Archive for December 11th, 2006

Seattle Airport Removes Christmas Trees Instead of Putting Up Menorah

Monday, December 11th, 2006

So now we have anti-Semitism, as well as an attack on Christians celebrating Christmas, at Seattle airports.

Update: See the update at the bottom.

SEATAC, Wash. — For people flying in and out of the Seattle area, there will be no holiday spirit to accompany the holiday travel season.

In response to a rabbi’s request to add an 8-foot menorah to holiday decorations, officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport instead decided to remove all nine Christmas trees.

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky made the request weeks ago, when he demanded officials add a menorah next to the trees and threatened to file a lawsuit if his request wasn’t honored.

Instead, officials decided to remove holiday decorations as a whole. Maintenance workers boxed up the trees during the graveyard shift early Saturday, when airport bosses believed few people would notice.

“We decided to take the trees down because we didn’t want to be exclusive,” said airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt. “We’re trying to be thoughtful and respectful, and will review policies after the first of the year.”

Bogomilsky said he was appalled by the decision.

“Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season,” said Bogomilsky, who works at Chabad Lubavitch, a Jewish education foundation headquartered in Seattle’s University District.

After consulting with lawyers, port staff believed that adding the menorah would have required adding symbols for other religions and cultures in the Northwest. The holidays are the busiest season at the airport, Betancourt said, and staff didn’t have time to play cultural anthropologists.

Hanukkah begins this Friday at sundown.

“They’ve darkened the hall instead of turning the lights up,” said his lawyer, Harvey Grad. “There is a concern here that the Jewish community will be portrayed as the Grinch.”

Original Link.

Update 12-12-06:

SEATAC, Wash. — The Christmas trees are going back up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Port of Seattle officials had ordered the trees taken down over the weekend after a local rabbi threatened a lawsuit if a menorah wasn’t also displayed at the airport.

Airport officials say they took that action out of concern that if they allowed the addition of a menorah, they would also have to display symbols of other religions and cultures, which was not something airport workers had time for during the busiest travel season of the year.

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky says he never asked that the trees be taken down, and the threat of a lawsuit was withdrawn.

With the threat of the lawsuit gone, airport spokesman Bob Parker says all 14 trees will go back up — hopefully by tomorrow morning.

Original Link.

Modern Day Gog and Magog

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Another item of interest that should be no surprise to people who read this blog.

Current world events are beginning to increasingly resemble the 2,500 year old bible prophecy made by Ezekiel in chapters 38-39. Ezekiel foresaw the rise of Russia (or Turkey, depending on the interpretation) in a coalition with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries (Sudan, Ethiopia and Libya).

The coalition is foretold to attack Israel from the north in a bid to destroy it during the earth’s “last days,” commonly known as the “war of Gog and Magog.”

Throughout history it was thought that the prophecy had been put on hold, until perhaps today when it seems frighteningly more feasible.

In Joel C. Rosenberg’s book “The Ezekiel Option,” the author points to Ezekiel’s prophecies in chapters 36-37, which have largely come true.

Rosenberg then asks the obvious question: If prophecies such as “the rebirth of the State of Israel, the return of the Jews to the Holy Land after centuries in exile, the re-blossoming of desolate desert land to produce abundant food, fruit and foliage, and the creation of an exceedingly great army” materialized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then why shouldn’t the next prophecies come true in our lifetime?

Let’s try and place the biblical names and locations into today’s reality, and see the parallel unfolding of events:

Gog is commonly believed to represent a person’s name rather than a place, a tyrannical leader who may hatch an evil plan – in today’s reality this “honor” could be most suited to the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, or perhaps Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon .

Magog, according to some scholars, refers to Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union, or perhaps Turkey. Others will argue that the exact location has not been fully ascertained and that the word Magog may simply be a generalization for an enemy of Israel, leaving the location open.

Original Link.

Did CAIR Founder Say Islam to Rule America?

Monday, December 11th, 2006

This is no surpise to people who have been reading this blog.

It’s a citation used frequently by critics to argue the highly influential Council on American-Islamic Relations is an extremist organization – founder Omar Ahmad’s alleged 1998 assertion that Islam must one day dominate the U.S. – but now Muslim leaders have confronted Ahmad, expressing concern that someone from their community could voice such radical sentiments.

Ahmad told the Muslim leaders – and WND in an interview – the attribution is a “total fabrication” and assured them the newspaper, the Fremont Argus in California, issued a “clarification” after he “challenged” reporter Lisa Gardiner.

That seemed to satisfy the Muslim leaders, but Gardiner told WND she continues to stand by the story, and Editor Steve Waterhouse said he’s confident she got it right. After hearing that news Thursday, one of the Muslim leaders immediately resurrected the issue with his colleagues, declaring Ahmad and CAIR need to find a way “to extinguish this fire.”

“She was a good, solid reporter,” Waterhouse said of Gardiner. “She was absolutely certain about what he said and what she reported.”

Gardiner, who now works for a non-profit group, told WND last week she’s 100-percent sure Ahmad was the speaker and that he made those statements, pointing out nobody challenged the story at the time it was published eight years ago.

“She’s lying,” Ahmad said upon hearing Gardiner’s defense of the story. “Absolutely, she’s lying. How could you remember something from so long ago? I don’t even remember her in the audience.”

CAIR, which has enjoyed access to the White House as the country’s largest Islamic advocacy group, recently defended the six imams removed from a US Airways flight because they were deemed a potential security threat.

Original Link.

Egyptian Blogger Arrested for Criticizing Islamic Clerics

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Continue to pray for people who are being persecuted by the so-called “religion of peace and tolerance” (aka Islam).

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) – Watchdog groups are pressing for the release of an Egyptian blogger, arrested last month for posting articles critical of Islam on his Web log (blog).

They say Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman, 22, is a victim of Egyptian attempts to limit freedom of expression on the Internet.

Suleiman, known by his Internet pseudonym Kareem Amer, was expelled from the Al-Azhar University earlier this year because he wrote critically about the role of religion in Egypt, the Middle East Media Research Institute reported on Thursday.

(Al-Azhar is the regarded as the highest Sunni Islamic learning institution in the region. The grand imam of al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, is one of the most senior Muslim clerics in Egypt.)

Suleiman also was arrested last year when he condemned violent Muslim reaction to a Coptic Christian play, which some Muslims considered offensive to Islam.

The Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Egyptian Observatory for Justice and Law are campaigning for Sulieman’s release. The groups say he’s been imprisoned on “false charges.”

“The real reason for his imprisonment is that he expressed his anti-governmental and anti-Islamic views in his own online articles,” the groups said.

According to the groups, which are providing legal representation for Suleiman, he was supposed to be questioned before a judge on Thursday in the presence of his lawyers, but police misinformed the lawyers about where the interrogation would be held and took Suleiman to a different court, where he was given another 15 days’ detention.

Original Link.

Coalition Calls for Nationwide Push on Public Nativity Scenes

Monday, December 11th, 2006

We have our manger scene up, have you done yours yet? This year we had to rebuild the stable. The old one fell apart, so this when we built the new one, I get pressure treated lumber and fence slats. It looks great, should last for years and cost less than $30. Anyway, if you don’t go all out and build a stable, at least put up a display with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.

(AgapePress) – At the same time that a coalition of Christian groups is encouraging the display of Nativity scenes at public buildings nationwide during this Christmas season, a Pennsylvania town has reversed an earlier decision and will now permit a couple to display one in a public park.

The Christian Defense Coalition, Faith and Action, Generation Life, and various members of Congress have launched “The Nativity Project: A Public Witness to Keep Christ in Christmas.” At a news conference on Thursday just outside the U.S. Capitol Building, coalition spokesman Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said the group is calling on believers across the country to apply for permits to set up Nativity scenes in front of their city halls, government centers, or state capitol buildings in the days leading up to Christmas (December 19-22).

“It’s our way of encouraging people to step out in the public square and express their faith tradition without interference or harassment,” said Mahoney. In a press release, he expressed sadness at seeing what he describes as “a growing hostility” toward expressions of faith in the public square.

“This is especially true during the Christmas season where there appears to be a concerted effort to remove the true meaning of Christmas from public view,” he says. “[This project] is a positive way to share the message of the season which is one of peace and good will toward man.”

In addition, the ministry leader says, it is also a strong reminder that the First Amendment provides “freedom of religion and not freedom from religion” — and that the role of government is to protect expressions of faith and not crush them. “”We’re just seeing this as a positive step, a proactive step to begin to help restore religious liberty and freedom,” says Mahoney, “and also help get the powerful message of Christmas out to the public.”

Capitol Hill lawmakers lending their support to the project include Sen. Sam Brownback and Congressmen Trent Franks, Walter Jones, and Phil Gingrey. Spokespersons for other members of the coalition voiced similar concerns about religious freedoms.

“Nativity displays capture the essence of the Christian faith, but they are also part of the rich texture of American history,” noted Rev. Rob Schenk, president of Faith and Action. “This struggle is about the supreme constitutional issue of freedom of speech and religion. It’s time to stop the ACLU from bullying the Holy Family and the American people.”

Echoed the national director of Generation Life, Brandi Swindell: “Our goal is not to force any one religion or belief system on another. Rather, it is to affirm the founding principles of our nation which extends the right to all citizens to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience free from government interference or harassment.”

Evidently that is the type of treatment encountered last year by a Pennsylvania couple. But the town has now reversed its earlier decision and will allow Michael and Deborah Sturm to place a Nativity scene in a public park.

Nix on ‘Willy-Nilly’ Rules
Last year the Sturms sought permission to put a Nativity scene in a park in the Borough of Beaver but were rebuffed by city officials. Following intervention by the Thomas More Law Center, the crèche was allowed. This year, the Borough Council Board tabled the approval of the Sturm’s request — and once again, the Law Center took action. Edward White, trial counsel for the Law Center, says the matter as been resolved.

“[This year] we … sent off another letter to the board explaining that this park is a public forum,” he explains. “Within a couple of days of that letter, the council held a special session and changed its decision of tabling the matter and allowed them to put up the display.”

According to the attorney, the letter informed local officials that constitutional issues were at stake. The city attorney also played a role in the reversal, notes White. “… [H]e was explaining … to the council that this is a free-speech issue and that the council can’t just willy-nilly make up rules because someone wants to put up a Nativity scene,” White explains. “And you cannot discriminate based upon the content of the Sturms’ speech, which is a Nativity scene.”

The Sturm’s Nativity scene will be on display in the city park from December 16 through the end of the year.

Original Link.