Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Another Smear Campaign

The Rose City Antifa folks certainly are busy little beavers. Twice in two months they have lead smear campaigns against my radio show guests. They smeared Kevin Barrett first and then recently Gilad Atzmon. I actually did get Gilad on the radio. I had three guests on my show each of them committed to justice for the Palestinians [Beloved Community, May 11th 9 am].

Waddah Sofan was my first guest. He was paralyzed by the IDF when he was 17 in Nablus. His crime? Protesting. Maybe he deserved it. He was throwing rocks. A bullet in the spine stopped those shenanigans. He told me that Israeli soldiers purposely paralyzed youth. He was also thrown in an Israeli jail for protesting when he was 16. He was beaten in prison. Well, he must have had it coming. I mean you can cause a nasty bruise with a rock, maybe even put an eye out. Why was he protesting anyway? Just because his father's family was evicted from their homes by the newly forming Jewish state in 1948 and that Palestinians have been literally losing ground ever since? Doesn't he know that Israel is a Jewish state?

Dick Toll is an Episcopal priest who has been to Palestine about 30 times. He is the board chair of Friends of Sabeel North America. Rev. Toll takes people to Palestine so they can see with their own eyes what is happening on the ground in Palestine. His hope is that maybe U.S. churches would demand justice.

Sabeel,
"is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians, who seek a just peace as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions."
Rev. Toll is friends with Rev. Naim Ateek. They went to seminary together. Rev. Ateek founded Sabeel (Arabic for "way" or "channel" or "stream").  Rev. Ateek is an Anglican priest who organized Sabeel in Jerusalem and Nazareth "to develop a spirituality based on justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation, and reconciliation." His latest book is called A Palestinian Theology of Liberation. Zionists call him an anti-Semite.


Gilad Atzmon? He grew up in Palestine, served in the IDF. He wasn't that good of a soldier, he admits. He'd rather play his saxophone. He moved to the U.K. As an ex-Jew he knows the Jewish state from the inside and writes a few thoughts about it. He asks questions such as what is the Jewish state? What is Israel? What is Zionism? How are they intertwined? His books include The Wandering Who: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics and Being In Time: A Post-Political Manifesto.

You know what? He could be wrong. Maybe his facts aren't up to date. Maybe his theories are easily refuted. Then do it. Refute him. Send him an e-mail. Bring your champion for a good honest debate with Atzmon on my show. A good, honest, debate was something we used to do before 9/11 traumatized America into self-censorship. Now the "well-respected leaders" as I have been told I should regard them, ban, censor, disavow and call people nasty names as if doing so is virtuous.

I hope this episode will be shared and heard widely.
It is a moral imperative to allow those who are attacked to defend themselves.   
It seems that for Rose City Antifa, what was really important on May 15th was that someone somewhere might be an anti-Semite. At the very moment that RCA was trying to prevent any word from getting out of Gilad Atzmon's mouth, Israel, the Jewish state, was murdering and crippling Gazans.


The name-calling, banning, censoring, and bullying is connected to the violent oppression.














Sunday, May 20, 2018

Qur'an-Minded

As I write this the sun has risen at my house and I begin day four of fasting for Ramadan. I am fasting one day at a time. Last night I broke the fast at the Muslim Educational Trust. A new friend, Waddah Sofan (who I interviewed last week about the Nakba), invited me to a lecture and Iftar.

The lecture was given by Sheikh Hassan Lechhab who is the President and co-founder of Tayseer Seminary in (wait for it), Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville consistently is voted one of the most "Bible-Minded Cities" in the country year after year by Barna Group. It was number nine in 2017. My friends in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee (Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol) will be happy to know they beat out Knoxville this year. Chattanooga is the most Bible-Minded once again.


Dr. Lechab is connected with the Muslim Community of Knoxville. Maybe one day, Barna will discover that Knoxville in addition to being Bible-Minded is also Qur'an-Minded. Why not? Personally, I think it is a virtue to be "minded" about a lot of things.  My new favorite quote is from Aristotle, 
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
You never know what you might accept as reflection, study, and experience shapes new thoughts and ideas. First, however, is to allow your mind to entertain--that is give space to--a new thought. Sheikh Hassan spoke about verity. Truthfulness. Truthfulness of speech, of character, and of will. Speak the truth is the first order, that is not telling falsehoods. Deeper than that is to be truthful in character, that is have your ethics match your truthful speech which I thought similar to my other favorite phrase of late, truth is in order to goodness. Then verity or truthfulness of will is the highest, that has to do focusing one's life on the truth of Allah or God, which I think of as being humble so that we never allow smaller truths to become our god to the extent that they shut out Truth that is larger and more beautiful. 

Yep, that is me the Christian Atheist pondering the Truth of Allah. You never know where the wind might blow you, my friends.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Happy Ramadan

Happy Ramadan, my friends.

I am fasting today. This the first time I have fasted as part of Ramadan. When I am feeling hungry, thirsty, or have caffeine withdrawals, I will remember the people of Gaza.


There are a couple of opportunities to break the fast and enjoy inter-faith conversation.  The Bilal Community will have an Iftar on Thursday, May 24th. 
  1. On behalf of Bilal Community, we would like to invite you all for an IFTAR with us on May 24th. 

Date: May 24th (thursday)
Program: 8:15pm - 9:30pm (IFTAR around 8:45pm)
Place: Christ Methodist Church;  12755 NW DOGWOOD STREET, PORTLAND, OR 97229
RSVP to Mostafa By May 18th

    2.  And the Ramadan Tent Project Portland is having an Open Iftar for the community on May 27th and 28th at Congregation Neveh Shalom.  Here is the announcement on their Facebook page:

Ramadan Tent Project (RTP) is a London based organization with a goal of social change. Its mission is to provide Iftar - the dinner to break ones fast - to Muslims as well as anyone else who would like to join our event during the Holy Month of Ramadan. We are the first branch of RTP to host the Open Iftar in the United States. Last year, over three consecutive days, we had the pleasure of breaking our fast with a total of 1,000 people in our community, at the Muslim Educational Trust. The year before that, we had the honor of breaking fast in the backyard of a local church. Everyone who attended came from different faiths and walks of life. 

We would like to invite you all to come join us in breaking our fast this Ramadan. We will be hosting RTP Open Iftar at Congregation Neveh Shalom on Memorial Day weekend. 


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"We Are All Palestinians Now"

Anti-Semite

Holocaust Denier

Conspiracy Theorist

People are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression. The name-calling and the smearing is the weapon the oppressors use to silence the resistance. When someone is labeled as an anti-Semite, Holocaust Denier, Conspiracy Theorist and what have you, then we don't need to listen to what they have to say.  You don't need an argument.  Call someone an icky name, then avoid them and tell others to avoid them.

The surprising thing is that the name-calling often comes from the mouths of those in opposition to the oppressors. When pro-Palestinian activists call other pro-Palestinian activists these names, then we know the true power of the oppressor. The oppressor controls the language of the opposition.

When I met with divestment activists in the Presbyterian Church (USA) four years ago, I was surprised when one of them told me that we can now use the word "occupation." When the divestment movement in the PCUSA had begun over a decade previous, calling what Israel was doing to Palestine "an occupation" was not allowed. I asked, "Who makes those rules?" The answer had to do with strategy and who might be offended and who would support and not support their particular goals and so on and so forth.

The rules are self-made and guided by the oppressors.

The oppressors allow the little victories as long as the truth of what keeps the oppressors in power is not allowed to be revealed. When someone like for instance, Gilad Atzmon, starts talking about the ideology behind the oppressors, then an artificial line that has been drawn by the oppressors is crossed. All forces are then unleashed to smear not only Mr. Atzmon but anyone who might even give him space to defend himself against such attacks.

Meanwhile, mass murder continues while churches in America either cheer it on, satisfy themselves with smaller goals that won't offend the sensitivities of the oppressors, or, as in most cases, remain deadly silent.

I do think people are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression and that the name-calling says much more about the name-caller than the name-called. The next step is heart or courage. If we are going to dismantle the oppressor by dismantling their control of the discourse, then we must accept that we, too, will be smeared when we give space to those who cross the oppressors' line.  This may affect our reputations, our jobs, our livelihoods.

But that is nothing compared to what is happening to our sisters and brothers in Gaza on this 70th anniversary of the ongoing Nakba. As Mr. Atzmon writes, "We are all Palestinians now."


  1. Hear Gilad Atzmon tonight at 7 pm in Clackamas
  2. My interview with Waddah Sofan (paralyzed by the IDF when he was 17), Gilad Atzmon, and Dick Toll of Friends of Sabeel North America.
  3. Gilad Atzmon named this year as One of the 100 Peace and Justice Leaders and Models (#5).
  4. Mr. Atzmon honored in Lebanon at the Fourth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine (starts 4:45)
  5. Mr. Atzmon featured in Almaydeen's Nakba Documentary (starts at 3:30).



Gilad Atzmon at Southminster.  Peace, Love, Justice, and Jazz.


Monday, May 14, 2018

An Evening of Jazz with Gilad Atzmon

Southminster will host British Jazz artist and author, Gilad Atzmon, Monday, May 14th at 7:30 p.m. This is from his bio:
Gilad was born in Israel in 1963 and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and Jazz). A multi-instrumentalist he plays saxophones, clarinet and ethnic woodwind instruments. His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. He was described by John Lewis at the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” Atzmon tours extensively around the world.   His albums, of which he has recorded fifteen albums to date, often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East.
He is fighting a law suit in the British high court on free speech.
Together with veteran Pink Floyd star Roger Waters and many other artists and thinkers worldwide, I am being subjected to an international smear campaign, orchestrated and promoted by various Zionist institutions that attempt to silence every form of legitimate dissent of Zionism and Israeli politics.
Local councils, clubs and festivals that promote my music or my thoughts around the world are being subjected to a barrage of emails sent in a clear and malicious attempt to slander me. In these emails I am called an ‘anti-Semite’, ‘bigot’, ‘racist’, ‘Holocaust denier’, and so on. 
Obviously, there is no truth in any of this.  As a writer I have indeed criticised Israel and other manifestations of Jewish political exceptionalism, I critically analysed Zionism, Jewish politics, ideology and identity politics in general. I do believe that all states, ideologies and politics must be subject to criticism, but I have never criticized Jews (or anyone else for that matter) as people, as a race or as a biological entity. In fact, my work is deeply anti-racist and focuses only on the political and the cultural. 
He did an interview with me at KBOO on Friday during my episode on The Nakba: 70 Years of Oppression.

He will also speak Tuesday in Clackamas on Truthfulness and The Role of Controlled Opposition.