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)

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Methodist Ministers Denounce Their Pro-Israel Jewish Critics

"There are many paradoxes in the propaganda war against Israel," observed South African writer Steve Apfel earlier this year in a must-read article:
"The most puzzling of them perhaps would be the way many Christian groups and Churches side with the Palestinians. On the evidence one would expect the opposite. Believing Christians have every logical reason to be pro-Israel, where alone in the Middle East Christendom’s holy sites are protected; where Christians may pray openly; and where Christian followers face no pressures to convert.
 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.
 In 1950 the city was 80 – 90 percent Christian; today that fraction is down to no more than 20 percent. So in Palestine Christians run the gauntlet, while in Israel they practice, while in Israel they practice their faith freely. Yet churchmen aim their missiles where?
 .... 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:
"In 2010 the Jewish community reacted with hurt and anger as the Methodist Church accepted many of the provisions of the Justice for Palestine and Israel report.  This document presented a highly selective account of the history of the conflict, misrepresented Zionism and sought to reintroduce the discredited theology of supersessionism, abandoned by mainstream churches because of its ugly legacy of millennia of anti-Semitism. It was hardly helped by the fact that the motion that started this process in 2009 explicitly and deliberately excluded the addition to the document of any views, either from internal voices or external sources, that would have given it some accuracy and balance.
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.
   Continues to work and pray for peace and justice for all the peoples of the Holy Land"
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: 
"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:
'In 1915, during the First World War, Britain made a deal with the Sharif of Mecca: in exchange for an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, Germany’s ally, the promise of British support for an independent Arab kingdom when the war was over. But then, in 1917, Britain reneged on the deal and issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to support the establishment of a Jewish state – in Palestine.... It was a formula for a catastrophe. Fast-forward to 1947-48, the UN partition plan, and the blessing of the establishment of the state of Israel for the Jewish people becomes a curse for the Palestinian people – 700,000 uprooted, evicted. Palestinians themselves call this massive dislocation the Nakba, which is Arabic for – “Catastrophe”. Over sixty years later and one generation of homeless, refugee people has become three. There is no reason to be optimistic that it will not become four.'
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:
'If this were being done to little children, it would indeed be cruelty. But the ‘children’ referred to here are great big wallops of 15 or 16, strong enough to kill a grown man and old enough to know what they’re doing. While they might be children according to English law, in Hamastan they are treated as fully fledged footsoldiers. If there’s any abuse going on, it’s the brainwashing of these teenage boys by their cynical masters in an echo of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army....
 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?:
'''every Palestinian child is treated like a potential terrorist" as far as I am concerned, this is the way the Arab children are brought up. I’ve seen it myself. During the 1st Intifaddah as a reserve soldier I was driving a jeep at the end of a patrol when I suddenly saw a 12-year old standing and holding something bright and shiny. I realized what it was just a second before he was about to throw it at the jeep - and at me. A Molotov cocktail!
....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?:
Christian victims in Iraq; below: in Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria
"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.
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:
To say nothing of attacks on Coptic persons & property
.... 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....'
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:
I've shunned bloodier graphics of anti-Christian crimes
"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."
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:
 'Hope Not Hate has compiled a worryingly long list of organisations and individuals that make up this ‘counter-Jihad’ movement....
....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.
Sadly, there are graphic examples more horrific than these
.... [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.'
 As for me:
'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:
His 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:
'There should be discussion between Jew and Christian we both inhabit the same world, and meet at many and varying tangents. But the Christian world has yet to come to grips with the concept of the new, independent Israeli Jew, who is the anti-thesis of everything Christianity has taught since its inception.'
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)


  1. I had a feeling that I knew the bloggers you referred to. Then I saw the names Kim and Richard...

    An almost certain bet!

  2. I am a Quaker and feel ashamed of the Quaker stance on BDS. I am disillusioned and am wondering why so many (perhaps the most vocal) 'Friends'appear so 'unFriendly' towards Israel. I fear 'Friends' have allowed themselves to be hijacked, naively duped and have slept-walked into being apologists for terrorists. I am now deeply suspicious of the Friend's Ramallah school. Why the obsession and antagonism towards Israel? Why single her out so viciously?
    I despair.

  3. At the Bible study I led this afternoon, we were exploring the links between the Tenach and the New Testament. Inevitably, the subject of Israel came up. Especially, as we looked at the promise to Abraham about blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. It quickly became evident that at least one person genuinely believed that Israel had forcibly expelled the Arabs in order to create Israel. There was just no notion of the history of the past century. I did what I could, given the time constraints, to correct the misunderstanding. This person was not anti-Semitic but her genuine sympathy had been falsely won by the propaganda that has been pumped out by the media. I pointed out that Israel had been a wasteland with few inhabitants until the Jews started to return and that most, but not all, of these Arabs had started to come at the same time seeking employment. I also referred her to an interesting verse in Ezekiel 47:22-23. I pointed out that Arabs living in Israel are full citizens.

    22 You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord God.

    1. Thanks, Ian. So many of the post-1967 generations have been indoctrinated into that belief, by what they see on the television, etc. Thanks to the modern curriculum, they seem to know little of their own country's history, let alone Israel's, and too many assume that Palestine was a sovereign country wrested from its people by da Joos.

  4. I think it's obnoxious but very telling that some Christian ministers are so preoccupied with undermining Israel that they ignore what the Barnabas Fund is talking about re the persecution and slaughter of Third World Christians.

  5. An excellent article here,by a Haifa academic, regarding how the Palestinian Arabs are fabricating history in order to undermine the Jews' claim ton the Land - it also shows how the Palestinians are hijacking Jesus for their own ends

  6. here for more church mischief

  7. You've gone over a lot of ground here, some of it quite old. I wonder what purpose is served?

  8. Not being online much atm, I have not read your whole article in depth yet, but I just came across this and wonder when will this moronic insanity stop!!!

    "Christian prof: Jesus was Muslim
    A professor at an Christian college for a mainline denomination says as a Christian, he has to conclude Jesus was a Muslim.

    Given that the advent of Islam is dated six centuries after Jesus lived in what is now modern Israel, Jesus being a Muslim would have to be a miracle, sloppy scholarship or something else.

    You decide - Hallelujah or Allahu akbar?..."

    from here:

    What chance have decency and reason got!

    Keep up the good fight, Daphne! Even if it is tempting to despair.

  9. Thank you, Daphne, for your characterisation of me as "impeccably polite" and "erudite". You're not too shabby in the politeness and erudition stakes yourself. Keep up the good work!

  10. The ministers evidently treat with levity these serious issues I've raised - see my Friday post two posts after this one, where I have screenshots of the reaction to this post.


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