On 17 January The Church of England Newspaper carried an editorial critical of the disgraceful Israel-demonising stunt held for the twelve-day Christmas period in the forecourt of St James's Church, Piccadilly.
Try as I might, I have been unable to locate a copy of this editorial (if anyone knows of an online link I'd be extremely grateful for it.)*
However, the general thrust of the editorial may be deduced from the following letter in response from Jeremy Moodey, CEO of the NGO Embrace the Middle East (formerly known as BibleLands), who like Stephen Sizer is an arch-foe of Christian Zionism. (Sizer features the letter on his eponymous blog, but don't bother dashing over there: the blog has no facility for comments.)
Carried by the paper on 24 January (yesterday), Mr Moodey's epistle, blithely dismissive of the role of the real separation barrier in saving lives and ignoring altogether the sheer one-sided pro-Arab bias of the stunt and the repellent antisemitic daubings that the stunt attracted, states:
"Your editorial observations on anti-Semitism in Europe (Comment, 17 January) betray some confused thinking. Any manifestation of anti-Semitism should be deplored, and people like the French ‘comic’ Dieudonné who appear to promote hatred of Jews should of course be vigorously challenged. But you also raise the boycott campaign against Israel and the ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ event at St James’ Piccadilly and imply that these too are somehow making hatred of Jews ‘fashionable’ again.
As seen on Elder of Ziyon blog
Legitimate criticism of the State of Israel for its 46-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and its ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights should not be equated with ant-Semitism, and it is mischievous of you to connect the non-violent boycott campaign, St James’s and the admirable Lucy Winkett with such a vile prejudice. You cite the definition of anti-Semitism prepared by the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in 2005, and this does indeed suggest that certain types of criticism of Israel may be anti-Semitic. But this definition was only ever a draft document, and it has never been formally accepted by the EU. Moreover, the EUMC was replaced in 2007 by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, a body which has distanced itself from the draft definition of 2005. Nor has the UK government accepted the EUMC definition.
The battle against genuine anti-Semitism is devalued when it is widened to include non-violent campaigns to persuade the State of Israel to comply with its obligations under international law."The American Christian scholar Dexter Van Zile wrote some time ago, and at some length, about the "anti-Israel tenor" of Embrace the Middle East, which he warned was in danger of being transformed under Mr Moodey's stewardship from "a bona fide Christian development organization ... into an anti-Zionist propaganda mill".
Van Zile continued:
'.... Judging from the organization’s annual reviews and reports Embrace clearly does good work in the three countries where it focuses its attention – Israel, Egypt and Lebanon.
Moodey ignored Hamas’s failure to protect the rights of Embrace’s primary clients in Gaza – Christians – and offered not one word of criticism for the hundreds of rockets that landed in Israel in the months and weeks prior to Operation Pillar of Defense.
No reasonable commentator can ignore the role Hamas has played in making the lives of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip miserable and its cynical use of the suffering it has caused as a tool to lambaste Israel. No reasonable commentator would fail to hold Hamas to account for the rockets it launched, or allowed to be launched into Israel.
.... How about stating that Palestinians need leaders with a true vision for peace? Israel withdrew its citizens and soldiers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, only to be attacked by Hamas in 2006. Moodey insists that Israel withdraw its citizens from the West Bank, but what assurances can he give that such withdrawals will lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors?
Israel has been repeatedly attacked in recent years from every bit of territory from which it has withdrawn. It has recently been attacked from the Sinai, from which it withdrew in the 1970s. It was attacked from Lebanon in 2006, from which it withdrew from in 2000. And Hamas’s primary recruiting grounds for suicide bombers during the Second Intifada were those cities and towns in the West Bank from which Israel withdrew its soldiers in the 1990s....
Another demonstration of how, under Moodey’s leadership, Embrace’s resources have been used to broadcast a partisan anti-Israel narrative is a report about the human rights of Arabs living in Israel. The report issued by Embrace on Monday, December 10, 2012, at the request of Lambeth Palace, looks at the status of Arabs living in Israel.
Yes, Arabs living in Israel do experience problems with discrimination, but the humiliating reality is this: They enjoy more rights and freedom and greater opportunity than Arabs in any other country in the Middle East – and they know it.
Consequently, 35 percent of the Arabs living in East Jerusalem would prefer to live in Israel if a two-state solution were achieved. Moreover, there has been a notable increase in the number of Arabs applying for citizenship in Israel since the Oslo Accords....
And while Embrace the Middle East is obsessing about the impact of Israel’s Jewish character on the rights of its minorities the organization ignores an important fact. The Palestinian Constitution of 2003 states that Islam is the official religion of Palestine and that “the principles of Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.” This sounds a lot like the constitution of Egypt, where the Coptic minority has endured great suffering over the years....'
|The vicar of Virginia Water: back from Africa and back on form|
The day before Mr Moodey's letter was published in the Church of England Newspaper, yet another lament for the agony of the Middle East's Christians appeared online; it's this one, by Michael Brendan Dougherty, which is aptly titled "The world's most ancient Christian communities are being destroyed — and no one cares". The subtitle runs: "Christians in the Middle East have been the victims of pogroms and persecution. Where's the outrage in the West?"
Disturbingly (though apparently not for those Christians who hate Israel so much that they make common cause with Christianity's enemies), among the sponsors of the St James's Piccadilly stunt that Mr Moodey insists was not antisemitic was the Islamic charity Interpal, whose chairman is the reputedly hardline Islamist Ibrahim Hewitt, about whom Harry's Place has a latest blog here.
As Dexter Van Zile remarked in the article cited above:
Embrace’s board of trustees has, wittingly or unwittingly, made a choice to associate the good works of their organization with a patently obvious anti-Israel agenda....
Israel sets the gold standard for human rights in the Middle East, treating its enemies, minorities and dissidents with far greater humanity than any other country, regime or political movement in the region....'* 28 January: I have been sent the editorial by a reader who kindly went to the trouble of copying it out for me. I'm very grateful indeed to him for it:
Anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe
‘Fans flock to French comic Dieudonné on social media’ we are told by the BBC’s Georg Lentze of the BBC Social Media Monitoring Unit. Dieudonné has several convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech in France, and his very popular shows have recently been banned for this reason. All forms of social media are showing real spikes of interest and favour, YouTube, Facebook ‘likes’, tweets, a TV channel, all register enormous popularity. He unites the poor immigrant Muslim youth and the anti-immigrant National Front bloc. He taps into the growing anti-politics feeling rising in Europe. Dieudonné operates with a subtle ambiguity, as the New Yorker’s Alexander Stille reported: of a distinguished French Jewish journalist Dieudonné said: “When I hear him speak, Patrick Cohen, I say to myself, you see, the gas chambers … too bad.” The meaning is clear, the grammar broken up to gain deniability. He has developed a cynical inversion of the Nazi salute that has gained such traction as to have been used at a Premiership football match to bait Jewish fans. The French authorities are concerned and trying to suppress the activities of this ‘comedian’ and activist, but that suppression stokes a victim image and social media popularity.
Hatred of Jews is now popular in France again, and barely 60 years after 1945. Dieudonné plans to use his Human Rights to free expression to overturn government bans on his very lucrative shows. The bitter irony is that the mass murder of the Holocaust was the driver for the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Dieudonné himself is a ‘holocaust denier’. In the UK there is a growing movement to boycott the state of Israel by academics who think that Israel is guilty of repressing Palestinians. The University and College Union of lecturers had invited Bongani Masuka, someone found guilty by the South African Human Rights Commission of anti-Semitic hate crimes, to speak at their conference, and the UCU Annual Congress voted against dissociating itself from his views. UCU refused to accept the definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. A Jewish academic, Ronnie Fraser, felt harassed by the UCU’s action and complained of anti-Semitism to a Tribunal, which denied his complaint.
The Tribunal likened Fraser to a rugby player who was asking to be bashed and bruised in such a game, and so was entitled to a low degree of legal protection – an astonishing argument. The Church of England is also perilously close to adding respectability to his movement, as the Sunday Programme debate between Lucy Winkett and Alan Johnson showed: fashionable St James’ Piccadilly protested at the protective wall around Bethlehem, Johnson argued this protest ignored the realities of the context. Christians should beware of singling out Israel for protest, the Israel – Palestine spat, like Northern Ireland, is just one of many contested areas in the world, and the rising tide of hatred of the Jews is a toxic movement to make fashionable – again.'