Why I’m in Favor of Making a Joyful Noise to the Lord

From King David to American Pentecostals, boisterous worshippers have always annoyed those who prefer their worship quiet and dignified. “Stop jumping up and down—we’re Episcopalians,” said a proverbial Protestant mother to her children. But the eminent sociologist Peter Berger approves:

There is ample biblical warrant for noisy worship. Perhaps King David was the prototypical Pentecostal when he sang and danced before the Ark of the Lord as it was brought to Jerusalem, along with his men, “making merry . . . with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals . . . and with the sound of the horn.” Perhaps Mikhal, the daughter of Saul, who rebuked David for this unseemly behavior, was the prototypical guardian of properly polite etiquette. The mention of “joyful noise” is repeated in several Psalms, for example in Psalm 100: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing.”

Read more at American Interest

More about: Christianity, King David, Prayer, Religion, Shofar

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood