Actor Michael Douglas penned an op-ed on Sunday, speaking out about an experience dealing with anti-Semitism his son faced and how religious bias may be obliterated by speaking and building bridges across religions.
"Speaking up is the responsibility of our political leaders," Douglas wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "Speaking up is the responsibility of our religious leaders, and Pope Francis has used his powerful voice to make his position and that of the Catholic Church clear, saying: 'It's a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic. His roots are Jewish. Let anti-Semitism be banished from the heart of life and of every man and every woman.'"
Douglas also cited Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan for helping build relations between Jewish and Catholic communities. He noted that the challenge is to "stand up to hatred of the Jewish people." But different religious factions have to come together in order to do so. Christians and Jews are not enemies but are born from the same Abrahamic traditions, as his own father, Kirk Douglas, once stated. more >>
If you felt a sense of 'déjà vu' regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent Congressional address, then you are probably quite familiar with the Old Testament. You may have noticed that this was not the first time that a Jewish leader had made a dramatic, provocative clarion call in a foreign leader's courtyard. Nor was it the first time that much of the world (including the Jewish world) has been critical of such brashness – 'chutzpah'. Just like now, many past Jewish leaders were oblivious to, or did not take the existential threat to the Jewish people seriously. After all, the Jews in Shushan (the capital of the Persian empire in 365 BC, where many Jews resided after the destruction of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem 67 years earlier) like many American Jews today, did not want to upset their neighbors who have welcomed and embraced them into the greater society for the past 67 years since World War II/Israel's founding.
But is it reasonable to draw parallels between the Biblical story of 'Purim' as described in the book of Esther, and the latest Obama-Netanyahu blow-up? After all, Haman, the archenemy of the Jews had plotted to wipe out all the Jews (Esther 3:6) men, women and children - similar to what a nuclear bomb could do the tiny state of Israel. The White House is not trying to destroy the Jews or even endanger the existence of Israel. Their goal, ostensibly, is to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon that can wipe out Israel (and threaten the US and her allies).
Yet despite this, the White House is not only strengthening the Iranians (geographically, Iran is the modern day Persia), but continues to disregard the role of the Congress in ensuring America's national security. The White House acts is if there are no 'checks' on its powers - like an all-powerful Monarch - the type that we are familiar with from Biblical times. As a result, Congress was forced to remind Iran (and the President) of the American, constitutional separation of powers; and to invite the head of state with the most credibility in securing his country and in confronting Iran, to address a joint session of Congress. more >>
Truth can be an exasperating thing, especially when we come upon it unintentionally. However, for those who have the courage to pursue it in its purest form, truth becomes the indelible essence of their being and the lifeblood of existence as they journey ever forward into that to which they are destined.
As I write, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's powerfully effective speech to the U.S. Congress weighs heavy on my mind. I am reminded of another time and another place when the mighty Israeli army stood against what many saw as a formidable foe. It took a young shepherd boy, David, to see the truth through all the drama.
Standing eyeballs-to-bellybutton against the gargantuan man-slayer, Goliath, this boy who would one day be king boldly defied the Philistine giant before him. Standing alone in that moment, David knew in his heart he was not alone. "You come against me with a sword, and a spear," David said, "but I come to you in the name of…the God of the armies of Israel." David threw a stone, the giant fell, and Israel's foe lay defeated. more >>
Iran is the gravest danger to the U.S. and the world. Not ISIS. Not Boko Haram. Not Kony. Not Al Shabab. Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of Congress helped refocus the distracted Obama administration's attention on this rising threat. It did not force them, unfortunately, to reconsider their ill-advised course. But at least it made President Obama and Secretary Kerry respond to the case made by Netanyahu before the American people and the world.
Our attention has been distracted of late by the medieval horrors of ISIS (Islamist Savagery Inspired by Satan). They have beheaded and burned and crucified innocents in their drive to rivet the attention of the world to their barbarism and menace. Of course, ISIS must be dealt with. more >>
The Obama administration has assured the world that a nuclear-armed Iran is not an acceptable outcome of ongoing negotiations. The President stated in 2012 that "preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn't just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States." No doubt the rest of the civilized world agrees. Russia, China and North Korea are among the very few nations who support the Iranian regime achieving its long-standing ambition of fielding nuclear warheads.
Nuclear weapons in the hands of a fanatical group of Shia "Twelvers" present an existential threat to the world that has never been seen in history. President Obama and his senior diplomat and negotiator, John Kerry, seem to have decided to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium and developing warheads. The proof is that, at the end of 2013, Iran had enough enriched uranium for seven warheads. A year later (Dec 2014) they now have enough for eight. By any measure, this does not reflect progress for the US and its allies in these negotiations.
Nukes, Not Electricity more >>
The Jewish Festival of Purim, celebrated this year on March 5th, "commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia (modern day Iran) from Haman's plot 'to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.'" Instead, Queen Esther, a Jewess, stepped forward and bravely saved her people.
Tuesday on Capitol Hill, we heard about another grave threat to the Jewish people. As I sat in the House Chamber and listened to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I heard a leader who respectfully but urgently conveyed a single, compelling message, the same message Esther gave to the Persian King Ahasuerus: the Jewish people are under threat, and need immediate help.
This was not, contrary to some press reports, a partisan event. Seated in front of me were former Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. These men are divided over many things, but united in their understanding that the American-Israel alliance must never be compromised. more >>