'We're really looking forward to being part of Greenbelt [at Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire] over the [August] Bank Holiday weekend, because this year's festival is going to be very special," coos the website of Embrace the Middle East, the Israel-demonising NGO formerly known as BibleLands (CEO: our old mate, or, rather, Stephen Sizer's, Jeremy Moodey), which has introduced some spiffing holiday fun this August Bank Holiday for the indoctrination of persons of all ages, as well as hosting the official launch of a publication from "the new grass-roots network" Kairos Britain.
'This year, Greenbelt celebrates 40 years as a Christian arts, faith and justice festival. The festival organizers have chosen the theme ‘Life begins’, and we will be using our presence there to remember those for whom life is permanently on hold,' it continues here [emphasis added]:
Our installation in the Centaur foyer aims to give a glimpse of the challenges faced by ordinary Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. There'll be a giant, interactive floor game - Occupation! - for all ages.
Roll the dice and make your way through checkpoints and challenges, permit denials and poverty. On your journey, you’ll learn about the issues affecting the West Bank and Gaza and find out how you can help Embrace the Middle East to make a positive difference to the lives of marginalised people.
Occupation! is just a game, and you can walk freely away whenever you want, but the message behind it is a serious one. In the West Bank and Gaza, injustice continues to weave through the fabric of Palestinian life. Join us as we embrace the work of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters in their determination to be agents of change.
One of our Greenbelt highlights will be the official launch of Kairos Britain: A Time for Action, the new booklet from British Church leaders responding the 2009 Kairos Palestine Call, challenging British Churches and Christians to take action and stand with our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine against Israel’s 46-year occupation of their land in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The launch will be at 12.30pm on Sunday. We’re hosting a reception after the launch, so do stay and take the opportunity to talk some more.
We’ll also have a stand ... throughout Greenbelt weekend, giving people the chance to ask questions, take a look through our resources and find out more about our work. Our CEO, Jeremy Moodey, is speaking in the Jenin venue at 5pm on Sunday about his unlikely career change ‘From investment banker to activist’. Our wonderful volunteer team will also be out and about across the site - without them we wouldn't have half the impact.
Greenbelt may be celebrating 40 years, but we are celebrating 60 years of the Bethlehem Carol Sheet, so watch out for some unseasonable carol singing in the summer sunshine ...'See Greenbelt's rather telling account of its own history since 1974 here (emphasis added):
'.... The Sun newspaper billed that first festival as ‘The Nice People’s Pop Festival’, but perhaps it was more subversive than it appeared. Back in the 1970s, Greenbelt’s holistic take – ‘Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other’ – had a transforming impact, believing that all artistic expression and endeavour was God-given.
And, while the initial draw of the Festival lay in this celebration of the arts, its appeal broadened as a growing internationalism emerged from the concerns of festival organisers. Among significant new voices heard at the festival in this period were Nicaraguan minister Gustavo Parajon, South African anti-apartheid activist Caesar Molebatsi and Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Melkite priest from Nazareth....
And, as Greenbelt has cemented its partnership with Christian Aid and other associate agencies, Greenbelters have translated debate about political engagement and international injustice into vigorous campaigning, re-imagining the Christian community as an infectious global conspiracy....'
"It is insidious propaganda - quite outrageous indoctrination-by-play - which poisons the mind of young Christians and delegitimises the State of Israel."He characterisese Kairos Britain (a pro-BDS outfit which, among other proposals for action, here suggests to the faithful that they join their local Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch, that's the same PSC whose logo, seen below, includes the entire land of Eretz Israel, of course) as
propaganda network which condemns Israel at every turn as oppressive and racist - with no mention of its right to self-defence against acts of terrorism and rocket bombardment, or even of its right to exist at all."And he notes:
"According to reports, Greenbelt has refused to allow any speakers - Jewish or Christian - to challenge the premises of Kairos. Young Christians will leave the Festival believing that Israel is a pariah state. This appears to accord with policies and agendas of previous years, which have been variously described as 'Israel bashing', 'Israel-hating' and portraying 'an awful image of Israel'.
Thousands of UK Christians leave Bible Weeks and Christian festivals fired up with a resolution to campaign for justice and human rights. This is a good thing. Sadly, at Greenbelt, much of what they hear targets the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish homeland."As as an antidote to the pernicious propaganda being spewed out at Greenbelt, he has hosted a guest post from Fran Waddams of Anglican Friends of Israel, who ends her remarks thus (emphasis added):
'So why isn’t there a State of Palestine? There’s been plenty of opportunity, beginning with the Peel plan of 1937, any time between 1949 and 1967, post 6 Day War, and again in 2000 and 2008. Palestinian leaders ‘never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity’ to have their own state. Why?
Maybe there was no will to create another Arab state for Palestinians prior to 1967? Or perhaps – as statements from Arab leaders suggest – the price – which would be to accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East - is a step too far? Neither Kairos Palestine nor her UK supporters seem to want to address this question, particularly as it applies before 1967. One wonders why.
History shows that heaping blame on Israel alone for the failure of the Palestinians and their allies to create a viable state prior to 1967, with all the ensuing consequences, while ignoring Arab aggression and rejectionism is grossly unjust. Yet this is exactly what Kairos Palestine and its Christian UK supporters do.
Revision of Middle East history is leading to a gradual ‘creep’ of Christian thinking on Israel towards a position way beyond criticism of Israel’s actions towards undermining the very legitimacy of her existence - drawing ever nearer to the position of some of Israel’s and the Church’s most vicious enemies. This is deeply worrying.
This creep has the potential to go far beyond the much vaunted position of Christians being ‘critical friends’ of Israel into unjustly singling out Israel’s Jews as perpetrators of a unique sin against justice and human rights. Such Christians are part of the problem, not the solution.'Read the entire Archbishop Cranmer/Fran Waddams post here
Hat tip: The Almond Rod blog