Do Miracles Happen Today?

Do Miracles Happen Today?

By James Arlandson

Has anyone recovered immediately after words of prayer or even commands of healing have been spoken? It is time to investigate this and apply the results to philosophical and theological arguments. That is the goal of this article.
The last three articles in this series, on Hume’s miracle prison and its fortification, have the goal of keeping the prison door to miracles open. If one keeps the door closed so that miracles are not a genuine option or real possibility, then this begs the question always in favor of the closed system of naturalism. This is unfair and prejudicial. The allegedly closed natural system of cause and effect (e.g. talking causes sound) that we live in offers no guarantees from divine action.
Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), agrees, apparently. He says in his essay on miracles (Section X) in his book Enquiries concerning Human Understanding, that “if a person claiming divine authority should command a sick person to be well . . . which immediately follow upon his command, [this] might justly be esteemed [a miracle]” (p. 115, note 1). This leaves the prison door to miracles open.
So let’s search for hard evidence of miracles today.
Historical context
The historical context of the reports of miracles is important. The Pentecostal Movement began in various regions around the globe, such as America, Germany, and Australia, in the early twentieth century. The Charismatic Renewal began in the last third of the same century. (The healing movement in the 1940s and 1950s is omitted in this brief survey.) Both the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, even today, benefit and learn from each other; indeed, the Charismatic Renewal grew, in part, out of Pentecostalism and expanded beyond the earlier movement’s church borders. Influenced thus, many churches small or large around the globe have sprung up rapidly. They provide a spiritual environment for miracles to happen.
Testimonies of miracles today
This passage, representing other summaries, encapsulates in a few words the healing ministry of Jesus in Israel, several decades prior to the Roman destruction of the Temple in AD 70:
30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. (Matt. 15:30-31)
That passage assumes that the power of God (Luke 6:19) is real and heals the infirm. “And they praised the God of Israel.”
A small, representative sample of miracles today follows:

  1. Robert A. Larmer, professor of philosophy at University of New Brunswick, offers this testimony: . . . “For example, my minister [of a charismatic church], whom I know to be of good character and judgment, tells me that his father experienced an overnight recovery from the last stages of cancer that has been diagnosed as terminal by a number of doctors, and . . . his report is confirmed by a large number of people acquainted with his father” . . . (“Miracles and Testimony,” p. 130)
  2. A woman in my own church tells a similar story. The CT scan showed that she had cancer, but in the early stages. After prayer, the next CT scan showed the cancer disappeared. A misdiagnosis? The oncologist would disagree.
  3. The senior pastor of my church was a businessman before he went into ministry. One of his employees injured her leg. He asked permission to pray for it, and she allowed him. Immediately, she could walk normally. This was done in private without cameras or a charged up atmosphere, though an exciting atmosphere of a large conference on healing is perfectly legitimate.
  4. An associate pastor of my church tells a similar story. As he was going out of a restaurant, a man walking with crutches was coming into the restaurant. The pastor, though not knowing the man, asked permission to pray for him, and the injured man, somewhat surprised, allowed it. After praying for him and exchanging pleasantries, the pastor left, walking toward his car. As he was driving away, he noticed the man outside the restaurant, carrying his crutches, waving them triumphantly and indicating that he no longer needed them. Evidently, the man was healed. This happened without cameras or a charged up atmosphere, though an exciting atmosphere of a large conference on healing is legitimate.

The following miracles are found in D. C. Lewis’s book Healing: Fiction, Fantasy or Fact? Lewis has a PhD in Social Anthropology. He is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He conducted research on the Harrogate Conference (England) in the autumn of 1986, led by John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Churches. Some 2,470 people attended, and 1,890 returned a questionnaire. One hundred were chosen at random, and they were followed up for a period of six months to over a year. The scientific method in the social sciences was carefully followed throughout Lewis’ investigation (pp. 15-16; and see Appendix A).

  1. In investigating the claimed healings during the follow-ups, someone (an “informant”) reports after receiving prayer: “My left hip was alright for some months, when I felt pain coming again . . . So I asked some brothers to pray for me for a second time. Since then I do not feel any more pain in my left hip” (p. 25).
  2. In another follow-up, an “informant” wrote regarding his or her total healing of a hernia after prayer: “I have never had any trouble with the hernia whatsoever” (p. 25).
  3. One man wrote on the questionnaire about his twisted ankle. “After prayer, the pain was gone! I tried to make it come back by twisting to what would have been uncomfortable but it was OK . . . Talk about stunned.” Fifteen months later he wrote: “I’ve had no problems with the ankle since the healing. I’ve tested this out with various sports like squash, badminton and some running without any reaction” (p. 26).
  4. A nurse reports that “the physical healing I received for my old prolapsed disc injury was complete for about seven months. I was totally pain free and unrestricted in movement and/or exercise and stress related activities.” However, she reinjured it after an overweight patient shifted her weight onto the nurse when she was lifting the patient (p. 26).
  5. It is difficult to measure a leg lengthening when it grows out by a half an inch, even if God works a miracle. It could be attributed to natural processes. However, this report says that someone’s leg was lengthened by an inch-and-a-half, during the process of prayer. “We prayed for my leg: I watched the leg come level with my right leg and even heard it grow-like breaking wood. I could not walk right for twenty years . . . I didn’t wear a built-up shoe, just limped . . . They prayed for my hip to come back to the position it should be-I feel it has. For the first time in twenty-one years I can walk without discomfort or pain, it seems level to me” (p. 38).
  6. A woman complained of extra-sensitive teeth. Cold air or hot tea caused a lot of pain. Her written report on her healing is lengthy, but in the end, her dentist wrote on August 18, 1987: “Routine dental check up. Patient no longer complains of sensitive teeth” (p. 40).
  7. In a case outside of the Wimber conference, Lewis reports total blindness being healed. An article in the November / December 1988 issue of Prophecy Today says that “twenty-three-year old Christine Newton from Durham who was born blind but after receiving prayer for healing ‘felt her eyeballs grow and when she opened her eyes she could see-for the first time in her life! . . . At first her sight was dim, but it has become gradually clearer each day. Now she is learning to read and write'” (p. 288, Appendix C).
  8. In an earlier conference at Sheffield, England, led by John Wimber, a man was healed of acute insomnia and his wife was healed of deafness. These cases lie outside of Lewis’ study of the Harrogate conference, so he includes them in Appendix C. He writes: “However, because they were written at least a year after the events described they do provide some further evidence of the persistence of physical healings . . . it seems difficult to attribute the healings to known medical processes” (p. 289). The patient reports on his prayer session with two American youths, who irritated him with their casual attitude and gum chewing. He slept well that night, but attributed it to a “real tiredness.” Then he reports:

…The next day my wife was prayed for, for deafness. She was instantly healed! That night, having gone to bed, she awoke me at approximately 1:30 a.m. I was rather irritated, as from past experience the chances of returning to sleep for me were rather slim. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked. She said that she couldn’t sleep because she could hear the alarm clock ticking!! She then reminded me I was healed. I resumed sleep, and have had only one night in the past year when I have not slept well. PS: My wife still has problems with hearing too much at night! (pp. 289-90, Appendix C)
A proper perspective
It should be pointed out that these reports in Lewis’ book indicate total healing. The fuller investigation shows, however, that sometimes healings did not occur even though prayers were offered. In other cases the patients showed a little or some improvement. (Why these variations happen is another article entirely.) Also, the last eight miracles were investigated and written up in the mid-1980s. But I have heard countless testimonies of miracles from nameless, reliable witnesses who want no public attention or fame or fortune. They report that the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and cancer vanishes-the list could go on. Indeed, I have witnessed such miracles with my own eyes.
Next, those miracles are not only about an inner personal experience that no one can verify empirically and that everyone can claim. Rather, they can be followed up and examined.
Further, it is true that public charlatans and quacks manipulate people and claim miracles where none occur. But it is equally true that genuine miracles happen, though they are often behind the scenes. It would be prejudicial to dismiss all miracles because of some forgeries, as Hume does in his countless examples of fakes and frauds to indict all miracles. This repeats the Pyrrhonist fallacy that says that because some accounts of miracles can be dismissed, all accounts can be dismissed (Larmer, Water into Wine? p. 122).
What about psychosomatic healings? Sometimes this is true. A patient feels bitter about an unpleasant experience from years ago, and he holds a grudge that eats away at him. Lewis records one or two of such healings. However, the miracles in the list above have nothing to do with psychosomatic illness and healing. A leg really did grow out, but not because of some released bitterness. Extra-sensitive teeth really did stop hurting, without a psychological healing coming before the physical healing.
Finally, those miracles listed above are found in a moral and religious context. This means that they cannot be disregarded out of hand as obscure, bizarre anomalies. This is the problem with Hume’s hypothetical account of Queen Elizabeth’s revivification. It has no religious context, and nor was the miracle done by a devout, holy, and great moral person. It was a fluke. This is different from the miracles done by Jesus. The context is important in interpreting miracles as opposed to strange, random occurrences (Craig, Reasonable Faith, p. 147).
An atmosphere of faith
It is prejudicial to disbelieve in miracles because they occur in an atmosphere of belief. For example, Hume says that when the spirit of religion joins itself to the love of miracles, therefore, people of religion naturally or have a propensity to believe such things (p. 117). Next, “a religionist may be an enthusiast, and imagine he sees what has no reality” (p. 117). Or an eloquent speaker may manipulate the masses (p. 118).
In reply, however, skeptics do not get the privilege of setting the rules of the game. Miracles happen wherever faith and God’s presence are found. If people come together in a conference, expecting God to “show up,” so to speak, then so be it. Plus, Pastor Wimber avoided hype and hoopla. He never shouted and shrieked, whipping people up into a frenzied or ecstatic state of “enthusiasm” (a favorite derisory word of Enlightenment thinkers like Hume and Voltaire). Wimber’s ministry was known for its “laid-back California” style.
Also, many miracles, such as the first four listed above, occur behind the scenes, without the cameras running or appeals for money thundering out from the “faith healer.” Ordinary people pray and see miracles with their own eyes. Such unsung heroes of the faith derive no material benefit.
Miracles and “primitive” people
Hume says that (alleged) miracles are prone to happen among primitive and “barbarous” people (pp. 119-21). In one sense he is right, yet in another he is wrong.
He is right because the so-called primitive people have not been educated in western philosophy, so they may have more faith than the average Westerner, to the credit of the “primitives.” Yet, these miracles listed above happened in the West, in Hume’s own neighborhood, England (he was Scottish) during the age of science and technology, which Hume could only dream about. This is another reason why the miracles listed above were selected. They happen wherever people have childlike faith, whether in the first world or developing world.
However, Hume was wrong to express such regional centrism, but we should not fault him too much for this because he lived in the wrong century. The worldwide web and satellite has shrunk the world down to nearly nothing. A miracle can be filmed, uploaded to a satellite, beamed across the globe, and transmitted to our television in a few seconds. Or a film clip of it can fly around the web. The concept “primitive,” though not vanishing completely yet, is becoming obsolete, particularly the concept of “barbarity,” as social scientists may have used it in the past.
See James Rutz’ book Megashift that tracks down miracles around the globe. He has URLs or web links to reports and photos of some of them. He has some accounts of resurrections. One Nigerian holds up his death certificate signed by a medical doctor (pp. 9-12). Go to megashift.org for online reports. But I cannot vouch for the scientific method on the site or in the book. He seems, rather, to report miracles and sometimes double-check the sources of the reports.
Recognizing miracles
Anthony Flew, who has strengthened Hume’s skepticism about miracles, writes:
We simply do not have, and could not have [note the words], any natural (as opposed to revealed) criterion which enables us to say, when faced with something which is found to have actually happened, that here we have an achievement which nature, left to her own unaided devices, could never encompass. The natural scientist, confronted with some occurrence inconsistent with a proposition previously believed to express a law of nature, can find in this disturbing inconsistency no ground whatever for proclaiming that the particular law of nature has been supernaturally overridden. (“Miracles,” p. 349)
It is true that some miracles may be hard to detect. My favorite says God helped a driver find an ideal parking place. But this can be attributed to coincidence. With that acknowledgement given, however, Flew’s claim about the unrecognizability of miracles is largely a strange idea in his Encyclopedia article. Humans cannot have any natural criteria to recognize miracles? His assertion seems to be pulled out of thin air, or maybe he is thinking of stories about the Bermuda triangle or images of Jesus appearing in deep-fried tortillas. But believers or skeptics can indeed recognize some miracles.
If a woman who was completely blind from birth or a man who has one leg much shorter than the other recovers completely (the first can see and the second can walk normally), then the results would be clear to a child. It is incumbent on the skeptic to overturn this recognition that even a child has. How can a skeptic attribute their recoveries to all-encompassing nature?
One miracle not listed here occurred in Russia, after prayer from an American. A little girl was paralyzed in her arms shortly after her birth. After prayer, she recovered the use of her arms. A doctor who knew of her two distinct conditions before and after prayer confirmed all of this. Photos were taken of her chasing and blowing out soap bubbles, waving her arms excitedly (Rutz, p. 23).
Curiously, the burden of proof for an all-powerful nature now shifts over to the skeptics. It seems they fall prey to the anything-but-God explanation, the corollary opposite of the God- of-the-gaps, which invokes a miracle whenever a difficult or unsolvable problem comes up. For my part, however, I believe the little girl.
Repeated study of miracles
Flew writes the following about a long-past historical event (read: an alleged miracle of the Bible), contrasting it with the laws of nature that operate consistently regardless of the period of time:
The candidate historical proposition will be particular, often singular, and in the past tense . . . by reason of this very pastness and particularity it is no longer possible to examine the subject directly for himself . . . The “law of nature” will, unlike the candidate historical proposition, be a general nomological [law-like generalization]. It can thus be tested at any time by any person. (Flew, Hume’s Philosophy of Belief, pp. 207-08)
In reply, however, miracles today can be studied over and over again. A scientific observer like D. C. Lewis can watch a prayer being offered for blind eyes. He can watch the blind eyes see after prayer. The patient can get a check up with an ophthalmologist who knows that the patient was blind. The observer can verify the results.
A scientific observer may not need to investigate one patient again and again, after the evidence is complete, but theoretically he can do this. Indeed, Lewis sometimes waited for over a year before he investigated, even though he attended the conference at Harrogate. This places the miracles in the past, and they are investigable over an extended period and repeatedly. Such past miracles may have as much or more evidence than the evidence for a past natural event recorded in the history books.
Also, if an observer is satisfied that the evidence for a miracle is strong and complete, then he can investigate another miracle today, such as a total healing of deafness. He can repeat the scientific process for as many miracles as may happen.
Do miracles violate the laws of nature?
The answer is no. As I noted in the article Hume’s Miracle Prison Hume’s Miracle Prison, if a warden allows a concert in chapel, then he commits no violation or transgression of the rules. He calls for them within the limits of his own authority. But if a lone guard does this for his own purposes and without permission, then this would be a violation or transgression because he does not act as a rightful authority.
The existence of God lifts the analogy beyond the human level. More than a warden, God does not violate or transgress anything of his creation when miracles occur, because he is the final authority over it. God inserts a new factor (miracle) and then nature accommodates it. As C. S. Lewis says (see the previous link), miraculous wine still intoxicates, miraculous bread is still digested and nourishing, and a miraculous conception still has to go through nine months of pregnancy and then a painful birth. Normal, natural processes say, “If A, then B.” A miracle says, “If A2, then B2.”
See Kreeft and Tacelli, pp. 111-12, who use the example of a high school principal and a gym teacher.
Definition of miracles
Theologically, a miracle may be defined as God’s (or his agent’s) intervention, introduction, or insertion of a new condition or factor that would otherwise be impossible naturally. As noted, such miracles take place in a religious context, so they are not bizarre anomalies. Such miracles often take place after prayer-even a one-word prayer of “help!” Miracles of healing, for example, eliminate abnormalities attacking human health. Some theologians have called the abnormalities parasites attached to the good (health). These destructive conditions describe evil perfectly. However, healing miracles purge out or destroy or correct debilitating conditions, such as shrinking tumors to nothing, repairing bent and dislocated bones, and restoring sight and hearing, to cite only these examples.
It is true that modern medical treatments like chemo therapy can destroy cancer cells, for example (and there is nothing wrong with seeking medical attention), but miracles of divine healing take on a new dimension of God’s intervention coinciding with prayer, as we have seen in the examples listed above. As Dr. Lewis rightly concludes from his observations, many miracles he witnessed and researched cannot be attributed to natural processes alone or at all.
Theologically speaking, a miracle is not a violation or transgression of the laws of nature, even if it destroys a metastasized tumor or cancer cells, which are abnormalities in human health. It does not violate or transgress God’s laws even if Jesus turns water into wine or walks on water. Instead, it inserts new material conditions to which the laws of nature apply (See Larmer, Water into Wine? pp. 3-30, though he may not agree entirely with my own conclusions).
More importantly, the words “violation” and transgression” have a negative, even criminal connotation. Therefore, nor is a miracle an intrusion or in-breaking in the sense of capriciousness or burglary even, but in the positive sense of rescuing. God as hero saves us, perhaps at the last minute. He is not capricious, for his character is good, and he acts with purpose, even if we do not or cannot come to know it; we have a limited epistemic point of view. Nonetheless, he is free to walk onto his own property (the universe), so to speak, without violating or transgressing any of his own laws-the very laws he created. Therefore, contrary to the conclusions of some Enlightenment thinkers, God’s actions in the world are positive and redemptive. They show his love for people without violating or transgressing any of his own laws, as if he were a home invader or a rapist of Mother Nature.
Maybe the question over terms concerns the point of view of the investigator. From a non-theistic point of view, specifically one that holds that nature is all that exists, the Only Fact, “violation” seems an apt description of a miracle. However, the whole concept of miracle is framed wrongly from the outset with those images and words denoting criminality-from a theistic point of view. In fact, Christians who understand the Bible believe that the universe will not last forever because God will exercise his right even to destroy part of his creation and make another one or to renew parts of the first (Matt. 24:35; Heb. 12:27; 2 Pet. 3:10). So if he destroys cells that are abnormal to human health, then this action is minor, when contrasted with his rights over his entire creation in the Last Days. God owns it, so he gives himself permission to renovate it, to improve-redeem-it. Thankfully, he gives himself permission to renew the human body at times by eliminating abnormalities, such as diseases, and by restoring normality to such impairments as dislocated bones, dysfunctional limbs, and non-functioning eyes and ears-all working normally after miracles are effectuated. But the laws of nature will have their way, as he ordains them. Even a person completely healed of cancer will die eventually.
In any case, we need the right point of view, as much as this is possible. And one that introduces God (as traditional theism understands him) into the discussion can offer no guarantee that he will not act according to his own rules and decrees, out of his good character, even if we do not fully have the mental capacity to understand every aspect of his actions and purposes and character.
Philosophical significance of miracles
(1) Miracles taking place today may tip the scales of probability slightly towards miracles in philosophical arguments. The miracles listed above-only representative-work together toward a convergence of probabilities or at least possibilities. That is, these miracles can add up and converge to make the possibility or probability of the reality of miracles strong.
Surely they make even a hardened skeptic pause to reflect. What if it’s all true?
(2) Miracles happening today do not upset science or the regular laws of nature. In fact, increasing miracles exponentially would do nothing to tear the fabric of nature. There are still far too few miracles, and would that they increase! Even under those happy conditions, science would still sit securely. C. S. Lewis rightly says that theology offers a working arrangement between science and a Christian’s prayers.
The philosophy that forbids you to make uniformity absolute is also the philosophy which offers you solid grounds for believing it to be general, to be almost absolute. The Being who threatens Nature’s claim to omnipotence confirms her in her lawful occasions . . . Try to make nature absolute and you find that her uniformity is not even probable. By claiming too much you get nothing. You get the deadlock, as in Hume. Theology offers you a working arrangement, which leaves the scientist free to continue his experiments and the Christian to continue his prayers. (p. 140)
(3) Rather than eliminate the possibility of miracles, one must keep an open mind. In The Concept of Miracle (p. 71), prominent theistic philosopher Richard Swinburne describes two starting points before anyone investigates the reports of miracles.
The first starting point is open and receptive.
It should now be apparent that the evidence for or against the occurrence of some particular miracle is extremely widespread. With one [worldview] one rightly does not ask much in the way of detailed historical evidence for a miracle since miracles are the kind of events which one expects to occur in many or certain specific circumstances. The testimony of one witness . . . should be sufficient . . . .
The second starting point is skeptical.
With another [worldview] one rightly asks for a large amount of historical evidence, because one’s general conviction that the world is a certain sort of world, a world without a god and so a world in which miracles do not happen.
What is your, the reader’s, starting point?
(4) It is incumbent on all skeptics to investigate. (The meaning of skepticism in original Greek is investigation). Now technology provides a means to firm up the results of the investigation. X-rays reveal abnormalities, and CT scans show cancer, and they can confirm a miraculous healings, as a direct result of prayer. Representatives of science, medical doctors, for example, can be interviewed. A skeptic may follow up on a miracle to find out if the patient was suffering from temporary hysteria, and was not healed after all. I have seen reports on these “temporary miracles,” but I have also seen reports that confirm that a miracle was genuine. Next, if completely blind eyes recovering sight, for example, can be filmed and verified that there was no “trick photography” or computer generated images, then why would anyone reject such reliable testimony, unless he started off willfully blind? Maybe the skeptic himself would like to attend religious gatherings or church services to investigate. With the leader’s permission, maybe he can film a miracle. This would go a long way to eliminate any suspicion. Thus, technology as witness-honestly used-provides a powerful counter to question-begging rejection of all testimonies.
D. C. Lewis investigated fairly and scientifically. He concludes that miracles happened at the Harrogate conference. Skeptics too have a duty to their name to investigate.
Theological significance of miracles
(1) Miracles today do not alter the foundation of Christianity, as if they carry as much weight and authority as Christ’s miracles, especially the Resurrection. Each miracle must be put in its proper context, and Christ is the indispensable founder of Christianity. Indeed, it is he who works the miracles today, not a human “faith healer.”
(2) Phillip Wiebe, who teaches in the philosophy department at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, argues that Biblical authors who are accurate about external matters that can be independently verified, such as the chronology or jurisdiction of Roman rulers, are not necessarily accurate about miracles. However, he says, rightly, that miracles happening today like the ones in the Bible would support the accounts of Biblical miracles.
I suggest that the apologetic [defense of a faith] that is needed would show that at least some kind of events alleged in the biblical documents are still found today . . . If events similar to those reported in the miracle stories in the Bible were to be found at the present time, the credibility of those ancient documents would be enhanced. (pp. 116-17)
Though writing from an opposing viewpoint about the Bible, Wiebe is right about this one point. Miracles today like the ones recorded in the Bible can only confirm the Bible. For example, a miracle recovery of sight today supports the Biblical record of similar miracles about healing the blind. In turn, this supports such highly significant and unique miracles as the Virgin Birth and Christ’s Resurrection. Miracles today certainly do not disconfirm Bible miracles.
(3) Replying to Wiebe’s opposition, Larmer agrees, up to a point. Bible-like miracles today indeed confirm the reports in the Bible. However, the case for them can be made through unvarnished reasoning without them. Larmer correctly says:
The occurrence of similar events [as those recorded in the Bible] in contemporary times is no more necessary for grounding a rational belief in the events recorded in the Bible than a second crossing of the Alps by a Carthaginian army is necessary to ground belief in Hannibal’s exploit. (“Miracles and Testimony,” p. 130)
This is true for Christian apologists who have little or no experience with witnessing with their own eyes a genuine miracle. But empirically verifying a (claimed) miracle would only strengthen their philosophical arguments.
Conclusion
Miracles happening today are not a theoretical possibility for those who experience them. The same is true for those who witness them with their own eyes. Miracles are real. They happen.
“A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence” (Hume, p. 110).
Other articles in this series, in this order:
Part One: Miracles and New Testament Studies.

Part Two: Hume’s Miracle Prison: How they got out alive

Part Three: Fortifying Hume’s Miracle Prison (2): Miracles and Historical Testimony

Part Four: Miracles and the Laws of Nature

Why Europe Abandoned Israel

Why Europe Abandoned Israel

By Richard Baehr

Why is Israel viewed so differently in Europe than in the United States? To argue as the title of this article does, that Europe has abandoned Israel, is to suggest that it was once in its corner. And in fact, this is true.
Prior to the Six Day War in 1967, it was France which was Israel’s primary military supplier, not the United States. In the War of Independence in 1948-49, it was arms smuggled from Czechoslovakia that enabled the Zionists to fight on. Most European nations, including some Soviet satellites,  supported the partition resolution in the General Assembly in November 1947. European nations supported Israel at the UN through the late 1960s and in some cases well beyond then. 
Clearly, some of this support in the post World War 2 period-was a reflection of European guilt over the murder of six million Jews in their midst from 1939 to 1945. As Raul Hilberg has written, most Europeans and most European nations fell into one of two categories during the Holocaust:  perpetrators, or bystanders. Few nations distinguished themselves (Denmark, Bulgaria, and maybe Italy, were better than average).  
Today 40 years later, that residue of sympathy for the plucky underdog nation of Israel has disappeared.
When I refer to Europe I mean for the most part the EU (which includes all of western  Europe except Norway  Switzerland, and Iceland and an increasing number of eastern European countries: Romania and Bulgaria the most recently admitted, joining Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia).
As an alumnus of the Bronx High School of Science and MIT, I have an attachment to numbers. So I will start with some important ones that emphasize  my major point: modern Europe, as a result of consolidation through the EU, is experiencing a certain schizophrenia in terms of its role in the world. 
Size versus military might

  1. Europe is a growing economic powerhouse due to creation of a collective economy.
  2. But Europe is a declining military power with a diminished role versus the United States’ power and role, and this gap is more pronounced with George W. Bush as President than before, given his inclination to defend and promote what he believes are American interests despite substantial international resistance.

Let us look at some numbers:  The EU now has 27 countries with a GDP over $13 trillion. The EU countries have almost 500 million people.  The United States with 300 million people, also has a GDP of about $13 trillion, so obviously per capita GDP is much higher in the US than in Europe (60% higher per capita in fact). Europeans claim that the greater income disparity among Americans means the real gap in per capita income is narrower between most citizens of the US and Europe. 
Add Turkey and the non-EU Eastern European nations, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (reuniting Yugoslavia within the EU!),  and the EU  could soon be well over 500 million people. Russia has another 150 million people, Ukraine 40 million, though these countries are not currently considered potential members. 
But there is little or no population growth within Europe, and with the exception of some of the Eastern European economies, Ireland and Scandinavia, relatively slow economic growth overall. In the US, the 1950 population of 150 million has doubled 55 years later. In the US, we have replacement population growth from the birth rate, plus immigration, mostly from Mexico and East Asia.  Europe’s population, which grew only 20% the past 55 years, is now stagnant, and headed downward sharply, given today’s low birth rates.
Defense budgets in Europe are dropping. The US defense budget is larger than the next 20 largest defense budgets in the world combined. The European solution is to solve problems multilaterally, and not by military means. Why?  If a military solution is required, then Europe must follow the American lead and be in America’s shadow. This is a dignity issue. If international problems are addressed multilaterally, then Europe has 27 EU nations, and in international forums like the UN, Europe has more than 30 votes, and the US just one. 
Lifestyle issues
But there is also an attitude or life style issue at play between Europe and America.
Western Europeans want to  believe that  all international disputes can be resolved amicably, or as they call it, diplomatically, and multilaterally. Deal with diplomatic issues in Geneva or at the UN. Resolve economic problems in Davos. Address war crimes disputes in Brussels.  One explanation for this somewhat naïve view of addressing the world’s problems is that Europe is militarily and spiritually weak and willing to appease those who might threaten the European life style. The Europeans’ new ethos is the New York Times‘ editorial page social philosophy writ large: tolerance for everything – euthanasia, gay rights, drugs, abortion,  Islam.  The only intolerance that is allowed is towards Christianity, America, and  Israel. Bruce Bawer, who left America for what he thought was a better place in Western Europe, has documented the spiritual emptiness of this new multicultural ideology in his recent book While Europe Slept.
Look at lifestyle issues.  In the US, average hours worked per year is close to 1900. In Germany it is now below 1400. Europeans work less, retire earlier, and are better secured cradle to grave through an extensive and expensive social net than we are here. But this social system is paid for with much higher taxes than I believe would be accepted in the United States.  And the high cost to business to pay its share for this rich safety net means few workers are hired, hence close to 10% unemployment is a near constant level for some countries on the continent. The population in Europe is aging almost as quickly as Japan’s.  Europeans have the lowest birth rates in the world. All countries in Europe except Ireland, have below-replacement fertility rates.  Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain have an average of 1.1 or 1.2 births per female of child bearing age.  In Northern Italy, the fertility rate (number of children per woman of child bearing age) has fallen below 1, a first in world history. 
Population decline
The most up to date demographic forecasts project that every single European country will have a smaller population in the year 2050 than today with the possible exception of Ireland and France.  Ireland has a high birth rate by European standards. France still has sufficient immigration to counter declining fertility rates. Some of the former Soviet states already have declining population.  In Russia the death rate is now 1/3 greater than the birth rate. Russia may be half its current size in 50 years, as might some of the Baltic States. Italy is projected to be 1/4 smaller.  Every minute on average, there are 3 births and 4 deaths in Russia.  Mark Steyn in his new book America Alone, argues that demography is destiny. He concludes, a bit hyperbolically, that Europeans are in the throes of a death spiral. 
So Europe’s population is aging and declining, and workers want to work less.  This creates huge social issues. Who will do the work that Europeans increasingly do not want to do themselves (maid service, child care, working with the elderly, dishwashers)?  Who will pay the taxes to support the social services which are skewed, as in the US, towards the elderly, a rapidly growing bloc?
Europeans have had largely homogeneous populations for most of their  history.  European diversity used to mean Hungarians living in Rumania.  Basically the continent was all white and largely Christian, except for Muslim areas of Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo,  Macedonia and Turkey, and the Jews of eastern Europe.  In the past 40 years, African and Asian immigrants (mainly Muslim in both cases) have come in to do the work Europeans do not want to do any more, and which Europeans so far can afford to pay others to do.
Rising Muslim population
But the immigrant groups have changed the social dynamic. Crime is way up in center cities.  European cities still have lower murder rates than American cities but higher overall crime rates in many cases. London’s crime rate is twice as high as New York’s. The new immigrants, especially the Muslim immigrants, have not mixed well with the native population. Entire immigrant communities have taken over sections in major cities, particularly  in France, Britain,  Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium.  Half the babies born in Brussels are Muslim. The city of Mälmo, Sweden, has become so dangerous that the fire department will not come for an emergency call in certain neighborhoods without police protection. 
And then came the bombings in Spain in March 2004, and in Britain in July 2005 and the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, and the cartoon riots created by the publication of a few unflattering drawings of Muhammed in an obscure Danish newspaper.  Europe has been forced to think about the crazy aunt in the bedroom.
New pressures are emerging to restrict immigration because of its threat to societal homogeneity, and public safety.  But there is a need for high levels of immigration to provide the warm bodies to do the work that needs to be done, and to contribute to the tax system to support the social safety net.  This is I think an irreconcilable conflict.
Current estimates are that at least 20 million  Muslims now live in Western Europe.  A few years back, I met with a French consul general to complain about French anti-Semitism, which of course  he denied. When I told him that the French were kowtowing to the Muslim minority because it was ten times the size of its Jewish community, he cut me off to say there were only 4 million Muslims in France, not 6 million as I was implying. A year later, 6 million is the official estimate the French accept.  There are also 3 million Muslims in Germany (mainly Turks), 2 million in Britain (mainly Pakistanis), and a million each in Italy and the Netherlands (both mostly from North Africa). A recent article I read says the real Muslim population in France may be between 8 and 9 million, as illegal immigration, aided and abetted by Europe’s new open borders, has brought more and more Arabs to the country in Europe where they were most numerous already: France.
One forecast I read suggests that France may be half Muslim by 2050 given continued immigration and the much higher birth rate for Muslims than other French.  While Texas may be half Hispanic by 2025, I don’t think that this demographic change will necessarily affect Texas for the worse, and Texas will still be  America. Immigrants to America tend to become more Americanized over time. But will France still be French if it is half Muslim?  David Pryce Jones in an article in Commentary stated that either Islam will be Europeanized, or Europe will be Islamized. Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis put it more starkly: given the comparative birth rates (white Europeans very low, Muslims very high) and immigration levels, soon enough Europe will be Muslim, and  the question will be answered. 
The numbers provide important background to explain Europe’s problems with Israel and its seeming obtuseness and infinite patience in continuing to defend and financially support the PA with billions in contributions, though the money  is continually diverted for terrorism (otherwise known as security forces) and to support the lifestyles of the PA’s thugocracy. It also explains Europe’s near 100% support for Israel-bashing efforts in the UN and international bodies. With the Hamas election victory, many in Europe agreed to an initial aid cutoff, but soon wanted aid restored, because they believed it was needed for humanitarian purposes.  One small sign of sanity was the petition by a French legislator demanding a full accounting of money sent to the PA.  The petition gathered over 100 EU parliament signatures, enough to require a formal response by the EU administration. That response was to send it to committee for further study.  Remember that Europeans invented bureaucracy, and have perfected the art.  
Hostility to Israel as the product 
So why are the Europeans so hostile to Israel, and so sympathetic to the Palestinians?
There are a number of factors that explain European behavior towards Israel. I have identified seven of them: 

  1. Europe’s dependence on  Middle East oil 
  2. Europe’s rivalry with the US
  3. The growing  number of Muslims and their militancy
  4. The small number of Jews, and their passivity 
  5. The role of elites in Europe’s politics 
  6. Europe’s long term disease of anti-Semitism, and
  7. The decline of  Christianity in Europe. 

Oil
The US obtains almost 40% its oil from domestic sources, and much of the rest from Venezuela,  Nigeria, and other non-Arab or Middle East countries. Europe is much more dependent  on foreign oil, and especially  Middle East oil. If OPEC , and Middle  Eastern nations use  the oil weapon to  punish the US  for its policies with Israel and the Palestinians, or for war against Iraq, Europe will suffer more than we will.
Rivalry with the US
Taking a slap at Israel  is a cheap and easy way to annoy the US, and insert Europe in  a competing power role. The US is too pro-Israel, so Europe  will be more  balanced and nuanced,  more multilateral, more understanding of the Palestinian side.  The old argument was that only the US could pressure Israel, so Arabs  needed to work with the US as well. Now the  European argument is that only Europe can work with the  PA given America’s tilt towards Israel.  We have seen a similar logic in the French and German approach in the period leading up to the war with Iraq.  Part of the resistance to American efforts may have been honest disagreement about the results of continued inspections, and hence the wisdom of going to war over WMDs.  But a far greater part, especially in the case of France was designed to spite the US, and interfere with America’s projection of power abroad.  A final factor of course was money- the spoils for France,  and Russia and Germany from the oil for food scandal, the largest financial scandal in the world’s history, but reported in this country almost entirely on just one channel (FNC), and  in one newspaper – the Wall Street Journal
Fear of the Muslim population 
Europe is afraid of its Muslims. There is fear that if Europe behaves towards Israel the way the US does, that the terrorism of 9/11 and the terror that Israel experiences would explode over into Europe’s streets.  This explains why Spain voted for an appeasement government after the train attacks of 3/11. This is why the violence against Europe’s Jews is explained away as youth vandalism, not as racist hate crimes.
Europe’s police forces are also not made of the same stuff as New York’s finest.  Not all European police are as pathetic as the British in terms of severely limiting the use of firearms for police officers and security personnel, but that is the trend. The Muslim gang members who commit crimes against Europe’s Jews have no fear of the police in European cities, as African American criminals might in major US cities.
Yes, Muslims in Europe are often treated as second  class citizens, and they are resentful. But most of this resentment comes from the hostility that is bred into those who attend the mosques of Europe, and learn from the  imams trained in Saudi style Wahhabism in the Saudi Kingdom or Pakistan.  The Muslims in Europe are by and large not integrated into the fabric of their societies, but much of this is not a result of discrimination, but a conscious decision to remain outside the new secular Europe.
But it is also the case that most Europeans are happy to have the new immigrants live among themselves and not integrate in their societies. Do native Germans regard the Turks living among them as Germans? Do the Dutch view South Moluccans as they do their Dutch neighbors? In America, if an immigrant works hard and earns a living, nobody really cares about his or her ethnicity. We are after all a nation of immigrants and their descendants. 
Islam is at heart both a religion, and a political system. There is no separation of church and state in Islam. Radical Islamists intend to dominate and overwhelm Europe.  Melanie Phillips has written about how this disturbing trend is playing out in Britain in her recent book Londonistan.
There is also little intermarriage by immigrants in Europe. In the US 10 % of blacks marry whites,  5% of Asians marry non-Asians, and as we know, about half of Jews marry non-Jews.
Few Jews left in Europe
Other than France and Britain, there are not many Jews around in Europe today.  The total Jewish population is a little over a million in Western Europe, and merely a handful in Eastern Europe other than the former Soviet republics.  There has been a little Jewish revival in Germany caused by immigration from the Soviet Union. So we see declining numbers everywhere else; aging population, low birth rate, high intermarriage rate. Does this sound familiar?
But unlike the US, the Jewish communities in Europe are in many cases remnants of once larger communities,  and are not politically assertive. There is no European equivalent of AIPAC, and Jews lack a meaningful political voice. Most European Jews before 1939 lived in Eastern Europe, not Western Europe. France has twice as many Jews today as it did in 1939 as a result of getting a sizable share of the Sephardic Jews expelled from Arab countries after the creation of the state of Israel, particularly from Tunisia, Algeria,  and Morocco. Western Europe may have lost a million Jews in the Holocaust, while Eastern Europe lost 5 million.
Interestingly, in Eastern Europe (other than in the countries that were part of the former Soviet Union), being Jewish is now becoming a bit trendy, even “hot” in some cases.  In Slovenia, my wife’s native country, with perhaps 500 Jews, a major magazine had a ten page story on the Jews of Slovenia (that’s 50 Jews per page),  the President lit Chanukah  candles, and the first synagogue in almost 500 years has just been opened in the capital of Ljubljana.  There is a sort of  philo-Semitism  in some other Eastern European countries as well, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and amazingly enough, even in Poland. Jews or partial Jews are coming out of the woodwork. While this is better than the situation that existed in these countries for decades or centuries in some cases, the Jews who remain are in some respect museum pieces or curiosities, and the communities belong to history.  
In Western Europe, however, Jews are looking for cover. Wear a yamulka in a public places, and you could become a target. Eat at a Jewish cafeteria, go to synagogue, go to a Jewish day school, and you might become a target.  You are even a target after you are buried. The worst anti Semitism is in France, but it is also terrible in Belgium and Germany, and bad in other countries as well. The more critical the governments and media are of Israeli behavior in a particular country, the more the violence seems to spread, almost as if it were given a license. Were European government policy to become more supportive of Israel,  the fear is that the attacks would then be directed against European  institutions, rather than Europe’s Jews.
Role of the Elites
In Europe the elites have a far different role than they do in the United States. The elites of Europe are the coffee shop philosophers: leftists who romanticize the violence of Che Guevara,  Yassar Arafat, and the Sunni killers fighting our forces in Iraq. They fancy themselves revolutionaries fighting western hegemony, colonialism, militarism, imperialism, etc. In the US we have such people too. They make up the humanities faculties of most colleges and universities, particularly at elite schools.
In America the leftist academics prepare petitions and write their drivel for academic conferences, but they really do not much affect public policy. Yes, there is a soft leftist mind set that wafts out of academia and courses through the media that has a real influence over the messages that are communicated in our society. This is what Bernard Goldberg has written about in his book Bias.  But it is not the harsh anti western nihilistic nonsense that is so prevalent in academia.  It is easy to forget that in the 1960s, the Kennedy administration seemed to take half of Cambridge, Massachusetts with it to Washington. That kind of academic influence on policy, whether in a Democratic or Republican administration, no longer exists.
Europe is very different. The elites are public intellectuals and have a major role in making government policy. This is why the mindless anti-Americanism of the German minister with her Hitler analogy to George Bush can be voiced.  It is why major media in Britain and France and Italy, and to a lesser extent Germany, are full of biting anti American, and anti Israel commentary. That “shitty little country” comment by the French ambassador to Britain reflects the worldview of the European elites. Israel is the imperialist colonialist power. There is nothing noble about its struggle against terrorism. The Palestinians are the oppressed – the new South Africans fighting the Israeli apartheid. Jimmy Carter has attempted to popularize this view in America with a vindictive assault on Israel in his latest book: Palestine:  Peace not Apartheid.
Romanticism
In Europe, these views are not just a reflection of government policy caused by fear of domestic Muslim terrorism, but a romanticism for the presumed helpless victim, and admiration for the revolutionary gunmen fighting for their freedom.  In Europe the elites believe this garbage. The anger against Israel among the elites is very strong. The coverage of the conflict by the leftist European media, the bibles of the elites – The Guardian, Le Monde, the BBC, Reuters – feed this anger with their reporting.  Even something as seemingly innocent as an annual calendar, distributed by Reuters, contains but one provocative photo – a Palestinian “militant” marching to protest the “killing” of Palestinians by Israel (obviously no context required).  And recently, in a clear violation of the most basic tenets of academic freedom, both British and French academics have attempted to eliminate scholarly contact with Israeli academics.
In the US we are a very culturally diverse and politically divided nation – abortion, gun rights, taxes, government spending, the proper  role of religion in the public sphere, are all  issues on which the population is sharply divided.  But there is also common ground that we can call an acceptance of basic American and democratic principles. It is a fairly conservative common ground, patriotic, respectful of religion (remember  the public reaction to the 9th circuit judges  ruling on the under God language in the pledge of allegiance), and  supportive of free enterprise.   
The European elites align with Noam Chomsky’s world view.  An example is the way the European  elites  ridicule religion (other than Islam).  An Oxford scientist, Richard Dawkins, has written The God Delusion claiming that teaching religion to children is a form of child abuse. Because of the role that  the elites have in European politics, often  moving into and out of government and non-governmental organization roles, their views have a hearing in the circles of government decision making.
The Greens, a far left movement that started as an environmental movement, are now pro-Palestinian, anti-American, anti-capitalist and anti-war, and growing in strength throughout the continent. There is pitifully little common ground between the major American policy consensus and Europe’s Greens.
America’s greens (represented by Ralph Nader and Israel-hating film director Michael Moore) have similar views as Europe’s Greens, but here, thankfully,  the Greens are only a 1%- 2% phenomenon. In Europe they are ten percent of the voters in many countries, and part of many governing coalitions.  They influence all the other parties on the left and make them less sympathetic to America and by extension  to Israel.
How bad has it gotten for Israel in Europe?
Public opinion surveys up through the end of 2003 showed  huge majorities favoring the Palestinians over Israel,  by 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 in the large countries and by 10 to 1 in some smaller ones. In the US, surveys showed 3 to 1 to 4 to 1 support for Israel over the Palestinians in the same period.  The number of Europeans supporting the Palestinians dropped after the electoral victory by Hamas, but support for Israel did not increase. In a survey last year, Europeans named Israel the most dangerous country in the world, with the US and Iran tied for second!  The media is least hostile to Israel in Germany (with greater care taken to not cross the line to anti-Semitism given the Germans’ ignoble history), and most hostile in Britain, France, and Spain.
The public is also very hostile to Israel in Belgium, and in Scandinavia, which has no Jews to speak of. Norway took great pride in the Oslo Agreement. Foreign Minister Terje Larsen facilitated this agreement.  Norway awarded a Nobel Peace Prize to Yassar Arafat (and Jimmy Carter). No one subsequently questioned whether Arafat was still deserving, but some questioned Shimon Peres’ award because of his complicity in  the “massacre” in Jenin, which of course never happened. Larsen is very hard on  Israel and his attacks on Ariel Sharon were slanderous. In Jenin he knowingly lied about war crimes. There is a total unwillingness to accept that Oslo was a disaster for Israel.  Sweden prides itself on its moral superiority and has condemned Israel in unusually strong language  even for Europe.  Let us not forget, however, that Sweden was neutral in World War 2 and grew wealthy selling war materiel to Hitler. Somehow they could not come around to choosing sides between the allies and the Nazis.
The international criminal court and  the war crimes tribunals against Sharon in Belgium, and the International Court of Justice’s advisory ruling on the security barrier in the West Bank, were other  ways for Europeans to annoy America, badger Israel, and try to force a European role in American foreign policy and military decisions. But it also demonstrates the problem of moral equivalence (or in reality, the absence of any grounded morality) which is an endemic problem for Europeans. Sharon was viewed as equivalent to Milosevic. Sabra and Shattila were the same as  Srebenica. The occupation and suicide bombings are viewed as equivalent. Without occupation, claim the European apologists for Palestinian violence, there would be no terror bombings or attacks.
Anti-Semitism lives on in Europe
Europeans  have a Jewish problem. In fact with the exception of a few decades after World War 2, they always have had a problem with their Jews.  But charges of anti Semitism are hurtful to Europeans.  They want to put the past in the trunk and lock it for good. The centuries of discrimination, the pogroms, the ghettos, the Holocaust, are all ancient history, crimes of an older Europe.  Anti-Israel attitudes are everywhere in Europe, – in many cases official government policy, and are all over the media, from the BBC and Reuters to the tabloid rags.
But anti Semitism is more problematic, since it violates Europeans’ notion of human rights, and their more ordered higher quality  societies.  So the rejection of the charge is immediate and fierce.  There is no more guilt about past behavior but defensiveness about current charges of Jew-hatred.  Even Amnesty  International has been forced to condemn suicide  bombings  as crimes against humanity because of the charge that by ignoring these atrocities, and concentrating instead  on Israel’s counter measures, it was anti Semitic, since murder of Jews did not concern them, only what happened to Arabs.
The decline of Christianity
Here one can see perhaps the biggest difference between Europe and America, and a difference that is very favorable to support for Israel in the US. Jews are now less than 2% of America’s population, down from 4% in 1950, and our numbers have declined from six to just over five million, according to one population survey, and held steady at six million according to a more recent survey.  Muslims and Arabs may together be 3 to 4 million, certainly not the 6 to 7 million they claim, but their numbers are rapidly growing. 
The decline in church membership in America is in the liberal Protestant churches – the Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians – the groups least sympathetic to Israel. Their members, of course, behave like most liberal Jews: they read the New York Times, listen to NPR, vote Democratic,  and attend Michael Moore movies. 
Evangelical Christians and practicing Catholics, on the other hand, are growing in numbers. And especially among evangelical Christians, support for Israel is very strong. This community, which has an above average number of births, is growing as a share of the population. That is good for political support for Israel here. 
In Europe, the number of practicing Christians has fallen very far very fast.  In Europe the elites routinely  ridicule Christianity ( in fact they ridicule all religions, other than Islam), in the fashion of Bill Maher or Maureen Dowd.  Europeans now have the lowest church attendance in the western world.  In Britain, of those who attend  Anglican church services,  more than half are African or Caribbean blacks. There are exceptions of course – Ireland and Poland are countries where many white Europeans still go to church. Current estimates are that 10% of Europe’s population are practicing Christians, about double the number of Muslims on the continent. What is left – the vast majority of Europeans – are secular humanists or anti-religious right wingers, and Israel has no biblical or moral significance for either group. 
In the case of the secular humanists, Israel’s alleged misbehavior with the Palestinians is viewed as a thorn in the side of good relations with their Muslims.  Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe, much as in America, are the religious Protestants on the continent. But they are few and far between, and they themselves are the subject of the same scorn and hostility from the left as occurs here.  The liberal Christian churches of Europe have been behaving for many years towards Israel,  just as the Presbyterian Church USA has  been  behaving  in the US, with its calls for divestment
Does Israel have any hope for better relations with Europe?
Europe will react better to an Israel run by someone from the left, and an Israel that shrinks.  The withdrawal from Lebanon was applauded, as was the disengagement from Gaza.  A Barak or a Peres, or an Olmert, in fact most  anyone other than a Sharon or a Netanyahu, makes Europe happier.  But Europeans, thankfully, do not get to vote in Israel’s elections, or ours. Israelis will pick their leaders, just as we pick our own. 
Ariel Sharon had no hope of ever getting a fair hearing in Europe. From the beginning, the Europeans viewed him as a war criminal. If a more moderate Palestinian leadership emerged  and there were substantive peace talks and the appearance  of flexibility on the part of Israel, Israel’s public image in Europe could improve. There are lots of hypotheticals in this last statement of course, and a risk to Israel’s security from trying to do too much to make the Europeans happier with Israel.  So don’t bet the ranch on it happening.  I do not have much confidence that we are entering a new period of reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israel.
The recent intifada was a disaster for both peoples, but particularly for the Palestinians. In Israel, in addition to the dead and the injuredand the destruction, the vicious terror war   killed any sense of  trust that had developed between the two sides, and gravely weakened what I call the illusionists – the members of the Israeli peace camp who made the Palestinians’ case within Israel. The electoral victory of Hamas, the war with Hezb’allah, and the strident and repeated eliminationist threats coming from a near nuclear Iran, have hopefully wiped away most of the vestiges of defeatism – the belief that more Israeli concessions will bring peace.
The Europeans demand that if negotiations are to begin again between Israel and the Palestinians, that Israel go back to where it left off at Camp David or Taba in early 2001 and forget its 1500 dead, the terror attacks, the vicious hate rhetoric and de-legitimization campaign that the Palestinians and their Arab allies have broadcast relentlessly in venues all around the world. The Israelis know that the Islamic terror groups, as well as  the secular terror groups, are still armed to the teeth and remain aggressive in their intentions.
In Southern Lebanon, the UNIFIL and Lebanese army forces merely looked on as Hezb’allah rearmed after the war.   Israel’s conflict with Hezb’allah and the Palestinians has never been primarily about settlements or the occupation, as the Europeans charge, though these are issues that reasonable parties could negotiate. More basically we have two peoples claiming the same land. And the conflict will not end so long as most Palestinians and their allies believe that Palestinian land is not only  the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel too.
The American-led war with Iraq was revealing for the divisions that it revealed within Europe,  though on Israel the  negative sentiment remained close to universal.   Britain, Spain (under Aznar), Italy, and a few Eastern European  countries provided troops and material support in the war effort. The French, Germans, Belgians, Greeks,   and many other Europeans opposed the war for a variety of reasons. Certainly, there were legitimate strategic arguments that could be developed to explain why some might have been opposed to the war, just as in America. But in Europe, there were additional issues:

  1. The instability it might cause among their own Muslim populations  which would need to be controlled.
  2. The potential  loss of business investments and  opportunities since Europeans  willingly filled the gap left by America’s boycott of business activity with Iraq.
  3. Because the war demonstrated America’s military power, and Europe’s weakness, military action meant the UN and diplomacy and multilateralism  had not worked. Since these are the holy trinity of European international politics,  the resistance to American action was deeply felt, and  resented.

The Americans have learned that a country that only responds to attacks against it will continue to be  attacked. Sometimes you have to take the battle to the enemy, as Israel did after the Passover massacre in Netanya, and the Americans did to Al Qaeda and the Taliban after 9/11 (and as FDR did by going after Germany first after Pearl Harbor, though we had been attacked by Japan, and not Germany, a piece of history that seems to have been largely forgotten).  The best defense is often a good offense. As in football, keep the other side’s offense off the field.
Other than Tony Blair, this doctrine is foreign to the Europeans.  After the train bombings in Madrid in 2004, the newly elected peace government in Spain quickly removed their forces from Iraq. Appeasement did not work in Europe in 1938, and Spain’s pitiful behavior will only encourage the Islamic radicals to intensify their efforts to undermine the soft regimes they see all over the continent.  Now we have James Baker’s Iraq Study Group Report, as good a European style document as we ever could hope to produce in this country . The ISG report maintains that the way to wind down our Iraq involvement is to plead for mercy from Syria and Iran (this is what is otherwise known in diplomatic circles as engagement), and to pressure Israel for concessions to the Palestinians. Is there anyone who seriously believes that anything Israel might offer to the  Palestinians will impact how the rival religious insurgencies and militias behave in Iraq?   And why would Syria and Iran, who have worked to destabilize Iraq, so that the Americans would pack up and leave, and allow them to share the spoils, care to solve the problems they helped create?
To his credit, Bush rejected the ISG recommendations, while paying them the required lip service. The US, at least under this president, remains hard headed about the enemies we face, regardless of the wisdom of the Iraq war. Israel needs the same kind of leadership.
In Europe, the fear of military conflict is so strong, that the illusionists reign supreme. Think of how pathetic was the European response to the savagery in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.  In this country, the ties with Israel remain strong. Certainly, the support of evangelicals, the bipartisan support in Congress (thanks in large part to AIPAC and Jews’ political activism), and  the different sizes of the Jewish and Muslim communities here versus in Europe, all matter to the equation.  But we should never under-estimate leaders, and the messages they send.  George Bush seems to understand, that in the conflict with radical Islam in which we are now engaged, Israel is on the same page as we are.
[A version of this article was delivered as a talk at Temple B'Nai Israel, Aurora, Jan. 7, 2007.]
Richard Baehr is the chief political correspondent of American Thinker.

Disgraceful v. Graceful

Chaos and Courage

Rice Says Bush Authorized Iranians’ Arrest in Iraq

January 13, 2007

Rice Says Bush Authorized Iranians’ Arrest in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 — A recent series of American raids against Iranians in Iraq was authorized under an order that President Bush decided to issue several months ago to undertake a broad military offensive against Iranian operatives in the country, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

“There has been a decision to go after these networks,” Ms. Rice said in an interview with The New York Times in her office on Friday afternoon, before leaving on a trip to the Middle East.

Ms. Rice said Mr. Bush had acted “after a period of time in which we saw increasing activity” among Iranians in Iraq, “and increasing lethality in what they were producing.” She was referring to what American military officials say is evidence that many of the most sophisticated improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, being used against American troops were made in Iran.

Ms. Rice was vague on the question of when Mr. Bush issued the order, but said his decision grew out of questions that the president and members of his National Security Council raised in the fall.

The administration has long accused Iran of meddling in Iraq, providing weapons and training to Shiite forces with the idea of keeping the United States bogged down in the war. Ms. Rice’s willingness to discuss the issue seemed to reflect a new hostility to Iran that was first evident in Mr. Bush’s speech to the nation on Wednesday night, in which he accused Tehran of providing material support for attacks on American troops and vowed to respond.

Until now, despite a series of raids in which Iranians have been seized by American forces in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq, administration officials have declined to say whether Mr. Bush ordered such actions.

The White House decision to authorize the aggressive steps against Iranians in Iraq appears to formalize the American effort to contain Iran’s ambitions as a new front in the Iraq war. Administration officials now describe Iran as the single greatest threat the United States faces in the Middle East, though some administration critics regard the talk about Iran as a diversion, one intended to shift attention away from the spiraling chaos in Iraq.

In adopting a more confrontational approach toward Iran, Mr. Bush has decisively rejected recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that he explore negotiations with Tehran as part of a new strategy to help quell the sectarian violence in Iraq.

In the interview on Friday, Ms. Rice described the military effort against Iranians in Iraq as a defensive “force protection mission,” but said it was also motivated by concerns that Iran was trying to further destabilize the country.

Mr. Bush’s public warning to Iran was accompanied by the deployment of an additional aircraft carrier off Iran’s coast and advanced Patriot antimissile defense systems in Persian Gulf countries near Iran’s borders. Both the White House and the secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, insisted Friday that the United States was not seeking to goad Iran into conflict, and that it had no intention of taking the battle into Iranian territory. The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, warned reporters away from “an urban legend that’s going around” that Mr. Bush was “trying to prepare the way for war” with Iran or Syria.

Mr. Gates said that the United States did not intend to engage in hot pursuit of the operatives into Iran.

“We believe that we can interrupt these networks that are providing support, through actions inside the territory of Iraq, that there is no need to attack targets in Iran itself,” Mr. Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I continue to believe what I told you at the confirmation hearing,” he added, referring to last month’s hearings on his nomination, “that any kind of military action inside Iran itself would be a very last resort.”

Ms. Rice’s comments came just a day after the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, issued a sharp warning to the administration about the recent raids against Iranians in Iraq, including one in Erbil early Thursday.

He said the vote to authorize the president to order the use of force to topple Saddam Hussein was not a vehicle for mounting attacks in Iran, even to pursue cells or networks assisting insurgents or sectarian militias. “I just want the record to show — and I would like to have a legal response from the State Department if they think they have authority to pursue networks or anything else across the border into Iran and Iraq — that will generate a constitutional confrontation here in the Senate, I predict to you,” Mr. Biden said.

In the view of American officials, Iran is engaged in a policy of “managed chaos” in Iraq. Its presumed goal, both policymakers and intelligence officials say, is to raise the cost to the United States for its intervention in Iraq, in hopes of teaching Washington a painful lesson about the perils of engaging in regime change.

Toward this end, American officials charge, Iran has provided components, including explosives and infrared triggering devices, for sophisticated roadside bombs that are designed to penetrate armor. They have also provided training for several thousand Shiite militia fighters, mostly in Iran. Officials say the training is carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

In the interview on Friday, Ms. Rice said, “We think they are providing help to the militias as well, and maybe even the more violent element of these militias.”

In addition, American officials say the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force is active in Iraq. A senior military official said last week that one of the Iranians seized in Baghdad late last month was the No. 3 Quds official. He said American forces uncovered maps of neighborhoods in Baghdad in which Sunnis could be evicted, and evidence of involvement in the war during the summer in Lebanon.

That Iranian official was ordered released, by Ms. Rice among others, after Iran claimed he had diplomatic status.

This week, American forces in Iraq conducted at least two raids against suspected Iranian operatives, including the raid in Erbil. The United States is currently detaining several individuals with Iranian passports who were picked up in those raids. The Iranians have said that they were in the process of establishing a consulate, but American officials said that the Erbil operation was a liaison office and that the workers there did not have diplomatic passports.

A defense official said Friday that such raids would continue. “We are going to be more aggressive,” he said, referring to the suspected Iranian operatives. “We are going to look for them and to try to do what we can to get them into custody.”

Cultural Momentum

Cultural Momentum

by Thomas E. Brewton

 

Will enough traditions and customs of civility and decency survive long enough to keep the United States from internal disintegration and conquest by Islamic Jihad?

 

Liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., often referred to his father’s theory that political standards follow a thirty-year cycle, first conservative, then liberal, and back to conservative, and so on. There is some truth to that observation, but the problem is that meanwhile the underlying social standards trend downward as a nation becomes more prosperous and life becomes easier. People vaunt their own intellects and come to believe that they no longer need God, that they are sufficient unto themselves for all matters.

 

After the United States emerged from the fiery furnace of the Civil War, on the road to becoming the most powerful economy in the world, liberal secularists in the 1880s believed that, having shed religion, they were directing us along the path of progress toward social perfection.

 

Secularists will contend that ridding ourselves of religion has freed us from ignorance and enabled us to make the world according to our own designs. This, of course, is essentially the religious promise of the many varieties of socialist collectivism.

 

Undeniably we have experienced great changes in social relations since then, the Civil Rights revolution being among the good outcomes (ironically a result of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, Bible-based preaching, not secular liberalism). But no one can demonstrate that American society is more civil and decent today than it was in 1929. Nor can anyone argue effectively that the nation is more united now than then.

 

In the first 330 years of our colonial and national experience, most political leaders and ordinary citizens were intimately familiar with the Bible, as literature and as the source of social standards. Viewing the disintegration of social custom and standards of morality in this country since the late 1960s, they would have feared for our nation’s future. They would have seen the catalogue of today’s amorality and immorality (such as sexual promiscuity, marital infidelity, illegitimacy, drug abuse, and abortion) in light of God’s chastising the Jews with the Babylonian captivity for breaking His covenant with Moses by worshipping wealth, power, and man-made gods.

 

Humans are potentially both the worst and the best of God’s creatures. The keel that keeps the human race from capsizing and sinking altogether is the human soul, the portal to understanding God’s Will. In the Jews’ case, abandoning God led to the destruction of Jerusalem and 70 years of captivity in exile. The fearful question is what’s in store for us?

 

In that vein, Kartik Ariyur recently emailed the following to me:

 

Thank you for the posting on the libraries–having never used a public library in the United States, I didn’t realize the magnitude of this problem. Some individuals appear to want to recreate the social habits of ancient Greece, Rome, and Persia–a sure road to ruin.

I have to admit it is difficult to work with individuals who grow up in non-religious families without the inculcation of devotion to God. You never know what they will do next.

While individuals acquire certain habits through the religiosity of their ancestors, and keep society functioning for a while, circumstances soon change, and the new habits the non-religious form are guided by the instincts of self preservation and procreation–an abrupt loss of civilization.

 

Thus, morality does not appear to survive religion by more than a couple of generations, and with the present pace of change, it won’t survive even one.

 

But there is another force acting on individuals–as they fail to find in sense pleasures the joy they expected to find, after surfeiting themselves with them; and instead find themselves suffering (Shakspeare–Sonnet 129–The expense of spirit in a waste of shame…all this the world knows well, But none knows well enough To avoid this heaven that leads men to hell).

 

This is what gets, in my experience many atheists into religion later in their lives. And we may well be on a threshold of another religious transformation of society.


 

 

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
 

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776 [http://www.thomasbrewton.com/]

 

Barack Hussein Obama

This information is from the current police commissioner of Honolulu.  SWC
 
 
 
Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama Sr. (black muslim) of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas. (white atheist ).

When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced and his father returned to Kenya. His mother married Lolo Soetoro — a Muslim — moving to Jakarta with Obama when he was six years old. Within six months he had learned to speak the Indonesian language Obama spent “two years in a Muslim school, then two more in a Catholic school” in Jakarta. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim, mitigating that damning information by saying that, for two years, he also attended a Catholic school.

Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia. He met Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham—a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas—at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Obama, Sr. and Dunham divorced when Barack, Jr. was two. Obama’s spinmeisters are now attempting to make it appear that Obama’s introduction to Islam came from his father and that influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya immediately following the divorce and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education. Dunham married another Muslim, Lolo Soetoro who educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta’s Wahabbi schools. Wahabbism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad on the industrialized world. Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when you are seeking political office in the United States, Obama joined the United Church of Christ to help purge any notion that he is still a Muslim.

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