Don’t get annoyed at progressives: it does your blood pressure no good. Instead take a step back. It can be intriguing to watch the ludicrous lengths they go to in order to bend the Bible like a pretzel just to ‘prove’ their latest fad.
Everyone is aware of the stained-glass windows and children’s Bibles which picture Jesus as a kindly, blue-eyed, white man. There is no problem with questioning that, apart from the undeniable fact that this complaint is acknowledged by everyone and has been around so long it is growing whiskers of mould.
Questioning the assumed whiteness of Jesus and finding it to be evidence of patriarchy, white nationalism and colonial oppression, although tedious, does not become a real problem until it morphs into questioning whether He was Jewish in order to attack Israel. Continue reading “ATTACKING ISRAEL THROUGH JESUS”→
In the UK we are already suffering shell shock from the barrage of television programmes about the Great War. There is more to come. It was only in August that we marked the centenary of war’s outbreak, we have another four years to go.
Just wait till December and we will have documentaries, comedies and earnest panel discussions about the Christmas Truce, the moment when in several places on the Western Front British and German troops put down their weapons, fraternised, exchanged gifts, and even in three or four instances played football.
This moment of peace and humanity in the midst of carnage has assumed symbolic proportions, as have the actions of the respective high commands in forbidding such fraternisation. After all, if opposing sides played football they might become friendly and thus be less inclined to kill each other.
Thus it was a matter for rejoicing when, last week, in southern Israel two groups of young children played a football (soccer for those who don’t know better) tournament. About 80 youngsters between the ages of 6 and 16 took part in the tournament in Kibbuts Dorot in southern Israel, a place where rockets launched from the Gaza Strip had landed. The Israeli children came from communities located near the besieged Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian children came from West Bank.
Naturally there was tension between the two groups at first but it quickly evaporated as the excitement of the game took over. Ofer, 11, from Sderot, a town in southern Israel where many rockets had landed, said: ‘It’s great to come back here and enjoy our time [together], after weeks of being stuck at home during the war.’ Qusai, another 11 year old, this time from the West Bank, said: ‘I love it when we play together like this. I hope that one day there will be peace between Arabs and Jews and that there will be no more wars and death…’
The reaction of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah was reminiscent of those of the two High Commands in the Great War, this was too dangerous to be allowed. Jibril Rajoub, Deputy Secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee and Head of the Palestinian Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, stated that: ‘Any activity of normalisation in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity.’
As someone who has followed lower league Scottish football I have witnessed some games which could justly be described as criminal but never one that could be described as ‘a crime against humanity’.
As well as being a crime against humanity the football tournament was also viewed as treasonous. Denouncing the match as ‘a crime and an unpatriotic and immoral act,’ Abd Al-Salam Haniyeh, son of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and, believe it or not, a member of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, demanded that Rajoub ‘immediately interrogate the organizers of the match, settle the account with them and prosecute them on charges of serious treason against the blood of the Martyrs [who died in the Gaza war] and violation of the decisions made by the Palestinian sports community’s leadership.’
Haniyeh is clearly a chap who thinks that when Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics announced the sporting principle that, ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part’.
The leadership of Fatah’s branch in the hometown of the boys participating in the match ‘strongly condemned’ the event. Fatah branch secretary Dr Kamal Makhamresh said that participation in the match ‘was an individual act, conceived by sick souls’, and ‘urged the resients to supervise their children and distance them from these kinds of activities, which damage our cause’.
We have recently seen how Hamas deals with those they think are guilty of treason, ‘Never mind that western nonsense about fair and impartial judicial process, let’s just go for a public execution men and women who might not agree with us.’
Can we assume that their bitter rivals in Fatah will be any more just when they ‘interrogate’ and ‘settle the account’ with those ’sick souls’ who committed ‘serious treason against the blood of the Martyrs’ by organising a children’s football tournament?
We can be sure that when Christmas 2014 rolls around we will find progressive mouthpieces in the West lauding the soldiers who in 1914 laid down their weapons to play football, and excoriating those officers who made them stop. That the same mouthpieces support people who see children playing football together as an act of treason will not seem to them to be hypocritical in the least.
There is no lack of vile regimes which subjugate their own citizens and spread terror abroad. This is especially true of the Middle East where there appears to be little to choose between hereditary dictatorships, military juntas and Islamo-Fascist theocracies. Democracy is a fragile flower in even the best of Arab countries.
A report issued by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) this week criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas for assaults on human rights and freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The report lists cases of torture and mistreatment in PA and Hamas prisons. ICHR pointed particularly to an increase in the number of torture cases in prisons belonging to the PA’s much-feared Preventive Security Service in the West Bank.
It appears that during January alone ICHR received 56 complaints about torture and mistreatment in Palestinian prisons: 36 in the Gaza Strip and 19 in the West Bank. In addition, they received innumerable complaints about arbitrary and unlawful arrests of Palestinians by the PA and Hamas.
The PA police force have a rather direct way with demonstrators. On January 12, 2014, PA policemen used force to break up a protest by Palestinian youths north of Ramallah. Between 60-70 protesters, the report states, were wounded in the head and legs after policemen attacked them with clubs and stun grenades. According to the report on January 28, 2014, PA policemen used live ammunition to disperse stone-throwers in the centre of Ramallah.
You must remember watching the TV news reports about this and reading about it in the newspapers. Perhaps if you missed these you picked it up on the BBC Radio 4 documentary about conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. No?
Don’t beat yourself up. There was no media coverage of the report, just as there is little media coverage of corruption in the Palestine Authority. An EU report found that financial corruption in the PA led to the ‘loss’ of aid to the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the period 2008 to 2012 amounting to around €2 billion.
Yet we all know, because we are constantly told so, that the bad boy in the Middle East and the cause of all the suffering of the Palestinian people is Israel.
Why in a world replete with corrupt and violent regimes should our progressive elites demonise the one regime in the Middle East which actually dares to be democratic? Arab citizens of Israel enjoy more human and political rights than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East. They serve in the Knesset, in the Judiciary, in the Foreign Service, in higher education, and in business. They are free to criticize Israel and to support its enemies. Israeli universities are hot beds of anti-Israel rhetoric, advocacy and even teaching.
Moreover, anyone—Jew, Muslim or Christian—dissatisfied with Israeli actions can express that dissatisfaction in the courts, and in the media, both at home and abroad. This freedom does not exist in any Arab country, nor in many non-Arab countries.
Yet it is Israel alone which is being threatened with boycott, disinvestment and sanctions. Israel and the plight of the Palestinians have become the progressive cause de jour.
There are many reasons held in varying degrees, none having much to do with the facts. There is the herd mentality. Our fiercely individualistic progressives have evolved into what Harold Rosenburg termed a ‘herd of independent minds’.
Long before Rosenburg, Thomas Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog) wrestled with the inherent contradiction between man’s ‘innate tendency to self-assertion … as the condition of victory in the struggle for existence and the obvious fact that in the struggle for survival loners are losers and individuals who banded together increased their chances of survival.’ Huxley came to the conclusion that the glue holding individuals together in a group is the collective shaming code.
The shared code binds members of the group as one. They share disgust, anger, delight and shame of the same things. The unanimity of their visceral response provides a powerful sense of collective identity. They become the tribal ‘Us’, as opposed to those tribes who are not disgusted, angered or shamed as ‘We’ are. A group sharing a powerful visceral code inhibiting the natural tendency of the individual to self-assertion presents a united front against its enemies. To step outside that group is a betrayal of the group, more importantly it is a betrayal of one’s identity.
There are also the great many armchair warriors. Sitting in suburbia or a student union bar the armchair warrior can obtain the thrill of engagement merely by voicing support for the Palestinians. There need be no actual engagement but virtual participation brings with it a sense of taking part in the struggle. North Americans of supposedly Irish descent found the same in their support of Irish terrorism, a dollar in the collecting tin for the ‘bhoys’ and they were on the front line, never mind the innocent shoppers blown to bits by bombs.
Israel is far from perfect but when criticism is focussed on a state with strong democratic credentials, and that nation happens to be the state of the Jewish people, the suspicion of bigotry must be considered. Declarations that ‘I’m not anti-Semitic but ant-Zionist’, sound alarmingly like those statements beginning, ‘I’m not a racist, but …’
Dr Martin Luther King said: ‘Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so.’
Despite Dr king’s assertion it is possible to be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, but it is increasingly difficult especially when the side you support has a view of the Jews which would get Hitler’s stamp of approval. Your position is seriously undermined when the people you support or work alongside are virulently anti-Semitic.
Cliff Hanley believes 9/11 is a Jewish conspiracy; Sammi Ibrahem supports the Holocaust and refers to the Nazis as “martyrs”; Ellie Merton reckons the Breivik massacre in Norway was ‘an Israeli Govt sponsored operation’; and Gill Kaffash believes the Holocaust is a lie. The common factor? They have all chaired or held other prominent positions in the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation which makes the barking mad BNP seem like a group of hand-wringing moderates.
There is also the anti-colonialist’s self-hatred. At the end of the day the problem with the Israeli’s is that they are just too like us.
As noted in a previous post the Convener of the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council, Dr Andrew McLellan, thinks that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with religion. In this non-religious motivated activity he includes the murderous attack on a Church in Peshawar and the deliberate slaughter of non-Muslims by terrorists who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they selected non-Muslims, including little children, to murder.
In this Dr McLellan echoes Prime Minister David Cameron who, following the Kenyan shopping mall massacre said:
These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion: They don’t. They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don’t represent Islam, or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world.
Likewise when adherents of the religion of peace ran over and then hacked to death Drummer Lee Rigby in broad daylight on a London street our PM solemnly assured us that the incident was ‘a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.’
Presuming that neither Dr McLellan nor David Cameron are practicing Muslims we are forced to ask; How do they know? When terrorists attacked a shopping mall full of people whose biggest problem was which shoes to buy they selected their victims by asking them to recite passages from the Koran or Muslim prayers. Those who could do so walked free, those who couldn’t were murdered in cold blood. Could the Presbyterian Dr MacLellan or the ‘vaguely Anglican’ David Cameron have passed the test? After all they both proclaim that they are able to discern what is genuinely Islamic and what is delusional.
The perpetrators of this atrocity who have spent an inordinate amount of time studying the Koran seem to have thought that it had something to do with Islam. Those who plan and have carried out terrorist attacks in the UK seem to think it has something to do with Islam, and that is a position of shared by many Muslims in the UK, and Iraq, and Somalia, and anywhere else where Muslims live.
Last Sunday what proportion of Scotland’s Presbyterian churches or England’s Anglican churches had large enough congregations for 85 worshipers to be killed in one blast? Yet in Peshawar, a city which is 99% Muslim and where Christians are discriminated against, there were enough Christians of a deeply committed character to make it a reality. There are very few Christians of the ‘vaguely Anglican’ variety in Peshawar.
Soon enough there will be very few Christians of any variety in Peshawar. It is the aim of Islamists to cleanse Pakistan of Christians; just as they are doing in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and the Philippines. This may be ‘nothing to do with Islam’ but that is what is happening throughout the Muslim world and will continue to happen until we begin to be honest enough to discuss the reality which MacLellan and Cameron studiously try to avoid.
We have a church with no appetite to speak out for the faithful and a political class which has no fixed principle. When there is a clash of belief systems don’t bet on the one which sticks its head in the sand.
The World Council of Churches consists of 345 churches representing over 500 million Christians in more than 110 countries and territories. Inevitably with so many denominations represented there has to be some prioritising in where it focuses its efforts.
Nevertheless we are forced to question its stance concerning the Middle East’s persecuted Christians. In the last decade Muslim violence has driven half the Christian population of Iraq into exile. In Syria towns and villages have been emptied of their Christian populations by al-Qaeda. After President Morsi’s overthrow almost one hundred Coptic churches were attacked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters. 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt since the downfall of President Mubarak.
Apart from a few boilerplate statements on its website condemning violence there is little indication the WCC is aware that Christians are targeted in the Middle East and elsewhere by Muslim mobs. The only area of the Middle East where the WCC evidences practical concern is Palestine.
According to the WCC, the overwhelming concern of Christians in the region is the issue of Palestine. Earlier this year the WCC held a conference near Beirut on ‘Christian Presence and Witness in the Middle East’. The closing statement claimed: ‘Palestine continues to be the central issue in the region. Resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine in accordance with the UN resolutions and international law, will greatly help resolving the other conflicts in the region.’
How is it possible, given the terror inflicted upon Christians throughout the Middle East following the Arab Spring, that presumably sane people can believe that if only the Palestine people were given all they demand the problems facing Christians would evaporate like dew in the sun? The statement above was made in Lebanon, a country teeming with refugees from Syria, many of the Christians.
The Revd Dr Olav Fyske Tveir, WCC General Secretary did send a 234 word letter of solidarity to WCC member churches in Egypt. In it he regretted the ‘attacks against several churches’. Given the word ‘several’ covers fifty churches destroyed and a thousand Christian businesses set on fire on the day President Morsi was ousted perhaps Tveir had something to regret.
He did, however, add later that ‘I hope that this will not be interpreted as a conflict between Christians and Muslims’. Amnesty International titled their 16 page report on the situation, ‘Egypt’s Christians Caught between Sectarian Attacks and State Inaction’. A determinedly secular body could see that Muslims were attacking Christians because they were Christians. The WCC cannot acknowledge this fact.
In the Middle East the WCC is concerned overwhelmingly with Palestine. That is where it places its resources, where it wishes its member churches to focus their attention, efforts and prayers. In 2001 the WCC founded the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. The EAPPI brings Christians to the West Bank where they live for three months amongst Palestinians and then return home to tell others of their experiences.
EAPPI’s core publication, Faith Under Occupation, jointly published with WCC and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (2012), places sole blame for the difficulties faced by Christians in the Holy Land on Israel. It also seeks to ‘disprove’ what it calls ‘unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society’.
Did the WCC ever consider setting up a similar programme for those countries where Christians are being persecuted and churches destroyed? Of course not, for Palestine is the ‘central issue’ and all will be well in the Middle East once it is sorted out. In the meantime the perishing Christians of Iraq, Egypt, Syria and the other Muslim nations of the Middle East will just have to be patient and bear their persecution with grace and the occasional statement of concern from the WCC.
Members of the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church have faced real danger in providing aid to persecuted Christians of all denominations in Syria and Egypt. The Russian Orthodox Church has assumed a real financial burden on behalf of Syria’s Christians. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem is providing aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan. The WCC issues statements.
This year the Church of Scotland had to rewrite a report on Palestine about to be presented to its General Assembly. The initial version ‘caused worry and concern in parts of the Jewish Community in Israel and beyond’. Even the rewritten report has been described as saying that Israel has a right to exist, just not in Israel.
Such is the focus on Palestine as being the only real problem in the Middle East pervading the bureaucrats of the Church of Scotland that the Convener of the Church’s World Mission Council could respond to the attacks in Kenya and Peshawar with a statement including the sentence, ‘This is not about religion, but about people who are seeking to do wrong’.
As Mahboob Masih a Palestinian minister of the Church of Scotland remarks in this November’s issue of the Church’s magazine Life and Work, ‘It may not be about religion for the Convener of the World Mission Council but it is about religion for the perpetrators of the Peshawar bombing and Kenyan attack.’
The Convener’s response is, ‘In one sense he is quite right. These attacks are about religion – from the point of view of the Christians.’ Somehow not about religion from the point of view of the people who shouted Allahu Akbar as they selected non-Muslims to murder.
The Christian Church is under attack throughout the world. Unfortunately ecclesiastical bureaucrats are so focussed on the one issue which concerns them that they cannot listen to Mahboob Masih’s advice, ‘We should have the moral courage to acknowledge the reality without any fear of offending someone’
It is a mark of talent and perseverance to achieve the near impossible task of having the Liberal Democrat whip withdrawn. To do so you must be a rabid extremist of some ilk.
One way is by being so old fashioned that you are wedded to consistent moral standards and so you continually insist that cast iron manifesto promises made prior to an election should be carried out when in power. But that hasn’t happened within the Lib Dems and nor is it likely to.
The other way to get kicked out is to make a long series of comments so outrageous that even the famously non-judgemental Lib Dems are forced to make a judgement.
So congratulations are due to Jenny Tonge.
This week she finally tipped the balance. Speaking at an event to further Israel Apartheid Week, the basic idea behind which is that Israel is an apartheid state, Baroness Tonge, of Kew in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames prophesied the eventual destruction of Israel, stating that Israel would “lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”
Former US marine and anti-Israel activist Ken O’Keefe was also speaking at the event. O’Keefe told the student audience that Israel was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that it “continues to foster false-flag terrorism.”
“If Israel is inherently a racist state, if it is inherently an apartheid state, then I want no part of Israel; it has no place in this world. And it must in its current form –if you want me to use some inflammatory language – in its current form should be destroyed,” he said.
Baroness Tonge was seen to applaud O’Keefe’s speech.
In any grown up political party Jenny Tonge would have been thrown from the back of the sleigh long ago. She has a long record of anti-Israel statements which can, and do, merge into anti-Semitism.
In 2004 she was sacked as Lib Dem spokesperson on children’s issues by then party leader Charles Kennedy after suggesting she would consider becoming a suicide bomber. Nevertheless, in 2005 on the recommendation of the Lib Dems, she was made a life peer and given a permanent seat in the House of Lords.
In 2006 Menzies Campbel, then leader of the Lib Dems, condemned her for “clear anti-Semitic connotations” after she had insisted that “the pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.”
According to a statement by the Lib Dem peer in 2010 the root cause of worldwide terrorism is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. In the view of Baroness Tonge the reason that the world community does not take action against Israel for this is “Holocaust guilt.”
Eventually Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sacked her as the Lib Dems spokesperson on health in 2010. This was after she suggested that Israel set up an enquiry if it wanted to refute allegations, made by Islamists and pro-Palestine activists, that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” the organs of earthquake victims. Despite this she retained the Lib Dem whip, which means that notwithstanding the outrageously anti-Semitic statements she has made she was still accepted as a member in full standing of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party.
It was only after her latest attack on Israel that she was given the ultimatum, apologise or resign. She remained true to her convictions and resigned and thus has had the whip withdrawn.
It is possible to be anti-Israel or anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. Unfortunately Jenny Tonge, like so many in the fashionable pro-Palestinian camp, fails to make the distinction. In their effort to promote the cause of the fascist rulers of Gaza and the West Bank the fellow travellers with Islamist extremism are unwilling to see in anything other than black and white terms.
There is much that is wrong in the state of Israel but our fashionable Guardianistas never seem to ask themselves the question: “Would I prefer to be an Arab living in Israel, or a Jew living in Gaza?”
One of the most commonly used terms of abuse by ‘right on’ progressive wannabes is that Israel is an “apartheid state.” Images are more powerful than reason, the word ‘apartheid’ conjures up mental pictures of the Sharpeville massacre, signs saying ‘Whites Only’ and police armoured cars belching tear gas as they toured townships. Connecting the adjective with Israel immediately makes the mob assume that the poor Arabs are treated in the same manner in Israel as non-whites were in South Africa.
As someone who remembers being punched by policemen at a demonstration against the Springboks at Murrayfield forty years ago the connection is a powerful one. But when we leave an emotional reaction aside and look at the facts perhaps reason should lead us to conclude that there should be a different destination for the label ‘apartheid.’
In Israel Arabs are entitled to the same protection under law as Jews. Arabic is an official second language in Israel. Arabs serve in the Israel Defence Force, it is possible for an Arab Muslim to become a commissioned officer in the IDF. It is possible for a Christian Arab female to become a combat soldier in the IDF as Corporal Elinor Joseph has shown. In 2003 the number of Muslim volunteers was 64.5 % higher than in 2000, while the enlistment of Christians increased by 16 % over the same period. A senior source at the IDF’s Personnel Directorate notes that incomplete figures for 2004 show a further increase, at a rate of some 20%, in the enlistment of youth from both sectors.
Jamal Hakroush is a Muslim Israeli, who is also a Deputy Inspector General in the police.
Arabs can be, and are, elected to the Knesset. The Deputy Speaker of the Knesset is Majalli Wahabi, a Druze, who briefly served as president of the state of Israel when the President and Acting President were indisposed.
Although most choose to live within their own religious and cultural communities, pretty much as elsewhere, Israeli Arabs are free to live anywhere in Israel. Arab students gain entrance to Israel’s universities on the basis of ability, not ethnic origin. Arabs are represented in every area of Israeli professional life.
It is difficult once we look at the facts to discern how Israel can be described as an apartheid state. When we come to what is colloquially termed Palestine we find a different situation.
Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, has stated that Jews will not be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. The Hamas government permits only one Jew to live in Gaza, Corporal Gilad Shalit an Israel soldier kidnapped and held captive for the last five years. Jews are not allowed to own land or have any part in public life.
Since the Palestinian Authority took over the West Bank eighteen years ago the
Palestinian Christian Arab community has shrunk drastically. Beit Jalla was
once a Christian town outside Jerusalem, today it is without a Christian
population. Even Bethlehem has a Muslim majority population.
If apartheid signifies ethnic based law, forced segregation and outright exclusion on religious, ethnic or racial grounds then the label fits Palestine very neatly. ‘Apartheid’ is an appropriate appellation for a state in the Middle East, and its not Israel.