The Conspiracy

Atheist billboard controversy; Jewish all along; and more. [Required Reading]

Ads for atheist groups: discussion starters or too controversial? | Photo by Flickr user Atheist Bus Canada (CC BY 2.0)

Atheist organizations unveil controversial series of billboards [Jewish Press]

“You know it’s a myth… and you have a choice” reads a new series of billboards by the organization American Atheists. These billboards, placed in Paterson, New Jersey, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn (where heavy Muslim and Jewish populations reside, respectively) evoke the name of God: in Arabic on the Muslim board, in Hebrew  on the other. While the organization maintains that it is simply reaching out to members of each community which may secretly be atheist, the Jewish Press has this to say:

“The effort to discourage faith in these two devoted, monotheistic communities, receives a special meaning because it is being launched on the week of Purim, a celebration of the Jewish victory over Amalek. In Jewish sources, the function of Amalek in Jewish history is to encourage doubt in the heart of faithful Jews.

The late Christopher Hitchens depicted well the despair that has been driving atheist activists in the face of threats to their lack of faith (Atheists and agnostics make up only between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population): ‘Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools.'”

Media Matters is anti-Israel? [Jerusalem Post]

The Emergency Committee for Israel recently published an ad in the New York Times against Jewish sponsors of organizations like Media Matters and the Center for American Progress, which they feel represent “anti-Israel” viewpoints and anti-Semitic language. The Jerusalem Post reports:

“‘The Center for American Progress and Media Matters claim to be in the liberal mainstream. But is being anti- Israel a liberal value?’ the ad on Thursday asked.

The ad includes a cartoon of a wolf holding a sheep mask, suggesting that Jewish philanthropy groups are being hoodwinked by the two organizations’ anti-Israel agendas.

Media Matters is a left-wing media watchdog organization.

CAP is a think tank associated with the US Democratic Party and President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies.

The Washington-based Emergency Committee’s ad includes a breakdown of Jewish organizations that donate to the two organizations.”

Michal Modai, women’s rights activist, dies [Haaretz]

Crowned Israel’s second beauty queen in the early ’50s, Modai was known for work in Israel on such projects as establishing the first women’s shelter there, as well as being head of the Women’s International Zionist Organization. Haaretz writes:

“In 1999, Modai was awarded the Prime Minister’s Shield of Voluntarism. Five years later, she was made an honorary citizen of Tel Aviv.

‘Modai was a true Zionist, a lover of the land, and a model for emulation,’ said Helena Glaser, who ended her term as WIZO’s president in January. ‘She will be greatly missed by all of us.'”

I was Jewish all along [Forward]

Discovering your heritage, especially Jewish heritage, can rock the way you see the world around you. Ask Elisabeth Tinkham, who discovered after many years of living as a Christian, that she was Jewish. The Jewish Daily Forward shares Tinkham’s story:

“Tinkham is enthusiastic about Judaism. But the transition has been difficult. ‘I’m looking to find where I fit in terms of my hashkafah, my perspective,’ she said. ‘For example, I really like keeping the Sabbath, but I’m also thinking, ‘I can’t turn on the light? Really?’

‘It’s a little bit like falling in love. You have your first fight and figure out how it fits in long-term. But I know I’m a lot happier now. There’s this empty thing that’s been filled.'”

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