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May 23, 2004



Cheers for this. Oestreicher is one of my personal favourite people-whose-opinions-I-dislike-very-much. To give you a feel for my distaste of the man and his politics, you have to take into consideration my first contact with him. It was Remembrance Sunday and he was doing the sermon. 'nuff said.


For all his moral obtuseness re the conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East, Oestreicher did go on record in 1998 as calling for an examination of the record of the World Council of Churches (WCC) during the Cold War. As one commentator has noted:

"This prompted a defensive response from Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the WCC: 'In retrospect we might have done more publicly. But we would continue to defend without apology what we did to draw the churches of Eastern Europe into the ecumenical movement, in full recognition of the limitations of their position, to draw them out of isolation . . . accepting that this could only be done within certain narrowly defined limits, but within these limits to do as much as possible.' As has been amply documented over the years, working within those "narrowly defined limits" meant that for decades the WCC cooperated with the Communist-controlled churches of the Soviet empire in not protesting, and frequently advancing, the political and ideological purposes of their masters."


Reminds me of a Doonesbury comic strip where the Rev. Sloan opens a shelter for refugees.
"Why did you come to the US?"
"To escape political repression in Nicaragua"
"You mean El Salvador"
"No Senor, Nicaragua"
"That's a problem. My funding comes from Liberation Theologians and Nicaragua is supposed to be free now."
"OK, El Salvador"
"El Salvador, Eh? You poor devil."

WJ Phillips

Oestreicher fills the vacant stall of Hewlett Johnson, the "Red Dean" of Canterbury, and Conrad Noel, vicar of Thaxted.

It's natural for a Jew, even after conversion, to sympathise with communism, which like Zionism is a Judaic millennial heresy.

Stan Horowitz

It is much worse than you say. The intellectual left does not have "an aversion to the idea that the international order reflects competing value systems, and that all civilised people by definition take one side." It believes precisely that all civilised people take one side, the wrong side.

David T

Christians are quite good at Millenialism too.

Not as good as Zoroastrianists though. I bet that Freddy Mercury was one of them Communists ...


Actually Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, not a religious philosphy let alone a millenial heresy.

WJ, a notorious Jew hater, has his tin foil hat on.

Jim Bennett

One of the ironies about the Smith Act prosecutions of the American Communists was that the CPUSA had enthusiastically supported the Smith Act prosecution of American Trotsyists a few years earlier.


"Those old enough to remember will recollect that the French Resistance were held to be heroes when they killed the German occupiers."

This bonehead's moral and/or cultural relativism smacks the the crapper on this tale of US government purchased wartime, and post wartime too for that matter, propaganda concerning the French 'resistance' which contrasts greatly to the actual French 'resistance's' contributions to either the liberation of France or Europe truly was. The French 'resistance's' effect on the German occupation was akin to a fart in a thunderstorm. The whole damn romantic reworking of the French 'resistance' is just a wrong. There were a few brave resister's and French patriots. Even their heroic contributions, however, are overstated concerning the effect on the had on the German occupation.

So the moral here is: Anyone who recollects a tall tale (ahem, a LIE), even if it manufactured for noble purposes, as unshakeable truth is way too stupid to be trusted with a driver's license or fork.

David T


No shit!


Such a torrent of allegedly discrediting unfavorable history of the man, negative character assessments, and EVEN the citation of his co-editing and associating with a cynical hardliner Communist, and yet his position was not squarely addressed?

People under military occupation, as were the French, and are the Palestinians and the Iraqis, have a moral right to military resistance. This right is also acknowledged under international law. Occupiers take the brunt of legitimate and illegitimate violent resistance, and eventually turn to methods of repression forbidden under international law, such as mass punishment of the populace, pioneered by the British in their colonial days, used by the Nazis, and eventually outlawed in the Geneva Conventions of War.

The Israelis have long used iron fist methods which violated the Geneva Conventions, and our decades younger occupation has already revealed the same tendency.

WJ Phillips

Shawn: "Actually Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, not a religious philosphy let alone a millenial heresy."

Most early Zionists were atheists or agnostics, seeing the establishment of a Jewish homeland as a phase in the freeing of Jews from superstition. Conversely, until WW2 most Orthodox Jews in Europe were indifferent or actively anti-Zionist.

Israel was a precipitate of the war's displaced persons crisis and the machinations of superpower diplomacy, not the consequence of some vast change of heart among Jews. After 56 years the Jewish state has failed to attract up to two-thirds of the world's Jewry, and it has become the most dangerous place in the world to be Jewish-- not the safe haven of normality Herzl dreamed about. There is now net emigration from it.

"National liberation" as a do-it-yourself Messianic project has not proved to be a substitute for waiting for God to send him. Zionism is only an episode in the long history of the Jewish people. Like communism, which also opposed religion with the promise of Paradise on earth, its appeal seems to be waning.


Kit Taylor

Sofla said:

"People under military occupation, as were the French, and are the Palestinians and the Iraqis, have a moral right to military resistance. This right is also acknowledged under international law."

The morality of an action is defined by its context as well its mechanics. A japanese citizen would not be justified in using terrorism against the American occupation of 1945. I think it's also fair to say the American government bore a moral obligation to its citizens not to end the occupation until Japan was permanently pacified.

Melanie Phillips says international law also affirms the right of states to keep land they've invaded for defensive purposes, which sounds right to me.

Don M

Although an occupied people have the moral right to resist, even to resist using military methods, the occupied people still have the moral obligation to resist in accordance with the rules of land warfare. That is they must avoid targeting non-combatants, they must separate themselves from noncombatants, they must not use humanitarian symbols (such as the Red Cross or the Red Cresent), humanitarian equipment(ambulances) or humanitarian facilities(hospitals, schools or places of worship) for military purposes, and they must wear a uniform, further defined as a distinguishing mark visible at a distance.

A foe which does not follow the rules of land warfare becomes an illegal combatant, and forfeits all claim to treatment under Geneva or Hague conventions. For example, police are allowed to use expanding bullets (not permitted by the hague convention to military forces) because criminals are not legal combatants.

The Arabs in the occupied territory, and their sympathizers, do not follow the rules. They conspicuously target women, children, and noncombatants. They target humanitarian workers, equipment, and facilities using the bomb-delay-bomb method, to attempt to kill emergency medical personnel who respond to the first bomb. As we have seen in Iraq, they hide their weapons and fighters in places of worship, and attack when screened by women and children.

The Arabs in the occupied territories also use ambulances to transport terrorists and weapons, in violation of the rules. This is why the Israelis can morally and legally target their leadership. In fact, any illegal combatant that is captured is subject to summary execution at any time, according to the rules of war. That the Israelis do not, and that the US does not shows the moral superiority and scrupulousness of the US and the Israeli government. So long as the Arabs do not follow the rules for land warfare, they do not get protected by the hague or geneva conventions.

The Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza feel that their cause is more important than any rule. International law covering war is clear. You may honorably lose the war, but you may not honorably violate the rules by which war is legitimately conducted. No honorable foe targets noncombatants, or misuses ambulances. No dishonorable foe has grounds to complain about others.


Which brings us to the question
should war be fought by our own morality
or the morality of our adverseries?
Should "the rules of war" be applied universally or only on those who abide by them?

Tim Newman

After 56 years the Jewish state has failed to attract up to two-thirds of the world's Jewry, and it has become the most dangerous place in the world to be Jewish

I'm sure that Riyadh or Islamabad are slightly more dangerous places for Jews than anywhere in Israel.


After 56 years the streets of Tel Aviv may yet one day, prove safer then the streets of LONDON

WJ Phillips

Tim: I'll rephrase that: the most dangerous place for Jews in their right minds. Although Saddam did not molest the small surviving Sephardic community in Baghdad.

Chevalier: Is that a threat, a prophecy or a promise?


WJ, do you consider publicly hanging 17 of them, then having the entire population of Baghdad pass among the gibbets, "molestation?"

1968, or was it '69, when the Ba'aths got the upper hand again ... of course, Hussein wasn't the number-one man yet ...

WJ Phillips

Claudius: I wasn't aware of the incident you mention, although on January 27, 1969, soon after the Ba'athist coup, 14 people were executed in Baghdad and Basra, among them nine Jews. They were accused of espionage in the wake of the Six Day War.

That caused most of Baghdad's Jews to flee, but under one hundred remained.

"Beginning in 1979, Emad Levy and his father say conditions actually improved for the remaining Jews in Baghdad. "Despite his unrelenting attacks against Zionism, Saddam took a special interest in the Jewish community and made sure those who harmed them were severely punished," Raz says."


Anti-Zionist Israeli Jews were allowed to visit Baghdad and meet their co-religionists after the first Gulf War. For all his crimes, Saddam has been one of the more religiously tolerant Arab leaders-- part of his cultivation of a "modern" image, no doubt. Tariq Aziz, his sidekick, is a practising Roman Catholic. Hard to imagine that in Saudi;-)


Chevalier -

Should "the rules of war" be applied universally or only on those who abide by them?

Only on those who abide by them. It's called deterrence. There are some standards to which we should hold in all cases, but the Geneva Conventions are a higher standard than that. Any enemy who uses nerve gas against us should be gassed or nuked in return. For that matter, the Geneva Conventions specifically allow breach of the standards against enemies who have breached the standards.


Palestinians are not living under military occupation. The Oslo accords prevent the Israeli military from occupying the areas where the vast majority of Palestinians live.
Yes, it might be nice to have territorial contiguity and independence too, but a lack of these cannot be considered "military occupation".

"Saddam did not molest the small surviving Sephardic community in Baghdad."

Yeah, they only said he was a good leader because they believed that, not because they were afraid of him!

"[Zionism's] appeal seems to be waning."

Israel is now replacing the US as the home of the world's largest Jewish population.

Oh, and WJ,
I received a good Zionist education, and studied the history of Zionism and I never heard anyone promise heaven on earth. I only heard claims that it would be nice if Jews lived together in their own state, and from experience it can be said that the claim is correct. Keep in mind that most Israelis come from countries that virtually nobody would want to live in, but Israel is a first-world country (with a very decent life expectancy, thank you very much).

WJ Phillips

Maor: "Israel is now replacing the US as the home of the world's largest Jewish population."

Not because millions are making aliyah. American Jews are afraid to let their college-age kids *visit* the country these days-- ask the tour operators. What's the Sephardi birth rate got to do with the appeal of Zionism? Among sabras it's becoming fashionable to call oneself "post-Zionist".

The Jews of Iraq conceivably had less to fear from Ba'athism than from some future Shi'ite fundi regime returned through "free and fair elections".


"What's the Sephardi birth rate got to do with the appeal of Zionism? Among sabras it's becoming fashionable to call oneself "post-Zionist"."

Huh? The Sephardi birth rate isn't high. The Ultraorthodox (mainly Ashkenazi) birth rate is very high, but there are plenty of Ultraorthodox Jews in the US too, so I don't see how that's relevant.
You're really kidding yourself if you think the reason the Jewish population in Israel is increasing while the one in the US is decreasing is the different percentage of Sephardim. The reasons are that almost all Jews from non-Western countries (and some non-Jews) have moved, mainly to Israel, and that the American Jewish community is gradually disappearing.

It's been fashionable for decades among certain people to call yourself "post-Zionist" and I don't see that this has made much of a difference. I don't think there's much of a connection with being a sabra, BTW. Most Israelis are sabras.

Regarding Shiite fundamentalism, Iran has a reasonably sized Jewish community, while Iraq does not. Why do you think this is?


People have ALWAYS been saying that Zionism's appeal is waning.
The truth is, Zionism's appeal has always been up to a point, not unlimited. So what? It's still a success.


Zionism is a 'success'? BY what criteria? And for whom is it a 'success'? You are presumably not judging it by its OWN criteria, which would be pointless except for propagandistic reasons. Perhaps Zionism's 'success' lies precisely in having ITS criteria for success so uncritically accepted.

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