2019 MAR 07 Freshman Congressman gets up and RIPS Ilhan Omar to SHREDS
4cm Editorial comments:
What we are seeing from the Democrat controlled House is an out of control Democrat Party.
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Israeli authorities have confirmed that a bomb was responsible for a blast in southeast Jerusalem that injured 21 people on Monday, Haaretzreported. The explosion tore through a bus in the city’s Talpiot neighborhood at about 5:45 PM, engulfing it and a nearby bus and car in flames.
Aftermath at site of Jerusalem bus bombing caused by IED. Police label terror attack, 2 injured among suspects. pic.twitter.com/6hij80Hq4l
“Based on a professional investigation by police demolitions experts it appears that a bomb went off in the back of the bus which caused injuries to passengers, and the bus to catch fire,” said a Jerusalem Police spokesperson. “In addition another bus and a private vehicle nearby were also damaged.”
Two of the 21 victims evacuated by paramedics are reported to be in serious condition, while seven are moderately wounded and the remaining are lightly injured. Israel is investigating whether one of those injured may have been the bomber.
Despite initial reports that the explosion may have been caused by a technical malfunction on one of the buses, a spokesperson for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat later confirmed that the blast was the result of a “small” bomb. Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, said the explosion was a terror attack.
April 18, 2016| by TheTower.org Staff | Source: TheTower.org “Police Confirm Bomb Caused Explosion That Injured 21 in Jerusalem”
•According to the court decision, pointing out the totalitarian and cruel aspects of Islam itself is now a criminal offense, considered “insulting and demeaning” to Muslims in Denmark and therefore constituting “racism.” In effect, this means that the court is conflating what might possibly constitute blasphemy with racism.
•Conversely, when a Danish imam called Jews “the offspring of apes and pigs,” he was officially reported to the police for breaching § 266b, but no legal charges were ever filed against him.
•In Denmark, apparently, it is a crime to criticize Islam and “Islamists,” but calling Jews the “offspring of apes and pigs” and inciting their murder in a packed mosque (and calling non-Muslims in general “animals”) can be done with impunity.
Last week, a Danish district court ruled that what a Danish citizen had written on Facebook in November 2013 violated the Danish criminal code.
In response to a debate about the local activities of a radical Islamic organization, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which works for the re-establishment of the Islamic caliphate, he wrote:
The ideology of Islam is as loathsome, disgusting, oppressive and as misanthropic as Nazism. The massive immigration of Islamists into Denmark is the most devastating thing to happen to Danish society in recent history.
According to § 266b of Denmark’s criminal code, it is prohibited and punishable by fine or prison publicly to threaten, insult or demean a group of persons because of their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.
The man was fined 1600 Danish kroner (approximately $240), which makes it unlikely that he will be allowed to appeal the sentence: the fine is so small that an appeal to the Higher Court requires special permission.
The Danish district court found that the man’s statements about Islam were “generalizing statements” that were “insulting and demeaning towards adherents of Islam.”
The district court reached this conclusion despite the defendant’s testimony, according to which he specifically wrote “the ideology of Islam” in order to make a distinction between the religion of Islam and the ideology of Islam. The defendant explained that, “‘Islamist’ is a normal term for extremist groups, who commit crimes against humanity and do the most terrible things, whereas Islam is a peaceful religion.”
The district court decided to disregard “the defendant’s explanation that a distinction should be made between the ideology of Islam and the religion of Islam”.
“the statements that the defendant has made should be seen in the societal and historical context of the fall of 2013, and in this context the court sees the statements about ‘the ideology of Islam’ as pertaining to Islam generally and not only the extreme part of Islam. In this regard, the court has furthermore emphasized that the quoted statements were written on 29 November 2013 at 17.13 and that at 17.27 on the same day — as pointed out by the defense — the defendant wrote in the same [Facebook] thread that “Islam wishes to abuse democracy in order to get rid of democracy.”
For the incredulous reader, it should be pointed out that the court presumably meant that in 2013, Islamism as an ideology had not manifested itself through terrorism in Denmark and Europe in the same way as it has today, a few years later. This is, of course, nonsense, as pointed out by the defendant’s lawyer, Karoly Nemeth: “I believe the court is expressing a lack of historical understanding. The ideology of Islam has existed for over 1,000 years,” he said.
According to this court decision, then, pointing out the totalitarian and cruel aspects of Islam itself is now a criminal offense, considered “insulting and demeaning” to Muslims in Denmark and therefore constituting “racism.” In effect, this means that the court is conflating what might possibly constitute blasphemy with racism. Despite this decision being wrong in every single aspect, the court did, however, get one thing right: It refused to distinguish between Islam as an ideology and Islam as religion. The prosecutor, Bente Schnack, said it did not make a difference whether the defendant spoke of the ideology or the religion of Islam. “It is pretty difficult to tell the difference,” she said.
While the court’s decision was widely criticized in Denmark, two leading professors of Danish criminal law agreed with it. One professor, Gorm Toftegaard Nielsen, said that, “§ 266b is about subjecting a group of people to hatred by threatening, insulting or demeaning them. When you group Islamists with Nazis, then it is not a compliment.”
The following question, of course, inevitably arises: Since when is public debate supposed to be restricted to complimenting each other?
The professor continued: “When he [the defendant] says ‘the massive immigration of Islamists,’ it can easily be interpreted as meaning that those people are as immoral as Nazis… It is not nice to compare those two groups. But that is what he does indirectly and that amounts to subjecting a group to hatred.”
What the Danish district court did was what the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation has long sought: the establishment of Islamic “blasphemy laws,” making criticism of a religion a criminal offence. The UN Human Rights Commission’s Resolution 16/18 does exactly that, although it is non-binding — except presumably for the countries that want it to be. Infractions, as in Denmark now, are punishable by law. The UNHRC Resolution, originally known as “Defamation of Islam,” was changed in later versions — it would seem for broader marketability — to “Defamation of Religions.”
Conversely, in October 2014, when Mohamed Al Khaled Samha, a Danish imam from the Odense mosque, called Jews “the offspring of apes and pigs,” he was officially reported to the police, and local Danish police began an investigation of the imam with a view to charging him for breaching § 266b, but as far as Gatestone Institute has been able to ascertain, no legal charges were ever filed against him. (Incidentally, this imam was among the group of imams who traveled to the Middle East presumably to stir up anti-Danish sentiment in the aftermath ofJyllands-Posten newspaper’s printing of the Mohammed cartoons). In his sermon, Samha also said, “”Palestine has been and will remain the land of Islam. It is the land of the great battle, in which the Muslims will fight the Jews, and the trees and the stones will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah! There is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.'”
In July 2014 another Danish imam, Abu Bilal Ismail, from the Grimshøj mosque, prayed for the death of Jews at a sermon in a Berlin mosque. “Oh Allah, destroy the Zionist Jews. They are no challenge for you. Count them and kill them to the very last one. Don’t spare a single one of them,” Ismail said. This, too, was officially reported to the Danish police, who never acted against that imam, either.
Instead, it was German authorities who criminally charged him. In December 2015, he was sentenced to a €10,000 fine for inciting hatred against Jews as well as non-Jewish groups in Germany. The Berlin court found that Ismail targeted “Jews with hatred, as well as all other non-Muslim groups living in Germany.”
The German court also said that the Lebanese-born cleric had shown deep contempt for the United States and Europe in his sermon, and that his assault on European civilization and Zionists had met the definition of incitement. The verdict said that Ismail considered Jews as “criminals who kill prophets and children, and Jews are worse than wild beasts in the world of the jungle,” and that “Allah should kill Jews.” Since Ismail had already been convicted in Germany, and a person cannot be punished twice for the same criminal act, the Danish police decided not to press charges.
In another, ironic, development regarding the use of § 266b of the Danish penal code, the state Prosecutor decided that Hajj Saeed, who incited against Jews in the Masjid Al-Faru mosque in Copenhagen, on February 13, 2015 — the very same sermon, in fact, that the terrorist Omar Abdel Hamid El-Husseini attended the day before he murdered Dan Uzan at the Copenhagen synagogue — will not be prosecuted for his statements. In his sermon, Saeed said that the Western “infidel” civilization has led non-Muslims “to an abyss of deprivation and corruption and has reduced them from being human to being at the level of animals”. He incited Muslims to wage war against Jews:
“Our prophet Muhammad had Jewish neighbors in Medina. Did he talk about closer ties, harmony and dialogue with them — in the same way as the UN and those who call for reconciliation between what is true and what is false? Or did he tell them to worship Allah? When they broke their promise and did not accept his calling, well, you know what he did to them… He declared war against the Jews.”
Danish police investigated the imam and recommended that the state prosecutor indict him under the same provision of the penal code, § 266b, for inciting hatred and threatening a particular group of people because of their ethnicity — in this instance because they were Jews. The state Prosecutor, for reasons that are unknown at this point, evidently thought otherwise.
Ironically, the mosque in question, Masjid Al-Faru, is connected with Hizb-ut-Tahrir; and the imam, Hajj Saeed, is considered to be one of the organization’s “rising stars” in Denmark.
In 2002, in fairness, the spokesman at the time for Hizb ut-Tahrir, Fadi Abdullatif, was sentenced for violating § 266b, when his organization handed out flyers against Jews with the words, “And kill them, wherever you may find them and banish them from where they banished you.”
After the February 2015 terrorist attacks in Copenhagen against the synagogue, where Dan Uzan was murdered, and the Krudttønden café, where film director Finn Nørgaard was murdered, Hizb ut-Tahrir told Muslims not to condemn the terrorist attacks, but instead “put things in their right context.”
In Denmark, apparently, it is a crime to criticize Islam and “Islamists,” but calling Jews the “offspring of apes and pigs” and inciting their murder in a packed mosque (and calling non-Muslims in general “animals”) can be done with impunity.
General Secretary Tveit Recycles Dirty Old Water Lies
• Palestinian propagandists constantly disseminate false accusations that Israel steals Palestinian water. Those allegations have been thoroughly refuted many times and are to be catalogued under the rubric of typical Palestinian propaganda lies.
• If General Secretary Tveit seriously wants to help Palestinians, he should explain why Israelis enjoy so much more water per capita — to contrast the brilliance of Israel’s elimination of its former water problems with the utter incompetence of the Palestinian Authority to deal with its own problems. And to exhort the Palestinians to learn from Israel instead of vainly slandering Israel.
• Israel now recycles 80% of waste water. Desalination plants have been erected along the Mediterranean coast, so that now Israel has an abundance of water. All this costs money, so Israelis pay more for their water and there is a punitive water price for anything above a legally defined level of domestic per capita water. Under the Palestinian Authority, it is the opposite. Up to 30% of their water has been estimated to go lost in their water delivery systems. Waste water is released to pollute the PA’s land, and some flows downhill to pollute Israel as well. Large numbers of Palestinians either do not pay water bills or simply steal water by illegal connections.
February 12, 2016, was a day of fresh hope for the suffering Christians of the Middle East. Pope Francis of Rome and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met in Havana, Cuba, to issue a joint message to the world. After pledging themselves to change the history of schism between Eastern and Western Christianity, they placed the contemporary merciless persecution of Christians at the top of their agenda:
“Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed…”
These were not empty words. The Moscow Patriarchate has collected large sums of money from its faithful to help the persecuted Christians of Syria. Likewise, the Roman Catholic Church, and specifically the Franciscan Order, is working at its own peril on the ground in Syria to relieve the suffering.
By coincidence, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Olav Fykse Tveit (pronounced to rhyme with “state,” not “twit”), was on the ground in the Middle East. Only he was not there to show any concern for the Christians victims of Islamic militias in Syria and Iraq. Nor had he time for the persecution of Copts in Egypt, which continues despite the efforts of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to suppress attacks by Muslims upon Christian churches.
As many will have guessed, Tveit came to Jerusalem to pursue the decades-old obsession of the WCC with Palestine, Palestine and Palestine, to the detriment of Middle East Christians elsewhere, as an earlier article detailed. At a service in a Jerusalem church, hosted by Lutheran Arab Bishop Munib Younan and accompanied by the Archbishop of Sweden, Tveit was there to launch “Seven Weeks of Water 2016.”
We can let others describe the solemnly nonsensical ceremony and concentrate on the “sermon” (or rather pseudo-Christian political harangue) delivered by Tveit. It is available for download from the relevant webpage of the WCC. But first, consider some basic definitions.
Palestinian propagandists constantly disseminate false accusations that Israel steals Palestinian water. Those allegations have been thoroughly refuted many times and are to be catalogued under the rubric of typical Palestinian propaganda lies. This does not worry the propagandists themselves, who continue to repeat the same lies to every newcomer.
A person who hears such lies for the first time, maybe from a Palestinian cleric, and naively believes them is to be defined as an innocent dupe. Someone who repeats such lies year in and year out, despite being given every opportunity to know the truth, and who even sets up a long-term mechanism to perpetuate them, is a shameless liar.
To the former category, in a moment of uncharacteristic hasty judgment, belonged Martin Shulz, the otherwise prudent President of the European Parliament. When he visited Israel in February 2014, he was confronted in Ramallah with such a false statement by a Palestinian youngster, himself a victim of the Palestinian education system. This is the same education system, in place for two decades, that currently produces wave after wave of deluded teenage terrorists.
Shaken by what he heard, Shulz inserted that statement at the last moment into a speech that he was about to give to the Knesset. The Israeli legislators, who recognized the lie immediately as such, broke into a hubbub and some later walked out. Subsequently, Shulz added to the published version of his speech a disclaimer, to the effect that he was merely repeating what he had heard without having time to check the facts. Also the leader of the walkers-out, Naftali Bennett, went to Brussels to seek reconciliation with Mr. Shulz and even presented him with an ancient coin as a sign of friendship. Both men realized that they had made their respective mistakes and both made due amends.
Among others, this author then explained in a readily available article the truths and falsehoods of the matter. Moreover, the WCC has had for years a mechanism, its Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), to deal with water in general, but above all with Palestinian water. Such a mechanism, we may assume, must be aware of the refutation of all the Palestinian lies and irrelevant claims on the matter, at least since 2014. Nonetheless, Tveit’s so-called “sermon” merrily repeated them.
Leaving aside the window dressing of biblical quotations and theological platitudes, let us proceed to the heart of the “sermon,” Tveit’s allegations against Israel, which he takes unhesitantly as gospel truth from the “advocacy group of Palestine, EWASH.” Says he: “80% of the ground water from Palestine’s mountain aquifer is pumped underneath all the way to Israel; and, the Palestinians are left with only 20% of the available water.”
This is an incredible claim: that Israel steals 80% of the water of the Palestinians and pumps it all the way to Israel. Needless to say, no such apparatus of pumps and pipelines exists. The truth, here totally garbled, is quite different. Almost all the Palestinian population is concentrated in a series of cities and villages on the central mountain range running from north to south (Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron). It is also here that rainfall is concentrated, brought by prevalent winds from the west. Much of this water, however, passes through underground rock formations either to the east (mainly to Jericho) or to the west, where it emerges in springs in pre-1967 Israel. So the only person that Tveit can denounce for this “theft” is the Creator of the World.
Nor is the situation unique. Similar cases exist elsewhere on the planet. The standard answer is an agreement whereby the beneficiaries of the situation give a certain percentage of their water to those who live where the rain fell. Naturally, there is no standard formula to calculate the percentage, since it must depend on local factors. Moreover, Israel and the Palestinians made exactly such an agreement in 1995 as part of the Oslo II Accord. In recent years, the amount of rainfall has decreased, but Israel continues to transfer the agreed amount of water and even more.
In other words, the central accusation of Palestinians – that Israel steals water from them – has been refuted for more than twenty years. Nevertheless, Palestinian propagandists – since truth matters neither to them nor to their eager audiences of Israel haters – continue to propagate the lie.
Says Tveit further, also quoting EWASH: “on an average, Ramallah receives more rainfall than London. However, the average per capita water consumption in London is 150 litres/day compared to that of only 70 litres/day for an average Palestinian. On the other hand, the per capita consumption for Israel is 300 litres/day.”
It does not matter whether these figures are true or just more lies. The point here is that the figures are utterly irrelevant. Israel’s obligation to the Palestinians is based exclusively upon the volume of rain that falls in the mountains. How much this works out per capita depends upon something else: how many Palestinians there are to use it. The obligation is the same whether the areas of the Palestinian Authority contain just one hundred Palestinians or one hundred million Palestinians. If the Palestinians are engaged in a population explosion that doubles their population every twenty years, as they claim (whether truthfully or not), that is entirely their own responsibility and not Israel’s.
Consequently, any accusations against Israel that allege per capita figures of water usage are null and void and should be immediately rejected and ignored. Whenever Palestinians confront you with such per capita data, as they invariably do, you should know that they are attempting to blind you with irrelevant information. As does Tveit.
What Tveit should have thought and spoken about, if he seriously wanted to help Palestinians, was to explain why Israelis enjoy so much more water per capita – to contrast the brilliance of Israel’s elimination of its former water problems with the utter incompetence of the Palestinian Authority to deal with its own problems. And to exhort the Palestinians to learn from Israel instead of vainly slandering Israel. Indeed, his whole Ecumenical Water Network, if it is worth anything, should be recommending the Israeli model worldwide.
Until a few years ago, Israel was highly susceptible to sharp variations in annual rainfall. It has now solved the problem by a combination of legislation and technical initiatives. Recycling now reclaims some 80% of waste water. New desalination plants have been erected along the Mediterranean coast, so that now Israel has an abundance of water to start with. All this costs money, so Israelis do pay more for their water and there is a punitive water price for anything above a legally defined level of domestic per capita water.
Under the Palestinian Authority, it is all the opposite. Up to 30% of their water has been estimated to go lost in the systems that deliver their water. Waste water is released, polluting the Palestinian Authority’s land and some of it flows downhill to pollute Israel as well. What is recycled, as in Tveit’s case, are just dirty old water lies. While the Palestinian Authority (PA) lacks a coast, Oslo II did permit it to exploit the eastern mountain aquifer, which it barely does. In addition, very large numbers of Palestinians either do not pay water bills or simply steal water by illegal connections to the water grid. It is the same with Palestinian electricity: bills are not paid and illegal connections are made with impunity.
Rather than enforce whatever laws it has, the Palestinian Authority simply orders more water and electricity from the Israeli grids. Yet it, too, does not pay its bills: it is typically hundreds of millions of shekels in arrears.
And do not let anyone deceive you with claims that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are stealing Palestinian water. The major settlement blocks have been connected to the Israeli water grid, so they are receiving and paying for Israeli water.
The third claim taken by Tveit from EWASH is that “only 1.5% of the applications by the Palestinians for digging wells and other water facilities in Area C have been approved by Israeli authorities over the past 4 years.” Anyone with an understanding of hydrology should applaud this fact, if fact it be. Area C (the Palestinian population of which has always been small) comprises arid or semi-arid regions, where the sinking of wells has to be strictly controlled.
This situation can be seen in Gaza. Here the natural rock formations are the reverse: rainwater falling in Israel is funnelled underground to Gaza. That is why Gaza was a fruitful oasis throughout millennia of human history. Since the Palestinian Authority was set up in Gaza in 1993 (under the Oslo I Accord), and since Hamas seized power in 2007, the proliferation of uncontrolled well-drilling by Palestinians has led to a drop in ground water level and an encroachment of sea water. It has made the ground water undrinkable. The Gazans have destroyed God’s gift, taken from Israel and given to them. So they now only import drinkable water from water-thrifty Israel.
The WCC’s Seven Weeks of Water will be in effect Seven Weeks of Brainwashing. As the WCC’s dirty water pours into member churches, it will pollute the minds of naïve ignorant Christians and it will be lapped up by pretend-Christian Israel haters, as if they were giving themselves shots of a Class A drug. As for the miseries of Middle East Christians, the WCC will succeed, as usual, in removing them from the agenda for the sake of “Palestine.”
Regarding Tveit himself, he no longer has any excuse for repeating lies. If he truly was utterly ignorant of the truth, he can show it by admitting ignorance hitherto, expressing remorse and cancelling his seven wet weeks. We have no confidence, however, that any such thing as a true evaluation of the matter is of any interest to him and his like.
One of Tveit’s predecessors, Konrad Raiser, did once admit that the WCC had wrongly disregarded the truth. It had done so, he said, in its attitude to Soviet dissidents. But his was merely a sin of omission, easier to regret. In any case, he admitted it only after he had left office and the Soviet Union had disappeared.
The current WCC has multiplied sins of commission by founding an alphabet soup of subsidiaries that militate against Israel: EAPPI, KP, EWN, PJP… (never mind the inventive titles that they stand for). EAPPI, for instance, recruits volunteers from churches all over the world to have their heads stuffed for three months with Palestinian allegations. (Three months – because that is the longest visa that Israel grants to visitors who claim to be tourists.) The well-intentioned volunteers are afforded no opportunity of verifying those accusations against Israel. They are then obliged to spend another three months touring their own churches and repeating the allegations. Truth is not merely ignored, it is of systemic insignificance.
• Sabeel’s theology distorts the Old Testament by denying Jews any ongoing connection with the land of their origin, and treating them as a people abandoned by God. There is also repeated disparagement of Judaism as “tribal,” “primitive,” and “exclusionary.”
• Where most modern churches have left the anti-Semitism of the past behind and recognize that the Romans, not the Jews, crucified Jesus, this cult of what has been called “Christian Palestinianism” denies any historical or theological connection between the biblical Israel, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel.
• Perhaps the gravest error made by Kairos, Sabeel, and other Christian groups who pursue a one-sided campaign is that they take away from the Palestinians any form of agency or self-reliance. If the Israelis are to blame for all that is wrong and the Palestinians are only victims, then Palestinians must be treated as children, without the will and power to act on their own behalf. Or who can act only through violence and hate.
• Are these campaigns, replete with fraudulent charges, as in the Inquisition, really not about Palestinians at all, but just the latest incarnation of the old racist and religious hatred of Jews, and a clear expression of the “New Anti-Semitism”?
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center is an arguably anti-Semitic and supersessionist organization that has recently been criticized by several Anglican clergy. Sabeel was founded in 1989 by an Anglican priest, Naim Ateek, former Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. Still based in Jerusalem, it has eleven chapters in Western countries. In Ateek’s theology, Jesus is no longer a Jew living under Roman rule, but “a Palestinian living under an occupation.” Ateek has spoken without irony while preaching that
“it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.”
Here, he is drawing on the familiar canard of Jews as Christ-killers, a trope rejected by most mainstream Christian churches. The concept has, as we know, been the basis for all earlier Christian persecution and murder of Jews.
Sabeel’s theology distorts the Old Testament by denying Jews any ongoing connection with the land of their origin, and treating them as a people abandoned by God. There is also repeated disparagement of Judaism as “tribal,” “primitive,” and “exclusionary.” Judaism has also been unjustly described as a “theology of contempt”.1)See Jules Isaac The Teaching of Contempt: The Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., New York, 1964.
Where most modern churches have left the anti-Semitism of the past behind and recognize that the Romans, not the Jews, crucified Jesus, the exponents of this cult of what has been called “Christian Palestinianism” deny any historical or theological connection between the biblical Israel, the Jewish people, and the modern State of Israel. In doing this in a period that has seen a massive upsurge in anti-Semitism throughout Europe, North America, and the Islamic world, Sabeel openly states that history’s most persecuted community, the Jews, has no right whatsoever to a land in which it can defend itself from assaults and the current open threat, this time from Iran, of another genocide. Sabeel seems to have turned its back on all the work done by organizations such as the Council of Christians and Jews, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, or the World Congress of Faiths. (For a list of other statements by Ateek, see here.)
Sabeel has been widely criticized by both Christians and Jews. Anglican Friends of Israel has listed several Christian critics. Dexter Van Zile from the United Church of Christ is convinced that Ateek is dangerous:
“He’s able to wrap up Palestinian nationalism in the language of Christian Witness and essentially that agenda then gets legitimized by Churches in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia. He gives legitimacy to a dishonest historical narrative.”
Sister Ruth Laut, a lawyer and Dominican nun, of Churches United for Just Peace in the Middle East and Rev. William Harter of Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish Relations and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, have spoken against the Sabeel’s agenda.
Charles McVety, the president of Canada Christian College and an evangelical Christian leader, has said that
“These groups do not speak on behalf of Christians in any way. They are a radical fringe indulging their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bias under the guise of neutrality.”
Nor are these individuals alone. Anglican Friends of Israel reported in 2005:
“Deeply concerned about the programs and message that Sabeel is bringing to North America, a body called The Coalition for Responsible Peace in the Middle East has been formed. It includes the United Church of Christ. The Coalition has stated that “They (Sabeel) undermine hopes for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, for greater understanding about the conflict and for the spread of religious tolerance.”
The journalist Jeff Jacoby has stated that “Sabeel and Ateek’s denunciations of Israel have included imagery explicitly linking the modern Jewish state to the terrible charge that for centuries fueled so much anti-Jewish hatred and bloodshed,” and that “In Ateek’s metaphorical telling, in other words, Israel is guilty of trying to murder Jesus as an infant, of killing Jesus on the cross, and of seeking to prevent his resurrection.”
Jacoby quotes Adam Gregerman, Assistant Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Relations at Saint Joseph’s University (a Jesuit institution in Philadelphia). Writing in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies in 2004, Gregerman observed that “liberation theologians” such as Ateek “perpetuate some of the most unsavory and vicious images of the Jews as malevolent, antisocial, hostile to non-Jews. … As such, liberation theology impedes rather than fosters any serious attempt at understanding or ending the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
In the UK, the leading representative of Sabeel is the notorious Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, the incumbent of the Anglican parish of Christchurch, Virginia Water, in Surrey. I say “notorious” because of the trouble he has brought on himself within the church. On January 20, 2015, Sizer posted a link on his Facebook page to a lengthy 9/11 conspiracy theory article entitled “9/11 Israel did it.” The article included claims which, among others, seek to connect wealthy American Jews to the attacks, through their ownership of buildings, political affiliations or links to Israel. Sizer asked: “Is this anti-Semitic? If so no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.”
Later, he removed the post, not necessarily because he no longer thought it was true, but because Britain’s leading Jewish organization, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, had asked for it to be taken down. In correspondence with Jewish News Online, he asked that evidence be provided to refute the conspiracy theory.
On January 29, 2015, the Church of England stated that the comments made by Sizer were unacceptable and that the Diocese of Guildford would launch an investigation. The following day, Sizer issued a statement of apology and announced that the diocese had suspended him from all social media and blogs. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also published a statement condemning Sizer’s behavior. On February 9, it emerged that he had been banned from social media by the new Bishop of Guildford, the Rt. Revd. Andrew Watson, for at least six months, for his allegation of Israeli responsibility for the 9/11 atrocities. Sizer has also been banned from commenting on issues relating to the Middle East and will not attend further conferences on this subject. In his letter to the bishop, Sizer accepted that if he were to break the undertaking he has made not to use social media for that period, he would have to resign his ministry.
The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, who chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, has said that
“The content and the delay in removing the link from Mr Sizer’s Facebook page was disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman of the Church of England to promote. Members of the CCJ have described the website as ‘obscenely antisemitic.'”
Simon McIlwaine, known as a man of integrity, is the founder of Anglican Friends of Israel. He has called for Sizer to be defrocked.
We have to ask why, in the light of what we know of Sabeel, Naim Ateek and Stephen Sizer, an Anglican church in Newcastle chose to display and distribute literature from this organization, containing quotations from Ateek. This is not a light matter. It raises profound questions. Perhaps the gravest error made by Kairos, Sabeel, and other Christian groups who pursue a one-sided campaign is that they take away from the Palestinians any form of agency or self-reliance. If the Israelis are to blame for all that is wrong and the Palestinians are only victims, then Palestinians must be treated as children, without the will and power to act on their own behalf. Or who can act only through violence and hate.
This infantilization of a people who have taken thousands of innocent lives, committed grave sins, and openly rejected offers of peace makes them, instead, passive recipients of suffering rather than the actors that, in fact, they are. By disengaging Palestinians from responsibility for their own hatred and actions, anti-Israel churchmen and lay members trap the very people for whom they evince the greatest love inside thoughts and policies, many of them inspired by Islamic teachings, that call for the oppression of Jews and Christians as dhimmi peoples (tolerated, second-class citizens) that render them more powerless. They permit the Palestinians to persist within an atmosphere of hatred, rather than calling them to love. There is no place, in our opinion, for the support of hatred within a Christian church, just as no hatred is ever expressed within a synagogue.
Or, as many people increasingly suspect, are these campaigns, replete with fraudulent charges, as in the Inquisition, really not about Palestinians at all, but just the latest incarnation of the old racist and religious hatred of Jews, and a clear expression of the “New Anti-Semitism”?
In conclusion, let us present the Shalom Declaration, a statement that has been presented to Christians of many denominations and signed by them as a token of their trust of Israel and the Jewish people. It speaks for itself.
The Shalom Declaration:
We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing. We grieve and stand with families in Israel and the wider Middle East, who have lost loved ones and with all who are persecuted by the rise of violent extremism and intolerance in the region. We pray that those inciting trouble and disharmony in the Middle East and who threaten the existence of Israel will be thwarted. We further pray that the peacemakers will see their patience and vision rewarded so that Isaiah’s prophecy of “swords beaten into pruning forks” and the declaration of Jesus that “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God,” will soon become a reality. We draw succour from the vibrancy of the State of Israel, from its democratic political system, its academic and cultural creativity and its remarkable contribution to humanity in terms of science and technology. And we call upon the spiritual leaders and elected representatives of our nation to work tirelessly to combat anti-Semitism and violent extremism across the world and to strengthen understanding and co-operation between the peoples of our nation and of Israel.
We call upon the Anglican Church to consider this report and to examine the Wall Will Fall event and the false claims of Kairos, Sabeel and like organizations in the light of Christ’s message of love and forgiveness. It must be the Church’s judgement whether there is need for a call to repentance. But if there is no coming alive to the injustice and deceit of Christian anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, then this ungodly bigotry and confusion within the churches will continue to fester.
Unfortunately, the structure of the workshops at the “Walls Will Fall” event, held in St Thomas The Martyr Church in Newcastle upon Tyne, meant that one could only attend two out of the four available workshops and not the film.
The first workshop was on “Palestinian-Israeli collaboration,” and focused on the Villages Group, an NGO involving some Israelis with rural Palestinians in two villages near Nablus. This project seems in many ways commendable, and I can understand why some Christians support it. But the group’s own website and Facebook page are avowedly anti-Israeli, taking on causes for the Palestinian side only. This became clear during the workshop, which condemned Israeli security checkpoints, the Israeli security barrier, and related topics. Although I had not intended to say anything during the day, these accusations grew so vicious that it felt necessary to address some of the points made.
An attempt was made to explain that the “Wall” is only a tiny fraction of the Israeli security barrier, well over 90% of which is a wire fence some 430 miles in length. There is no doubt that the barrier and checkpoints make life difficult for the Palestinians, but in the workshop I pointed out that it was built in response to the huge toll in lives taken by suicide bombers and other terrorists; since its construction many hundreds of lives have been saved, as illustrated in the chart below:
Two other matters seemed relevant. When there were checkpoints during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, most people (including the present writer and his family) were grateful for their presence to prevent terrorist attacks. Then, back in the Middle East, we meet a Gazan woman, Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, who was arrested at a checkpoint on June 20, 2005, while wearing a massive bomb strapped to her thigh. She planned to go as an outpatient to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, Israel, where her life had been saved after she suffered burns in a domestic accident. Her orders, given by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, were to explode the bomb among the doctors and nurses, killing as many children as possible. At that time, Palestinians trying to smuggle bombs and other weapons through checkpoints were arrested almost every day.
The only response to this information was a statement that “this is all nonsense” or words to that effect. Given the Christian context of the workshop, one could only be at a loss to understand such a very clear indifference to the concept of saving human life. No-one present (in a packed room) voiced any objection to that callous remark.
There is no space here for a full discussion of the many leaflets, pamphlets and booklets that were made available on the dozen or more bookstalls at the event. With a couple of exceptions (such as information on some girls’ schools in the West Bank), none of the material contained even a brief mention of the Jewish, moderate Christian, or Israeli side of events and policies. Much seemed heavily and sometimes viciously expressive of hatred for the State of Israel; placed one hundred percent of the blame for any conflict on Israel or Jewish settlers. Much also discounted, excused, covered up or ignored decades of Arab and Palestinian violence and PLO and Hamas calls for the eradication of Israel because it is a Jewish state and therefore unacceptable in Islamic law. Some of what was there was gross, much of it was subtle. For anyone with a limited knowledge of the history and ideological underpinnings of this dispute, the glosses and mis-statements were persuasive and, unsurprisingly, designed to draw readers into the Palestinian narrative.
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