Saturday, June 10, 2017

Israel Protests To UN After Hamas Tunnel Found Under UNRWA Schools In Gaza, Religious Ignorance Breeds Progressive Intolerance, Spain's Catalonia Announces Oct. Independence Vote

Israel protests to UN after Hamas tunnel found under UNRWA schools in Gaza 

Israel has protested to the United Nations Security Council after a terror tunnel was discovered under two UN-run schools in the Gaza Strip, appealing to the world body to condemn Hamas and prevent its facilities being exploited by the terror group, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon submitted the letter of protest to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council.

“The latest finding verifies once again that Hamas’ cruelty knows no limits, including endangering centers of learning and education, and using children as human shields,” Danon wrote.

The tunnel was discovered by workers of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on June 1 under two schools in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip near the city of Deir al-Balah.

“I call on the Security Council to strongly and unequivocally condemn Hamas and its repeated abuse of civilian infrastructure, and designate this group as a terrorist organization,” Danon continued.
“It is of the utmost importance that the Council ensures that all UN-affiliated agencies, and especially UNRWA, remain neutral and safeguarded from abuse by terrorist organizations.”

If your political sun has been rising and setting on the cage match between Donald Trump and James Comey, there’s an ominous little story that you might have missed. In an otherwise-uneventful Senate hearing for Russell Vought, Trump’s nominee to be deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Bernie Sanders launched a direct and aggressive attack on Vought’s religious beliefs.

I won’t transcribe the entire exchange (you can read it in my Corner post on the matter), but Sanders aggressively took issue with a piece Vought authored at The Resurgent, which defended Wheaton College’s decision to terminate a professor who declared that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.” The post is well-written, and it expresses orthodox Protestant Christian theology. It also contains a passage that apparently infuriated Sanders: “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

In the Senate hearing, Sanders called this statement “Islamophobic,” and, with his voice rising, challenged Vought’s fitness for office. Eventually, he all-but-declared Vought un-American. He concluded his remarks by declaring that, “This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

Sanders’s tirade was certainly outrageous: Article VI of the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, and he blatantly violated the language and spirit of that prohibition in Skewering Vought. But it was also instructive: This is what happens when our national polarization breeds both ignorance and intolerance, and when intolerance trumps even the rule of law.

First, let’s deal with the ignorance. It’s plain from the tone and content of his questioning that Sanders has no idea of the basic beliefs of orthodox Protestant Christianity. It’s also plain that he has no idea of the basic beliefs of the Islamic faith that he’s defending. This was the interrogation of a man confident that he’s dealing with an extremist, a religious nut job who needs to be exposed. Sanders obviously has no idea that even millions of Democratic voters would nod along with Vought’s analysis, seeing it as self-evident. (After all, Christ himself declared, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.”) He also seems to be oblivious to the fact that the Islamic faith that he defends offers its own, competing, exclusivity. (One wonders: Would he grill an Islamic nominee in a similar fashion?)

Sanders isn’t just ignorant of the orthodoxy of Vought’s argument, though. He’s also ignorant of its religious, cultural, and political implications. He sees a statement that any person “stands condemned” perhaps as license to discriminate against or oppress unbelievers. But properly understood Evangelical Christian belief dictates that a person should love, respect, and, if necessary, even die forthe lost, as Christ Himself did.

Sanders’s ignorance then leads directly to intolerance. He personifies the arrogant contempt for Evangelicals that so often marks the secular American elite. They don’t understand Protestant Christian theology. They read the worst stories of Christian behavior and presume that those stories fairly represent Evangelical beliefs. So they try to drive Evangelicals from the public square, and in so doing they become the intolerant scolds they imagine their foes to be. They hate Christianity, and use political power to try to suppress its influence. They presume that their Christian opponents would do the same. Thus, they spark the exact kind of religious conflict that the founders sought to avoid.

It’s ironic that Sanders, a champion of the Left, deemed it entirely relevant to question Vought’s religious beliefs as a means of determining his qualifications for a position in government, and yet this same Left has worked to stop Donald Trump’s travel ban over the claim that it’s a religious test against Muslims. Maybe the parody site The Babylon Bee captures it best with its fictional Sanders op-ed headline, “It Is Perfectly OK For Public Servants To Be Christian, As Long As They Do Not Believe Christian Things.”

In a sense, the country was a victim of its own good luck… and then a victim of its own bad judgment.
The good luck happened in 1914 when the first oilfield was drilled. The money followed.
By the 1950s, with a basically market-oriented government, Venezuela rose to become the world’s fourth-richest country in terms of GDP per capita.
Today, the country has the largest proven oil reserves in the world – 297 billion barrels of the stuff compared to 267 billion barrels in Saudi Arabia.
But good luck allows you to make bad judgments. With the oil wealth flowing, Hugo Chávez – who described himself as a Trotskyist two days before his inauguration as president in 2007 – could impose win-lose deals on the whole economy.
Key industries were nationalized. Price controls were put in place. Wealth was redistributed.
Win-lose deals can redistribute wealth but only to the extent win-win deals create it. Take away the win-win deals, and the wealth soon runs out… as it did in Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Now the tank is about empty in Venezuela, too.

Banana Republic

It doesn’t matter what you call it – government is always a means for the few to exploit the many.
The few use every resource available to them to keep the hustle going, with special attention given to manipulating the gullible mob.
The typical citizen rarely has any idea of what is going on… and doesn’t have much curiosity about it. As long as he has credit for a new pickup and a champion who promises to smite his enemies, the common man will go along with almost anything.
But the Venezuelan auto industry has been ruined. And there’s no credit available. So there are few new pickups on the streets, and much of the public has turned against the government.
Not surprisingly, the policies that destroyed Venezuela delighted U.S. economists and politicians – who were eager to impose win-lose deals of their own.
In 2007, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz praised the “positive policies” in health and education of the Chávez government.
And in 2011, Bernie Sanders wrote:

These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who’s the banana republic now?

Sanders had no idea what was really going on in Venezuela. But he was right about what was going on in the U.S. It was on its way to becoming a banana republic.

The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, where a separatist movement is in full swing, on Friday announced an independence referendum for October 1 in defiance of Madrid.

People will be asked to vote on the question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic,” Carles Puigdemont said in Barcelona.
If Catalonia’s pro-independence authorities win, they have said they will immediately start proceedings to separate from Spain.
But the central government in Madrid insists the procedure is not valid and the Catalan authorities face significant challenges to even hold the referendum.
Catalonia, a wealthy, 7.5-million-strong region with its own language and customs, has long demanded greater autonomy.

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