Friday, January 06, 2006
PAT ROBERTSON: SPOKESPERSON FOR GOD
Well, friends it is one of those Fridays where all you get is a reprint(s) from other sources.
From Tikun Olam Blog:
God, I’ve had it with Pat Robertson. Bless his pointy little head and big mouth. Whenever he opens it there’s sure to be dreck spewing out.
People for the American Way carry the transcript and video of the “performance:”
Pat Robertson spouts bile about Ariel Sharon on 700 Club
…I said last year that Israel was entering into the most dangerous periods of its entire existence as a nation. That is intensifying this year with the loss of Sharon. Sharon was personally a very likable person and I am sad to see him in this condition, but I think we need to look at the Bible and the Book of Joel. The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who “divide my land.” God considers this land to be His. You read the Bible and He says “this is my land” and for any Prime Minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says “no, this is mine.”
I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974. He was tragically assassinated, it was a terrible thing that happened but nevertheless he was dead.
And now Ariel Sharon who again was a very likable person, a delightful person to be with, I prayed with him personally, but here he’s at the point of death. He was dividing God’s land and I would say woe unto any Prime Minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations, or the United States of America. God says “this land belongs to me. You’d better leave it alone.”
I almost hate to indulge in theological dispute with Pat Robertson because his entire mindset is so repellent to me. But in this case, since his statements about Sharon were so odious, I cannot allow him to hijack the Jewish prophetic tradition to bolster his despicable arguments. After looking through Joel, I can see several passages that would be especially attractive to the End of Days-Hate the Heathen type of guy Pat is:
I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your elders shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…And I will perform signs in the heavens and on the earth: Blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall turn to darkness, and the moon to blood, prior to the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever shall call in the name of the Lord shall be delivered, for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be a deliverance…
For behold, in those days and in that time when I return the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and I will take them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will contend with them there concerning My people and My heritage, Israel, which they scattered among the nations, and My land they divided. And upon My people they cast lots, and they gave a boy for a harlot, and a girl they sold for wine, and they drank. And also, what are you to Me, Tyre and Sidon and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying Me recompense? And if you are recompensing Me, I will swiftly return your recompense upon your head…And the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem you have sold to the children of the Jevanim, in order to distance them from their border. Behold I arouse them from the place where you sold them, and I will return your recompense upon your head…Announce this among the nations, prepare war, arouse the mighty men; all the men of war shall approach and ascend. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; the weak one shall say, “I am mighty.” Gather and come, all you nations from around, and they shall gather; there the Lord shall break your mighty men. The nations shall be aroused and shall go up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations from around.–Book of Joel, chapters 3-4
We can discuss the actual historical context of the events described here, but that doesn’t interest Pat. He’s not interested in understanding the meaning or context of the Biblical text. He’s merely interested in projecting his own twisted theological/political worldview upon it.
The Book of Joel speaks of great tragedies inflicted upon the land of Israel and its people by its enemies. It exhorts the Israelites to return to their God and repent their sins so those who’ve sold their children into slavery will get their due in misery.
The vision of the nations gathering in the valley of Jehosephat (literally “God judges”) is a classic text in the Christian messianic tradition. Further, the passage I italicized (in bold here) might be read by Robertson as alluding to the Arabs (and certainly the Palestinians) who caused suffering to Israel in the course of numerous wars against the Jewish state; which would of course further his bigoted anti-Muslim agenda. And Pat certainly loves the martial imagery of the Israelites beating their plowshares into spears. He must really love it when he sees the IDF attack Palestinians. It must fulfill his prophetic vision of Israel at perpetual war with its enemies. But “you know who” will of course come along in Pat’s prophetic dream, judging all the nasties in the valley of Jehosephat and thereby put an end to all that. And then there won’t be any Jews or Muslims. We’ll all be subsumed under the one great all-encompassing (or should I say “overwhelming”) religion, Christianity.
Well, excuse me if I say “hold on a minute.”
And of course the passage has nothing to do with the current political situation in Israel-Palestine. While Joel DOES say that the land belongs to God, nowhere does the text say anything remotely like “You better leave it alone.” While Joel DOES say that God will punish those who “divide My land,” He means to punish foreign nations which conquered Israel and NOT an Israeli political leader chosen by his compatriots as Ariel Sharon was. These are Robertson’s falsifications of the text in order to mold it in his own pro-settlement image. Robertson’s fake foray into prophetic channeling bespeaks the dangers of abusing sacred text for one’s own fraudulent purposes. Robertson’s interpretations are absolutely treif (’unkosher’ or ‘forbidden’). They offend me as a Jew who cares about my own religious traditions and their interpretation by others.
Robertson’s press spokesperson further stuck her foot in it in trying to defend his lunacy:
Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of people who criticized the comments: “What they’re basically saying is, ‘How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?’”
“This is what the word of God says,” Watts told the AP. “This is nothing new to the Christian community.”
First, Pat didn’t quote the Bible. He merely paraphrased it and badly at that.
Second, he may be faithfully rendering a Christian messianic interpretation of the text. But it is no interpretation that I or the vast majority of Jews would recognize or accept. Third, while his fantastical view of the text may not be new to “the Christian community” (read “evangelicals” as Pat does NOT represent “the Christian community”) it would be new to many of the rest of us (and there are a few in the world who have not yet “seen the light” and “come over” to the Lord).
Be ready for another Pat Robertson “day after” apology along the lines of what he was forced to do after advocating the assassination of Hugo Chavez. Abe Foxman, after denouncing Robertson, will probably make nice and let bygones be bygones. Me, I don’t have to be so nice. Robertson is a spook, a really bad dude. Bad for Jews, bad for Christians, hell, he’s even bad for evangelicals since he makes them look like such loons. Why his fellow preachers don’t ride him out of town on a rail I don’t know.
In short, Ariel Sharon suffered his stroke for many reasons (age, weight, stress level) but not one of them had anything to do with “Dr.” Robertson’s diagnosis. Israeli politics will go on and the peace process (truncated as it has been under Sharon) will continue. Either Ehud Olmert or Amir Peretz will win the upcoming elections and lead Israel that much closer to a lasting peace. Or Bibi Netanyahu will win and take Israel in the other direction. But even if that dreadful outcome occurs, Netanyahu will eventually go the way of the dodo bird and resign as PM. Then the peace process will resume as it has to because the reality of the Middle East doesn’t allow for wild-eyed prophecies of the type spouted by Rev. Pat. Israel and Palestine have both lost enough blood spilled by their sons and daughters. They need no outsiders to egg them on to further futile violence.
“Will no one rid us of this meddlesome priest?” Pat begone. You’ve already done enough damage. Every time you open your mouth you only do more. Can’t someone shut this guy up?
And since we’re quoting prophetic wisdom here, let’s conclude with a latter-day prophet, Bob Dylan, and his Masters of War:
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead
Lord help me I know it’s harsh. But I feel we’ve all been long-suffering from the odious spew of this guy long enough. So maybe I don’t wish his death. But what about the Lord sending Pat a bolt of lightning which would shut him up for the rest of his days. Would that be asking too much, Lord?
From Media Matters:
On the January 5 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was the result of Sharon's policy, which he claimed is "dividing God's land." Robertson admonished: "I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU [European Union], the United Nations, or United States of America." Although Robertson professed that "Sharon was personally a very likeable person," he nonetheless declared that "God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' " Robertson called the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "the same thing." A previous CBN news article, titled "Dividing the Land, Dishonoring God's Covenant," examined Sharon's decision to return control of the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority.
Robertson's comment was first reported by JTA, an international news service that covers "issues of concern to the Jewish people," and Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo weblog, which links to the JTA website.
From the January 5 edition of CBN's The 700 Club:
ROBERTSON: I have said last year that Israel was entering into the most dangerous period of its entire existence as a nation. That is intensifying this year with the loss of Sharon. Sharon was personally a very likeable person. I am sad to see him in this condition. But I think we need to look at the Bible and the Book of Joel. The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, "divide my land." God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible, he says, "This is my land." And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he going carve it up and give it away, God says, "No. This is mine." And the same thing -- I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974. He was tragically assassinated, and it was terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless, he was dead. And now Ariel Sharon, who was again a very likeable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America. God said, "This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone."
Rage Over Robertson's Wrath Remark
NORFOLK, Va., Jan. 5, 2006
(CBS/AP) Televangelist Pat Robertson is under fire for some stinging remarks about Ariel Sharon. On his TV show, Robertson suggested Sharon's stroke was God's way of punishing him for Israel's new policy of withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza.
Religious leaders denounced the remarks as "un-Christian."
Speaking Thursday on his TV program "The 700 Club," Robertson said, "God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine.'"
Sharon, who ordered Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.
In his broadcast, Robertson called Sharon "a very tender-hearted man and a good friend" and said he had personally prayed with him about a year ago. He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.
He also said, however, that in the Bible, the prophet Joel "makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land."'
Sharon "was dividing God's land and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU (European Union), the United Nations, or the United States of America," Robertson said.
In discussing what he said was God's insistence that Israel not be divided, Robertson also referred to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had sought to achieve peace by giving land to the Palestinians. "It was a terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless he was dead," he said.
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham H. Foxman called Robertson's remarks "un-Christian and a perversion of religion" and urged Christian leaders to "distance themselves" from the televangelist.
People For the American Way Foundation, which monitors "The 700 Club," also criticized Robertson's comments, calling them "an implicit reference to recent steps the prime minister has taken to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
"Once again, Pat Robertson leaves us speechless with his insensitivity and arrogance," the group's president, Ralph G. Neas, said in a statement.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said a religious leader "should not be making callous political points while a man is struggling for his life."
"Pat Robertson has a political agenda for the entire world, and he seems to think God is ready to take out any world leader who stands in the way of that agenda," Lynn said in a statement.
But Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts refused to back down, saying of critics who challenged his remarks, "What they're basically saying is, `How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?"'
"This is what the word of God says," Watts said. "This is nothing new to the Christian community."
It's not the first time Robertson's remarks have stirred controversy. In August, he suggested on "The 700 Club" that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has long been at odds with U.S. foreign policy. Robertson later apologized, saying he "spoke in frustration."
And in November, he warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town that disaster may strike there because they voted to oust school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.
"If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God," he told residents of Dover, Pa. "You just rejected him from your city."