, where he plays a reserve deputy-type of law-enforcement type, is being suspended until the whole sex-slave business is resolved. Or turned into a reality TV show.

Krugman vs. Sorkin over who’s the authentic Communist and who’s the poseur. Or something. I fell asleep as soon as I read “Krugman…”

One more reason why I wish Dante were still among the living. We need yet another level of hell.

Sale of iPad overseas delayed. Apple fears that the product’s awesomeness will destabilize fragile foreign minds, resulting in civil wars and widespread economic collapse. That and the company didn’t make enough.

Bernanke says not to worry about inflation. Unemployment will probably hit 65%, so no one will have money to buy anything anyway.

You know, for a country that no one can place on a map, and that some people confuse with Greenland, and others with the Lost City of Atlantis, Iceland sure does know how to stir up trouble.

And finally, a third-grader was found dealing heroin. He was suspended when it was learned that he was cutting the stuff with Count Chocula.

Porn star drops out of Louisiana race, compares herself to Sarah Palin. Would have been worse if it had been the other way around.

Germans fine Catholic bishop $13K for denying Holocaust. I always thought you couldn’t put a price on stupid. Leave it to the Germans.

Italy is the safest place on earth to give birth. And it has nothing to do with prenatal care or better midwifery. It’s because God loves Italians better than anyone else and wants to make sure there are always plenty around. It’s a proven fact. Look it up in one of those newfangled science books already…

Anthropology prof insists degrees should be offered in UFO Studies. They already exist. I mean liberal arts degrees, not UFOs.

Seems Blago is going to be charged with a “near-constant conspiracy of extortion and kickbacks after his 2002 election.” Near constant, but not constant. So he has that going for him.

And seems Eliot Spitzer’s a multitasker. (Oh I can see those campaign ads now…)

Comet eaten by the sun. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg insists calorie content be displayed prominently.

Speaking of NYC, it’s about to charge the homeless rent. Because they have all that disposable income. Because they don’t pay rent. Because they didn’t have any money in the first place. (Your turn.)

More NYC news: An agreement has been reached to finally close those “rubber rooms.” No, not at Bellevue, but at your local “reassignment center,” where abusive, drunk, stupid, and/or lazy public school teachers spend the day fast asleep — sometimes for years, and on full salary — while their “cases” are investigated. Instead of closing these centers, they should put abusive, drunk, stupid, and/or lazy students in the same room with them. There would at least be some kind of symmetry, not to mention poetic justice.

Steven Seagal’s reality TV show, where he plays a reserve deputy-type of law-enforcement type, is being suspended until the whole sex-slave business is resolved. Or turned into a reality TV show.

Krugman vs. Sorkin over who’s the authentic Communist and who’s the poseur. Or something. I fell asleep as soon as I read “Krugman…”

One more reason why I wish Dante were still among the living. We need yet another level of hell.

Sale of iPad overseas delayed. Apple fears that the product’s awesomeness will destabilize fragile foreign minds, resulting in civil wars and widespread economic collapse. That and the company didn’t make enough.

Bernanke says not to worry about inflation. Unemployment will probably hit 65%, so no one will have money to buy anything anyway.

You know, for a country that no one can place on a map, and that some people confuse with Greenland, and others with the Lost City of Atlantis, Iceland sure does know how to stir up trouble.

And finally, a third-grader was found dealing heroin. He was suspended when it was learned that he was cutting the stuff with Count Chocula.

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Only a Detour Now and Then

The New York Times tells us that Obama took a “detour” from health-care reform to talk about the economy today. He is pushing Son of Stimulus that is to include the “cash of caulkers” program — modeled on the notoriously expensive and ineffective “cash for clunkers” (billions to shift car sales from September to August) — for weatherizing homes. Republicans point to an Inspector General’s Report, which suggests that a similar program in the original stimulus plan didn’t get much bang for the buck in economic acitvity. But any day Obama is not talking about ObamaCare, even for a little while, is a good one for incumbent Democrats, as the Times reports:

Representative Sanford Bishop, Democrat of Georgia, said he was delighted to hear the president change the subject from health care. “Health care is important,” Mr. Bishop said after the president’s speech. “But it’s jobs – period. The economy is on the rebound, but it won’t be there until we re-establish employment for every American who is able to work.”

And indeed, the latest Rasmussen poll shows that most Americans are glum about the state of the economy:

Views of the country’s short- and long-term economic future are gloomier these days than they have been at any time since President Obama took office in January of last year. Forty-two percent (42%) of American adults now expect the U.S. economy to be weaker in one year’s time, up three points from January and the highest level found in 14 months of regular tracking on the question, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Thirty-six percent (36%) believe the economy will be stronger in a year, down two points from last month. That’s the lowest level of confidence measured since tracking began in January 2009. Another 13% expect the state of the economy to be about the same in one year’s time.

After Scott Brown’s victory, Obama promised a “pivot” toward jobs. That never really happened, as Obama has, with the exception of occaisional “detours,” remained obsessed with ObamaCare. The debate on that issue, on which Americans think he’s spending too much time and for which he has devised a plan they intensely dislike, is going to take us through the end of the month. It seems as though no matter what the American people tell them, the Obami think they know best. In November the voters get to correct that misimpression.

The New York Times tells us that Obama took a “detour” from health-care reform to talk about the economy today. He is pushing Son of Stimulus that is to include the “cash of caulkers” program — modeled on the notoriously expensive and ineffective “cash for clunkers” (billions to shift car sales from September to August) — for weatherizing homes. Republicans point to an Inspector General’s Report, which suggests that a similar program in the original stimulus plan didn’t get much bang for the buck in economic acitvity. But any day Obama is not talking about ObamaCare, even for a little while, is a good one for incumbent Democrats, as the Times reports:

Representative Sanford Bishop, Democrat of Georgia, said he was delighted to hear the president change the subject from health care. “Health care is important,” Mr. Bishop said after the president’s speech. “But it’s jobs – period. The economy is on the rebound, but it won’t be there until we re-establish employment for every American who is able to work.”

And indeed, the latest Rasmussen poll shows that most Americans are glum about the state of the economy:

Views of the country’s short- and long-term economic future are gloomier these days than they have been at any time since President Obama took office in January of last year. Forty-two percent (42%) of American adults now expect the U.S. economy to be weaker in one year’s time, up three points from January and the highest level found in 14 months of regular tracking on the question, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Thirty-six percent (36%) believe the economy will be stronger in a year, down two points from last month. That’s the lowest level of confidence measured since tracking began in January 2009. Another 13% expect the state of the economy to be about the same in one year’s time.

After Scott Brown’s victory, Obama promised a “pivot” toward jobs. That never really happened, as Obama has, with the exception of occaisional “detours,” remained obsessed with ObamaCare. The debate on that issue, on which Americans think he’s spending too much time and for which he has devised a plan they intensely dislike, is going to take us through the end of the month. It seems as though no matter what the American people tell them, the Obami think they know best. In November the voters get to correct that misimpression.

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The Silence Is Deafening

We heard plenty today from the punditssome of whom think Reverend Wright’s display may be the beginning of the end for the post-racial, post-partisan Barack Obama. (Hillary Clinton is being tight-lipped. Rule #1 of politics: never cause a distraction while your opponent has a major controversy.) But we have heard nothing from Barack Obama on his mentor’s tirade, not even on gems like this:

MODERATOR: What is your relationship with Louis Farrakhan? Do you agree with and respect his views, including his most racially divisive views?

WRIGHT: As I said on the Bill Moyers’ show, one of our news channels keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago when Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion.

And he was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for, and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago.

I believe that people of all faiths have to work together in this country if we’re going to build a future for our children, whether those people are — just as Michelle and Barack don’t agree on everything, Raymond and I don’t agree on everything, Louis and I don’t agree on everything, most of you all don’t agree — you get two people in the same room, you’ve got three opinions.

[…]

Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan anymore than Mandela would put down Fidel Castro. Do you remember that Ted Koppel show, where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro was our enemy? And he said, “You don’t tell me who my enemies are. You don’t tell me who my friends are.”

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery. And he didn’t make me this color.

If Obama was going to have his Uncle Souljah moment, it would have had to happen immediately after Wright’s remarks. Every passing hour makes any rebuttal that much more difficult. If he only manages some comment after a day or two, it will scream political calculation (or worse, paralysis). If he wanted to get away from Wright, the time to do it was today.

As we end the news day it appears he plans to hunker down and hope that voters will shrug. Electability? That’s the new buzzword. Wonder what those polls will look like in a few days. But by then the moment for action will have passed.

We heard plenty today from the punditssome of whom think Reverend Wright’s display may be the beginning of the end for the post-racial, post-partisan Barack Obama. (Hillary Clinton is being tight-lipped. Rule #1 of politics: never cause a distraction while your opponent has a major controversy.) But we have heard nothing from Barack Obama on his mentor’s tirade, not even on gems like this:

MODERATOR: What is your relationship with Louis Farrakhan? Do you agree with and respect his views, including his most racially divisive views?

WRIGHT: As I said on the Bill Moyers’ show, one of our news channels keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago when Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion.

And he was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for, and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago.

I believe that people of all faiths have to work together in this country if we’re going to build a future for our children, whether those people are — just as Michelle and Barack don’t agree on everything, Raymond and I don’t agree on everything, Louis and I don’t agree on everything, most of you all don’t agree — you get two people in the same room, you’ve got three opinions.

[…]

Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan anymore than Mandela would put down Fidel Castro. Do you remember that Ted Koppel show, where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro was our enemy? And he said, “You don’t tell me who my enemies are. You don’t tell me who my friends are.”

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery. And he didn’t make me this color.

If Obama was going to have his Uncle Souljah moment, it would have had to happen immediately after Wright’s remarks. Every passing hour makes any rebuttal that much more difficult. If he only manages some comment after a day or two, it will scream political calculation (or worse, paralysis). If he wanted to get away from Wright, the time to do it was today.

As we end the news day it appears he plans to hunker down and hope that voters will shrug. Electability? That’s the new buzzword. Wonder what those polls will look like in a few days. But by then the moment for action will have passed.

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Shari’a in Britain

Yesterday, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, suggested that shari’a law apply in Britain in limited circumstances. In a BBC interview, he said that it is “a bit of danger” that “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said.” So it would be okay if, for example, marital disputes or financial matters would be tried in an Islamic court. Williams argues “a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law” will help social cohesion. (He must have had this in mind.)

Whatever happened to the concept that one law applies to everyone? In the country that greatly contributed to the concept of the West’s legal principles, there is already precedent for separate law and tribunals. The Archbishop of Canterbury noted that Britain’s Jewish community has its religious courts, the Beth Din. What’s good for Jews, Dr. Williams argues, is also good for Muslims.

So shouldn’t each person have the right to choose his or her own legal system? In the contractual setting, parties can select their own law as well as designate the court that will hear any dispute. They may even decide on arbitration—in other words, private settlement largely outside the judicial system. Yet this is voluntary, as are cases in Britain’s Jewish tribunals. “There’s no compulsion,” says David Frei, the registrar of the London Beth Din. “We can’t drag people in off the streets.” Moreover, the Jewish courts hear only civil disputes, and then only within the strictures of British law. In essence, the Beth Din is a private arbitration organization.

The risk of applying shari’a is drawing—and enforcing—the line for adherents who seek no bounds. The BBC reports that Somalis living in Britain have their unofficial courts, or “gar,” which have, without legal justification, begun to handle criminal cases. Unfortunately, Britain’s Muslims are already growing apart from the rest of society, as the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, noted when he said last month that parts of England had become “no-go” areas for infidels. So the risk of introducing Muslim law is that it will, as a practical matter, become compulsory in Britain’s increasingly exclusionist and radical Islamic communities.

So I’m with the Sun, Britain’s tabloid. “It’s easy to dismiss Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as a silly old goat,” the paper said today. “In fact he’s a dangerous threat to our nation.” And Western society as well.

Yesterday, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, suggested that shari’a law apply in Britain in limited circumstances. In a BBC interview, he said that it is “a bit of danger” that “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said.” So it would be okay if, for example, marital disputes or financial matters would be tried in an Islamic court. Williams argues “a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law” will help social cohesion. (He must have had this in mind.)

Whatever happened to the concept that one law applies to everyone? In the country that greatly contributed to the concept of the West’s legal principles, there is already precedent for separate law and tribunals. The Archbishop of Canterbury noted that Britain’s Jewish community has its religious courts, the Beth Din. What’s good for Jews, Dr. Williams argues, is also good for Muslims.

So shouldn’t each person have the right to choose his or her own legal system? In the contractual setting, parties can select their own law as well as designate the court that will hear any dispute. They may even decide on arbitration—in other words, private settlement largely outside the judicial system. Yet this is voluntary, as are cases in Britain’s Jewish tribunals. “There’s no compulsion,” says David Frei, the registrar of the London Beth Din. “We can’t drag people in off the streets.” Moreover, the Jewish courts hear only civil disputes, and then only within the strictures of British law. In essence, the Beth Din is a private arbitration organization.

The risk of applying shari’a is drawing—and enforcing—the line for adherents who seek no bounds. The BBC reports that Somalis living in Britain have their unofficial courts, or “gar,” which have, without legal justification, begun to handle criminal cases. Unfortunately, Britain’s Muslims are already growing apart from the rest of society, as the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, noted when he said last month that parts of England had become “no-go” areas for infidels. So the risk of introducing Muslim law is that it will, as a practical matter, become compulsory in Britain’s increasingly exclusionist and radical Islamic communities.

So I’m with the Sun, Britain’s tabloid. “It’s easy to dismiss Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as a silly old goat,” the paper said today. “In fact he’s a dangerous threat to our nation.” And Western society as well.

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Mugabe Takes a Bishop

Last week, the boldest and most outspoken advocate for liberty in Zimbabwe—Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city—resigned his position because of a sex scandal. This summer, after speaking out against the Mugabe regime, Ncube incurred the dictator’s wrath; state newspaper and television stations propagated photos of Ncube with a married woman, whose husband has since filed an adultery charge against the Archbishop. As Ncube made the painful decision to step down, he nonetheless denounced the “crude machinations of a wicked regime.”

But earlier this week, seemingly hopeful news emerged from Zimbabwe, in the form of a tentative political agreement between Mugabe’s long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The details are sketchy at this point, but they indicate an agreement on the preconditions for free and fair elections to be held next year. Predictably, the government of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who had been tasked by the Southern African Development Community, a regional group, with bringing the parties together, applauded the breakthrough as progress toward “a lasting settlement.”

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Last week, the boldest and most outspoken advocate for liberty in Zimbabwe—Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city—resigned his position because of a sex scandal. This summer, after speaking out against the Mugabe regime, Ncube incurred the dictator’s wrath; state newspaper and television stations propagated photos of Ncube with a married woman, whose husband has since filed an adultery charge against the Archbishop. As Ncube made the painful decision to step down, he nonetheless denounced the “crude machinations of a wicked regime.”

But earlier this week, seemingly hopeful news emerged from Zimbabwe, in the form of a tentative political agreement between Mugabe’s long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The details are sketchy at this point, but they indicate an agreement on the preconditions for free and fair elections to be held next year. Predictably, the government of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who had been tasked by the Southern African Development Community, a regional group, with bringing the parties together, applauded the breakthrough as progress toward “a lasting settlement.”

While it is always tempting to welcome positive news like this in Zimbabwe, good tidings usually prove elusive. The bare fact is that Robert Mugabe will never cede power. He is a totalitarian through and through, and will kill as many people—through slow starvation (as he has been doing for the past several years) or outright murder—as necessary to stay in charge. If, as in 2000, 2002, and 2005, it appears that ZANU-PF will lose at the polls, Mugabe will simply rig the vote, expel poll watchers, imprison and torture domestic opponents, and curse the West. He has done this every time even the slightest threat to his power emerged, and the world community has allowed him to get away with it for the past 27 years. While these recent negotiations may seem fruitful, the only way Zimbabwe will ever see freedom is through regime change and a subsequent, thorough de-Mugabification process.

With America’s attentions focused on the situation in Iraq, it is all too easy to forget that friends of freedom struggle in many other places across the globe, particularly in Zimbabwe. Even in the midst of this “scandal,” Pius Ncube—one of the more remarkable figures of our time—stands as testament that even in the most dire of conditions courage perseveres.

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Israel and the German Bishops

“In the morning at Yad Vashem, photos of the inhuman Warsaw Ghetto; in the afternoon, we go to the ghetto in Ramallah. It’s enough to make you blow your top.” This outburst in Bethlehem by Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke of Eichstätt was only one of several provocative comments made during a much-heralded pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian terroritories by all 27 German Catholic bishops last week.

The Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, accused the Israelis of “racism,” while the most senior member of the delegation, the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner, compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin Wall and predicted that it, too, would be torn down. “This is something that is done to animals, not people,” Cardinal Meisner declared.

While in Israel, the bishops were given VIP treatment by Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and other senior officials. At the Yad Vashem memorial, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, gave a respectful speech. But the tone changed dramatically after the bishops left Israel and entered Palestinian-controlled territory.

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“In the morning at Yad Vashem, photos of the inhuman Warsaw Ghetto; in the afternoon, we go to the ghetto in Ramallah. It’s enough to make you blow your top.” This outburst in Bethlehem by Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke of Eichstätt was only one of several provocative comments made during a much-heralded pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian terroritories by all 27 German Catholic bishops last week.

The Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, accused the Israelis of “racism,” while the most senior member of the delegation, the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner, compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin Wall and predicted that it, too, would be torn down. “This is something that is done to animals, not people,” Cardinal Meisner declared.

While in Israel, the bishops were given VIP treatment by Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and other senior officials. At the Yad Vashem memorial, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, gave a respectful speech. But the tone changed dramatically after the bishops left Israel and entered Palestinian-controlled territory.

Despite sharp reactions from Shimon Stein, the Israeli ambassador to Germany, and from German Jewish leaders (described by the Iranian news agency as “German Zionist lobbyists”), the bishops seem unrepentant. They issued a statement vehemently denying that they had “demonized” Israel, adding that the “emotional consternation” of their visit to Bethlehem had evoked some “very personal remarks” that had already been “self-critically corrected.” In fact, however, Bishop Hanke merely said that “comparisons between the Holocaust and the present situation in Palestine are unacceptable and were not intended.” Neither he nor Cardinal Meisner and Bishop Mixa offered any apology.

I do not know what to make of this lamentable tale. Do the German bishops really need to be reminded of the collaboration with the Nazis of many of their predecessors during the Third Reich? Do they need to be reminded of what the Germans actually did in the Warsaw Ghetto? Does an East German like Cardinal Meisner need to be reminded of the difference between the Berlin Wall, built to stop people fleeing from Communist tyranny, and Israel’s fence, built to protect its people from Palestinian terrorists? Do the German bishops still know so little of the tragic struggle for survival of the Jewish people that they need to be reminded of their own unique responsibility, as Germans and as Christians, to counter the revival of anti-Semitism in Europe?

I hope that Pope Benedict XVI will summon the offending bishops to Rome and discipline them. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he encouraged John Paul II to make unprecedented gestures toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel. As the first German pope for a thousand years, he declared his intention to continue to lead the Church down the path of reconciliation. As a man who knows the Third Reich from personal experience—he was a member of the Hitler Youth and served in an anti-aircraft unit during the last months of the war—Pope Benedict has a special duty to distance the Catholic Church from comparisons between Israel and the Nazis. Such comparisons, though commonplace in the Islamic world, are not a Muslim monopoly.

This incident has a particular resonance for me, as a philo-Semitic Catholic, a friend both of Israel and of Germany. Quite simply, I feel ashamed of these bishops. Nobody wants the Germans to be perpetually beating their breasts to atone for the crimes of the Nazis. Like anybody else, they are entitled to criticize the Israeli government. After all, Israelis themselves criticize their own government all the time. But I am angry that German bishops, of all people, should come out with extremist propaganda that delegitimizes Israel, a state that is threatened with a second Holocaust at the hands of a nuclear-armed Iran.

These campaigns of vilification against Israel have done terrible harm. A new BBC poll conducted in 27 countries finds that Israel has the most negative image of all, ahead of Iran, the United States, and North Korea. This grotesque attitude to the beleaguered Jewish state is fuelled by comments like those of the German bishops, and reinforced by their failure to apologize.

In medieval times, Christians knew how to do penance for their sins. The German Emperor Henry IV went to Canossa, in Tuscany, to beg Pope Gregory VII to lift a sentence of excommunication. The monarch stood in the snow outside the castle for three days, wearing only a hairshirt, before the pope forgave him.

To repair the damage they have done to German-Israeli and Catholic-Jewish relations, these three German bishops must make their own journey to Canossa. They don’t have to wear hairshirts, but they do need to show that they have grasped the magnitude of their folly. They owe that much to the younger generation of Germans—some of whom last week destroyed a medieval Jewish cemetery in Bavaria.

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