Friday 27 July 2012

Three minutes of bells, but no time for silence

If you didn't already know it, the Olympic Games are about to begin. They start officially at the opening ceremony tonight and this morning at 8.12, bells all over the country rang out in celebration for three minutes. Although these Games mark the fortieth anniversary of the slaughter of eleven Israeli Olympians at the Munich Games, there will be no minute of silence in their memory. This is nothing less than shameful.

The following guest post by Jonathan Sacerdoti, Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy, on Harry's Place injects a much needed shot of sobriety into the Olympics euphoria.

Tomorrow, Big Ben will chime non-stop for three minutes to mark the opening of the Olympic games in London. The opening ceremony will begin with the ringing of the world’s largest ‘harmonically tuned’ bell. People around the country are even being urged to ring a bell of their own (be it a doorbell or a bicycle bell) at precisely 8.12am. Olympic pride, it seems, is something to be noisy about. Yet at 10.30am, at the north end of Trafalgar Square, there will be a group of people who plan to remain completely silent, for just one minute.

Those in the square are part of a huge international effort to have a minute of silence included in the opening ceremony, in memory of 11 Israeli athletes who were brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago at the Munich Olympics. Their deaths have never been marked in an opening ceremony, despite repeated requests. This year, once again, such requests even from Boris Johnson and Barack Obama have been repeatedly and publicly refused.

The Olympics celebrates the impressive physical capabilities of humankind through those who are the very best in the world at their sports. But it should be an opportunity not just to marvel at our physical potential, but also to reach new ethical and moral highs. Through the idea of the Olympic Truce, where nations put aside their differences to compete as equals, the Olympics should be a beacon of compassion and morality, where politics is not meant to intrude. Those who hijacked the greatest international celebration of sport for their own brutal political aims are the ones who smashed to pieces that which is central to the spirit of the games, with dreadful consequences.

You might wonder why it is so important to mark this 40th anniversary. Haven’t things moved on since 1972? Sadly, it seems, they have not. Just last week Hezbollah terrorists, acting as Iran’s proxy, blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Within the last few months, terror attacks were attempted against Israeli embassies in Georgia and Bangkok, and the Israeli ambassador to India’s wife was seriously injured in a terrorist attack on her car in Delhi. Just a few weeks ago, Iranian terror plots against Israelis in Kenya and Cyprus were foiled.

The Palestinians appear to show little remorse for killing the Israeli athletes (and with them the spirit of the Olympics). The man who claims that the Munich killings were his idea, Abu Daoud, twice claimed that funds for the terror operation were provided by none other than Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinain President (and the man with whom the state of Israel is now expected to negotiate a peace deal). As recently as 2010, the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, referred to the Olympic massacre as a “shining station”. The planner of the slaughter, Amin Al-Hindi, was described by the newspaper as a “star who sparkled… at the sports stadium in Munich”, and his military funeral was reported to have been attended by both Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The paper reported that “afterwards, the President and those present read the opening sura [of the Quran] for the elevation of his pure soul.”

With the Palestinian Authority apparently unrepentant for the attack, the atrocity’s money-man now their president, and further attacks on Israelis around the world taking place on a regular basis, it seems that international terrorism is alive and kicking in 2012. It comes as little surprise, then, that almost twice as many British soldiers deployed in Afghanistan are involved in providing security at the London Olympics. If this seems shocking, remember that countries like Israel have long been used to needing such security measures at public events.

Terrorism is a huge and real threat not only to Israel, but also to the entire western world. Terrorism is the enemy of everything for which the Olympics stands. If anything, the threat has got worse since the Munich games of 1972. That is precisely why the opening ceremony of the London games should include a clear and unambiguous reminder of the worst ever attack on Olympic values.

Facebook and Twitter are bursting with comments from people who attended the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony, imploring each other not to post photographs, but to “save the surprise”. For those who truly appreciate the values that are central to the Olympics, the best surprise the opening ceremony could provide would be just five and a half seconds of silence for each of the eleven murdered Israeli athletes.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Israel at the Olympics

Israel’s best hopes for Olympic glory lie in the diversity and versatility of its athletes competing in London 2012, according to the Israel Embassy in the UK.
Israel’s 15th delegation numbers 38 athletes, in eight sports, including gymnastics (ten athletes), swimming (eight) and sailing (seven).

Israel first competed at the Olympic Games in 1952 in Helsinki, and the Olympic Committee of Israel has sent delegations to all Summer Olympics since then. Israel made its debut at the Winter Olympics in 1994, and has been a regular participant since.

Yael Arad won Israel’s first Olympic medal in 1992 with a silver medal in Judo and Gal Fridman won Israel’s first, and so far only, gold medal at the 2004 Olympic games in men’s windsurfing. Israel has won at least one medal at every Olympics since the Barcelona games 20 years ago, and the team is determined to continue this tradition at London 2012.

Saturday 21 July 2012

‘Differing weights and differing measures. . .’

Archbishop Cranmer today posted an open letter to the South East Gospel Partneship regarding Church of England vicar the Rev Dr Stephen Sizer, against whom charges of anti-Semitism have been widely reported and discussed in the Church Times, the Church of England Newspaper, the Jewish Chronicle, and Standpoint.

In spite of the evidence presented to it, the Committee of the South East Gospel Partnership remain un-persuaded that Rev Sizer is racist. The allegations against Stephen Sizer are supported by a body of evidence, including a video on the Cranmer blog in which Dr Sizer equates Israel's alleged treatment of the Palestinians with the Holocaust. Such a charge amounts either to a form of Holocaust denial or to an appalling slander of the Jewish state.

When Baroness Jenny Tonge remarked earlier this year that Israel won't always be here, she was forced out of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. Her remark about Israel was far less offensive than that of  Rev Sizer. The Church is to set an example to the world, rather than the other way round.

Read the letter and decide for yourself whether James Mendelsohn and Nick Howard are right.
An Open Letter to the South East Gospel Partnership about Anti-Semitism

Among the many people and organisations who have declined to take action against the anti-Semitism of Rev. Dr Stephen Sizer is a group called the South East Gospel Partnership. Its Chairman is Rev. William Taylor of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, and its Committee is made up of Rev. Trevor Archer of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, Rev. Iain Broomfield of Christ Church Bromley, Rev. Richard Coekin of the Co-Mission network of churches, Rev. Charles Dobbie of Holy Trinity Lyonsdown, Nick McQuaker of Christ Church Haywards Heath, Brian O’Donoghue of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, Rev John Ross of Farnham Baptist Church, and Rev. Simon Smallwood of St George’s Dagenham.

Recently we asked them to join Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, in publicly criticizing Dr Sizer for posting a link to an extreme anti-Semitic website, and on the basis of that offence and others to exclude Christ Church Virginia Water (Dr Sizer’s church) from their organisation.

In their response they did not engage with a single charge that we made about Dr Sizer. They concluded by saying they saw ‘no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen’. Here are the charges that were brought to the Committee's attention:

- Posting links to at least four different anti-Semitic websites, and offering demonstrably false explanations by way of defence: 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

- Offering unqualified support for Raed Salah, a notorious anti-Semitic hate preacher and convicted fundraiser for Hamas: 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

- Spreading recognised anti-Semitic conspiracy theories such as Israeli complicity in 9/11 and the claim that McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and L'Oréal 'channel their profits to the Zionist agenda' - and on that false basis promoting a boycott of those four companies (which, being publicly-listed, pay their profits to shareholders of every nationality): 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

- Appearing repeatedly on Press TV, a TV station renowned for its anti-Semitism and aptly described by Daily Express columnist Stephen Pollard as 'the propaganda arm of the world's leading funder of terror': 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

- Describing regular Israeli troops photographed at ease in a street as 'Herod's soldiers operating in Bethlehem today', an unashamedly anti-Semitic blood libel: 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

- Hosting an event on behalf of the ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’, an organisation that refuses to co-operate with the British police and openly calls for the nations neighbouring Israel to ‘release their armies to burn that land’: 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

- Seeking to divert money donated to the Christ Church Virginia Water mission fund to George Galloway's Hamas-supporting organisation 'Viva Palestina': 'no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen.'

We offered to provide evidence to back up all of the above claims. The Committee did not take up the offer. We also pointed out that no one, including Dr Sizer, has been able to find any inaccuracy in any of those charges.

What particularly troubles us is our firm sense that if a vicar belonging to the SEGP had posted links to four anti-black websites, such as Ku Klux Klan white supremacist sites, he would have been quickly excluded from the organisation. If that assumption is correct, the SEGP Committee are not demonstrating impartiality. As the Bible says, ‘Differing weights and differing measures - the LORD detests them both.’

Perhaps the SEGP Committee might say that what we see as anti-Semitism is in fact legitimate political criticism of the state of Israel. We invite people to review the charges above and decide for themselves.

The SEGP Committee might also point to the decision by the police earlier this year not to prosecute Dr Sizer for the incitement of racial hatred. Yet that decision was based solely on the police’s judgement that the racist material which Dr Sizer had publicised was not likely to incite hatred to the point of a disruption in public order. They raised no doubts about whether Dr Sizer had linked to the material.

Finally, the SEGP Committee might also quote the numerous statements made by Dr Sizer condemning anti-Semitism. Yet sadly Dr Sizer's word cannot be trusted. This was proven when he recently insisted that the first time he was alerted to the presence of a link to a racist website on his Facebook page was on 3rd January. The Diocese of Guildford, however, has confirmed that he sent an email acknowledging receipt of a complaint about that same link on 22nd November. The SEGP Committee were made aware of this, yet it did not seem to affect their wholehearted support for Dr Sizer.

We take no pleasure whatsoever in publicly airing this disagreement. But in the last analysis, racism is worthy of whistleblowing. We very much hope that the evangelical community will react better than the Roman Catholic church to fact-based whistleblowing. Sadly, thus far, that has not proven to be the case. An evangelical leader has posted links to racist websites, his explanations have then been exposed as false, and yet nothing has been done about it. Two questions have driven us to write this open letter: 'When is it ever acceptable for an evangelical to post links to racist websites?'; and, ' 'Why are other evangelicals refusing to take action in response?' It's because we can't think of any satisfactory answers to those questions that we have taken this step.

The Committee of the SEGP are good men. And so we appeal with hope to members of their churches to persuade them to act in a righteous, impartial way. The history of the Christian church has repeatedly been stained by anti-Semitism. Our prayer is that in this case the church will take redemptive action.

Rev. Nick Howard
Assistant Minister, Christ Church New York City

James Mendelsohn
Senior Lecturer in Law, Huddersfield University

Friday 20 July 2012

What the Arabs are saying about the Jews and the Holocaust

This shocking collection of clips put together bt Tom Lantos from Arab TV stations reveals the extent of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial that exisits in the Arab world.

The Zionist Games

In about three hours, the Olympic torch will pass my office. Or should I say the Zionist torch?

According to Iranian officials, the London 2012 clearly demonstrates Zionist control of the Olympic Games, since the numbers in the much-maligned logo design—a jagged and misshapen representation of the year 2012—can be rearranged to kind of resemble the spelling of “ZION.”

'As Internet documents have proved, using the word Zion in the logo of the 2012 Olympic Games is a disgracing action and against the Olympics' valuable mottos,' read a letter from Iran’s Olympic Committee to the head of the International Olympic Committee. 'There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the Games, especially Iran which abides by commitment to the values and principles.'

Conspiracy theorists and other anti-Semitic antagonists were inspired by this Iranian 'revelation,' and YouTube was inundated with animations and videos claiming that a Zionist-controlled New World Order was using the London games as another step in its plan for world domination. They failed to explain how such crafty Zionists could be so foolish as to tip their hand by identifying themselves in so public a manner and also why those same Zionists couldn'd force the Olympics Committee to observe a minute's silence for the eleven Israeli athletes killed in cold blood at the 1972 Munich Games.

The ultimate proof of truth of the theory, though, is that if the logo is not changed, Iran will boycott the Games. Israel knew that all along. And with Iran out of the Games, Israel's poodle America will at last be able to take home some gold medals!

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Bulgarian bus bomb blast

An explosion has killed at least seven people on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in the eastern Bulgarian city of Burgas, Israeli officials say.

More than 30 people were also injured when the bus exploded at Burgas airport, by the Black Sea.

Witnesses told Israeli TV that someone boarded the bus and a huge explosion immediately followed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later accused Iran of being behind the explosion.

"All the signs lead to Iran," he said in a statement. "Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror."

The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement: "There are six bodies on the scene - one critically wounded died at the hospital and two seriously injured are in intensive care. Thirty more people are being treated."

It said the bus was carrying tourists from a charter flight that arrived from Israel.

Full story at the BBC website and Reuters

Three men at the heart of President Assad's defence team have died in a suicide bombing, Syrian state TV says.

The president's defence minister, brother-in-law and head of his crisis team were at a meeting at national security headquarters in Damascus.

No footage has yet emerged of the attack in which the national security chief and interior minister were also said to have been wounded.

It comes as rebels claim to have launched an offensive on the capital.

For the past three days, rebels have fought with troops in several parts of the city, declaring their operation, entitled Damascus Volcano, a final battle for the capital.

The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and a jihadist group calling itself Lord of the Martyrs Brigade both said they were behind the security headquarters bombing.

Full story at the BBC website.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Did Israel really kill Arafat?


Whenever a major political figure dies, the news outlets always state the cause of death. But not in the case of Yasser Arafat. The cause of his death in November 2004 has remained a mystery. Now, almost eight years later we learn from Al Jazeera’s English-language TV service that the PLO leader was poisoned by a radioactive element, polonium-210. And who would want to kill him? Who else but the usual suspect, Israel?
At the time of Arafat's death, the word was on the street that, as a result of hislifestyle, Arafat died of AIDS. The Al Jazeera documentary, produced by American reporter Clayton Swisher, was sparked by the findings of a Swiss laboratory which (as you do eight years after his death) tested some of Arafat’s clothing and detected unusually high levels of polonium. The traces were weak, it turns out now, but still a lot stronger than would be expected in the natural environment. Suha, Arafat’s widow furnished the clothing to Al Jazeera (as you do eight years aftyer your husband's death). Since the release of the documentary, the Palestinian Authority has agreed to have Arafat’s body exhumed, so that more tests can be conducted for radioactive toxins.

Does the documentary illuminate the true cause of Arafat’s death? Was he really poisoned? And by who? Israel? Or his enemies within the PLO?

Writing on the Daily Beast website, award-winning Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, says that his research reveals that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s inner cabinet and senior Israeli intelligence chiefs discussed the idea of killing Arafat. In fact, senior IDF officers and military intelligence agents were in favor of taking harsh action against Arafat. Shaul Mofaz, the Defense Minister at the time, was even overheard whispering into Sharon’s ear: 'Let’s get rid of him,' in reference to Arafat.

But, based on many interviews with Israeli officials, political activists, military officers, and intelligence professionals, it seems almost certain that Sharon rejected all proposals to kill Arafat–or even to have elite military commandos 'snatch' Arafat and expel him from Palestine.

Prime Minister Sharon thought that being accused of killing Arafat was not worth the advantages of being rid of him. Arafat already seemed to be an irrelevant leader whose true traits–unreliability and slippery untrustworthiness–were discovered not only by Israel, but by the international community.

The cause of Arafat’s death remains a mystery. His wife’s refusal to allow the Palestinian Authority to perform an autopsy has only added to the confusion. Why didn’t she send some of her husband’s clothing out for tests in 2004? It certainly is possible that someone, on her behalf or the instructions of others, tainted Arafat’s belongings with polonium after reading about the poisoned Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
Perhaps one of the mysteries of the past decade can be cleared up; but probably not.

Whether Arafat's body reveals he had been poisoned or not, the genie is out of the bottle. The news (or rumour) is out there and the truth–one way or the other–will not change the minds of those who want to believe the terrorist leader was a martyr in the struggle to destroy the Jewish state and its population.

Monday 16 July 2012

Hamas demolishing homes in Gaza

Jeff Halper and his buddies at the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions routinely publicise Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes with little or no context provided for the stories.

Israel's Ma'an news agency reports that Gaza's government has begun the demolition of homes in Gaza City, saying they are built on government land.

Abu Al-Abed Abu Omra, whose house is threatened with demolition, told Ma'an that police officers arrived late Saturday night and told residents to evacuate their homes in order to facilitate the demolition.

He said that there are more than 120 families living in the 15-dunams area under threat, near Gaza's Al-Azhar University, and they have been there since 1948.

He called on the Gaza cabinet to provide the families with homes in neighboring area al-Sheikh Ijleen in exchange, which he said had been promised to them.

The families had rejected an offer to move to the southern areas of Deir al-Balah and Karni as they are too close to Israel's dangerous no-go zone surrounding the barrier, he said.

In February after authorities demolished a number of homes in the Hamami neighborhood in Gaza City, a municipality engineer told the US-based Electronic Intifada website that the authorities intended to widen a 40-km coastal road to and install a sewage and water network.

The engineer, Hatem al-Sheikh Khaleil, said the project was in cooperation with the Lands Authority and the Palestine Telecommunication Company, funded by a German grant.

The website quoted municipal officials as saying the al-Rashid coastal road was too narrow to absorb the amount of traffic it receives, especially the in summer.

And the moral of this story is: When Israel knocks down Palestinian homes, Divest, Boycott and Sanction; when Hamas does the same, keep quiet and perhaps no one will notice.

Friday 13 July 2012

Blatant Bias at the Synod

456 years after his martyrdom, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer appears to be alive and well with a mind as sharp as ever. The Archbishop Cranmer blog had the following to say following General Synod’s decision last Monday to passed a Private Member’s Motion in support of ‘The vital work of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)’.

There was no appeal for reflection; no pause to consider the hurt which may be caused if the motion were passed, as there was over the Synod vote on women bishops. There was no apprehension; no consideration of how the Jewish minority might feel alienated or offended, as there was over black and Asian minorities over the Synod vote to proscribe the BNP.

No, without so much as a glance at the Psalmody, the General Synod of the Church of England has passed a motion endorsing the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which is nothing but an insidious front for a pro-Palestinian campaign to propagate the partisan lie that, while Israel is besieged by child killers, infiltrated by suicide bombers, surrounded by Islamist propagandists and endures almost daily missiles launched at civilian areas, she is the aggressor, the terroriser, the occupying force.

The declared vision of the EAPPI is to bring ‘internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation’. Its mission is to ‘accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and to carry out concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation’. They ‘support acts of non-violent resistance’ in order to achieve this and, since Israel is the ‘occupying force’, it stands to reason that the EAPPI’s raison d’être is to criticise and delegitimise Israel, a country which contends daily with concerted efforts to wipe its people off the face of the earth.

The EAPPI creed is very simple: Palestinians are victims; Israelis are aggressors; Zionists are evil; the IDF are terrorists. It was spawned by the World Council of Churches which, over the years, has passed motions calling for ‘an international boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories’; lauded Yassir Arafat as a hero for ‘bringing the Palestinian people together’; and called for ‘the right of return of Palestinian refugees’, despite this posing an existential threat to the Jewish homeland. The WCC unashamedly declares: ‘The EAPPI is a central element of the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine.’

Notably absent from their statements on the Middle is explicit condemnation of Palestinian incitement to hatred of Israel and Jews, much of it directed at Palestinian children. Neither is any blame for Palestinian suffering laid at the door of Palestinian leaders who have squandered $billions of aid on bribes and terrorism over decades. Nor do human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority, including the rights of Palestinian Christians, attract much WCC attention.

No, the EAPPI ascribes Palestinian misery to apartheid Israel alone, consistently turning a blind eye to Palestinian aggression, corruption, rejectionism and incitement (not to mention Islamism, homophobia, racism and the oppression of women). The EAPPI is blind to anti-Semitism and deaf to the numerous overtures to peace which have been offered. They are ignorant of Israel’s need for security, and oblivious to the fact that she alone in the entire region is a vibrant, tolerant, multiracial, multi-faith society.

Islamist persecution, widespread throughout the Middle East, is the primary cause of the haemorrhage of Christians from the region. Yet the Church of England myopically concerns itself with Israel. There was no Synod motion to discuss the human rights violations of North Korea, Iran or the Sudan.

Canon Andrew White, who knows a thing or two about the region, is a self-declared friend of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims. He called on the Synod to reject the motion calling for endorsement of EAPPI. He wrote a month ago:

The motion is unjust and has caused deep pain in the Jewish Community. It neglects the wars against Israel’s very right to exist. It overlooks the persecution of Jews in the Middle East that preceded the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Israel-like all countries-is not perfect, but she sincerely wishes to find peace.

It is not clear why Synod is being asked to adopt a one sided ‘NAKBA’ narrative against Israel while our fellow Christians are dying in Iraq, Sudan, Egypt and Syria. There are many wonderful peace-loving people in the Palestinian territories who are entangled in a conflict they do not endorse, but the culture of incitement against Jews and Christians as well as the continuing rocket bombardments on Sderot are factors that Synod is being asked to ignore or at best discount.

Yet the Synod ignored him, indifferent to the ‘deep pain’ caused to Jews the world over. In the final vote, the bishops voted 21 to 3 in favour (with 14 abstentions), clergy 89 to 21 (44 abstentions), and laity 91 to 30 (35 abstentions). In total, the motion received 201 votes, while only 54 members voted against.

The President of the Board of Deputies has issued a strongly-worded statement on behalf of British Jewry, condemning utterly the decision to adopt the motion. ‘The Jewish community does not need lessons from the Anglican Church in justice and peace, themes which originated in our tradition’, it concludes.

Imagine the remorse which would have been published the next day in the pages of the Guardian if such a statement had been made by Peter Tatchell on behalf of Britain’s gays. Imagine the sermons delivered by dissenting vicars, bishops and archbishops all over England if the Synod had ‘ridden roughshod over the very real and legitimate concerns’ of women or black and Asian sensitivities.

The Board of Deputies noted that the EAPPI has recently issued a publication, ‘Chain Reaction’, which calls on supporters to ‘stage sit-ins at Israeli Embassies, to hack government websites in order to promote its message and declares EAPPI’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel’.

Vice President of the European Jewish Congress, Vivian Wineman added: ‘To hear the debate at Synod littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’, is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion.’

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said: ‘We are deeply disappointed that General Synod has endorsed the work of a highly partisan organisation. Christians face rising persecution across the region and yet, by supporting this group, the Church of England has chosen to amplify one-sided voices and to single out Israel – the only country where Christian rights are enshrined and the Christian population is growing.

‘We share the concerns of all those within the Church of England who opposed this resolution as being misguided and undermining hopes for genuine understanding and reconciliation.’

So, there you have it. In today’s Church of England, the equal right of women to be bishops is worthy of serious reflection; the equal rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered are to be respected; the equal rights of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are to be advanced.

But sod the Jews. They can be ‘dismayed’, ‘completely dismissed’, and ‘ridden roughshod over’. Even after they have ‘suffered harassment and abuse at EAPPI meetings’ and have many ‘legitimate concerns’, the General Synod doesn’t give a damn.

As long as they’re happy about their progress on matters of gender and sexuality, and are secure in the eradication of BNP-sympathising vicars, Anglican-Jewish relations are of no consequence at all.

Melanie Philips was also scathing in her denunciation of the motion.

Decent Christians are extremely upset, and rightly so, about the resolution passed at the General Synod a few days ago endorsing the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. The EAPPI aims to bring ‘internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation’. Its mission is to ‘accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and to carry out concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation’, and it has called on supporters to stage sit-ins at Israeli Embassies, to hack government websites in order to promote its message and of course promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The EAPPI is a one-sided organisation which presents Israel entirely falsely as the regional aggressor and the Palestinians as its victims, whereas the opposite is the case. Last year a senior Fatah official, Abbas Zaki, declared that if Israel left the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria this would mean the end of Israel altogether -- the Palestinians’ true goal which they had to keep quiet. And he was by no means the first Palestinian to say this.

But the EAPPI makes no acknowledgement that the sole reason for the ‘occupation’ is the refusal by the Palestinians to accept the right of Israel to be a Jewish state, and their resulting endless attempts to wage a war of annihilation against it by murdering Israeli citizens. Instead it casts Israel as the villain of the piece. In other words, the EAPPI promotes the demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, the inversion of truth and justice and the double victimisation of the targets of mass murder.

Read the rest of her article here.

Monday 9 July 2012

Gifts and Calling

The latest video on The Jews and You has been posted on You Tube.

Don't forget to indicate if you like it.

Saturday 7 July 2012

A 'secular' case of Israel

Though I've not been able to track it down, there is apparently a Kairos Journal booklet called Israel and Legitimacy: Modern Achievement vs Islamic Prejudice. The booklet avoids the theology and presents an honest-to-goodness common sense perspective on the issue. The 'Contact Online Weblog' provides a helpful outline of the booklet's case.

1. Islam predominates overwhelmingly in the region (including the West Bank). Her scripture denigrates Jews racially1 and prescribes their subjugation. This attitude is reflected, for example, in the constitutive documents of Hezbollah and Hamas2 and would seem to make conflict intractable.

2. Israel is the only genuine ‘parliamentary democracy’ in the region,3 with its leaders accountable to the people through the many parties that represent them, and the military strictly accountable to these elected leaders.

3. As Franklin Roosevelt observed a century and a half after America’s founding, ‘Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy is education.’4 Because Israel is the educational leader in the region, she offers the best promise for enduring fraternity with the democratic nations of the earth.5

4. The Israeli populace, outnumbered 14 to 1 by its immediate neighbors, sustains the region’s only journalistic powerhouse. Here alone does the expression ‘free press’ ring true. There are more than 40 print newspapers in Israel, with more than 20 of them appearing daily—and contentiously so.6

5. Israelis have distinguished themselves as stewards of the land. As John Kennedy put it, ‘I first saw Palestine in 1939. There the neglect and ruin left by centuries of Ottoman misrule were slowly being transformed by miracles of labor and sacrifice. But Palestine was still a land of promise in 1939, rather than a land of fulfillment. I returned in 1951 to see the grandeur of Israel.’7

6. Israel ‘has more scientists and engineers per capita than any other country,’ and the fruit of their research and technology is a blessing to nations of every ethnicity and conviction.8

7. Israel relies upon the knowledge, resourcefulness, and initiative of its women to keep it strong and fruitful—in the marketplace, journalism, the military, the corporate boardroom, the university, and the halls of government—and educates them equally and fully to that end. This is unique in the region.9

8. Though its record is not spotless, the Israeli Defense Forces train their soldiers in the ‘Purity of Arms,’ characteristic of the Western just war tradition: ‘The soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm non-combatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, bodies, honor and property.’10 Terrorism is condemned and not condoned, celebrated, or even rewarded, as it is in the neighborhood.11

9. As England’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has put it, ‘Today there are 82 Christian nations and 56 Muslim ones, but only one Jewish one: in a country . . . one quarter of one per cent of the land mass of the Arab world.’12 With the annihilation of one-third the Jews on earth in WWII, it is important that the Diaspora Jewish people have a place to stand, and a place to flee from persecution around the world. In this connection, over 200,000 Russians13and around 100,000 Ethiopians14 have emigrated to Israel in recent decades, the latter through special operations named Moses, Sheba, Joseph, and Solomon.

10. Declarations of the Palestinian refugees’ ‘right of return’ to Israel mask deeper realities — that, before the 1948 conflict, many ‘West Bank’ Arabs (Muslim and Christian alike) opposed Jewish settlement on duly-purchased land (almost 800 square miles);15 that many of those who left did so voluntarily, trusting they could return once Israel was destroyed by the Muslim nations which invaded the day after her founding;16 that of the surrounding Arab nations, only Jordan has granted their brother Arabs a path to citizenship;17 that Jewish refugees from Arab lands have forfeited tens of billions of dollars worth of property, without receiving apologies or compensation;18 that repatriation of the Palestinians and their families would mean demographic suicide for Israel,19 whose Jews would then face the same difficulties they do in other Muslim-majority nations where they might abide.

From the beginning, Israel has lived under dire circumstances, and today is no different. So it is vital to recognize that there is a cultural and political kinship with the Israelis that calls us to stand against those who would cripple or destroy her. This does not mean endorsing all she does; it does mean rejecting the specious claims of moral equivalency employed to compromise or neutralize her sovereignty.


1 For example, Qur’an 5:60.
2 For instance, the Hamas Covenant blames WWI and WWII on the Jews, and credits them with founding such nefarious ‘secret societies’ as Rotary and Lions (Article 22); it also rejects all ‘peaceful initiatives and conferences’ concerning the status of the Palestinians, who have unquestioned right to all the land in question (Articles 11 and 13).

3 For instance, the CIA World Factbook designates Jordan, to the east, a ‘constitutional monarchy’ and Syria, to the northeast, a ‘republic under an authoritarian regime.’ Though Egypt is designated a ‘republic,’ it seems, in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring,’ that the army has the upper hand when it pleases.

4 Franklin Roosevelt, ‘Message for American Education Week,’ The American Presidency Project Website, September 27, 1938, (accessed June 26, 2012).

5 In unfortunate contrast, as a writer for the Economist has observed, ‘The Middle East has a bad reputation when it comes to books; nowhere else do so few people read them.’ See ‘Revolution between Hard Covers,’ The Economist Website, January 28, 2012, (accessed May 16, 2012).

6 Half again as many as one finds in metropolitan Chicago, whose population is roughly the same as Israel’s.

7 ‘Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy, Zionists of America Convention, Statler Hilton Hotel, New York, NY,’ August 26, 1960, The American Presidency Project Website, (accessed May 4, 2012).

8 For instance, the Weizmann Institute of Science conducts cutting-edge medical research on the causes of Batten disease, ‘a rare but fatal neurodegenerative disorder that begins in childhood.’

9 Muslim women, whose literacy rate is well below that of their husbands (e.g., in Egypt, 59% versus 83%), are better known in literature for their writings of protest and lament (e.g., Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Cruel and Usual Punishment by Nonie Darwish; A God Who Hates by Wafa Sultan; The Trouble with Islam Today by Irshad Manji). And these Muslim women have been joined in their cause by such European writers as Italy’s Oriana Fallaci (The Rage and the Pride) and Norway’s Asne Seierstad (The Bookseller of Kabul).

10 From orientation packet for the Machtzavim-IDF Educational Leadership School in Jerusalem. See also ‘The Spirit of the IDF: The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces,’ Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed May 4, 2012).

11 Christopher Schult, Britta Sandberg, and Ansgar Mertin, ‘Life Insurance for Palestinian Suicide Bombers: Arab Bank Pays Out Blood Money,’ Spiegel Website, February 9, 2007, (accessed May 4, 2012).

12 Jonathan Sacks, ‘Israel Rightfully Belongs to the Jews,’ in Israel: Opposing Viewpoints, ed. Myra Immell (Detroit: Greenhaven, 2011) 53-54.

13 Ofira Seliktar, ‘The Changing Political Economy of Israel: From Agricultural Pioneers to the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Middle East,’ in Israel’s First Fifty Years, ed. Robert O Freedman (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), 211.

14 Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Dawoud El-Alami, The Palestine-Israeli Conflict, rev. ed. (Oxford: One World, 2003), 73.

15 [A]fter 1908 . . . a consistent activity against Jewish settlement started . . . which was undertaken mainly by two Arab newspapers: al-Filastin and al-Karmil. They were both owned by Palestinian Christians . See Anthony O’Mahony, ‘Palestinian Christians: Religion, Politics and Society, c. 1800-1948,’ in Palestinian Christians: Religion, Politics and Society in the Holy Land, ed. Anthony O’Mahony (London: Melisende, 1999), 46.

16 Syria’s prime minister Khaled al-Azm, reflected on the situation: ‘Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return.’ See James Ciment, Palestine/Israel: The Long Conflict (New York: Facts on File, 1997), 35.

17 Ciment, 38-39.

18 Richard L. Cravatts, ‘There Is No Right of Return,’ in Israel: Opposing Viewpoints, ed. Myra Immell (Detroit: Greenhaven, 2011), 83.

19 Rashid Khalidi, ‘Truth, Justice and Reconciliation: Elements of a Solution to the Palestinian Refugee Issue,’ in The Palestinian Exodus: 1948-1998 (Reading: Ithaca, 1999), 229.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Reports of CWI's doctrinal demise are greatly exaggerated

Just as Mark Twain denounced the premature report of his death as 'greatly exaggerated, I too want to set the record straight about the rumours I’ve heard over the last ten years since I became the General Secretary of Christian Witness to Israel that CWI is moving away doctrinally from its historic Reformed position.

CWI has always been an interdenominational mission and our basis of faith is the Bible, as articulated in the historic confessions of the Reformation, in particular the Westminster Confession of Faith, the 39 Articles of the Church of England, the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession and the Savoy Declaration. CWI is the only international mission to the Jewish people whose basis of faith is firmly based on the Reformed confessions.

The core teachings of those confessions is that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, the only authority for what Christians should believe and how they should live, and that salvation is granted by the grace of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), solely through faith in the completed work of Jesus the Messiah. We are committed to the confessional 'solas': Scripture alone, God alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone.
CWI workers agree not to teach, encourage or practice anything contrary to the consensus of the Reformed Confessions but, where those Confessions are not in agreement, each worker is at liberty to teach, encourage and practise what they believe is the teaching of the Scriptures. Therefore CWI has no formal or official position of such things as baptism, church government, the charismatic gifts, the modern state of Israel or the Last Things.

At our staff conference two weeks ago, we spent an entire session dealing with and affirming our commitment to the confessions and to the doctrines of grace. Our commitment to the Reformed Confessions is not something we bang a drum about but it undergirds all CWI believes and teaches. I’m making an issue of that commitment now – and I’m doing it publicly – in order to scotch these rumours once and for all.

To refer to Mark Twain again, he is alleged to be the source of the adage, ‘A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.’ Stories that CWI has changed its doctrinal position could do us a great deal of harm, so my shoes are on and I’m stating categorically that CWI remains unequivocally committed to the historical Confessions of Faith listed above.

And that’s the truth.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Glatt Kosher Jesus!

I’m trying to think of something in current parlance to describe Michael Brown’s The Real Kosher Jesus. I could say it’s cool, it kicks, it rocks or it’s awesome but instead I’ll just say it is a brilliant piece of work in every sense of the word except the writing style. It’s probably just me but I find Mike’s attempt to be really simple verges at times on being patronising. Apart from that and the inexcusably poor cover design (which is not Mike’s fault), I have nothing but praise for his response to Rabbi Shmuely Boteach’s Kosher Jesus. As a self-publicist, Rabbi Boteach can run rings round Mike but in terms of intellect, courtesy to his opponents as well as physical stature, Mike is head and shoulders above Shmuely and most other people.

Because it is so simply written and because I was aware of quite a bit of the book’s contents, I read it quickly. In had expected a kind of page-by-page, statement-by-statement to Kosher Jesus and was a little disappointed that Mike didn’t take that line. However, he does in fact do that briefly but effectively in Appendix B, after laying a rock solid foundation in the first 15 chapters.

Alone amongst those who endorse the book, Boteach attempts to damn Brown with faint praise: ‘. . . while his arguments are utterly futile against my intellectual onslaught, you have to give him credit for trying.’ The fact is that in every chapter of the book Mike Brown sets forth arguments that expose the biblical, historical, intellectual and logical fallacies and errors on which Boteach’s Kosher Jesus is constructed. ‘Shmuley has manufactured a Jesus-Yeshua that never was,’ says Brown, ‘a fictional character no closer to reality than the European, blue-eyed, blond-haired version sometimes seen in media and art.’

Though Boteach claims to have rescued Jesus from the Christians by reconstructing him as a Roman-hating, freedom fighting national hero, as Brown points out, ‘Shmuley’s depiction of Jesus as an armed freedom fighter is not only untrue, but it is also downright pathetic: Shmuley’s Jesus was totally deceived. Such a leader should be pitied, not praised. It would be like Moses really believing that God called him to challenge Pharaoh to “Let my people go,” only to find out he was wrong— dead wrong—with disastrous consequences for his people, not to mention certain execution for him. (And would we be honoring the memory of Moses if he led our nation into the Red Sea really believing that God would part the waters for them, only to watch them drown?)’

With regard to Boteach’s hatchet job on Paul in Kosher Jesus, Brown concludes: ‘The theory espoused by Maccoby and Rabbi Boteach not only strains credulity but also insults it.’

In 'Section III: From Kosher Jesus to Unkosher Christianity?' Brown deals with some of the great theological stumbling blocks that prevent Jewish people from embracing Jesus as Messiah. In Chapter 9, Brown conclusively demonstrates from Jewish sources that the concept of God becoming man is entirely consistent not only with the Hebrew Scriptures but also with mainstream Judaism.

He quotes the late Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Boteach’s Rebbe, who taught that the Hebrew word echad (one) in the Shema (Shema Yisroel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad) did not pertain to unique singularity. According to Rabbi Schneerson, ‘Chassidic teaching explains that . . . echad represents a deeper unity than yachid. Yachid is a oneness that cannot tolerate plurality—if another being or element is introduced into the equation, the yachid is no longer yachid. Echad, on the other hand, represents the fusion of diverse elements into a harmonious whole. The oneness of echad is not undermined by plurality; indeed, it employs plurality as the ingredients of unity.’

In the following two chapters, Brown deals with the concept of a suffering Messiah and reveals the long-established tradition within Judaism that the life of the righteous has the power to atone. Anyone who, after reading Chapter 11, maintains that neither Judaism nor the Bible knows of the righteous dying for the wicked has either not understood the chapter or is simply denying the facts.

In a real sense, what you will find in The Real Kosher Jesus is the essence of Brown’s 5-volume Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. If that series is too heavy or too expensive, get The Real Kosher Jesus. If the 5-volume series is Mike’s Hizzuk Emunah (Faith Strengthened), The Real Kosher Jesus is his Moreh Nevukhim (Guide for the Perplexed). Not only is it invaluable for strengthening the faith of Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews, it is ideal for giving to Jewish people who really want to know whether Jesus is the Messiah. Buy it from Amazon here.

Kill and Tell

On Friday I downloaded the Kindle version of Tass Saada’s Once an Arafat Man immediately after it was recommended to me by a colleague. I read it virtually in a single sitting on Saturday.

‘Once an Arafat man. . .’ always an Arafat man? Well not in Tass Saada’s case at any rate. Saada was born into a Muslim family in Gaza in early 1951. He grew up in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and following the ignominious defeat of the Arab forces by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967 he and two of his chums quietly bunked off to Damascus to join the PLO. According to the book, before he was out of his teens Saada was a trained sniper, Yasser Arafat’s chauffer and had met Osama bin Laden. I have to admit to a degree of scepticism when I started reading the book but as I made my way through it I sensed it had a ring of truth about it. Once an Arafat Man is no prurient, self-glorifying kill-and-tell story. Unlike some Christian testimonies, Once an Arafat Man doesn’t major on Saada’s pre-Christian life. Apart from his account of a PLO ambush of Israeli forces at al-Karameh in chapter 1, Saada supplies little detail about his time in the PLO.

Although his conversion was dramatic, Saada deals with it briefly. The purpose of his book is to explain how an extremely angry young Muslim man was turned from hatred to love.

Although I don’t care for the staccato writing style of the book, it is an important publication for a number of reasons. First of all, drawing on his experience of life in Saudi Arabia, Saada demonstrates that the Palestinians are regarded with contempt by many in the Arab world.

Second, according to the received western, liberal, left-wing opinion, America and the West are to blame for Islamic terrorism, not least the atrocity of 9/11/2011. The Islamic world declares the USA to be the ‘Great Satan,’ a doctrine Tass Saada imbibed and believed until he arrived in America and experienced nothing but kindness and friendship.

Third, in contrast to the current vogue among Christian theologians to spiritualise the promises made to Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures and transfer them wholesale to the Church, Saada accepts those promises at face value. The ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conferences, though ostensibly about peace and reconciliation, appear to have fomented conflict and division by exporting to the Middle East a western political theory dressed up as theology; a liberation theology that was responsible for great suffering in Central and South America during the 1970s and 1980s.

Fourth, Saada’s love for his own people has not diminished, even though he sees the inherently evil nature of Islam. In 2001, Saada and his American wife Karen launched ‘Hope for Ishmael’ ministries, to bring hope and reconciliation between Arabs and Jews through education, cultural understanding and faith in the Jewish Messiah. Tass and Karen are convinced that peace between Arabs and Jews can be achieved only when individuals have a heart change; political solutions will not last.

Fifth, he presents a helpful biblical perspective of the Arab nations that extreme Christian Zionists need to consider.

Last, he recounts his last meeting with Yasser Arafat, at which he shared the gospel with the PLO leader. Some time later, an Egyptian evagelist told Tass that he too had met Arafat, that he shared the gospel with him and led him in saying 'the sinner's prayer'. Stranger things have happened. . .

I recommend this book highly. Along with Son of Hamas, Once an Arafat Man should be read by everyone who wants to understand the conflict between Jews and Palestinians and the solution to it. Buy it here.