GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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Zion: A four-letter word?

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With all the trash-talking about Zionism — in news media, on campuses, in diplomatic circles — Z Word may raise eyebrows. Then again, its creators — the American Jewish Committee — are used to being lightning rods for controversy.

Religious Symbol Series - Judaism“We reject the tendency to explain the entire Middle East region through the narrow prism of the Israeli-Palestinian (or Israeli-Arab) conflict,” according to the blog’s manifesto. “We reject the dogma which says Israel can do no right (or no wrong). Mostly, we insist that the debate be detailed and intelligent.”

Refreshingly, the blog doesn’t focus solely on the blow-by-blow of Jew hatred. It does log such events as a gang of thugs who beat up a pro-Israeli rally in Argentina. But its main distinction is a collection of thoughtful articles on the nature of beliefs and activism, and whether idealism can be misplaced.

Case in point: A story on “Jazz and Protest: a Reappraisal.” Jazz writer David R. Adler celebrates the long history of the genre as “freedom music,” but mourns how much of it has been captured by the cultural and political left.

But yes, Zionism does come under the lens. David Hirsh contributes a penetrating analysis on how anti-Zionism mutates into anti-Semitism when “it casts Jews as oppressors; or that criticism is made in such a way as to pick a fight with the vast majority of Jews.”

Some of the blog starts sounding anti-Christian, though. Hirsh says an Anglican priest “added a Christian twist” to criticism of Israel, although none of the cited quotes use Christian terms. Anthony Julius likewise brands the Gospel According to Matthew as a wellspring of Jew hatred. Neither man balances this with any acknowledgment of pro-Zionist groups like the current Christians United For Israel, or the historic American Christian Palestine Committee.

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Written by Jim Davis

June 18, 2009 at 3:57 am

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