The ‘negative space’ argument: another reason why the U.S. should back Palestinian statehood (and why Hamas opposes it)

"Negative Space" left behind by proposed "1967 borders" of the 2011 UN Palestinian Statehood proposal would mandate an acknowledgment of a state of Israel.

"Negative Space" left behind by proposed "1967 borders" of the 2011 UN Palestinian Statehood proposal would mandate an acknowledgment of a state of Israel.

A University of Iowa colleague of mine, Dr. Ahmed Souaiaia, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, and I were discussing the planned Palestinian proposal for statehood to the United Nations this week. Dr. Souaiaia mentioned that Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip and actually engaged in a Palestinian civil war with the larger Palestinian political party, Fatah, was one of the only Arab organizations actually opposed the proposed Palestinian bid for statehood (a little-reported fact I later confirmed in a number of articles that U.S. media outlets apparently don’t want you to see).

In fact, despite the fact that the 22 nation-members of the Arab League have endorsed the Palestinian bid for statehood, Hamas does not. This is because the negative space left behind by the proposed pre-1967 borders of the Palestinian state to be proposed at the United Nations would, by default, define a state of Israel. That is, the area that is not claimed within the borders proposed by Palestine (encompassing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), and, that is not claimed by adjacent nations must belong to someone, and that someone is Israel.

This is precisely why Hamas does not support the bid: it has less to do with political representation of Palestine by Fatah (which Hamas opposes), and more to do with a simple acknowledgment of the reality of the state of Israel.

Hamas would rather not have a Palestinian state than acknowledge an Israeli one.

And that is precisely why Hamas should be ignored, and why Fatah should move forward with the bid on behalf of Palestine. It is why the 22-member Arab League has endorsed the bid, why Israel should concede (if they cannot politically support the plan), and why the United States should not veto the bid.

Palestinian statehood through recognition at the United Nations is the two-state solution. Israel and Palestine should set aside old arguments over olive trees (hat tip: Thomas Friedman) and allow the bid for Palestinian statehood to move forward. It’s the win-win for Israel and Palestine that everyone has been seeking for decades. It allows for something that has never existed: an internationally recognized Palestinian state! It allows Israel to save face by allowing them to oppose a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood, and yet concede that the United Nations is the same organization that set the foundation for an Israeli state in 1947. It allows the United States to support its own policy of a two-state solution. (President Obama just needs to articulate the fact that a vote in favor of the Palestinian statehood bid forces Arab League states to recognize Israel.) And, it thumbs an international nose at Hamas, the terrorist organization that has stood in the way of peace (or at least has been the Israeli excuse for avoiding it) for decades.

And if Hamas so much as fires a single shot in an attempt to sabotage the process, the newly formed coalition of neighbors – Palestine, Israel, the Arab League, the US, the UN, and anyone else who wants to join in – should once and for all end Hamas’ reign of terror and oppression of its own Palestinian people. We can remind those in Gaza that Hamas would rather forfeit a Palestinian state than make peace with Israel (and Fatah). We can remind them what life has been like under Hamas leadership. And, we can point out the imminent reality of their centuries-long dream of an internationally recognized Palestinian state is near.

All that needs to happen is for President Obama and the United States not to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood. Until this, we wait, and we hope that 2012 electoral college math doesn’t influence Mr. Obama’s judgment on the matter at hand.

Robert R. Cargill

fake lead jordan codices update

Scholars have identified a "stamp" used to impress text on a page of the so-called "Jordan Codices." The stamp is staggered to produce what appears to be a paragraph of text, but in reality is nonsensical text.

Scholars have identified a "stamp" used to impress text on a page of the so-called "Jordan Codices." The stamp is staggered to produce what appears to be a paragraph of text, but in reality is nonsensical text.

Thomas Verenna has an excellent update addressing the fake “Jordan Codices” on the Bible and Interpretation website. The evidence continues to pile up against the “owner” of the fake “artifacts.”

The evidence demonstrates that the otherwise nonsensical text of the codices is actually copied from an assortment of real objects dating to the Second Temple period. In fact, the team of scholars and bloggers that have been investigating the fake codices have identified a stamp that was apparently used to impress lines of text over and over again to give the appearance of long paragraphs of text. Unfortunately, the result of the text is nonsense.

This is once again an excellent example of the crowd sourcing power of scholars and astute graduate students on the internet, using their skills to debunk pseudoscientific claims and forgeries directly to the public.

So what should we expect from here? Should we expect David (or is it Paul) Elkington to double down and claim that they are, in fact, legitimate? Will he attempt to save face and claim that the Jordanian government has “reclaimed” the documents before he has had a chance to prove their authenticity? (Although I must warn Mr. Elkington against this tactic; if the Jordanians spend even an ounce of effort recovering these objects from Mr. Elkington, and they are indeed fake, he may face a problem or two with the Jordanians.) Will Mr. Elkington (and/or his duped followers) attempt to attack the scholars who proved his claims to be false and his “artifacts” to be fakes?

Only time will tell. But, apparent revelations about the man at the center of the fake codices are not helping his case.

a ted talk by julia bacha on palestinian non-violent peacemaking

If you’ve ever asked the question, “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? Why aren’t Palestinians using non-violent means to achieve peace in Israel/Palestine?,” here is your answer:

They are. The media simply aren’t covering it, and neither the Israeli or Palestinian (nor the US) governments want to recognize it because they are too busy ramping up their military theater actors to look good for the thirsty media, play to their fundamentalist bases, and attempt to force a settlement.

Fortunately, there are people participating in nonviolent protests on both sides (Palestine and Israel) and together, and there are journalists in the media like Julia Bacha, a documentary filmmaker, who are attempting to change this. Her recent TED talk highlights Palestinian nonviolent peacemaking. You should watch it and ask: is the situation on the ground accurately reflected on TV and what we’re hearing from politicians?

lecture series at uchicago divinity school: the matter of israelite religion

University of ChicagoDon’t miss this excellent lecture series at the University of Chicago Divinity School entitled, “The Matter of Israelite Religion.” The four-part lecture series, cosponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies:

“will highlight recent material finds relevant to, and theoretical advances in, the study of ancient Israelite religion, with implications for biblical literature and ideas.”

The lectures are scheduled as follows:

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1
Dr. Jonathan Klawans (Boston University): “Symbol, Function, Theology and Morality: On Rules and Rituals in the Priestly Literature of the Hebrew Bible”
4:30 p.m., Swift Common Room (1st floor)

Jonathan Klawans (Religion, Boston University), specialist in the religion and religious literature of ancient Judaism, on “Symbol, Function, Theology and Morality: On Rules and Rituals in the Priestly Literature of the Hebrew Bible.” Klawans teaches courses in Western Religion, the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Jewish history, and Rabbinic literature. He is the author of Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Purity Sacrifice and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (Oxford University Press, 2005), as well as numerous articles. His current research project focuses on the theological views of Josephus and the ancient Jewish sects (Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes).

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18
Dr. Matthew Suriano (University of Maryland): “Death in the Kingdom of Judah: The social process of dying and the ritual context of the dead”
4:30 p.m., Swift Hall Common Room (1st floor)

Matthew Suriano, University of Maryland, speaking on “Death in the Kingdom of Judah: The social process of dying and the ritual context of the dead.”  Matthew Suriano, Assistant Professor in the Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and studied history as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He began his graduate studies in Israel, first at Jerusalem University College and later at the Hebrew University. His Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitics is from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. Matthew has participated on several archaeological excavations and has been a fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. He is currently a member of the Tel Burna Archaeological Project.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Dr. Jeremy Hutton (University of Wisconsin-Madison): “Upon the Roof of the Temple: Reconstructing the Phenomenology of Altar Usage from Archaeological and Textual Remains”
4:30 p.m., Classics 110

Jeremy Hutton, University of Wisconsin-Madison, speaking on “Upon the Roof of the Temple: Reconstructing the Phenomenology of Altar Usage from Archaeological and Textual Remains.” Hutton is Assistant Professor of Classical Hebrew Language and Biblical Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Transjordanian Palimpsest: The Overwritten Texts of Personal Exile and Transformation in the Deuteronomistic History (deGruyter, 2009), along with many additional articles.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29
Dr. Nili Sacher Fox (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion): “Fashion vs. Ideology: Biblical Laws Pertaining to Israelite Dress”
4:30 p.m., Swift Hall Common Room (1st floor)

Nili Sacher Fox, Professor of Bible and Director of the School of Graduate Studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, on “Fashion vs. Ideology: Biblical Laws Pertaining to Israelite Dress.” Fox holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Fox teaches Bible, Archaeology, Ancient History and Languages, and is co-director of the Graduate Summer-in-Israel Program. She has written on various topics relating to the history and culture of ancient Israel, including: In the Service of the King: Officialdom in Ancient Israel and Judah and Mishneh Todah: Studies in Deuteronomy and Its Cultural Environment in Honor of Jeffrey Tigay. Currently she is working on a monograph entitled “On the Ancient Catwalk: Dress and Identity in the Biblical World.”

resources for teaching the story of jephthah (judges 11)

Here are a couple of free resources available for use when teaching the story of Jephthah and his sacrifice of his daughter.

The first is from the Brick Testament, which uses legos to tell Bible stories.

The second is NonStampCollector’s telling of the story of Jephthah, which addresses additional concepts of ethics, morality, and compares the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter to the Akedah of Isaac in Genesis 22. The video is below.

some thoughts on free will

Here are some thoughts on free will from one of my favorite YouTube authors, NonStampCollector. If you haven’t seen his videos, check them out. They are guaranteed to make you think.

I welcome your comments.

who needs the new testament when you can get the ‘new new testament’

The New New Testament

Jesus Laughing. (See, the caption on the book's cover even says so.)

Santa Claus has come to town and has brought you a shiny new Bible. In fact, from the looks of things, Santa may have written it himself. But this is no ordinary Bible, it’s a New New Testament. The New New Testament’s author, Ken Maley, doesn’t consider himself the author, but instead goes by the title, “The Scribe” (beating out U2’s “The Edge,” wrestling’s “The Undertaker,” and Canadian classic rock’s “The Guess Who” for best “The” name). This is because The Scribe claims that the New New Testament is “rewritten through Jesus and the Original Authors.”

And “The Scribe” wants you to buy his book hear the new new revelation that Jesus personally told him to write. So, he did what prophets and recipients of divine revelations have always done: he set up a website, complete with praise from reputable individuals such as:

“Exactly what Jesus would say if he came to earth again! Perhaps this is how he will come again.”  –  Christian Person
“What Christians have been seeking for centuries. Literally millions will love it.”   – Catholic Bishop
“Speechless! I am totally amazed at what is here.”   – Person with ties to India and Hinduism
“Poetry for my soul.”  – Protestant Minister
“Marvelous! My wife and I have read John’s Gospel through twice to each other. Our favorite phrase: ‘God’s Heart is so big you can’t walk out of it.'”   – Couple with a Mormon background
“Many will find that this book is miraculous, since Jesus brings us into the Heart of God.”  – A Seeker

(Personally, I have always found the recommendations of “Person with ties to India and Hinduism” to be quite compelling.)

This Bible is more than a new translation; it is a completely new revelation that just happens to closely resemble the old New Testament in modern parlance. However, in this New New Testament, The Scribe channels Jesus and Paul and offers introductions in the first person to each of the Bible’s sections. The gospel of John has been moved to the beginning because it begins with “In the beginning,” and because it possesses the thematic passage for the entire New New Testament: We are all gods. (John 10:34). According to The Scribe, “The translators or scribes who changed this passage could not believe what Jesus had said, so they simply changed it to fit their own beliefs.” So, naturally, The Scribe is changing it back to what it should have said because, well, Jesus personally instructed him to do so.

And shockerrrrr! It’s available on Barnes & Noble.com for purchase.

Jesus is indeed laughing (see the book’s cover).

For more about The Scribe, read below or check out the website, where The Scribe offers up a personal narrative about himself. And do watch the YouTube videos. They alone are worth it.

(And I should also ask from a serious scholarly standpoint if this is how Jews 2000 years ago reacted to rewritten Biblical texts. Was the reaction to 4QRPa/4Q158 “Rewritten Pentateuch” or the Genesis Apocryphon the same as our reaction to the New New Testament? Just a thought…)


From the “About” section:

Ken was ordained a Catholic bishop, though not Roman Catholic, on Easter of 2001. And because of his Native American blood, he promised a long Vision Quest in the desert to open more fully to Jesus and Spirit. It was during these three months that Jesus first asked him to rewrite the New Testament, but he did not have the courage to do it at that time. When the Call came again in 2009 he was more prepared and agreed to the arduous task, knowing that many would believe he was delusional or even worse. But what Jesus wanted done was more important to him than what people might think of him.

Because of his Vision in the desert, he began the Moviemiento Buena Nueva de Jesus in Latin America to share this Good News.  The tenth anniversary of his Vision was the same day that the New New Testament was finally published. His dream is to have his Catholic Spiritual roots reach down through to the original Spirituality that Jesus proclaimed.  What Jesus preached was not legal to write or talk about in his time, and so could not be openly proclaimed in the original New Testament.  It was for that very reason that Ken was asked to rewrite our New Testament to include Jesus’ basic Teachings.

Jesus told him very clearly that this New New Testament was not to begin a new sect or Church, but simply be a spiritual tool for those open to his Real Message.

(HT: B&I via the Sac Bee)

no, no it isn’t noah’s winery: how the media screw up archaeology to sell copies

From BAR: Discovery of the earliest known wine-making operation in an Armenian cave near the southern border with Iran. Courtesy Gregory Areshian.

There was no worldwide flood. The human genome does not bottleneck at Noah. And while a legitimate archaeological expedition may have found evidence of wine production in the Areni-1 cave complex, located near the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia (map), it certainly is not evidence of “Noah’s winery.”

Unfortunately, most people outside of the archaeological field won’t pay much attention to a respected archaeologist like UCLA’s Dr. Hans Barnard arguing for “Chemical Evidence for Wine Production Around 4000 B.C.E. in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern Highlands,” in a respected, peer-reviewed journal like the Journal of Archaeological Science (Volume 38, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 977-984). It is also important to point out that at no time in the stellar article are “Noah” or a “flood” ever mentioned. In fact, the article’s conclusion is rather methodologically compelling to archaeologists:

With an improved method to determine the presence of malvidin we obtained positive results, indicating the possible former presence of grape products, for two Late Chalcolithic (around 4000 BCE) potsherds found in the cave complex Areni-1 in present-day Armenia. It is important to note again that the presence of malvidin, the anthocyanin that gives pomegranates, grapes and wine their red color, is not necessarily associated with the former presence of wine, but only indicates the remains of grapes, pomegranates, or both. Fermentation, although likely, can only be assumed and other products (such as defrutum) should not be excluded. The fact that in Armenia the ceramic samples were collected from a context resembling a grape pressing installation with the preserved remains (seeds, stems, skins) of crushed or pressed grapes supports the interpretation that this part of the cave was a site where wine was produced. Another potsherd from Late Akkadian (around 2200 BCE) deposits in an elite context in Tell Mozan in Syria preserved a red interior, initially interpreted as the remnants of red wine, but proved negative for malvidin. Our research thus produced an improved method to identify malvidin in archaeological materials that can, however, only provide supplementary arguments for or against the presence of wine in specific vessels. Like any other scientific technique, biochemical research alone can never create conclusive evidence concerning anthropological issues (Barnard et al., 2007), much like archaeological research alone cannot irrefutably prove wine production. Instead, both should be part of a larger research program, aimed at addressing a specific anthropological or archaeological research question (McGovern, 1995). As the interests, sample materials and experience of analytical chemists and other scientists will always be different from those of archaeologists, a substantial amount of method development should be expected before a viable protocol will be available. We hope to have illustrated this and to have at the same time added to the discussion regarding the presence or absence of wine in the archaeological record. (html of pdf)

That is, there may be evidence for wine making (or at least storage vessels for grape products) in present day Armenia from around 4000 BCE. That is fascinating research brought about by a well-detailed methodology that suggests, “a better chemical indicator for the former presence of red wine is malvidin, the anthocyanin that gives grapes and wines their red color.” This research adds evidence to previous research which concludes that wine making in the Near East may be much older than we previously thought, and we have improved means by which to detect it.

This is excellent archaeology!

Unfortunately, many newspapers and magazines can’t sell copies reporting on improved techniques for indicating the former presence of red wine. So, they take the credible research and attempt to use it to supply evidence for an incredible claim: that the biblical Noah existed and that we can know this because an archaeologist found evidence of ‘his’ winery. Never mind that no such claim was ever made by the researcher. Just mentioning the possibility of Noah and merely asking the question about his biblical winery (Gen. 9:20) will get your story certain media attention and thereby allow the publisher to sell a far greater number of copies than he/she would had Noah’s name not been invoked. And, because publishers can then use this unverifiable, sensational suggestion to sell said newspapers and magazine copies to folks who will actually spend cash on such a speculation, “Is this Noah’s winery?” translates into cash for publishers.

It’s a technique that has been used for decades to make money: use sound archaeology to make unintended, ridiculous claims, and sell it to the public, which wants to believe it and reinforce their preexisting beliefs. It is an example of good archaeology being used by money-hungry publishers to create bad science in the name of faith, and it’s wrong.

eBook ‘Archaeology 2.0: New Approaches to Communication & Collaboration’ now available

Archaeology 2.0: New Approaches to Communication & Collaboration, ed. by Eric C. Kansa, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, and Ethan Watrall

Archaeology 2.0: New Approaches to Communication & Collaboration, ed. by Eric C. Kansa, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, and Ethan Watrall

There is a new digitally-published (like!) book available at the University of California’s eScholarship repository entitled, Archaeology 2.0: New Approaches to Communication and Collaboration. The book is edited by Cal Berkeley’s Eric C. Kansa, the Alexandria Archive Institute’s Sarah Whitcher Kansa, and Michigan State’s Ethan Watrall.

The volume explores the social use and context of the Web within the discipline of archaeology, and it is the first book in the UCLA Cotsen Institute’s new Digital Archaeology Series. A printed version of the book will be available shortly (hopefully in time to be on display at the ASOR conference!).

You can read more about the book at the Heritage Bytes Open Context blog.

Go ye therefore and read for free!

(And congratulations to the editors on the new volume!)

i see nutjob: mark driscoll’s psychic visions and extrasensory perception

You have absolutely got to be kidding me! Mark Driscoll is becoming the Glenn Beck of Evangelical Neo-fundamentalism: you desperately want to ignore him, but he keeps saying crazy crap and posting it online.

Scott has an excellent commentary on Driscoll’s latest diarrhea of the mouth. In sum, the words “delusional,” “bully,” “non-discerning,” “terrible scholar,” and “Mickey Mouse” are involved.

Please allow me to add “nutjob.” (And I agree, Scott, methinks the Driscoll train is about to go off the rails.)

It’s not enough to be a bully and an open advocate for the subjugation of women and homosexuals. But now, Mark Driscoll is admitting HE SEES THINGS!, as in, bilocative visions and psychic extrasensory perception in his head as well as back through time! In fact, Mark Driscoll claims he can see your past abuses from 10 years ago! He claims:

On occasion, I see things. I see things. Uh, like, I was meeting with one person, and they, they didn’t know this, but they were abused when they were a child, and I said, ‘When you were a child, you were abused. This person did this to you – physically touched you this way.” And he said, “How do you know?” And I said, “I don’t know. It’s like I got a TV right here and I’m seeing it.” He said, “No, that never happened.” And I said, “Go ask ’em. Go ask ’em if they actually did what I think they did, and I see that they did.” And they went and asked this person, “When I was a little kid, did you do this?” And the person said, “Yeah, but you were only like a year or two old. How do you remember that?” And they said, “Well, Pastor Mark told me.” (Watch from the 0:06 mark).

Driscoll then offers a humble disclaimer stating,

I’m not a guru. I’m not a freak. I don’t talk about this. If I did talk about it, everybody’d want to meet with me and I’d end up like one of those guys on TV. (Watch from the 0:45 mark)

The irony of the previous statement is palpable.

Then, not surprisingly, Driscoll goes on to tell the story of a woman cheating on her husband (of course):

There was one woman I dealt with, she’d never told her husband that she had committed adultery on him early in the relationship. I said, “You know,” (she’s sitting there with her husband) I said, “You know, I think the root of all this, I think Satan has a foothold in your life ’cause you’ve never told your husband about that really tall blond guy that you met at the bar, and then you went back to the hotel, and you laid on your back, and you undressed yourself, and he climbed on top of you, and you had sex with him, and snuggled up with him for a while, and deep down in your heart, even though you had just met him, you desired him because secretly he is the fantasy body type.” I said, “You remember that place: it was that cheap hotel with that certain colored bedspread. You did it, you had sex with the light on because you weren’t ashamed and you wanted him to see you, and you wanted to see him.” She was just looking at me like [throws hands in air]. I said, “You know, it was about ten years ago?”

I see everything [makes TV square with hands].

She says… she looks at her husband, he says, “Is that true?” She says, “Yeah.” “He was 6’2″? Blond hair? Blue eyes?” “Yeah.” (Watch from the 1:00 mark)

(Numbers 5:16-30 comes to mind.)

By the way, I’d have never guessed that Mark Driscoll would psychically see a woman cheating on her husband (and not the other way around), given his wonderful history with gender-related issues. Go figure.

And seriously, does Driscoll really end that story with, “I see everything!“?? Seriously? And he describes it as “supernatural” and “whole other realm?”

Unbelievable. Literally. Unbelievable.

And then, as if what he’s already said wasn’t enough, Driscoll goes on to offer incontrovertible evidence of his extrasensory perception skills:

“And sometimes I see things too. I see things too. I’ve seen women raped. I’ve seen children molested. I’ve seen people abused. I’ve seen people beaten. I’ve seen horrible things done. Horrible things done. I’ve seen children dedicated in occultic groups and demons come upon them as an infant by invitation. And I wasn’t present for any of it, but I’ve seen it visibly.” (Watch from the 3:10 mark in the video. Emphases mine.)

I see nutjob.

Of course, he’s claiming he possesses the “gift of discernment” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10 (“to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits (διακρίσεις πνευμάτων)…”), but rather than defining it as “understanding,” the “capacity for judgment,” or as a “discernment” akin to wisdom as is done in other biblical lists of gifts of insight (cf. 1 Kings 4:29; Job 12:20; Isaiah 29:14), and rather than considering a cognate term’s use in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (πνευματικως ανακρίνεται), where its context leads the reader to a comparison of the wisdom and foolishness of this world versus that of the next (a lesson worth reading), “Pastor Mark” interprets the “discernment of spirits” (which as a leader, he, of course, possesses), as the ability to bilocate through time, and Driscoll is claiming to be able to see his followers’ past sordid deeds in visions!!!

Sheer quackery!

I shake my head…

(HT: MPT, Scott)


Update:

It looks like the Pyromaniacs blog posted concerns about this back on Aug 15, 2011.

Unreasonable Faith also has some good commentary.

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