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)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

"A Very Worrying Development": The Rebranding Of NGO BibleLands

Readers who've looked at my previous post will notice that the chief executive of the British NGO BibleLands has taken umbrage at what I've cited regarding the Islamic persecution of Copts and other Christians in the Middle East, and concentrates his fire-power upon Israel.

A Christian reader of mine, Ian G, who has been a teacher of religious studies, has the following to say about BibleLands.  I thank him for sharing his insights with me.  What he writes makes interesting and disturbing reading.

Writes Ian G:

"I see that they also intend to change their name to 'Embrace the Middle East'. The logo is also being changed to two hands where the Cross is suggested, rather than plain and obvious.

See here and here

Whenever a Christian organisation rebrands like this, one needs to look closely for the real reason. They always talk about modernising and relevance, but they often mean abandoning the original vision.

In this case, the name BibleLands clearly accepts that Israel, along with other nations, has an historic connection to a piece of the BibleLands. The Cross is an historic event that took place in Roman occupied, Jewish Jerusalem. Much of the Tenach and the New Testament takes place in Israel.

If, like me, you were brought up to believe in an Israel that occupied, roughly, Galilee, Samaria and Judea, than the return of Jews to the Land is of momentous significance to both Jews and Christians. Most especially to all who actually believe the Bible.

Whilst the debt that Christianity owes to Judaism is implicit in the name BibleLands it is eradicated in 'Embrace the Middle East'. Now the Middle East is just another place that needs help.

It is also worth looking at their interactive map of Israel and Palestine.

It would appear that Bethlehem is 50 per cent Muslim and 50 per cent Christian. My understanding from sources such as the Barnabas Fund  and Israel Today is that this is no longer accurate. For example Israel Today recently published three articles on the exodus of Arab Christians from areas in the control of the Palestinian Authority: or the archived articles of the Barnabas Fund.

Apparently, 70 per cent of the population of the Gaza strip live below the poverty line. Oh, and Israel does not have a recognised capital in Jerusalem. Funny, but the Bible says...

Now you see why they've changed the name.

The sad and dangerous thing about all this is that generations of churchgoers have grown up singing their Christmas carols from the 'Bethlehem Carol Sheet' produced by BibleLands. But that was in the day when Jesus was a Jew and Bethlehem was the City of David –  in Judea ( Luke ch.2 v.4).

What is missing from their website is a clear 'Statement of Faith'; there are now only 'Core Values' backed up with selected New Testament verses.   (A text out of context is a pretext.)

Compare this with the statement of faith for Barnabas Fund  and any other genuine Christian organisation and it quickly becomes obvious that BibleLands has lost its way.

This is happening to more and more Christian groups and denominations and is a very worrying development."


  1. Here is BibleLands' chief executive's latest comment on the previous thread - it speaks volumes:
    By what measure can Khaled Abu Toameh be regarded as impartial? He writes for the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Post as well as the fairly loony Gatestone Institute, founded by the pro-Israel and Islamophobic neo-con Nina Rosenwald. His 2010 article suggesting that Palestinians in East Jerusalem are happy to remain under Israeli occupation is a travesty of the truth, as any street survey in East Jerusalem would surely reveal. He is probably the only Palestinian in the world who believes that illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not the principal obstacle to a negotiated peace. No wonder he is the darling of the Zionist lobby; after all, Melanie Phillips calls him an "unflinching truth-teller". Anyone with Mad Melanie's nihil obstat has got to be pretty suspect in my book.

  2. Daphne - thanks for the free plug! Our old name of BibleLands was never intended to be a comment on Jewish claims to the land. As a charity focused solely on supporting Christian social witness in the lands of the Bible, helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, we corporately take no view on the matter. I have my own views of course, and it is on this personal basis that I tweet and contribute to blogs.

    We do not have a statement of faith because we are inter-denominational charity, unlike the primarily evangelical Barnabas Fund, for whose work we have a great respect. If anything, our statement of faith, and that of our Christian partners in the Middle East, is simply one Nicene creed.

    Also, if you look very carefully, there was no cross in our old logo. It was (rather impenetrably) two middle fingers touching an upright pole and creating the impression of a cross. Our new cross is more explicit, emphasising our confidence as a Christian charity.

    You are of course entitled to think that we have "lost our way", but changing from BibleLands to Embrace the Middle East had nothing to do with theology or Christian identity and everything to do with discarding a brand that no longer seemed relevant to many younger Christians in the UK and replacing it with a name which describes exactly what we do: embracing those in need, whatever their faith or ethnic background, with the compassion and love of Christ. The needs in the Middle East are enormous (your blog seems to imply that the region does not need help!) and the range and impact of Christian social witness, even in somewhere like Gaza (where Christians account for 0.1% of the population) is humbling. We want to do our part to support local Christians as they are 'salt and light' in their community. Surely you would not object to such a ministry?

  3. Jeremy (if I may), the blog above is effectively a guestpost by Ian G.: the words are his, and I cannot speak for him.
    With regard to Gaza, I note that Abu Toameh, among others, has recently drawn attention to the dire plight of Christians there at the hands of the Islamists.
    I am rather perturbed at the implication that young Christians no longer think the Bible is of relevance, and fear a Sizer-like influence may be at work, deleterious to Israel.

  4. Thanks for the clarification Daphne. I assumed that by re-posting Ian G's comments you were endorsing them. Nothing in my post was intended to imply that younger Christians think the Bible is irrelevant. We absolutely believe in the Bible, which is why we promote a ministry in Jesus' name focused on nourishing the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked and healing the sick (Matt 25:31-46). But many thought that as 'BibleLands' we distributed Bibles (which we don't). Some even confused us with Bible Society!

    1. Ah, yes, the Foreign and British Bible Society, as ( believe it used to be called. btw, I have an interest in Jewish-Christian relations, which is why my blog carries posts such as this from time to time. Ian G is one of my most long-standing readers, and I value his contributions.

  5. I've copied the old logo and expanded it. Detail is lost, but if that's two middle fingers touching an upright pole then they are very long, very straight and rather thick fingers!

  6. A more honest logo from this British Christian NGO would be two middle fingers upright in the direction of the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

  7. They're just Muslims under a new name. I recommend we push for them to embrace sharia.

    1. Naughty! They do, however, appear to be turning the other cheek so far that they are unable to see that ME Christians are forced to be embrace sharia.

    2. sorry for the mangled grammar - poor editing...

    3. We haven't the right to turn the other cheek for others. Especially those who need protecting.

  8. An even more appropriate logo for this British Christian NGO would be two middle fingers raised and upright in the overt direction of the persecuted and rapidly dwindling Christian peoples of the Middle East.

  9. I'm on a roll

    How about two arms raised with eyes shut tight and mouth wide open?

  10. "Daphne - thanks for the free plug! Our old name of BibleLands was never intended to be a comment on Jewish claims to the land. As a charity focused solely on supporting Christian social witness in the lands of the Bible, helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, we corporately take no view on the matter. I have my own views of course, and it is on this personal basis that I tweet and contribute to blogs."

    You see, this is what troubles me most about clerical and especially Christian antizionism.

    Of course Mr Moodey has "his own views". Daphne has nailed this in a phrase. That single paragraph of his that Daphne transposed here says more about "his views" than he probably realises himself. The man is in mind lock down.

    It's an easy diagnosis to make because there is so much of it about. It is because of climate change. In the worst cases there's not much that can be done about it.

    But that's not what troubles most. What troubles most is the unmistakeable but very strange odour of agnosticism from the direction of another venerable Christian institution and I most certainly do not mean that in a religious sense although you can take it that way if you like.

    " Our old name ... was never intended to be a comment on Jewish claims to the land. As a charity focused solely on supporting Christian social witness in the lands of the Bible, helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, we corporately take no view on the matter."

    Excuse me?

    Mr Moodey, does this mean your old British charity (that incidentally I have heard of in Australia) in 2012 takes no view on whether the Jewish state of Israel has a right to exist?

    Is it agnostic?

    {I've already forgotten the new name by the way. Speaking corporately)

  11. Hi Dapne

    I've been blogging on this at the Joint


    1. Yhanks,geoff - will take a look as soon as the cat's fed and watered ...