‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ : promoting BDS and harming interfaith relations.

One day in the spring of 2008 whilst I was living in England, an elderly friend who is originally from Germany and a Holocaust survivor telephoned me. She told me that a Catholic neighbour of hers had come to visit bringing with her a pamphlet she had been given at her church which stated that members of the congregation should join the boycott of Israeli goods. My friend, who does a lot of interfaith work including lecturing about the Holocaust, was very upset by the idea that the local priest might be promoting such a blatantly political campaign and asked me to find out more.

So off I went to the church and to my surprise, on the notice board in the entrance in among the announcements of services, the flower arrangement rota, and the advert for a bring and buy sale with strawberry and cream tea was also assorted anti-Israel propaganda, including literature informing the congregation of their duty to join the BDS campaign. I later found out that the priest is also a member of the local branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), but during the time I spent in that small English town, the Catholic Church proved to be far from the only local religious establishment engaging in anti-Israel propaganda.

 To mention but several of many incidents, during Operation Cast Lead the Methodist church on the high street displayed a large poster adorned with blue Stars of David on its outside notice board declaring to passers -by that “Israel commits war crimes”. One Christmas time the local Methodist pastor wrote a long article in the town’s newspaper comparing Joseph and Mary to Palestinians crossing Israeli checkpoints and shortly before I left the UK, the town’s Baptist church hosted a PSC –organised screening of the virulently anti-Israel film The Zionist Story’.

I must say that as someone who spent her childhood in rural England with neighbours and classmates from all the various branches of the Christian Church, this volatile (and often aggressive) mix of religion and politics promoted by seemingly mild-mannered middle-aged British Christians was completely foreign to me. In the past few months many on this blog and others have expressed dismay mixed with a degree of incredulity at the decisions of the Methodist Church and the Quakers to adopt boycott resolutions. The mechanisms which have contributed to such broadly publicised actions and to the increasingly hostile environment in so many of Britain’s faith groups are, however, right under our noses.

As I write these words, a conference is being held in that most English of towns, Oxford. It is organised by a UK registered charity named ‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ (FOSUK), is entitled “Christianity, Zionism and Justice?” and features the speakers Ilan Pappe of Exeter University and the Rev. Stephen Sizer of Virginia Water.

Readers will need no introduction to Ilan Pappe’s virulent anti-Zionism which features heavily on the anti-Israel circuit and is founded on his peculiar political interpretations of history. As a prominent supporter of BDS and the ‘one-state solution’, Pappe promotes the notion of ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians at any and every opportunity, despite the demographic evidence to the contrary.

The name Stephen Sizer will also be familiar to many; particularly those who used to read the Seismic Shock blog before the Anglican vicar managed to have it closed down.  Besides being a very busy man who is involved with many anti-Israel political campaigns featuring some of the more unsavoury characters on the circuit, Sizer appears to have one particularly angry bee in his bonnet when it comes to the subject of Christian Zionism , even appearing on Iran’s PressTV to talk about the subject.

So why would Friends of Sabeel UK want to invite two such extremist and controversial figures as Pappe and Sizer to speak at their AGM? Well the fact is that the clue is in the name. FOSUK are merely one branch of ‘friends’ groups in numerous Western countries which support the Jerusalem-based organisation Sabeel, otherwise known as the ‘Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre‘.

Established in 1994 by a former member of the Anglican clergy in Jerusalem, Sabeel promotes the ‘one-state solution’ by means of a brand of Christian theology which dabbles in supersessionism, claiming that the Jewish refusal to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah in fact forfeits any Jewish claims to the land of Israel and deems Jews to eternal wandering. According to Sabeel’s founder, Naim Ateek:

“The Jews, whose prophetic tradition as well as their long history of suffering qualify them to play a peacemaking role, have acquired a new image since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. By espousing the nationalistic tradition of Zionism, they have relegated to themselves the role of oppressors and war makers. By so doing they have voluntarily relinquished the role of the servant which for centuries they had claimed for themselves. This has been a revolutionary change from the long held belief that Jews have a vocation to suffering. Many rabbis had taught that Jews should accept suffering rather than inflict it as a means of changing the world. One of the great rabbinic dictums was “Be of the persecuted rather than that of the persecutors.” Sholem Asch cried, “God be thanked, that the nations have not given my people the opportunity to commit against others the crimes which have been committed against it.” This has been dramatically changed by the creation of the State of Israel.”

Sabeel leaders also played an instrumental role in the drafting in 2009 of the not-coincidentally named Kairos Palestine Document, which promotes BDS (at least one member of Sabeel’s board, Samia Khoury, is also a member of PACBI) against Israel and is supported by the World Council of Churches.  To quote the document:

“4.2.6 Palestinian civil organizations, as well as international organizations, NGOs and certain religious institutions call on individuals, companies and states to engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation. We understand this to integrate the logic of peaceful resistance. These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice. The aim is to free both peoples from extremist positions of the different Israeli governments, bringing both to justice and reconciliation. In this spirit and with this dedication we will eventually reach the longed-for resolution to our problems, as indeed happened in South Africa and with many other liberation movements in the world.”

Stephen Sizer is a frequent guest of Sabeel at its conferences, particularly those dealing with the subject of Christian Zionism, and has shared platforms with speakers such as Jeff Halper of ICAHD, Attalah Hanna, Donald Wagner and Azmi Bishara who apparently received a standing ovation on one occasion when he asked “how can a people who are denied their basic freedom be guilty of acts of terror?”.

Functionaries of ‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ have also attended Sabeel conferences and events. Self-described ‘eco-feminist liberation theologianRoman Catholic Professor Mary Grey, who is a patron of FOSUK and chair of its theology group, attended the 2006 and 2008 conferences. She has contributed to the ‘Holy Land Studies Journal and sits on its editorial board along with Ilan Pappe. Here is an example of her somewhat un-academic style of writing at another venue:

 “…many people fear that Israel has achieved so much at the expense of losing its soul. Pray for those who chose and oppose… who chose to inflict the very merciless policies that they had endured for two thousand years on the indigenous Palestinians of the Bible Lands. I think to myself of the famous philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, for whom gazing on “the face of the other” meant being opened up to the transcendence of God. But the reality of occupation, settlements, security Wall, confiscated land and demolished houses, prohibits this opening up, as then Israel would feel compassion for its neighbor, and be compelled on moral grounds to take different actions.”

Another Catholic member of FOSUK’s theology group is Stewart Hemsley from Cambridge, who represents Pax Christi, of which he is the former chair, on that body. Pax Christi’s philosophy can be glimpsed in its recent statement regarding the death of Osama bin Laden:

“However, we also mourn our nation’s misguided response to the events of 9/11, the carnage and mayhem unleashed, the distortion of our deepest values, the abandonment of our highest principles and ultimate subversion of our national character.”

In a briefing prior to the 2010 British elections, the issue of the Palestinian-Israel conflict was for some reason among the subjects which Pax Christi deemed important for the British voters to consider when electing their new government.  Suggested questions for parliamentary candidates included:

What would your party do to encourage Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza?

What plans does your party have for re-energising the peace process for Israel–Palestine?

Settlements and the separation wall have both been challenged in international law. How would your party engage with Israel on these issues?

Would your party be prepared to enter talks with all parties in the ongoing conflict – including Hamas – as a sign of genuine openness to a process of conflict resolution?

 As a step in the demilitarisation of the region, would your party be prepared to support an arms embargo of Israel?

Can you assure us that your party would not engage in any pre-emptive military actions against Iran?

Not unsurprisingly, Pax Christi is heavily involved with the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ and Stewart Hemsley has shared a platform with Hamas supporter Azzam Tamimi at events sponsored by that organisation, together with the PSC and ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’. Like several other members of FOSUK, Hemsley is involved with Palestinian groups in the UK which draw upon increasing support from Christian ‘pacifists’.

FOSUK is a multi-denominational organisation including Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists and Quakers. Another member of its theology group, Colin South, is a Quaker who spent several years working at the Friends school in Ramallah. Unsurprisingly, considering that the clerk of the Friends House in Ramallah –Jean Zaru – is also a prominent member of Sabeel, he appears to have been heavily influenced by Naim Ateek. It is worth noting that the British Quakers fund the organisation New Profile’ which attempts to persuade Israeli youth to break the law of their country by draft-dodging.

FOSUK’s patrons include the ubiquitous (to any anti-Israeli organisation) Baroness Jenny Tonge, Ibrahim Hewitt of the Hamas-supporting ‘charity’ Interpal which was cited as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holyland Trial, and the head of the Palestinian delegation to the UK, as well as some well-known anti-Israel clergy.  FOSUK has close ties to Christian Aid and is involved in the ‘Greenbelt Festival’.  For the past three years this annual Christian arts event has focused on the Israel-Palestine conflict, in partnership with Just Peace – which is run by the Amos Trust and co-ordinated by none other than Ben White. It includes a coalition of organisations including ICAHD UK, Friends of Al Aqsa, War on Want, the PSC, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine and the Alternative Tourism Group.

It is, of course, hardly surprising that FOSUK’s members are naturally attracted to such blatantly anti-Israel – and in some cases, anti-Semitic – organisations. Reading the FOSUK newsletters gives one an idea of the kind of prevalent opinions within its ranks. An editorial in the Autumn 2009 edition declares that:

“The Israeli government is systematically going about the dispossession of the Palestinians by every possible means to force them to leave the country, or give up their national identity, so that Israel can become a totally Jewish state in all the land of pre-1948 Palestine.”

In the Spring 2008 edition we read that:

“Sixty years on, the Nakba continues under the relentless policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

In the Spring 2010 edition, it is possible to read of the experiences of a FOSUK member on a ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy to Gaza.

If all this virulent anti-Israel sentiment and campaigning sounds to readers like something more befitting of a script for Midsomer Murders than what one would expect to find going on in the Christian churches of tranquil leafy British towns and villages, I can most definitely sympathise.  FOSUK may not be a particularly large organisation, but its influence is being felt widely. Beyond the obvious damage done to Israel by the kind of misinformation deliberately propagated by Friends of Sabeel UK, there is additional damage done to interfaith relations, at least according to my own experiences in the UK.

Evidence would suggest that there are considerable numbers of Christians who are unhappy about their churches being taken over by a minority with a very specific and vocal agenda. I would imagine that quite a few of them are also concerned about the real causes of Christian persecution in the Middle East. Perhaps the time has come for some interfaith co-operation in order to reclaim some of the good-natured tolerance between Christians and Jews which I remember as part of my English childhood.

27 replies »

  1. “None so blind as those who will not see”? That makes way for idiotic deception.

  2. A multi pronged attack is taking place on Israel. With US government on their side, progressives, lefties and western feminists are free to spread their hatred of Israel with gay abandonment.

    And here is a recent German city funded and hosted a pro-Hamas Israel-Hate Fest “complete with Nazi terminology and incitement for suicide bombings”.

    BTW, notice how they call these Nazi beer hall style rallies “conference”.

  3. Thanks for this, Israelinurse. Sabeel are a poisonous lot and seem to be very good at tapping in to the latent and not so latent preachiness and antisemitism of so-called “Christians.” They are cunning, too, in the way in which they have snared the gooey-eyed Quakers.

    Naim Ateek, who is the head of Sabeel, is particularly snake-like and noxious. He is instrumental in resurrecting the blood libel that the Jews killed Jesus by claiming that Israel is crucifying Palestinians all over again. He also wrote a ridiculous tract claiming that the Jews, not the Palestinians, set the example for suicide terror in the shape of, wait for it, Samson in the Old Testament!

    The ignorant and ignominious Jenny Tonge was associated with Sabeel in 2009, and may still be, which ought to send up a warning flare for any decent person who may be inclined to identify with them.

    We might ask ourselves how apparently decent and thinking people can be snared by such madness. The previous generation asked themselves this about the ordinary German people too, before WW2.

    Ateek’s ignominious brand of haters are on record as wanting to make the bible “contextually relevant.” I wonder whether they consulted with the equally ignominious Tareq Ramadan, who is on record as saying that the targetting by Islamist terrorists of eight year olds is “contextually explicable.” The UK “Christians” who identify with promoters of terror and murder should be aware that if they lie down with dogs they will get up with fleas.

    I am with you, Israelinurse, that the majority of Christians (with the exception perhaps of those Quakers and Methodists who have fallen for the BDS scam) cannot be in agreement with the hijacking of their faith. All of this begs the question of what they are doing about it.

  4. Thanks for this. These so-called “Christians” have ignored the teachings of the founder of their faith, who was himself a Jew, regardless of what the benighted Ateek preaches.

    Sabeel is an exercise in the worst sort of hypocrisy and hatefulness. In Naim Ateek we have a Palestinian Christian, living safely in the only democracy in the Middle East, from where he pours poison into the ears of the gullible against the very people who protect him! He grates on all over the world about Israel’s wrongdoings, mostly alleged rather than proven, whilst completely ignoring the fact that the Christian population in Israel is the largest in the Middle East and is growing.

    Can anyone find even one link to a statement by Ateek in which he or Sabeel condemn the treatment of their brothers in Christ by Arab/Muslim nations? If so, please post it here, for the sake of balance if nothing else.

    • Ateek would probably weasel and argue that he hasn’t done that because good Christians should take on as much suffering as they can because of the sufferings of the One who died for them.


  5. I don’t recognise the Christians I grew up with among these groups of haters. There is no objectivity. There is no equality. There is no examination of the sins of the Moslems along with those blamed on Israel.

    Are they aware that they should be turning the other cheek, not aiming for the other cheek?

  6. Let’s face it, Arabella, these are not true Christians, any more than are the Quakers Serendipity described above. True Christians are commanded to spread their faith, true, but the best simply live it and spread it by their example. I know many, as I am sure you do, who live in this way and I have much admiration for them because they respect difference rather than pretend to accept it and then get all judgemental if you don’t do as they think you should.

    Doubtless there’s a psychological kink in them which allows them to twist and turn in order to feel comfortable with the hatred they are sowing or feeding and lets them believe they are doing the “right thing” and “God’s work”.

    It’s their insufferable arrogance that I can’t stand. Sabeel and Naim Ateek have succeeded in manipulating them and booting them back to the Dark Ages. They will live to rue betraying their faith.

  7. @HairShirt, in my considered opinion there is indeed a psychological kink in the minds of such people:

    They tend towards the authoritarian and may have turned to Christianity (or any preaching religion) as a psychological “container” to help them feel emotionally safe, but they are not content. They feel restless and uncomfortable because their religion does not confer the total peace of mind they so desperately seek.

    Often the prime movers of religious factional splitting are pathologically jealous, too. They tend to take their religion’s teachings very literally and are fond of wagging the finger at others. Present them with a thriving Jewish state (remember, they believe the Jews killed Jesus and are eternally damned because they do not accept that he was the messiah) and they are caused tremendous cognitive dissonance. How, if their G-d loves them and sent his son to die for them, can he so reward the people who rejected him? For that reason, if Christians are put on earth to do that G-d’s work, they must see to it that the Jewish state is brought low, if not ruined.

    They are stuck at the paranoid schizoid psychological developmental stage. How can they square these angry, jealous feelings with the peaceful teachings of their religion and still be capable of functioning in the face of such cognitive dissonance?

    They can do that by employing a mechanism called paranoid projection: splitting those uncomfortable feelings off, unconsciously for the most part so that they are not aware that such feelings are theirs, and projecting all their own anger and evil inclinations onto the offending other, in this case the Jewish state, so that they can then feel “clean” and tell themselves a nice little story that they do what they do for the good of the “poor Palestinians” or even for Israel’s own good.

    Ateek is an arch-manipulator and is making use of their discomfiture, probably by making it worse at first, and then seeming to offer the solution to it in the shape of Sabeel. Why not revise Bible teachings so as to write out Jews’ age-old connection with their land? After all, having rejected Jesus and killed him, they don’t deserve to have a land.

    Add a hefty and utterly one-sided dollop of Palestinian “victimhood” – note that everything Sabeel writes shows Israel in the worst light, when that cannot be possible or realistic or true – and the naive Christians who fall under its spell are hooked much as Hamas hooks young suicide terrorists.

    Note also that none of the Christians who fall for this guff have ever made statements condemning the PA’s or Hamas’ treatment of fellow-Christians in Palestine, nor about the persecution of Christians in the Arab/Muslim world. They conveniently ignore (because it doesn’t chime with their story) that Israel has the largest growing Christian population in the Middle East, and Israel is a soft target for their anger and not-so-righteous indignation.

    For myself, they disgust me. Like Arabella, I cannot recognise in their behaviour that of the good Christian people I know.

  8. I can see to “FOSUK” someone or something entering the CiFWatch lexicon.

    My definition (please feel free to add to or amend):

    “To manipulate gullible religious people into behaving censoriously or hatefully towards another entity, by deliberately distorting evidence which would show that the censure or hatred is misplaced and contrary to the ethos of their religion”

  9. I found this dated 1998, in which not only was Palestinian persecution of Christians not mentioned, but it was declared to be a myth. The rest of the paper is chilling.

    I also searched “Sabeel condemns anti-Christian violence”, complete with quotes and got “no results found.”

    On Monday, Sept 5 2005:

    “..At least 14 houses belonging to Christian residents of Taybeh, a West Bank village northeast of Ramallah, were torched by Muslims from neighboring Dir Jarir on Sunday, to avenge what they termed the dishonor of a Muslim woman. According to Taybeh residents, several dozen young men from Dir Jarir descended on their village before dawn, torched the homes and destroyed a great deal of other property.

    “The young men, who were holding Molotov cocktails, threw them at the houses, which began to go up in flames, one after another,” said Buthaina Sha’aban, a Taybeh resident and the sister of the town’s mayor. “They vandalized parked cars and beat village residents who went out into the streets. Entire families were thrown into the street after their homes were torched. Not much remains of their property.”

    Anyone else notice the similarity in the story grammar, between what passes for the “reasoning” behind the violence – the alleged “dishonor” (presumably by Christians) of a Muslim woman – and the reasons for torching churches and killing Christians in Egypt?

    And not a squeak from Sabeel!

  10. (I have the bit between my teeth now):

    I also found within which is:

    “• Sabeel distorts facts in order to demonize Israel . Sabeel documents claim Israel started all the Arab-Israeli wars. Sabeel denounces Israel ’s current counterterrorism measures as a “morbid fear of peace” without even acknowledging the terrorist war unleashed in 2000 that made them necessary. Sabeel claims Israel has never sought peace, ignoring Israel ’s search for compromise since 1920 and its record of relinquishing land and even uprooting Jewish communities for peace. It did so in its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt . By 1996, it had carried out a withdrawal from the Territories, leaving 98% of Palestinians self-governing under the Palestinian Authority. In 2001, it offered Palestinians a state on 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, a capital in east Jerusalem and removal of Jewish communities. In 2005, it unilaterally withdrew from the rest of Gaza, and uprooted all Jewish communities there and four Jewish communities in the northern West Bank .

    • Sabeel promotes one-sided programs. The Israeli side is silenced. Those who wish to dispute Sabeel’s claims, including representatives of Israel, are not allowed to speak. Instead, Sabeel brings in Israelis or Jews who belong to the fringe group of anti-Zionist Jews in order to give the appearance of balance and fairness…..

    And particularly the following which bears out the point I made in my previous post:

    “• Sabeel promotes continued intolerance against Christians in the Palestinian Authority and the larger Middle East . Sabeel intentionally misrepresents the plight of Christians in the PA. It is silent about the increasing persecution of its fellow Christians who presented a dossier to Christian authorities in Jerusalem in September 2005 listing 93 incidents of Muslim or PA abuse against Christians, including rape, murder and confiscation of property. “ Almost every day – I repeat, almost every day – our communities are harassed by the Islamic extremists in these regions. And if it’s not the members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, there are clashes with the ‘rubber wall’ of the Palestinian Authority.” Custodian of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

    In other words, Sabeel and Naim Ateek deliberately lie in order to “FOSUK” their naive followers in the UK. Ho hum..

  11. Yohoho’s searches spurred me on. I searched almost every variation on the theme of Sabeel and/or Naim Ateek condemning anti-Christian violence anywhere in the Middle East and came up with nothing.

    However, I did come up with this, again at written by Dexter van Zile, which shows Sabeel’s role in encouraging BDS. Although it is from 2006, it seems that Sabeel’s perfidy is even more entrenched now. In particular I noted:

    “… The document makes no reference to the role the Palestinians themselves have played in creating their own suffering, nor does it acknowledge the impact Palestinian Terror has had on the Israeli people. It does not call for churches to examine their connection to terrorism in the disputed territories. For example, it does not call on the PC(USA) to sever ties with Hezbollah, a group that receives $100 million dollars annually from Iran, whose leaders have called for Israel to be wiped off the map….


    “…Sabeel’s putatively non-violent agenda is undermined by its founder’s writings that portray Palestinian terrorism against Israel as a regrettable, but understandable and unavoidable result of the Israeli occupation. In his essay on Suicide Bombers, Ateek draws a parallel between suicide bombers and Jesus Christ, asserting that both sacrifice their own lives for the good of their communities.

    “Moreover, at the start of the Second Intifada, Naim Ateek wrote statements in both English and Arabic encouraging his fellow Palestinians to struggle against the Israelis, who he accused of attempting to steal the Temple Mount from the Palestinian people. Clearly, these letters were not written to encourage Palestinians to stop their attacks against the Israelis. They were written to legitimize the agenda that motivated ongoing Palestinian violence. Sabeel routinely condemns Israeli violence and expresses solidarity with the cause of Palestinian nationalism while at the same time reaffirming that violence is un-Christian. In short, Ateek speaks peace to Christians in the U.S. and Europe while affirming a one-state agenda that makes reconciliation impossible.

    “And while Ateek routinely asserts that Sabeel will have nothing to do with those who advocate violence, the group has yet to distance itself from Michael Tarazi, a legal advisor to the Palestinian Authority said at a Sabeel conference in October 2005 “If I see Abu Mazen cracking down on Hamas, I’ll ask what are you doing that for?” This statement, made after he was questioned about the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility to reduce terror attacks demonstrates an indifference to the motive and impact of Islamic terror against Israel… “

    All in all Ateek is a thoroughly nasty, hate-filled and hypocritical piece of work, as are the ignorant who offer him unquestioning support.

  12. I am a Christian Zionist I read both the Old and the New Testaments and can be no other. I believe that those who oppose the return of the Jews to their ancient, Biblical and historical homeland are going against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I cannot understand Sabeel going after Israel and not giving a thought to the persecution of Christians in Islamic nations. As a Christian I can visit Israel secure in the knowledge I can visit Bbilical sites without hindrance. Should Islamists contol Israel the fate of Christians and Jews would be worse than dire. I personally feel Sabeel is a quasi religious political organisation whose members will be found wanting on the day of judgement because they sided with evil. I sincerely doubt the authenticity of Christian belief amongs its leaders and those it sucks in are probably biblically illiterate. They care not for their Christian brothers and sisters in Christ and support Islamists who have no love for genuine Christians or Jews. Methinks the Sabeel leadership, men such as Sizer are ravenous wolves who steal into the flock and who misrepresent Christianity.

  13. Charlene – you rightly cite what is perhaps the ultimate irony – the fact that only under Israeli administration are all faiths free to visit their holy sites in Jerusalem and other places in Israel. Israel is committed to keeping it that way, as I think all right-minded people should be.

    Stuart – do you have any suggestions as to how Christians who oppose this politically motivated take-over of their churches can join together with Jews to try to counteract the influences of FOSUK?

  14. @Israelinurse.

    Christians need to be better informed. More informed than our detractors. Articles like this one go a long way in helping.

    The anti-Israel brigade seem well connected, well resourced and have a plethora of platforms to spill their bile. We need also need platforms and resoucres. We need to be better organised.

    How any of this happens, I just don’t know…..

    Cranmer posted this today, which gives you an idea of the depth of problem we are facing in the church:

    It never ceases to amaze His Grace: for every post he writes on just about any matter, there is usually reasoned consensus or intelligent criticism from diverse individuals who appreciate intelligent and erudite comment on matters religio-political. Yet when he writes about Israel, he receives insults and hate-mail (“Zionist Nazi”); his faith is called into doubt (“No Christian would…”); and otherwise silent communicants become rather assertive and dogmatic about the Lord’s perspective (“Jesus would never…”).

    I will say though that in many respectes the Jewish community is not always helpful. How many Jewish blogs feature links on their blogroll to Christian blogs that battle on behalf of Jews? Not many, if any. How many Jewish blogs feature links to pro-Jewish articles that Christians write? Not many, if any.

    Half the time, it feels like talking to the air, to combat anti-Jewish / Israeli sentiments on our blogs. Not even the Jewish blogs take any notice.

    Perhaps I don’t blame them and I do understand the reasons for their reticence. But without the Jewish community partnering with us, we’ll always be in the background. Unlike Israel bashers who find partners with ease…..

    I’m sorry this turned into a bit of a moan.

    Harry’s Place has always been the exception by the way.

  15. Stuart – I don’t see your post as a moan at all! It is vital that we exchange information if we want to do something about this.

    Speaking only for myself, of course, but I think that many Jews too – and in particular Israelis – are just not very well informed on Christian theology and even have difficulty in distinguishing between different branches of the church and the philosophies or theological divides between them.

    I’ll never forget how, many years ago, an Israeli asked me (as token Brit) to explain the Anglo-Irish conflict and when I’d finished, he looked at me in a very perplexed manner and said “You mean Protestants and Catholics are all Christians?”.

    On the other side of the coin, I almost caused a major diplomatic incident a few months ago when I was guiding some French Catholics around Caperneum. One of the ladies remarked how lovely it was that back in Jesus’ time, the Jews in the village got up in the morning and went to synagogue and the Christians to church – obviously showing that back then there was co-existence. Unfortunately, when I pointed out that there were no Christians in Jesus’ Caperneum and that the church there was actually built quite a bit later, I seemed to have trodden on some very indignant toes!

    And I’m sure that you are right about the need for closer co-operation between Christian and Jewish blogs. Again – I’m not sure many Jews are even aware that there’s a whole world of Christian blogging out there. I certainly wasn’t myself until a couple of years ago.

    Resources are obviously a major problem, but it would be great if something could be done to get the ball rolling as far as helping people to become better informed is concerned.

  16. I had not come across this Mary Gray until now. What is it with these feminist distortions of Levinas concept of the Face and the Other to turn it against Israel.

    The first inkling I had of all the poison in the academic community was when I heard a talk by feminist Israel boycott advocate Judith Butler years ago, in which she misrepresented Levinas’ concept of the Face and the Other to make out he is authority for the position that Israel has to self destruct in order to fulfil its moral obligation to the Other in the form of the Palestinians. This is not what Levinas means by the Other at all.

  17. amie – at the risk of being labeled a chauvinist, I have noticed time and time against that the loudest, shrillest voices belong to the female contingents at these anti-Israeli demonstrations and in their writing. If there is a megaphone available, there will be a screaming harridan behind it more often that not.

    I have no idea why this is so. Think Lauren Booth, Deborah Fink, Jacquelyn Rose, the women one sees at the anti-Ahava demonstrations, Sabeel, the Moslem groups demonstrating on campus -e.g., the much viewed disruption of Michael Oren’s speech at UCLA – etc.

  18. SarahLeah

    Sabeel have been very active in the US. Here is a report of an anti-Sabeel protest organized at a moment’s notice near Washington, DC.

    The are a moving force behind the Kairos document, and have basically infiltrated and taken over, via Christian Arabs, the Protestant and Methodist/Wesleyan Christian leadership in the USA. I have a feeling that many of the rank and file in those communities have no idea what is being said ands done in their name. The World Council Of Churches is the overall cover organization.

    Here’s some information – even J Street found PCUSA too much for its liking. On this blog I wrote a detailed description of what they doing, and a summary of the various organizations and acronyms they use:

    Here’s more from other sources: