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’ĂȘtre 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.

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