|Yes, the vicar's there, naturally ...
The latest Christ at the Checkpoint Conference is taking place now, and NGO Monitor's BDS in the Pews initiative has produced a downloadable document exposing the Christ at the Checkpoint events, the main points of which are summarised thus:
•Christ at the Checkpoint Conference (CATC) is a bi-annual event held in Bethlehem, launched in 2010 and organized by Bethlehem Bible College and the Holy Land Trust. The second CATC conference was held in 2012, and another will take place March 10-14, 2014.
•Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) and partner Holy Land Trust (HLT) have been directly and indirectly funded by the governments of the United States, the Netherlands, UK, EU, and prominent religious institutions.
•CATC seeks to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical Christian churches, while simultaneously reviving theological antisemitic themes such as replacement theology.
•At previous conferences, multiple speakers made antisemitic comments, such as “God is continuing to have a program with the Jewish people who Paul describes as enemies of the Gospel…” and “Jesus is the true vine, not Israel. He is the faithful Israelite who will accomplish all that the nation of Israel failed to do.” Other anti-Jewish themes promoted at CATC conferences include the de-Judaizing of Jesus and the promotion of a racial theory of Jewish origins.
•There is a total lack of financial transparency by Bethlehem Bible College regarding CATC. Neither monetary amounts nor financial donors are available on the BBC website.And in a must-read article the project director of BDS in the Pews, Yitzhak Santis, asks not unreasonably:
"Why are taxpayer monies of Western democracies being used to fund anti-Jewish polemics more reminiscent of medieval disputations than 21st century pluralism?
How did government funds come to be used over recent years to enable the Christ at the Checkpoint (CatC) conference – now in its third iteration this week at Bethlehem Bible College – where such polemics were sounded in the past"He continues:
"The CatC conference revives medieval theological antisemitism in its discussions of how to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical churches toward disrupting traditionally strong support for Israel. In support of the BDS campaigns and the wider political war to demonize Israel, replacement theology, de-Judaization of Jesus and the defamation of Judaism are consistent themes.
The BDS movement sees churches as central to achieving their objectives:
Religious institutions are seen in many communities as embodying important moral and ethical principles… Divestment campaigns that target companies such as Caterpillar have been initiated in a number of major Christian churches. Not only will successful divestment campaigns financially weaken the Occupation, but will raise both the public profile and legitimacy of the BDS campaign.
One of the main vehicles for waging this political war against Israel is to revive the themes of religious disputations of the Middle Ages, in which ecclesiastic authorities required rabbis to debate priests on whether Judaism or Christianity was the “true faith.” This stacked deck often resulted in anti-Jewish persecutions."Towards the end of his article, which really has to be read in its entirety, he remarks:
"No visits appear to be organized to Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem nor are meetings with Israeli Jewish families listed. Moreover, there are no apparent outings to the many Jerusalem sites where Palestinians carried out suicide terrorist attacks. There is a token visit to a West Bank settlement for a “brief tour” and meeting with one Israeli settler. The only Jews apparently scheduled to speak at CatC are so-called Messianic Jews.
Presbyterian theologian Professor Stephen R. Haynes wrote, “When Christians are confronted by the word-sign ‘Jew,’ they are more likely to conjure theological types and anti-types, not to mention cultural and literary stereotypes, than to think of real individuals with the same hopes, failures and foibles as non-Jews… Jewish security is threatened whenever real Jews are associated with the ‘Jew’ of the Christian imagination."A number of Messianic Jews, askance at the tone and direction of the conference, have issued a no-holds-barred denunciation of it which makes disturbing claims against the sponsors:
"We, the undersigned, will not attend or support the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference because of our assessment of its anti-Semitic content and undertones. We cannot remain silent at a time like this, and as a matter of conscience, we express our serious concern for both the sponsors of this conference, and over the content, message and activities of the past two conferences.
We urge all participants to check their own hearts and minds regarding their attitude towards the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. Anti-Israel politics and political correctness have emerged as focal points of this conference, to which end the state of Israel and the Jewish people have been singled out for constant and severe criticism. The conference sponsors retain connections to pro-jihadist movements or persons, whose political stances threaten the entire Middle East. By retaining such connections, the conference has failed to uphold points #6 and #10 of its own manifesto.
As sincere believers in Messiah Yeshua, we cannot, and we will not, endorse this conference."As the earliest commenters on a certain news agency report commending the conference have pointed out, hypocrisy is rife among professing Christians who indulge in perpetual Israel-bashing:
"The reality is harsh: Christians are being attacked and massacred across the middle east in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon. Christians barely exist in many other Arab countries having been forced out or killed off over time. Palestinian Christians are an endangered species and get little protection or support from the PA - that's a sad fact. Christians are abandoning Bethlehem/BJaka/BSahour not because of Israeli rule, but Fatah rule and the Hamas/IJ/Salafist threat."
The Christian communities within the State of Israel are doing well if needs be to know. just go and ask them and then also go ask them how they are being treated by the Muslim Arab community."