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I was filling out the application for my youngest daughter to play soccer in the Police Athletic League. It was the first or second Saturday after the start of school year. The league organizer, a well-known community activist who had immigrated from Ireland decades before, looked me dead in the eye and asked, “Would you like to be a coach, Dexter?”

I almost puked. I played little league baseball and even a couple of seasons of youth soccer in the W-town, a rich, white suburb of Boston, but I was a terrible athlete.

There was no way I was going to be a coach. My intent was to sign my kid up for the soccer league, stand on the sidelines, cheer when appropriate and compliment other parents on how well their kids played. …

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A long time ago, I was in a city called Bukavu preparing to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in a country that was then called Zaire and is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On a weekend walk into the city, I walked past a church with some other trainees. It had a statue of Jesus on the cross. It was a memorable statue because of how white Jesus was. The Jesus who hung on that cross was no olive-skinned Jew from first century Jerusalem, but a whiter-than-white, almost ghostly apparition of the redeemer.

I have since concluded, albeit not with 100 percent certainty, that the crucifix was put in place by Belgian priests who had colonized the Congo in the previous century and who wanted to make sure that their parishioners knew who and what they were worshipping — an all-powerful white messiah with magical powers. …

As the sky darkens and thunder is heard from off in the distance, villagers continue in their afternoon activities. Children dawdle noisily on their way home from school. Mothers pound manioc roots into flour, making tshump-tshump sounds with their mortars and pestles. Men return from the tobacco and cotton stations, pausing momentarily to watch the train pass through on its way to the next town.

The first few drops of rain fall, prompting a collective murmur of relief from the villagers. The sky had threatened to rain for the past week and now the clouds are finally making good on the promise. …

I was helping the old man sitting next to me find the prayer in the church program when I heard the cough. It made me jump out of my seat and then recoil in disgust as it echoed through the sanctuary. It started out as a harsh, brutal hack before softening into an extended wheeze.

The guy in the pew next to me — a nice man who inquires after my long dead parents every time he sees me — leaned over and said to me. “He seems to be having a pretty tough time.” …

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Dear Son,

I just finished my last session of radiation therapy this morning and am now in a healing period. The radiation is like being cooked on the inside by a microwave oven.

The son stood in the doorway. In his pocket he grasped a letter that he had gotten from his father while he was away in a far-off country. It told him that everything would be OK and that he should stay where he was. He came home.

A few people are amazed I can still play tennis but playing helps. It keeps me active and the doctors feel it is good therapy. These young bucks think they can beat me, but I still shock a few and this verifies my thinking that I am tough enough.

Note: Below is the prepared text of a talk I gave on a webinar kindly organized by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. The audio of the talk and the subsequent Q and A session can be found here. The webinar took place on Oct. 20, 2020. I deviated somewhat from these prepared remarks, but they capture the gist of what I said.

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A weathervane steeple of a mainline church in Boston, Mass. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

As most of you probably know, I have been a fairly vocal critic of the mainline Protestant community’s stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past 15 years. …

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The UAE Space Agency runs space summer camps to introduce students to the space industry. (Photo: Emirate News Agency)

So there’s a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The Israelis suspend their efforts to affirm sovereignty over the West Bank in exchange for diplomatic relations with the UAE. Other countries in the region may soon follow suit and recognize the Jewish state.

Apparently, decades of fruitless conflict in the Holy Land convinced Emirati leaders that it was time to make peace with Israel and continue building a future for the people they govern. When it comes to building a future for their people, the Emiratis have a good start.

The UAE has already sent a probe to Mars, constructed the Burj Khalifa, which for now is the tallest building in the world, and even constructed an indoor ski slope in the middle of the desert. They’ve built islands shaped like palm trees. The UAE has a space agency which runs summer camps for high school students. …

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Boston schoolteacher Nino Brown leads a crowd in an anti-Israel chant in Boston on July 1, 2020. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

Sometime in the next few months, school will start up again in Boston. In one classroom in the city, a group of fifth graders will be taught by Nino Brown, a radical black activist who hates both the United States and Israel. He also likes to use bad words, even in front of young children.

Brown made his penchant for bad words patently evident at a “Day of Rage” rally that took place in front of the Statehouse on July 1, 2020. …

What Jews (and non-Jews) Need to Know About BDS

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BDS activists assail Israel in the name of “progress” despite the gifts the Jewish state has given to the world.

For the past 20 years, a group of so-called “progressive” “peace” activists in the United States and Europe have demanded that churches, institutions of higher learning, and the cities in which they live boycott and divest from companies that do business with Israel and otherwise sanction the Jewish state.

The stated goal of this BDS campaign is to isolate Israel from the world economy and render it a pariah nation, thereby forcing it to sue for peace with Palestinian elites who have turned down numerous peace offers, rewarded terrorists for murdering Jews, and used antisemitic incitement as a unifying political agenda to legitimize their rule — without having to hold elections. …

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Spend any time around Christian intellectuals, Protestants especially, and you’ll hear a lot of people speak in reverential terms about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the great Christian martyrs of the 20th century. There’s a statue of him at Westminster Abbey in London.

Publications like Christian Century, Christianity Today and World Magazine regularly publish articles about the man, his writings, and his work at Finkenwalde, a short-lived underground seminary that he led for rebel, anti-Nazi Protestants who comprised the Confessing Church. …

About

Dexter Van Zile

Shillman Research Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis. His opinions are his own.

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