Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Methodist Boycotters Try Some Cyber Warfare – and Boycott Challenger David Hallam Holds Fast

You’ll probably remember that at their conference this summer – in obedience to a call from the World Council of Churches – Britain’s Methodists, on the motion of Rev Nichola Jones seconded by Dr Stephen Leah, voted to boycott Israeli goods from “illegal settlements” in the Disputed (aka “Occupied”) Territories. The Methodists, whose lengthy conference report on which the vote was taken heeded such serial Israel-defamers as Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Robert Fisk and Anglican cleric Stephen Sizer, but studiously ignored mainstream Jewish voices, also voted to review whether Zionism is compatible with their beliefs.

The Board of Deputies reflected Jewish communal opinion as a whole in observing:
“This outcome is extremely serious and damaging, as we and others have explained repeatedly over recent weeks. Israel is at the root of the identity of Jews and of Judaism, and is an expression of Jewish spiritual, national and emotional aspirations. Zionism cannot simply be ruled as illegitimate in the way that the conference has purported to do. This smacks of breathtaking insensitivity, as crass as it is misinformed. That this position should now form the basis of Methodist Church policy should cause the conference to hang its head in shame, just as surely as it will cause the enemies of peace and reconciliation to cheer from the sidelines.”
“In the Bible we learn of the Chosen People”, said Rev Jones.
Who are they and what are they chosen for? Genesis tells us again and again that God choose Abraham and makes a covenant with Abraham and his heirs. A covenant being a two-sided agreement with obligations on both parties, like marriage. God’s covenant with the Children of Israel, Abraham’s heirs, is that he will be their God and they will be his people if they walk humbly before God, obey God’s laws and are a light to the nations....Of course, Israel today is not the same as Israel in the Bible: in the Bible, Israel refers to the people of Abraham’s descendants, who are in covenant with God. Israel today is a modern, secular state, created in 1948”.
That, to most people’s ears, surely sounds like an endorsement of supersecessionist theology – avowing that Jews have been superseded as the Chosen People and a form of undermining the Jews' divinely-sanctioned entitlement to their ancestral land  – and yet another weapon of choice in the “soft war” (which I referred to in my last blogpost) being waged with odious intensity on all fronts against the Jewish State.

Dr Leah, who as well as being a Methodist minister chairs the York branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, is a lyricist on the side – his muse aroused by anti-Israel spleen, he penned alternate words to  “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, making that familiar carol a vehicle of invective against the Jewish State. Regarding the Methodist motion, Leah remarked: “I personally would like to have divestment going a little bit further into the full boycott of Israel, but I know how much I can get away with in the churches sometimes.... Churches are paranoid about being critical of Israel sometimes, they want to be balanced all the time, we must put pressure on church leaders.” (Hat tip: Seismic Shock).

Just recently, Terry Gallogly, Secretary of the York PSC, and also an advocate of a total boycott on Israel including its trade union movement Histadrut, suggested that anti-Zionists answer in the affirmative a Jewish Chronicle website poll regarding the far-right ostensibly Israel-supporting English Defence League (EDL) in order that it would appear that the Jewish community approved of forging links with the EDL: "People might like to vote in this poll if only to embarass Hoffie [Jonathan Hoffman] and the Zionist Federation”, advised Gallogly conspiratorially. As far as is known, and despite his calling as a man of the cloth, Leah has yet to distance himself publicly from Gallogly’s immoral tactics (hat tip: Harry’s Place & Seismic Shock)

In the wake of the boycott resolution, a Methodist Friends of Israel group has been formed, and, pro-Israel Methodist minister David Hallam – who on his blog (take a look at his many interesting posts regarding this sorry situation www.methodistpreacher.blogspot.com/ )calls upon Leah to distance himself from Gallogly’s vote-rigging proposal – has announced his intention to mount a legal challenge to the resolution.

As was said of the Bourbons, the Methodist boycotters have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Despite the protests of anguish that came from many Jewish leaders – including the Chief Rabbi – and from mainstream Jewish groups (who, significantly, are not given to crying “wolf” often) they continue to revel in their shameful stance. That Mr Hallam is putting noses out of joint is evident from some of the remarks Methodist Church members have been making of late, attempting to justify their singling out of Israel for obloquy and punitive measures and mounting a cyber warfare against Mr Hallam that is not entirely free from ad hominem attacks. His opponents are insisting – despite online challenges from myself and others, including the Zionist Federation’s feisty co-vice-chair and a highly articulate Orthodox Jew from Jerusalem who has not held back with some home truths – that opposing Zionism is not antisemitic. They have gone onto the defensive, trying to redefine antisemitism so that it sits comfortably with their anti-Israel rhetoric and reviving old blogposts about Israel and Jews. They have also, in their desperation, invoked the example of some of their anti-Zionist Jewish heroes to justify their own standpoint.

Thus, a  Methodist minister in North Wales scrapes the bottom of the barrel when on his blog (theconnexion.net/wp/) he posts a comment from a member of a marginal Israel-bashing organisation composed of “as-a-Jews” that hardly represents mainstream Jewish opinion regarding Israel. “As a Jew, I fully appreciated the Methodist’s resolution ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’. I’m increasingly distressed by the unceasing determination of my fellow Jews in Israel, and in our diaspora, to never accept any criticism of their ill-treatment of Palestinians — who have historically been displaced from their lands by the Israelis in the name of their claimed God-given right”, wrote the habitual Israel-basher in question, claiming that “Israel is actually creating a world-wide anti-Semitism from which I and my fellow Jews will ultimately suffer.”

Evidently rankled by the fightback on the blog from Zionists, including yours truly, one boycott champion, who really doesn’t seem to like Israel or its champions very much at all, invokes the views of that well-known Jewish loather of Israel, Professor Avi Shlaim. ‘I was thinking of injecting a little Robert Fisk into the ongoing conversation on Israel-Palestine - though after the recent hurling of comment grenades by Hallam’s Army, I use the word “conversation” loosely - and I would no doubt have to jettison it altogether were I to cite Fisk. So I’ll try a little Avi Shlaim ...’ is the opening jibe, prompting one commenter to remark “it looks very much as if you want to showcase the Jews who support your argument to prove you’re not anti-Semitic. It reminds me of how the Mediaeval Church would wheel out its Jewish converts to participate in “debates” wherein Jewish religious communities were harshly denounced”.

And then there is another Methodist minister who found my suggestion that the Methodist Church has been “hijacked” by leftists offensive, and took refuge in her own blog to have a conversation with the Almighty in which she observed:
“A very distressing and disturbed night. I have been following and participating in a blogged debate on the Church's report on Justice for Israel Palestine and the bizarre threat of one Methodist to take the Church to court over its contents.
There can be no doubt that the report has raised some emotive issues, but that is no excuse for the appalling lack of grace in some of the posts. When Christians slander one another, evil flourishes.
The charge being made against the Church and certain individuals is of Antisemitism.. a charge designed to raise the spectre of the Holocaust and shame us all into silence - regardless of what atrocities are currently being perpetrated. In a nutshell the argument is - Gentiles committed the holocaust therefore the Gentiles have forever forfeited the right to censor a Jew. Any and all criticism of Jews or of Israel by Gentiles is antisemitic.
This is, however, a shallow and dishonest definition of antisemitism. It mocks and makes a lie of the past by reducing it to a vacuous insistence that it is never politically, spiritually or socially 'correct' to criticize or question anything Jewish or Israeli....
It is not antisemitic to seek to be informed about the current plight of the ordinary Palestinian
It is not antisemitic to be offended by the wall
It is not antisemitic to question why human rights are being denied to Palestinians in Israel.
It is not antisemitic to ask what can we do to which might help Palestinians.
It IS antisemitic to not question or challenge any of these things, to hate the Jew so much that we would be prepared to stand by and watch whilst they perhaps commit crimes against You and against humanity which we know from our own bitter experience will only result in long-lasting spiritual, social and political damage.” (http://www.the-kneeler.blogspot.com/)
In the face of all this, the admirable and courageous David Hallam is holding fast. All praise and all power to him. Make no mistake: in his intention to take the Methodist Church to court he deserves all the encouragement and support (moral and practical) that well-wishers of Israel can muster. Much rides on his legal challenge to the Methodist boycott. If that challenge succeeds, the ruling could mean the end of other anti-Israel boycotts emanating from England and Wales. I’m not a lover of alcohol – but I’ll gladly drink to that!

Postscript: for those who remain determined to boycott Israel, here's a must-see video (hat tip: Avraham Reiss) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saeky9I5T9c/







9 comments:

  1. Just to clarify, David Hallam, like myself, is a Methodist Local Preacher. That is a lay person licensed to preach in the Methodist Church. We are not ordained Ministers - not Revved. This explains the patronising tone of some Revs who think that their training gives them superior insight. They forget that lay people are perfectly capable of obtaining theological training without being ordained and may have life experience that is also relevant. We may also have the chutzpah to disagree with them.

    Me, I'm with the hymn-writer John Newton:

    Saviour, since of Zion’s city
    I through grace a member am,
    Let the world deride or pity,
    I will glory in Thy name.
    Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
    All his boasted pomp and show;
    Solid joys and lasting treasure
    None but Zion’s children know.

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  2. Thank you so much, Ian, for your welcome clarification, insight, and views.

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  3. Ian G, that is interesting, some Methodist Local Preachers are obviously treated with great respect, as - someone pointed out to me - Dr Stephen Leah is not in fact an ordained minister either, yet was still entrusted to write this report on Israel in the first place!

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  4. While I support and acknowledge the rights of the Israeli Nation I must ask - And what of the Palestinians themselves. How must they be treated ? What rights have they got ? What rights are they allowed have ? Israel, in remembrance of its past, in remembrance of the horrors done to it must acknowledge that it has a duty of care to others if only because it bears the scars caused by mans inhumanity to man.

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  5. The Israeli Arabs have full rights, and if it were not for the rejectionism and aggression by Arab nations from the start - if the Arabs had accepted Israel's existence instead of immediately waging war on her - there would not be a refugee problem. The refugee problem was of the Arabs' making, and the "refugees" have been used as pawns in the Arabs' struggle against Israel ever since. Israel is more sinned against than sinning. Unfortunately, what the Arabs have failed to achieve by the sword - the destruction of the Zionist presence in the region - they seek to achieve through a remorseless campaign of propaganda, which is swallowed by well-meaning people hook, line and sinker.

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  6. "While I support and acknowledge the rights of the Israeli Nation I must ask - And what of the Palestinians themselves." Israeli Arab citizens have full rights within Israel, Jews are banned from being Jordanian citizens (or S'audi). Palestinians are banned from most professions in Lebanon and 400,000 were expelled from Kuwait after the first Gulf War but the world collectively yawned. The Palestinians receive more aid than any other people in the world (more than Marshall Plan Europe) and pass on their offically UN "refugee" status to their children unlike any other people.

    "How must they be treated ?" They are treated well by Israel for instance the West Bank Palestinians have a higher income and life expectancy than Egypt. Pre-'67 there were no Universities Israel founded all of them.

    "What rights have they got ? What rights are they allowed have ?" In Israel full rights, in the occupied territories thats under negotiation. So far they rejected Statehood in '48, '77 and '2000. Interestingly, Israeli Arabs in East Jerusalem (also counted as Palestinians) don't want to give up Israeli citizenship.

    "Israel, in remembrance of its past, in remembrance of the horrors done to it must acknowledge that it has a duty of care to others if only because it bears the scars caused by mans inhumanity to man. " The old "Jews should have learnt from their treatment" line. No other country in history has ever given away land captured in a defensive war (Sinai, Lebanon etc) for a piece of paper called "peace". America isn't being asked to give Texas back to Mexico nor Russian land to Finland etc. Israel is literally sitting with child murderers to negotiate peace. But your sentence is illogical. Jews more than any other people have a right to be defensive even paranoid because of their persecution etc.

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  7. Many thanks indeed for that cogent and touching comment, Anon!

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  8. This is a revealing blog - thought I feel somewhat voyeuristic in reading it!
    http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/2010/10/w ... -this.html

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  9. http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/2010/10/why-would-someone-do-this.html

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