On the Palestinian side of the fence none of those freedoms exist. How in that case to explain groups like the Presbyterians, the World Council of Churches, Christian Aid and so forth aiming their missiles at the Jewish state? It is the wildest of peculiarities: anti-Israel Christians.
Population movements tell half the story, though not nearly the absorbing half. In 1949 Israel had a Christian population of 34000; today the number is 168000, and growing. From the Palestinian side the arrows point the other way. Christians have poured out; perhaps 70 percent who once lived in the West Bank now live abroad. Bethlehem, Christianity’s cradle, provides stark confirmation.
.... Christianity under the whip, yet people of the church clamber to help Christian persecutors and punish Christian-protecting Israel. Can men of the cloth, even pooling their faith, justify the perversity? Can they square the circle of anti-Israel activism mixed with indifference to Christendom’s plight hard on Israel’s borders? What if, in good faith and without bad conscience, they cannot? And if goaded to action what would matter most to men of the cloth: attacking Israel or defending Christians?"Two years ago, influenced by their conference report which cited such Israel-bashers (advocates of a single state for Jews and Palestinians among them) as Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Robert Fisk and Anglican cleric Stephen Sizer while studiously ignoring mainstream Jewish voices, Britain's Methodists voted to boycott goods from the "Occupied" (i.e. Disputed) Territories, and also voted to review whether Zionism is compatible with their beliefs.
Reflecting mainstream Jewish communal opinion as a whole, the Board of Deputies stated:
"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."Very recently, the Board's vice-president, worried that the Methodists at this year's conference would abolish the posts of Secretary for External Relations and Inter-Faith Officer, noted the fragility of relations between the Jewish community and the Methodists and recalled:
The report, as well as the shameful manner in which it was produced shattered the good relations between the Jewish community and the Methodist Church. The Board made it clear that normal relations would not be resumed until we saw specific signs that the church was prepared to listen to other views and take them seriouly...
The resolutions that received and sought to implement the report caused serious damage to the relationship that breeds mistrust even to this day. The hurt in our community was echoed by anger and surprise among other Christian denominations."A few days ago, at their conference, the Methodists reiterated their position:
"In view of the continued building of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied land, as well as the repeated condemnation this has received from the UK Government, the Conference:
Notes that these settlements are illegal under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as confirmed by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.
Joins with the Quakers in Britain in welcoming the June 2012 Parliamentary Briefing of Christian Aid which calls on the Government to introduce legislation to end the trade in products from illegal Israeli settlements.
Among the persistent critics of Israel within the UK Christian blogosphere are two ordained Methodist ministers who not infrequently post denigratory material regarding Israel on the blog of one of them; over the past week to fortnight alone there have been a number of such posts on that blog. Several Jews, disturbed by this trend, have during the past year or two leapt to Israel's defence as commenters on posts of this nature. One of the ministers (the blog owner) is invariably courteous if sometimes a tad stiff in replies to opponents; the other (who also blogs elsewhere) is apt to temper courtesy to these defenders of Israel with a barbed, sarcastic wit that seemingly substitutes for a more considered or appropriate response on occasion. For instance, below a post, perhaps best described as ill-conceived, that his colleague had written regarding the Fogel murders, this man of the cloth observed of me:Continues to work and pray for peace and justice for all the peoples of the Holy Land"
"Daphne huffs and puffs. I’d say she lives in a Manichaean universe, but she’s probably not bright enough to know what that means."It seems from a post he made elsewhere that this minister regrets the Balfour Declaration and labours under the misconception that the Palestinian Arabs were "forcibly expelled" during Israel's War of Independence:
Some of the latest pro-Israel comments on the several posts regarding Israel that have in rapid succession appeared on the blog in the past week or so have considerably riled the two ministers, to judge by the tone of a rare joint "editorial" that they have posted:
'... "being Jewish" is a complicated, not a monolithic concept, and ... there is no such thing as the Jewish view of things, including, indeed especially on the vexing and volatile issues of Zionism and Israel. [So much for those Board of Deputies' statements, then!]
... Yet there are a few folk who comment on this blog who only show up only when the post is on Israel [well, they are Jews, after all, and unlikely to be concerned with the finer points of Methodist practice and belief], and who act as if Christians who disagree with them are anti-Semitic at worst, and egregiously misinformed and wrong-headed at best. They also seem to act as if fellow Jews who disagree with them are, at worst, disloyal or self-loathing, a disgrace to the cause of Israel, if not Judaism, and, at best (like said Christians), are egregiously misinformed and wrong-headed, and therefore dismissible with due condescension and even contempt....The ministers added, with what might be considered delicious, presumably unwitting, irony
Churchill said that "a fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.".... Personally, we find "fanatic" or "maniac" unduly provocative epithets, but we are certainly dealing here with people who are obstinate, belligerent, apparently inerrant, and certainly lacking both a sense of humour and the willingness to empathise with another point of view.'What, I wonder, could have got under the ministers' skins sufficiently to provoke that outburst comprising their joint editorial? Was it this response of an always impeccably polite Anglo-Jew, to this report from the Independent newspaper (like the BBC and the Guardian, not known for its friendliness towards Israel) that the blog owner reproduced:
A 12-year-old boy has about 75% of the physical strength of his adult self: combined with the lack of empathy common in boys, this makes him an excellent weapon in the hands of the unscrupulous. The treatment described is necessary to shock them out of their feelings of impunity and invulnerability: the detention is vital to stop them from attacking Israel. They need to understand that their enemy has no respect, but just contempt, for their attempts to become jihadis and shahids. You could call it a form of de-programming.
.... Supposing the Israeli authorities contacted the parents of these teenagers and told them that, as parents, they were responsible for their children’s actions. Do you think the parents (as in a civilised society) would say: “Yes, they’ve been very naughty, we’ll accept responsibility for whatever they’ve done, give them to us and we’ll make sure they never do that again.” Or is it more likely that they would say: “Allahu akbar! Khaybar ya-yahud! My son is a glorious shahid, and I am only sorry that he did not manage to kill you!”
My point: the Palestinian Arabs cannot disclaim all responsibility. Nobody has a right to demand that Jews not defend themselves against physical attacks. Israel will not be a nation of humble martyrs.'Was it this response from a feisty Jerusalemite, a long-serving IDF member and veteran of the Six Day War as well as of many a verbal skirmish on the blog in question?:
....Your consistent attacks on the State of Israel place you in the camp of enemies of Israel. You’ve done this too often, which is why I and other Jews appear here from time to time.
As for “Palestinian children are treated differently than Israeli children”, how many “palestinian” children have been murdered by Israeli suicide-bombers and other Arab terrorist acts? In fact, I would be correct in saying that “Israeli suicide-bombers” is an oxymoron! You have a rebuttal for that?....
Richard .... Your tone is always moderate, I have never felt anti-semitism in your words, and you allow me a lot of leeway on your blog.
But when I see time after time that you publish attacks on Israel, I must draw from this a statistical conclusion.
.... As for criticism and its intentions, I think that you’d have to get far more involved in understanding the super-complicated structure that is today’s Israel and the pressures under which it exists, if you really wanted to assist it as a friend. You – or anyone – can’t just pick a headline from an anti-semitic newspaper – and publish it as “friendly criticism”. Doesn’t work.
Regarding ‘turn the other cheek’ .... In today’s world this would be regarded as a Leftist policy.
That is not the Jewish way. The basic Jewish command is to stay alive. Hence the Talmudic instruction “He who comes to kill you, get up and kill him first”. Meaning we show no understanding for those intent on killing us.
A case in point is the Western, Christian world’s weak, Leftist fumbling around with pre-nuclear Iran, more or less giving in to it, while (unfortunately non-religious) Israel is preparing to meet Iran in the Tamudic sense. And of course, to survive it.
That’s why we’ve been around for 3,500 years.'Or was it this response of mine?:
"Significantly, Richard, you have omitted the part of the [Independent's] report in which an Israeli spokesperson explains his country’s policy regarding these detentions. That really isn’t cricket, you know.
Christian victims in Iraq; below: in Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria
As for the delegation, there would appear to be some usual suspects among them.
Ah! If only certain Christian clerical bloggers devoted as much time drawing attention to the savagery in the Islamic world against Christians - their fellow Christians! - as they do in itemising the faults, real and imagined, of the little Jewish State struggling to survive.
This, for example:
In the course of my remarks, I included a reference to the Barnabas Fund, which fights on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide but which has been condemned by such leftist organisations as Hope Not Hate for stoking Islamophobia. To quote the Fund's International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo:
.... How very sad that the Copts, as well as people in parts of the world who were introduced to Christianity by European missionaries (colonialists, some might call them) and are cleaving fast to the Christianity they imbibed, are now left to their fate by Christians in the West, people who not only through ties of faith but through obligation and duty should be publicising their plight and pleading on their behalf. People who, I repeat, are quick to condemn little Israel for misdeeds real and imagined, yet stay shtum when innocents are slaughtered by rapacious Islamists determined to oust Christianity wherever they encounter it....'
To say nothing of attacks on Coptic persons & property
Indeed, in a much earlier post (on which none of us three made a comment) entitled "Responding to the 'counter-jihad'," the minister whose blog it is opined:
"We have been deeply saddened that some Christians regard Barnabas Fund as preaching hatred when we raise the plight of the persecuted Church, and the growing influence of Islamism and its impact on the Church and the Christian heritage and liberties of Western society. We are unshakably committed to our stated goals and will continue to pursue them with vigour, for the sake of our Lord’s persecuted people at home and abroad."
I've shunned bloodier graphics of anti-Christian crimes
....Fear and hatred of others are a continuing temptation. The desire for a scapegoat on whom to pin the world’s ills is never very far away, especially at times of economic uncertainty.....
.... What I do see is a nasty alliance of fear-mongering bigots who are stoking up resentment and hatred. The fact that there are "christian" groups involved in this is an affront to the gospel.'Now, in response to those aforesaid remarks of mine and related ones by me, the other minister, Kim, observed:
'Islamic crimes against Christians — Richard doesn’t need to raise his voice in outrage because the condemnation is tacit. Nor, in any case, do Christians have any theological warrant for privileging themselves when it comes to criminal behaviour. Crimes against children, however — some people seem to be defending them, so the condemnation must be explicit.
As for me:
.... [A]lthough the UK’s Charity Commission ruled that the Barnabas Fund “does not appear to be inciting racial hatred” ... a quick read of its widely dissiminated booklet Slippery Slope: the Islamisation of Britain suggests to me that it is an alarmist little piece of work with a whiff about it of that kind of anti-Semitism known as Islamophobia. About Barnabas abroad I do not know and therefore will not comment. If it’s working for reconciliation and peace, and counselling Christians to love their Muslim neighbours and to maintain a non-violent witness at all times, that’s great.'
Sadly, there are graphic examples more horrific than these
'Daphne ... does more than appear to be inciting religious hatred …'Later, picking up on a theme of minister Kim's, I observed:
'I would like to point out to Kim that – desirable though peaceful solutions to conflicts undoubtedly are – in some circumstances negotiations, as Neville Chamberlain found, are useless. What, for example, would be the basis on which Israel would negotiate with Iran, whose leaders, like Hamas’s, want the Zionist Entity extirpated? And want it extirpated they certainly do, by some means. For militant Islam, bent on re-establishing the Caliphate, the very existence of a non-Muslim state in the region – even one as tiny as Israel is (the size of Wales, remember) – is an outrage. That is the reality of what Israel faces.
I would also draw to your attention the many videos on the web in which Islamist clerics inveigh in bloodthirsty and antisemitic terms (”the descendents of apes and pigs”) against Israel and Jewish Israelis.
And see this example of poisoning tender young minds – since you inveigh against Avraham’s supposed militarism, inveigh against the choice example of militarism exposed here:
http://challahhuakbar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/palestinian-kindergarten-promotes.htmlHis response, as I'm sure he would agree, was fatuous.
Meanwhile, the erudite Anglo-Jew had observed in response to a comment from the blog-owner:
'Thank you, Richard, for the link to that instructive expatiation of the meaning of that section of the Sermon on the Mount. It highlights one of the central problems that we Jews face when trying to explain our position to you Christians. From the fall of Jerusalem in 70CE until 1947, we Jews have in fact turned the other cheek, trying to awaken your conscience by appealing to your better nature. That might have worked if there had been hundreds of millions of us to sacrifice and all the time in the world to wait until your consciousness was raised. But Hitler and his millions of willing helpers gave us the definitive answer. Our enemies do not have a better nature. Would that it were otherwise.'And the feisty Jerusalemite observed on the post that Kim proceeded to add to the blog, a post also critical of Israel:
For a joint Jewish-Christian rally in Rome against Islamic persecution of Christians see here where it is noted:
'While the West is now endlessly focused on “Islamophobia,” a potential genocidal Christianophobia is spreading through Islamic lands. And as the rally in the Coliseum has clearly shown, it pairs up with another kind of hatred: Judeophobia.
Today there is only one country in the Middle East in which Christian numbers are not declining but continues to increase: Israel. The Jewish State hosts a multitude of Christian creeds, confessions and cultures.....
Christians should see Israel as the first line of Western defense in the battle for non-Muslim survival and prosperity in the world....'(For the Board of Deputies and the Church of England see here)