Research and Information Network (RAIN) – I couldn’t choose between these stories, so the choice is yours. ~J

1. French magazine publishes naked Prophet cartoons

2. California cleric inspired anti-Islam filmmakers

3. What Obama should say about “Innocence of Muslims”

4. The only surprise is there aren’t more violent protests in the Middle East

5. ACLU takes CIA to court over drone strikes

6. Jonathan Cook : Forget the fairytale: the US doesn’t love Israel

7. Ancient papyrus fragment makes reference to Jesus’ wife

8. Karl Rove: Assembling the Death Star to American Democracy


1. French magazine publishes naked Prophet cartoons

Charlie Hebdo, A French satirical magazine, published nude cartoons o Muslim prophet Mohammed, a controversial move that could spark more Muslims protests across the world

Al Ahram Online AFP , Wednesday 19 Sep 2012

A French satirical magazine published nude cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed Wednesday, a move that could further inflame tensions after violent protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film.

The cover of Charlie Hebdo shows a Muslim in a wheelchair being pushed by an Orthodox Jew under the title “Intouchables 2”, referring to an award-winning French film about a poor black man who helps an aristocratic quadriplegic.

Another cartoon on the back page of the weekly magazine show a naked turbaned Mohammed exposing his posterior to a film director, a scene inspired by a 1963 film starring French film star Brigitte Bardot.

Charlie Hebdo’s website crashed on Wednesday after being bombarded with comments that ranged from hate mail to approbation.

The magazine is no stranger to controversy over issues relating to Islam.

Last year it published an edition “guest-edited” by the Prophet Mohammed that it called Sharia Hebdo. The magazine’s offices in Paris were subsequently fire-bombed.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said anyone offended by cartoons could take the matter to the courts after expressing his “disapproval of all excesses”.

But he emphasised France’s tradition of free speech. “We are in a country where freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature,” he said on RTL radio.

“If people really feel offended in their beliefs and think there has been an infringement of the law — and we are in a state where laws must be totally respected — they can go to court,” Ayrault said.

He also said a request to hold a demonstration in Paris against the controversial US-made anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” which has sparked furious protests across the Muslim world would be refused.

Charlie Hebdo’s latest move was greeted with immediate calls from political and religious leaders for the media to act responsibly and avoid inflaming the current situation.

The magazine’s editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, denied he was being deliberately provocative at a delicate time.

“The freedom of the press, is that a provocation?” he said. “I’m not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn’t go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.”

Dalil Boubakeur, the senior cleric at Paris’s biggest mosque, appealed for France’s four million Muslims to remain calm.

“It is with astonishment, sadness and concern that I have learned that this publication is risking increasing the current outrage across the Muslim world,” he said.

“I would appeal to them not to pour oil on the fire.”

France’s Muslim Council, the community’s main representative body, also appealed for calm in the face of “this new act of Islamaphobia”.


2. California cleric inspired anti-Islam filmmakers

The ideology behind “Innocence of Muslims” can be traced back to a Coptic cleric in California

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard covers the Occupy movement for Salon. A British-born, Brooklyn-based journalist, she has been covering Occupy Wall Street since before the first sleeping bag was unrolled in Zuccotti Park.

Salon Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 12:43 AM +0200

According to a report from The Daily, the ideological views which inspired the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” can be traced to one California-based Egyptian Coptic Cleric, Father Zakaria Botros Heinen.

“Father Zakaria Botros Heinen didn’t work on the film, or have a hand in producing it, but his sermons and lectures inspired those who did,” The Daily reports. However, the publication’s interview with the cleric establishes a loose link to the film, cited as the spark for anti-American riots throughout the Middle East.

The report notes:

Botros claimed he only learned about the film after it was uploaded in Arabic on the web and sparked outrage on September, 11. But the nonprofit responsible for the film’s production, Media for Christ, based in Duarte, Calif., often lifts from Botros’ speeches and published works from his website,

According to the Los Angeles Times, Steve Klein, a fundamentalist Christian who helped write the film, has called Botros “a close friend” and compares him with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., while Joseph Nassralla, head of Media for Christ, directs visitors from his website to Botros’ page. And Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who put the film together, has spoken of his reverence for Botros’ preaching. Botros remembers Nakoula signing on to his online chat room and asking critical questions about Islam in 2005.


3. What Obama should say about “Innocence of Muslims”

The violent furor linked to the movie offers a chance to deliver a telling message about freedom of speech

By Nivien Saleh,

SALON Pacific Standard Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 05:06 PM +0200

The current turmoil in the Muslim world that has unfolded over the YouTube video clip Innocence of Muslims offers the U.S. what educators call a “teachable moment:” an opportunity provided by circumstance to explain an idea that the audience might otherwise find abstract and irrelevant.

The idea is freedom of expression.

Several months ago, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a California producer posing as Israeli citizen Sam Bacile, produced, then posted on YouTube, a movie trailer meant to offend Muslims. Very likely, additional goals were to elicit violent reactions in the Middle East, portray President Obama as weak and force him into a confrontation with Islamists.

The trailer, which columnists have described as wooden, stilted, and cheap, goes out of its way to hit the nerves of Muslims. It calls Muhammad a bastard, depicts him as crawling around the legs of his wife Khadija and performing cunnilingus on her.

This clip violates Islam’s rule of not creating images – even complimentary ones – of the prophet. But more importantly, it portrays Muhammad as a fool, guided not by divine inspiration but the guile of a sexually manipulative wife. In the patriarchal societies of the Middle East, which view men as the rational protectors of irrational women, females as constant sources of seduction, and talk of sexuality as a taboo, this scene alone is highly offensive.

Analysts suggest that Libyan terrorist groups planned attacks against U.S. diplomats long in advance and simply used the Benghazi demonstrations to launch them. In other locations, commentators say, food insecurity created a fertile environment of anxiety and resentment, which radical Islamist agitators, in railing against Innocence of Muslims, have used to shore up their own political status. These explanations may be true; but they alone do not account for the personal outrage that has shaken U.S. outposts across the Muslim world. Citizens of Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Indonesia are clearly upset. Why, they ask, do Americans insult God? When will the guilty be punished? When will the United States apologize?

The second question is easy to answer. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who in 2010 pled no contest to charges of bank fraud, will likely be penalized for accessing the Internet without permission from his probation officer and thus violating the terms of his probation. But the United States, while it may hold its nose when discussing the film, will not apologize for allowing Innocence of Muslims to be posted.

Without coming across as defensive, President Obama should take advantage of the fact that Muslims across the world are waiting for a statement. Rather than letting the crisis blow over, he ought to use the moment to explain the Constitution’s First Amendment and freedom of speech, a principle unfamiliar to societies of the Middle East and Southern Asia but at the heart of democracy.

In a public speech reminiscent of his Cairo address of June 2009, he might pay tribute to Ambassador Chris Stevens, a diplomat who supported the liberation of Libya, and three other casualties of the Benghazi attack, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.

Then he might reiterate what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said before, namely that both he and his leadership team find this video repulsive and offensive. He might add that the clip reflects the views of a very small segment of society. Americans – especially those who have never met a Muslim – may be uneasy with a faith that is unfamiliar to them. But 95 percent believe that the Qur’an ought to be treated with respect. Similarly, the overwhelming majority of citizens of the Muslim world respect diplomats’ right to life and safety.

Next, the president might explain why he will not prohibit the video: One of the fundamental rights that people on American soil have had for over 200 years – especially after the end of slavery – is freedom of speech, a freedom that can only be restricted or sanctioned under the narrowest of circumstances. Freedom of speech is the basis of democracy. It requires that even offensive language be protected, for only expansive protections will shield citizens from a government intent on eroding their privileges.

With the Arab Spring, citizens of Muslim societies have expressed their desire for a greater say in the affairs of their governments, for more democracy. But democracy is not available for free. It depends on participation and debate, and honest debate is only possible if the participants can express their views openly, without fear of ending up in jail. The best way to show all participants that they are safe in airing their views is to protect the speech even of those whom the majority considers outrageous. That is why in a democratic society no president can deprive citizens of their constitutional entitlement to expression, even if he wants to. Listening to offensive speech is the price citizens pay for democracy, and most do so willingly.

Those citizens who feel offended are, of course, entitled to speak back to the offender, even engage in nonviolent protests. The limits are reached when public or private property is destroyed, foreign embassies are stormed, people are harmed or killed.

Lastly, President Obama might state that Ambassador Chris Stevens stood for these very principles when he became a foreign service officer, and when he later urged the U.S. government to support the liberation of Libya.

President Obama has shown on numerous occasions that he is a talented orator with a great sense for cultural nuance. Now is the time to take advantage of this gift and to speak without appearing either meek to his American audience or condescending to his interlocutors overseas.

Many people in the Middle East and Southern Asia know, and therefore expect, strict penalties for insulting God, his divine revelations, or his prophets. In Kuwait, a 26-year old was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for using Twitter to insult the prophet as well as the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In Saudi Arabia, judges sentenced an Australian to 500 lashes and a year in jail for engaging in blasphemy. This May, Pakistan suspended Twitter because of material the government deemed blasphemous. In Egypt, where a constitutional assembly is drawing up a new constitution, the framers are about to constitutionally criminalize blasphemy – a first in the nation’s modern history. We should not be surprised that residents of these societies demand the very penalties for the makers of Innocence of Muslims to which they are being treated.

Citizens of these nations do not appreciate how valuable freedom of speech is in protecting them from the very dictatorships Tunisians, Libyans, Egyptians, and Syrians have struggled so hard to overcome. But right now, they want to hear from the United States. If President Obama keeps his silence, this moment will become a memory of insult and murder. In fact, the seeds for this may already be germinating: In Egypt, an Islamist member of the Shura Council – part of the country’s legislature – announced that a group is forming that consists of young people from various Islamist persuasions. Its aim is “to defend the Prophet by producing documentaries about the history of Christianity and Judaism.” In other words, some of Egypt’s young Islamists believe that tit-for-tat, insult for insult, is the appropriate answer to Innocence of Muslims.

If, on the other hand, Obama speaks to the video and its consequences, explaining that listening to obscenity once in a while is the price that democrats are willing to pay for their ability to participate in the political process, he may be able to heal some of the injury to the American psyche from the killing of U.S. personnel. He also might succeed in convincing many of the 1.6 billion people in the Muslim world that even though the United States does not penalize offensive speech, it understands the injury that it can cause.

And in the process, he just might open a few minds to a truly revolutionary idea.


4. The only surprise is there aren’t more violent protests in the Middle East

The Muslim eruption reflects a deep popular anger and blowback from US intervention in both Libya and Afghanistan

Seumas Milne

The Guardian, Tuesday 18 September 2012 22.20 BST

Eleven years after it began, Nato’s occupation of Afghanistan is crumbling. The US decision to suspend joint Afghan-Nato operations in response to a wave of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on Nato troops cuts the ground from beneath the centrepiece of western strategy.

Nato is, after all, supposed to be training up Afghan troops to take control in time for the withdrawal of combat forces in 2014. Instead, those client regime troops are routinely turning their guns on a long-reviled foreign occupation force. No wonder support for a continued military presence is falling rapidly in the main British political parties – long after it has among the populations of all the occupying states.

The US-British invasion of Afghanistan was of course launched in response to the 9/11 attacks: the poison fruit of US-led support for the Afghan mujahideen war against the Soviet Union. Why do they hate us, many Americans asked at the time, oblivious to their country’s role in decades of coups, tyranny, sanctions regimes and occupations across the Middle East.

In the aftermath of the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and assault on the consulate in Benghazi, as protests against a virulently Islamophobic US-made video spread across the Muslim world, Hillary Clinton echoed the same sentiments. “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate?” she asked, “in a city we helped save from destruction?”

She was referring to Nato’s decisive role in winning power for the Libyan rebels who first took up arms in Benghazi last year. But just as the mujahideen the US backed in Afghanistan later turned their guns on their imperial sponsor in the form of the Taliban and al-Qaida, so many of the Islamists and jihadists who fought against Gaddafi with Nato air cover have their own ideas for the future of their country.

This is the start of the blowback from US and western attempts to commandeer the Arab uprisings. Something similar is likely to happen in Syria. The invasion of Afghanistan more than a decade ago not only didn’t destroy al-Qaida, it spread it into Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and north Africa, and today the flags of its offshoots are flying across the Arab world.

In Libya, Nato’s intervention sharply escalated the death toll, triggered large-scale ethnic cleansing, spread war to Mali, and left thousands in jail without trial and the country in the control of multiple armed militias. Western governments hailed July’s elections, in which most seats were not open to political parties, as bucking the Islamist trend across the region.

But their man, a former Gaddafi minister, has now been defeated for the job of prime minister by an independent Islamist, while the British ambassador’s convoy, the Red Cross and UN have been attacked and Sufi shrines destroyed. Meanwhile, the Nato-backed authorities are threatening military action against jihadists in Benghazi, as American warships and drones patrol Libya’s coast and skies.

The fact that the attack on the US consulate, along with often violent protests that have spread across 20 countries, was apparently triggered by an obscure online video trailer concocted by US-based Christian fundamentalists and émigré Copts – even one portraying the prophet Muhammad as a fraud and paedophile – seems bafflingly disproportionate to outsiders.

But in the wake of the Rushdie affair and Danish cartoons controversy, it should be clear that insults to Muhammad are widely seen by Muslims as an attack on their collective identity and, as the Berkeley-based anthropologist Saba Mahmoud argues, a particular form of religiosity that elevates him as an ideal exemplar.

Those feelings can obviously be exploited, as they have been in recent days in a battle for political influence between fundamentalist Salafists, mainstream Islamists and the Shia Hezbollah. But it would be absurd not to recognise that the scale of the response isn’t just about a repulsive video, or even reverence for the prophet. As is obvious from the slogans and targets, what set these protests alight is the fact that the injury to Muslims is seen once again to come from an arrogant hyperpower that has invaded, subjugated and humiliated the Arab and Muslim world for decades.

Since launching the war on terror, the US and its allies have attacked and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq; bombed Libya; killed thousands in drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; imposed devastating sanctions; backed Israel’s occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians to the hilt; carried out large-scale torture, kidnapping and internment without trial; maintained multiple bases to protect client dictatorships throughout the region; and now threaten Iran with another act of illegal war.

The video is manifestly only the latest trigger for a deep popular anger in a region where opposition to imperial domination is now channelled mainly through the politics of Islam rather than nationalism. The idea that Arab and Muslim hostility to the US would have been assuaged because it intervened to commandeer Libya’s uprising (an intervention most Arabs reject) is absurd.

About two-thirds of people in the Middle East and North Africa say they distrust the US, polling shows, rising to more than three-quarters in Pakistan. After 11 years of the war on terror, following decades of baleful intervention, the only surprise is that there aren’t more violent anti-US and anti-western protests in the region.

Western war in the Muslim world has also fed a toxic tide of Islamophobia in Europe and the US. What is it about Muslims that makes them so easily offended, Europeans and Americans commonly demand to know – while Muslims point to cases such as the British 19-year-old who was convicted in Yorkshire last week of posting a “grossly offensive” Facebook message that British soldiers in Afghanistan “should die and go to hell”, and ask why they’re not afforded that protection.

The events of the last week are a reminder that an Arab world which has thrown off dictatorship will be more difficult for the western powers to hold in thrall. The Economist called the deadly assault on the US consulate in Libya an example of “Arab dysfunction” and urged the US not to retreat from the Middle East but go in deeper, including in Syria. As Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya have already shown, that would only bring disaster.


5. ACLU takes CIA to court over drone strikes

By Paul Harris,

The Guardian Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10:48 EDT

The American Civil Liberties Union will go to court on Thursday in an attempt to get the CIA to hand over documents related to President Barack Obama‘s controversial “targeted killing” programme that uses unmanned drones to strike suspected Islamic militants.

The programme has been repeatedly referenced in public by numerous senior officials, including by Obama himself and defence secretary Leon Panetta, but the spy agency has refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request from the civil liberties group because it says it will not confirm the secretive use of drones.

As a result the ACLU has gone to court to argue that the CIA cannot deny the existence of a programme that has been so widely reported, including in great detail in off-the-record briefings by administration and agency officials. Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said: “It is preposterous. The assertion that this programme is a secret is nothing short of absurd.

“For more than two years, senior officials have been making claims about the programme both on the record and off. They’ve claimed that the programme is effective, lawful and closely supervised. If they can make these claims, there is no reason why they should not be required to respond to [FOIA] requests.”

The so-called targeted killing programme has become one of the most controversial aspects of Obama’s national security policy. It has been used in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia to strike at suspected terrorists and their supporters. Proponents of the programme say attacks can be highly accurate and come at little risk to American forces as there is no need for ground forces. Critics point out that there often civilian casualties and little is known about how targets are identified and targeted.

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism tracks the strikesand has calculated that there have been 344 CIA drone hits in Pakistan alone since 2002, killing up to 3,325 people, including 881 civilians. Another area of concern is the use of drones to kill American citizens, such as radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old Colorado-born son. Both died in drone strikes in Yemen and relatives have sued top Pentagon and CIA officials for damages.

The ACLU’s demand for details of the programme – including documents related to its legal justification drawn up by the department of justice – is aimed at prompting a national debate on the scope of the drone programme and how it is used. Its legality is a particular issue. The memorandum justifying the legal basis for the targeted killing has now been requested by at least 10 members of Congress and three different lawsuits but it remains so secret that that acknowledging its existence is a classified matter. “The public has a right to decide for itself whether or not the programme is lawful or moral,” Jaffer said.

Some legal and security experts agree and believe that the current boom in drone warfare is only like to increase the demand for greater openness about how and why the weapons are used. Professor Amos Guiora, a national security and legal expert at the University of Utah, said: “Given that the drones are the warfare of the future you need a public debate about what’s being done in the public’s name.”


6. Jonathan Cook : Forget the fairytale: the US doesn’t love Israel

Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.

The Electronic Intifada Nazareth 12 September 2012

It is possibly the greatest of American political myths, repeated ad nauseam by presidential candidates in their election campaigns. President Barack Obama has claimed that the United States enjoys a special bond with Israel unlike its relations with any other country. He has called the friendship “unshakeable,” “enduring” and “unique,” “anchored by our common interests and deeply-held values.”

His Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has gone further, arguing that there is not “an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally Israel.” A recent Romney election ad, highlighting his summer visit to Israel, extolled the “deep and cherished relationship.”

But, while such pronouncements form the basis of an apparent Washington consensus, the reality is that the cherished friendship is no more than a fairy tale. It has been propagated by politicians to mask the suspicion — and plentiful examples of duplicity and betrayal — that have marked the relationship since Israel’s founding.

Politicians may prefer to express undying love for Israel, and hand over billions of dollars annually in aid, but the US security establishment has — at least, in private — always regarded Israel as an unfaithful partner.


The distrust has been particularly hard to hide in relation to Iran. Israel has been putting relentless pressure on Washington, apparently in the hope of maneuvering it into supporting or joining an attack on Tehran to stop what Israel claims is an Iranian effort to build a nuclear bomb concealed beneath its civilian energy program.

While coverage has focused on the personal animosity between Obama and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the truth is that US officials generally are deeply at odds with Israel on this issue.

The conflict burst into the open recently with reports that the Pentagon had scaled back next month’s joint military exercise, Austere Challenge, with the Israeli military that had been billed as the largest and most significant in the two countries’ history (“US scales back military exercise with Israel, affecting potential Iran strike,” Time, 31 August 2012).

The goal of the exercise was to test the readiness of Israel’s missile-defense shield in case of Iranian reprisals — possibly the biggest fear holding Israel back from launching a go-it-alone attack. The Pentagon’s main leverage on Israel is its X-band radar, stationed in Israel but operated exclusively by a US crew, that would provide Israel with early warning of Iranian missiles.

A senior Israeli military official told Time magazine what message the Pentagon’s rethink had conveyed: “Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you.’”

But discord between the two “unshakeable allies” is not limited to Iran. Antipathy has been the norm for decades. Over the summer, current and former CIA officials admitted that the US security establishment has always regarded Israel as its number one counter-intelligence threat in the Middle East.

Broken promises on spying

The most infamous spy working on Israel’s behalf was Jonathan Pollard, a naval intelligence officer who passed thousands of classified documents to Israel in the 1980s. Israel’s repeated requests for his release have been a running sore with the Pentagon, not least because defense officials regard promises that Israel would never again operate spies on US soil as insincere.

At least two more spies have been identified in the past few years. In 2008 a former US army engineer, Ben-Ami Kadish, admitted that he had allowed Israeli agents to photograph secret documents about US fighter jets and nuclear weapons in the 1980s. And in 2006 Lawrence Franklin, a US defense official, was convicted of passing classified documents to Israel concerning Iran.

In fact, such betrayals were assumed by Washington from the start of the relationship. In Israel’s early years, a US base in Cyprus monitored Israeli activities; today, Israeli communications are intercepted by a team of Hebrew linguists stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Documents released in the past few weeks by the Israeli air force archives also reveal that Israel eventually identified mysterious high-altitude planes that overflew its territory throughout the 1950s as American U2 espionage planes (“US espionage planes violated Israeli airspace in the 1950s, IAF archives reveal,” Haaretz, 30 August 2012).

In a sign of continuing US caution, Israel has not been included in the coterie of countries with which Washington shares sensitive intelligence. The members of the “Five Eyes” group, consisting of the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, have promised not to spy on each other — a condition Israel would have regularly flouted were it a member.

Indeed, Israel has even stolen the identities of nationals from these countries to assist in Mossad operations. Most notoriously, Israel forged passports to smuggle Israeli agents into Dubai in 2010 to assassinate leading Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Israel is far from a trusted ally in the US “war on terror.” A former intelligence official told the Associated Press in July that Israel ranked lower than Libya in a list of countries helping to fight terrorism compiled by the Bush administration after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

So why all the talk of a special bond if the relationship is characterized by such deep mistrust?

Bomb aimed at America?

Part of the answer lies in the formidably intimidating tactics of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, spoke for a growing number of observers last year when he wrote that the US Congress was effectively “bought and paid for” by Israel’s lobbyists.

That power was all too evident this month when the Democratic National Convention adopted an amended policy designating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in opposition to both international law and the vocal wishes of delegates.

But there is another, less spoken-of reason. Francis Perrin, the head of the French Atomic Agency in the 1950s and 1960s, when France was helping Israel develop a nuclear weapon against the wishes of the US, once observed that the Israeli bomb was really “aimed against the Americans.”

Not because Israel wanted to attack the US, but because it realized that — once it possessed the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East — the US would rarely risk standing in its way, however much its policies ran counter to US interests.

For that reason, if no other, Israel is determined to stop any rival, including Iran, from getting a nuclear weapon that would end its monopoly.


7. Ancient papyrus fragment makes reference to Jesus’ wife

Harvard University professor says the fourth-century papyrus, written in a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, is the only existing ancient text quoting Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife.

Haaretz The Associated Press | Sep.19, 2012 | 11:01 AM | 1

A Harvard University professor on Tuesday unveiled a fourth-century fragment of papyrus she said is the only existing ancient text quoting Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife.

Karen King, an expert in the history of Christianity, said the text contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to “my wife,” whom he identifies as Mary. King says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.

King helped translate and unveiled the tiny fragment at a conference of Coptic experts in Rome. She said it doesn’t prove Jesus was married but speaks to issues of family and marriage that faced Christians.

Four words in the 1.5-by-3-inch fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, King said. Those words, written in a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, translate to “Jesus said to them, my wife,” King said in a statement.

King said that in the dialogue the disciples discuss whether Mary is worthy and Jesus says “she can be my disciple.”

Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was unmarried even though there was no reliable historical evidence to support that, King said. The new gospel, she said, “tells us that the whole question only came up as part of vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage.”

“From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry,” she said, “but it was over a century after Jesus’s death before they began appealing to Jesus’s marital status to support their positions.”

King presented the document at a six-day conference being held at Rome’s La Sapienza University and at the Augustinianum institute of the Pontifical Lateran University. While the Vatican newspaper and Vatican Radio frequently cover such academic conferences, there was no mention of King’s discovery in any Vatican media on Tuesday. That said, her paper was one of nearly 60 delivered Tuesday at the vast conference, which drew 300 academics from around the globe.

The fragment belongs to an anonymous private collector who contacted King to help translate and analyze it. Nothing is known about the circumstances of its discovery, but it had to have come from Egypt, where the dry climate allows ancient writings to survive and because it was written in a script used in ancient times there, King said.

The unclear origins of the document should encourage people to be cautious, said Bible scholar Ben Witherington III, a professor and author who teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He said the document follows the pattern of Gnostic texts of the second, third and fourth centuries, using “the language of intimacy to talk about spiritual relationships.”

“What we hear from the Gnostic is this practice called the sister-wife texts, where they carried around a female believer with them who cooks for them and cleans for them and does the usual domestic chores, but they have no sexual relationship whatsoever” during the strong monastic periods of the third and fourth centuries, Witherington said. “In other words, this is no confirmation of the Da Vinci Code or even of the idea that the Gnostics thought Jesus was married in the normal sense of the word.”

These kinds of doubts, King said, should not stop scholars from continuing to examine the document.

Those who conducted initial examination of the fragment include Roger Bagnall, a papyrologist who’s the director of the New York-based Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, and AnneMarie Luijendijk, a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity from Princeton University. They said their study of the papyrus, the handwriting and how the ink was chemically absorbed shows it is highly probable it’s an ancient text, King said.

Another scholar, Ariel Shisha-Halevy, professor of linguistics at Hebrew University and a leading expert on Coptic language, reviewed the text’s language and concluded it offered no evidence of forgery.

King and Luijendijk said they believe the fragment is part of a newly discovered gospel they named “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” for reference purposes. King said she dated the time it was written to the second half of the second century because it shows close connections to other newly discovered gospels written at that time, especially the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip.


8. Karl Rove: Assembling the Death Star to American Democracy

By Dr Brian Moench,

Truthout | Op-Ed Wednesday, 19 September 2012 00:00

Karl Rove’s obsession with permanent Republican control of all three branches of government was evident when he and the author were both just high school students. Now Rove is closer than ever to fulfilling his lifelong dream of a Republican Empire.

Liberals have much to be depressed about in 2012. The radicalization of the Republican Party has dragged the country’s political center of gravity sharply to the right, with only weak resistance mounted by the Democrats. The Citizens United ruling is playing out exactly as they had feared, unleashing a carpet bombing of the electoral process with “money of mass destruction” launched by a handful of billionaires whose lives and worldviews seem like even more of a caricature of callousness and greed than Gordon Gekko. Even if Obama survives the money blitzkrieg, it will undoubtedly drive the outcome in countless Congressional and state races.

In addition to historically liberal causes such as minority rights, middle-class jobs and environmental protection, today’s liberals are beside themselves over our likely reaching the point of no return on the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the Republican Party holds the country hostage, doubles down on the same energy formula that has brought us to the brink in the first place, and mocks the majority of the population that believes in, well, science.

While there are multiple villains in the Republican Empire, the one person who has done more damage to American democracy in the last 30 years, and has the greatest potential to do further long-term damage, continues to fly largely under the radar. The closest thing America has had in modern times to a real life Darth Vader was not Dick Cheney, but Karl Rove, his marshmallow physicality and lack of helmet notwithstanding.

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Karl and I went to high school together. At age 17, I was Karl’s first political opponent, yet he was one of the few people whose friendship I valued enough to have him sign my yearbook. My first published op-ed piece in 2004 examined the early, emerging signs of Karl’s character and political machinations, which I observed in high school.

Several books have been written about “Bush’s Brain,” most recently “Boss Rove” by Craig Unger. These books offer sordid details of Rove’s long, highly successful, dirty-tricks political career, which started only a few years after I last spoke to him in 1968, in the halls of Olympus High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. For decades, he destroyed his opposition, specializing in tactics devoid of ethical, moral, factual or even legal restraint. The evidence is still swirling in Ohio that the Republicans are quite likely to have stolen the 2004 election by a Rove Internet consultant tampering with the computer vote tally in Ohio. That computer guru, Michael Connell, conveniently died in a single-engine plane crash on December 19, 2008. He had been deposed by attorneys investigating Rove, and there was credible evidence he had been threatened by Rove. Many people believe he was about to provide crucial information that would have implicated Rove and others in the Bush administration in fixing the vote.

After Rove resigned from his post as Bush’s deputy chief of staff under the shadow of scandals and subpoenas, his political career was clinging to a thin lifeline thrown by Fox News. Then came the Leviathan from the Supreme Court, the Citizen United ruling, opening the door for Rove’s resurrection. Unger makes a compelling case that behind the scenes, Rove has manipulated the Republican Party’s multibillionaire donors to place him in charge of the enormous political war chest made possible by Citizens United.

But what should be added to Unger’s exposé of Rove’s rebirth is mention of the footprint that has been recently stamped all over the Romney campaign bearing the distinctive markings of Rovian ethics.

Liberal pundits, and a sizable portion of everyone who reads newspapers, have been left gasping for words at the dishonesty of the Romney campaign: ads making claims that are patently false, eager contradictions of the facts by Paul Ryan immediately upon entering Romney’s inner circle and an even more brazen refusal to back down on their mendacity after being called on it. Romney’s refusal to have his campaign restrained by “fact checkers” is classic Karl Rove.

Rove, in fact, launched his own political career suppressing the votes of delegates for his opponent in the election for chairman of the College Republicans in 1973. The 2012 nationwide voter suppression campaign by the Republican Party is now the fully baked strategy that Rove put in the mixing bowl decades ago. That the states that passed voting restriction laws just happen to be the same key electoral college swing states is part of his signature strategy to rig the national election for the Republican Empire.

If Romney continues to lag in the polls, you can count on Rove coming up with a last-minute, 2012 version of “Swiftboating” Obama, or worse.

In previous essays, I have made raw indictments of Romney’s lack of honesty and dysfunctional moral compass, based partly on my experience attending the same church as Romney. Even so, I believe Romney has enough of a conscience that he would reject outright cheating on counting the vote. Virtually no one, from either party, would put Rove above that. What I do believe is that Rovian ethics have been adopted en masse by the Romney campaign, perhaps by direct influence or consultation with Rove. If the election came down to cheating once again, Romney would likely step away from direct involvement in that decision, but he would also rationalize willfully ignoring whatever Rove did to make it happen.

Virtually everyone but the extreme right recognizes how money, epitomized by Citizens United and seized upon by such billionaires as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, is extinguishing representative government. But now, with towering mountains of money at his disposal and no legal constraints, Rove is free to assemble the Death Star to American democracy.

I saw the first glimpses of Karl Rove’s obsession with permanent Republican control of all three branches of government when we were both just high school students. He is closer than ever to fulfilling his lifelong dream of a Republican Empire “crushing the rebellion.”




Director : Abie Dawjee

P O Box 37670, Overport City, Durban, South Africa 4067.

tel: 0027 31 2072276. fax: 0866893206.

mobile: 082 352 352 6 e-mail :


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