70 years of Israeli peace attempts wrapped up into two short hours

The excellent David Collier blog – Beyond the Great Divide – has an insightful (and shocking) post about events at Lichfield Cathedral:

I have just spent a weekend at Lichfield cathedral for a conference “on the Israel/Palestine Conflict and the prospect of peace”. And what a weekend it was! A naïve Dean, antisemitism, conspiracy theories, global control, blood sucking Jews, child kidnappers, Arabs in 100ad. and of course, Jesus the Palestinian.

I do recommend you read it all, though I want to highlight the following extract:

We then heard from a dutiful liberal Zionist. And what a talk it was. Professor Yossi Meckleberg presented to the audience a very accommodating position. A man anyone could make peace with. Like most liberal Zionists he is talking to himself. *if only* such voices could be heard from the other side. Another break. More pamphlets to read. All about a fictional place called Israel/Palestine. Or Palestine/Israel for those who KameL Hawwashwant to belittle Israel’s legitimacy more thoroughly. A group called ‘Lichfield Concern for Palestine’. All talk was about Israeli brutality. No mention of Arab violence anywhere. Another talk was about to start. Then came the storm.

See how good a pundit you are. The liberal Zionist has put down a marker for peace. (In the lions’ den, perhaps, playing the part of the Christian?) What do you think the response was?

Here you go:

Next up was Professor Kamel Hawwash, Vice-Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. For every hand that Meckleberg had extended in friendship, Hawwash pushed one away. I am always thankful for people like Hawwash because they expose why there is no current chance for peace. There is no room in Kamel’s world for the Israelis, a group of people he describes as randomly deciding to invade the region. These two speakers presented the entire conflict in a microcosm. The Israeli Jew, ‘let’s make peace, let’s find a way, let’s accommodate’, the Palestinian Arab, NO, NO, NO. I have no doubt that people failed to see what had just occurred. But in truth, it was 70 years of Israeli peace attempts wrapped up into two short hours.

Collier’s observation is bang on target.

First, he’s correct (in general terms) about how the interaction summarizes Israeli peace attempts.

Second, he’s also right in suggesting that people didn’t notice what had happened. They seem to have accepted the outright rejection as acceptable, normal, and – dare one say it – understandable. If ever there were an acid test to determine whether Israel and its people were being delegitimized, demonized, and defamed, that would be a candidate.

What an obscene event Lichfield hosted. It will be interesting to see what Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, and Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, says about this. He dare not be silent, after this statement of his.

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Behind the curtain

From CAMERA, an interesting peek behind the curtain of Palestinian society:

Contradictory Stories from Christ at the Checkpoint

What a difference two years can make!

At the 2012 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, Munther Isaac, (who recently got his Ph.D. from Oxford Center for Mission Studies), told attendees that Palestinian Christians “have always enjoyed the support of the Palestinian leaders” and that they “worship with freedom and exercise [their] rights like all Palestinians.”

Isaac made this statement while introducing Salaam Fayyad, who was then serving as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority.

Two years later, attendees heard a different story. The first night of the conference, Munir Kakish, the leader of the Council of Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land called on the Palestinian Authority to recognize Evangelical churches and accord them their civil rights. Here is what he said:

As a religious group, we are still unable to practice our basic civil rights to issue marriage certificates, register our church properties in the name of the church, or even open bank accounts to manage our churches’ financial affairs.

One of these statements cannot be true.

If Christians “worship with freedom” and “exercise rights like all Palestinians,” then why can’t Evangelical churches open bank accounts in Palestinian society?

I don’t doubt the veracity of the more recent statement. It doesn’t come as a surprise, though I remain baffled why there is not more fuss being made.

Assume, for the purposes of illustration, that a proper religious organization operating in Europe was unable to “…practice our basic civil rights to issue marriage certificates, register our church properties in the name of the church, or even open bank accounts to manage our churches’ financial affairs.” How long would that situation be tolerated?

And what if it were to happen in Israeli society? How long would that be tolerated before it were front page news – of the condemnation type?

But here we have a situation, apparently of long standing, enduring in Palestinian society to the detriment of its Christian population. And nobody cares.

The next time somebody decides they want to tackle prejudice and “have to start somewhere”, maybe they could try their luck with the Palestinians? The “Wall at Xmas” people should be ashamed.

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Turning the cheek, or twisting the knife?

Over at Harry’s Place and the Times of Israel a must read post from Kay Wilson.

Kay’s Times of Israel profile reads:

Kay Wilson is a British-born Israeli tour guide, jazz musician and cartoonist. She is the survivor of a brutal terror attack that occurred while she was guiding in December 2010. Since the attack, she is in a demand as a motivational speaker and also speaks to audiences on issues of human rights and justice for victims of terrorism. She is a lecturer for Global Justice Group and is registered at the Israel Speakers’ Agency.

Kay’s piece, entitled In the shadow of death, starts like this:

Bound, gagged and barefoot with machetes at our throats, we were pushed through the trees to the site of our execution. I whimpered, “Please don’t kill us.” One terrorist looked me in the eye, put his hand on his heart and declared, “I am good, I not kill.” I believed him. I did so because I subscribed to the delusion of reprieve, the hope that if we did what they say, we would be set free.

Throughout three years, where day has blurred into night, I have relived the horror again and again. I shudder to remember their deranged faces contorted by deluded, perverted, intoxicating power. I recall those unfathomable moments of helplessness, placating, pleading and promises of liberation, all meshed together in a concoction of sadistic terrorism.

A few months after the attack, I approached a certain “Christ At The Checkpoint,” (CATC) a Christian conference held in Bethlehem. I wanted the opportunity to speak and honour the memory of my murdered, Christian friend. The conference prides itself on being ecumenical and draws a mixed audience of western Christians and Palestinians. One protagonist of the conference is an Israeli Arab. I hoped that the seeming openness of the CATC towards Israelis coupled with the fact that Kristine was a Christian would grant me a platform. I was declined on the grounds, “there is no space” bizarrely concluding, “this is not what the Lord wants.”

I suspect that I was refused because the CATC manifesto does not allow a voice like mine to be heard. It calls only for partisan justice,“There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored.” This bias conveniently ignores Israel’s innocents, Israel’s murdered and Israel’s maimed.

It’s a variation on freedom of expression. We – say the people of CATC – are the Christians who are free to express ourselves by turning away (or turning the cheek) from Israel’s victims. Or should that be Jewish victims. Bear that in mind.

Kay continues:

The CATC manifesto also states, “All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.” However, they have no qualms about inviting violence into their room, by giving the platform to the likes of personalities from the PA, that hateful organisation which overtly sponsors terrorism. They also have no reservations in inviting Victor Batarseh, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem. Batarseh is a supporter of the savage, Marxist terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP’s armed division is the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, which has carried out many suicide bombings in Israel, murdering civilians.

There is hope, however, albeit marred by further church based bias.

For any self-respecting person, and especially for Israelis such as myself, the endorsement of terror by association, at a Christian conference, is obscene. Yet it is also a spurn for Palestinian Christians such as the Bethlehem Baptist minister, Naim Khoury. Khoury has been shot three times and his church has been bombed fourteen times because he advocates Zionism based on his understanding of the Bible. Khoury is too busy to care. He is exerting his energy pastoring a vibrant and unexpectedly, flourishing congregation, even though the PA has informed Khoury that his church now lacks the authority to function as a religious institution – announcing this decision the week following CATC. Unlike Khoury, a Christian minister who is always welcome at conference is the Reverend Stephen Sizer.

Sizer, an Anglican priest who oversees an English congregation, has been accused of anti-Semitism – a charge that he vigorously denies. The allegations arose in part due to links that he posted on his numerous blogs that directed people to anti-Semitic sites. Sizer, insistent that he “loves Jews” and “loves Israel,” agreed to remove the links, although he still has photos of himself standing alongside those who advocate the murder of the very Jews and Israelis whom he loves; people such as Yassir Arafat, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Raed Salach and Nabil Kaouk the senior commander of Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon.

Read it all, here. The conclusion should strike home with an awful resonance; the sound of antisemitism making its way along the mainstream of modern society. Again.

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Sussex friends

At the comments section of the Guardian’s article Bethlehem Unwrapped is about ‘beautiful resistance’, not taking sides about the St James’s Church anti-Israel Cristmas stunt, I posted something like this:

“Even if the motives of those behind the wall were pure – and frankly that’s a bloody great big “if” – I cannot help wondering how much better it would have been to put the money to good use by HELPING Christians instead of BASHING Israel.”

I say something like this because I am having to rely on my memory. Why? Much to my surprise, when I look at the piece today I see this:

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[If anyone can help with a captured screenshot of my comment, please shout!]

Apparently my post broke the Guardian’s community standards. I’d accumulated 10 likes when I last looked, so some people weren’t offended. Was it the bit about the motives, perhaps? Could there be a guilty conscience at the heart of the Guardian monitoring crew? At worst, you could interpret what I said as the organizers not having pure motives… Was that offensive? Bigoted? Incitement? (Accurate?)

But just so you know what it is acceptable to say, the following post remains untouched and in place:

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So it’s acceptable – according to the Guardian’s community standards – to defame Israel, the IDF, Sharon, and Netanyahu, and demonize the whole lot. But to suggest money might be better spent on helping Christians instead of bashing Israel is not acceptable?

It’s got to be said again: there is something rotten at the heart of the Guardian.

Meantime, the Elder of Ziyon has pointed out the not so subtle difference between the organizer’s position:

When we have been challenged about “taking sides” and “politicising the church” – which is a fair discussion to have – we are clear that we are not “pro” one side or another but we are instead campaigning for equal human rights for all people regardless of ethnicity or background.

And the reality:

St. James Church won’t let supporters of Israel in!

So, the Church is reprising its role as a bastion of Jew hatred.

Meantime, a hearty well done to the Sussex Friends of Israel for helping expose the bigotry.

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